Give yourself something to look forward to.

We need a vacation. That's not just a cliche. It's true. Sixty-three percent of Americans report that they desperately need a vacation after the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data prepared for the U.S. Travel Association by the research firm Destination Analysts. Eighty-four percent are excited to plan a vacation in the next six months. It may be the middle of winter, but now is the time to make plans.

Of course, COVID-19 is still a real and present concern. Hotels, airlines, and other travel industries have been suffering as a result of the pandemic. As a result, they are offering some rather enticing deals with flexible cancelation policies. This means you can go ahead and plan your trip now, and if the pandemic situation doesn't allow you to go, it should be easy to reschedule your trip. Companies would much rather do that than lose your business altogether. Plus, by scheduling now, you can save a fair bit of money.

You may also choose to stay away from the hustle and bustle and go motorcycle camping instead. What better way to get away from it all? Unfortunately, the secret is out. With so many mainstream destinations closed, lots of people have discovered the joy of camping. While in May 2020 I had much of a campground to myself, by August I found every campground full in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This isn't likely to change in the near future, so if you can't beat them, join them. Reserve your campsites now, and you'll know you have somewhere to stay when you roll into town in a few months.

One positive side effect of planning your motorcycle vacation now that's not so obvious is your mental health. Right now it feels like the pandemic will never end, and many of our favorite non-motorcycle activities will remain unavailable indefinitely. Having a trip planned gives you something to look forward to, and a reason to keep plodding along toward it. The act of planning a trip in itself can be fun, a welcome distraction from the present situation as you think about happier times ahead. That goes double for those of us in the frozen north who can't ride right now.

My own preferred vacation plans would involve a return to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, which won't be possible until the Canadian border reopens. There are countless potential destinations in the States, though. I'll be taking a page out of Glen Comeaux's book and running away in a van, with my motorcycle, of course. Aside from a logistical stop in Florida and a vague notion of completing the cross-country trip I've dreamed of taking since I was a kid, I have no set plans. It may be time for me to make some.