Review of Unearthed Arcana article “Into the Wild” accessed here:
“Into the Wild” provides DMs with a short, handy guide at spicing up wilderness travel and expands upon the rules already present in the DMG and PH. The rules require the players to have a destination in mind, whether it be specific (the floating wizard’s tower) or general (the valley in between the two mountains) and then the players making a roll on a DC set by the DM.
The “navigation DC” as the article puts it is determined by how obvious the destination is and whether steps have been taken to try and conceal its location from the players. It ranges from 10 – lacks path but in open terrain, to 30 – hidden using powerful magic. The article doesn’t mention if there is a specific skill that needs to be rolled against this DC, so I am assuming they mean a Wisdom (Survival) check as mentioned in chapter 8 of the PH. The players conduct activities as normal while travelling and if the check is successful then the party has either reached their destination or moved in the right direction towards it. If they failed then they have become lost and must roll a D6 on a table to determine how far away from their intended target they have ended up. The article also recommends a random encounter while travelling and perhaps rolling twice if the players become lost. I suggest some curation here with encounters, 2 random ones in a row might be a bit much for your party so perhaps roll twice and then choose the most appropriate one for your players.
The next part of the article concerns flavoring your wilderness location and encourages mapping and highlighting specific features. It mentions using the mapping rules in the DMG with the exception to try and map out a day or two of travel to try and give each area the feeling of being unique and special. Contentious planning can really make an area come alive and using tools in various DnD books like the regional effects from the MM as foreshadowing for an upcoming monster can certainly help. The article also gives some skill checks you can have your players roll to help liven up the travelling like using Athletics to navigate difficult terrain and broken ground or Nature to determine what kind of creatures live in an area based upon natural clues. It is important as a DM to give your world a pulse and these rules buttress the sandbox you have created for your players.
The article ends with a sample region to analyze called the “Moon Hills”. I suggest opening the article and taking a look at its composition as it provides several paragraphs and random tables to bring this terrain to life. World building tools such as these are invaluable in campaigns and can be easily modified to suit a different region. This is yet another excellent resource for DMs to have in their toolbox and I highly recommend reading this article in its entirety.