Flying right now feels uncertain for most people including Kati and I. As much as we miss flying, the safety risks are still too high for a trip. And to be honest, many countries do not allow Americans to enter yet. Probably your best bet if you want to travel right now is take a road trip. Frankly, it’s not a bad option now since the weather is getting cooler and school has started back up, so travel destinations are less crowded overall.
https://www.webmd.com/covid/covid-19-symptomsAlthough road trips are safer than flying, it’s still important to take extra precaution against COVID while traveling by vehicle. We’ve put together a list of safety precautions to take to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Tips To Safely Road Trip
Plan, Plan, Plan:
As much as we love the spontaneity of a road trip, unfortunately these are different times and precautions need to be made for the safety of everyone. But we cannot reiterate this enough: planning is essential to take a safe road trip right now.
Having a plan leaves less last minute lodging or routes, increasing potential risk. Additionally, states keep changing their regulations and what out-of-state tourists will need to quarantine. I would recommend having two routes. Plan for one and continue to keep check on their laws until you leave but having an alternate route in case you need to change the plans at the last minute.
You want to plan if you’ll be stopping at restaurants, you can call in advance and ask if they are open and what their COVID protocols are.
You can even plan your rest stops! You can use interstaterestareas.com to plan which rest stops you stay at. They have all the updates since not every rest stop is open at this time. This will help prepare you and where to go to take breaks. Planning will give you a peace of mind while keeping you and your fellow travelers safe.
Check Forums and Blogs for Destination Information:
As much as we love Instagram, right now, if you’re trying to stay safe, we recommend looking at places based on peoples’ genuine experience. Meaning? You need people to be honest about the situation, not just promote a place for money. If you’re looking for places to travel to, check out travel blogs you trust or spend some time researching new ones. Another good resource for authentic feedback is people on forums. They tend to be ruthless and honest with opinions; which in this case, matters. Different states have vastly different regulation protocols. Some states are lax about it, for example Arkansas, whereas a city like DC is strict on masks. Any platform where you can trust people will speak opening and candidly about how safe a particular start or city is. It’s important to get an authentic opinion on different places. Before you leave for your road trip, make sure you spend time investigating how and what cities are doing to keep people safe.
Where to Safely Stay?
You have a few options where to stay on a road trip: camping, hotels or Airbnbs (or similar service). They all come with their own risk levels and protocols. Kati and I have a travel trailer and it is a great way to social distance as well as keeping safe. Kati manages many Airbnbs here in Florida and the cleaning protocols that she goes through are thorough and insures everyone is safe. Here is the break down for these lodging options:
As fall continues to progress, there are still spots with good weather for camping, particularly in the south. Camping, especially remote camping, is your best and safest option. If you find a campsite removed from crowds, you don’t have to worry as much about exposure. You’ll be outside which minimizes germ particles in your personal space. You have much more control over your surroundings and not in a closed proximity.
We’ll go over the pros and cons to both Airbnb and hotels. The pros about going to an Airbnb is there are no lobbies, no check in, you have your own space. If you’re staying in your own space (not sharing with another family) you don’t have to worry about exposure. You can rely on your own cooking and avoid restaurants. You can also clean yourself if you don’t feel comfortable. Airbnb’s are a controlled space for your safe travels. Make sure you communicate with any Airbnb you might stay at. Ask them what they’re doing to keep guests safe. It’s a good sign if you get details, that way you know they are making the effort to deep clean. We would still recommend opening the windows once you arrive to ventilate in case people stayed the night before and use your disinfectant wipes to clean off any surfaces when you arrive and doorknobs. Better to be safe than sorry.
Hotels have pros and cons similar to Airbnb. For the most part, you can trust hotels will take precaution just because they aren’t just concerned about their customers but their staff’s health. Hotels also have more access to cleaning equipment and it’s usually a standard of hotel protocol anyway and you don’t have to be as concerned about your risk level. You do need to be mindful of public spaces, such as lobbies and elevators. You also run risk of public spaces increasing germs; for example, touching elevator buttons and doorknobs, immediately increases your risk. Try to keep you distance, always use sanitizer and use tissues when opening doors or handles. We also recommend skipping room service, to minimize extra people within your close living space.
