Culture, Holidays and Traditions, Travel

Día de los Muertos: Embracing the Union of Life and Death

Have you ever been curious about the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos? Read on to learn the history of the holiday and how it's celebrated. #holidays #dayofthedead #sugarskulls #mexico #culture #travel
Photo by Chait Goli via Pexels

For one night every year, the dead walk the earth. People dressed in skeleton outfits with skull face paint fill the streets, rattling their noisemakers, singing, and dancing all through the night. Families build altars, light candles and hold vigil for lost loved ones. Marigold flowers and petals are strewn everywhere, illuminating sidewalks and cemeteries in vivid shades of orange and red.

On the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos — or Day of the Dead, in English — people gather to celebrate and honor the dead, and to welcome their spirits back to the land of the living for one night. The vibrant colors and joyous, exuberant spirit of the festivities is a burst of light amid the darkness of a long autumn night.

Origins and History of Día de los Muertos

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Although many people think of Day of the Dead as “Mexican Halloween”, the holiday actually isn’t related to Halloween at all — it has an entirely different history and cultural background. Día de los Muertos also didn’t originate from the Catholic holidays of All Saint’s Day or All Soul’s Day, although the dates coincide (November 1 and 2).

Day of the Dead has been celebrated in Mexico for thousands of years, since long before the arrival of the Spaniards and their Christian beliefs. The festival has its roots in indigenous Aztec, Toltec and Nahua traditions. People from these cultures believed it was more respectful to celebrate the lives of those who had passed than to mourn their deaths. The Aztecs also worshipped a god of death, Mictlantecuhtli, who watched over the souls of their loved ones and aided them in their transition to the afterlife.

To these indigenous Mesoamerican peoples, death and life were deeply intertwined. They understood and accepted mortality as an integral part of being human and alive, and they embraced the cycle of existence in its entirety. Families and communities continued to honor and celebrate their departed members, and they believed that the spirits came back to Earth for one night each year. Hence, Día de los Muertos was born; a lighthearted celebration of life and death, a joyous dance between light and darkness.

How It’s Celebrated

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There are many different ways to celebrate Day of the Dead, and traditional ways of celebrating vary between different parts of Mexico. But some of the best-known traditions include ofrendas (altars), marigold flowers, papel picado (perforated paper), cemetery visits, calaveras (skulls), and costumes.

Ofrendas

A traditional ofrenda in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. Photo by Photo Beto via iStock/Getty Images

To prepare for Día de los Muertos, many people build ofrendas for their loved ones in their homes, schools, workplaces, cemeteries where their loved ones are buried, and public spaces. These altars, brightly decorated with items such as family photos, crosses, flowers and mementos, are meant to help welcome the visiting spirits back to Earth. It’s common to leave offerings of food and water as sustenance for the spirit’s journey between worlds — pan de muerto (“bread of the dead”) is traditional, but other foods and drinks may be left as well. And copal (resin) incense is often used to cleanse and purify the altar space.

Marigold Flowers

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If you visit ofrendas or cemeteries in Mexico during Day of the Dead, you’ll notice that many of them are covered in brilliant orange marigold flowers and petals. Marigolds — or cempasúchil in Spanish — grow throughout Mexico in the fall, and they are an integral part of many Día de los Muertos celebrations.

According to Inside Mexico, the symbolism of marigolds comes from an Aztec myth about two lovers named Xochitl and Huitzilin. Huitzilin goes off to war and is killed in battle. Heartbroken, Xochitl prays to the sun god Tonatiuh to reunite her with her lover; the sun then shines down upon her face, transforming her into a radiant, twenty-petaled orange flower. Huitzilin, who has been reborn as a hummingbird, comes to the flower to drink her nectar, and the petals open, filling the air with the aroma of marigolds.

Marigolds have a strong association with the sun, the spirit world, and rebirth. Many believe that their scent helps to attract the spirits of the dead back to Earth. The vibrant, sunny color is also a reminder to celebrate life rather than mourning the passing of loved ones.

