Last Updated on January 16, 2021 by Elizabeth

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During the pandemic, many of us are looking for vacation ideas for social distancing. These are options that let us venture out and take advantage of cheap gas, few crowds and an abundance of hotel deals.

If you are inclined to travel, some types of trips feel like relatively safe bets:

Instead of Flying, Rent a Car

When looking for vacation ideas for social distancing, the most obvious choice is a road trip. Recent Harris Poll tracking surveys suggest that Americans are planning road trips within a few hours of home. People are staying relatively close to home, rather than longer journeys that require getting on a plane.

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According to a recent article in Business Insider, renting a car is a safe way to travel during the pandemic. After all, experts say, being in a car alone or with family members is safer than traveling on public transportation.

All the major rental car companies have ramped up their sanitation protocols. But if it makes you feel better, you can bring disinfecting wipes and give the vehicle a once-over. Pay special attention to the steering wheel, dashboard console, window controls, and other high-touch areas.

Here’s everything you need to know about renting a car during the pandemic..

Visit a National Park

Set in this country’s most beautiful landscapes, national parks are what the historian Wallace Stegner called “America’s best idea.” There are 62 national parks in all, each different from the next.

The vast majority of national parks offer tent camping. Many also offer cabins as an alternative to staying in a lodge. You’ll need to book ahead, and it may be easier to find open dates at the end of the summer or early fall.

Book an Extended-Stay Hotel

The category of hotels known as “extended-stay” or “long-stay” is full of brands you know—Hyatt House, Embassy Suites, Extended Stay America, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, Homewood Suites, and a dozen others that end in “Suites.” Conceived for business travelers who need a place to stay during long stints on the road, these properties often offer separate living and sleeping areas plus full or galley kitchens and other amenities to help you be as self-sufficient as you like. The term “extended stay” is a bit of a misnomer, since you can stay for a night, a weekend or longer— your choice.

Better yet, many hotel brands are offering terrific deals right now.

Rent a Vacation Home

If your goal is to limit interaction with others while you visit a new destination, consider renting a short-term vacation home at the beach, in the mountains or beside a lake through Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway or a similar platform. You’ll get your own “home away from home” space with everything you need without the chance of crossing paths with hotel staff or other guests. Best of all, you can peruse as many photos as you like in order to find exactly what you want at a price you can afford.

Rent a Houseboat

Can’t find the perfect lake house? Consider renting a houseboat instead and drop anchor in an isolated cove. Some popular houseboating destinations include Lake Mead in Nevada, Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, Lake Cumberland in Kentucky, Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia and dozens more. You can rent a floating vacation home from Houseboating.org, as well as Airbnb and other vacation rental sites.

Rent a Campervan

If you like the idea of a Western US road trip in something between an RV and a tent, consider renting a JUCY campervan, which is a custom-made campervan or mini RV that offers an affordable alternative to RV camping.

In the United States, JUCY rentals are available at three locations: San Francisco (Oakland Airport), Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

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There’s even a very basic kitchen in a JUCY campervan, comprised of a five-gallon water tank, sink, two butane stove burners, a small fridge, some dishes, utensils, cutting board, and pans.

Wait for Fall Foliage Season

If you’re really skittish about traveling this summer, consider waiting a few months for what is arguably the best road trip season of all. Autumn means leaf peeping—the perfect excuse for a weekend road trip to view colorful fall foliage in the region where you live. From Vermont to California, we have picked beautiful autumnal hotspots to explore across the country. So snag a rental car, pack your camera and look forward these eye-catching locations.

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