Travelers are torn between the safety of staying home and the necessity of traveling for business, or the joy of traveling for pleasure. According to the AAA 2020 Summer Travel Forecast Report, trips are being booked last minute, there’s more driving than air travel and a week of vacation is more likely to be a long weekend. Families waffle over the decision to take a vacation, make a last-minute selection and opt for driving on a weekend versus flying for a longer stay.
“With domestic travel, there is less oversight on who comes and goes to a certain destination,” said Michael Lovely, operations supervisor at Global Rescue. “Travelers should make sure they have done their pre-travel research before heading out for a domestic adventure.”
Global Rescue is monitoring some trends providing safer options. Some examples include social distancing on scenic byways, hiking off the beaten track, fishing in Alaska and mountain biking in Colorado.
Traveling the Scenic BywaysRVs and other retro forms of travel, such as houseboats and Airstreams, are now back in style, according to the VRBO 2020 Trend Report. VRBO, a global community of homeowners and travelers with unique properties around the world, notes travel demand for houseboats, yachts, RVs and Airstreams is up 30% year-over-year. Other popular non-traditional vacation rentals include barns, farms and tree houses.
Sound appealing? You can always rent an RV, but practice and plan before you travel in one.
There are numerous rental companies, such as Cruise America, which rents and sells RVs in 128 locations in the U.S. and Canada and Outdoorsy, which rents privately owned RVs in 11 countries, including the U.S. and Canada.
AARP suggests several scenic byways suitable for social distancing, including the Selma to Montgomery March Byway, a 43-mile stretch in Alabama that follows Martin Luther King Jr.’s march in 1965 and Michigan’s Copper Country Trail, a 47-mile stretch on US-41 highlighting the triumphs and tragedies associated with copper mining.
Hiking Close to HomeThe 52 Hike Challenge is a movement to get people outdoors for one hike a week for a year. The website provides the resources (hikes in every state and hiking logs to track hikes) and the motivation (Facebook chapters and local groups). During the pandemic, they’ve been posting education opportunities via their blog, including hiking 101 classes on YouTube.
“Right now, more than ever, walking and being outside can help you and your loved ones, release some stress, decrease feelings of boredom and give you some peace of mind during these uncertain times,” said Karla Amador, founder of 52 Hike Challenge and Global Rescue Safe Travel partner.
She notes hikers need to follow the local rules and enforcement so the opportunity to hike isn’t taken away for everyone.
“Following local rules will help us keep trails open and each other safe when it comes to hiking in this pandemic,” said Amador. “Let’s be courteous and mindful of our actions.”
Harding Bush, associate manager of operations at Global Rescue, suggests experienced hiking enthusiasts seek out less popular trails.
“If you decide to go hiking, especially in more accessible areas within two hours of a major city, do not expect an isolated, pleasant and serene experience in the backcountry,” he said. “With more people than ever taking the hike option to escape COVID-19 confinement, hiking areas have become overcrowded.”
Hiking the National ParksAccording to FlashpackerConnect Adventure Travel, off-the-beaten-track adventures are naturally social distancing.
“Throughout the coronavirus epidemic, people have been hiking and walking in areas where they are not likely to see other trekkers, or where they can easily maintain a safe six-foot distance,” said Brandon Morris, owner and founder.
He suggests domestic adventures found closer to home, such as exploring the smaller, less-visited national parks.
California’s Lassen Peak National Park gets only 500,000 visitors a year and Big Bend National Park in Texas about 400,000. Morris also recommends one of Flashpacker’s customized trips where clients can curate self-drive adventures linking America’s greatest national parks.
Do your research before you go. “Many state parks require an advance reservation to be made online,” Bush said.
Fishing in The Last FrontierDespite a July surge of coronavirus cases driven partly by outbreaks aboard a seafood industry trawler and at a plant operated by a Juneau fish processor, Alaska still has one of the lowest coronavirus death rates in the country, second only to Hawaii, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
Visitors this summer will have to follow a new mask policy and stricter social distancing guidelines to enjoy the beauty of The Last Frontier.
Frigate Adventure Travel, a fishing guide service and a Global Rescue Safe Travel partner, was able to start their season on the Nushagak River in June. Limiting a salmon fishing trip to four anglers, testing for coronavirus before visiting Alaska and mandatory mask use all helped ease the worry of contagion for clients and tour operators.
“Please wear a mask to help protect yourself and others who may be more vulnerable. Leading experts are saying this is one of the best ways to stop the spread,” said co-founder Kate Crump. “If those working have people at home who are immunocompromised and me wearing a mask helps lessen their fears of getting loved ones sick, then it feels pretty kind to take this step.”
More trips are planned for August, September and October and it’s a great time to enjoy the beauty and solitude of Alaska.
“To fish with hardly any boats around on this river is truly wild,” said co-founder Justin Crump.
Mountain Biking in ColoradoH+I Adventures Co-founders Catherine Shearer and Euan Wilson offer small group opportunities to explore an area of the world on a mountain bike, including six days of mountain biking through alpine meadows, aspen groves, mountain forests and desert in Colorado.
“We are finding that fresh mountain air, getting outdoors, and getting the heart pumping is exactly what people need right now,” says Shearer. “Our main goal is to provide that opportunity for our guests while keeping them safe and healthy. Riding a bike is about as safe as you can be right now.”
Limiting group sizes reduce coronavirus risk, but H+I Adventures has also instituted additional protocols to keep clients safe. According to Shearer, the protocols include:
- Masks must be carried at all times and are required to be worn anytime a guest is inside a public space or inside our transportation vehicles. “We ask guests to always have a mask available, but they do not need to be worn while outdoors or riding,” Shearer said.
- Our vehicles are operated at 50% capacity and we maintain maximum amount of airflow while moving between destinations or shuttling to trailheads. All vehicles are sanitized at the end of each day.
- We encourage all guests to use and handle their own equipment and gear as much as possible. Sharing of gear is not allowed and, if our guides are washing bikes for guests, loading/unloading or have extended contact with their equipment, they will do a quick wipe down.
- Hand sanitizer is available in all vehicles and we are giving each guest on multi-day tours their own personal hand sanitizer.
- We are following all current state and local guidelines at all times.
Travel Protection ServicesTravel protection service memberships aren’t only for international travel. They can be extremely helpful for those planning a trip 100 miles from home or traveling within America’s borders.
During a pandemic, travel restrictions and changing quarantine requirements make a travel protection service membership a necessity, especially for medical advisory, evacuation services, and up-to-the-minute travel information. Learn more by clicking here.