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Campervan Hugo tells his story: Hi! I’m Hugo – at least that’s what my new owners (Johannes and Birgit) named me in the fall of 2020. I recently turned 6 years old and am an L2H1 Renault Trafic in a vibrant, life-affirming green color. I’m here to tell you all about my camper van conversion story!

I met my new family in Berlin. The young couple came all the way from Munich to check me out and see if they wanted to adopt me. Well, lucky for me, they signed the contract on the same day! Adoption costs: 9999€ – and I am worth every cent!

Barely a month later (both of them quit their jobs to take care of me full time) we drove to Karlsruhe, where Birgit’s mother and grandma live. It was very nice to meet her relatives and get to know my new extended family.

In the three months that followed, Johannes and Birgit took great care of me and took on a full-time project of van conversion to campervan. Like most people who take on a DIY project, I’m pretty sure they thought everything would be easier than it was.

But for anyone else out there who is thinking of a camper van conversion, read on to learn about their process. Maybe you’ll get some inspiration from my makeover story!

Essential Amenities for my Camper Van Conversion

Allow me to walk you through a few changes that happened during the story of my Renault Trafic camper conversion.

1. Insulation Against Heat and Cold

I was insulated with 19mm, 9mm, and 3mm Armaflex as well as sheep’s wool. After lots of research, Birgit and Johannes found out that wool is one of the best options for insulation: it insulates well against heat and cold, does not mold, and is eco-friendly (after all, it grows on sheep!).  So now, I can protect my family from heat and cold.

Johannes hard at work on the insulation

Johannes hard at work on the insulation

2. Click Vinyl Flooring

To create a liveable interior, Johannes and Birgit set about installing chic flooring. Unfortunately, the click vinyl flooring was much trickier than anticipated. Even I know that you should watch a video of how to lay vinyl flooring BEFORE trying to do it!

Birgit's mission: Move the flooring from the green grass to the green camper.

Birgit’s mission: Move the flooring from the green grass to the green camper.

 

Success! Finishing the edge of the vinyl flooring

Success! Finishing the edge of the vinyl flooring

3. A New Side Window and Skylight

In contrast with the difficult flooring installation, it was a snap to cut two new openings for my roof window and side window. That was done in just one day. I’m glad they chose high-quality Dometic windows. They even come with built-in screens and blackout blinds!

Once I got my new side window I really started to feel like a camper van!

Once I got my new side window, I really started to feel like a camper van!

4. Tigerexped Parking Heater for Winter Trips

The two decided early on that they would want to travel with me in the winter since I am perfect for a cozy retreat. For cold-weather trips, I got a parking heater from Tigerexped, which has 2 kilowatts of power.

I’m now able to heat the interior from 0 to 20°C (freezing to a comfortable room temperature) in just 10 minutes! They did all the installation themselves, aside from the gas tank tap, which was done by a pair of helpful hands from a local auto repair shop. I very much appreciate it, since the tank is one of my most sensitive components!

Autoterm Air 2D heater from Tigerexped

Autoterm Air 2D heater from Tigerexped

5. Stylish Side and Roof Panels for a Livable Interior

My side panels are made of multiplex panels that were sanded and painted white, plus 4-way stretch felt. Felting was fun for Jo & Bibs, I could tell they enjoyed it!

Luckily, felt is a forgiving material, so they didn’t have to be quite as precise as they had to be for other aspects of my van makeover. They simply applied adhesive spray to the Armaflex and pressed the felt on bit by bit.

Their oft-praised “secret weapon” was an orange peeler from Birgit’s mother’s kitchen. With it, they could stuff the felt into even the tightest cracks, and now I look nice and neat! 😉

The secret weapon: an orange peeler to help achieve a clean finish on the felt.

The secret weapon: an orange peeler to help achieve a clean finish on the felt.

My ceiling is made of 4mm-thick birch wood. Before installing, it was soaked with oil to prevent mold and keep it in good shape over the next several years.

It was the right plan in theory, however, they realized after the fact that they should have used a different type of oil. Unfortunately, my interior still has a distinct smell from the oil (even tho it is intended for living rooms!). I’m still getting used to it, but they would probably recommend a different one.

The smell is slowly fading away, and to accelerate the vaporization of the oil, they leave my closet doors open with the windows cracked whenever I’m parked.

Johannes admires my interior. My conversion from van to camper van is coming along!

Johannes admires my interior. My conversion from van to camper van is coming along!

6. Self-Sufficient Power for Camper Van Living

One of my coolest features is the 6 LEDs embedded in my ceiling- The front 3 can be switched on and off independently from the rear 3, and even from 2 different locations.

Alternate switching is the keyword here! All in all, they took great care of my electrical system. Especially Jo was very interested in this part of my camper van conversion, calculating all the cable strengths and figuring out the necessary fuses that I would need. 

Within my cozy cabin, I have a 180Ah AGM battery, a 300-Watt inverter for laptops, a 32-Liter cooler from Mobicool, a submersible pump, various USB chargers, and even a monitor so that Johannes and Birgit can hop in and travel with me while they work remotely.

