People & Places
Things to Keep in Mind for the Great American Road Trip
July 09, 2020
Zigzagging across the nation’s highways is an important American rite of passage. We are fortunate to have such a well-maintained network of roadways connecting such a sprawling and diverse country, allowing Americans to explore every state easily.
Hitting the open road is always an amazing feeling, especially after being indoors so much due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Who isn’t itching to get out there and encounter new sights and people?
But the country is also a very different place now than it was only recently. Travel restrictions may still be in place, as the situation changes every day.
As such, there are new considerations you must keep in mind to help you be a better traveler during your great American road trip. They’ll help keep you safe, and potentially save you time and frustration when doing things like booking tickets.
Keep reading to get some helpful tips for the road. We also have some excellent and safe road trip destinations you can visit this summer or later when you feel more comfortable venturing out.
Check for Spread of COVID-19
Before even leaving your driveway, make sure the trip you’re planning is safe. You need to check what health experts are saying about the specific region where you live because epidemiology is a very local phenomenon.
Likewise, check to see that the destination you have in mind is safe. Everyone is eager to be able to roam freely once again, but you won’t be able to relax and enjoy your trip if you feel in the back of your mind like there’s a risk.
COVID-19 has changed what people are looking for in a getaway. Bustling downtown environments mean something very different now than open rural landscapes.
Places like New Orleans’ famous Bourbon Street are very different now than they used to be due to COVID-19. Even the 24/7 party with its world-class music and food is currently closed.
If your list of travel destinations is composed of cities and outdoorsy trips, now may be a better time for open nature. You can visit cities too! But you need to check that they’re safe, and you can’t assume that everything you’d ordinarily do is open now.
There are countless things to do now across America, including essential landmarks you’d have visited anyway.
Keep the Old Precautions in Mind
You wouldn’t be on a road trip if it were dangerous, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon the set of COVID-19 precautions we’ve all followed these last few months. When indoors in public, wear a mask.
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, and keep a bottle of hand sanitizer nearby. Practice social distancing as much as possible.
You may feel more accustomed to life in lockdown after months of adhering to these rules. Still, it’s important not to get complacent with this hygiene routine.
Be Mindful of People’s Physical and Mental Space
COVID-19 has caused some people to feel stressed out and anxious. Everyone has their own unique set of circumstances concerning how it affected their job and their health, or that of their friends and family.
Plus, people are bound to feel restless after spending such extended periods indoors with limited company. Now that people are beginning to venture out, be mindful of the changes in how people may feel. Our collective psyche is different in ways that may not be immediately apparent.
Not everyone has the same comfort level, so be calm and relaxed in public when practicing social distancing. Practicing mindfulness will lead to a better time for everyone.
Pack Smart Clothes for the Road
Life on the open road is exciting and freeing. Without the obligations normally tying down our daily schedule, it feels like the world is in the palm of our hands. You don’t want to be weighed down by too much luggage or clothes that require a lot of maintenance over the course of the trip.
Unbound Merino makes clothing like our classic t-shirts to look great and be extremely useful on the road. They’re resistant to wrinkles and odors, plus they dry quickly and regulate your temperature.
Our wool sweaters will look smart in formal and informal situations. They will still look and smell fresh after wearing them for days in a row because they’re anti-microbial. Here are some tips for packing your suit that may be handy if you need to stop in somewhere with a formal dress code during your road trip.
Otherwise, dress for comfort and style. You’ll love wearing cozy Merino wool underwear during long stretches of highway driving, or for outdoor activities like hiking. The ultra-fine Merino wool is soft, breathable, and fits snugly.
Whether you’re in the city or on a rural hike, Unbound Merino has the only pair of shorts you need because they’ll always keep you feeling dry and comfortable. Clothing this rugged and high-performance makes it easy to travel light and always be prepared for any situation.
Now let’s check out some amazing road trip destinations!
Joshua Tree National Park
The famous Joshua Tree National Park offers magnificent sights, like towering rock formations in a vast and startling desert atmosphere. Temperatures get very hot in summer during the day, which means if you go now there’ll be smaller crowds to contend with and it’ll be easier to get a campsite.
Be sure to drink a lot of water! If you plan on doing a hike, do it in the morning or later afternoon, not around noon, when the sun is hottest.
The good news is summer nights in the desert have a very comfortable temperature, and the stars are famously brilliant. August visitors can see the annual Perseid Meteor Shower.
The Pacific Coast Drive
California’s Highway 1 is a stunning and winding drive that takes you from San Francisco to Los Angeles featuring beautiful soaring Redwood trees on one side of the road and the ocean on the other. Enjoy leaning into each of the highway’s turns, and stop at any point to appreciate the gorgeous view and snap breathtaking photographs.
