road trip during pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has affected all aspects of life and, for travelers, it has taken the concept of “new normal” into uncharted territory. Nearly everywhere across the country, we can’t move about as freely as we’re used to, and even where we can do so, it can be unnerving in the midst of a viral outbreak.

Air travel took a brutal hit, and many travelers still aren’t comfortable with the thought of hopping on a plane. As an option, vacationers who need to scratch their travel itch are increasingly turning to road trips. Vacations along the highway allow travelers a greater measure of control, and more flexibility if they need to change plans suddenly. They’re also less risky: It’s easier to self-isolate behind the wheel of a car.

It’s vital to remain vigilant about safety because the virus is still very much out there — worse than ever in many places. Still, it’s entirely possible to enjoy an awesome vacation by taking smart, common-sense steps to stay safe. Here are five tips for a fun and safe road trip during the pandemic.

1. Check your financial status

Before you hit the road, make sure you have ample credit available to use. Check your credit score well ahead of time and make sure it’s in good shape. (If it’s not, take steps to fix it.) 

Many businesses prefer electronic payments, so make sure you have enough credit to charge your purchases while paying for necessities such as accommodations, transportation, and food.

If you have fears about leaving your home alone after such a long stint together (and it always seems like the AC breaks just before you leave on vacation), one way to put your mind at rest before departing is with a home warranty

With this, you’re covered for the expense of costly repairs that your home systems or major appliances might need. With that peace of mind, you can continue your vacation with a light heart.

2. Choose your form of transportation

Do you have a car large enough to transport your family and all the supplies you need, or should you plan to rent an SUV or van? If you’re considering taking “the road less traveled” to facilitate social distancing and avoid large crowds, you might want to rent a stick shift automobile so you’re able to navigate rough terrain. Off-road areas are far less populated, so this might be a good option to have fun and relax while maintaining social distance.

3. Plan your route

While there’s something to be said for being spontaneous on a road trip, unfortunately, the pandemic has made this carefree style of travel obsolete, for the time being. To ensure that you and your travel-mates stay safe, you’ll want a solid plan.

  • Choose a route that has gas stations, food, and accommodations that enable you to practice social distancing.
  • Be sure your destination is a place where you’ll feel comfortable wearing masks.
  • Aim for outdoor spaces to reduce the risk of being infected with COVID-19.
  • Be sure to do plenty of research ahead of time and make reservations online to reduce contact with others once you’re on the road.

Keep in mind, regulations may be different where you’re going. Some facilities may have reopened close to home, or expanded their offerings. For example, many rest stops have added portable toilets that let patrons keep their social distance, so be aware. (They’re cleaned regularly — don’t be scared! Just take your hand sanitizer.) In other places, guidelines may be looser and you’ll see not much change at all. 

Do as much research as you can before you go, and be sure to read official websites so you know what to expect. If you don’t like what you see, you might want to choose a different destination. The more detailed you are when planning your route, the safer you’ll be. This way, you’ll also know where you can find medical facilities if needed.

4. Pack any required documents

When traveling, make sure you have important paperwork with you, especially if you plan to cross any borders. Be sure you have all the necessary documents including ID, automobile registration/insurance, and any financial documents that would be helpful. You don’t want to get stuck somewhere without a way to get back home.

5. Pack all essentials you’ll need

On the road, the less often you stop, the less exposure you’ll have to potential virus carriers. Stock up on as many essentials as you can before embarking upon your road trip. Make a list so you don’t forget anything. Here are some essentials you’ll probably need:

  • Water and nonperishable food items
  • Snacks and your favorite beverages
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Enough clothing to last your trip (bring heavy-duty plastic bags for dirty clothes or detergent if you’ll have access to a laundry facility)

Additionally, you’ll want to assemble a COVID-19 safety kit, which should include (at a minimum):

  • Cleaning and disinfecting supplies
  • Multiple face masks/coverings
  • Disinfecting wipes (large package and pocket-sized)
  • Hand sanitizer in large and small containers
  • Hand soap
  • Paper towels
  • Small plastic bags to store masks when you’re eating or not using them

You also may want to take items such as bleach, disinfectant sprays, or other cleaners to clean your accommodations and vehicle.

Between the coronavirus and the restrictions put in place to minimize its spread, 2020 has been a rough year. A fun (and healthy!) road trip might be just what the doctor ordered to help you reset your inner balance for facing the new year ahead.