national park services outdoor adventure summer vacation

2021 Outdoor Survival Vacations

We all need a good, long vacation after this wild year we’ve experienced. Whether you are trying to social distance in consideration of the global pandemic, trying to keep expenditures low due to a loss of income, or simply don’t feel like you have the time, there are many safe and fun outdoor adventures you and your family can take to get some much needed outdoor time in 2021. 

Take Your Bucket List Vacation 

If you have the time and resources now is a fantastic time to finally take that once in a lifetime trip you’ve always wanted to go on. The tourism and travel industries have been under performing the past year due to the global pandemic and there are a lot of amazing travel deals being offered. These steep discounts and highly flexible plans could make a major trip much more affordable and feasible for many people. Whether you are planning a major international excursion or want to see one of the many natural wonders within the United States, now is a great time to get out there and check it off your bucket list!

While many people feel we are towards the tail end of the global pandemic, do keep in mind that different regions of the United States and various countries do have different restrictions and guidelines in place. Be prepared to pass a COVID-19 test, quarantine, or show proof of vaccination to pursue your travel plans. Many of these guidelines are also constantly changing so do your best to keep checking in that your plans are still feasible given current conditions. Be sure that everything you book, whether through a travel agent or on your own, has flexible cancellation policies or flexible dates in case your plans have to change at the last minute. 

While this is a truly wild time of constant change there are also major deals to be taken advantage of. If you have a bit of patience and can be flexible, this is a great time to see some amazing parts of the world at a very affordable price. 

Once In A Lifetime Trip:

  • Make a list of your must-sees and be sure that they will be open and accessible during your travel dates. 
  • Plan your big trips in advance. There is a lot of pent up demand for vacations that have been postponed from last year. Many reservations are at 90% capacity and sell out as far as 6 months out
  • Carefully screen your trip for any regulations and rules regarding COVID-19 to make sure you are following local guidelines. 
  • Book flexible travel reservations. From airfare to housing, be sure that you are protected in case of last-minute changes. So many local governments are imposing last-minute changes in the guidelines it is important to protect yourself in case a trip falls through. Be prepared for your plans to change. Many companies and booking agencies are fully aware of this and have offered very flexible policies. 
  • Working with a travel agent will also help you to get the best deals and meet the requirements you have for your vacation. They will have in-depth knowledge of local guidelines and help you meet all the requirements for your trip. 

Visit a National Park

National park outdoor adventure survival trip

Visiting National Parks always makes for a fantastic outdoor vacation. National Parks offer fun activities regardless of your experience level. The novice hiker can book a room in a park’s lodge and venture out in the daytime to explore the natural world or the serious backpacker can take their pack deep into the wilderness for a camping expedition. Many parks also offer outdoor activities like horseback riding, bouldering, hunting, snorkeling, birding, and more. 

The National Park Services does warn that not all parks are currently open and not all parks are providing the same facilities that they normally do. Be sure to research the park you want to visit to make sure the activities you and your family are hoping to participate in are available at this time. 

Camping at a National Park Tips:

  • Like many travel destinations, National Parks have seen a huge increase in demand, largely because they have been a fantastic social distancing vacation. Because of this be aware that accommodations are likely to book up very quickly. Most travel experts are suggesting planning a trip a minimum of three months to six months in advance to ensure you get the preferred lodging and activities you want. 
  • Heavily research the park you plan on visiting to make sure the facilities you will want and need will be available during the time you will stay at the park. Some parks are open for hiking but not camping and some camps aren’t offering lodging or restroom facilities or other facilities at this time. Understand what you are getting yourself into before you get there. 
  • Understand the seasonality of the park you will be visiting. Some parks receive heavy snowfall and can be dangerous to visit during the winter months. Other parks are located in desert climates and can be inhospitable, or even deadly during the summer. 
  • Visit the Visitor Center and get the inside scoop from park rangers. They’ll offer the best advice on what areas are must-sees and if any areas are under construction or should be avoided for any reason. 

Kampgrounds of America has put together a detailed guide for getting the most out of your National Park vacation. 

Hit The Road

RV vacation road trip see the world

Consider a cult classic vacation: the road trip. Pack up an RV or a van and hit the open road. A road trip allows you to see many different attractions and sights so that everyone in your family can get something out of the experience. One night can be spent sleeping out under the stars in a heavy secluded area, the next night can be spent exploring a quaint town or historic city. Road trips can be perfectly tailored to you and your family’s interests. 