Sanitize Where You Sleep
Okay, not literally – but sort of. We just suggest wiping down all surfaces when you get into your sleeping arrangements. Whether it’s an Airbnb or hotel, at least you know all surfaces have been properly wiped down. Use your disinfectant wipes from the car and wipe down the kitchen surfaces and tables, bathroom sinks, doorknobs, etc. Maybe it sounds extreme but it only takes a few extra minutes to minimize risks.
Equipped Your Car:
Keeping your car germ free is key to a safe road trip. You want to avoid bringing any germs into your car and increasing spreading to other places. We recommend brining: disinfectant wipes, gloves, masks, hand sanitizer (one for your cup holder and a small hand size bottle), bags to separate clean and dirty masks and gloves. Keeping your can clean is imperative. With all the stops along the way, it can be easy to forget to wipe everything down. It’s also important to separate the clean and used gloves and masks. We recommend making a small section in your car to have easy access to them. Try to use gloves when going into rest stops and gas stations. Avoid touching a gas pump, make sure to wipe down your surface areas and lastly, use sanitizer. Being prepared will give you a peace of mind when adjusting to this new approach to road trips.
Bring Your Own Food:
Don’t get us wrong — we love trying new food and new restaurants, but in order to keep yourself safe, it’s best to limit restaurant exposure as much as possible. If you’re staying in a hotel or Airbnb with a kitchen, we recommend buying groceries. Bring a cooler to pack food for on the road, much better than stopping at fast food restaurants. Have plenty of water and snacks so you don’t have to pick them up at gas stations. You’ll at least know your food is safe. If you cook where you’re staying, you don’t have to worry about the exposure at a restaurant. Remember, you don’t want to go on a trip and get sick. As fun as it is to check out new restaurants, best to minimize or at the least, order out!
If you do choose to dine at restaurants on your road trip, consider using eater.com. They have all the info about what restaurants are open and what their COVID protocols are.
Choose Activities Wisely
One of the ways to stay safe on your trip is to choose your activities wisely. You can be as safe as possible on your entire road trip but if you go to a crowded concert, it won’t matter how safe you’ve been. It’s important to look at activities in advance and you can decide what places are less crowded and are utilizing COVID protocols. Try to avoid public transportation or activities in crowded areas. Always wear a mask in a city if there are lots of people in the street. Try going to activities that are outside, like a hike or a beach? Or if you went to a city like Washington, DC, you can walk around and see different monuments; that way you get to experience history while staying safe outside. Make sure you stick to activities where you can keep distance from others and with fresh air. If there are certain activities you want to do, make sure to call first. See if they’re open and ask what their COVID protocols are, how busy and any questions you might need. These answers might change how you plan your trip.
Get Tested When You Get Home:
Depending on your situation, it might make sense that you be tested when you get to your destination and/or when you get back home. No matter how careful you can be, there’s always a risk. But at least you can give yourself a peace of mind by simply getting a COVID test. Just look up a few places and call to ask if you need to make an appointment. We recommend doing it in advance to ensure you can get an appointment. We know that this sounds extreme, but it is to keep everyone including yourself safe. Kati had to take an emergency trip to Germany. She could go because she has a German passport. She got tested in Berlin upon arrival and in Munich upon departure. Unlike the US, Germany has testing sites set up in the airport and you wait in line, get your test and get your results within 24 hours. She wanted to make sure that she kept her parents and relatives safe while being there.
We all miss traveling. But for the time being, we have to adjust to our new “normal.” For now, lots of us in different countries will have to rely on local travel for adventures. The good news is its a great time to explore your town or city! Or maybe a trip a few hours away in another state. No matter where you go, it’s important to remember to stay safe. These are all the ways we are taking safety precautions when traveling. It’s important to take these extra steps for your safety, as well as the safety of others. The sooner we can work together to minimize the spread, the sooner we can all travel much more easier. For now, it’s best to be safe than sorry.
Don’t stop traveling. Just do it a different way and keep yourself and others safe.
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