The Great Post-Pandemic Migration

It’s a crazy world we live in. Time to make the most of it.

The Grea Post-Pandemic Migration
Camper truck. PHOTO Layne Deakins

It’s been one year since I graduated college, and it feels like time is moving faster than it ever has before. The dizzying blur of a long and costly pandemic is subsiding, and at last, life is speeding by with some semblance of normalcy again. The past two years have perched us all on a ledge of impermanence, of canceled plans, dashed hopes, and unforeseen challenges, but they also gave us time to reconsider our priorities during a much-needed hiatus from the hustle and grind of pre-pandemic life.

We’ve eased our way back into old habits and routines, first by lining up for vaccines and popping our six-foot bubbles. Slowly but surely, the masks were lowered and some remote employees made a long-awaited return to their workplaces. Those who are still glued to laptops are spurring a post-pandemic ‘Great Migration’ and leaving crowded cities for smaller towns surrounded by nature and recreation. The past two years have hardened us and bruised us in more ways than one, but they’ve given us the courage to make the scary and essential changes we were maybe too afraid to make before.

Over half a year into my post-grad full-time job, I’m joining the ranks of remote workers typing, calling, and zooming in from home indefinitely. But like the millions of migrators, I too am choosing to make the most of that flexibility. This summer, I’m hitting the road and embarking on my own migration, one I’m hoping will make up for an idle, lethargic existence during years of COVID lockdowns.

As a Pennsylvania native, I’ve spent summers exploring the East Coast on beach vacations and trips to visit friends and family members, but the Wild West remains an uncharted mystery to me. This spring, I made up my mind to change that, so I bought a 2008 pickup–a red, rumbly beast of a truck—along with an old Coleman Fleetwood pop-up camper. After a few weeks of cleaning, repairing, and decorating, I finally hit the road.

The Grea Post-Pandemic Migration
Ozarks. PHOTO Layne Deakins

The first leg of my journey brought me South to Missouri, where I’m writing and working during the day, and biking, exploring, and lounging in the evening. My little camper is nestled among the dense forests and craggy limestone bluffs of the Ozarks. This adventure is my first substantial solo travel experience, a daunting undertaking, but one that gives me the ability to move and explore however I please.

The announcement of my travel plans was met by loved ones with understandable concern. Was I being naive? Foolhardy? Who’s to say? But even if that turns out to be the case, the lessons learned and the mistakes made along the way will force me to grow, and that’s a welcome change after a stagnant and largely unremarkable two years.

The Grea Post-Pandemic Migration
Missouri castle. PHOTO Layne Deakins

All those who warned me, worried for me, and doubted me are right. We’re living in an unpredictable, changing world. A glimpse into the daily news unveils a Pandora’s box of social, political, economic, and environmental challenges, many that seem too layered and complex to ever be solved.

For all I know, the pristine national parks on my West coast itinerary may be scorched by raging wildfires in the years ahead. Another bout of COVID could swoop in when we least expect it and shut the world down for a second time. The impermanence of everyday life that became so evident during the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much a reality, so I’ve decided to dive headfirst into the few certainties that I do have. I have time, I have flexibility, and I have high hopes for the future.

Onward to Colorado, California, Oregon, Montana

The Grea Post-Pandemic Migration
Missouri Ozark lake. PHOTO Layne Deakins

Layne Deakins

Content Editor Associate

Layne is a Pennsylvania native who enjoys adventuring in nature, traveling, writing, eating, and spending precious time with her cat. Fluent in Italian, Layne jumps at every opportunity to explore the world around her, and she’s always planning for her next trip back to Italy.

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