As divided as we are as a nation, I know I'm not the only one tired of the covid lockdowns. I also needed a vacation. I decided to take a road trip to see the states that remained opened or were less restrictive than my home state of California. I enlisted a buddy who had a free schedule to come along.
The final destination was to be the Florida Keys before turning back home. I tried to spread out each location as much as possible, to and from, the Keys. That way we weren't too burnt out from driving every day.
This was the first time in my travels where I vlogged the entire trip. It was awkward and cringy at first but as the series progressed, my videos got better. At least in my opinion.
We spent two nights in Arizona. Once camping on the way through and once as an overnight stay to avoid driving fatigue. AZ wasn't an official destination on my list other than camping.
Restaurant dine-in was available in AZ. Something I dearly missed being a Los Angeles County resident. We did not visit any bars or clubs to know if there were any curfews or cutoffs.
NM was a pass-over state this time. I have plans to make a trip out of it in the future, however, I did not stay during this trip. We did try to dine in at a restaurant but were told it's outdoor dining only. The restaurant also had a log book that asked for name, phone number, and time of visit for contact tracing. Stay away from NM during covid.
If you do travel to NM, be sure to try foods with red and green chilis. I had a burrito doused in it and my buddy had a burger. It was excellent.
I had two main destinations on my Texas itinerary; Houston and Dallas.
One the way in, we stayed in El Paso for a night mainly because Texas is so big and we were coming from Arizona. I did make a trip out of it by visiting the Alamo and the river walk. Also had some decent dine-in BBQ before leaving for Houston.
There were no limitations or restrictions in Houston. We were able to dine in at restaurants, go to bars, and even a strip club. No silly temperature checks or mandatory hand sanitizer. You enter at your own will, your own risk. Life seemed normal here and it was nice.
On the way back, we spent 3 nights in Dallas. It felt very much like Houston but perhaps a little more touchy on the mask and temperature checks. Regardless, dine in was open as well as most bars even on a regular weeknight. There were a hand full of bars in the Deep Ellum hipster area that were closed during the weekday but I'm not sure if that's due to covid or if it's their regular business schedule.
We had originally wanted to visit Austin but I was told that they were somewhat locked down. No dine-in and perhaps a curfew. We skipped Austin because of this.
Texas was fun. I would definitely recommend visiting Texas if you prefer to travel during covid. Life seemed normal and people weren't so uptight.
If you plan to drive to Texas, be sure to sign up for their toll system ahead of time.
Also, make time to try Tex-Mex food. Growing up in SoCal, I know authentic Mexican food. Tex-Mex is something different but just as delicious.
We stayed a night in Baton Rouge due to the long drive from Houston. Didn't dine in during our stay but we did grab hot food at a local market.
The main attraction of Louisiana to me, is New Orleans. We stayed 2 days and 1 night here.
It was the weekend of the Saints wildcard game and the beginning of Mardi Gras so you'd imagine there would be more tourists and locals out. Except there wasn't. There were almost no signs of tourism when I walked down Bourbon street. Even lesser people at famous restaurants.
I believe they changed this year's Mardi Gras to something other than the huge party and celebration that it's famous for. Perhaps that was enough to completely detract tourism.
Dine-in was open but bars stopped serving at 11 pm. Bummer.
If you travel for food, then New Orleans is a great destination. Avoid the lines and eat at all of the famous places with very little crowds. Must tries are charred oysters, jambalaya, gumbo and etoufeee.
We stayed a few nights in Miami, a night in Fort Lauderdale, two nights camping in Big Pine Key and two nights in Panama City Beach.
The state was open for dine-in, however, bars differ from county to county. In Miami, Dade County, the curfew for bars was 12 am. I did hear from locals that there were establishments in Wynwood that was breaking the curfew, however, I was not able to verify.
Miami has the best Cuban food outside of Cuba. Make sure Cuban is on your list when visiting.
I can't say much about the other locations since I was mainly there for fishing. Dine-in was open but I'm not sure about the bar situations. Check the county's regulations before visiting.
If you plan to drive through Florida, be sure to sign up and buy their toll transponder ahead of time. Do not speed unless you have a radar detector. There's literally a speed trap in every county.
When we planned this trip, the curfew in PR was 9 pm. When we finally got there, it was pushed out to 11pm. Dine-in and bars were open as long as there was food served and not just alcohol.
Last minute flights to PR were cheap. We got day-of roundtrip flights for around $150 a person. Due to covid, they do require a negative covid PCR test within 72 hours of arrival or you will have to quarantine in place.
As a US territory, they use USD as their legal tender. I noticed that a lot of restaurants had pricing for the food but the alcohol pricing was blank. This is probably their way of up charging non-locals as a noticed my drink tab charges vary by bartender. I also read reviews of other visitors being charged differently as well. Pricing for good food and alcohol in San Juan was pretty much on par with the rest of the United States.
The pina colada was invented here and is a must try if you do decide to visit PR.
I don't believe I will ever go back to PR solely on only seeing San Juan. It's like being in a third world country with first world pricing. Most people speak English but some do not. Go to Mexico instead for the same experience at a lower price. If you prefer to stay in the states for a tropical vacation, skip PR and go to Florida or Hawaii.
The entire trip was roughly 6500 miles and about $826 in gas. That's not bad for seeing the entire bottom portion of the United States.
Gas prices ranged from $1.89 to $3.09 depending on the state. Gas was the cheapest in Texas and the most expensive in California. My 2017 Toyota Tacoma's MPG ranged from as low as 13.5 to a high of 22. I think the average was closer to 16-17.
We could have saved a lot of money on fuel if we weren't hauling ass. Thanks to the Uniden R3 for helping make that happen.
If you also want to travel during covid, I highly recommend doing a road trip. It's a fun way to see everything at your own pace. Travel restrictions vary by State so check ahead of time. If you plan to travel internationally, be sure to check the US State Department's website before anything else.
Read about my trip planning here.
I'll have a follow up vlog about my expenses soon.