The electrical heart of Hugo

The electrical heart of Hugo

And guess what – all of these devices are powered by the sun! My owners installed a 360-Watt solar panel on my roof. It’s a standard solar panel like the ones you see on house rooftops.

Johannes and I picked it up from a solar builder in the neighboring village. My owners first used industrial glue to attach 4 spoilers to my roof and then screwed the solar panel onto them.

The wires run into my interior and connect to the battery. I think it’s great that during my camper van conversion they figured out how to use the sun to generate green energy – after all, green is my favorite color!

360 W solar system on Hugo's roof

360 W solar system on Hugo’s roof

Update: Unfortunately the glue didn’t stick to the solar panel spoilers. Luckily Johannes and Birgit noticed before it was too late and dismantled the solar panel during their recent vacation in Italy.

So for now I don’t have a solar panel on my roof but Johannes and Birgit are working on a solution. Van conversion is a constant process!

In the meantime, I’m using a charge booster to charge the battery while driving. This can be switched on/off by a special switch in the driver’s compartment. Now that my interior battery cannot be loaded by the sun anymore, I’m very glad that this charge booster was installed.

Space-Saving Design Features

My interior living space is really cool and I have to say, very well thought out! It has to be, because as is the case with all camper van conversion projects, the space is limited: As a typical Renault Trafic before my camper conversion, I had about 5m² (54 square feet) of space in the living room – and a height of just 140 cm (55 inches). So it’s important to make the most out of every spare millimeter. 

Like most camper van conversion projects, I am full of hidden features and tons of practical space-saving tricks! Let me take you on a little tour of all the cool things inside 😉:

  • Funky LED sideboard with a corkboard and integrated USB charging station.
  • White cabinet wall with tons of storage space, the cabinet door is also the table. It’s made of beautiful acacia wood – for a camper van like me, fine wood is basically like fine jewelry. The external monitor is tucked behind the cabinet.
  • A camping stove that can be pulled out through a drawer, making it easy to cook outside if weather permits! Underneath that drawer is another drawer. Drawer-inception, so to speak. It serves as an additional area to cut vegetables when cooking.
Kitchen set up in a van conversion project

Drawer inception for expandable space in the kitchen

  • The entire space under the bed can be used for storage. There are 3 heavy-duty drawers + an area with space for either a folding box or a crate of beer. I’d love to say this was planned – but the fact that my humans chose these exact dimensions was pure coincidence.
  • I even have a small sink. The water comes from a 12-liter fresh water tank under the sink, flows through the kitchen faucet, and drains into the 12-liter waste water tank. By the way, the faucet can be pulled outside through the side window and used as an outdoor shower. Ideal after a strenuous hike!
  • The bed is flexible and adjustable, so it can either be used as a bench or a large bed measuring 200cmx125cm (about the size of a Full bed). If you want to sit at the table, the bed can be made into a U-shape and three people can sit.
  • The acacia cabinet door has two drive-in nuts, which allow you to screw in two large threaded bolts with feet to become the table legs. When it’s folded down, the table legs rest on a part of the bed, so it’s super stable.

The Final Touches for my Renault Campervan Conversion

My cozy interior really came together with the addition of the light gray “home-sewn” mattress (well… sewn by Birgit’s aunt – that was a 14-hour sewing marathon!).

The white curtains provide privacy and complement the white furniture and the dark brown acacia wood in the kitchen. Artificial ivy hides the electrical cables and creates a homey atmosphere.

With the ceiling lights on and a candle lit, I transform into quite a romantic little place! Seeing me now, you would hardly believe that I was once an empty Renault Trafic before my camper conversion makeover.

Bed arrangement in a camper van conversion project

DIY Van conversion project

Makeover complete! Can you believe how far I’ve come?

What’s Next for Campervan Hugo?

Originally, my new owners budgeted 2 months to convert me from van to campervan. That they overestimated themselves was clear to me from the beginning – but sometimes people have to learn the hard way!

I will probably never become a real full-time camper for the so-called ‘van life’. Even though Johannes and Birgit are very fond of each other, <5m² is a bit small for the long term.

In any case, the two had a great vacation with me this summer. We drove through Germany, Switzerland, and Italy together.

I’m not sure what our plans are for next year, but we will definitely go to the mountains for hiking or maybe a snowy getaway. If you’re interested in what the future brings for me, you can follow along at @hugo_campervan on Instagram. Maybe you’ll get inspiration for your own Renault Trafic camper conversion.

In closing, I just recently overheard a conversation that made me so happy, and I would like to share it with you. Maybe you as (future) van builders or owners see it exactly the same way:

“Hugo is our little second home and the whole world is our backyard!”

DIY Van Conversion

If you’re thinking of taking your outdoor adventures to the next level, bikepacking might be just the thing for you. Bikepacking is perfect for anyone who loves the great outdoors, is comfortable on a bike, and would like to cover great distances on their own two wheels.

The concept is simple, but there is some essential bikepacking gear that any first-time bikepacker needs to take to have a great experience. Who knows, this might become your new favorite vacation hobby!

Here is a list of the 15 bikepacking essentials that any first-timer needs to bring on their trip.