Papel Picado

Papel picado in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico. Photo by SandraRose via iStock/Getty Images

Although you can find papel picado hanging in Mexican streets and homes at any time of the year, it becomes especially widespread around the time of Day of the Dead. Artists cut intricate designs (often depicting skulls, skeletons and flowers) into brightly-colored tissue paper, then string them together and hang them across alleyways and in living spaces. The colorful streamers symbolize the air element as well as the fragile nature of life, and on Día de los Muertos, you’ll often see papel picado hanging at ofrendas.

Cemetery Visits

Family members gather by a grave at Tzintzuntzan cemetery in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico. Photo by BeteMarques via iStock/Getty Images

Many Mexican families will visit the graves of loved ones on Day of the Dead. They spend time cleaning and washing the gravesites, decorating with candles and flowers, and setting up ofrendas nearby. In some parts of Mexico, families gather and eat meals next to graves, telling stories of their lost loved one and sharing memories with one another.

Calaveras

A collection of colorful ceramic calaveras. Photo by simm18pl via iStock/Getty Images

On Day of the Dead, you can hardly go anywhere without seeing images of calaveras (skulls) and skeletons. While all the “death” imagery might seem macabre to an outsider, Mexican culture doesn’t shy away from images of death. Artists inject levity into the dark subject matter by making skeletons look like they’re having fun, whether they’re strolling around a park, playing a guitar, or riding in a hot air balloon.

Skeleton art comes in many forms, but one of the most famous images is La Catrina — a lady skeleton dressed in elegant French garb and a frilly hat (a “catrin” is a person of high stature who wears fancy clothes). Cartoonist Jose Guadalupe Posada created an early version of her in the early 20th century, and other artists subsequently put their own spin on the image. With her posh attire, La Catrina is sometimes seen as a commentary on inequality between socioeconomic classes, but her dress also adds humor and lightness to the image of death, which makes her a perfect symbol of Día de los Muertos.

One of the most popular traditions involving calaveras is making sugar skulls — sweet treats molded to look like skeletal faces. People decorate the skulls with colorful icing to represent particular loved ones who have passed on, sometimes imitating their facial features and other distinguishing characteristics.

Face Paint and Costumes

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As part of the holiday festivities, many people dress up in skeleton costumes and paint their faces to resemble the calavera Catrina. Some wear nice suits and elaborate dresses to the celebrations to match Catrina’s stately apparel.

Where the Biggest Celebrations Are

People celebrating Day of the Dead. Photo by YinYang via iStock/Getty Images

Although Día de los Muertos is observed throughout Latin America, the biggest and most traditional celebrations are still in Mexico. While Mexico City is famous for its parade, it’s a relatively new addition to the festivities; you’ll find a more traditional celebration in the suburb of Mixquic, where family members join in a mass procession to the community cemetery with candles and flowers. Many of the other larger towns in Mexico hold parades and parties, as well.

Observing With Respect

If you are drawn to the idea of celebrating your ancestors in these ways, you’re not alone — there are Día de los Muertos celebrations around the world! If you visit Mexico in late October or early November, you’ll get the most authentic experience of the holiday — just be mindful that this is a time for families to come together and celebrate the lives of their loved ones, so there may be some parts of the festivities that aren’t meant for outsiders. No matter where you go, always approach locals with respect and curiosity for their traditions.

If you’d like to attend a celebration outside of Mexico, consider going to a parade or cultural event that is open to the public. Non-Mexicans should be careful about wearing traditional clothes or skull face paint because it can be seen as cultural appropriation, but there’s nothing wrong with taking part in authentic, Mexican-organized festivities with their permission. This article does an excellent job of explaining cultural appropriation and how to respectfully celebrate other cultures. 


Whether or not we partake in an official celebration, Day of the Dead is a beautiful opportunity to remember those we’ve lost, reconnect with our roots, and celebrate the joy of life. Do you have your own story to share? What do you love most about this holiday? Feel free to tell me about it in the comments below.

