A true Fly Brother or Sister is restless. He or she cannot stay put in one place for very long, lest neurosis set in. But many aspirants are not yet in the habit of stepping out the front door for anything other than work, personal errands, or picking up the Sunday paper.
With Netflix, broadband, and on-demand cable, there's no reason to leave home. For many people, being home is comfortable, as it should be. But for many of those same people, the idea of travel, of experiencing something different, is an actual desire that they may not yet know how to turn into a reality. And it's much easier (and cheaper) to catch an episode of Wild On: Panama than to actually get crunk in Panama (Panamá, that is, not Florida).
Well, I'm here to change all that. You've already ordered your passport, but while you're waiting the six weeks for it to arrive, you can get your minds right and get out of the house!
Honestly, it's as simple as gassing up the car, breaking out the Rand McNally, and hitting the road.
(This may be a little difficult for car-less folk, but we'll make the assumption that most of that group lives in the Northeast and has rail and bus access to other cities.)
Day trips are a great way to ease yourself into more extensive travel. There's much of America to be explored within a couple-hours' drive of wherever you are. And if the mood strikes and the finances are right, weekend road-trips can always be arranged. Though the more the merrier, even solo soldiers can discover their surroundings and catch the adventure bug.
For day trips, fuel is usually the primary cost factor ("costly" being an understatement these days). But to compensate, stop by a grocery store and stock up on fruit and snacks, or maybe pack a cooler with some lunchmeat and a loaf of bread. It sounds collegiate, but college is where you should have learned how to live lean but still live. You can be grand and get the deli-sliced imported turkey from France to go with your Grey Poupon, but it's still more fun and less time consuming than wasting hours waiting for food in a restaurant when you should be enjoying the journey (unless, of course, that particular restaurant is a focus of the trip...some folks drive hours just for some Jenkins' Barbecue in Jacksonville, Florida).
Don't know where to go? Most large cities in coastal states, even if they aren't located on beaches themselves, are within a two hour drive of a beach or waterfront area. National and state parks are always excellent bets for nature lovers (the National Park Foundation offers a great $80 twelve-month pass to all US national parks that require an entrance fee...more incentive to get outdoors). Alternative newspapers like the Village Voice, Washington City Paper, or Creative Loafing are loaded with info about places to go in and more importantly out of the immediate vicinity (usually just the print versions, though). Also, most cities and regions of the country have ready-made Internet guides with insight on where to go, where to eat, where to shop, and where to stay. Use an Internet seach engine to find local city guides and tourism websites, as well as other independent sources. Among some of the day tripping websites that caught our eye:
USAToday offers a great article on "seven fabulous escapes" from New York City.
AllAcrossTexas.com has a section that features day trips from all the major Texas cities like Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.
Day trips around the nation's capital, Washington DC, are even outlined on the US Senate website in a comprehensive, if not graphically appealing way.
ATLiens are blessed with both urban and rural excursions nearby, as covered by the Journal-Constitution's day trip page, while Viator serves up info (and prices) for South Floridians needing a break from the 305.
Chicagoans can hit up Metra's "day trips by train" page and not have to shovel their car out until Monday morning.
And when it's not raining in Southern California (they tell me never), check out Travels.com's LA page.
In fact, Viator and Travels.com have the most comprehensive listing of interesting excursions that I've found, covering almost the entire US.
Lastly, if you still need advice on where to go for a day or quick weekend escape, ask around. Surely your friends, neighbors, co-workers, or even strangers might have an idea of something, anything to do that doesn't involve a remote control.