Up until Spring of 2020, those of us with a nagging wanderlust have had the ability to scratch that itch to travel. Whether across the country or across the globe, we could enjoy new experiences and steep ourselves in other cultures. But suddenly, as we try to protect ourselves and our loved ones during a global pandemic, we find that travel is limited.

So, how can we satisfy that wanderlust and still stay safe? How about a staycation!

The idea isn’t new, but exploring your own backyard can have its advantages. First off, you’re in charge, from itinerary to transportation. You can play a round of golf, visit an outdoor historical site, or order take-out from a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try.

Best of all, it’s as easy as climbing into a car.

Create a Golf Staycation

No matter where you live, there is a golf course nearby—I guarantee it. Just do a web search, and you’ll probably find several. Whether it’s a country club or a club in the country, local courses have a lot to offer, no matter what your level of play. Once you decide how far you want to drive to get to each course, you can easily create your own weekend golf staycation and play two or three courses over a couple of days, depending on the tee times available.

For snacks and lunches during play, many courses are offering take-out only, but some may offer socially-distanced outdoor seating, so check with the course to find out what’s available. As for other COVID-19 safety procedures, most golf courses maintain a high standard of cleaning and disinfecting routines, but you can ask what their cleaning policy is when you make your tee time.

You can also ask about contactless arrivals, how to get your cart and score card without interacting with people if you don’t want to. Ask if there are any local rules changes due to social distancing requirements.

Exploring Your Own Backyard

When you’ve finished your round, why not explore the area just as you would if you were in Maui or Palm Springs? Most of us are usually so busy with our daily lives that we don’t think about what there is to see and do in our own town or county. Although most museums and indoor activities are currently closed, many state and local parks, nature trails, botanical gardens, and outdoor historical sites are still available to visit.

Create your own art trail. Look for statues, murals, fountains, and other examples of outdoor art. Often these pieces are done by local artists and may have an interesting backstory.

What events took place in your area? Are there any historical sites to visit? Look for historical markers that tell the tales of your area. Learn about those who founded your town. Who were they and where did they come from?

Look at your area with the eyes of a tourist, just as you would if you had traveled hundreds of miles to get there. Check out your state and county tourism websites and area chambers of commerce under visitor information for ideas of things to do.

Shopping and Dining

Every good vacation includes great food and fun shopping. You probably already have a few restaurants that are your favorites, but also check out some places you haven’t been or try some different cuisine. First understand the current dining policies; many have outdoor seating or have adapted their interiors for social distancing. You can even buy take-out and find a spot in a park for some alfresco dining.

For shopping, look for farmer’s markets, outdoor markets, and street vendors. Gift shops and boutiques are great places to find unique items. Shop for antiques in thrift stores or find an old-fashioned hardware store. Your area probably has some great hidden, locally-owned shopping options to explore.

Getting There is (More Than) Half the Fun

Creating your own personal staycation can be a lot of fun and driving yourself means you can hit the open road or find out-of-the-way hidden treasures to explore off the beaten path. Of course, you can use the family vehicle, but to save the wear and tear, or treat yourself to something different, you can rent a car, van, or truck, whatever suits your needs, from a highly-rated company like National Car Rental.

A recent survey by National, Enterprise, and Alamo renters across the U.S. and Britain showed that car rental is currently perceived as the safest mode of transportation beyond your own vehicle. Those surveyed were also concerned with the rental process, opting for minimal contact where possible.

National’s long-running loyalty program, the Emerald Club, is designed to do just that; members are able to bypass the rental counter, choose any car in the Emerald Aisle, and go. Make your car rental experience faster, more convenient, and socially-distanced.

As for deep cleaning and disinfecting, National saw the need for a quick response and last spring initiated their Complete Clean Pledge, an enhanced cleaning process covering more than 20 vehicle touch-points from keys and key fobs to cup holders, and even areas between seats and doorjambs. They also initiated enhanced sanitizing procedures of their shuttles and branch locations. You can rent with confidence and leave your car in the driveway as you set out on your hometown adventure.

Seeing your hometown as a tourist can give you a new appreciation for where you live. Take control, you don’t have to travel far to make wonderful memories.

The preceding is one of a series of articles sponsored by National Car Rental. However, all opinions, statements, and experiences regarding company services are my own.


LPGA Women’s Network Subscribers receive complementary membership to The Emerald Club. Enroll today to start enjoying special privileges reserved only for members.