If you’ve been following us, you may already know that we canceled our spring trip this year. However, we were hoping to still go ahead with the rest of our itinerary starting June 1st. Just as probably most of you have been making changes to your travel and vacation plans this year, we have made significant changes to ours. Instead of just telling you what our new plans are, we’ll walk you through our thought process and give you the reasons we made the changes. Hopefully that will help you make decisions about your own travel.
First we considered the risks. Our original itinerary went through about half the states in the country passing through many small communities, covering over 11,000 miles in just under six months, with the highlight reaching Acadia National Park in time for the peak fall colors. That means we would be traveling from the west, the less populated area of the country, to the more densely populated east coast. Half of the friends and family we were planning on visiting along the way are in the high-risk category for COVID19. Do we want to be responsible for transporting the virus from one part of the country to another? Do we want to increase the risk of bringing the virus to the people we care about? Do we want to bring the virus to a small community that can’t easily handle an outbreak? Do we want to increase the risk of catching the virus ourselves or bringing it home to our family and community?
Then we thought about the uncertainty of the situation. The COVID19 rules and recommendations are changing rapidly. They vary by state, county, and town. The changes happen daily and sometimes hourly. Many campgrounds in state and national parks are still closed. Even when they open, they many not have bathrooms, showers and laundry available. Many visitor centers, trails, and attractions may be closed when we get there. Some of the events and activities we wanted to participate in may not happen, such as an annual college camping reunion in Tennessee, the Adirondack Balloon Festival, attending a college football game with old college friends, or taking a whale watching excursion. Do we want to spend a lot of our travel time figuring out what the current rules are for where we currently are, making last minute changes to where we are staying and trying to find bathrooms, showers, and laundry to use? What will we do if we catch COVID19 while we’re on the road? What will we do if our kids back home get seriously ill? What will we do if the US goes back to a lockdown?
On the other hand, what affect will canceling our trip have on the small campgrounds and communities who will not be receiving our travel business? Will vacation areas be more or less crowded as people who have been locked up are itching to get out? Will campgrounds be more crowded due to people believing they are safer to travel in their car or RV and camping than flying and staying in hotels?
What will we lose if we cancel our travel plans? We’ve spent a lot of time planning our summer itinerary and have campground reservations covering about half of the nights. We’ve already purchased state park passes for Wisconsin and Michigan. How much time do we want to take replanning our route and canceling reservations? How much money will we lose from canceling campground reservations? How much money will we lose by not using our state park passes?
So what are our options? We considered skipping the beginning of our itinerary and just picking it up as restrictions loosen further. However, that doesn’t address many of the issues listed above. We could modify our itinerary to lower the risks and work around closures, cancelations, and local rules, but that still doesn’t address quite a few of our concerns. Our solution? We’ve decided to stay and travel within Colorado for the whole summer.
What are the advantages of staying in our own state? Staying in Colorado means we would not be transporting the virus from one state to another, or one part of the country to another. It also means less rules to track. Traveling only within our state allows us to be more flexible. If something happens like we get sick, our kids become ill, or Colorado reinstates a lockdown, we can easily get home in less than a day. While we are traveling we will maintain our distance from businesses and people, wear masks when passing folks on a walk or at a gas pump, have our van stocked with plenty of soap, water, and hand sanitizer, and take along our camping toilet. However, If we have problems with finding showers or laundry facilities or want to reduce how much we use public showers and laundry, we can swing back home every 7 to 10 days and use our own shower, washer and dryer. Using our house as a home base, we can restock our groceries, supplies, and gas at our usual local stores, thus reducing the risk of spreading the virus to small communities in our state. As an added bonus, we might be able to pick up fresh vegetables from our backyard garden that our daughter is planting. It’s been years since we’ve had homegrown tomatoes!
Can we balance our losses with the travel industry losses? We will save most of the planning time that went into our original itinerary by moving it to Season Three 2021. We’ll probably have to tweak it some and will need to make all those campground reservations all over again, but we should be able to save most of it. And what about the impact on the campgrounds where we cancel our reservations? We have decided not to ask for any of our money back from private campgrounds in order to increase their chances that they will still be in business when we want to use them in 2021. We also don’t mind supporting the Wisconsin and Michigan state parks by losing our money spent on passes that we will not be using.
Colorado has a lot to offer. We are actually excited about having the opportunity to explore our wonderful state in depth this year. Some things we haven’t done or seen in years and other things we’ve never experienced before. There are many national, state and local parks with hiking and biking trails. The state has a variety of terrain and climate, from mountains, lakes, and forests to the wide open plains, along with a large variety of wildlife. Other interesting things to visit are ghost towns, hot springs, and cute little mountain towns. We shouldn't run out of things to do and see in one year.
So what have we planned so far? Colorado has just started opening up their state park campgrounds. We’ve already purchased our Colorado State Park pass and planned our first week of travel. We will be leaving on June 1st, just as planned, and staying two nights at Stagecoach State Park, utilizing the only reservation we are keeping from our original plans. To complete the week, we will disperse camp on BLM land just outside Dinosaur National Monument for two nights, followed by two nights in State Forest State Park, before swinging back home.
Even though it is not what we were hoping to doing this year, it should still be a wonderful travel experience. If anticipation is half the fun of a trip, we have another year to enjoy anticipating our original trip. We hope you find a way to get out and safely enjoy the outdoors this summer, even if that only means exploring your local area. Let the adventures begin!
Check out our related video: Season Two Change of Plans