11 Easy Ways to Get off the Grid This Summer
Summer is just about here, which means it’s time to ditch your cell phone and get outside. Here are 11 easy ways to get off the grid this summer with little to no planning.
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Join a Field Trip with Wylder Goods or Your Local Gear Shop
Head to your local outdoor gear shop to see what they’ve got going on this summer, and you’ll likely find them organizing multi-day backpacking or fly fishing trips in your state and beyond. Online retailer Wylder Goods, for example, is taking customers on a five-night "Field Trip" to Alaska this September with the Salmon Sisters. With the Kachemak Wilderness Lodge as a base camp, a small group maxing out at 10 people will fish for wild salmon, hike to Grewingk Glacier and forage for wild berries.
Head Out on a Women-Only Trip with REI
If you want to adventure with a group of brand-new girlfriends, REI’s got you covered. Their Outessa retreats are like all-women summer camps, where you settle into a base camp and pick your daily activities from a long list of options. This year, Outessa will at Squaw Valley Resort in Tahoe in August, and Waterville Valley Resort in New Hampshire in September. REI Adventures also runs women-only trips all around the world with female guides, from backpacking trips in the U.S., Canada and New Zealand, to safaris in South Africa, to kayak and SUP trips in Baja and more.
Go off the Grid with Airbnb’s Quirkier Side
Airbnb recently debuted new search options to make it easy to find extremely unique places to stay, like this tree house in Atlanta. From campers and castles to tiny houses, barns, boats, earth houses and entire islands, you can use Airbnb’s new filters to find exactly the getaway you’re looking for, anywhere in the world. Bonus? Their Experiences offerings make it even easier to find local guides.
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Plan a Spontaneous Adventure in a New City
Add a little spontaneity to a summer vacation by leaving your destination up to chance. First, pick a budget and a date range. Then, sign up for cheap flight alerts from sites like Just Get Out of Town and Scott’s Cheap Flights. Book the first flight within your budget that falls on the dates you picked out. Travel Channel have guides to cities and national parks around the world, so you won’t have any trouble figuring out what to do once you’ve got your location.
Adventure in Your Own City with Questival and Outessafest
You don’t have to go far, spend a lot of money, or even go completely off-the-grid to have an amazing summer adventure. Outdoor festivals are growing in popularity as the outdoorist’s answer to music festivals. Watch events calendars in local magazines in your state and city, and keep an eye on your favorite gear brands, too. Cotopaxi, for example, runs 24-hour adventure scavenger hunts called Questivals in major cities across the U.S., where participants race the clock to complete as many tasks as possible, like hugging a llama, going for a hike, or eating Peruvian food. REI is debuting Outessafest this year—a one-day version of their popular retreats—and their stores also offer loads of single-day outdoorsy events like rock climbing and mountain biking clinics for people of all ages. Your city or state likely also has a hiking club that arranges outings, like the Colorado Mountain Club or Carolina Mountain Club. The American Hiking Society lists hundreds of such organizations on its website. Nationwide organizations with local chapters across the U.S. include Outdoor Women’s Alliance, Hike It Baby and Outdoor Afro.
Rent a Camper Van and Hit the Road
Want to try out #vanlife? Rent a vintage camper van, buy a road atlas and an $80 annual Interagency pass to cover admission into national parks, forests and monuments across the country, and go for it. For a van with some character, check out Native Campervans in Denver and Salt Lake City or Turo, which is kind of like the Airbnb of rental cars. Bonus: With Turo, you can put your own car up for rent to earn some extra cash while you’re on vacation.
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Find an Epic Campsite on The Dyrt
Search public and private campgrounds wherever you’re headed with The Dyrt, which consolidates camping options all in one place. You can also read and write reviews of campgrounds so you know what you’re getting into even before you arrive. If you really want to get out there into the wilderness, or if you’re on a super tight budget, you can also find dispersed camping in National Forests and Bureau of Land Management sites across the country. Freecampsites.net is a good place to start, but the local ranger station will have the best advice on availability, fire restrictions and any road closures you should know about.
Stay in an Earthship
When we talk about going off-grid, what we really mean is a chance to ditch your cell phone and email inbox for some much-needed electronic detoxing. But if you want to actually go off-the-grid, what you’re looking for is an Earthship, or a completely self-sufficient home built from old tires, glass bottles, and other recycled and organic materials that gets its energy from the sun and its water from the sky. You’ll find a particularly large community of these unique homes in Taos, New Mexico, where you’ll find some of the best sunrises and sunsets you’ll ever see. Make reservations through Airbnb or Earthship Biotecture, which designs and builds Earthships.
Rent a Wilderness Fire Lookout
The National Forest Service has turned many out-of-service fire lookouts into nature’s own (very) rustic bed-and-breakfasts (breakfast not included). You can book quite a few pretty easily, through recreation.gov, but check with visitors’ bureaus in states you’re interested in visiting for additional options.
Glamp with Under Canvas and Hipcamp
Bring your glamping game to the next level with Under Canvas and Hipcamp. Under Canvas, pictured here, has built elaborate canvas wall basecamps near national parks like Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains and Zion, where you can sleep under the stars in style. On Hipcamp, you can search and book campsites and unique accommodations—like treehouses, yurts and Airstream campers —on private property that previously hasn't been available to vacationers. What sets Hipcamp aside from Airbnb is that it’s completely focused on sites in and near gorgeous wilderness areas that will make you want to put your hiking boots on, stat. If you’ve got a spot of your own you want to turn into some vacation money, you can easily become a host yourself, too.