1. The Right Bike

When it comes to finding the best bikepacking bike, there is no easy answer. The bike that you choose depends entirely on the terrain, the distance, and your personal preferences.

That being said, the best bike for a bikepacking trip will be lightweight, sturdy enough to take the weight of your packs, and high quality so that you can minimize repairs along the way.

Bikepacking trips generally fall into three different categories, and each requires a different type of bike. The three different styles of bikepacking trips are multi-day mountain biking, ultralight race & gravel, or expedition & dirt touring.

You can read more about each of these bikepacking trip types and the right bike for each. Regardless of how much research you do, there are a few bikes that are consistently recommended by other bikepackers: 

  • Best Multi-day Mountain Bike: Surly Krampus – a lifetime investment and one of the highest quality bikes for bikepacking. If you have the budget, the Surly is the best choice
  • Best All-Rounder: Salsa Fargo – it’s a good all-rounder bikepacking bike for anyone interested in starting bikepacking as a new hobby. You can do an endless amount of research on the size, fittings, and accessories, but the Salsa Fargo seems to suit the needs of most people.
  • Best Gravel Bike: Specialized Diverge gravel bike This bike is well-regarded for its ability to go anywhere and everywhere. It can handle just about any road and even the average person would do well on a bikepacking trip.

The bike you choose also depends on whether you intend to make this a long-term hobby. It may not be worth shelling out thousands of dollars if this is just something you’ll do once or twice. But if you plan to be out on the trails multiple times a year, it’s worth investing in a high-quality bike that will stand the test of time.

2. The Right Packs

Packing for your bikepacking trip

With the increasing popularity of bikepacking, there has been a lot of innovation on how to efficiently transport gear on a bike. You’ll have infinite options for your bikepacking gear setup, but the basic storage locations are side-saddle bags, handlebar bags, under-seat bags, and wedge packs that fit inside the bike frame. You’ll be surprised how much essential bikepacking gear you can bring with you!

The most important thing to keep in mind when determining your bikepacking gear setup is to make sure your bags are appropriate for the specific bike. For example, a typical mountain bike won’t have anywhere to mount side-saddle bags, so you’ll need to focus on under seat and handlebar storage. And of course, if you get a wedge pack, it needs to fit your bike frame perfectly to maximize storage space.

Be careful not to fall into the trap of overpacking! Just because you can load up your bike, doesn’t mean you should. Even though you’re not carrying the gear directly on your back, you’ll still be the one who needs to put in the leg power to transport each ounce up each elevation gain.

The most important factor when it comes to bags is the quality. Don’t skimp by buying cheap bags that are going to rub on tires, need constant adjustment, or have failing zippers and buckles. Just like investing in a quality, reliable bike, you must also invest in quality bags. Bags should be waterproof, lightweight, and durable.

3. Navigation, GPS

Especially when going offroad, a high-quality satellite GPS can be a life-saver. Be sure to get one that has a bright display that can be attached to your handlebars. You don’t want to have to pull over to check your coordinates while you’re trying to make good time on your route.

4. Sun Protection

Bikepacking Gear Essentials

Bikepacking means you’ll be exposed to the elements. You’ll most likely be biking on fire roads or paved surfaces, which usually means there will be little shade. And with the speed and wind chill, you are not likely to notice your sunburn until it’s too late.

A quality pair of polarized sunglasses, a hat, a neck cover, clothing that offers UV protection, and of course, high-grade SPF are essential bikepacking gear to provide sun protection.

5. Extra Jacket for Insulation

Inevitably, you’ll experience a change in the elements, whether you get caught in a rainstorm or climb a high elevation to chillier temperatures. Bring a windproof, lightweight jacket for these times.

You’ll be surprised how often you’ll reach for your jacket, even in warm weather due to the wind chill you’ll experience at high speeds.

6. Illumination

Although it is not advised to cycle at night, a bike light is essential if you are planning to cycle at dusk or dawn. Plus, a light does a lot to increase your visibility which is important for safety, especially if you’ll be sharing the road with cars.

7. First Aid Kit

A basic first aid kit is essential for any active trip, but especially for bike packing. You’ll want to be able to treat any blisters, hotspots, and scrapes along the way. In addition to a basic first aid kit, be sure to bring along some magnesium tablets to help avoid cramping after a long uphill day. You’ll need to rely on your legs day in and day out so be sure to keep them in top condition!

8. Food & Cooking Gear

If you plan to camp along your bikepacking trip, you need to bring lightweight cooking gear to prepare meals. Since packing space is limited, be sure to make the right choice for bikepacking recipes.

The most popular bikepacking cooking gear is the Trangia ultralight camping cook set. Or, if you are making meals where you just add hot water, you can get away with bringing a Jetboil camping stove. If you want to skip the bikepacking cooking gear, check out some of our cold soak recipes to help lighten your pack. 

It’s also helpful to have some easy-to-access snacks that you can rely on during the day. Especially if you’re biking on a schedule or trying to time your rides with the weather, it’s helpful to have some nutrition that you can access on the go, like energy gels for quick carbs and electrolytes.

