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Our Favorite U.S. Destinations for Extended Summer Stays

Lockdown is lifting, and with thousands of companies operating remotely through Labor Day and summer camps largely canceled across the country this year, many travelers—families, couples and anyone who has been cooped up at home for months with no place to go—are still seeking a summer getaway. Coronavirus travel safety questions may make a week or two in Europe or at a far-flung beach resort unlikely this summer, but one option we’re seeing right now: extended-stay bookings in destinations closer to home, where travelers can spend weeks (or even months) in the same hotel, house or villa rental.

“Extended stays are a unique opportunity to experience a destination slowly and safely,” says Indagare’s Sarah Levine, who is personally considering relocating to Florida, South Carolina or California for a month this summer. The wider time frame allows for 14-day self-isolation periods and for people to simulate their own Covid “travel bubbles,” by creating a home away from home. Extending your stay brings to mind the early 20th-century practice of actually “summering” somewhere. It’s also a much-needed reminder of the great destinations across the United States. Here are the places we recommend right now if you’re considering extending your stay over the next several months.

Contact Indagare to help you evaluate your extended stay options, including the best destinations, how to get there safely, and our favorite villas and lodges.

A note about self-isolation requirements

Many states, such as Alaska and West Virginia, are removing their 14-day quarantine guidelines as lockdown restrictions lift, but some states such as Hawaii are still mandating that all visitors adhere to the recommendation. The process is still encouraged—especially for travelers coming from destinations with widespread coronavirus cases. Indagare is helping members choose properties throughout the U.S. that come with fully stocked kitchens upon arrival and offer grocery delivery and other in-home services.

If you want to be within driving distance...

As the country begins to open up, travelers are considering just how far their summer journeys could take them. For many, the places that feel safest and right at the moment are those within easy driving distance.

For East Coasters based in Boston or New York, that means getting out of the cities and suburbs in favor of beaches on Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and in the Hamptons, coastal Rhode Island, and Maine, or to lake houses in Vermont or New Hampshire, or the mountains and lakes, forests and fields of the Hudson Valley, Adirondacks, Catskills, and Berkshires. In the Adirondacks, for example, The Point will be available exclusively for full-property takeovers beginning in late June, giving nature-lovers their own private view of Saranac Lake.

Further south, self-quarantine policies are less common, although still recommended, if you’re traveling from a region with widespread cases. There, the Carolina, Georgia and Florida coasts are an obvious draw, with resorts like Sea Island in Georgia, and plenty of villa options. (Note that Florida is requiring all travelers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Louisiana to quarantine for 14 days.) Further inland, the Smoky Mountains are attracting potential vacation-home and villa renters looking for a longer-term option, including at Blackberry Mountain’s collection of rustic cabins and cottages.

We’ve also been fielding requests for mountain homes in the Sierra Nevadas and Rockies, including around Lake Tahoe, Jackson Hole and Aspen. These three in particular offer privacy, exceptional access to nature and a large supply of beautiful houses (with equally beautiful views).

Of course, another extended driveable option is an RV road trip, in which families travel for weeks to months on various routes throughout the country. One of the itineraries Trip designer Ried Stelly is recommending: a multi-stop trip through Colorado and Utah, with stops in national parks like Arches, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion. “This would offer distinct regions, from the Rocky Mountains to the desert,” he says, and could be coupled with a home rental at either end, along with adventure experiences (white-water rafting, hiking) along the way.

Related: East Coast Vacations from New York and Boston

If you’re comfortable flying…

Flying (particularly direct flights), can open up many more options, and is something some travelers are feeling somewhat more comfortable with, if they can limit their exposure by flying direct (or even private), and especially knowing that, with their extended stay, they won’t be going through airports again for weeks. Two destinations, if you are willing to consider flying, also happen to be perennial favorite getaways for remote nature-seekers: Alaska, which now allows proof of testing within 72 hours prior to departure as an alternative to quarantining upon arrival, and Hawaii, which is enforcing its 14-day self-isolation period until at least July 31.

“If you're looking for truly unspoiled wilderness and an incredibly remote locale with a never-ending list of outdoor activities and adventure opportunities, Alaska offers the perfect, long-term summer escape,” says Indagare’s Sasha Feldman. “In the pure scale of its scenic extremes—with stunning, dramatic landscapes—and in the bounty of its fish and wildlife, the only word to describe a summer in Alaska is ‘epic.’ Some of our favorite lodges there are now buyout only. Sheldon Chalet, for example, has transitioned from buyout-optional to buyout-only since April, letting travelers spend the duration of their quarantine in privacy (with enviable views over Denali National Park as a bonus).

For sun-seekers, "Maui or Kauai are two of our favorite islands," says Indagare trip designer Natalie Biedron. "Both have easy access to great hiking and isolated beaches, plus some of our favorite villa properties." Kauai receives about half as many visitors annually as Maui, so could be the better option for people looking for seclusion.

(Another option for beach lovers: the ultra-private villas at Cuixmala, along Mexico’s Pacific coast. If you’re willing to put up with the possibility of self-isolating on your return stateside, the 25,000-acre resort offers guests access to their own beaches.)

Just because many Americans feel ready to fly doesn’t mean they can get everywhere, as easily, however. The U.S. Transportation Department has given airlines the go-ahead to reduce or cut entirely service to dozens of small and mid-sized airports due to lack of demand, including Aspen, Colorado. Indagare can help you navigate the best options or alternatives for flying..

Scheduling issues, concerns over airports and crowded planes and a general desire to get away from it all are leading more travelers to consider flying private. We are seeing an increase in interest in private charters, especially from individuals and families looking to travel to more remote locations, which would usually involve multiple transfers.

A note about flying now

The TSA recently announced new guidelines for passengers flying during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are likely to be fewer or staggered security checkpoints, due to the reduction in flights and passengers this summer. Reports on recent flights from JFK to San Diego and other points west have been that airports were less crowded than expected, social distancing and mask-wearing is in place and JetBlue and Delta are flying with empty middle seats. “The overall experience was actually much better than I had anticipated,” says Indagare’s Mary Elizabeth Moore. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Social distancing protocols of six feet apart are in place during the security process to reduce passenger contact with other travelers, staff and crews. To further reduce contact, passengers will also scan their own boarding passes.
  • Additional disinfecting measures are being used for frequently touched surfaces and security screening equipment, along with all plane interiors.
  • Passengers will be allowed to carry on one container of hand sanitizer, up to 12 ounces per passenger. It must be screened separately, so it is best to pack it in a Ziploc bag. (Other liquid cosmetics or gels must still be 3.4 ounces or less.)
  • Expired Driver’s Licenses or state-issued IDs will be accepted as identification for up to one year, if your license terminated on or after March 1, 2020.
Related: Coronavirus Travel Safety QuestionsContact Indagare to help you evaluate your extended stay options, including the best destinations, how to get there safely, and our favorite villas and lodges.

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