Right now, many of us are self-quarantined. We're glued to our devices binge-watching Beyond Your Backyard on Amazon Prime (Did you watch Season Two yet?). While I still want to be informed, I’m limiting my intake of current events/news, and in its place I’ve tried finding more uplifting ways to spend my time. Which led me back to my number one passion… travel. To me, the joy of planning a vacation is almost as exciting as the trip itself. I find that researching new places to visit can be a really fun and rewarding way for families to spend time together. In time, we’ll be able to freely travel the states again. When that moment comes, where will you want to go? Researching and planning new trips is a great way to pass the time. Here are five tips on ways that you will be able to bring domestic travel BACK into your home, and get you excited about exploring Beyond Your Backyard again...
1) Throw A Dart/Pin A Donkey – The USA is big, and it covers a lot of ground. It can be hard to choose a new region to visit, because the options can be dizzying. A fun way to start thinking about new destinations is to get a Map of the USA and hang it on your wall with some kind of protective backing behind it (a dart board, cork board, etc). You’ll want that protective backing because you’ll be throwing 3 darts at the map, and wherever those darts land, that’s where you focus your research. If the darts hit Topeka, Chicago and Ft. Worth, then let the fun begin as you research each location as a family. For those with young kids or a dislike of sharp flying objects, you can use the Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Donkey approach. Simply hang the map, blindfold, spin, and wherever you place your pin in the map is where you’re heading!
2) Eat Your Way Around The Country – everyone in your family chooses one section of the country that they’d like to visit and they have to prepare a meal based on that region’s famous delicacy. Tex-Mex enchiladas while learning about San Antonio. Lobster rolls and chowder as you dive deep into Coastal Maine and New England. Skyline-style chili served piping hot while you discuss the ins and outs of all things Cincinnati. You may not end up going to that state, but you may end up with a new favorite food...
3) Night Court – “Please Rise, the Honorable Erik T Travel Guy, presiding.” While you may be itching to get outdoors and hike across America, your spouse may want a relaxing beach getaway and your kids want to enjoy a whale watch off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Let your collective imaginations go wild. Each member of your household brainstorms about the country and comes up with at least 2 US destinations each. One person plays the judge and the rest of the family gets to plead their case for each vacation. Prosecutors can point out the possible negatives about the trip while the defense attorney defends their destination to the very end! Nothing more American than Travel Justice! (As long as you don’t end up with a hung jury, that is.)
4) Follow The Music – As a big music lover, this is one of my favorite ways to bring travel into my home. Following a favorite band or musician is a great way to do this. You can follow them on tour, or visit the cities that made them famous. Head to NYC and visit Electric Ladyland studio, or the former site of CBGBs. Shoot to Nashville and visit the Grand Ole Opry or Jack White’s Third Man Records. If a long strange trip is in order, why not head to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and see the home of the Grateful Dead or visit Hitsville USA and the Motown Museum in Detroit and see where Barry Gordy started it all. Using a band, a music event, or even a song, is a fun way to spark new travel ideas. So everyone grab your favorite album and enjoy a night of boogying and travel planning.
5) Popcorn and YouTube – Sure, we all love binging on 20 straight episodes of Tiger King. That show is WILD! But there are a lot of other great videos you can enjoy that can help you and your family get excited about traveling again, namely, on YouTube. While I love sharing my videos and travel tips with viewers on my Erik The Travel Guy YouTube channel, I also love watching amazing travel content from people all over the world. Solo travelers like Allison Anderson, power couples like Stephen and Jess from “Flying The Nest” and even a travelling family like The Bucket List Family. YouTube has countless hours of videos highlighting destinations all over the world. They’re not just informative, they're also entertaining.
During all this, I encourage you to keep positive thoughts about the future. When it is safe to hit the road again, we’ll all appreciate how much visiting family and friends, sharing amazing meals, and seeing all the amazing places this great country has to offer really means to us. Stay safe. Stay sane.
Take care of one another, and safe travels,
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!