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Finding Space and Nature for Summer Travel in the USA

When you think about summer travel in the USA, what do you picture? Huge crowds, theme parks, and packed beaches? Or a mountain trail, a lake, and forests? There are ways to find space and nature if you plan carefully.

tips for traveling safely

When I first put up this post, most everyone in the world had been sheltering in place for two months or more and almost nobody was traveling from place to place. As the summer vacation season rolled around though, people were getting antsy and half of them headed for the outdoors it seems.

While that crisis has passed, people are still looking to be outside and get away from huge crowds, so some of the same principles apply. 

safe travel with social distanceNo matter what’s going on with the economy or health issues, some people will hop on a plane and fly across an ocean without a second thought. Others will stay closer to home and you can’t really blame them with how bad the flying experience has gotten, especially with U.S. airlines. 

There are some tactics to consider this summer that will give you a change of scenery and get you (and the kids maybe) away from the glowing screens for a while. 

Temporary Travel in an RV

Imagine if you could transport your home to some beautiful setting in nature with hiking trails nearby and ways to sit outside under some trees? 

RV travelers have been doing just that for decades, for fun rather than out of necessity. You pack up the recreational vehicle (or campervan), park it at a designated campground or RV park, then move on to another place when you want another change of scenery. You’ve got everything you need with you and you can probably keep working where you park since most places you’d spend the night have WiFi as well. 

One of the big disadvantages for this type of travel has been the big gas bill when it’s time to fill up, so gas prices can have a big impact. You probably don’t want to take one of these across the entire country. 

If you’ve already got your own big camper set-up or a friend has one you can borrow, great. Just stock up on supplies and take off. If you don’t have one and aren’t planning on laying out a huge sum to buy one, you can just rent a RV instead and just return it when you’re finished. 

There have long been companies renting out their own fleet of RVs, but now you can rent one from almost anywhere thanks to the sharing economy. Since you’re renting from the actual owner, most of your money is going to a real person and this keeps prices at a market rate that’s of mutual benefit.

Rent an RV for traveling safely this summer

Through this platform, you can get anything from a small pop-up camping trailer to a giant RV bus that look like it should have a touring rock band inside.

When I pulled up options around where I used to live in Tampa Bay and added in all the fees, I found a 2016 Heartland one you tow that sleeps six for $95 a night, with delivery included. I found a Coachmen Freelander sleeping six that you drive for $145 per night, plus a variety of camper vans for a shade more than $100 per night. The fees cover, among other things, cleaning, roadside assistance, and insurance.  

With this kind of travel, you don’t have to pack and unpack multiple times. Your pet can easily come along for the trip, with no worries about finding a pet-friendly hotel and paying extra fees. It’s easy to properly budget when traveling by RV because this option rolls transportation, a place to sleep, and a kitchen into one package. Add gas, food, and parking fees and you’ve got your total expenses estimate done. 

The national parks can get quite busy though, so reserve as far ahead as possible. State parks can be better, but it depends on the state and particular park’s popularity. 

Cabin Rentals and Camping

Road trips are high on the list for many people tired of looking at their own four walls. If you’d rather drive your Prius somewhere and take in nature without a lot of baggage, consider a cabin rental in the forest, in the mountains, or by a lake. 

The toughest cabins to come by in normal times are the ones at national parks. The next toughest are state parks near major metro areas. If you come up empty there, check the less popular parks that are a few hours from a city. These tend to have more availability. Then there are private ones for rent all over, which takes a bit more digging on your favorite search engine.

Don’t forget the “glamping” options either. Sometimes what’s for rent will not be a cabin, but rather a spacious tent, a treehouse, or a yurt. 

Or you can throw the tent, sleeping bags, and cooking gear in the car and head for the mountains. There are plenty of parks and national forests where you can camp in the backcountry if you follow the rules, plus other areas with “primitive camping” spots well removed from where the self-contained camping units are plugging in. You usually have to hike a bit to get to them, but you won’t worry about being too close to others. 

camping in the woods

An in-between option is how I spent many of my childhood summers: in a Coleman pop-up camper. Besides that design, which is still popular, others have come along the past couple decades that are lighter and sleeker. Even if you have a small car, you can install a trailer hitch and haul one of these light ones behind you for a camping experience off the ground. 

Villa Rentals and Country Homes

Home rentals have gotten a lot more mainstream since the advent of Airbnb, so you can find a place to rent almost anywhere these days. Including places that are out in nature away from it all.  

If you belong to a home exchange program, you’ve got other options to explore where you can rent for nothing by offering your own place up as well. 

As always, read the reviews carefully and pay attention to the scores. Read between the lines too. It’s no fun being stuck with a disappointing place that doesn’t live up to what was promised. 

Isolated Hotels and Inns

Hotels went through a tough time, then rebounded quickly as the pandemic eased. Some of them had their best year ever in 2021, especially at beach locations. Now things are getting back to historic norms for summer travel in the USA and we’re not seeing so many crazy prices. 

Go beyond the tried and true place to find your perfect country inn, mountain lodge, or cabin in the woods. Sometimes ski resort areas can present good deals as they try to get customers in during the off season. 

summer travel in the USA - Ranch lodge in Wyoming

Are you headed somewhere outside the big cities this summer, a place where you can breathe some fresh air? Tell us about your plans for summer travel in the USA. 


nerezová kuchynská batéria

Thursday 13th of August 2020

Hi, you have done a fantastic job.. Great blog that have meaningful and insightful comments are more enjoyable, at least to me. Thanks for sharing such great information. It is really helpful to me. Keep sharing!


Sunday 31st of May 2020

Great resources and tips for upcoming local destination travel. I'll certainly travel but with precautions and with hand sanitizer and masks on. The trick will be finding spots that are not too crowded, as folks seek smaller cities and outdoor destinations.

Reema Choubey

Saturday 30th of May 2020

Wonderful article.I am looking foreword to travel to US in the time to come.


Tuesday 26th of May 2020

This is so nice! Thank you for sharing!


Monday 25th of May 2020

Lots of good advice on here. I saw Amtrak is only selling seats for 50% of capacity, so that's a better long transportation option than the airlines. Road trip and a tent by a lake sounds good to me though.