How to plan the perfect in-state road trip during COVID-19
For families looking to get away in a safe and responsible way during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking an in-state road trip is a great option. A staycation in your own state allows you to remain close to home, and you don’t have to worry about different state travel advisories or quarantine restrictions upon entry into a new state or your return trip from a neighboring state. And, of course, it gives you the chance to appreciate your home state in a whole new way: as a tourist.
I checked with local experts in my area for tips on planning a perfect in-state road trip. My family is based in western New York, but don’t worry – these tips are transferable to any in-state road trip no matter where you call home.
1. Check out the tourism boards for both your state and different cities in your state
As you shift into tourist mode for your home state, the natural place to start your road trip planning are the local tourism boards. For New York, I headed to I Love New York’s website, which provides an overview of the different state regions and what to do there. As with most state tourism websites, you can quickly find things to do and places to stay right on the website, or download your state’s mobile app for while you’re on the go.
Rachel Pulvino of Visit Rochester recommends checking out the websites for each of the major local tourism boards within your state as well to research options on things to do in any given city or region. To find your state’s official travel site, head to VisitTheUSA.com, then click on destinations and states.
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2. Use social media as an inspiration and for the most up-to-date information
Pulvino also suggests following the local tourism pages on social media for the cities, museums, attractions, and restaurants you’re considering for your in-state road trip. “Social media is also one of the best places to see the most up-to-date information on local health and safety measures, restrictions that may be in place at different businesses, and hours of operation,” she adds.
3. Plan outdoor activities in your state
Getting outdoors is still one of the safest ways to spend time with your family members, reduce stress and anxiety, and maintain physical distancing during the pandemic. When looking at your local and state tourism boards, search for state parks, national parks, and other outdoor recreational areas and activities.
“The stewards of New York’s public lands have created helpful guides and tools to help visitors travel responsibly, including the New York State Parks Explorer App, which has up-to-the-minute updates on park information including when parks are at capacity,” notes Briahnna Gibson of I Love New York. Most state tourism sites will have categories for nature, parks, or outdoors.
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4. Make sure you know what’s open and what the capacity limits are
“In the age of COVID, it is definitely important to know before you go,” says Janelle Hoh of the Adirondacks’ Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST). “Be aware of what’s open, what’s not, and if anything you’d like to see has limited capacity. Check websites and social media to make sure attractions are open and available, but it’s also highly recommended to call establishments to get their most up-to-date information.” Masks, social distancing, and hand washing are de rigueur.
5. Choose accommodations that good health and safety practices
Wherever your in-state road trip takes you, pay special attention to the cleanliness standards of the hotel or vacation rental you choose to stay at. Most resorts and hotels, such as Lake Placid’s High Peaks Resort and Lake House here in my home state, have heightened their cleanliness standards in light of COVID-19 with increased cleaning of high touch areas, public spaces, and guest rooms. But as with most things, the details matter. Check your hotel’s website for specifics about what they’re doing, and make sure you feel comfortable with their current practices before you book.
Vacation rentals, such as cabins and standalone homes, have the added advantage of both privacy and reduced contact with others. Of course, RVs are built for road tripping and offer families their own space and bathrooms, too. Consider a service like Harvest Hosts, which offers a membership program allowing self-contained RVers to access unique overnight stays throughout the country while supporting local farms, wineries, breweries, and more.
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After considering our own in-state outdoor activities, my family decided on a road trip to the Adirondacks. It’s an easy drive from our Rochester home, and with its six million acres of wilderness, we were able to keep our distance from other families while enjoying plenty of outdoor mountain adventures.
Ultimately that’s the real upside of an in-state road-trip: the chance to explore your home state like a traveler while keeping safe and healthy the whole time.
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