By Natasha Sattler, Contributing blogger
So you had a big trip planned this summer - a family road trip up the coast, a month-long European excursion, a long weekend sipping mojitos on a tropical island, and then... plans changed. No one predicted our summer travel plans would be squashed but let’s look at this as the perfect opportunity to explore the place you live!
Do you live 20 minutes from a local beach and never go? Did you buy hiking shoes two years ago to finally climb that tall mountain a few minutes away but still haven’t taken them out of the box? Did you drive past the new museum every day on your way to work thinking, “I’ve really got to check that out soon” and have still never stepped inside?
Now is the time to do all the things that you always say you’ll do. Fall in love with your town again; hopefully the ideas below spark some inspiration for you in the coming months.
1. Explore a new park, hiking trail or lake.
Most towns have a beautifully scenic area and many are still open to the public during this time. You’ve likely been stuck inside for way too many weeks so get outside, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the beauty of summer. Maybe even grab a bottle of wine, your loved one and climb up a hill to watch the sunset. Who said romantic views were only for far away places?
2. Get your social distance BBQ on.
Just because we are staying a few feet apart doesn’t mean BBQs have to be canceled - just reimagined. Pass out some flyers to your neighborhood and let them know you are holding a block party 2020 style. Wheel that barbecue to the street, set up some distanced lawn chairs, throw on some beats with your bluetooth speaker at a volume that never gets used, and have a party. Just remember to be safe - gloves when cooking, individual condiment packets and implementing the old “you touch it, it’s yours” policy when it comes to food.
3. Explore the great, local outdoors.
Many places have reopened botanical gardens and arboretums, just in time for summer. Take a stroll around the amazing landscape and breathe in the aroma of all the lovely plants. You’d be surprised what incredible beauty grows just around the corner from where you live.
4. Head to the beach (or create your own) for a sunny swim.
If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach, throw on a swimsuit and hop in the water. Many beaches have reopened with conscious distancing in mind. Have you uttered the sentence, “this is the year I’m going to learn the surf” year after year? Go do it! And if you don't live near a beach, break out the inflatable pool and create your own oasis.
5. Camping isn't cancelled.
When was the last time you went camping? Tents are still widely available online and if you don’t have any available campgrounds near you, pitch that tent in the backyard, turn out all the lights and spend a night staring up at the stars. Just think - when was the last time you spent the night gazing at the magnificent sky? Maybe even turn it into a romantic staycation by throwing on some jazz music and dancing the night away under the stars.
6. Plan the ultimate restaurant date, right in your home.
So you didn’t get to explore Italy or France like you’d planned. That’s ok - pretend. Find some recipes of local cuisine to the areas you planned to attend and stage an at home cooking class. You can even find virtual classes. Dress up your kitchen like a French bistro or Italian osteria - have fun with it. One day you’ll get there but for now, bring Europe to you.
7. Virtual tours might be your best bet for now. Make the most of them!
Maybe you planned to go on a historical trip - wander endless art museums, stand in the Colosseum. You still can. Lots of places are offering virtual tours. In fact, many tour guides are given exclusive access to places that would otherwise be crowded. Websites like Tripadvisor have tons of options just by typing in “virtual tour of ____”.
Just because it may not be the summer you imagined, doesn’t mean it won’t be the best summer in recent years. Think about everything you’ve put off over the years that you have the chance to finally do. Not the home improvement projects or writing the next masterpiece novel, but the adventures you’ve written off as “someday”. Vacations are for reconnecting with loved ones, getting some rest and peace of mind. By changing up your daily routine and using a bit of imagination, you'll be well on your way to planning the ultimate staycation!