What do people think about (bike) travel during a pandemic?

Former Cofounder

What do people think about (bike) travel during a pandemic?

Former Cofounder

Six feet apart, please.

Photo Credit: Tim Tiebout

Last month, we asked two dozen Bikeout volunteers how they were thinking about travel during these strange times. Our volunteers typically do a lot of long-distance bike travel, a mix of epic week-long trips and relaxed weekend trips on local trails. And usually we find that they're folks who think about or spend a lot of time traveling, on bike or not.

The responses represented each end of the spectrum: some folks are taking extra careful precautions and some see bikecamping as a safe alternative to other more common forms of travel. In totality, the responses represent a fascinating time capsule of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We thought we'd share in case it can help you form your own thoughts about travel, and ideas to do it more safely.

Edited for clarity, particularly related to the timing—we asked these questions in July, so responses that were forward-looking may have lapsed.

The farm at Bikeout: Philly to Phoenixville. | Photo Credit: Tim Tiebout


“I usually travel a lot, mainly to cities. A friend and I are renting an Airbnb in Vermont for a week this summer. We plan on hiking and biking and mostly cooking our own food. It's not the kind of trip I would have ever used vacation time for before, but I need a change of scenery and some time off!”


“We stayed at an AirBnB in the Poconos a couple weeks ago. We're car camping, just the two of us, at French Creek State Park. We're spending another few days in a cabin. We have some small bike camping trips planned, like up the D&L Trail. Overall, we're playing by ear, in case things get too contagious again.”


“Last year, my partner and I went bike camping at least once or twice a month throughout the summer. This year, with the coronavirus, we are focusing on shorter day trips to pretty outdoor local spaces where we can eat a picnic lunch and take in the scenery, such as FDR Park and Bartram's Garden."

Zack, left and Woody, right.


“My plans for travel in the next phase of the pandemic are local overnight trips by bicycle. Not too different from normal summertime activities but I think that they’ll largely be solo or with my ‘quarantine team’ and focused on staying in areas near or inside the Philadelphia region. I’m taking it as an excuse to explore some hometown turf.”


“My partner and I are planning a visit to see my family who lives in Virginia. One of the biggest challenges that we've been facing is less the physical travel aspect, but how to interact with people that are outside of our bubble. Do we get tested first before seeing my family and quarantine while we wait for the results? Do we stay in a separate house than them, or is being on a separate floor with a separate bathroom enough? Is it irresponsible for us to go from a city to see them at all?”


“Right now travel is really more of a dream for me. When I have a few minutes to just sit and breathe, I usually spend them planning various trips I want to take once things calm down and normalize. As frustrating as it is being stuck in the same apartment for months, it's really nice having those trips as a sort of ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ so I don't completely lose my mind while this all plays out.”


“In a few weeks, I'll be biking on the D&L Trail up to Tohickon Valley Park. In September, I'm planning to do a short backpacking trip in the Catskills. Overall, Covid-19 travel for me has meant wearing a mask in grocery stores, washing my hands more often and traveling with fewer people. They're not the best conditions, but so goes life.”


“With all the Covid-19 weirdness, I am just starting to think about summer travel. Fortunately, my sister has a vacation home in Vermont so that is a likely destination. I am also trying to plan a camping trip with friends. Definitely no planes for me right now.”


“I have plans to visit my best friend who just moved to upstate New York. I hope to drive up and spend most of the trip outdoors biking, hiking, and swimming, but I’m not sure when it can happen given that I’m still working. Definitely missing bikepacking this season.”

Shelly, front and center.


“Before the pandemic I was looking forward to taking a trip to Banff National Park in Canada with friends this summer. Due to border closings and a general uneasiness of traveling by plane right now we decided instead to drive to New Hampshire's White Mountains.”


“Travel right now looks like a short camping trip within two hours of home with two friends who haven't been out much, either. The remote setting means we're bringing all our own food and likely won't run into other humans, so it feels safer than, say, a day at the beach, although I'd like to do that at some point this summer, too.”


“My plan is to do as much bike camping as I can this summer. My goal was to take more bike trips this year and luckily it's travel that can be done responsibly during this pandemic.”


“Covid-19 has greatly affected the travel industry. I decided to take a buyout package offered by the company I was working at. In exchange for roughly 6 months salary I get to be unemployed, and now I have time for that dream bike trip from Pittsburgh to DC. Off to new adventures!”

Peter leading the way.

Kirk is a former Cofounder of Bikeout, before operations were taken over by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.

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What do people think about (bike) travel during a pandemic?
A Covid-19 time capsule about escaping.
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