YUCK right?? Let’s all have a moment of silence for all the adventures planned that never were this summer.
(We personally had to cancel an epic family trip planned for Norway this May…and honestly I just try not to think about it too much because it’s too heartbreaking)
Traveling for Americans will look vastly different this summer. While most people had to cancel their spring trips (take a look at how we got full cash refunds for each and every flight HERE), their summer vacations are still looming in uncertainty. Spring was spent with plenty of time inside doing puzzles, wearing sweatpants, and taking up plenty of new hobbies. So now that warm weather is rolling around, we are sitting here wondering how can we scratch that adventure itch…anyone else?!
While the U.S. Department of State is still advising Americans to avoid all international travel, domestic travel (more specifically outdoor oriented travel) seems to be the answer for travel for now…because we need something, right?!
So how will this summer look? We’re digging into positivity and rounded up a couple of ways to make the most out of this unexpected season — while still being safe!
Rise of the Road Trip
Road trips…surprise, surprise… predicting this summer will be heightened unlike anything before. People are opting for car travel over plane travel as a direct response to the pandemic (this is definitely what we are thinking!)
Experts are also seeing a rise of RV travel (anyone else have a never before urge to purchase a camper and get on the road?!)— they offer a sense of freedom and safety which is the perfect sentiment during these unprecedented times. Minimizing risk because you are confining your travel and lodging into the same self-contained environment, while still itching that travel bug is the name of the game.
This site seems to be the best resource for renting RV’s for those cross country adventures.
And for good measure, here are some suggestions from the CDC to ensure your travel is as safe as possible.
- Anticipate your needs before you go so you can minimize stops.
- Prepare food, water, and snacks for the road.
- Pack a sufficient amount of alcohol-based (at least 60%) hand sanitizer.
- Bring disinfect and other cleaning supplies.
So why not take advantage of this situation to plan a summer road trip? While international travel may not resume for a while, we can still see across the United States and our own backyards. Take this as an opportunity to visit those close-to-you destinations that you may have ruled out before. Visit an old favorite in your home state or introduce your family to a trip you often went on as a kid.
We think travelers will also be leaning towards summer vacations that explore the great outdoors. Travelers will head outside to state and national parks because they feel the safest and will most likely be open to the public.
National Parks are expecting to experience the largest visitation growth periods in history (YES!) as everyone is clamoring to be outside again. With this new influx of visitors, the NPS will be implementing new safety measures. We planned a last minute getaway to the Smoky Mountain National Park because we were dessssppperraateee for a change of scenery – but check out our full list of National Parks open now and what to do once you get there HERE.
Return to full operations will continue to be phased and some services may be limited. If you choose to travel (or are lucky enough to live by) a national park, there are a few simple safety guidelines across the board to take into consideration when visiting.
- Comply with state and local guidance, just because the park is open doesn’t mean you should go.
- Continue to follow the social distancing rule of 6 feet.
- During COVID-19, resources you may be used to might not be available so remember to always pack items like water, park maps, and food.
- Avoid crowded areas — trails will have limitations making them more crowded than usual so avoid peak times and popular areas.
- Don’t approach wildlife. While this is always the case, with much of the population indoors this spring, areas have seen an increase in wildlife activity.
AND If you can’t get to a national park soon, remember you can always visit virtually! SO cool!
Here is a list of National Parks that are partially open or have dates to reopen soon.
US National Parks That Are Open Now
- Denali National Park, Alaska (backpacking areas open, but climbing season suspended)
- Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska (entrance/trail use by permit only)
- Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska (some areas open)
- Saguaro National Park, Arizona (day use only)
- Joshua Tree National Park, California (roads and limited trails open)
- Redwood National Park, California (day use only)
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado (day use only)
- Biscayne National Park, Florida (trails, boat launches, and restrooms open)
- Everglades National Park, Florida (day-use area and some beach campsites)
- Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky (trail use only)
- Great Basin National Park, Nevada (trails and visitor centers open)
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota (day use only)
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio (trails open, clockwise travel only)
- Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota (limited trail open)
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina (day use only)
- Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (limited trails open, day use only)
- Zion National Park, Utah (day use only)
- Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands (trails and beaches open)
- Mount Rainier National Park, Washington (backcountry areas open)
- Olympic National Park, Washington (day use only)
- Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (roads, hiking trails, and fishing areas)
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (south entrance, some roads, trails, and restrooms open)
National Parks Scheduled to Open
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (currently closed, reopening limited areas May 22-25)
- Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (plans for reopening scheduled for May 27)
- Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds, Colorado (opening June 4)
- Capitol Reef National Park, Utah (trails and backcountry camping opening May 19)
- Arches National Park, Utah (opening May 29, backcountry access opening May 30)
- Canyonlands National Park, Utah (opening May 29)
- Big Bend National Park, Texas (opening June 1)
- Parks Canada National Parks (multiple parks opening June 1)
- Canada National Parks Campgrounds (scheduled to open after June 21)
- Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado (opening June 3)
- Isle Royale National Park, Michigan (opening after June 14)
- Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona (mid-June)
- Katmai National Park, Alaska (camping suspended until July 1)
State and local parks also offer hiking, biking, and camping in order to get outside. Public lands managed by the National Forest Service offer miles and miles of wide-open spaces to enjoy that will likely be less busy than national parks.
When not planning our last-minute National Park trip, we have been LIVING at our local nature preserve! It’s like a little mini-vacation, and bonus it’s only 15 minutes from our house.
Take advantage of local favorites to plan a weekend with all the outdoor activities that leave you feeling filled to the brim — a campfire, s’ mores, and a beautiful hike. Pack a picnic and take it to your local state park to enjoy.
Travel WILL happen this summer… though “normal” travel will not return for quite some time (queue all the crying emojis). While you may not be able to head off to your trip overseas (remember that one time we lived in Italy for a month??), it’s still possible to make the most of this summer.
After all, after months of quarantine, any trip will feel like a dream vacation.