Travel, Travel Guides

A Short-and-Sweet Guide to Bozeman, MT

Thinking about a trip to Bozeman? Check out this travel guide to help you make plans for your time there. #travelguide #ustravel #bozeman #restaurants #hiking #sightseeing
Sunset over Bozeman as seen from the top of Peets Hill in Spring. Photo by bmswanson via iStock/Getty Images

Bozeman is a charming little college town nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in southwest Montana. With a population of just under 50,000 people, the town has a fun and lively character but doesn’t feel as crowded as some of the bigger cities in the US. It’s a lovely destination for outdoorsy types as well as city dwellers who enjoy good food and drink.

When our truck broke down and derailed our plans for a northwestern US road trip, my partner and I ended up staying in Bozeman for close to a month waiting for the truck to be repaired, and over the weeks that we’ve been here, it’s become one of my favorite cities in the US. Seriously — if I wasn’t such a wimp about cold winters, I’d live here in a heartbeat.

If you’re planning a trip to Bozeman, here are some of my personal recommendations for where to go, what to see, and how to get the most out of your time here.

How to Get to Bozeman

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There are several different ways you can get to Bozeman. Driving here may be your best bet, especially if you are leery of flying during the pandemic — we certainly are. The heart of town is located just off of I-90, about 200 miles west of Billings. We drove here from Denver with our truck camper and found it easy to find and access by road (it took us about 10 hours in total).

If driving isn’t practical or you’d rather fly, Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) is conveniently located just 15 minutes northwest of the town center. It’s a fairly small airport, though, and only a handful of cities offer direct flights to and from BZN. Kayak and Skyscanner are my go-to services for finding inexpensive flights.

Whichever way you decide to go, travel insurance might give you extra peace of mind when planning. These policies can reimburse you for many non-refundable travel expenses if you should need to change or cancel your trip plans.

Where to Stay

Bozeman has a handful of hotels right in the heart of town. If you like hostels, Treasure State Hostel is rated well and located right along Main Street. There are also plenty of options to choose from on Airbnb and Vrbo

If you are coming to Bozeman during the summer months to camp (whether by tent or RV), I would highly recommend the Bear Canyon Campground. It’s only three miles southeast of downtown and easy to access via I-90. Bear Canyon was clean, safe, and reasonably priced. Plus, they have Wi-Fi, a swimming pool, and friendly staff who went above and beyond to help us when we needed to extend our stay for much longer than originally planned.

When to Visit

Photo by Amber Carlson

In Montana, you’ll probably get the best weather in the summer. We stayed here for the whole month of September, and although we had a couple of cold snaps, the weather was mostly pleasant with temperatures in the 70s and 80s and lots of clear, sunny days. The early fall here brings vibrant, colorful foliage that is a beauty to behold. During the wintertime, you can expect lots of snow and temperatures averaging in the low teens. 

If you’re a skier or snowboarder, though, it could be worth braving the winter cold for a trip to Bridger Bowl Ski Area or Big Sky Resort. Both are less than an hour from downtown Bozeman, and each one has thousands of acres of alpine terrain to play on.

Getting Around Town

It’s easy to get around downtown Bozeman by walking; most of the restaurants and main attractions in town are either on Main Street or within a few blocks of it. The town is also very bicycle-friendly, so if you’d rather travel on two wheels, you should have an easy time getting around. The Streamline bus system offers in-town public transportation, as well, and local rideshare company Blink Rides provides electric scooters for the area.

If you are planning on getting up into the mountains or just want a little more freedom to go where you please, you may want to rent a car. This site lists a few different car rental options in Bozeman. In general, you should be able to get by pretty easily without a car, but it’s good to know that you have options.

What to Do

Bozeman is a vibrant town with plenty to do and see. There’s no shortage of excellent places to eat — foodies will enjoy the fun and eclectic restaurant scene. For hikers and mountain bikers, there are a handful of easily-accessible trails in the area. If you’re looking for fun and unique activities to do in and around town, here are some of my favorites.

