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corona virus and travel

Travel

The Ultimate List of Resources for Your Next Road Trip

Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

They are calling 2020 the year of the road trip — and we aren’t complaining!

We just took a last-minute summer getaway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park via road trip (100% inspired by this post HERE) and it was the BEST decision we made on this side of Corona.

With COVID restrictions still happening across the United States, I know we are all itching for any sort of adventure and utilizing old school road trips to do so.

Regardless if you want to spend a week in a luxury RV or want to hit the open road with no plans and a tent (does that sound SO thrilling to anyone else?!), there are a few essentials that will just make life on the road easier.

Of course, you should start by packing your car with the true essentials — driver’s license, registration, sunglasses, a killer playlist (a must), water, and of course snacks. But after that, there are apps and tools to keep ready in your car to maximize your road trip for ease and FUN!

Car Essentials

Smart Vehicle Health Monitor

Keep an eye on your engine health with this monitor and its real-time alerts. It uses predictive technology to identify any potential issues with your car. Just plug it into your car’s OBD port to ensure you have a safe and fun road trip.

2021 Road Atlas

I don’t know about you, but there’s no greater feeling than reading a map while traveling down an open road. While we all have the world at our fingertips thanks to smartphones, sometimes following along on a paper map just adds to your road trip journey. We love large scale version is easy to read and features every state’s map, 350 enlarged city insets, and National Park maps.

Inflatable Back Seat Gap

Sometimes you just need to pull over and call it a night — this inflatable back seat mattress helps you do just that. With an electric pump, within 2-3 minutes you can transform the backseat of your car into a flat comfortable surface to catch some z’s.

Fast Drying Microfiber Towel

Whether you need a quick fix for a spill or need something to dry off with after a spontaneous dip, a fast-drying towel is a must-have for your road trip. It’s lightweight and ultra-compact so it won’t take up too much space in your car, but has fast-drying capabilities that absorbs 5 times its weight

Travel Journal

All the apps in the world can’t beat good old-fashioned memory keeping.

While you can pack this list full of practical items for road trips, there are some things necessary for travel memory keeping as well. Spend your days on the road capturing and writing down your favorite memories, itineraries, and keeping mementos beautifully.

Car Jump Starter and Battery Charger

Nothing is worse than an unexpected flat when you’re trying to get somewhere. Jumpstart your car up to 20 times with this dual jump starter and battery charger. Use the USB ports to plug in any phones or tablets for a quick charge.

Portable First Aid Kit

You never know when you’ll need a first aid kit. This compact portable version will have you covered for any minor incidents. It includes gauze, band-aids, Neosporin, Tylenol, an instant cold pack, cleansing wipes, and gloves so you’ll be set for whatever mishap comes your way. 

Resources and Tools

The Dyrt

It’s easy to see why this is the #1 rated app for camping — it’s a mobile-friendly tool that helps you craft the perfect adventure so you can have a successful road trip. It has the largest reviewed collection of campgrounds ranging from free campsites to RV resorts to National Parks. (See our ultimate National Park Resource HERE– all the parks open on this side of COVID and what to do once you get there!)

They make it even easier with a downloadable map feature to find campsites on the go if you’re driving through any places with spotty reception.

Allstays

Unless you’re road tripping with an RV or camper, you’re going to need to find places to rest along the way. Search by state and filter for what kind of camping location you prefer. In populous areas, people often leave helpful reviews and pictures so you know what to expect — if you’re road-tripping on a tight budget, this is the app for you.

Gas Buddy

To easily seek out the cheapest gas prices along your route, download gas buddy for your next road trip. It allows you to save the maximum amount of money so you can continue on the easiest route and work within a budget. Just type in your starting point and destination and it will calculate the quickest route with all the money-saving stops throughout. It includes a trip cost calculator, a directory of local gas prices, and even an accurate estimate of gas budget for your current make and model.

Roadtrippers

Really the only app you need as far as mapping out your trip….because what’s a road trip without a detour and the fun stops?!

Roadtrippers helps you discover the most incredible people, places, and experiences worth a detour. It even has a feature that allows you to share and collaborate with friends. There is also live traffic updates and offline maps, which we found crazy helpful as we made our way into the Smoky Mountains.

Outdoorsy

Are you ready to head out on the road trip of a lifetime, but you’re just missing the vehicle part? Outdoorsy is the tool for you. Just enter your dates, your location, and the site aggregates vans, campers, and RVs to rent. On the other hand, if you have a camper or RV just sitting around you can easily list it and make some money when you’re not using it.

Splitwise

Heading out on a road trip with a group of friends? Splitwise is an easy tool to keep track of a trip’s expenses and divvy budget between your friends. Add any accommodations, rentals, food, and any other spending into the app and it acts as a running tab to split things easily. This is the number one thing I have downloaded for any type of adventure with a group of people so it doesn’t cause a headache at the end of the trip when they ask, “So what do I owe you?”.

To Pass the Time

Libby

Hands down our favorite road trip entertainment is audio books, kids or not. Without fail, we are sucked into a story and before we know it 5 hours have been ticked off that 15hour journey!

The Libby app is our favorite audiobook source because it’s free! Libby, by Overdrive, is run through the public libraries, so you can check out as many audio books as your heart desires without paying a dime. Just make sure to download them prior to hitting the road so if you don’t have a hotspot there will be zero interruptions.

Would you Rather (Family Style)

….a version you can play with the kids around. Would you Rather is one of our favorite go-to games whether with babes in tow or not. If you’re feeling low on the creativity, we low this app to jump start some fun questions to get some conversation started on the road.

Would you rather wear a snow suit in the desert or a bathing suit in Antartica? Would you rather lose your hands or your feet? So much fun and sure to bring the laughs and pass some time!

If you’ve got little ones in tow, stay tuned for our Road Trip Essentials with KIDS post coming soon!

Is there something you can’t live without when you’re heading out on a road trip? Let us know in the comments below!

Travel

My Travel Plans Were Cancelled…Now What?

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.

  1. Anticipate your needs before you go so you can minimize stops.
  2. Prepare food, water, and snacks for the road.
  3. Pack a sufficient amount of alcohol-based (at least 60%) hand sanitizer.
  4. 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.

Get Outdoors

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.