The novel coronavirus is still surging across the country, but that doesn’t mean your summer vacation plans need to be cancelled. Hitting the open road is a great way to fulfill your wanderlust from months of being cooped up inside! But to prevent your trip from rivaling a Griswold family Vacation, or worse, a Mad Max movie, here are seven tips to keep your family safe, secure, and healthy.
Plan Your Trip
The idea of jumping in your vehicle and setting off into the sunset with no particular destination in mind is appealing, but, ultimately, not a great idea this summer. Careful planning might seem boring, but it saves a lot of headaches, and possibly your health.
Pack with a Purpose
There’s the usual items that experts recommend you keep in your vehicle when taking a long trip: first aid kit, bottled water, a blanket, flashlight, basic tools, an extra cell phone charger, etc. But we’re living in unprecedented times, so there’s some extra items you should add for a road trip during COVID-19:
- Masks: No matter how you feel about them personally, some states or establishments do require them in certain situations. And with new regulations cropping up all the time, it’s better to have them than not.
- Hand sanitizer close at hand, preferably in a cup holder
- Disinfecting wipes or paper towels
- Disposable gloves (for when you inevitably need to gas up)
Prepare for Snack Attack
It’s always cheaper to pack snacks than to pick them up at the nearest convenience store, and having them on hand also minimizes contact with others and avoids unnecessary fast food runs.
Healthy snacks like apples, pretzels, and nuts will keep you alert on the highway. Keep bottled drinks in your vehicle, in a cooler if necessary, to avoid making pit stops.
Another reason to stock up on snacks is that many vending machines have been closed because of the pandemic. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to spend $2 on a bag of stale M&M’s or $5 on a can of expired Coke, so just pack those snacks in advance.
Research Rest Stops
Speaking of pit stops, if you’re driving more than two-and-a-half hours you’ll likely have to use a rest stop, unless you want to wear adult diapers or feel comfortable pulling over to use the nearest bush, cornfield, or tree (no judgement, you gotta do what you gotta do). But the majority of us would prefer to use an indoor toilet.
Most rest stops should be open, but to check the ones on your route, interstaterestareas.com is a good resource. Like any public restroom, practice safe hygiene, such as avoiding touching anything unnecessary. Use a paper towel to touch doors and faucets. Studies have shown that toilets can spray fecal particles into the air when flushed (ew, gross!), so it’s recommended you close the toilet lid when flushing. But since most public toilets don’t have lids, use your foot to flush the toilet and stand back. Use paper towels to dry your hands after washing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
Choose Restaurants Wisely
Your packed sandwiches and candy bars only last so long, and you have to eat while on the road. It’s always fun to try new restaurants when you’re visiting someplace new, but be aware that many eating establishments are operating under less-than-normal guidelines. Indoor seating capacity may be limited, while some restaurants may offer outside dining only.
Fast food chains are always an option, but drive thru is generally the safest way to go. Follow best practices when getting food at a drive thru. Hey, the nachos might be the same Taco Bell nachos you get at home, but find a nearby park or other scenic byway to enjoy your meal.
Confirm Hotel Reservations
If you are stopping at a hotel and have made a reservation, it’s a good idea to call ahead to verify your reservation. Some hotels may not have reopened yet or may be facing new guidelines for visitors. Avoid using or loitering in public use areas, such as the lobby, front desk, breakfast area, or pool.
If you are planning to stay more than one night, consider refusing housekeeping services to cut down on the number of people (and germs) coming in and out of your room. Seriously, you’re not Mötley Crüe, so how trashed can your room get in two days? (Scratch that if you have toddlers or teenagers.)
You are Here
Wherever you choose to go this summer, be mindful of the ever-changing rules and guidelines, and be respectful of others. With some careful planning, your 2020 road trip can be one for the books!
Bonus Tip: Secure Your Home
You’re out on the road, but is everything safe at home? Here’s a few tips to make sure your home is secure while you’re away.
- Avoid posting travel plans on social media. Don’t advertise that your home is vacant!
- Ask a neighbor to collect your mail or newspapers, or ask them to be held until you get home. Piled up mail is another advertisement that you’re not home.
- Have your indoor and outdoor lights on timers to go on after dark to give the impression that someone is home.
- If you are leaving a vehicle outside, whether in your driveway or a parking lot, make sure the windows are rolled up and doors are locked. Hide or take out anything of value that may tempt thieves. Park your vehicle in a well-lit area.
- Ask friends or neighbors to keep an eye on your property for anything amiss.
- Consider hiring a private security company, like Signal Security, to monitor your neighborhood, business parking lot, or apartment complex. Click here to learn more.