Walk along Main Street in downtown Bozeman.

Photo by Amber Carlson

Every Bozeman travel guide probably mentions Main Street — and for good reason. The busiest, most bustling street in town is lined with cafes, cocktail bars, and boutiques. Victorian brick architecture dominates the landscape, giving the area an elegant, old-school vibe that juxtaposes nicely with the town’s hip, modern eateries and social hotspots.

It’s fun to just stroll along Main Street and see what you find, ducking into stores and stopping for a drink when the mood strikes. If nothing else, it’s a great spot for people watching.

Go to the farmer’s market in Lindley Park.

Photo by Amber Carlson

If you visit Bozeman during the summertime, make sure to check out the farmer’s market on Tuesday evenings in beautiful Lindley Park. Local farmers, artisans, and eating establishments set up shop beneath a canopy of pine trees that will make you feel like you’re somewhere deep in the woods. Take your time enjoying the scenery as you meander around between the various tents and food carts.

Visit the Montana Grizzly Encounter.

Brutus the Grizzly after a splash in the pool. Photo by Amber Carlson

If you love bears but aren’t so keen on seeing them in the wild, you’ll want to visit the Montana Grizzly Encounter, located about 10 miles east of Bozeman. It’s a small sanctuary that cares for rescued grizzly bears, providing them shelter and habitat while educating the public about these incredible creatures. For an $8 per-person admission fee, visitors can view the bears from a safe distance away while the animals are out and about.

Pick apples and berries at Rocky Creek Farm.

Photo by Amber Carlson

Spend an afternoon picking fresh fruit at Rocky Creek Farm. There’s a small shop in the barnhouse that sells seasonal produce as well as orchards and growing areas where you can pick your own fruit. We spent an afternoon picking apples and we got quite the harvest. This is a great activity for families, friends, or anyone who’s feeling a bit nostalgic for a simpler time.

Take a scenic drive through Hyalite Canyon.

Photo by Amber Carlson

Hyalite Canyon, located just southwest of Bozeman in Gallatin National Forest, was easily one of the most beautiful places we visited. Drive along the winding mountain road, you’ll be surrounded by dense evergreen forest and pristine wilderness. If you’re visiting during September or October, you can catch a glimpse of spectacular fall colors as the leaves start to change.

After heading south on this road for about 30 minutes, you’ll reach the beautiful Hyalite Reservoir. Close by there is a short hiking trail leading to a dramatic waterfall — more details on the Palisade Falls Trail can be found below.

Go on a hike.

Bozeman is surrounded by mountains and foothills in all directions — with the Bridger Mountain Range to the north, the Spanish Peaks to the south, and Yellowstone National Park less than an hour’s drive from the city center. Although there is a network of walking and cycling trails in town, hiking trails are easy to find and access for those who love to get out into nature.

Whether you’re looking for an easier hike or something more challenging, there are options for hikers of all levels, and many of the trails are dog-friendly. Bears do live in the area, so you may want to bring a can of bear spray with you. Here are a few of the best hiking spots we found in and around Bozeman.

Bear Canyon Trail

Bear Canyon Trail is an easy-to-moderate hike just southeast of town. You can do the trail as an out-and-back, turning around after 5 miles at the Bear Lakes Trail junction, or you can hike all the way to Bear Lakes for an 18-mile round trip with a total elevation gain of 1,400 feet. 

We only hiked a total of about 3.5 miles, but the trail was beautiful, well-shaded, and not overly crowded. The sound of water rushing by in the nearby creek was lovely to listen to, as well. Just make sure to bring bug repellent!

Mount Ellis Trail

If you’re up for more of a challenge, try the 10.1-mile Mount Ellis Trail. With a total elevation gain of over 3,100 feet, this one is a true mountain climb and is rated as a difficult hike. If you want to make it shorter, you can just do the lower section of the trail, which is 6 miles long and goes up 2,400 feet in elevation. 

