Road Trip Safety During Coronavirus
We're getting close to the end of summer, and that's left many Americans with a bit of an itch to get out of the house, particularly after a brutal spring of lockdowns and social distancing.
While we'd probably like to put the coronavirus pandemic behind us, with high case counts in some states, it's not time to do that just yet.
However, there may be some relatively safe ways to travel. One idea is the classic road trip.
America's national parks and other similar outdoor locations are popular among travelers this year because they offer social distancing, natural beauty, and the chance to see some of the best the country has to offer.
Even if you don't make it to a National Park, there are plenty of road trips you can take while still staying away from other people.
The following are tips and things to keep in mind for a road trip in the era of coronavirus.
Roadway safety is always important, but lately, there has been an uptick in serious and even deadly car accidents around the country. It's possible that it could be the result of many places slowly returning to normal, meaning more drivers and pedestrians out and about.
If you're going to take a road trip, make sure you're well-rested, and you're going to be alert and cognizant of what's going on around you any time you're behind the wheel. If you start to feel sleepy, pull over.
Driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Before you head out, make sure your car is stocked with anything you might need in case you have a roadside emergency.
For example, bring a flashlight, first aid kit, and some drinking water and nonperishable food.
Get your car serviced and plan your route ahead of time.
Give yourself plenty of time to get to where you're going.
Choosing a Destination
When you're choosing a road trip destination, think about a few things. First, research the general area and make sure it's not currently a hot spot. Hot spot areas are places where there is a lot of community spread, and some places in the U.S. have virtually none right now, while other locations are experiencing a lot of virus spread.
You also need to think about mandatory quarantine upon arrival. Some states are requiring that visitors from certain states quarantine when they get there, so check on local restrictions and regulations.
Sharing a Car With Someone Outside of Your Household
If you're thinking of taking a road trip with the people you already live with and you've been quarantined with, you don't have to worry so much about being in the car with them.
However, if you're taking a trip with someone who doesn't live in the house with you and especially if you are high-risk or they are, think about taking separate cars or wearing masks in the car. Frequently roll down the windows too, so that you can air out any droplets in the car.
Keep in mind that if you're renting a car, most companies have sanitizing protocols in place, so your car should be thoroughly cleaned before you get it. If you aren't sure, ask the rental company what steps they take.
When you're taking a road trip and choosing your lodging, if you want to stay as distant as possible, your best bets are renting a private house, or doing something largely open-air like camping.
If you do have to stay at a hotel, many have put in place pretty serious measures to help keep their guests safe and healthy.
Before you choose a property, ensure they have well-documented cleaning measures, and look at what they're doing procedurally to maintain social distancing.
If you book a private rental, you can basically avoid all people if you want to, depending on the type of road trip you're taking.
Airbnb also introduced a new Enhanced Cleaning Initiative for their properties.
Another option, if you're comfortable with it and up for an adventure, is renting an RV.
Along the Way
If you're stopping along the way for food or a bathroom break, keep hygiene in mind, especially since most of the places you stop may see a lot of visitors on any given day.
Pack things like sanitizer, wet wipes, tissues, and extra masks where you can easily get to them without having to dig through luggage.
Anywhere you can't maintain a six-feet distance with others, wear a mask.
Pack your own snacks if possible, as well as water, to cut down on the stops you have to make.
When you're doing things like pumping gas, you want to either wipe down the pump or perhaps wear gloves that you take off and discard immediately after.
Paying for things with cash can reduce your interaction with other people too.
What About Dining?
Dining indoors is something some health professionals feel does potentially perpetuate the spread of COVID-19, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk.
If you're on the road, go through drive-throughs if possible, instead of going indoors.
If you go to any restaurants, look for options with outdoor seating, and request it in your reservation or when you get there.
If you book a rental home, there's another advantage for you—you can potentially prepare your own meals. You might even be able to arrange for grocery delivery, so you don't have to go to the store.
If you don't feel comfortable traveling, even for a road trip, then don't.
Right now everyone has to assess their own health and safety and make the right decisions for themselves.
However, if you do feel comfortable with a road trip, there are ways you can make it work while minimizing your potential exposure to coronavirus.
The more you can plan ahead, from your route to your dining reservations, the more control you'll have over the situation.