9. Bike Repair Kit

Do not go bikepacking without a basic bike repair kit and the know-how to make minor repairs along the way. A blown tire or loose screw can ruin your trip if you’re unable to repair them yourself. Bikepacking repair kits are very compact, so this small but invaluable item does not have to take up much space among your essential bikepacking gear.

10. Hydration & Water Storage

Bikepacking gear - add water bottle storage to your bike

Add more water storage to your bike before your bikepacking adventure

In addition to the standard location for a water bottle, you may want to add some more storage. Depending on your bike, you can usually add a few reserve water bottle locations. To cut down on the total weight in your bikepacking gear, you can bring a steri pen filter to purify your water along the way.

Since bikepacking goes hand in hand with a love for the outdoors, check out our article about the most sustainable water bottles and water filters so that your choices are kind to mother nature.

11. Care for your Caboose

If you’ve never been bikepacking before, your rear end will be the first thing to scream in pain. Padded shorts are essential bikepacking gear, but don’t forget to bring along wet wipes with soothing aloe and vitamin E, and bottom butter which works wonders. And be sure to do a few long bike trips before your bikepacking adventure to prepare your rear for the long days on the saddle.

12. Cycling Gloves

It’s not until you forget biking gloves that you realize how important they are. Gloves serve multiple purposes. First of all, your hands will be exposed to the elements, and will quickly dry out and become cracked if you don’t protect them.

Without gloves, the constant gripping of the handlebar can lead to sweaty, slippery palms and can result in painful blisters. Lastly, the best gloves have a layer of padding, which adds a very important buffer against the constant vibration of the bike.

When choosing biking gloves, find a pair that fits you like a second skin. They should be snug, but not so tight that they are restrictive.

13. Shelter

If you’re planning to go offroad and sleep in the great outdoors, an ultralight tent will be an essential item in your bikepacking gear. Choose one that can be rolled up into a compact size.

The tent will likely be the largest single item that you have to pack, so be sure to balance it correctly on your bike setup. Most people pack the tent in the handlebar section of their bike since it’s a central storage location that doesn’t cause balancing issues.

14. Good Weather

Bikepacking Gear Essentials

Don’t underestimate the value of a sunny, cool day! Try to choose a location and a time of year that will give you dry conditions with moderate temperatures.

The weather could make or break your experience and significantly affects the amount of bikepacking gear that you’ll need to bring. There’s nothing worse than getting caught in the freezing rain when you are directly exposed to the elements. This could also lead to dangerous conditions like slippery roads & impacted visibility.

15. A Positive Attitude

The right mindset is maybe one of the most essential ingredients for a successful bikepacking trip. Be sure to bring a sense of adventure, self-reliance, and a positive attitude.

Relying on your own physical fitness to get you from point A to point B, being subject to the elements and unforeseen factors, and covering large distances with the raw power of your own legs will bring lots of new challenges. But with big challenges come big rewards, just keep a positive attitude along the way.

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Bikepacking Gear for Beginners

Bikepacking essential gear

Looking for pandemic-friendly weekend road trips from NYC? While there are endless things to do in NYC, sometimes all you need is a good weekend away. Luckily, NYC enjoys an amazing location with countless East Coast getaways a close driving distance away. You don’t need to travel far to feel like you’re a world away. So during this pandemic, why not hit the road, head out of the Big Apple for one of these short weekend road trips from NYC?

1.  Brandywine Valley, Delaware

2 hours from NYC

Brandywine Valley - a perfect road trip from NYC

Brandywine Valley

Just over 2 hours away from New York City lies the charming Brandywine Valley, with plenty of options to recharge your batteries. While there you should visit Longwood Gardens, Winterthur, and the Hagley Museum.

Read more about how to plan the perfect Brandywine Valley Road Trip, or the New York Times piece on how to spend 36 hours in the Brandywine Valley.

2. Hudson Valley, New York

2 hours from NYC

If you’ve lived in NYC long enough, chances are you’ve visited the Hudson Valley for a cozy weekend away. With orchards, vineyards, charming towns, and a plethora of lodging options ranging from upscale spas to glamping tents, it feels a world away from the hustle of the big city. If you haven’t been yet, add it to your list ASAP.

3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

2 hours from NYC

It’s easy to forget that another large metropolitan area is just a stone’s throw away from NYC. If you’re hankering for a change of scene, Philadelphia is a convenient distance away to take a city break.

Early American history is front and center in Philadelphia, and you will enjoy a laid-back vibe during your weekend trip. If it’s your first time here and you want to check out the typical sightseeing locations, get a Philly sightseeing pass which includes entrance fees for 35 attractions throughout the city.

4. Mystic, Connecticut

2.5 hours from NYC

If you’re looking to escape the heat and humidity of a New York City summer, head down the coast to the seaside town of Mystic, Connecticut. You can either hop in your car or take a train for an easy connection between Manhattan and downtown Mystic.

For where to stay, what to eat, and what to do, check out this guide to a Weekend in Mystic. written by a fellow New Yorker.

