How to Survive a 12,000 Mile Honeymoon Road Trip (Without Trying to Kill Each Other)

We converted a cargo van into a camper.

My wife and I love to travel, so picking and planning all the details of our honeymoon ended up being much more fraught than the wedding itself.

We planned and subsequently scrapped three separate itineraries—for Europe, Iceland, and Southeast Asia—before landing on a plan that was both closer to home and far more ambitious. We were going to buy a cargo van, somehow convert it into a custom, solar-powered camper van, then spend the entire summer traveling to National Parks across the United States and into Canada.

Whatever insanity could possess two people with basically zero DIY or building experience to undertake such a task must be imbued with some kind of magic, because we actually managed to pull it off—driving 12,000 miles in a massive loop that took us through 17 national parks over the course of two-and-a-half months.

A work in progress

In January, five months before the wedding, we bought our bare Ford Transit van and started the work that would last us until mid-June, creating our little summer-home on wheels. If you're interested in following suit, there are dozens of instructional videos and tutorials that can illuminate the process. What all those resources tend to ignore is the real challenge you'll face once you're done—surviving ten full weeks in 60 square feet of fresh marital bliss.

Keep Your Plans Flexible

Be prepared to add and subtract some of these dots

You should absolutely make your itinerary as detailed as you like, but be prepared to throw those details out the window. In any road trip, but especially a road trip on a continental scale, things are bound to go wrong. You'll have car trouble, road closures, bad weather, or you'll just like a stop so much you'll decide to stay a little longer. My wife and I only made it to our second stop—Great Smoky Mountains National Park—before realizing we needed to adjust our schedule. We managed to book another night at the campground and gave ourselves a chance to enjoy the beautiful surroundings, as well as the abundant black bears.

Give Each Other Space (Even When There is None)

McArthur-Burney Falls

Are you the type of person who's always in a good mood and never needs alone time? No? That's because that type of person doesn't exist. Be prepared to get on each other's nerves and to adapt. Going for a solo-walk is a nice remedy, but when one or both of you wake up in a bad mood, only to be stuck in a confined space for a rainy morning or an eight hour drive, you need to get creative with how you give each other space. Headphones are a great resource at times like these, and even a superficial barrier like a curtain can serve to divide your tiny home into distinct territories. If you handle it right, the time you spend apart will reward you with happier times together.

Get to Know Some Strangers

Vancouver Is Awesome

As much as you love your road trip partner, chances are they are not the only voice you want to hear each morning and the only face you want to see each night—regardless of what you said in your vows. Phone calls to friends and loved ones can provide some social stimulation, but cell phone service is not universal, and nothing can really replace the value of in-person interactions. No matter how terrifying the thought, you will eventually have to embrace the concept of a conversation with strangers.

So strike up a conversation with your campground neighbors, the family hiking ahead of you, or some locals in a bar. And yes, those strangers could turn out to be obnoxious or dull or personally offensive, but even if the only benefit you get is the bonding experience of judging them with your new spouse, these interactions with strangers will make the whole trip more memorable and rewarding. And on the rare occasions when you meet people you actually enjoy, the rest of the trip will pale in comparison.

Give Yourselves a Break

Luxury never felt so luxurious

A basic camping spot will generally cost somewhere between $0-$35, making this sort of road trip far cheaper than most types of travel. It can also be rough. On our trip, my wife and I spent nights cuddled against the cold, rocked by howling winds, and plagued by sounds of passing traffic. We wouldn't have lasted—or certainly wouldn't have enjoyed ourselves—if we hadn't gifted ourselves an occasional night in a hotel. A nice warm bath, a TV, and a big comfy bed that someone else will sort out in the morning: These are luxuries you can only truly appreciate once you've spent a few days parked five feet from a busy highway. A night of relaxation and romance will restore you for the long road ahead.

If you keep this tips in mind—and you manage not to kill each other—I guarantee you'll have the time of your lives.

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Finally, we are done with 2020! Between all the highs and lows, it felt like 5 years packed into one, so I'm excited to start fresh in 2021. I'm taking my New Year's resolutions to the next level: cook more, read more, and get back to things I truly love like arts & crafts and morning runs (okay, most likely walks).

Honestly, I could go on forever about the new year, new me thing but actually getting started is my biggest hurdle. I realized that my motivation comes from my mood which directly relates to my environment … and for the past year, my house has been my habitat. So, it's not looking too great after all the wear and tear. The dirt and the mess have accumulated right under my nose.

It's not that I'm bad at it, I just feel so overwhelmed. When my house is clean, I feel much more in control and motivated, and right now it's far from it. When I was venting about my cleaning woes the other day, my friend recommended Handy.

Handy allows you to book local professional cleaners and sign up for monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly plans. Plus, you can schedule appointments at a time that works for you with availability 7 days a week from 7am-11pm. So to get me in the right headspace to tackle my goals, I'm going to be signing up for Handy. I'm looking forward to letting the experts take over.

Although having people in your home may sound a bit strange right now, Handy has rolled out the Handy Safety Standard to help promote the health and safety of the customers and professionals who use their platform. Some of these measures include requiring Pros to wear face coverings during bookings and mandatory daily in-app check-ups to verify they are in good health before claiming a booking. They even have a section on their site dedicated to keeping customers and professionals updated on the latest CDC health and safety guidance.

