Travel may have become more challenging during COVID, but what you do you when you desperately needed a break from the sheer monotony of staying at home. Lockdowns and shelter-in-place mandates have also made the yearning for travel that much more intense. Yet, among the several things that the pandemic has taught us, the foremost has been about not taking things for granted. Travel is bound to look very different this year but that does not mean there cannot be meaningful travel experiences.
For most of us, the changed travel perspectives has meant examining how we live and travel, taking into account the carbon footprint of air travel and the consequences of climate change on tourist destinations. Fortunately, there are some fantastic ideas for making travel safe and relaxing, and they come with an added feel-good factor. From road trips to countryside picnics, from staycations to house-swapping, the sky is the limit.
The best way to leave home without leaving the safety of your quarantine bubble is, of course, to take it with you. Pile into a car with your loved ones, and stay away from others as far as possible by minimizing stops in public places and socially distancing when you do. From the legendary Route 66 to the leisurely Blue Ridge Parkway or the sun-drenched Overseas Highway, there’s an option for everyone. If more isolation is what you require, head to Nevada to traverse the Loneliest Road in America, and visit the UFO region while at it.
Many hotels and rentals are implementing rigorous COVID protocols to keep customers safe – such as sanitizing surfaces or even leaving rooms empty for days in between customers. Still, it is probably best to do a little research in advance, and maybe bring along some sanitizer to be as confident in your safety as possible. An alternative to staying in such shared spaces is an RV, which takes care of both meals and wheels for the entirety of your trip. You will probably still want to make your eating stops at outdoor camping spots, though. As always, any good road trip requires an abundance of snacks, so stock up before you leave. Then roll down your windows, play some loud music, and remember to have fun!
Picnic or outdoors
If elaborate planning is not your thing, then there are plenty of places nearby for picnics, something that is badly underrated. Not only will this remove the stress of having to find hygienic accommodation but also take away the hassle of having to find dining options.
So pack some eclectic eatables, either homemade or sourced from the nearest trustworthy bakery or deli, and you are all set. Do not forget to pack a cozy blanket or those handy camping chairs. Head for the nearest park, beach, waterfall, woodsy area or any other stunning location and kick back for a few hours or even the entire day to get some meaningful travel experiences. Several places are already adapting to the new conditions, and providing facilities to accommodate visitors.
Roughing it out is not for everyone. But then again, there is also glamping, or camping that has gone posh. While campgrounds are the preferred places, it is even better to camp in the backwoods where safety is assured though it might require a bit more effort. The effort of strapping everything up and backpacking into the wilderness in search of the perfect spot does take some effort, but the rewards are well worth it.
Take your pick from such scenic spots as Heart Lake in Yellowstone National Park and North Cascades National Park in Washington. But inquire ahead of time since these places have their own rules and set of accessible facilities, so make sure you are not caught on the wrong foot after traveling the distance. For those who want the camping feel but do not really take well to the rusticity of a tent, some campgrounds offer cabins. For those who prefer their modcons intact, look out for such places as Cozy Glamping in Oregon, and Cherry Blossom Yurt on Lookout Mountain in Georgia.
Staycations are always a good way to break the monotony of work and routine. But now more than ever, they are the overwhelming favorite. While exploring your own town or backyard like a tourist might be the obvious step, mix it up a bit with jumping in your vehicle and heading to a hotel, homestay or AirBnB at a spectacular location. Stay in and minimize contact. But choose wisely so there is enough diversity and variety to the routine. This can work well as a workcation too if you have the luxury and privilege of working from home. Opt for places such as Atlanta or Portland, which offer the best of nature and urban life, so you can choose what you want to do and how much you want to mingle.
For those who love traveling and have had their travel plans quashed these last few months, things cannot be more frustrating. And that feeling of getting stir-crazy is all too real. So why not take in some natural beauty? For every well-known national park in the U.S., there are several more that are less known and hide incredible treasures – such as Congaree National Park in South Carolina, or Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska. It is likely that something spectacular is right next door or at least within a few hours’ drive. Any which way, you are sure to rack up some meaningful travel experiences. Make sure you carry marks, wipes and sanitizers, and do check ahead for opening times and changed guidelines in view of the pandemic.
By far, this is one of the most exciting ways for a break. This could be a trip and staycation rolled into one. Of course, this presupposes the fact that you have like-minded people amenable to the idea. The idea is just that – swap your home with your friend’s for a certain duration. Not only does it bring the novelty of a new place but there are so many things to explore and do there, even with pandemic restrictions in place. If you live in different towns or even several hours away, as long as you can drive to each other’s places, this should be a good break. If you are a bit more adventurous, then sign up on one of the many house swap sites such as homeexchange.com and lovehomeswap.com
Read more about the future of travel post COVID and how to travel safely during COVID.