Once we’re able to travel again, your next trip will likely be a road trip rather than an international destination. While some countries and destinations are opening up, there are still plenty of travel restrictions that put a damper on our options. Not just that, but right now, many of us are more comfortable with a road trip than getting on a plane or other public transportation.
Pick the destination
Probably the most important part these days. Not only are you picking a destination that matches your interests, but now you have to consider whether the destination you’re heading to has a quarantine. Some destinations have imposed quarantines of up to two weeks! Yikes! What’s more, you also need to be concerned about whether you need to quarantine once you return home in some cases! And, many places have mask requirements in place, so you’ll need to know where and when to mask up.
You’ll also have to consider whether anyone in your travel group is high risk and whether your intended destination has had a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. What if you’re visiting friends, family or loved ones? Are any of those individuals high risk? What about once you return home – Is anyone at home high risk?
Even though many hotels and short term rentals may be taking extra disinfection procedures, the germophobe in me can’t stop there. Pre-COVID, I wiped down everything in my hotel room. I now plan to take my own personal disinfection procedures to a whole different level. If you weren’t nutty about wiping stuff down like me before, you may want to take up that hobby now. Be particularly mindful of high touch areas – door knobs, light switches, remotes, telephones, etc. You may also want to forego daily housekeeping, to avoid having to go through the disinfection process daily.
What about the elevator? Now may be a good time for the stairs my friends, but if you must use the elevator, touch the buttons as little as possible then wash your hands as soon as you can.
Another accommodation option is to pick an accommodation that is more remote. While that doesn’t eliminate the high touch areas, it will be less crowded and expose you less . At least in theory...
Prep Your Car or RV
Maybe you already keep your car clean, but remember those high touch surfaces – steering wheel, door handles, gear shift, directional signal and wipers, all the buttons and knobs you use all the time. If you’re renting a car or an RV, do the same thing. You may also want to open all the windows and doors and air out the rental vehicle for a few minutes.
Here’s a great USA Today article on how to safely clean your car including what to use and what NOT to use!
Snacks, Activities...and COVID Kit?
Sure, you may already load up a cooler with snacks, and have games and other whatnot to keep everyone occupied, but now you’ll may want to include a pandemic first aid kit. What? You know stuff we all have at this point – hand sanitizer, masks, wipes... and now a thermometer to do a temperature check. Don’t forget to pack multiple masks for everyone and/or laundry detergent to wash your masks daily. Check out this Johns Hopkins article on caring for your face mask.
If you’re like me, public restrooms grossed me out BEFORE the pandemic, but what if ya gotta go? A recent Forbes article discussed the safety of public restrooms, but didn’t say how to find one on the road. Fear not! Sit Or Squat, Bathroom Scout and Flush are all apps that you can download that will tell you where all the available restrooms are. Unfortunately, what they won’t do is tell you whether they’re open or closed.
This Points Guy post goes into more detail on these apps.
Pump It Up
Fueling your vehicle now requires extra precautions, too. Wear gloves when you pump your gas (somebody I know already did this before the pandemic...just sayin’) and pay at the pump when possible. Throw out your gloves (in a trash can!) after you use them and for pete’s sake, don’t touch your face after you pump your gas!
Plan Your Activities in Advance
Since what is and isn’t open is very fluid at the moment, make sure to check that whatever you plan is open. Reserve a space and buy tickets online whenever possible. Both will help minimize contact and maintain distance. Another idea is to stick with mostly outdoor fun, which is another way to maintain social distance, again in theory.
When eating out, find out what the set up is before you go. Is outdoor dining available? If so, that’s probably your best bet. If indoor dining even an option, is there enough distance between tables? And restaurant menus? Looks like it’s paper menus all around.
Remember the Locals
While many local economies rely on tourism, it’s important to be mindful of traveling to a location that, in the off season, might not have a large population so the infrastructure may not be as robust as in large cities. For example, there may be a limited number of hospital beds or other similar infrastructure limitations. Grocery stores at your destination may have limited inventory due to ongoing supply chain disruptions. All of these are real concerns if there's an influx of population that may stress these systems. So while we’re all enjoying our much deserved week off, we should remember to maintain social distance and to wear a mask when required to help minimize the stress on the local infrastructure.
Don’t Forget to Look for Deals
Just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean you should forget bargain hunting. There are some real deals to be had right now, everything from accommodations to activities. Remember to check the website of the specific activity, and sites like AAA and AARP if you're a member, and think about Groupon, Local Flavor, etc.
Oh Hey, One More Thing...
I found this fantastic article from the Center for Disease Control on traveling
Planning a road trip may take some extra planning these days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fantastic and safe road trip!