Photo by Amber Carlson

We found parts of the lower trail to be a little strenuous, but still doable. We hiked part of the way up the lower trail and then turned around. The good news is that even if you don’t get all the way to the top of the lower peak, if you go on a clear day you’ll still get some amazing views of the Gallatin Valley below.

Palisade Falls Trail

Photo by Amber Carlson

The Palisade Falls Trail, located near Hyalite Reservoir about 30 minutes south of Bozeman, is a 1.1-mile paved path leading to a dramatic waterfall tumbling down a towering rock cliff. It’s got a little bit of an incline but should be accessible for hikers of all levels. This easy, quick trail is perfect if you want a short hike with stunning scenery, and the drive through Hyalite Canyon to get there is gorgeous as well.

Where to Eat

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Bozeman is chock-full of excellent restaurants — from breweries to new American bistros, from sushi to Thai food, you’ll find a huge array of options to choose from here. We ate out a lot and it was hard to narrow down my list to just a few favorites, but in the interest of keeping this guide fairly short, I’ll just tell you about a small handful of places that really knocked our socks off. All of the restaurants I’ll mention have outdoor patios so you can stay safe and socially-distanced while eating.

Revelry

For lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch, Revelry does not disappoint. The eclectic new American fare includes sandwiches, burgers, steaks, fish and salads with some gluten and dairy-free options. 

For a simple appetizer, try the marinated olives and bread — the herbed citrus marinade is unique and delightful. If you’re in the mood for pasta, their homemade cheese tortellini is an indulgence not to be missed. And for brunch, the loaded potatoes are seriously awesome — your taste buds will rejoice at the melding of creamy, cheesy and spicy flavors.

Revelry also has a great selection of wines, beers, and ciders, and their outdoor patio has both covered and uncovered sections. We ate there three times in four weeks and we’d absolutely go back for more!

Fresco Cafe

Fresco Cafe is a charming, upscale Italian eatery. Their patio and courtyard area out front is full of trees and borders a creek, which made for a lovely ambiance. And the food and wine were top-notch. They offer a selection of pasta, meat and seafood dishes (and gluten-free pasta is available for most dishes) plus suggested wines to pair with each. I enjoyed my pasta carbonara, but my partner loved his creamy penne with salmon — it’s one of their signature dishes. 

We finished the meal with a scoop of the honey gelato. It had such a light and airy texture that I felt like I was eating a cloud. The honey flavor was strong, but not overpowering. Our meal was a bit pricey, but totally worth it for the all-around excellent experience we had. 

Urban Kitchen

With their new American brunch, lunch and dinner options, Urban Kitchen became one of our other go-to restaurants in Bozeman. Their patio area is behind the restaurant and away from the street, so it’s a little quieter than some of the other patios in town. I tried the brunch hash, the eggs benedict and the gnocchi (on separate visits, of course!) and all were excellent.

If you’re into fun and unique cocktails, make sure to try the cotton candy martini. The presentation is half the fun: your server brings out a silver shaker in one hand, and in the other, a chilled martini glass filled with a towering pouf of pink cotton candy. After a quick shake, they’ll pour the drink mix on top of the cotton candy, and you get to watch as the candy melts right into your glass. The result is delicious and not as crazy-sweet as you’d expect it to be.

Little Star Diner

Although the word “diner” is in their name, Little Star Diner is no greasy-spoon establishment; it’s an organic, farm-to-table restaurant that’s open for brunch and dinner. We only tried brunch at Little Star, but my partner was thoroughly impressed with the griddled maple corn muffin — I only got to sneak a couple of bites before it was all gone. It had a flavor and texture like soft, fresh pancakes and maple syrup, and was served up with fresh Montana peaches. Delightful.

I went with the cheddar scrambled eggs — and they did an excellent job of transforming a simple dish into something memorable and delicious. Bacon fat and sheep cheese added complex, savory notes to the eggs, and the greens on the side were a zesty blend of fresh spinach, basil and Italian parsley.

