Written by: Dr. John Tantillo
“John Tantillo, Ph.D. is a TV, Radio and Social Media Branding Expert with over 30 years experience in Behavioral Health Care Branding”
Even though most international travel is on pause indefinitely, it doesn’t mean that our urge to travel has disappeared. Taking a vacation during this uncertain time may even help you relax and recharge from all the everyday stressors you may be facing.
Forget international (for the time being at least) and let’s talk about how to plan an amazing vacation right here in the United States. There are a few important questions you should be asking yourself to start.
What type of trip are you interested in?
The vastness of our land. gives travelers a wide variety of options when it comes to picking the type of trip. There’s everything from gorgeous beaches (hello Florida) to mountain ranges where you can hike until your feet hurt to big cities that offer many cultural attractions and top restaurants.
For all you city lovers out there, now may be a weird time to visit some of the bigger cities. Expect to find COVID-related restrictions in place when it comes to dining, and many museums are likely to be closed. But you don’t necessarily have to steer clear. Cities are likely to be emptier than they have ever been before, giving you more freedom to explore without getting caught in swarms of tourists.
If you’re looking for a more relaxing vacation, why not try the beach or a spa trip? From Key West to Marco Island to Virginia Beach to Palm Springs, there are so many places where you can go to simply unwind.
Nice hotels are likely to have some of the lowest rates that you can imagine. Even if you can’t afford to that oceanfront room, book whatever fits within your price range.
Pro tip: When you get to the hotel ask the front desk if there are any upgrades available. Since fewer people are traveling now, they are more likely to have nicer rooms available and may be able to upgrade you for free or at a small fee.
For those who want to get out in nature, the country abounds with many great camping, glamping, and RV spots. Many come with epic views that will allow you to completely disconnect from the modern world and all the technology that comes with it. Some ideas include Yosemite, Zion, or even Lake Powell.
If you want to get the experience of camping without having to rough it in a tent, then glamping it is. One way to do this is to rent an RV. You’ll have the freedom to park at tons of campsites but not have to worry about pitching the tent.
Getaway House takes glamping to a whole other level. They offer cabins with full amenities in the middle of nature – some, with locations just outside of major. It’s perfect for the city slicker who is looking for a quick weekend away from their concrete jungle and wants a trendy Instagram picture to go with it.
How long do you have?
This is another important question to ask. If you only have four days, you do not want to hop on a cross-country flight. You’ll be wasting a lot of time traveling and have less time to enjoy your vacation. Also, the length of your trip affects how many places you can go to and how many things you can do. If you plan on going to Las Vegas and want to visit the Grand Canyon, you’ll need to make sure you have enough time to travel between the two without eating into too much free time.
Pro tip: If you want to take advantage of your PTO as much as possible, plan your trips around a day that your company already gives off. For example, if you have Labor Day off, plan a trip that falls over that day. This will give you an extra day of vacation without having to take additional PTO days.
What’s the budget?
This is probably everyone’s least favorite topic of conversation when it comes to travel. How much money do you have? Where do you want to spend more of it? Accommodations? Activities? Food and drink?
You need to think about this upfront—before you reserve anything for the trip. If you can afford the flight to Hawaii but can’t afford to do anything when you get there, is it worth it? The answer is probably no.
What activities do you want to do?
On to the fun part—what you’ll do when you get there. Every place has something unique to offer. It’s just a matter of finding it.
Airbnb Experiences deserves attention. Search the city you are visiting and the dates you’ll be there and they give you a list of experiences offered by various hosts. They have cooking classes, group dinners, food tours, history walks—the list goes on and on. It’s great for solo travelers or for those who are open to meeting new people.
For all the foodies, check out Eater.com articles on the city you plan on going to. They put out great content about different restaurants in different cities. They have such a wide variety of articles—with restaurant lists segregated by cuisine type to the hottest new spots for that month to the best cocktail bars to explore.
Pro tip: Once you find some restaurants that you want to try, search for them on Tripadvisor or Yelp. There, you can see pictures of the food and read customer reviews of each place.
Another great site to find out about different experiences within a city is Culture Trip. They have articles about experiences along with food and drink. It’s a great way to find out what each city has to offer. They also have a very cool app that helps you plan the perfect trip.
Instagram is not just for seeing what your friends or favorite celebs are up to. It is another platform to find out more about the place you want to go to. A month or so leading up to a trip, follow a few hashtags related to the city you are going to. Say you’re going to Chicago—if you’re into food, you can try “Chicago food” or if you want to see some attractions in the city you can try “Chicagogram.” Pictures that use the hashtag will appear in your newsfeed. It’s a great way for visual people to find out what may spark their interest in a particular city.
As we are in unprecedented times, travel looks a lot different nowadays. Before planning a trip and booking any activities, you’ll want to do your due diligence:
- Call the hotel or accommodation you’re staying at and see what amenities are available and what restrictions are in place.
- Check and see if the restaurant you want to try is open. And if so, are reservations required? Are they offering their full menu? Are they operating on modified hours?
- Does the activity you want to do have limited space? If so, are you able to reserve in advance or is it first come first serve?
Most importantly, once you’re at your desired vacation spot, take a load off, live in the present, and soak in every moment. Happy travels!