While confined to our homes for over a year during the COVID-19 pandemic, many learned just how therapeutic nature can be. Getting outdoors is important for our physical and mental wellbeing. And as many are beginning conversations around their return to the office, anxiety is building. “We may have become more used to interacting with fewer people and turning inwards so that a return to meetings, classes, and in-person social events can be overwhelming initially and lead to greater anxiety, particularly as we have not been fully exercising our social skills for over a year. As we take this next step, it is important to be kind to ourselves and to remember that others may be facing similar challenges” says Kalina Michalska, assistant professor of psychology at University of California.
Being gentle with ourselves is key. Practicing self care and wellness are also essential. And while these buzzwords have been floating around more since the pandemic’s start, there often isn’t any actionable steps laid out to practice wellness in a real way. Unfortunately, people of color and women may be feeling back to work anxiety even more than others having been out of environments that often included microaggressions and racial hostility for over a year. So taking extra steps to self soothe ones mental state before heading back in to these environments is essential.
A road trip into nature may do the trick. Nothing says wellness quite like nature, and nothing says nature quite like a road trip. In one study, Yoshifumi Miyazaki, a forest-therapy expert and researcher at Chiba University in Japan, found that people who spent 40 minutes walking in a cedar forest had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is involved in blood pressure and immune-system function. [July 25, 2016 issue of TIME.] Recent studies have also linked nature to symptom relief for health issues like heart disease, depression, cancer, anxiety and attention disorders.
One in four Americans get on the road every year and let the horizon unfurl before them. And for those who aren’t ready to brave the many travel requirements for traveling abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, a road trip to some of the US’s more scenic destinations can guarantee equal amounts of wellness, nature and less anxiety.
Here are 7 tips to ensure a safe trip
Choose Your Destination: Malibu Beach Inn
For city dwellers who were stuck within the confines of their small apartments for most of the pandemic, finding a local respite right outside of city limits can be easier than one may think. For Los Angeles residents, what could be more beautiful than Malibu— a beach lined city in the Santa Monica Mountains region of Los Angeles County, California, situated about 30 miles west of Downtown Los Angeles.
Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and Southern California’s Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu Beach Inn is a five-star boutique hotel overlooking the luscious sands of Carbon Beach in Malibu. Offering absolutely breathtaking oceanic panoramic views it’s a coveted retreat for the most discerning traveler. With only 47 suites – each with its own ocean view private balcony – to the breathtaking views and magical sunsets over the sea, it often feels as if you’re the only parishioner on the beach
The property’s distinctive yet homelike design creates the perfect abode away from home. Featuring custom-designed furniture and décor specifically concepted to seamlessly integrate the destination’s beautifully natural surroundings and ethos into the guest rooms. Immerse yourself into nature while overlooking the magic of the pacific ocean or while visiting the nearby mountainous regions.
Choose your vehicle: 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer
When choosing a vehicle for a road trip, safety, convenience, technology and energy efficiency are all essential. The Chevrolet Trailblazer was a natural choice because it is spacious yet especially efficient on gas, delivering 33 miles per gallon. For a small SUV, the Trailblazer packs a surprisingly spacious interior. With a reversible two-tier adaptable cargo storage system, there’s plenty of room to fit your luggage and lifestyle into.
On the road, this smart SUV helps you stay safe by storing your phone in a charging cubby while playing music and GPS. The 2021 Chevy Trailblazer offers available MyLink Navigation System* providing drivers with a built-in touchscreen or voice commands to get from point A to B. The Chevrolet Trailblazer also comes standard with Chevy Safety Assist**, a suite of six active safety features including Forward Collision Alert, Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Following Distance Indicator, IntelliBeam (Auto High Beam Assist), in addition to other driver assistance technologies such as Rear Vision Camera**, Teen Driver and Rear Seat Reminder.
- Maintenance Checklist: Before taking a road trip, make sure your vehicle is prepared and maintained for a smooth trip. Some items to take notice and inventory of before hitting the road that can help ensure a smooth and safe trip include – check that tires are properly inflated, check your oil and washer fluid to make sure they are at proper levels. Finally, inspect your vehicle’s headlights, taillights, and blinkers to ensure they are working properly.
- Take Advantage of Technology: Take advantage of your car’s technology including Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility (standard on Chevy Trailblazer) to conveniently sync up your phone to your vehicle’s infotainment system; USB ports that keep your family’s devices powered up or available 4G LTE Wi-Fi to play your family’s favorite music, audio books, and movies on the go. For the first time ever, Amazon Alexa is available on the Chevy Trailblazer, allowing users to not only stream their favorite music, they can even connect to smart home devices while on the go.
Map Out Your Trip: Typically, on road trips, the thrill of the open road leads to some really great memories and adventures. However, to travel during this time, it is critical you plan your route ahead of time – mapping out the roadways you’ll be taking, and anticipating stopping points to refuel on gas, food/water, and bathroom breaks. If you plan to be on the open road for a long time, identify places beforehand where you can pull over if you need to take a rest.
Be Informed: Do your research and look for travel restriction information on the destinations you plan to travel through to help make confident decisions about your upcoming travel plans. Adhere to all local, state, and federal restrictions and guidelines for safety and social distancing before hitting the road.
Pack The Essentials: Stock up on face masks along with hand sanitizer and antimicrobial wipes with more than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropyl alcohol (as recommended by the CDC) ahead of your trip. Carry these essentials with you at all times when leaving the vehicle. Wear a mask, sanitize your hands frequently and as recommended by the CDC, disinfect door handles and handles at gas station pumps during rest stops. To help reduce exposure and the need to go to rest stops for food, pack your own snacks and drinks or utilize available drive-through options.
For more information, refer the the CDC’s guidelines for domestic travel during COVID-19.