5. Baltimore, Maryland

3 hours from NYC

Also known as Charm City, Baltimore Maryland is the perfect foodie destination with its rooftop bars, restaurants, and tons of food markets. If you’re looking to sample all the Baltimore specialties in one location, head to the R. House Food Hall, a massive space with different cuisines.

Naturally, seafood and the famous Maryland Blue Crabs are prominently featured. You can either take this short road trip from NYC or take a convenient bus from New York to Baltimore so that you can really kick back and enjoy the trip.

6. Saratoga Springs, New York

3 hours from NYC

Saratoga Springs isn’t far from the city, but there is a multitude of pit stops from NYC to Saratogo Springs to turn this into one of the best short weekend road trips from NYC. Once you arrive in Saratoga Springs, be sure to check out the landmarks centered around the famous naturally carbonated springs.

7. Lancaster, Pennsylvania

3 hours from NYC

The Lancaster area is deep in the heart of Amish country for those who want to see a complete contrast to the hustle of NYC. The Mennonite Information Center can help organize a tour to a few local farms, or you can visit some of the Amish-run shops like Riehl Quilts or the Countryside Road Stand where you can browse a variety of goods like quilts, baked goods, and crafts.

8. Newport, Rhode Island

3 hours from NYC

The Breakers Mansion in Newport Rhode Island

The Breakers Mansion in Newport Rhode Island

Thanks to the developments of the early American railroad tycoons, Newport has some of the most stunning residential architecture on the East Coast. Be sure to drive by the famous Newport Mansions and do the Cliff Walk for stunning views over the Atlantic Ocean. To get an introduction to the main sights related to the Gilded Age you can take a Trolley Tour with optional entry into Breakers, the most ornate mansion in Newport.

9. The Berkshires, Massachusetts

3 hours from NYC

The Berkshires Mountain range north of NYC is a charming area that feels a world away. The town of Stockbridge is a popular hub with its Norman Rockwell museum and cute shops in town.

10. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

3.5 hours from NYC

With all the museums and historically significant locations, you can easily spend a short weekend near Gettysburg. To get the most out of visiting the historic battlegrounds, you can do a private tour, a group carriage tour with a licensed battlefield guide, or a self-guided driving tour to explore the wider region. Once you’ve paid your respects to the Civil War soldiers who are still buried here, there is still lots more to discover in this stunning area of Pennsylvania.

11. Lake George, New York

3.5 hours from NYC

Nestled within the Adirondacks is Lake George, a location that deserves an entire weekend all to itself. This area is bursting with New England charm, in fact, Georgia O’Keefe created many of her famous paintings in the area around Lake George.

Whether you want to lounge lakeside, explore hiking trails with epic viewpoints, or spend the weekend window shopping, Lake George is the perfect getaway from NYC.

12. Ithaca, New York

3.5 hours from NYC

If you haven’t been to Ithaca yet, just go! There are amazing hiking trails in the area with gorgeous views and beautiful stone gorges with cascading waterfalls.

13. Boston, Massachusetts

3.5 hours from NYC

For city lovers who just want a change of scene, Boston is one of the best short weekend road trips from NYC. It’s a very walkable city, with charming neighborhoods like the North End and Beacon Hill with their Victorian brownstone homes.

Also, the city has one of the best ratios of Craft Breweries on the East Coast. Even if you’ve visited Boston before, there are plenty of hidden gems for a perfect weekend trip.

14. Delaware Beaches

3.5 hours from NYC

Take a weekend to explore the beach communities in Delaware. The most popular beaches are Rehoboth and Bethany. Rehoboth is more developed, with a beach boardwalk full of hotels, eateries, and shops, and Bethany is on the more quiet side if you’re looking to feel more off the beaten path. 

15. Washington DC

4 hours from NYC

People come from far and wide to visit Washington DC and at just 4 hours away, it’s one of the best short weekend road trips from NYC! Plus, you can take a direct Megabus from Central Station right to Union Station in DC. Even if you’ve been to DC before, you can explore some off the beaten path suggestions and get the most out of your trip to the US Capitol.

16. Adirondacks, New York

4.5 hours from NYC

The famous Adirondacks Mountain range in upstate New York is just beautiful. The best time to visit the Adirondacks is sometime in the late spring or early summer when you can enjoy the great outdoors and get the most out of your trip.

17. Lake Champlain, New York/Vermont

4.5 hours from NYC

The largest lake in New York State, you can spend a weekend exploring different stops along the shores, or stay in one of the many guesthouses that overlook the lake. While you’re in the area, be sure to swing by Fort Ticonderoga, an 18th-century star fort built by the French.

18. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

4.5 hours from NYC

Take a road trip from NYC and enjoy sunset on Cape Cod Bay

Sunset on Cape Cod Bay

The classic East Coast summer destination draws people year after year because of its unique beauty. Postcard-perfect views of sand dunes meeting the rocky shore make Cape Cod worth a visit at least once if you’re living in New York. Enjoy the beach and spend your weekend eating the freshest seafood around.

19. Vermont’s Route 7

4.5 hours from NYC

Vermont’s Route 7 is a mini version of a Great American Road Trip.  Along the way, you’ll pass by several covered bridges near Pittsford. This article from Huffington Post describes a perfect weekend road trip itinerary from NYC to Vermont.

20. Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

4.5 hours from NYC

Harper's Ferry at Dawn

Harper’s Ferry at Dawn

With Harper’s Ferry as a home base, you can spend a weekend exploring West Virginia, a complete contrast to New York City. Harper’s Ferry is located where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers meet at the intersection of West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. The nearby Blue Ridge Mountains are full of walking trails where you just might encounter long-haul hikers taking on the famous Appalachian Trail.

21. Finger Lakes, New York

5 hours from NYC

The Finger Lakes is one of the classic weekend road trips for NYC dwellers, but with so much to discover, you can keep coming back again and again. Highlights in the region are the many wineries and slot canyons like Watkins Glen. Or maybe try going off the beaten path and exploring the Corning Museum of Glass.

22. Shenandoah Valley, West Virginia

5.5 hours from NYC

With countless things to do, the Shenandoah Valley makes one of the best weekend road trips from NYC. Visit Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia Caves, and plenty of awesome wineries in the region.

23. Burlington, Vermont

5.5 hours from NYC

Head to Burlington, Vermont during summer and you may not want to leave. The whole city feels like a giant block party, where everyone knows each other and you’re always greeted with a smile.

Live music, outdoor dining, and charming shopping streets make Burlington the perfect place to spend a long weekend away from NYC. There is also a thriving Craft Beer to discover, which is a great way to spend an afternoon.

24. Montreal, Canada

6 hours from NYC

Montreal, Canada is just a 6 hour road trip from NYC

Montreal, Canada

For a completely different cultural experience, head to Montreal in the french-speaking Canadian province of Quebec. You will feel a world away as you stroll through the cobblestone parts of the old city, take in the soaring European-style cathedral and interact with its proud French-speaking residents. Nightlife in Montreal is world-famous, and the citywide Jazz Festival during the summer draws people from far and wide.

25. Buffalo, New York

6.5 hours from NYC

Buffalo, New York is having a moment. They have some beautiful architecture, and they’ve got a new park along the Erie Canal where you can take in the views of the skyline and harbor. Everyone is well aware of the city’s namesake chicken wings, but the Buffalo food scene has so much more to offer.

26. Erie, Pennsylvania

6.5 hours from NYC

Especially during the summer, Lake Erie is one of the best weekend road trips from NYC. There are miles of beaches near the Presque Isle State Park, plus wineries, microbreweries, and museums. There is a great Americana vibe with live music happening almost every day of the week over summer.

27. Niagara Falls

6.5 hours from NYC

This stunning bucket-list location is perfect for a weekend getaway from NYC. If you’re making the long trip, it’s worth visiting both the American and Canadian sides of the falls. The Canadian side boasts the best panoramic views of the enormous falls, while the American side allows you to get up close and personal with the falls.

While there, you should of course take the famous Maid of the Mist boat ride that gets you up close and personal with the falls. For something different, we would recommend splurging on a scenic helicopter flight, one of the most exhilarating ways to see the falls.

28. Virginia Beach, Virginia

6.5 hours from NYC

Best for a 3-day weekend, Virginia Beach has long been a favorite getaway for the city-dwellers along the East Coast because of its stunning beaches and casual atmosphere. Virginia Beach can get crazy during official 3-days holiday weekends, so to beat the crowds, just take a Friday off and head down. There are plenty of unique things to do in Virginia Beach, like biking the boardwalk or taking a sunset Craft Beer Cruise.

29. Coastal Maine

7 hours from NYC

The coast of Maine is one of the best weekend road trips from NYC.  Condé Nast Traveler has a great itinerary for 4 days along the Maine Coast. You will love the rugged New England feel.

30. Quebec City, Canada

8.5 hours from NYC

If you have a long weekend, drive up to the French-speaking capital of Canada to Quebec City. In just 8 hours you’ll be transported to a completely different aesthetic, with timbered houses, French-inspired food, and the French language all around you.

Visit Quebec City, Canada as a road trip from NYC

Quebec City, Canada

We are living in unprecedented times. Travel planning is normally our favorite pastime, but the pandemic has made things very complicated! Nowadays the planning phase includes checking and double-checking travel requirements, trying to predict how things will look in a few months based on ever-changing infection rates, and debating back and forth on whether it’s even the right thing to travel or go backpacking during the Covid-19 pandemic.

There is no clear answer on when it will be completely safe to travel again, but there are some things to consider if you’re really thinking about traveling in 2022. And if you must travel for an essential reason, follow our guidelines to travel as safely as possible.

Things to Consider Before Traveling for Leisure in 2022

Before you can even think about travel during the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s very important to sit down and do plenty of research. Even if a place is technically ‘open for travel’ you should take time to inform yourself about the following issues.

Understand How the Situation is Developing in Your Destination

You should understand the current rate of infection and the trends in the past few months. Even if your dream destination has a low infection rate, this can be misleading.

Try and understand the trend, and why the numbers are moving in that direction. Is it because of vaccinations? A recent lockdown? A low testing rate, which can hide the true number of cases? 

