Visiting Devon: The Pandemic Guide

Plymouth Hoe: A guide for how to stay safe visiting Devon during the pandemic
This post is in collaboration with but, as ever, all views remain my own

Hey Owlets,

It’s no secret that since the start of the pandemic I’ve been desperately craving travel, but as soon as it became a possibility again I was surprised to find myself hesitant. As much as I love travelling, the thought of getting on a plane with so much stress and uncertainty surrounding every aspect of the trip would ruin the entire point of taking a holiday in the first place. Because of this I’ve decided that, for now at least, I’m sticking to exploring the UK. I’ve written a guide to taking a road trip based on my previous experiences, but until last week I’d only gone to really quiet, non-touristy areas within the UK. However, that changed with a road trip to one of the largest cities in the South West, and one of the most touristy areas of the UK. So, with that in mind here’s a guide to how to have a great holiday in Devon during a pandemic.

A guide for how to stay safe visiting Devon during the pandemic

Where Should I Go in Devon?

I’m not kidding when I say anywhere you can!! This is the first year that so many people have chosen to holiday in the UK since the rise of low cost airlines. We tried to book a hotel a few days before our visit and when I say everywhere was fully booked I mean it. I actually went onto multiple booking sites and when I put in our dates they almost all said “nowhere available for your stay”. I even went directly onto the Premier Inn and Travelodge sites and typed in “Cornwall” and “Devon” then scrolled through to see every single hotel being listed as sold out - I’ve genuinely never seen anything like it. However, we definitely landed on our feet as one of the only hotels with vacancies was in Plymouth. We decided to book it as a good central location to drive to other areas around Devon and neighbouring Cornwall but once we arrived we quickly realised how much Plymouth had to offer. Like most things in 2020, things usually work out if you just accept the chaos and go with it!! 

In all seriousness though, Plymouth was the perfect location - it was a 40 minute drive to Looe in Cornwall which is a small seaside town with lovely little streets crammed full of independent shops, and a beautiful beach at the end of the winding alleyways. Torquay is just under an hour’s drive from Plymouth and is one of my favourite places in Devon. It has beautiful beaches, some of which are pretty much abandoned, independent shops, a busy high street and beautiful views; right now those beautiful views come with part of the P&O fleet in Torbay which have become a huge tourist attraction. If you want the best view of the cruise ships head up to Babbacombe, or book a boat trip out to see them (try to do this before you go, or it’ll most likely be fully booked when you get there!).

A guide for how to stay safe visiting Devon during the pandemic

What is There to Do?

That’s a very difficult question to answer, not because there’s not a lot to do but because there’s so much. Most things are open although there are a few exceptions, like Smeaton’s Tower in Plymouth because it’s impossible to social distance in a miniature lighthouse. Obviously, be aware that if you’re visiting somewhere inside then you will need to wear a mask so bear that in mind - particularly if you’re a glasses wearer! For me it was pointless visiting indoor attractions as my glasses steam up so much that I wouldn’t be able to see anything. It also depends on the weather and if you feel safe being in enclosed spaces. We chose to stick to outdoor attractions and had an amazing few days visiting an owl sanctuary in Cornwall, exploring pretty little seaside villages and sitting on golden beaches to enjoy the last of the summer sunshine. There’s a lot of maritime history in the South West, so if you’re more interested in culture then you’ll run out of time on holiday before you run out of things to do! The same goes for adventure seekers, because with all the clifftops and woodlands there’s no shortage of things to keep you active on your break.

A guide for how to stay safe visiting Devon during the pandemic

What Should I Bring with Me?

It’s no secret that our packing lists have changed drastically since the start of the pandemic, but it’s not something you need to worry about as long as you’re prepared. You need to wear a face covering when you’re taking a taxi, using public transport, or in enclosed spaces such as supermarkets, pubs, bars or even indoor tourist attractions like aquariums so pack plenty of face masks as it’s not considered safe to use them for multiple days in a row, or to use them more than once if you’re using disposable masks. You should, of course, pack plenty of hand sanitiser and expect to use it even more on holiday than when you’re at home because you’re out exploring instead of staying in the same place when you’re at work. Try to put one in each bag, coat pocket or car so you always have one to hand. There’s nothing worse than saying you fancy an ice cream then realising you can’t clean your hands! If you’ve got a contactless bank card you should definitely bring that with you too, or pay on your phone where you can - a lot of shops are now no longer accepting cash due to safety concerns. Other than “pandemic packing” just make sure you bring comfortable shoes, a rain coat and your camera to capture the beautiful views on your walks!

A guide for how to stay safe visiting Devon during the pandemic

How Do I Stay Safe on Holiday?

Realistically, being on holiday in Devon is no different to being anywhere else in the UK unless you’re currently in a local lockdown (obviously don't leave your hometown if this is the case!!). However, I would suggest doing a little extra planning before your visit because, like it or not, the effects of the pandemic are felt everywhere and it’s not something you can really escape on holiday. If you’re particularly cautious then staying in a rural holiday cottage would be the perfect option for you - it’s peaceful so you can relax, but it’s also out of any busy areas so you’re not likely to bump into many other people. However, if you want to visit somewhere busier then just be sensible and come prepared with backup plans. Because everyone is on holiday in the UK it’s much busier than normal; when we visited Looe we couldn’t even drive down the street because it was so busy. We managed to find somewhere to park but spent a lot of time people dodging and chose to wear a mask in the street for a little extra peace of mind - we actually saw a lot of people doing this and it was reassuring that it was in the minds of others as well. If you’re not comfortable being in large crowds then this is what I mean by having a backup plan, so that if somewhere is too busy there’s somewhere else you can choose to visit instead. 

A guide for how to stay safe visiting Devon during the pandemic

Besides being prepared with a plan B if somewhere is too busy, it’s just a case of sticking to the guidelines and doing whatever makes you feel safe. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, wear a mask in enclosed spaces and keep 2 metres from people wherever you can. If you feel uncomfortable somewhere then it shouldn’t be a big deal to either wear a mask in the street or simply say “this isn’t for me” and visit somewhere else that day. If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s how to be flexible!!

Hopefully this helps if you’re feeling a bit uneasy about travelling around the UK anytime soon. Obviously don’t take my advice as gospel, just use my experience and the things that stressed me out to help you better plan your holiday. Other than that, just go and have fun! We all need a holiday after this year so if you’re able to take some time away then make the most of it.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
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