How COVID-19 Is Helping Us Rediscover Domestic Travel

How has coronavirus changed your travel plans? Our nomads share where they were planning to go this year, where they’re going instead, and why it will still be amazing.

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Sunrise at Joshua Tree National Park in California. Photo © Meghan Nelson

“I was meant to be on a documentary series, shooting all over Asia this year, but we only got as far as Episode two in Japan this March. It was on that same trip that my wife and I found out that we were expecting a baby. With that news and COVID-19, the year has taken a very different course. Instead, I’ve been doing lots of rock climbing at Adelaide's local crag called “The Cave” in Norton Summit. There’s some amazing, top-quality sport climbing there, only minutes from Adelaide. It’s certainly the year to enjoy those things in your own backyard.” – Miles Rowland, filmmaker

“I had tickets booked to Spain and Morocco. Instead, I’m taking a road trip to the California desert. We’re starting out visiting the Eastern Sierra hot springs around Mammoth Lakes, then braving the heat of Death Valley, and finally making our way to the desert to enjoy Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve. The California desert is pretty much the opposite of summer in Barcelona, but I’m incredibly lucky to be able to get away and enjoy the surreal landscape. The middle of nowhere is the perfect spot to socially distance.” – Meghan Nelson, Digital Advertising Specialist, World Nomads

“I was planning so many trips: Australia, Europe, Panama. I’m sticking close to home in Oregon and spending time on rivers instead. Next up: a six-day whitewater trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon. I am going on a commercial trip as a “swamper,” which is kinda like a baggage boy. So, in short, I’m going to get paid to go down a river that I would love to run with my family some day, and who knows, I think it might make for a fun essay.” – Tim Neville, travel writer and World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship mentor

The Big Merino, a concrete statue of a ram in Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia.
The "Big Merino" in Goulburn, New South Wales. Photo credit: Getty Images / Holger Leue

“This coming year I was planning to go to the city of my birth – Vancouver, Canada – where my partner, an academic, was invited to speak at a conference. I was only an infant when we left Vancouver. Now, my only coming travel plans are to go on a road trip with my film crew around regional New South Wales and Victoria, to get the final shots of a feature film we’ve been making during the Covid period. We’ve filmed most of the story so far in a studio, but the final shots involve filming Australiana monuments like the “Giant Murray Cod,” the “Giant Lobster,” and the “Big Merino.” We’ll go on the road for eight days to get these when the borders again open between the states.” – Brian Rapsey, filmmaker and World Nomads Travel Film Scholarship mentor

“We were meant to be going on a family holiday to the South Island of New Zealand, cycling the Otago Rail Trail, a former rail track that has been upgraded to a 93-mile (150-km) cycle path between Clyde and Middlemarch. We were looking forward to the freedom, the scenery, and being together. As borders between Australia and New Zealand are currently closed, we will be holidaying in Australia instead. Depending on state border closures, we will either go to the Northern Territory to explore Kakadu National Park, or to Kangaroo Island, the fauna-packed island off the South Australian coast that bore the brunt of the terrible bushfires last summer. If we can’t travel that far afield, New South Wales has so much to offer, and we will either head down the coast to camp and spend money in some other bushfire-affected communities, or inland to the desert to explore under the star-filled skies. Whatever happens, we are lucky to have Australia as our backyard.” – Kate Duthie, Managing Editor, World Nomads

Sea lions gather at the water's edge in Seal Bay Conservation Park, Kangaroo Island, Australia.
Sea lions at Seal Bay Conservation Park, Kangaroo Island. Photo credit: Getty Images / Ignacio Palacios

“Our plan was to go to Ladakh, India, for three weeks in August, hiking around the Himalayas and exploring Buddhist monasteries. But international flights to India were suspended due to COVID-19. After several months of semi-lockdown in California, we were craving fresh air and adventure, so we went on a five-day whitewater rafting trip on the Snake River in Idaho, about a 12-hour drive northeast of the Bay Area. It was epic – riding Class IIIs and IVs rapids through a spectacular gorge, and being totally off the grid.” – Ellen Hall, Content Producer, World Nomads

“My big trip this year was going to be to London for a friend’s wedding, then tacking on a bit of a Euro trip afterwards. Instead, I’ll be sticking much closer to home, and I’ve never been more inspired by what we’ve got in our own backyard. Looking at going to Mudgee in a couple of weeks, and when domestic borders open up, I’d love to go explore with the crocs in Kakadu National Park.” – Rebecca Day, Program Specialist, World Nomads

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