You only need to look at the stock market to see how air travel has fared since 2020. As fewer people are traveling the skies, major airlines are considering mass layoffs, cost-cutting, or even outright bankruptcy. It’s obvious that the world will need to find other travel options.
It may seem like there’s no point in going anywhere if everything is closed down, but the reality is that many places never shut down at all, including national parks. If the start of 2021 is feeling like the ranting of an uninvited, drunken partygoer — one from which you want to take a well-earned vacation — the good news is that the roads are open, provided you’re ready to hit them safely.
Take the Best Route
It’s been a long time since most of us were stuck in rush-hour traffic, and many more of us may have forgotten what it was like to be late for something, now that we can work in our pajamas. Yet these basic rules of the road remain very much intact during the pandemic: Know where you are, know where you’re going, know how to get there, and know whether you’ll need a plan B.
While road construction has slowed during the pandemic, this doesn’t mean you can breeze through big cities, since some projects are behind schedule and others have fewer workers to direct traffic.
It’s best to use an app to help you look ahead. And while you’re at it, check for the presence of clinics or hospitals en route to your destination, just in case you need health care while you’re on the road.
Cover Your Home
The last thing you want to think about during a vacation is the house you’ve just left. Yet that house is most likely your largest investment, not to mention the place your family calls home.
You can do more than the simple things — turning off the lights and water — to make sure your home remains safe during a long trip away. A home warranty can provide financial coverage in the event you return and find appliances broken, pipes leaking, or even major damage to the electrical or HVAC systems.
Limit ‘Road Contact’
Some of us live in states that have relaxed stay-at-home restrictions, allowing businesses to set up shop again. Although it may feel more normal, remember that virus rates have been spiking in many areas that might have been “cleared.”
As you visit gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and other destinations, you need to continue following safety procedures to minimize your exposure risk. That means not just standing 6 feet away, but also getting takeout instead of dining in, and following all recommended precautions.
Never forget your face masks. When someone sneezes or coughs, some 100,000 contagious germs travel through the air at a speed of about 100 mph. Make sure you’ve got plenty of hand sanitizer ready to use after you spend time in a public place.
Consider Closer Destinations
Perhaps you’re a New Yorker who has never been to the Empire State Building, or perhaps you live in Alaska and know there’s no way you could see the whole state in one lifetime. No matter where you live, there are probably quite a few places near you worth seeing. That’s convenient, because the shorter your trip, the less likely it is that you’ll run into a virus vector.
This is doubly true if your backyard parks, forests, lakes, and recreation places aren’t as popular as the bigger attractions in your area. You’ll get to enjoy and maintain social distancing in a place that isn’t overrun by the usual horde of tourists.
Leave the Phone in the Car
The term “nomophobia” has entered the Oxford English Dictionary to describe the fear of being pulled away from our favorite technological friends, our smartphones (“nomo” being short for “no mobile”). If the thought of spending time away from your phone makes you uneasy, then perhaps you owe it to yourself to live life like it’s 1999 again.
You’ll definitely want to keep your phone around for safety and security in case of emergency, but consider leaving it in the car once you reach your destination. Going camping, hiking, or fishing without a phone can be refreshing and even liberating if you’re one of the countless people addicted to scrolling.
One great thing about a road trip is the opportunity to think differently. Challenge yourself by considering how to get what you need without a phone — use a map, a camera, an envelope with a postage stamp — and you might find yourself happy to be living low-tech again.
Try New Things
What’s the point of taking a vacation during a global pandemic if you’re going to do the same thing you’d do when times were normal? While the spread of the virus is real and serious, it also represents a new era of American history, and nobody will be the same person afterward that they were before.
As a novel response to the novel coronavirus, consider embracing this change and pushing yourself to do new things during your road trip: See unfamiliar places, meet new people, visited unexpected attractions (as long as they look safe), even try driving a different type of car like a stick shift, if you’ve never done it before.
A road trip doesn’t have to fundamentally change your life, but the novelty and change of scenery should allow you to discover a deeper sense of living, and maybe even learn something about yourself. The virus doesn’t have to stop you. In fact, it might encourage you to try things — safely, of course — that you’ve never considered before.
Guest Post by By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life