This last summer wasn't exactly a banner year for travel. With travel restrictions, attraction closures and mandatory quarantines most people were forced to cancel their summer travel plans. This posed a big problem for my wife and I because we live for our vacations. Our adventures together are the highlights of our year, our time to reconnect and enjoy exploring the world together. With her on summer vacation and me now unemployed I simply refused to let this opportunity to spend time together slip away.
Was there a way we could still do some traveling together in spite of all the restrictions? It was definitely going to take a little creative thinking and a lot of planning if we were going to be able to find safe, responsible, alternatives to our normal big summer getaways.
We started looking for ideas much closer to home, and the more we looked the more we realized there was actually quite a bit to do in our own backyard. There were literally hundreds of small parks and hiking trails around us that we had never been to that were the perfect way to plan mini day-cations where we could still social distance from others. So once or twice a week we'd hop in the car to visit one or two of these places and I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable summers I can remember.
The restrictions actually forced us to see more of our own home state and we grew to really appreciate all the neat things our state had to offer that at any other time we probably would have never even considered visiting.
Traveling to famous destinations has its own appeal, but there is definitely something special about finding a little backroads spot that few people know about. Millions have seen the Grand Canyon, but how many people have had the privilege to hike over the Harmon Tunnel in Winterset, Iowa? Some how it feels a bit more special, like you're part of some kind of secret club.
The whole summer was filled with moments like these and it's changed my outlook on travel. I still want to go see the big things when I can, but now I'm more interested in the journey towards those destinations. I'm more encouraged to slow down and explore more while on the journey because more often than not my favorite part of the trip will be the one I hadn't planned to see.