Are you eager to escape? Do you just want to getaway? We may love our homes, but traveling, adventure and something different certainly sounds appealing.
Since caution is still advisable, finding safe, mind- and body-nurturing travel requires planning. Your car and your family are the safest and wisest travel choices, but destination options abound. Here are a few.
Get On The Wild Side
In less than three hour’s drive from the furthest point of mid-Maryland, you can explore relaxing wilderness that is also educational. First, a look to the east.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is forty-five square miles of wetlands and marshland. It’s full of wildlife and beautiful scenery, hiking trails, fishing, photography options, and more.
Make a few days of it. Explore the outdoor Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and walk around St. Michaels. Before the weather gets too warm, you can still walk an uncrowded Ocean City boardwalk and beach. Drive down to Assateague with a picnic from a local deli counter. Venture beyond Assateague to Chincoteague, VA, for more carryout options. Buy takeout from a local restaurant and visit the delightful little park in Berlin.
Keep Your Mind and Your Space Open While Traveling
Head west to discover the wilderness and great hiking in eastern West Virginia. Visit Dolly Sods, a windswept, rocky, tundra-like area. It’s strange name comes from the first settler and farmer, a Hessian named Johann Dahle, in whose language cleared areas are called “sods.” Several areas contain that name under differing government control, so double check your focus area and check the access rules before going,
From Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia, you can see forever. At 4,682 feet, this Eastern Continental Divide peak rises 2,000 feet above the surrounding valleys.
You could diversify your adventure by going from rocky peaks to the boggy, tundra-like Cranberry Glades. Two hours south of Spruce Knob, this extended exploration of the dissimilar geology of the Appalachians is a great retreat from the dining room table and streaming entertainment at home. Dolly Sods and Cranberry Glades are ecologically out of place and full of numerous opportunities for discovery.
Enjoy Small Towns with Fewer Crowds
If you prefer something less wild but still safe, spend your time where not many others do. Try Lexington, Virginia’s natural wonders, biking trails, and local shops. Head further west for more luxury or golf at Omni Homestead Resort and Spa. Who wouldn’t love a spa day right now?
It’s no surprise that several Civil War films were shot in the Lexington area, but would you believe Dirty Dancing was mostly filmed just south of there? The quaint Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke has several Dirty Dancing Weekends scheduled for 2021.
Tourism professionals will tell you that although the hospitality industry has been one of the worst hit by the global pandemic, it needed a break. Of course the owners and industry workers didn’t need a break, but “over-tourism” was becoming a challenge. Two factors were increasingly causing problems:
- Too many visitors in one place at one time.
- Too much disregard for the very thing that visitors came to see or experience.
As we venture out again, we could visit other places with more wisdom and respect.
Respecting Your Hosts While Traveling
In addition to wearing masks when visiting someone else’s hometown, be mindful of size and secret places. Many small places can’t support hordes of new visitors. Their charm is in their quaintness and their “private to locals” character.
As any business person knows, there is value in word of mouth. However, the global “word of mouth” called Instagram has had tremendous negative impact. The industry is full of fame-induced horror stories.
If you discover a local fishing spot, heavenly little beach, or cool little neighborhood bar, turn off the geotagging on your phone before you shoot. (You can usually find that setting in Privacy or Location Services.) Treasure and respect that secret find. Don’t over-share it.
Go Green While Traveling
Reduce your carbon footprint and make footprints instead. When you walk more, you see more.
On a longer getaway, a circular trip with nights in different places as you travel is greener than staying in one place. Doing a “hub and spoke” type exploration emits more polluting exhaust. While continual moving is not always feasible or comfortable, it’s worth considering.
Your home town probably encourages you to “Shop Local.” When you’re traveling, you can make the same impact on your host community by supporting the locally owned stores. Buy from local artists, craft shops and museum shops. Increase your positive economic impact on the community by eating and staying in locally owned places. Eating local is a learning experience about the region and its culture.
Beyond the Car
If you want and need to get further away, consider travel by train. There are fewer people in the same number of cubic feet.
Use the points you’ve been accumulating on your credit cards and “buy up” with your airline ticket. The extra cost gets you extra space. If not that, buy some extra masks, a face shield and more hand sanitizer.
Recreation is a compound word. We re-create ourselves when we exercise, rest, find joy, and discover. Nurture your mind and your body. Recreate yourself.
Now, get out of here. Have fun and be safe.