With all Americans set to become eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine by Monday, the country is anxiously awaiting the arrival of a semi-normal summer, or at least the possibility of summer travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said fully vaccinated people may travel, though they don’t recommend it just yet. While we will still have to take safety precautions wherever we go and many of the world’s borders won’t be open by this summer, opportunities for adventure closer to home abound.
Rather than focus on what we can’t do, we have put together a list of things we can. Here are seven ideas to help get your brainstorming started.
n Instead of traveling for your favorite cuisine, track it down locally.
For Konrad Waliszewski, CEO and co-founder of TripScout, a travel planning and entertainment platform, travel is all about getting outside of your comfort zone, learning new things and meeting new people. He says that can be accomplished in your own city. Waliszewski recommends picking a food or drink you love and sampling as much of it as possible around home to find your favorite.
“I’m going to learn more about the cuisine, I’m going to go try every single place in the city, and I’m going to compare them,” Waliszewski says. “I take notes and try to make myself a self-proclaimed expert on one particular topic. Doing stuff like that to me helps create memories.”
n Instead of booking an Argentine wine tour, support a local winery.
As founder of the culinary-centric travel company, The Table Less Traveled, Annie Cheng’s job before the pandemic was to take people around the world to eat and drink. Her company has pivoted to hosting virtual cooking classes, and Cheng has focused her attention on exploring America’s wineries, breweries and distilleries.
“For somebody who loves food and beverages, [visiting a winery] is really easy if you’re near them,” Cheng says. “It can be done outside, it’s very accessible and just a way to change-up your daily routine.”
Since last summer, Cheng has found that most locations she visited have created safe and/or contact-free environments for customers. Places set up extra tables outside and kept them spaced apart, while others allowed customers to bring their own picnics.
n Instead of museum-hopping abroad, road trip for U.S. history.
You can take iconic road trips this summer (the Pacific Coast Highway will never go out of style), but you can also try planning your own and incorporating educational experiences along the the way.
Kirk Brown, founder and chief executive of the Better Together Project, a movement to end plantation glorification and tourism, recommends visiting places such as the Whitney Plantation in New Orleans to learn more about U.S. history.
“When you go out to see the plantations, like the Whitney plantation, I was able to see things talking about genealogy and try to understand my own experience and the erasure of my culture,” Brown says. “That was enlightening for me.”
n Instead of backpacking through Southeast Asia, try #VanLife.
Speaking of road trips, travel photographer Marianna Jamadi is setting travel goals for herself to seek out joy and a sense of expansiveness after a year of being stuck inside.
“I’m looking for those moments of connecting to nature and being able to exhale,” Jamadi says. “A road trip to places that offer that would be great.”
Jamadi is looking forward to taking one of those road trips with a rented camper van. Instead of outfitting a sprinter van yourself with everything you would need to car camp comfortably, consider renting one from companies such as Vander or Cabana.
n Instead of a European river cruise, try the Airbnb of boats.
They say the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day you buy the boat and the day you sell the boat. Skip the emotional roller coaster altogether and just rent one instead. The Airbnb of boats, GetMyBoat, can help make that happen. Whether you’re looking for a party boat, pontoon boat, Jet Ski or houseboat — the world is your buoyant oyster.
n Instead of trekking the Himalayas, find new places to camp nearby.
Camping can be one of the safest ways to travel during the pandemic, as well as one of the most challenging. This summer, find a spot to camp near you, or road trip to a place you have always wanted to visit. There is a style of camping (or glamping) for everyone, whether you’re going solo, by bike or just for the campfire meals.
But heads up: It’s going to be another huge year for camping (so plan your campsites now).
n Instead of taking in the Tokyo Olympics, stay in a Californian ryokan.
While we can’t go to the Tokyo Olympics this summer, there are Japanese experiences stateside to appreciate. To channel her longing for Japan, Leiti Hsu, food and travel show host, is finding domestic alternatives like seeking out specific restaurants for sushi or wagyu.
Hsu’s answer for re-creating the magic of a ryokan, a Japanese inn, is to travel this summer to SingleThread Farms in Healdsburg, Calif., to stay in one of its five rooms and dine at its Hokkaido-inspired restaurant, Usu-Zan. An alternative farther south in Malibu, Calif., there is the 16-room Nobu Ryokan, complete with tatami mats and teak soaking tubs.