By: Mecca R. Dennehy
Bringing Back The Road Trip
The stars are still out, as you swing your duffel bag into the back of your car. Steam from your coffee slowly wafts its way up out of your thermos as it sits in your cup holder. Your favorite snacks are in the bag on the passenger seat floor, and your co-pilot is plugging your phone into the aux chord with your favorite road trip playlist on. Your pups are snuggled up with blankets in the backseat, their tails sleepily wagging as they show their excitement for the big day ahead. With a sip of your coffee, you put your car in reverse and head to the highway as the sun begins to peek over the mountains.
After a year of travel bans, it’s still uncertain if international travel will happen anytime in 2021. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t explore someplace new. Road trips are a great way to safely travel around the country and, with so many amazing places only a few highways away, you’ll be sure to get your fix for adventure. We’ve rounded up some tips on how to plan an exciting and safe road trip for 2021.
Plan It Out
Of course, road tripping 101: Plan! First, figure out how many days or weeks you can be away on your trip. Once you have the length figured out, then start thinking of where you’d like to visit. Do you want to stay in one state and explore different regions, or travel to multiple states? Are there certain viewpoints or attractions you’d like to see? Jot all these down!
Then, try to narrow it down (because most of us will come up with pages of all the places we’d like to explore!) by either location, proximity, or which ones are a must-see. A few things to think about when narrowing down your locations are the weather and crowds. If you are wanting to be in a less-touristy area, think of locations that aren’t on many people’s radars. National Parks can be crowded during summer, but some clear up during the spring and fall months. Do your research! Also, weather can play a huge role in how you experience a place. If you want to chase thunderstorms in Arizona, visit during their monsoon season! If you want to see all the moody rain the PNW has to offer, head to the west coast during the late fall or winter months.
Some locations may have temporary closures or limited access due to covid. So, be sure to look up if certain state and national parks are open before you plan your trip! If you’re wanting to plan a road trip that takes you away from big cities and deep into the countryside or to quaint little towns, this tip is for you. Instead of planning stays in large-chain hotels, look for AirBnBs or Bed & Breakfasts that are off the beaten path. Look on Google Maps for small towns near a destination you want to go to (like a specific waterfall or state park) and research that area. If it’s in a dense forest or near National Park territory, chances are it’s not a large city. Or, pack your camping gear and look for free campsites on BLM land! Use the FreeRoam App to find non-traditional campsites.
Plan On Days and Off Days
While it’s exciting to explore so many different places, make sure you aren’t always on the go. Always plan for easy days where there isn’t a lot of driving involved and you get to be present where you are. Maybe you plan to camp along the river and spend the day fishing. Or, take a weekend at a hot spring resort and spend Saturday soaking and Sunday lounging in a hammock. Or, simply hanging with your dogs in the backyard of your AirBnB throwing a frisbee. Remember, this time is for you! With that being said, feel free to splurge on something fun and exciting. Maybe you’ve always wanted to go on a guided whitewater rafting trip on the Wenatchee River or go canyoning in Utah. Plan these fun activities and check something off of your bucket list!
There are so many wonderful places to explore: from rainforests to oceans, to deserts and mountains--and they’re all just a car ride away. Being able to safely explore and get outside is a privilege and a gift, so don’t waste a second more and start planning your next road trip!
About the Author:
Mecca R. Dennehy
Mecca is an adventure writer and photographer based in Oregon and loves everything the rainy PNW has to offer. You can find her hiking to alpine lakes or camping with her husband and her two rescue pups, Finn and Ruby. She is also an adventure wedding and elopement photographer and loves to capture couples as they start the most epic adventure of all together.