How to Take a Safe Roadtip

By Holly Bieler
Updated on 30. Jul. 2020

Coronavirus has made traditional vacation almost impossible, causing more and more Americans to go on road trips instead but any kind of overnight travel comes with its own challenges and precautions in the age of covid. Below, we’ve highlighted our top tips for staying safe while taking a roadtrip this summer.

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Along with most other rites of summer, the coronavirus has made traditional vacationing all but impossible. With hotels still shuttered around the world, and many people weary of subjecting themselves to the potential safety hazards of air travel, studies show that nearly half of all Americans have cancelled vacations this summer amidst the coronavirus outbreak. For many, the prospect of taking a vacation this summer seems impossible at worst, and filled with anxiety at best. But that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, current conditions are more than amenable to one of the most romantic and storeid ways of getting out of dodge: the road trip. Indeed a massive amount of people are going the way of Jack Kerouac this summer, with nearly 75% of all vacationers traveling to their destination by car. And for good reason: traveling in your own car eliminates many of the contamination concerns associated with air or boat travel, while allowing for a unique vantage point to observe the areas you’re visiting or driving through. It’s slow, thoughtful, and meditative travel during a time when most of us could use some quiet. It’s also an amazing way to get to know areas or states near your home that you might never have explored otherwise.

That said, any type of overnight comes with its own set of challenges and precautions in the age of covid. Below, we’ve highlighted our top tips for staying safe while taking a roadtrip this summer.

1. Research your location beforehand

Coronavirus outbreaks vary greatly between states and even specific counties, so it’s important to research statistics in the area you’ll be visiting as well as those you’ll be driving through, if you plan on stopping. Take a look not just at current infection numbers, but those over the past month. A county might seem to have low infection numbers on the surface, but if back data shows that cases have been continuously rising, it’s a good sign that the area doesn’t have effective protocols for controlling the spread, and could lead to a dangerous situation once you’re there. If you’re not that familiar with the area you’re visiting, it’s also worth looking into the general tone of residents towards the virus. Local news, Facebook groups or even a Google search should give you an idea if people are generally following mask protocols.

2. Plan ahead

Frequent stops at diners, reststops and roadside markets have long been a quintessential component of the American roadtrip. But not in 2020. Embarking on a safe roadtrip amidst the coronavirus means taking the same precautions while traveling that you would in your everyday life, including limiting your exposure to other people and places as much as possible. This is not to say you can’t make a stop or two during your drive, but that they shouldn’t be spontaneous. Once you’ve charted our your route, take some time to designate the places you’ll stop along the way for bathroom breaks, meals, etc. Do some research beforehand to find areas that have low outbreak numbers if possible, and then find restaurants that have yummy to-go menus and resstops that are clean and well-maintained. We recommend allotting bathroom stops every 3-4 hours and no more than 2 meal breaks a day. 

3. Stock up

Packing correctly beforehand means you won’t have to stop as much, and risk potential contamination, once you’re on the road. Make sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, medications like Tylenol, and anything else you would potentially have to stop for. With the right equipment, you can even pack a couple meals to enjoy on the road. Check out our guide on how to prep the ultimate gourmet road trip here.

Road Trip Snacks Cookbook

3. Skip the hotel

While most open hotels will have heightened cleaning and other mitigation procedures in place, there’s no getting around the fact that hotel stays mean more interactions with more people, opening you up to a great potential for contamination. We say skip the stress altogether, and book an Airbnb instead. Look for an entire house or apartment, instead of a room in a house, look for good ratings, and make sure to contact the host beforehand. Get a sense of how deeply they clean the house, and any other precautions they’re taking prior to your arrival, and only book if you’re comfortable with their answers. 

Camping is another wonderful way to spend your nights during a roadtrip. Just make sure, once again, to spend time researching covid infection rates in the area you’ll be staying, as chances are you’ll be using public toilets and other facilities during your stay.

Camping is a great socially-distanced way to spend nights during a roadtrip.

4. Make your own tourist attractions

A classic part of roadtripping is stopping at weird tourist attractions along the way; obscure museums, world-record-holding oddities (world’s largest ball of yarn!), or kitschy restaurants for an afternoon drink. While coronavirus has made these detours all but impossible, that’s not to say you shouldn’t allot some time for visiting special areas you might never have the chance to see again. Instead of going by the guidebook, though, make your own social-distancing-friendly-list. The possibilities are endless. Do some research and find the most beautiful spots of natural beauty in the areas you’ll be visiting. See if any of your favorite musicians or authors come from towns close to your route, and make a quick detour to see the place they come from. See if any movies were filmed in the states you’ll be driving through (makes a good Instagram post!), or look up the best meals along your driving route and, if it’s safe, get them to go.

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