This summer, Virtuoso travel advisor Louisa Gehring set out from Cincinnati with her husband and three kids (ages 10, 8, and 3) for a road trip to San Antonio and back. The journey, which included stops in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Llano, Texas, as well as Nashville, Memphis, and Austin, spanned more than 2,400 miles. We asked her to share her best road trip advice with us.
First things first: Your best advice for deciding where to go?
You should discuss if there is an area of the U.S. where no one in the family has been (or knows well). Talk about how long you want to be gone, and how long you can handle daily drives (we found seven-hour stretches to be the max our kids could handle comfortably). Consider where you may be able to go that isn’t near a major airport. After all, if it’s somewhere you probably wouldn’t otherwise go if air travel was at full capacity, what’s the point in taking a road trip?
What should travelers keep in mind before heading out?
Your Virtuoso travel advisor can help you prepare for a broad range of Covid-19 measures at different hotels and research city, county, and state pandemic policies in the places you want to go (be sure to bookmark the ever-changing guidelines). Being open minded that the hospitality industry is doing all that it can given the cards it’s been dealt – and having a flexible mentality – is key to enjoying a destination to its fullest right now.
Your best practical advice?
Consider renting a car. No one wants to put thousands of miles (not to mention crumbs and trash) on their own car over a period of a few weeks! Start stocking up on sanitizing supplies weeks in advance.
Before deciding how many nights you’ll stay in one area, figure out what’s open (museums, etc.) and plan accordingly. For example, we knew the museums and concert halls in Nashville were still closed, so we found one night to suffice, whereas in a "normal world" we would’ve stayed two or three nights. On the contrary, in Arkansas, state parks and lakes were open, so we planned a fishing trip, went to the beach, and stayed for two nights.
How can you manage social distancing?
Wanting to see all your friends is tempting – but resist. Instead of calling friends in each state, choose to see one or two people you can social distance with for a short period of time.
Where should travelers road trip this fall?
While taking recommended precautions, I suggest exploring the mid-Atlantic, including Pennsylvania; Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Annapolis; Washington, D.C.; and Virginia. The California coast, from San Diego north to Eureka, is also gorgeous, with stops along the way in Malibu, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, and San Francisco. Our next road trip will be to the Carolinas, via Asheville. There’s such a vast change of scenery – Kentucky horse country, the Eastern Tennessee Smokies, Asheville, and the Coast – that it’s a great little slice of Americana.