Written By : Jake Bielecki
How many of you had travel plans that got cancelled in 2020? Right as I was about to purchase a ticket to Norway, the whole world shut down. I was really bummed but did my part and hunkered down with everyone else for a couple months. After a while, cabin fever set in and I needed to find a way to get some adventure in my life. Since international travel was still mostly restricted, I spent the past year exploring around the states. Crazy how just a couple hour drive or flight can make you feel like you are in a completely different part of the world. I’ve learned a few tips and tricks this year on how to safely travel while still making the most out of this pandemic. It’s important to keep living! So be respectful and bring a mask just in case you happen to pass people on the trail!
Make A Plan
I think it’s great when people plan out every nitty gritty detail of a trip. It’s also fun to play it by ear. I guess I do a combination of both. It depends on how long I am going out for but I always start off my planning on “My Maps” on Google and drop pins to each spot I want to visit. Since most of my trips are based around taking photos, it’s nice to have an idea of where spots are in relation to other areas I want to check out. This helps me establish a route and determine what other stops I would want to make along the way. From there I am able to plan my camping and get a rough estimate of where I would want to stay.
I typically plan out a place to camp the first night and wing the rest. But once again depends if this is an extended road trip or just a quick getaway. Sometimes you find a beautiful area and you decide to stay there the whole weekend. Other times you are just exhausted from hiking and need to find the closest spot to post up. Regardless, its fairly easy to find breathtaking views very close to your destination. I always stay on BLM Land (Bureau of Land Management.) It is always free to stay on and most the time offers more unique spots as well as less neighbors.
One of the most difficult parts of all of this is getting the time off of work to go travel, right? Well, since most people are working remote now, it’s fairly easy to take off a few days but also work a couple days along the way! Depending on your work schedule and obligations, there are a few ways to extend your trip and not burn all your PTO at once. If you plan out your route with work days in mind, you can typically find a spot with WiFi or use your WiFi Hotspot on your phone while driving to your next location. I wouldn’t recommend operating a vehicle and laptop at the same time but maybe you can let your shotgun take the wheel for a couple hours while you crank out some work. Otherwise, get creative! Hang out at a lake/coffee shop that you have service at and be productive so you can get back to the reason you set out on this journey in the first place!
Catch A Sunrise
If you are really looking to enhance your trip, try checking out a spot or two on your itinerary at sunrise or sunset. I like to plan my hikes based on the most opportune time of day to see that spot in particular. This takes a little bit of research but can be easily found. Sunrise is definitely my favorite time of day. You just need to be willing to wake up in the dark, pack up camp with headlamps and start your hike early enough. However, if you do so, it is guaranteed to be quite magical and will most definitely be the highlight of your trip. Would recommend bringing gloves or something warm to wrap around yourself because these times of day could get pretty brisk. I prefer to catch the light right before sunrise so try to arrive 30 minutes early! Utah definitely has some of the most spectacular mornings and I find myself going out to the desert way too often. If you have never been, I highly recommend.
I’m a total gear head. I love outdoor equipment and I am always trying to make my traveling experience better. There are a few necessities that I would recommend. First off, the Coalatree Trailhead Pants. They are stretchy, waterproof, breathable and are perfect for hiking, sleeping, skating and living in full time. Second, is the Camp Chef Everest Stove. Definitely not a backpacking stove but absolutely ideal for an Overlanding setup! Makes you feel like you are cooking right in your kitchen at home. Third is the CVT Mt. Hood Rooftop Tent. Great for year round camping. Insanely comfortable and set up in less than a minute. Fourth is for Forsake! The Davos High boots are my go to for hiking adventures and trekking through tough elements. Fifth and final, is the Coalatree Haswell Knife. Never had a blade that felt and looked this good. Great for an everyday carry on the trail as well as a centerpiece for your coffee table.
Traveling can be expensive. No doubt. But there are ways to make it a lot more affordable. I mentioned camping on BLM land earlier in this post. Not having to pay for a hotel or a campground every night will give you extra cash to go towards your travels. Also, cooking at camp vs going out to eat is a big one. It’s much cheaper to buy your food ahead of time and even meal prep. Pre cut your meat and veggies and let them marinate so that they are ready to go as soon as you are back from adventuring. It’s easy to eat just as good as you do at home, even while out in nature!
Gasbuddy is an app that has saved me tons of money as well. Sometimes when you are driving down the highway, it’s a total gamble if one gas station will be cheaper than the next. This app allows you to plan your stops accordingly. If you are traveling by air, try out skyscanner.com. Crazy how you can find flights all around the country for so cheap. You can even search “anywhere” to find the cheapest flights for your planned travel dates. These are just a few travel tips I have learned along the way. However, I have quite a few more in my back pocket. Subscribe to my blog to stay updated on future posts!
Have any questions or topics you would like to see me cover? Leave a comment or send me a message on the blog or instagram @jake_is_exploring. Cheers & happy adventuring