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Is Your Paid Time Off Coming Up? Here’s How to Make the Most of It Despite the Lockdowns

New spikes in Covid-19 cases across the country are causing states to issue directives to shelter in place. Even in areas where travel is allowed, the constant threat of COVID-19 and strict regulations make taking a vacation stressful rather than relaxing.

Itching to travel or try something new, but constant lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are getting you down? Here are some interesting things you can do while staying safe and socially distant.

Take a Travel Trailer Vacation

This retro way of going on holiday burst into the travel scene in 2020, and its popularity is still strong. Sales of camper vans and travel trailers have soared, and rental rates are through the roof. According to the quarterly forecast of the RV Industry Association, shipments of RV units have climbed 33.8% from last year.

So what’s the big deal about traveling by RV? Well, for one thing, it allows you to take a road trip in relative comfort, compared to driving long stretches of highway in a cramped car. You can bring everything you need to make your trip more enjoyable, such as board games, books, video games, and movies—no baggage limit here.

You can bring your loved ones, including your pets, or go alone if you prefer to travel solo. Flexibility is one of the greatest selling points of RV travel—you can stop when and where you want to, laws permitting, and set your own itinerary with your personal must-visits.

There are countless motorhome stopovers and RV parks scarred throughout the country, so you can take a break from traveling whenever you need to. Some Walmarts even allow overnight parking.

What’s more, you won’t have to deal with crowds. You can travel within your social bubble and not have to mingle with other travelers.

However, keep in mind that traveling via RV also requires some planning. And, while the costs of taking a road trip in an RV are far less than what you would pay for a traditional vacation, you should set aside a budget for things like parking fees, gas, campground fees, as well as food.

Get Started on Your Travel Scrapbook

If you live in one of the areas under shelter-in-place orders, consider the time you’re spending at home as an opportunity to start a travel scrapbook.

Scrapbooking is an old-fashioned but well-loved way to commemorate important life moments and cherished memories. Gather mementos such as ticket stubs, photos, maps, and small souvenirs to get started on your travel-themed scrapbook. Purchase a scrapbook and scrapbooking materials, and unleash your creativity.

If you prefer digital scrapbooking, many websites allow you to create photo books by uploading images online. You then pay a fee to have them converted into physical photobooks, which you can further customize by adding crafty elements. Some online stores offer destination-themed scrapbooking products, such as craft paper in Indian-inspired prints and sticker sheets featuring northern lights—perfect for commemorating your last trip to Alaska.

Book a Unique Vacation Rental

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If booking a vacation home with a pool isn’t for you, why not rent one of the quirkier rentals listed on sites like Airbnb? Browsing the site will show you listings for unorthodox living spaces, ranging from luxury yurts to creepy crypts-turned-hotel-rooms.

Some notable examples of unusual places to stay are:

Glass Treehouse in Alabama: Located in a forest in Hayden, this rustic, handmade treehouse offers an incredible view of the surrounding wilderness. There are waterfalls and swimming holes nearby, and at night, you can stay inside with a roaring fireplace for company while enjoying a book or a board game.

Big Potato Hotel in Idaho: From the outside, this hotel looks like a giant, grubby potato, but the interior is luxurious and relaxing. Situated in a field with a view of the Owyhee Mountains, this spud-shaped sanctuary has a spa-like bathroom with a whirlpool, fireplace, and glass skylight.

Wings Neck Lighthouse in Massachusetts: Once a U.S. Coast Guard Lighthouse, this charming rental is available to guests wanting a unique vacation experience. The keeper’s cottage has been updated with a full-house heating system, kitchen, bath, and of course, Wi-Fi. All the windows deliver spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. There’s also a private beach kitted out with picnic gear for when you want to spend time outdoors.

When booking a vacation rental, make sure to check their cleaning and disinfection policies. This extra step done by most vacation rental managers and owners helps ensure the safety of their guests, so it’s a good idea to ask about it before you make a reservation.

Volunteer and Earn at the Same Time

Instead of just daydreaming about all the places you’re going to visit once it’s safe, why not earn a bit of travel cash while you wait? Apart from sucking away money from your salary or earnings into your travel fund account, you can also get paid by being a study volunteer.

Contrary to what’s often portrayed in the movies, being a study volunteer is not high-risk. In some cases, all you need to do to participate is talk to a researcher for an hour over the phone.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there were 362,524 registered clinical studies in 2020 alone. Universities and medical organizations ask for volunteers with certain health conditions to join clinical studies to learn more about these conditions. The information they gather is used to improve medical care, ensuring treatments or medications are safe and effective.

Whether you want travel money, help spur medical advancements, or are simply interested in science, participating in study volunteer opportunities can be a very rewarding way to spend your free time.

Safe and Soul-Satisfying Vacations

From peaceful sanctuaries to oddly shaped rentals, there are many options out there for people who want to travel and experience something new while staying safe. Whether you choose to spend your vacation time at unique locales or prefer to wait until things calm down, you can still make the most of your free time with creative pursuits and volunteer opportunities.

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