2020 has been real horrible… lets plan a road trip.
Basically everyone I know has had to cancel trips in this wonderful year of 2020. I stopped feeling bad for all of us a while ago. Since I moved on emotionally from the fact that I should be getting ready to dive with great whites off the coast of Cape Town, but now I won’t be… I decided that now should be the time to SAFELY travel and explore my own home country.
Enter: Tents, Trails and Taps. Your new weekly blog of road trip itineraries created for people who love camping, hiking and beer.
I am the self proclaimed Queen of Road Trips. I have road tripped now in 8 countries, and can drive many hours without fatigue (just gimme some good podcasts and I’m golden). There is something truly stellar about driving to unknown places on unfamiliar roads and even typing that sentence made me very excited.
Following this post will be a series of blog posts, and because I had a dream that I gave this series a fun name in an attempt to make me feel more professional than I am, I have named this series Tents, Trails and Taps (I don’t have time to create a logo. Someone make me a logo that doesn’t suck). This series will guide you all on different road trip itineraries starting right here in the Great Midwest, and traveling all over the United States.
Any of these itineraries should start right HERE. With this one blog that you will apply to all of the itineraries. So read this first. K thanks.
Lets start off by talking about how to plan and how to stay safe…
Plan Plan Plan
The blogs that I will be writing in this series will hopefully take most of the planning out of your hands so you don’t have to waste much time on that part and you can just get straight to your adventure. That being said, if you’re anything like me you’ll want to modify the itinerary to match your fashion. Here are the resources I use when planning these types of trips, so if in one of the blogs you don’t like a hike I pick or a camping spot I recommend, you can pick your own.
Every blog I will be writing will include the following things:
- Routes and distances you’ll be trapped in the car
- Recommended campsites
- Hiking trails (rated as easy, moderate, or difficult… I’ll throw some of each rating in each itinerary so it’ll please the most amount of people)
- Recommended breweries (because one of my favorite parts of traveling is sampling the local brews)
As it fits in, I will also attempt to find as many kayak places as possible, giving you resources for rentals and/or launch points if you’re traveling with your own kayak (please get a kayak it’ll change your life).
So lets break those down and I’ll give you my top secrets (not actually secrets at all) about how I figure that all out.
Routes and Distances
This should be pretty easy for all of you to do on your own. Open whatever map app you love (I always use my iPhone maps although I know most people hate that), put in a start point and a destination, and BOOM. Look at you planning your own trip!! I am so proud of you and you look so cute doing it.
I usually check out any green portion along the route… I zoom in on the green areas and I do a quick google search to see if that green area is worth my time. If I can find a neat hike, or a picture perfect picnic spot, I’ll include it in the itinerary.
If I am plugging in a destination that is super far away, I like to see what cities I’ll be driving through on the way and google what breweries are there. On my most recent road trip, we found ourselves driving past Rochester, Minnesota. A quick plug of “best breweries in Rochester MN” into the handy dandy Googles and we ended up on an adorable patio sampling 8 fantastic beers at Forager Brewery (my favorite being Buzz Waldron, a pastry stout that has visited me a couple times in my best dreams ever since).
Put the app ‘The Dyrt’ on your phone. There. That’s my camping secret. You can pick filters like ‘tents and showers’ and even adjust the price you’re willing to pay and it’ll show you the campsites in the areas you’re wanting to stay. I like to pick the ones with the prettiest pictures because I am a sucker for a gorgeous campsite.
If you hate camping, you might be doing it wrong. If you attempt to do it correctly and you STILL hate camping, just book an AirBnB. You’ll be spending more money but if you don’t want to be one with nature I can’t force you to.
On very long trips you might even find that it’s more convenient to sleep in your car to save some time and money (gasp EWWW only hippies sleep in cars!). I am a true fan of seeing as much as possible on a trip and sometimes when I just need to hurry up and drive 15 hours its best to take a car nap somewhere in that time frame. This doesn’t mean I sleep every night in my car… because I can only shower so well in the sink of a rest stop…this just means when I’m trying to save time I will do this. I’ve done this with two dogs, I’ve done this on my own, and luckily I found a boy that is totally better at car sleeping than me. It’s not as horrible as it sounds.
Time for another app. Put “All Trails” on your phone. There ya go. I’ve been using All Trails for years now and it’s been such a great addition to my planning arsenal. Sometimes when I’m feeling stir crazy if I’m driving a long distance I’ll just search ‘trails near me’ on the app and tell it to take me to the closest one just so I can get out of the car for a bit.
If you’re planning on doing a longer trail or a more difficult hike it is really beneficial to fully read the comments of the other hikers, because you can get some great tips and some great directions from them.
As I already mentioned, a quick Google search of “best breweries in (insert city name here)” is an easy way to find some good beer. I also use the app Untappd and you should find me on there so we can be friends forever (just type in ‘Brittnex’… which is an old name from my high school days). You can search nearby breweries on Untappd and it’ll help you pick which beers you want by seeing what everyone else rates them. If a beer has an average rating of 2.0 I probably won’t drink it. Probably.
If you travel with your own kayak put the app “Go Paddling” on your phone. This app will show you different launch sites which is super helpful.
Staying Safe during Covid
Whether you believe that Covid-19 is real or not, it’s real and you’re dumb if you think otherwise.
Now that we have that out of the way lets talk safety and how covid might mess with your plans a little.
As we all know (and are all sick of hearing) things change daily with covid. That being the case, before heading out on ANY of these journeys I recommend that you do a double check of the places you’ll be hitting up. Check websites or even call state parks or hotels in the area just to make sure you aren’t breaking any travel restrictions in any of the states you’ll be passing through. AVOID HIGH RISK AREAS. If I post an itinerary about a trip through Idaho and then the next week their numbers are spiking, AVOID IDAHO (sorry Idaho… I’m just using you as an example). Stay informed, stay up to date. Don’t be irresponsible and selfish by traveling to a high risk area.
And here is the thing we all hear all the time, but it really is important so I will stress it:
Wear masks when inside public places. If you are visiting a brewery, wear your mask until you are seated at your table. If you are in an area where you can’t keep a safe distance from people, wear a mask. Wash your dirty paws and use that hand sani if you can’t use the soaps. Some of the parks featured on these blogs will have high traffic areas, and it would be super great if you could be as careful as possible so I can visit my family in Denmark, K? K. My passport is getting cold and dusty and I miss her tender touch.
Also covid kills people. And just because it hasn’t killed you, doesn’t mean it won’t kill someone you love.
Stepping off the soap box now.
If you’ve made it this far it means you’re probably pretty serious about going on a USA road trip, which is great. I hope you have the bestest time and you stay as safe as possible.
Stay tuned for all the Tents, Trails and Taps.