Springtime is fast approaching, and with it comes spring break — although we might not be able to celebrate as we have in recent memory. As the world adapts to a new normal, the uncertainty makes spontaneous travel seem like a gamble. That's not to say you can't plan an epic, weeklong vacation for yourself or your friends and family. Outdoor adventures, relaxing spa experiences, and breathtaking landscapes are sometimes found in our own backyards. Whether your motivations are budget-related or health-conscious, your best bet for a safe spring break is a local vacation.
Spring break is all about safety, and the best way to make that happen is by staying prepared. If you plan on hitting the road, practice social distancing at gas stations and eateries, and wear a mask when indoors. Don't risk exposure to large crowds in the days leading up to your departure — especially if you're counting on a negative PCR test to access events, destinations, and attractions. Stock up on masks, hand sanitizer, and rapid antigen tests so you'll have them when the need arises.
Even the most prepared travelers know to expect the unexpected on the journey. Take out some insurance on your vacation by investing in refundable experiences in the event of cancellations. Keep a supply of rapid antigen tests in your travel bag, and have a backup plan in place for positive PCR test results. Whether it's cutting your trip short or finding a comfy place to self-isolate, having an emergency strategy can make the difference between a spring break getaway and a headache.
Whether your spring break destination is 4 1/2 hours or 45 minutes away, there's always room for surprises. Many counties remain in a transitional phase. Everything from indoor service to visiting hours and maximum occupancies is constantly changing. Stay up-to-date on the health requirements and guidelines if you're leaving your city, and check the websites of your planned destinations to ensure they'll be open during your visit. Some tours or venues might require reservations or sell out quickly due to reduced capacity.
If you decide to hit the road and explore your county or state, the safest way to get there is arguably by car. Not only is it the ultimate form of social distancing, but it also gives you control of when and where you encounter public spaces. You'll also have more control over your timetable and spontaneous experiences. Take the scenic route through your city, or download an informative podcast and head for the most famous place in your state.
Most people know of a few regional gems they'd visit if they had more time. Spring break at home is the perfect chance to be a local tourist. Make a checklist of notable places in your hometown, such as cultural zones or historic properties, and plan a series of day trips. Walk your dog at a new park, or take him hiking to see the wildflowers in bloom. Head downtown and dine at a new local eatery every day — someplace you wouldn't find anywhere else. Allow your familiar city to surprise you.
If you've explored the wonders of your city and you're ready to venture further out, consider mapping a scenic road trip. Spring break is the best excuse for finally traveling Route 66 or the Blue Ridge Parkway. Whether you're out in the country or smack dab in the middle of a big city, a few hours on the road each day can be a cleansing experience. If you prefer socially distant destinations, chart a path through state parks and on all-American roads for a dose of stunning landscapes. All you need is a good playlist and a camera.
If you haven't jumped on the vacation home rental train, spring break might be the opportunity for which you're waiting. Use a website like Airbnb or VRBO to book a private residence for your getaway. Not only are you sure to maintain social distancing, but you can also enjoy the thrill of staying in a new home — bonus points for booking a treehouse, desert yurt, or hundred-year-old historic property.
The classic staycation is one of the most underrated vacation experiences if you know how to do it properly. Take necessary indulgences, like sleeping in an extra hour or two. Go out for breakfast, something you'd only do while on vacation. Saving money on travel expenses also means you have a budget for gourmet recipe ingredients or dinner at an upscale restaurant you've wanted to try. Visit the farmer's market for fresh local ingredients and browse the antique and thrift shops for a local souvenir.
If the last thing you want to do is stay home for spring break, pack your gear, and head for the great outdoors. Campgrounds are warmer and in-bloom during the spring, the less-busy shoulder season when rates are cheaper. Pitch your tent at a state park campground, or rent an RV and explore several on a scenic road trip. Nothing beats a few days in nature for a cleansing break from routine.
Wherever you decide to spend your next spring vacation, be sure to take your healthy habits with you. Wash your hands often with soap and water, and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Wear a mask indoors and stay away from crowds to lower your risk of exposure to infections. The most important thing is to have fun. Taking the time for basic precautions and not letting your guard down will ensure that your spring break is as perfect as possible.