Aside from that, we enjoyed sitting on their rooftop patio and admiring their planter boxes full of fresh herbs for cooking. And our server gave some of the friendliest, most attentive service we had during our time in Bozeman.

Nordic Brew Works

If you’re into craft brews and cocktails but also want to enjoy fabulous food, Nordic Brew Works has got you covered. Neither of us are beer people, but we loved the Rosebay and Hot Norlander cocktails. Also, we tried the dirty potatoes after reading raving Yelp reviews about them, and I can tell you: they are not exaggerating. The unusual combo of curry-spiced potatoes with beets and creamy aioli sauce is outstanding.

For dinner, we both had pizzas, which were tasty as well. Nordic offers a gluten-free crust, which I tried on my Pigs of Parma pizza — a pie with prosciutto, arugula, blue cheese and fig jam — and I was very satisfied. The crust had a nice, soft texture and wasn’t too thin or crumbly.


Although we hadn’t originally planned on spending so much time here, Bozeman has been a delight. I’ve loved our time here, and although it’s a bit far away for a weekend trip from Denver, I have a feeling we’ll be back.

How about you? Have you spent time in Bozeman? Where are some of your favorite places to go in town? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Travel

Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too: How to Take an RV Work-Cation

Want to travel but can't take time off of work? Here's how you can see new places without using your PTO. #travel #rvlife #roadtripideas
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

If you’re pretty much any working adult in the US, loving to travel and longing for a more adventurous life can leave you feeling torn. You want to get out and see the world, but you have work (and possibly family) responsibilities keeping you at home. And in the time of coronavirus, travel might feel like a distant dream.

But if you travel by RV, you can do it all: you can take “home” with you and hit the road for a while. Social distancing is easy when you have your own private space that lets you stay as isolated as you want. And if you are in the fortunate position of being able to work remotely, your work can be done from anywhere, so you might as well take advantage of that fact, right? You can continue doing your job while simultaneously experiencing the thrill of visiting new places. It’s the best of both worlds.

My partner and I are on a kick of taking these types of work-cations in our truck camper, and we’re starting to get our system down. We’ve got a list of everything we need to do to prepare and pack before we leave. We create our route plan and book a lot of our campsites ahead of time. Plus, my techie boyfriend ensures that our camper is rigged with the latest and greatest devices to help us get decent phone and Internet service even when we’re far away from all civilization. It’s pretty great.

And now that we’ve done a couple of trips like this together, I can tell you from experience that this kind of travel works and is totally doable. Today I’d like to share some pointers on how you, too, can have your own work-cation experience if you so desire.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

Make a plan for your trip.

If you are planning to work while on the road, I highly suggest you plan your route ahead of time. Decide, at a minimum, what cities you’ll visit and how long you’ll stay in each place. Unless you’re up for boondocking (aka dry camping), it’s a good idea to reserve most or all of your campsites ahead of time if you can (some places tend to book up well in advance).

You’ll also want to think about the roads you’ll be traveling on. GPS can help you navigate around accidents, construction and closures, but plan in advance for local road and weather conditions in the places you’ll be visiting. Make sure your vehicle can handle conditions like snow and ice if there’s any chance you’ll be driving through them. You might even like to get an old-school paper map and draw out your route in case, for whatever reason, you lose access to your phone or GPS.

The key is to take as much of the guesswork out of traveling as possible. Of course, it can be really fun to fly by the seat of your pants and spontaneously go from place to place — but if you’re intending to keep working while you’re away, it’s best to keep surprises and potential mishaps to a minimum.

Photo by Malte Luk on Pexels.com

Make sure to get your RV serviced and in good working condition before you leave.

Seriously, it’s worth it. If you’re going away on a long trip, it’s smart to have someone take a look at your RV before you leave and make sure everything’s working as it should, especially if you haven’t driven it in a while. At a bare minimum, according to Camperland, you should check that these essential items are in good shape:

  • Oil levels
  • Battery
  • Engine belts and hoses
  • Oil, air and fuel filters

Even if your RV isn’t having any problems that you know of, there’s a lot to be said for doing preventative care and making sure things are running as they should. Mechanics can spot potential issues before they become a problem so that you can have a smooth and safe trip.

