The Most Popular Way to Travel in the Age of COVID-19
Since many of us aren’t running to get on an airplane anytime soon, we may have to get a bit creative to travel and explore in a safe way. One of the best, most social-distancing-friendly ways to do that during the COVID-19 pandemic is by taking a road trip. In fact, in our recent Instagram survey 72% said they would opt to drive when it comes to travel this summer. Keep reading below for safety tips, packing advice, and destination inspiration for your next great road trip.
First things first: keep your health and safety in mind—and that of those around you—as you travel during this time. Here are some tips that can put you and your travel companions at less risk.
- Snacking: Consider taking a cooler filled with snacks in your car so you don’t have to stop for snacks at high-traffic gas stations and convenience stores.
- Bathroom Breaks: Inevitably, you will need to stop. Take extra care when using public restrooms, as these can be hotspots for virus spread. Disposable gloves are good for these stops, make sure you wear your mask even in single-occupancy restrooms, and close the lid before you flush.
- Airbnbs, VRBO, or HomeAway over Hotels: When choosing accommodations, double-check the cleaning protocols of the provider. You may want to opt for private apartments over hotels in order to maintain more social distance. Self check-in is a plus!
- Dining: Opt for open-air dining over being in an enclosed area when possible. Even better, take your order to go and find a place outside to picnic with a nice view!
Packing Your Car
Learning how to pack your car can help you make the most out of your available space. For longer trips, you may want to consider using large plastic tubs to organize items, e.g. one for food, one for emergency supplies, one for camping equipment (if you plan to camp), one for books, games, and crafts, etc. These easily slide in and out of the back of the car or trunk and can be carried into your accommodations. If you plan on stopping somewhere for a night or two, have your overnight things handy in a separate bag so you don’t have to unpack the entire car. For clothing, use the roll-not-fold method, and put them in packing cubes. Keep a small cooler handy to keep drinks and/or sandwiches cold in the car. A box of tissues is also key, just in case your rest stops are out of toilet paper. If you’re taking a pet, don’t forget their favorite toy!
Where to Go
Now that we’ve covered the basics, where should you go? The most popular road trips Portico users are planning are in California, the Southern US, and the UK. Here are some of our favorites in each to inspire your own road trip.
If you’re in California—or nearby—there are numerous road-tripping possibilities. First, think about what climate you want: desert, mountains, lakes, countryside or beach? Then you can decide which destination best fits your travel style.
If you prefer hot, dry climates, places like Palm Springs and Joshua Tree may be your best bet. Both destinations and the surrounding areas have incredible Airbnbs excellent for stargazing, boutique motels like the Pioneertown Motel, and eccentric things to do like an Integraton sound bath.
Mountains & Lakes
Visit Mammoth Mountain where you’ll find three natural hot springs and 10 lakes. There’s also the Sierra Nevada range and Lake Tahoe, where you can enjoy both hikes (we love Shirley Canyon at Squaw) and water sports (Stand Up Paddle boarding or “SUP” is popular and you’ll find picture-perfect turquoise water paddling in Sand Harbor State Park). There’s also the impressive Lassen Peak…which isn’t a mountain, but an active volcano.
There’s no better countryside than wine country! In southern California visit Paso Robles (LXV is known as one of the best wine tasting experiences in the country). In northern California, explore Napa (we love Andretti Winery), Mendocino (check out camping at Mendocino Magic) or Sonoma (enjoy an alfresco hilltop lunch at Copain Wines, with gorgeous views of Russian River Valley, by reservation only) No matter where you choose, you’re guaranteed some unforgettable tasting experiences and beautiful panoramic views.
Quaint beach towns are always fun to explore, so why not check out Morro Bay, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, or Carmel by the Sea? All of them have great accommodations (like the kitschy Madonna Inn in SLO) and are ideal for surfing and hiking, like the easy 18-mile scenic Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail or the more moderate Bishop Peak.
Texas Hill Country
Our favorite Texas road trip is through the Texas Hill Country. Start in Austin and head to Fredericksburg, a town rich in German history. Driving on to Bandera (which is known as “The Cowboy Capital of the World”), there’s Stonehenge II along the way, a full replica of the original Stonehenge. Finish in San Antonio and visit the Alamo.
The Southern Coastal route goes through North Carolina to Florida. Go through the Outer Banks (and see where the Wright Brothers flew) then down to Charleston SC, then Bluffton, then Savannah, GA. Finally, hit the beach of your choice of Jekyll Island, Sea Island or St. Simons Island.
Southern Appalachian Trail
The Southern Appalachian Trail is good if you prefer the mountains. Start in Asheville, NC, and check out Pigeon Forge for a day. Hike around the North Carolina and Georgia border (Pisgah National Forest is nearby and Linville Gorge is particularly beautiful) before popping over to Chattanooga, and end up in Nashville.
You can go cross country and follow the old US-80 from San Diego all the way to Georgia and go from the desert to the South via the Southern Pacific route. You’ll pass through Tombstone, AZ, Roswell, New Mexico, and even the Civil Rights Movement National Historic Trail.
The Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland is one of the UK’s most popular road trip routes. It’s no wonder given its sea views and numerous breathtaking lookout points. It starts near Belfast and snakes around the coast to finish in Derry-Londonderry. Stop for the views at Torr Head, the closet point to Scotland, and the castle ruins of Dunluce Castle.
The Atlantic Highway
For a taste of the gorgeous English coastline, look no further than the Atlantic Highway (also known as the A39) in England. Stretching from Devon to Cornwall, you’ll find fishing villages, scenic views, and great beaches like Widemouth Bay and Newquay.
Remember, just because you’re out on the open road doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind. Researchers recently found that many cases of COVID-19 are spreading via major highways in the US (most notably the west coast’s I-5, the cross-country I-10, the east coast’s I-95, and the southeast’s I-85). So make sure you continue to take the necessary precautions and be mindful while you’re out exploring!
Looking for more inspiration? Here are a few road trip Instagram profiles we love: