Let me walk back a few things on the last article about road trips this summer…
The is a large segment of the population that had been itching to get away from their Work From Home situations for months on end. When each shutdown went into effect, you can hear a collective groan from across the country. No matter what side of the national divide you were on, you could not avoid the want of a sense of normality – whether it is the old one or the next one.
The truth is that we’re back traveling. We’re taking time away from home. We’re packing airports and highways again.
There is a difference. Since most international borders are still shut or restricted to a few people, we had to be creative in our travel pursuits. Based on what I have seen in the travel media, the trend now is to stay within our country’s borders to outdoorsy destinations. That could mean National Parks, state forests, places where you are encouraged to take to the beach or outdoor attractions. Even great sports destinations!
Now that you made sure your vehicle has been checked thoroughly, you need to fulfill your plan. Where would I suggest you go? Hmmm…
THE BADLANDS AND THE BLACK HILLS: OK, I have never been west of Sioux Falls and Brookings. Yet, South Dakota is a favorite destination among my fellow Upper Midwesterners. The catch is that you have drove across the state to get to where you really need to be – The Badlands and the Black Hills. Not just Mount Rushmore, but you do have to stop there, at least. If you base your trip in Rapid City, you have easy access to the Badlands National Park and all of the parks related to the Black Hills. You could also visit Sturgis, whether you are a motorcycle enthusiast or not.
VISIT AN UNASSUMING CITY: That was the surprise for me last year. I stretched my big July road trip to Wichita, Kansas. It is not a huge destination on everyone’s mind, but I took the time to explore it to find that it has vibrant communities and an industry you can geek out on. The point of this suggestion is to discover a city you would never think of visiting. A place you probably heard of, even though your curiosity went elsewhere. Since things are opening up, there’s more to discover in destinations, such as Columbus, Ohio or Birmingham, Alabama. You might find something in these places that will make your trip very memorable.
THERE’S FUN RIGHT IN YOUR BACKYARD: One of my colleagues is in love with the outdoors. He made it a mission with his fiancée to visit every publicly funded recreational area in his state. He’s not the only person doing this. Think about the trends that came out of the pandemic – the rise of van life and RVs. They tie into a sense of adventure that eschews hotel amenities. If you love camping or would rather rent a cabin, your state parks will accommodate you in more ways than you think. You might even score a room at a lodge inside the park. This is a good way to reinvest in your home state.
TRY IT FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE: Let’s talk about the places you have travelled to. You may be familiar with those places, but do you really know them well enough. Especially when you’re a business traveler and only have to be in a few places while you’re in town. Here’s your chance to take an even deeper dive into those cities. Find a new part of town that you always were curious about. Try a new restaurant or a local cuisine they are known for that you have never experienced. Missed a museum or two? If they’re open, see what is inside! You might come away with a new appreciation for a city you only visit when you have to.
YAY SPORTSBALL! With more sports venues opening up to full capacity, you now have the chance to finally get back to a ballgame or match. Major League Baseball, the Minor Leagues, the independent baseball leagues, Major League Soccer, and the minor soccer circuits offer affordable ways to enjoy professional team sports. Things may have changed inside, such as the use of digital concession platforms that offer contact-less ways to get your food and drink. You may have to get digital tickets to get in. Either way, sports fans are being welcomed back and you should partake soon!
Keep in mind that the purpose of a road trip to do the complete opposite of a staycation. You need to discover new things. New surroundings, new communities, new people, and so forth.
Wherever you go, always take your joy of discovery with you.
All photos by Randy Stern