The weather is heating up. The days are getting longer. School is officially out- as in for real with no virtual learning to do. If you are anything like me, this is the time of year when the wanderer in my soul starts to wake up and the travel bug hits me.
Summer vacation can be as much a tradition as anything else. But, this year is different from the past ones. Our world is in the middle of a pandemic and with all of the information and misinformation and updated information, it can be really hard to know which way is up let alone make decisions about whether or not to make a great escape.
Adventure is out there!
The world is slowly reopening and so are all of our favorite travel destinations. The major Florida theme parks are all in the process of resuming operations, major tourist destinations are welcoming visitors back with open arms, and flights are pretty affordable right now. Even locally, travel destinations are getting back up and running. Cedar Point, state parks, and waterpark hotels are opening up soon.
I took an incredibly unscientific poll of my social media family and friends about summer travel planning. I got all the important who, what, where, when, and whys from the group. It seems like everyone who responded is feeling pretty comfortable with the idea of traveling this summer. A couple of respondents are traveling just as they always have with plans to fly to Disney or Las Vegas this summer. Except for them and the one who jokingly responded that they are looking forward to a trip with SpaceX, it seems like everyone else is looking for and forward to travel that will still allow them to maintain safe social distancing practices.
Taking all of that into account, with no further adieu, here are my fabulous Summer of 2020 Social Distancing Travel Suggestions…
Take the Great American Road Trip
As previously mentioned, airlines are ready and willing to fly you to your intended destination this summer. You might even be able to score a pretty decent deal on tickets in some cases. Flights may look a little different from socially distanced rows and few seats for sale, but the tickets are available. One friend even suggested utilizing smaller, local airports as a way to avoid crowds and save some money.
If you aren’t quite ready to take to the skies (or in my case are never ready to because two adults and four children = lots of money spent on airfare) consider taking a road trip. There are plenty of destinations of all varieties that are within a day’s drive from Northwest Ohio. Or, if you are truly daring enough and have the time, follow Route 66 out West and see the country. Channel your inner Clark Griswold, gas up the old Family Truckster, and hit the open road.
Just Beach It
The sun. The sand. The waves lapping on the shore. I cannot imagine a better place to spend some vacation time during a socially distanced summer. It seems like it would be pretty easy to plop down your beach gear and maintain a six-foot radius around you while enjoying the scenery and catching some rays.
Myrtle Beach, Virginia Beach, Ocean City, and Hilton Head are all easily drivable distances from NWO. Do a little bit of research and seek out times that are not considered high travel times to visit. This will help with ease of finding reservations and to avoid large crowds of beachgoers. Also, bring your own gear. Instead of renting that beach chair or umbrella, invest in one of your own and bring it along. It limits interactions and is one less thing you have to do when you arrive at your beach.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Oh, the mountains are calling and I must go to them. We are really lucky to have an amazing state and national park system. Whether tent camping is your thing or, like me, cabin camping is your thing, there is a multitude of options not all that far from your doorstep. Pick a destination and set out on the hike of your dreams.
Maumee Bay and Hocking Hills State Parks are great ideas for a staycation or even if you are looking for a trip a little closer to home. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an easy eight-hour drive away from here and its neighboring tourist towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are very much open for business.
Learn Some Lessons
Okay. I know what you are thinking. Summer vacation and learning? Trust me, those two can go together and still be enjoyable. I am a self-professed history buff and so is my Dad. We had several memorable and fun vacations growing up where we visited destinations that taught us a little or a lot about the past.
Cities like Washington, D.C., or New York City obviously have a lot of attractions that are both pretty cool to see and can teach us a thing or two. However, in light of COVID-19 and social distancing, they might not be on your list. Places like Gettysburg, PA, Colonial Williamsburg, VA, or Plymouth and Salem, MA are some of the best historical destinations in the United States and are right here on the East Coast. They have plenty to offer and you might even learn something new.
Consider the Specifics
Now that you have thought about when or where to go, there are a couple of other items to keep in mind while planning your summer trip to your destination of choice.
Hotels and motels are open and taking reservations, but also consider other options. Air BnB and VRBO offer up a chance to rent a home or a condo. These locations generally provide a private residence and full kitchen. You can also look for locally owned vacation rental companies where you are traveling. They have private rental options that also help support the economy.
COVID Closures and Restrictions
Research your destination. If it is out of the state of Ohio, it is important to do the homework and know what their guidelines are. All the attractions you might be interested in seeing might not be open or require reservations to see.
Not every city or state has dining rooms open at their restaurants so you may be relegated to take out. We usually try to time our meal breaks while road tripping as restroom breaks too. If the dining room at your favorite fast-food restaurant isn’t open, the restrooms won’t be either.
The wearing of masks might be required in some places, suggested in others, and not the norm at all in the rest. Plan on packing one to have one handy and be prepared to use it.
Don’t forget the sunscreen, the sanitizer, and above all else, have fun!