Our Guide to Getting Outside During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Gale Straub and the Ravel Media Team

Anyone else feeling the need for fresh air? The benefits of the outdoors and nature are essential to our emotional health and physical wellbeing. Research shows that exercise boosts our immune systems and helps fight infections. How can we do what we love in the outdoors (and take care of ourselves in the process) while keeping public health in mind?

To prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, many who are able to are staying home to flatten the curve. But there are still lots of creative ways to experience the outdoors and nature in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Ravel team came together to come up with our favorite ways to get outside this week!

While reading through the below recommendations, please keep in mind the guidelines from the CDC: stay a minimum of 6 feet apart from people, disinfect frequently used surfaces, and wash your hands. These guidelines are changing daily, so make sure to check before you engage in new activities. Leave No Trace also provided their recommendations for getting outside during COVID-19. 

How to Experience the Outdoors & Nature Right Now:

Walk around your neighborhood:

We’ve always been advocates of finding nature where you’re at. As exciting as big, week long adventures can be, there’s infinite beauty to be found close to home, too. If you’re able to step out your front door and walk (about ⅓ of the US population doesn’t have access to sidewalks), you might be surprised what you’re able to see on your own two feet.

Drive to a local trailhead:

UPDATE 3/22/20: We want to emphasize: now is not the time to take physical distancing lightly. Crowding is dangerous regardless of your current age or health. Guidance is changing daily but we encourage you to explore the various ways on this list to enjoy nature from the safety of your home.

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If you don’t need to stop for gas or supplies, consider making time in your day for a local hike. Use your best judgment: if the trailhead is overflowing with vehicles, it’s probably best to drive on by and find an alternative option.

Reminder from a helpful member of our Facebook Group: Anytime you visit a visitor center, entrance booth, or public trailhead bathroom, you’re putting both yourself and others at risk. (After all, this virus spreads both while people are asymptomatic and presymptomatic, so you could be spreading it even while you feel fine.) Make sure to avoid those locations and please use your best judgment.

Briana Feola at a local park (make sure not to stray too far from home and check how many people are parked at trailhead)

Take a bike ride:

Spring is in the air and cycling around town is a taste of freedom. Stay equipped with a mini bike pump in case of tire leaks.

Step outside for a guided workout:

As long as you’re keeping distance from others, the outdoors is a refreshing alternative to the gym. There are a lot of great options for virtual workouts: DownDog App is offering all their apps for free through April 1st and your favorite Instagram trainer is likely to be doing some live classes as well.

Soak up vitamin D on your front step, back porch, or beautiful square of light that hits your living room every day at 4PM:

In The Nature Fix, Florence Williams teaches us that every little bit of outdoor time helps our mental and physical health. Fill up on the sun from the comfort of your home!

Camp, indoors!

Our teammate Noël Russell had the best tip for anyone longing for a camping trip. Set up your tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag and crawl in. You might just have your best sleep in a week.

Photo by Laura Borichevsky

Pamper yourself:

Pay attention to the small things you can do for yourself to make you happy. Aromatherapy is a transportive option that can bring you closer to what you love. The scent of lavender, rose, and sage (for example) are a beautiful reminder.

Tend to your houseplants:

You might be thinking, “But I always take good care of my plant babies!” Now’s the perfect opportunity to savor that time and their presence. Watch them grow, even thrive.

Get a head start on your garden:

Gardening has a learning and accessibility curve, like any activity. So depending on whether you gravitate towards indoor herb boxes and microgreens, potted tomatoes on your porch, or a raised bed in your backyard, the next steps are up to you.

Hamama sprouts – day 3!

Lose yourself in an adventure book, magazine, film, podcast (or all four!):

There’s a treasure trove of books, magazines, films, and podcasts that were made for times like these. And if we’re honest, they’re made for a lot of other times too – because while they’re sometimes a taste of a big expedition, these stories are the stuff of life. They’re super relevant. Here are our most recent reading list and outdoor film recommendations. As for podcasts, you know where to find us. And we’re well overdue for an outdoor podcast roundup, so stay tuned!

RANGE Magazine

Create nature-inspired art:

Our friend Anna Brones is offering a donation-based, digital “creative fuel challenge” to help busy our hands and minds during this time. She believes that art heals, always. We can’t help but agree that no-judgment creating can help bring us closer to ourselves and what we love. Why not pursue it with a nature slant?

Art by Briana Feola of Brainstorm

Tune into nature:

Sometimes the next best thing is almost as good as the real deal. Check out a nature documentary like Planet Earth or March of the Penguins. Craving a trip? Take a virtual tour of a National Park. Hoping to relax? Queue up a nature sound playlist.

Open your windows for a little longer than normal:

It might be chilly outside but we promise it’ll pay dividends. Let the outdoors in with a breath of fresh air and bird sounds. Take a moment to listen, really listen – you might be surprised what you hear!

If you’re looking for someone to talk to, our Facebook groups are a great place to make a connection with outdoor lovers and travelers alike: She Explores Facebook Group & Women on the Road Facebook Group.

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