Road trips are still a fun and popular travel option, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, many travelers today will likely pass on a flight to drive instead. With the pandemic, preparing for a road trip has changed in a few ways. Here are some road trip tips to help you stay safe and have fun.
Tip #1: Do Your Research Before You Go
Road trips can still be spontaneous, but these days you should call ahead and do some online research before you go. You’ll need to find out if places are open and if new rules are in place for how you enjoy the destination. You might consider:
Calling the places you’re going to so you can see what amenities are open and which ones aren’t.
Checking the weather before and during the trip; 2020 has also been a pretty eventful year for bad weather.
Checking to see if national or state parks are still open, as many are partially or completely closed.
Thinking about where you spend the night and social distancing. In some cases, an apartment rental may be better than a hotel or resort because it could be less crowded. If the weather stays warm, a camping trip may be the best way to have fun and social distance.
Tip #2: Consider Hygiene and Sanitization in Everything You Do
Most states still have restrictions that make you wear a mask. It’s a good idea to keep a mask in your car or backpack. In fact, you might pack a few of them. Keep sanitary wipes and sanitizer handy at all times. Here are some other hygiene tips to consider for a road trip:
Call hotels to see what they’re doing to sanitize rooms and public areas.
When you check-in at a hotel, wipe down surfaces with sanitizing wipes anyway.
Bring your pillow and an extra sheet and blanket to keep a barrier between you and the bed.
Wipe down handles and anything you touch at rest stops, restaurants, and in lodging spaces.
Minimize interaction with others and avoid crowds to reduce your potential for exposure to germs and others who may be sick.
Check the CDC website for travel tips and guidance.
Tip #3: Give Yourself a Break
It may not be a pandemic-specific tip, but for your safety, you'll want to take breaks when you drive to avoid fatigue. Each year, about 100,000 police-reported crashes involve drowsy driving, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
“Driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% — the U.S. legal limit,” adds the National Safety Council.
With social distancing guidelines, consider more stops to enjoy scenic views where you can avoid crowds. It’s a win-win to enjoy some roadside beauty and stay safe as well.
Tip #4: Pack Right for the Occasion
If your trip is to remote areas, that’s great for social distancing, but you might pack extra food and water in case you stay longer or get delayed. If you’re staying in hotels, consider packing lighter for better gas mileage. When it comes to packing, there are a lot of other things to consider, too. Here are some:
Pack a few tools, duct tape, and extra oil in case you need to handle a light mechanical issue.
Download maps of areas where you travel for those times when Internet or cell phone reception isn’t available.
Don’t forget jumper cables and a safety kit.
Bring cash and credit cards. Some places no longer accept cash; other remote areas may not have credit card machines.
Tip #5: Adjust Expectations
While there are more details to consider when traveling during a pandemic, you can still enjoy a fun road trip. But you also might want do a personal check-in with your expectations. There may be attractions you don’t see, and you may have to deal with other things being closed or a lot of precautions that may limit some of your fun.
So, be flexible. Recognize there’s still plenty to see on the open road, and remember the precautions are in place to protect you and everyone else.