Though you might not be jet-setting across the world or taking that great American road trip this summer, you can still put your vacation days to good use — and keep earning those points and miles while you’re at it. Here are a few ideas for socially distant vacations that don't involve large crowds, cross-country travel or even hotels.
1. Camp or glamp
Want to stay as socially distant as possible on your summer vacation? Stay and play outside. Many outdoor tour companies across the country are open for business, as are campgrounds and parks. Dust off your tent and inflatable mattress and spend a few days and nights camping, kayaking or hiking.
Roughing it not exactly your thing? Try glamping instead. This upscale version of camping usually involves a proper bed, spacious safari tent or simple cabin, luxurious amenities, even running water for those who might like to spend some time outdoors but with all of the comforts of home.
Earn or redeem points and miles: In most cases, credit card companies put campgrounds in the same spending category as hotels. So if you book your campsite with a card that pays bonus points for travel spending, you’ll earn points for your stay. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example, pays 2x points on travel purchases, including campground reservations. You can even redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for glamping reservations in many destinations.
2. Hit the road in an RV
Prefer air conditioning and a full kitchen as you experience the great outdoors? Or maybe you dream of taking a driving tour of your home state but would rather avoid hotels. Try renting an RV. It’s like having a home on wheels, and you never have to worry about sharing an elevator with someone to get to your room. Find rentals with companies like Go RVing or Outdoorsy and hit the road.
Earn or redeem points and miles: With a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you can earn 2x miles per dollar spent on travel purchases, plus you can use the card’s Purchase Eraser to undo travel-related spending (including from vehicle rental companies). Or maybe you have one of the best credit cards for purchasing gas, which you'll need plenty of to fill up your RV.
» Learn more: 5 ways to save on your RV road trip
3. Rent a private property
If you want your own luxe room but you’d rather avoid hotels and shared Airbnbs this summer, consider booking a private vacation rental that you’ll have all to yourself. Think cabins, treehouses, condos and more. These types of rentals mean you get the whole place to yourself and don’t have to worry about running into a bunch of other travelers on your way to and from your room.
Earn or redeem points and miles: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card lets you book vacation rentals directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal using your points (which are worth 1.25 cents when used to book travel-related purchases in the portal).
4. Adventure in your hometown
If you prefer to stay close to home this summer but still want to put vacation days to good use, take some time to explore all the places in your hometown you’ve always meant to visit but never have. Hike local trails, take a spin on a bike path, take a historic walking tour, fly a kite in a local park and visit all the restaurants you’ve been meaning to try, even if you have to order your meals to go. Act like a tourist in your own city and you might even learn a little something about the place you call home.
Earn or redeem points and miles: Use a card like the American Express® Gold Card to earn 4x points on dining (even carryout). Or redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for experiences and tours. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, your points are worth 50% more when you use them to book travel-related purchases within the portal.
» Learn more: Chase Sapphire showdown: Reserve beats Preferred, mostly
5. Rent a boat
Did you know you can rent a houseboat or sailboat in many places around the world? Each rental will likely have its own set of rules, regulations and requirements, but a live-aboard boat rental offers a truly unique experience with all the amenities you need. Check places like Houseboating.org, Airbnb and even travel booking sites like Expedia.com to find a boat rental in a destination near you, then float your way to relaxation on your socially distant summer vacation.
Earn or redeem points and miles: If you pay for your boat rental with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, whether you book with a travel agent or on a travel site, you can redeem miles after you pay using the Capital One Purchase Eraser. If you book directly with a rental company or marina, whether you can redeem miles to cover your purchase will depend on what category code the merchant uses.
The bottom line
Even if you’re social distancing this summer, there are still plenty of options for enjoying a rejuvenating vacation. So feel free to kick back and relax, try something new and earn or redeem a few points or miles while you’re at it.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card