Amid the nonstop work from the home grind, many of us are in need of a break. With most popular vacation spots closed or operating at a reduced capacity, and social distancing, a new fact of life, here are some tips for inexpensive (and safe) day trips and vacations to take during the pandemic. We'll also give you a few tips for your inexpensive vacation.
Camping is a great way to unwind, de-stress, and enjoy a little time away from society. Check out Reserve America or Hipcamp for some camping ideas, itinerary plans, and extra tips. Both websites allow you to search for campgrounds by city and zip code.
Hipcamp, which operates somewhat like Airbnb, offers a wide range of glamping experiences for those looking for something that feels a little more like home. If you’re looking for a bizarre or out-of-the-ordinary camping experience, Hipcamp has you covered with a range of activities. Try camping at a horse ranch or alpaca farm. Listed experiences and rentals can range from a few dollars to over $1,000 a night, making it an affordable option for anyone, including those on a tight budget. The website also offers referral code deals and anytime someone signs up with your referral code to camp, you’ll get a $10 credit. If a friend lists their land for campers, you can earn $100.
Once you pick a location to camp, make sure to check out activities in the surrounding area with a simple and come prepared. Depending on the experience, you might need to purchase your own tent. Check out a local hardware store or even Amazon, which offers a range of inexpensive options. You’ll also need to bring food and bottled water, as some campgrounds might have limited access to both. If you’re out in the wilderness, odds are a grocery store won’t be in the vicinity. Bring non-perishable food items like canned goods, vegetables, and protein bars in case you get hungry.
Rent an RV and Road Trip
Renting an RV is a great way to explore the United States and get out of town. Dozens of websites offer rental services for RVs and campers for a range of budgets and timeframes. Check out RVshare or Cruise America, the largest RV rental service in the U.S. with over 132 rental locations nationwide. Both websites offer trip ideas, itineraries, and other necessary tips.
Outdoorsy is another option to check out when looking for a rental, which works like Airbnb. The website allows RV owners to list their vehicle for rent to earn a little extra cash, meaning there’s a range of uniquely designed and decorated vehicles you can check out. Outdoorsy currently offers a number of deals, including earning money off your trip by sharing a referral link. Through the referral program, both you and a friend can earn money for future trips. If anyone signs up for an account using the link you send out, they’ll get $50 off on their first trip and once they book their trip you’ll earn $75. If someone with your referral link lists an RV, you can earn $100.
Keep in mind that renting an RV can get expensive and cost upwards of $250 - sometimes even $500 - a night. Think about splitting it with someone else and road-tripping with a group of friends you feel comfortable socially distancing with. You might also need to be flexible with dates since many RV services are booking up quickly as more people hop on this rising COVID-19 vacation trend. For example, try renting an RV for a few days in the middle of the week, rather than for a weekend or during a holiday.
Remember, you can always take your car and head out on an old fashioned road trip for a day or two. This option is likely cheaper although you’ll need to consider where to stay. Many websites like Airbnb and Vrbo are still offering rental services with more extensive cleaning requirements. But you may have to do some additional work once you get there. Come equipped with wipes and disinfectant spray to wipe down counters, bathrooms, doorknobs, and any other high touch items. If the listing comes with pots, pans, and other kitchen supplies, consider bringing your own.
Go to the Beach
An adventure to the beach is another easy and inexpensive way to take a trip, without the added risk of staying somewhere overnight. Before you head out, make sure to check the COVID-19 rules for beaches in your state. Many are only operating at 50% capacity amid the pandemic and restricting access for some activities. Some beaches might also have restrictions about bringing food or having a picnic. When swimming, lounging, or even walking, make sure to keep your distance. Although there’s no evidence to suggest the virus spreads through water, someone could sneeze or cough. Think about taking along a mask for the day if you plan on running, walking, or exploring the beach.
Take a Hike
If you love the outdoors, taking a hike is a great way to unwind and explore nature. For an outdoorsy person, the perfect inexpensive vacation. One of the wonderful things about hiking is that it can be as long or as short as you want it to be. It’s the perfect option for social-distancing with minimal person-to-person contact.
For tips on where to hike, check out websites like AllTrails or EarthTrekkers, which offer an array of sample itineraries to choose from. On Alltrails, you can search for a specific location or simply input your address and use the expandable map to see the available trails in your area. The website also allows you to search for trails based on length, difficulty, and a variety of other filters.
The Hiking Project is another easy-to-use resource that works similarly and also offers a list of curated, top-rated routes. Make sure to plan accordingly and pack snacks like protein bars, sunscreen and a ton of water
Some Additional Tips:
Using the Bathroom
When you need to take a break or use the bathroom on a long road trip, be vigilant. Wear a mask and put on a pair of gloves you can dispose of once you’ve finished. Restrooms are breeding grounds for bacteria so before you enter a stall, look around. Has the bathroom been cleaned recently? Is there soap and paper towels? Is there any sign or reminder to wash your hands? These questions are crucial signs of care and cleaning. When looking for a rest stop, TripTik is a great tool to help you plan accordingly, and check for closures.
If you’re heading on a road trip, keep extra bottles of water and food on hand when you get hungry or need a snack. Packing your own food is a great way to avoid an overcrowded rest stop. Think about packing high protein snacks like nuts or protein bars to keep you full. Also remember to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes and gloves up front for when you need to pump gas or eat. Using both is the best way to limit contact with surfaces that tend to contain tons of germs.
Consider Packing Your Own Food
For those worried about entering grocery stores and restaurants, pack your own food. This is a good way to avoid contact and save a little money. Think about investing in a cooler bag to store goods overnight. For overnight trips, in particular, think about renting an apartment or house through a rental site like Airbnb, a better option than a crowded hotel with high-touch items like elevators. Many rental sites are offering great deals since bookings are down because of the pandemic. For a full list of Airbnb’s new cleaning rules, check out the following link.
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