Have you tried country road travel? Discover the benefits of backroads routes as you road trip this year!
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Country Roads: The Benefits of Backroads Travel
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A year into the pandemic, we’re still trying to figure out where we should and shouldn’t go. One thing that’s become clear is that being outdoors in less crowded places is safer than being indoors with lots of people. And more folks are starting to act on that as the CDC has loosened guidelines for domestic travel somewhat.
But we still have to be careful, and the less we’re around large groups, the safer we’ll be — especially if we aren’t fully vaccinated. That’s one reason a backroads trip can be the perfect way to get out of the house and explore places you might never have considered when you had your heart set on big cities, amusement parks, and crowded beaches.
There are plenty of benefits to a backroads vacation, beyond just steering clear of the virus. Even if you’re vaccinated and feel safe heading out on the road, you might want to consider heading to out-of-the-way destinations with your family.
Take country roads and see new places
Fewer people live in rural America, so fewer people think of going there. There’s no Broadway or Smithsonian or Disneyland, but there are things that are just as appealing — and new.
Backroads trips are a great way to explore places you haven’t seen before. The roads themselves can be a big part of the fun. Getting off the highway and taking a two-lane country road through rolling hills and past grassy meadows is a whole different kind of experience. It’s refreshing and invigorating: perfect if you’ve spent months cooped up at home.
The farther you are away from civilization, the more relaxing it can be. But be sure your car is up to it: Those two-lane roads may not be as well-maintained, so consider taking a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and make sure your tires are up to the task by checking the tread and getting them rotated ahead of time. If you get a tire blowout, it may be a while before help arrives.
Avoid the city hustle and bustle
Small-town America lives at a slower pace and can be friendlier and more welcoming. Remember “The Andy Griffith Show”? There are a lot of places like that you might never think of visiting. There’s even a real-life “Mayberry” in North Carolina called Mt. Airy, which was the inspiration for that classic show.
Stores in town sell Mayberry-themed souvenirs, there’s a Floyd’s Barbershop on Main Street, an old-fashioned sheriff’s patrol car at a vintage gas station, a soda fountain, and even an Andy Griffith Museum.
Or if you’re in the mood for something a little spookier (but still quaint and homey), visit Point Pleasant, West Virginia, the famous lair of the Mothman. This mysterious creature/phenomenon has spawned several books and even a major motion picture starring Richard Gere.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of small-town possibilities across the country.
Before you head out of the city, think about how you’ll pay your way. You’ll probably want to have some spending cash (since many rural stores and roadside vendors still don’t have card readers). You’ll also want some room on your credit card (for incidentals at your hotel and in case of an emergency). If you don’t have a credit card, think about creating a cash reserve and boosting your credit with a secured card account. It’s a great way to do both at the same time.
Sample some down-home country cooking
You don’t have to visit a big city bistro or fine dining establishment to find good food. Some of the best meals can be found in out-of-the-way places where homestyle cooking is on the menu.
Whether it’s biscuits and gravy or fried green tomatoes, Frito pies, or Cincinnati chili, sampling the local cuisine can be one of the true pleasures of getting off the beaten path. Mom and Pop diners, coffee shops, breakfast houses, and “local legend” restaurants in small towns serve up some of the best food from appetizers straight through to dessert.
Try those apple fritters and chess pies on for size.
Spend time with the family
There’s a kind of family feel to small towns that makes a family road trip just feel right. Take the spouse and the kids along, so you can experience the heartland together while making memories you can share to last a lifetime.
It’s not just about the scenery and the trip. It’s also about family bonding, travel games played on the road, family photos, and inspiration you’ll gather for future times together. Some of my favorite memories are singing along to the radio with my parents and siblings as we traveled through the backroads of Michigan to visit family each summer.
Save money by taking the road less traveled!
Let’s face it: In cities, restaurants and hotels can cost an arm and a leg. It’s all about supply and demand. Small towns aren’t just more hospitable. They’re less expensive, too, whether you’re talking about breakfast in the morning or a room for the night.
When you add it all up, there are plenty of reasons to get out of the house for a down-home vacation exploring rural America. It’s cheaper, friendlier, and more relaxing, plus there’s more to explore that you haven’t already seen. So what are you waiting for? Round up the family, load up the car, and head out to parts unknown. You’ll be glad you did.
What are your top tips for country road travel? Is there are back roads road trip route you especially recommend?
Molly Barnes is a full-time digital nomad, exploring and working remotely in different cities in the US. She and her boyfriend Jacob created the website Digital Nomad Life to share their journey and help others to pursue a nomadic lifestyle.