How a Johnson & Wales Student Turned an Online Semester Into a Safe Travel

I am so excited to share the story of how one of my best friends from high school, Lauren Marting, went on a COVID-19 safe road trip while still going to her college classes. Marting is a student at the Charlotte, Johnson & Wales campus.

Like many other college students across the United States, her classes this semester were fully online, and most of her classes were asynchronous. Her asynchronous classes gave her so much more unanticipated free time, so she made the decision to see more of the U.S. To do this, she went on a cross-country trip, spending most of the trip sleeping in her car to save money and stay safe. To better understand how and why she decided to take the trip, I asked Marting a series of questions.

Person Pointing at Black and Gray Film Camera Near Macbook Pro Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

 

Q: Where did you go on your trip? 

A: Our first main stop was Wyoming, where we spent the majority of our time in Teton! We spent nights in Illinois and Colorado on our way there. After spending a week in Wyoming, we left and headed through Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Our next stop was the Grand Canyon. We then meandered back to North Carolina, spending the nights in New Mexico, Kansas, and Missouri. 

Q: Who did you go with?

A: I went with my boyfriend, Dylan. 

Q: How long was your trip?

A: I was on the road for a month! 

Q: What was your favorite place that you visited?

A: Teton, Wyoming was my favorite place! It was absolutely gorgeous in the national park. Our campsite was on the top of a mountain in Elk Refuge, and it was a dream to come back to every night. 

Q: How did you complete your schoolwork while on the road?

A: I had a hot spot on my phone that I was able to use. However, we primarily had to take a day out of every week to sit at a coffee shop and do our work for the week. I couldn’t have done it without the flexibility of my professors, who recorded their zoom lectures and posted them. 

 

Q: What was the hardest part of the trip?

A: The hardest part of my trip was encountering the snow storm “Billy.” We planned to go back through Colorado on the way back, and realized it was going to get heavy with snow. That led us to New Mexico, where we woke up to over two feet of snow. We had to decide whether to wait it out or drive through it. Ultimately, we drove through it, since only more snow was falling. It was something we weren’t expecting to have to deal with, and we had to divert our plans. 

Q: What is your favorite memory from the trip?

A: My favorite memory from the trip was hiking in Wyoming through the snow. The hike ended at the top of the mountain, and it was beautiful to look out and see the snow, cities, and the uninhabited land below as the snow fell. 

Q: How did COVID-19 affect your trip?

A: COVID-19 didn’t affect our trip honestly all too much. We slept in my car or camped all but four nights, and cooked almost all our meals ourselves. This helped us stay out of places with more people. 

Q: Is travel something that you value? How important is traveling to you?

A: I really enjoy traveling. This trip was completely different than anything I’ve ever done before, being so long and going to so many places. 

 

Q: How did this trip affect your general mental health?

A: My trip was everything I needed. It was incredibly beneficial for my mental health. Being in online classes since March and through the summer, I felt myself getting lost in isolation due to the virus, and life became mundane. This trip reminded me of the everyday beauty in things and that happiness is out there — sometimes we just have to make it for ourselves. 

yellow Volkswagen van on road Dino Reichmuth / Unsplash I hope that you enjoyed reading about my friend Lauren’s trip! Like I said before, I am so jealous that she was able to do this. Traveling is one of my biggest values, and I am going crazy because I am not able to travel right now.

Her story has inspired me to explore Boston and the surrounding areas more!

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