Top Road Trip Tips:

  • Pack a map! Especially if you will be traveling in a remote area that might not have great cell service.
  • Preplan where you’ll be stopping each evening to rest. While we fully support detours and unexpected stops, it’s important to have a safe place where you can rest each night. Driving without having properly rested can be dangerous. 
  • Also, have a general outline of major stops you want to make. Ensure everyone in the family gets a chance to see or do something that interests them on the trip. 
  • Be sure to properly service your vehicle before embarking on a trip. You will want to have a spare tire and basic tools for any unexpected mechanical difficulties along the way. 
  • Be prepared for all types of weather!
  • Plan for plenty of stops and a little exercise each day. Slogging through a long drive without actually getting out to experience nature isn’t much of a vacation!  

Roadtrippers is an excellent resource for planning your family’s road trip. 

Survival Schools 

survival school new skills learn vacation

Attending a survival school or bushcraft camp is a great way to get hands-on experience with survival skills in a safe environment with a qualified instructor. That being said, not all survival schools are made equal. Be sure to do your research and reach out to the instructor so you understand exactly what you are getting yourself into. These camps can often be a bit of an expense, but the knowledge and skills you gain from them are something you will always have with you. 

Survival schools can last anywhere from one weekend to one month and can focus on everything from teaching basic survival skills to challenging seasoned survivalists to put their current skills to the test. 

Tips for Choosing Survival Skills and Survival Schools: 

  • Try to find hands-on courses as opposed to lecture-style courses. The best way to learn is to get your hands dirty with the actual task!
  • Think about which specific skills you want to learn and find classes tailored towards those skills or that include those skills. 
  • Be honest with your instructors about your knowledge and your skill level. You don’t want to waste money on a course that you can’t learn anything from, but you also don’t want to put yourself or your classmates in danger by participating in a class beyond your skill level. 
  • Some survival schools are appropriate for families and some are not. Be sure to reach out to the school you are interested in to find out the minimum age requirements and what activities will be appropriate for the different members of your family. 

The Smart Survivalist has but together a list of survival vacations that will challenge you and HiConsumption has assembled a list of some of the most popular and well-known survival schools. 

Camp in Your Backyard

backyard camping local explore outdoor adventure

Or in a neighbor’s backyard or a local campground. You don’t have to go far to have an exciting outdoor adventure. Sometimes looking at other people’s big camping trips on social media can give us wanderlust and camping envy, but the great outdoors isn’t regulated to state parks or designating hiking and camping areas. Your backyard has so many unexplored wonders. 

Grab a book on local wildlife or native plants and see if you can’t spot them and learn more about them. Learn about medicinal plants and try and create tinctures. Seek out local wildlife experts and take local wildlife tours. Become more familiar with your local area and see what new things you can discover. Take your kids outside and look at the world through their eyes. Be fascinated by the things they discover and the questions they ask. And seek the answers to those questions together! 

Test out your survival skills in your backyard. Try your hand at a variety of survival shelters and see which ones work best. Practicing for an emergency without the pressure of an actual emergency will make you more confident in the case of an actual emergency. 

Camping in your backyard is also a great way to do a “test run” of your go-bag or camping gear. Do you have everything you need for your camp kitchen or is there something that would be useful to add? Are there items you find you don’t need? Pair down on unnecessary junk. Is there something you wish you had? Make note of it. 

Backyard Camping Tips:

  • This is a great way to do a test run before you embark on a longer trip or to test your emergency readiness. If you want to make a real trial run of it, lock the doors and hide the keys. If you forgot something try and find alternatives for the item you forgot. See how effective your go bag is by only using the items you’ve prepacked.
  • Discover what skills you lack. Are you trying to forage for food and realize you aren’t completely sure what is safe to eat and what isn’t? Seek out advice from local experts and books. Never eat anything that you can’t identify with 100% certainty. Are you realizing that the knots you are using aren’t holding very well? Make a point of learning how to tie new knots that will be more useful in those situations. 
  • Try your hand at building various survival shelters with the bare minimum of supplies and tools. Practice makes perfect and practicing in your backyard will allow you to practice for survival situations in a safe environment.
  • Include the whole family! Make sure everyone in your family is having a good time participating in this unique “staycation” and getting something out of it. 

We hope you and your family stay safe and healthy during this time while also getting some quality outdoor time. What type of vacation are you planning this year? We would love to hear about your plans and any tips you have for us on our Instagram or Facebook @Prepared4X or email us at

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