by Larry Claflin Jr.
Planning a vacation in the middle of a global pandemic with limited travel options?
With air travel and public transportation risky, the US/Canadian border closed to all nonessential traffic and a recent ban on Americans traveling to European Union countries, one option is to take a road trip in the vast United States.
Here are some tips to remain safe while having fun during your journey:
Take the road less traveled
Consider driving to less-popular destinations. Maybe choose a rural, mountainous region rather than a beach destination teeming with families and large groups. Not only will you avoid unnecessary contact, but you may discover new hidden gems.
Why not rent a car?
For an additional change of scenery and added treat, renting a car may be an option. According to a Business Insider story, car rental agencies are offering significant rental car deals and savings for the summer season and beyond. Why not upgrade?
Renting an RV is an alternative as well. With this type of vehicle, food and bathroom breaks will be reduced, but, according to the CDC, RV parks can often be crowded during the summer months.
Anticipate Travel Needs
Here are things to consider before you hit the road, according to a recent post from The Mayo Clinic:
- Plan to make as few stops as possible, but stop driving if you become drowsy.
- Be sure to pack cloth facemasks and alcohol-based hand sanitizer in an easily accessible spot so that you can use them during the trip as necessary.
- Prepare food and water to take on the trip. Consider including nonperishable items to tide you over in case access to restaurants and grocery stores is limited.
- Pack cleaning supplies, including a disinfectant and disposable gloves, if you'll be staying at a hotel or other lodging.
- When you need to get gas, use a disinfectant wipe on handles or buttons before you touch them. After fueling, use hand sanitizer. And when you get to where you're going, use soap and water to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- If you choose to pick up a meal on the road, opt for restaurants that offer drive-thru or curbside service.
In its post, the CDC does not recommend campgrounds. While it may seem like an opportunity to relax and maintain social distance, it presents risks associated with common areas and shared facilities, such as restrooms, picnic, and exercise areas.
The CDC has recommendations for hotel stays, including:
- Use options for online reservation and check-in, mobile room key, and contactless payment.
- Before you go, call and ask if all staff is wearing cloth face coverings at work.
- Look for any extra prevention practices being implemented by the hotel, such as Plexiglass barriers at check-in counters, and physical distancing signs in the lobby.
- Ask if the hotel has updated policies about cleaning and disinfecting or removing frequently touched surfaces and items.
- Minimize use of areas that may lead to close contact with other people as much as possible, like break rooms, outside patios, inside lounging areas, dining areas/kitchens, game rooms, pools, hot tubs, saunas, spas, salons, and fitness centers.
- Consider taking the stairs. Otherwise wait to use the elevator until you can either ride alone or only with people from your household.
- Choose contactless options, when possible
- If you are considering cleaning your travel lodgings, see CDC’s guidance on how to clean and disinfect.
Stick to the plan
It’s important to make a plan ahead of time and not deviate from it, so you come home in the same shape you left.
- Keep your circle small and travel with your partner or family you’ve been with during pandemic.
- This is no time to take unannounced detours; have a solid itinerary, communicate it to your travel partners and agree on it.
- Whatever precautions you practice at home, take them on the road.
- Rather than stopping off at that popular tourist spot, devise games to play during your road trip, or return to old favorites like counting license plates from other states.
- Bring cards, board games and crafts for the kids to keep you all occupied once at your destination.
- Get outside safely: Whether picnicking, hiking or boating, be sure to remain socially distant from others.
Vacation will look different this year, but it will still be fun. With a little planning and extra attention to the details, there are still great options to relax, disconnect, and recharge.