Optimize your RV for productivity.

If you’re going to be away from major cities and you’re at all concerned about having reliable phone and Internet service, there are ways you can enhance your signal quality. Equipment like WiFi hotspots and cellular boosters can help you stay connected even in places that are pretty remote. You’ll want to get these set up and test them to make sure they work properly before you head out on your adventure.

Also, think about where and how you’ll do your work on the road. What equipment will you need? Is there a space within your camper where you’ll be comfortable setting up a mobile “office”? In our camper, we didn’t have a space like this — so my boyfriend built us a simple wooden table with swiveling boat chairs to sit in. It works great and it’s big enough for both of us to share during our workdays.

Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

Indulge in some sightseeing.

Once you’re on the road, there’ll be so much for you to do and see. No doubt you’ll have all kinds of great stops planned for your trip — so make sure you allow time in each place to take in your surroundings and experience the things that drew you to visit. You may still be working, but don’t forget you’re still allowed to travel and have fun while you’re doing it.

Plus, when you’re on a road trip, half of the fun is the journey of getting from place to place. Whether you’re driving through majestic mountain ranges, wide-open desert plains or wild grasslands, you’ll find all kinds of scenery and hidden gems along your way that will inspire you and lift your spirits.

Be ready to change your plan on a moment’s notice if needed.

The final piece of advice I have is this: remain flexible, and go with the flow. There are always things we can’t predict or control when we travel, and that’s part of what makes it exciting — but it also means that sometimes, things just won’t go the way you plan. You have to be ready to think on your feet and come up with solutions to any problems you might run into.

Case in point: we just planned a 5-week trip around the Northwestern US. We did everything right — we got our truck checked by a mechanic before we left, we updated our phone and Internet gadgetry, and we packed all the stuff we could possibly need. We got all the way from Denver up to Bozeman only for our truck to start showing signs of engine problems. The truck’s still drivable, luckily, and should be for a little while longer, but sadly, it does mean that we have to cut our trip short. We’ll most likely be heading home within the next couple of days.

Disappointing? Sure, absolutely. But this is life when you’re traveling. You can spend weeks planning and preparing for your trip, but once you’re out on the road, anything can happen. It’s still been an adventure, we’ve still gotten to see a new place, and it’s still an experience I’ll look back on fondly. In the end, we can’t ask for more than that from a trip.


How about you? Are you ready to try your own RV work-cation? Or have you done it before? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

Travel

6 Reasons Why RVs are the Perfect Mode of Pandemic Travel

Itching to get out and see the world while still being safe? Here are reasons to travel by RV in the time of coronavirus. #travel #roadtrip #wanderlust
Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) on Pexels.com

The current pandemic has radically changed everyday life in ways we could never have foreseen. Amid closures of schools and businesses around the globe, concerts and festivals have been cancelled, pro sports franchises have put games on hold, and travel plans of all kinds have been scuttled. We have never seen times like these before, and unfortunately, COVID-19 shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon — at least, not here in the US.

Understandably, though, people are starting to feel restless from staying at home, and they’re looking for ways to get out of the house while still keeping themselves and their families safe. Traveling by bus, train or plane might still feel like a risky proposition, even to those of us who would love nothing more than to get out and see the world. What’s a would-be wanderluster to do during times like these?

Fortunately, there is another way to travel. Enter the RV — a compact home on wheels that can be driven or hauled just about anywhere where there are roads. The Boston Globe and other news sources say that RV rentals and sales have gone through the roof since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s easy to see why: an RV offers a private living space that travels with you wherever you go. And best of all, you can set up camp wherever your adventures may take you — whether it’s a national park, a quaint little town you’re passing through or a vast expanse of open land — and have the great outdoors as your backyard.

