For many, summer vacations, fall trips, and holiday weekends may not happen in the way they’ve been happening in previous years. This year, you may not be hopping on a plane, but getting in a car to get away from home. Visiting place in a car during a pandemic can be a good way to see the world, but you’ll need a few tips and strategies to help ensure you road trip safely during COVID.
What to Keep in Mind
Before you start thinking about your road trip, start with realizing social distancing guidelines are ever-changing. That means you will need to do your best to stay up to date on those changes not just where you live, but where you’ll travel to (and all of the stops along the way, too). A road trip can be successful, but unlike going to the grocery store for toilet paper, you’ll need to plan for changing circumstances. Here are some simple tips to make COVID-19 road trips as safe as possible.
Road Trip Safely During COVID by Planning Ahead
Anyone that’s watched the news or saw a report online knows that not every area of the country is being impacted in the same way by the coronavirus. If you are planning a cross-country trip, then, you need to take a look at what’s happening along your route.
Preplanning your route means taking into consideration:
- Which states have limitations on visits (or require you to shelter in place for a period)
- Access to rest areas in some high-risk areas may no longer be open.
- Some areas are requiring masks, others are not.
- Some states may not have available open restaurants and take-out may be your only option.
- Hotels may be best to book in advance to ensure they have availability.
There are some outstanding apps to help you. For example, Roadtrippers is an app that points out what’s available around you, in case you want to go off the beaten path or you need to track down a rest stop that is open. Google Maps can help you to pinpoint areas with places to stop for fuel or gas (and in some areas, it may even point out a few speed traps!)
Layout your path with as much detail as possible. That way, you can pinpoint areas where you can or should stop and areas that you may want to avoid along the road.
Packing for a Trip During COVID Is Also Different
You’ll still need the same items you would for a routine trip – such as clothing and hygiene supplies. You’ll also need a few more items to help minimize risks along your trip. A lot of this depends on where you are going, how far, and for how long. Having that detailed roadmap outlined will help.
Most health officials recommend bringing with you all of the sanitary products you will need along the way. That means a few bottles of sanitizer (with a high alcohol percentage). You will also want to try to have disinfecting wipes available, though these still remain very hard to find. You may also benefit from disposable gloves (which are a key benefit for having to pump gas instead of touching potentially coronavirus-infected handles).
You’ll still want to bring with you water and snacks, too. It’s best to use your own refillable water bottle when possible to avoid buying items others have touched.
The other must-have is a mask. Even if you are not sure they will be needed, you’re traveling and will come in contact with a lot of people along the route. There’s no way to know what you’ll pick up and transfer to the next person. Bring along a few masks, including those for the kids. Some states and local communities are requiring masks for even those under 8.
Minimizing One of the Biggest Risks – The Restroom
You are going to need to use the bathroom at some point. Because we often touch our face and surfaces in a bathroom, it’s very important to do what you can to minimize the spread of germs. Gloves only work if you don’t touch your face or body with them once you have them on. Here are a few additional strategies:
- Use a paper towel to open and close the doors to keep your hands off handles. Do the same within the bathroom stall.
- After leaving the stall, use very hot water and soap to wash your hands. Dry them off with a new paper towel.
- Don’t touch your face during this process.
- After leaving the bathroom, use an alcohol-based sanitizer. It’s the best way to remove anything that you left behind.
Whenever possible, do your best to avoid having to touch your face, eyes, or mouth without first sanitizing or washing your hands.
What Will You Do About Your Meals on the Road During COVID?
Now that you are packed and ready to go, you have to think about meals. Most road trips involve stopping at pretty cool diners along the highway and stopping in small towns to check out the latest attractions. Now, you may need to make a few adjustments.
Remember, planning in advance is your first step. Aim for larger communities to stop in to ensure you will find something open. Some states are now back to dining in, though patrons need to stay six feet apart from each other. That means seating capacity in these areas will be limited. For this reason, try to call ahead if you are visiting a prominent area. You can also reduce this risk by planning your meals in off-hours instead of peak lunch and dinner times.
When in doubt, most areas will have available fast-food restaurants. This may provide you with the best access for a fast meal and it helps you to stay right in your car as you do so. In any situation, make sure you take steps to stay sanitized before and after you eat.
Stopping for Gas During COVID
As you’re driving along, you’ll likely need to stop for gas. Your road trip rules here will need to be remembered no matter where you go. Remember, even if you are in a small town without a large outbreak, there are other people, just like you, traveling through the area. That means the risk of picking up something at a gas station is high.
You already know how to handle the restroom. Apply the same basic strategies here. Gas pumps and electric charging areas will be risky. Put gloves on when you are in the car, get out of the car, use the pump, complete the transaction, and dispose of those gloves in the trash outside of your car. Sanitize when you get back in.
It’s also considered safer to use a credit card instead of paying cash in most places. There’s less risk that you’ll come face-to-face with others. Do this no matter where you go.
Remember – Every Location Is Different
Before you visit any attraction – from a museum to the zoo – make sure you look up that location online. You want to be sure they are open. Some are taking advanced registration for access. In other cases, you may need to have a mask to get in.
Hotel Stays During COVID-19
Spending the night in a hotel can put you at some risk. One of the best ways to avoid this is to plan ahead. Learn about the major chains in the area you are visiting. Many are doing a great job of staying open and keeping rooms as sanitary as possible (and guests apart from each other). If you’re unsure about any of these rules, reach out to them and ask.
Is Traveling During Coronavirus Safe?
The pandemic has many people unsure of what they should do – and there is no real way to know if you’re exposing yourself to risks or not. While staying at home is safest, taking steps like these can help to alleviate at least a few your worries.
Remember what’s most important. Make sure your car remains clean and in good condition, so you don’t have to make any stops. That will help to shore up the risks you have on the roadways as well. Then, just don’t touch your face, eyes, mouth, or nose. The most common way to become ill is to do this. Being aggressive about this now can help you to avoid getting sick and still allows you to get out on the road.
Thinking About Refinancing Your Auto Loan?
At RefiJet, we offer the tools and strategies you need to refinance your auto loan even during COVID. Our pandemic auto loan refinancing guide can help you see just what’s changed and how our nationwide vehicle loan refinance program can work for you. Reach out to us today to find out how to lower your interest rate.