Walls closing in? Time to plan a getaway

I don’t know about you, but I’m in desperate need of a road trip right now. Months of keeping my distance from friends, relatives and co-workers along with the closing in of walls at home are driving me out of my mind. I need a change of scenery, motion of a vehicle going someplace that’s not overly familiar, fresh smells and tastes and the opportunity to explore.

Despite still having to take COVID-19 precautions, a road trip not too far from home is fairly simple to execute and may be the perfect way to reinvigorate one’s life.

Here are my recommendations for turning such a trip from a daydream into an experience:

Look for destinations approximately 130 to 250 miles or less from home. That will mean two to three hours travel time each way — enough to make you feel you’ve been away but not too far from home. This distance also means that if you get an early start, you can be back home before dark so overnight accommodations are not necessary. This could mean a return to someplace you’ve already visited or someplace new. A few easy-to-get-to spots include Helen (92 miles from DeKalb County); Chattanooga, Tennessee (117 miles); Greenville, South Carolina (145 miles), Birmingham, Alabama (147 miles and Savannah (248 miles).

And one doesn’t have to leave the state for a little adventure. There are plenty of interesting small towns in Georgia that feature architectural, historical, agricultural and cultural points of interest. A good place to get started is at the state’s official tourism and travel site: exploregeorgia.org.
What to do

One- to two-day trips are relatively easy to plan. They don’t require tons of research but picking one or two places to check out in chosen destinations is a good idea. Limiting activities is helpful both in time management and expenses. Find places for a personalized must-see list and determine how much time is need to visit. Whether it’s a museum, pontoon rental on a lake or guided ghost tour, find out in advance all you can about timing, costs, reservations, hours of operation, parking, etc. I casually stopped by a museum/entertainment venue one afternoon on a trip to South Carolina last year only to be told that reservations were needed for the facility tour and they were sold out. If you’re making a return trip to a venue, don’t assume you know what to expect. The pandemic has changed almost everything. Venues have new policies, different hours of operation, ticketing methods, etc. It’s best to call or check websites before heading out.

I also suggest doing some research about a great place for a meal, whether it’s a quirky local spot, a celebrated popular eatery, a fine dining experience or someplace featured on one of the foodie shows. Good idea to do some research about best times to dine and whether reservations are needed. A memorable meal is often the highlight of a trip.

Not comfortable dining in right now? Pack a cold picnic lunch or take along a small portable grill and all the fixings for a quick grilled lunch. There are plenty of parks that welcome those seeking respite outdoors.

Before you go
From my travel point of view, few things ruin the start of a daytrip more than having to do a bunch of stuff before departing. My suggestion: get the minor stuff out of the way the day (or couple of days) before. Gas up the car, go to the ATM, purchase travel snacks and have the destination address already plugged into phone and vehicle GPS. To be COVID correct, make sure you have masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, disinfectant wipes and spray in the car. (You’ll end up wasting time and being aggravated if you have to go to the store looking for these new-normal essential items before departing.)


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