Consider the Risk You Bring to the Local Population

Remember that safe travel does not mean just safe for you. If you have decided to take the risk and travel or go backpacking during the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s important to think about how you might impact a more vulnerable location.

If you’re going to a place with low infection numbers, you might become the source of a new outbreak. This is especially irresponsible if you’re coming from a country where there is a more dangerous strain.

Research the Healthcare System of Your Destination

Should the worst-case scenario happen while away from home, you want to make sure you understand exactly how the healthcare system works in your destination.

Research the Healthcare System before you travel during Covid-19

If you get sick during your trip, make sure there would be a place for you in a hospital with sufficient health care. Check whether local hospitals have ventilators and other medical supplies to handle Coronavirus cases.

Find out if there is a reputable hospital near your destination, or whether you would have to travel to one in another city. If so, how would you get there? Find out how much it would cost for a hospital stay, and whether your travel insurance would cover the cost of medical and transport costs.

If you do bring Covid-19 to your destination, think about whether the local community would have access to high-quality health care. Do workers in tourism receive health benefits? Are there enough hospitals and hospital beds available to the local community? 

Check the Latest Covid-19 Travel Restrictions

It goes without saying that you should research whether your destination is accepting visitors. With rising Coronavirus cases, many countries have closed their borders to tourism.

Even countries that are still open may require a negative test to enter the country. Some places enforce mandatory testing upon arrival and a quarantine period until you receive your results. Make sure you’re aware of all the latest news to avoid any surprises before departure or upon arrival.

Hygiene Requirements and CDC Guidelines

If you really want to travel somewhere, you should become an expert on how they’re handling the Coronavirus outbreak. At a bare minimum, you’ll want to travel in a place that respects the CDC guidelines. Controlling the spread of Coronavirus requires mask-wearing, social distancing, and frequent handwashing. You want to make sure that the surrounding people are following these guidelines wherever you choose to travel.

Travel to Remote Destinations During Covid-19?

Some people may think it’s safer to travel to remote destinations during Covid-19 because they think they’ll be more isolated. The problem with remote locations is that access to health care may be nonexistent.

You, or any locals that you infect, would have to travel to a large city to receive care. If so, this can result in significant costs to you and the rest of the vulnerable population.

How to Prepare for Your Trip

If you must travel during the Covid-19 pandemic, and you’ve done all your research, there are a few extra measures you’ll need to take before your trip. Of course, getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and the people around you. On top of that, here are a few things you should do to ensure you’re traveling in the most responsible way.

Isolate Before Your Trip and Get Tested

If choosing to travel, the responsible thing to do is to isolate yourself for at least 5 days before your trip. Now more than ever, in the time before your big trip, you need to be diligent about wearing a mask in public and distancing yourself from friends and family.

You should also get tested and produce a negative test result. In fact, some countries actually require a negative test for incoming travelers. Some clinics require you to pay out of pocket, while some regions will offer the test for free if you have symptoms.

Be sure to do your research and schedule your test in the correct time range before your departure time. Be sure to isolate yourself after the test to minimize the chance you catch the Coronavirus afterwards.

Create an Emergency Plan

Choosing to travel or go backpacking during Covid-19 requires that you go above and beyond to think through what you would do in an emergency scenario:

  • What if you test positive upon arrival? You will be required to quarantine in your destination, potentially on your own dime. Make sure you have enough funds to pay for at least 2-weeks in a hotel, plus time off from work or the ability to work remotely. Quarantine is very strictly enforced, some tourists who have broken their quarantine have been penalized with fines or even jail time.
  • What if you need to get home urgently? Make sure you have the funds to do so at the last minute. Make sure you take out a travel insurance plan that will reimburse you for a change in plans. 
  • What if borders shut down, and you’re unable to leave? Make sure you have the funds and flexibility to stay put until the travel restrictions are lifted.

How to Travel Safely During Covid

If you must travel, be sure to follow these guidelines during your trip to ensure the safety of yourself and others.

Follow CDC Guidelines

Travel Safety Tips in the age of Coronavirus

Follow the CDC guidelines even if the local population doesn’t. Keep your distance, wear a medical-grade mask, bring travel-sized hand sanitizer with you and use it frequently, and consider bringing disposable gloves.

Make sure you book accommodation that follows CDC guidelines around hygiene standards. To help with this, Booking.com has added a search filter to find accommodation that has committed to Covid-safe practices. And Airbnb has implemented a set of guidelines that hosts and guests must follow during the pandemic.

Embrace the Great Outdoors

Avoid indoor activities, stick to outside activities whenever possible like hiking or biking. A warmer destination will be more conducive for this.

Minimize Contact with New People

You can minimize contact and prevent a super-spreader situation by staying put in one location. Consider renting a car so that you can avoid public transportation, and get a private room when possible. If you’re on a budget, HostelWorld is your best bet to find a private room for an affordable price. 

Don’t Take Unnecessary Risks

One of the reasons we’re urged to stay home is to keep the hospitals cleared for the high priority Coronavirus patients. If you must travel, try to be as careful as possible. Maybe save that adrenaline-fueled bucket list item for a later date.