To top everything off, all of the Cleaning Pros booked through Handy are vetted and background checked. And you can even check out each Pro's ratings and reviews before you book.

Once my house is in order, the fresh feeling will have a domino effect on so many other areas of my life:

✔ Read More

Lying on my cozy couch without inhaling all the dust I'd chosen to ignore, despite my clear uptick in sneezing the last few months. My reading list is chock-full of thrillers and fantasy. And with my new clean slate, I've even added some books about organization.

✔ Get Cooking

Nothing makes cooking more enjoyable than a sparkling kitchen. I'm inspired by a clean space and all the new recipes I'll be whipping up in 2021 already have me drooling.

✔ More Exercise (aka walking!)

I won't feel guilty getting out for a walk on-the-daily when I know I'm not neglecting any household chores thanks to Handy. And when I come home I'm not greeted by any reminders to clean.

You can specify exactly what you want to be cleaned before your Pro arrives and if you like them, you can request to have the same Pro come every time. I can already imagine how exciting it will be to walk into my spotless space.

I cannot wait to book my cleaning through Handy so I can get my 2021 resolutions rolling. My New Year is all about my wellness and my environment plays such a big part in it. I'm signing up for bi-weekly appointments. But their plans are super flexible and if I need, I can always change to a weekly or monthly cleaning plan — sometimes they even have bookings available as soon as the next day!

With Handy, I'm leaving that rough 2020 in the dust and jumping into 2021 feeling fresh and ready-to-go.

Update: Handy is offering a limited time discount for our readers! Follow this link today to get a special offer on your first time cleaning plan.

This perfect low-key vacation is not your average camping experience.

Locations

Atlanta, Austin & San Antonio, Boston, Charlotte & Raleigh, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh & Cleveland, Portland, and Washington, DC.

Getaway's outposts are a maximum 2-hour drive from these major cities.

getaway cabin all seasons

Why Getaway?

It's an escape for the always on. Leave your work, technology and worries at home, and lean into an experience that allows you to reconnect and center yourself in nature.

Each cabin features 1 (or 2) queen-sized bed as well as a full indoor bathroom, both heat and a/c, and reliable electricity. The kitchen is stocked with food staples and cookware and there is a fire pit and outdoor seating. All cabins are family-friendly and dogs are permitted.

getaway essentials

Booking & Price

Book through the Getaway site. Cabins fit 1 - 4 guests and cost as low as $129 a night.

Safety

Cabins are already distanced (50-150' feet apart) from one another and go through a deep disinfection process between guest stays. Check-in is contactless, and each guest accesses their cabins through a personalized key code.

getaway activities

UPDATE: Plan Your Winter Escape Today With Getaway! Take $20 Off Your Stay With Code Winter20!

Given the nature of the pandemic, it can be tough to find the best ways to spend the usual festivities that New Year's Eve brings.

Luckily, if you're comfortable enough to step outside for the occasion, there are great places still open and worth visiting. Although you should always keep COVID-19 safety precautions in mind, here are three of the most stunning places to spend Near Year's Eve in the U.S.

New York City (New York)

No guide to stunning places to spend New Year's Eve in the U.S. would be complete without the presence of New York City, New York. The Times Square ball drop is a must-see annual event, though this year it will be a bit different due to the pandemic. Thankfully, the city will still be throwing an event for all to enjoy that will keep social distancing in mind and focus on bringing people together virtually.

While there might be live events for some to enjoy, none have been officially announced just yet. Even if you're enjoying the festivities virtually, there are few better places to spend this special occasion than at the tip of the NYC skyline.

New York City New Years Eve New York City New Years EveForbes

Lake Travis (Texas)

Lake Travis is a brilliant body of water in Texas that provides a versatile collection of ways to enjoy its beauty. If you'd prefer to keep your party secluded due to the pandemic, you can enjoy the evening on a boat in the waters of this lake, which is home to the famous "Devil's Cove" party destination.

If you're comfortable spending the evening in a venue that practices COVID-19 safety precautions, consider relaxing on one of the three decks on display at The Oasis. Even if you don't stick around to ring in the New Year, viewing the sunset from The Oasis is an incredible experience in itself.

Lake Travs Lake Travislaketravis.com

Cape Cod (Massachusetts)

If you're looking for a quainter way to ring in the new year, consider visiting Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Aside from the cool weather and stunning scenery, when spending New Year's Eve in Cape Cod you can visit places such as the Belfry Inn & Bistro. This lovely location has a focus on good dining, stylish and comfortable living, and COVID-19 safety, all of which they put on display via their website.

If you'd prefer not to spend too much time in a restaurant or bar, you can indulge in the incredible appearance of areas like Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. Simply wandering around the area and taking in the scenery before enjoying an intimate evening inside makes for an unforgettable adventure.

Cape Cod New Years Eve Cape Cod New Years Evebluegreenvacations.com

Due to the ever-changing nature of certain venues during the pandemic, be sure to regularly check-up on any venues you wish to visit. That way, you can remain in the loop on their availability, activities, and safety precautions upon arrival.