7 Safe(r) Travel and Adventure Ideas for Fall 2021
That FOMO jet-setting vacation you had planned may not be in the cards, but don't let that stop you from venturing away from home this fall.
The Delta variant may have made us all a little more pessimistic about our fall travel plans, after a lot of optimism early this summer. Luckily, there are ways to venture outside of the house with minimal risk of catching or spreading coronavirus—especially if we follow necessary precautions, such as vaccinations (and boosters!), and wearing masks.
Remember that outdoor plans are safer than indoor ones. "The risk of viral transmission is lower outdoors than indoors, as the air either evaporates or denatures the viral particles, making them ineffective," explains public health expert Carol Winner, MSE, MPH. "According to researchers, just social distancing without masks is not enough. Together, with the added protection of being outside, your risk is much lower—almost at 90 percent."
So if you're itching for some adventure, grab your mask and consider one of these fun fall travel ideas.
1 Take a Sweet Road Trip
Driving is still one of the safest ways to get around this fall—and gives you the greatest level of control in how and where you stop. You can make a day of your road trip and venture back home that evening, or spend more time on the road. Camping is still popular this year, but Winner says that cabins, cottages, hotels, and other accommodation options can be safe with their updated protocols.
2 Explore a National Park (or Two)
If you had your international travel plans squashed, you're not alone. Fortunately, there's natural beauty all across the world, and likely something scenic to explore within a few hours of where you live. "National parks are a great option that have lower risk," says Terika Haynes, founder of luxury travel company, Dynamite Travel. Use the National Parks Services website to discover parks near your home, and to read the parks' operating status and procedures.
If your local National parks are busy, consider your state park options. They may provide just as much beauty without the crowds.
3 Roll Into a Drive-in Theater
Drive-in movie theaters have popped up everywhere and they are a throwback in the best of ways. Make sure to bring your own popcorn and a cozy blanket for good measure!
4 Hit the Apple or Pumpkin Patch
Apple picking and pumpkin patches are iconic (and very safe) fall activities. Haynes suggests checking in with the farms well in advance to understand their current protocols—especially if you need to book your time to enjoy the day.
5 Book a Private Wine Tasting
"Many wineries are now offering private sessions, which allows guests to experience less exposure to others while enjoying their wine," says Haynes. Many are even hosting outdoors or will allow you to pick up a bottle and head to the vineyard for a socially distanced picnic. If wineries aren't really a thing where you live, create your own wine tasting session. Pick up three to five bottles from the same winery, print out descriptions from their website, and taste away. Make it extra special by setting up a picnic in the backyard.
6 Channel Nostalgia on a Train Ride
Winner says that Amtrak is "on board" with COVID-19 precautions; all passengers must wear masks, follow strict boarding and disembarking instructions, and maintain social distancing. You can also book a privacy room big enough for you and a friend. "Amtrak's privacy rooms are just that—private—where you can sit without a mask and sleep on a longer journey," says Winner. In addition to Amtrak, look into historic trains that allow you to take quick, sight-seeing trips; many are open-air. Make sure to call ahead to ensure they're open, and do some research to make sure they're following safety protocols.
7 Plan a Leaf Peeping Tour
Not even a pandemic can suck the joy out of the stunning autumn foliage. "This is a great activity for those who love and appreciate nature and the fall season. It's also a fun way to combine road tripping with photography, and adventure," says Haynes. Research the best leaf peeping spots close to you and then make a full day or weekend of it.