So whether you’re a seasoned RV veteran or you’re thinking of renting one for the first time, here are six reasons why RVs are a great way to travel in the time of coronavirus.

Photo by Alex Azabache on Pexels.com
  1. You can go out and explore new places while still “staying at home”.

Many RVs are designed with comfort in mind, and with amenities like a bathroom, shower, kitchenette and bed, you’ll have everything you need to “stay at home” a lot of the time if that’s what you’re most comfortable doing. But the whole setup is on wheels, so whenever you’re ready for a change of scenery, you can always pack up and go somewhere else.

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2. You get to have your own private space.

An RV is your space — that means you make the rules. You get the final say on who (if anyone) gets to come inside, and you decide on the level of cleanliness you feel comfortable with. You can wipe and sanitize items inside your RV just as you would at home (just make sure to keep your camper stocked with cleaning products), and you don’t have to worry about sharing a bathroom with strangers. Sure, cleaning is a little bit of extra work (versus staying in a hotel with maid service), but for me at least, the peace of mind that comes with having my own space is so worth it.

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3. There are a ton of places you can go.

If getting away from big cities and crowds is sounding a little extra appealing right now, you can escape to somewhere a lot less populated. We are from the Denver area, and we are currently doing a 10-day loop through Southwestern Colorado. Just yesterday we came from the desert outskirts of Cortez, near the Four Corners. Tomorrow, we’ll head north to the peach orchards and vineyards of Palisade, near Grand Junction, and we’ll stay there for a couple of nights before we return home. This is a fairly short trip by most people’s standards, but it does offer a taste of what time on the road is like. We’ve already got two or three ideas for longer trips that we want to do in different parts of the country.

Of course, wherever you go, it’s important to be mindful of any regulations they have in place regarding travelers from the outside — many states and countries aren’t allowing visitors in at the moment, so you’ll want to plan your trip accordingly. But there are still so many possible destinations that the real question will be where to go first!

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4. Social distancing is a piece of cake.

When you’re RVing, most of the time, you’ll either be in your camper or outside somewhere. Either way, it’s easy to keep plenty of distance between yourself and others, especially when you’re out enjoying nature. Campgrounds and RV parks can get a bit crowded, but individual sites are typically a safe distance apart from one another.

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5. You’ll spend more time outdoors.

Although they are fairly comfortable to live in, unless you splurge on a luxury motorhome, RVs are typically not huge — and especially if you’re traveling with other people, it can get a little cozy in there. Most likely, you will want to get outside more often than you normally do, if only to get some space (although you’ll probably also want to get out and enjoy the fabulous places you’ll be visiting!). Whether you’re out doing something active or just enjoying a bit of fresh air, simply being outside has many proven health benefits, and you’re also much less likely to catch a variety of bacterial and viral infections than when you’re inside.

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6. You can even take your work with you.

While it can be wonderful to “unplug” while you are out traveling, if you prefer not to take time off — and if working remotely is an option for you — it’s easier than you might think to bring your work on the road so you can have the best of both worlds. Call it a work-cation, if you like.

My partner and I do this. I’m actually writing this article from inside our truck camper, an Eagle Cap model that sits in the back of his Ford F250. We are sitting across from each other at our dinette table, each of us working away on our laptops, listening to the sound of hummingbirds through our screen door and breathing the fresh mountain air in Ouray, Colorado. When you work from your RV, you end up working in some of the most beautiful and unusual settings, which can be really inspiring.

But, best of all, with the right setup, you can actually be quite productive. There are fewer distractions in a camper than there are at home, and if you bring the right gear (such as a WiFi hotspot), you can get decent phone and internet service in most places.


For these and so many other reasons, heading out on the road in an RV can be an incredible travel experience — it balances adventure and the thrill of seeing new places with the comfort and safety of having a personal “home space” to go back to at the end of the day. RV living can take some getting used to at first, but traveling this way has turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable, and more importantly, it feels safe even amid the ongoing public health crisis.

Have you taken an RV trip recently? Or have big plans to go on one soon? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!