You won’t get tired of seeing trees 30 metres wide and endless ocean vistas. This is considered one of the best drives in the world, not just America.
There’s no shortage of activities you’ll find along the route, book-ended between major stops in San Francisco and LA.
Arizona’s Red Rocks
Red Rock State Park in Sedona, Arizona, is a 286-acre nature preserve featuring unbelievable rock structures. As the name suggests, the rocks come in countless red hues.
Seeing the interplay between the layers of rock sediments and the rising and setting sun is magical. The changing light transforms the gorgeous rock before your eyes in ways you won’t believe.
The world will feel huge under such broad skies next to such epic fortresses and towers of rock. The charming prickly cacti dotting the landscape completes the picture.
This legendary route that has shuttled generations of travelers from Chicago to California was decommissioned years ago. But while no longer officially in operation, you can still drive through a major part of what used to be called the “Main Street of America.”
Immortalized in literature like Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, today Route 66 is lined with traces of the America that existed before globalization.
Check out the abandoned and charming old hotels, filling stations, restaurants, and many symbols of old Americana. There are guides such as Jerry McClanahan’s EZ66 with turn-by-turn descriptions. You can easily follow about 85% of this classic route.
But you don’t need to learn everything from a book. Locals along the way will eagerly tell you old stories of how things used to be!
If you want big skies and open space all around you except for mountains and volcanoes, the Pacific Northwest has you covered. The Wonderland Trail is a 93-mile trail offering breathtaking 360-degree views of Mount Rainier amid diverse wildlife.
It’s essential to wear appropriate clothing on hikes for the weather and the terrain you’re covering. You need to stay comfortable and healthy. Especially in the heat, you’ll love having a pair of boxer briefs that wicks moisture away and keeps you dry.
The Wonderland Trail contains many splendours, but you don’t need to hike for days. There are many rewarding shorter hikes you can do, or pick a chunk of a longer hike. Camping is available, so this option is very budget-friendly.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Unbound Merino was founded by three lifelong friends who took road trips across America to see concerts, so we’re very partial to music! Cleveland’s most well-known landmark is the Holy Grail for rock and roll fans.
While mass gatherings for things like concerts are cancelled due to COVID-19, thankfully, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has reopened after being shut down for months. You’ll have to buy your tickets in advance via credit card.
Expect to comply with other mandatory safety precautions on the premises, like wearing masks, limited capacity with timed tickets, and more.
The building is filled with one-of-a-kind memorabilia, like the clothing and guitars rock legends used in major concerts. Despite its name, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame also honours musicians from other genres. Rap icon The Notorious BIG was inducted in 2020, a testament to a broader sensibility which recognizes that, ultimately, great music is great music.
Cleveland has lots of nice walking tours, gardens, and charming businesses downtown you can visit after finishing up at the museum.
One of America’s most famous summertime places to slow down, relax, and take in the ocean has also newly reopened. You’ll have to park the car and take a boat to reach Martha’s Vineyard’s beaches, hiking trails, restaurants, and more.
Their website recommends setting up on the beach no less than 12 feet from the nearest other groups, a bigger buffer that’ll only increase everyone’s comfort levels. Get your swimming trunks ready, but you don’t want to be under-dressed at night when visiting fine restaurants.
If you want to stock up on relaxed clothes that look smart and can withstand the heavy toll travel takes on clothes, you can save on these packs and get a better price on shirts, socks and underwear by buying in bulk.
Where else should the Great American road trip end but Washington DC, the nation’s capital? The list of incredible historical monuments and natural sites is long, even if the city is still in the process of gradually reopening.
Restaurants are open for outdoor seating or 50% capacity indoors, and outdoor sites like the National Park Service Sites and the National Mall remain open. Every American should see the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument at some point, so why not now?
Museums are open, but capacity may be limited, so buy tickets in advance whenever you can. Wherever you decide to go, check in with them before you arrive to ensure there are no surprises.
For decades, Americans have traveled across the country’s amazing network of interconnected roadways to explore and visit each nook and cranny. The very idea of a road trip across America unites every citizen of this country.
COVID-19 has disrupted ordinary life in America and across the world in too many ways to count. The situation still needs to be monitored daily and regionally. But as businesses gradually reopen and people leave their lockdown, it’s vital to get outdoors and regain a sense of fun and adventure.
Get off Zoom and connect with your friends and family! For comfortable clothing that can endure all the travails of travel, check out the fine wool in Unbound Merino’s catalogue today.