Exploring the outdoors is one of the safest ways to get out of the house right now. We usually love driving out to nearby National Parks, but with Esther recovering from her surgeries and the current pandemic, we’ve been staying close to home.
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Last Updated: December 17, 2020
How to Explore the Outdoors Safely
Have you ever heard the quote, “there isn’t bad weather, only bad clothes”? No matter where you live, exploring the outdoors is always a great option as long as you’re equipped with the right clothes and gear.
We’ve lived in different climates including the wet PNW, snowy NYC, and desert temps of the Southwest. Today, we’re excited to partner with L.L. Bean to share some tips to help you make the most of your outdoor adventures.
Check Current Hours and Restrictions
We’ve made the mistake of going out without checking current hours and restrictions and ended up having to change our plans. They were normally open to visitors but recently switched to a reservation-only basis.
With this pandemic, guidelines are always changing and it’s important to check the current local guidelines before visiting. That includes closures and limited hours. Sometimes it means certain facilities are closed, and we’ve seen more specific restrictions like no camping.
If you plan on visiting any attractions or restaurants, call ahead to find out their current hours and restrictions too.
Don't Forget Your Mask
We always carry our masks with us or stash them in different places, so we always have one on hand. Just because you’re outdoors, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be wearing masks and socially distancing.
If there is no one in sight when we’re outside, we’ll take them off, but if there’s even a chance we’ll be passing by other people as we walk or hike, they stay on. We also follow socially distancing rules.
We have a lot of friends who work in healthcare who are so overwhelmed at work. They’ve been sharing how discouraged they get when they see people not wearing masks or wearing them improperly. Don’t be the person with your nose peeking out. In case you didn’t know, here’s a video of what is coming out of your nose.
Expect Crowds & Have Backup Plans
Anytime we want to get out of the house, we always think of outdoor spots first since it’s safest. But if that’s how we think, there’s a good chance you’re not alone. With closures and limited local spots, outdoor areas are more crowded than normal. Expect crowds especially on the weekend.
Early mornings are the best bet for fewer people. It’s also great to have a backup plan. We usually have a few options on our list. If we see a crowded parking lot, we keep moving to a backup spot.
We love the Southwest because we have a ton of amazing spots within a short drive. But living in the desert climate means temperatures swing drastically. Once the sun sets, it gets really cold (okay, maybe it’s relative and not cold at all if you’re from the northeast). Having the right gear is important in helping us stay comfortable and warm.
On our last outing to the local park, we bundled up in our new L.L. Bean gear and brought layers. During the day, we shed some of the warmer layers, but towards sunset, we were so happy we brought them. I loved my new poncho and Jacob is obsessed with his new Quilted Sweatshirts (he wants more colors).
If you live in colder areas, it doesn’t mean you can’t explore the outdoors. We just ensure that we are bundled up and have a bit more gear, like crampons, hand warmers, and hats and gloves.
Pro Tip: Having multiple layers is always the best option so you can adjust to the current temps.
Keep It Local
We love exploring our city and now it is a great time to do it. The most responsible way to explore the outdoors at the moment is to stay local. If you need ideas, we have a ton of posts about local adventures.
With that in mind, take the chance to get to know your greater backyard. We’ve explored local parks that we’ve always wanted to but never made time for.
Even if you think driving 10 hours to a spot you want to go to isn’t harmful, think about all the interactions you’ll have along the way and how that multiplies.
Pro Tip: Remember that if you’re visiting smaller communities, they don’t necessarily have the healthcare infrastructure to handle outbreaks or may have limited resources. Be kind and responsible.
Leave No Trace
As always, take responsibility for the beautiful space you’re exploring. This is especially important since a lot of outdoor spots aren’t fully staffed. Pack out anything you bring in with you. It helps to have an extra bag with you for any garbage.
Bonus points if you pick up any trash you find along the way.
Pack Everything You Need + Some
Since a lot of facilities are limited or even closed, it’s smart to bring everything you need with you. Here is our list:
We’re excited to go on more local adventures in the coming months. In the meantime, we also love cozying up at home in our L.L. Bean flannel PJs.
After all, it’s just as important to dress comfortably at home right PJs all day ftw!
Do you have any other tips for exploring the outdoors safely and responsibly?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.