Trip Ideas for Responsible Travel in 2022

The safest place to be during this pandemic is in your own house in your own community. However, there are certain types of travel that are more responsible for 2022. Remember that even if you’re planning to be in the middle of nowhere, the logistics of taking a trip will put you in contact with the outside world. Be sure to follow CDC guidelines when visiting a market, public bathroom, or gas station. 

Hiking

Ultralight backpacking without a stove

What better way to get away from other humans than to take to the trails? Hiking in solitude is one of the best ways you can socially distance during this global pandemic.

Staycations

Take this time to explore your surroundings. Pick up a travel book for your own town or nearby city. There are likely things to do in your own community that you have yet to experience. Now’s the time to explore your own backyard!

Camping/RV

Camping in the great outdoors, cooking for yourself with your own roof over your head is a great option for socially distanced travel. If you don’t have your own RV, you can rent one on RV Share – it’s like the Airbnb for camper vans.

The Open Ocean

If you can afford it, now would be a great time to go on a sailing trip. Get far away from the mainland in one of the best ways to socially isolate.

Bikepacking

Bicycle-backpacking is a growing trend among adventurous travelers. With a couple of side-saddle bags, you have your transport, your accommodation, and everything you need on your own 2 wheels.

Consider Postponing Until the Situation Improves

It should be clear by now that traveling during a pandemic involves all sorts of risks and ethical decisions. Not only that, but even if a country is technically ‘open for travel’, the pandemic has changed life as we know it in all corners of the globe.

It’s very likely that certain attractions will be closed, meaning that you might not get the same experience you’ve been dreaming of. If you’ve been saving for your dream trip, consider the fact that it might be more worthwhile to postpone it until things return to normal.

We know that this pandemic has been tough for travel-lovers, but everyone around the world has had to adjust their lives to the new normal. It is our opinion that leisure travel should wait until it is really safe to travel again.

Nevertheless, if you have to travel during the Covid-19 pandemic, be sure to follow these guidelines to reduce the risk to you and to the people around you.

Are you dreaming of getting out and going on an adventure? After the year we’ve had, it’s worth taking the time to think about how we’ll make the most of any holiday time we get.

Should you be planning a getaway, look no further than hitting one of the many scenic drives in the UK. While Great Britain might not be as vast as the US, with its epic Route 66 and Skyline Drive, there are still some truly breathtaking road trips to uncover.

If you feel ready to get behind the wheel and see some very familiar countries from a whole new perspective, read on for some inspired scenic drives in the UK.

The North Coast 500, Scotland

The North Coast 500, Scotland, UK road trips

The Scottish Highlands near Aultbea

The North Coast 500 is a captivating scenic drive around some of Scotland’s most awesome sights. It takes in an impressive 805km along the coastline of Inverness and follows an anti-clockwise circular route through Caithness and Wester Ross up to Wick and Aultbea, before moving west to Poolewe and Gairloch. Along the way, you’ll see castles, ruins, and beaches before looping back to Bealach na Bà and across to Inverness again.

This scenic drive takes anywhere between four and seven days and covers winding back roads, so be ready to climb some highlands.

The Atlantic Highway, England

Tintagel Castle on the Atlantic Highway in England - UK road trips

Tintagel Castle on the Atlantic Highway in England

For a route that runs from coast to coast, try the Atlantic Highway located in England in the UK. This 275km route runs along the A39 from the Devon border at Bridgewater to Land’s End.

This four to five-day UK scenic drive is perfect for nature lovers as it takes in Exmoor National Park along the way and is well worth a visit if you’re itching to get out for a hike. There’s plenty for beach lovers and surfers too, as Bude and Newquay are home to surf schools, while Land’s End looks out to where the Celtic Sea meets the English Channel.

The Black Mountain Pass, Wales

Enjoy the lowlands of the Brecon Beacons before the hairpin turns of the Black Mountain Pass in Wales

Enjoy the lowlands of the Brecon Beacons before the hairpin turns of the Black Mountain Pass in Wales

This one-day scenic drive covers an epic mountainous route through the Brecon Beacons. It starts in the north at Llandovery before heading through Herbert’s Pass then down into the village of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen.

This is a scenic drive suited to robust motors and confident motorists as there are several narrow roads and hairpin bends that need some masterful driving skills to navigate. It’s worth it for the captivating scenery, however, and is the perfect adventure holiday.

The Causeway Coastal Route, Northern Ireland

Set aside three to five days for this 195km scenic drive from Belfast to Derry/ Londonderry. This coastal journey is filled with castles and whiskey distilleries, beaches and UNESCO sites.

Take a detour to the Dark Hedges while traveling the Causeway Coastal Route

The famous Dark Hedges near the Causeway Coastal Route

Some of the highlights to look out for include Carrickfergus Castle and The Gobbins, a dramatic cliff path that features bridges, caves and coastal views. There’s also The Dark Hedges, an avenue of trees that featured in Game of Thrones. It’s close to the route and well worth a detour if you’re a fan of the show. You can then head to Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle before arriving in Londonderry.

Whichever scenic drive you choose, you’re sure to see the UK in a whole new light.