It’s summer. You’ve been at home on quarantine. Are you itching to go on vacation? Are you on the fence on whether or not to go on that road trip? On one hand, it will be great to have a change of scenery. However, Covid-19 cases are still on the rise. Should you go on that road trip? I did. I was going crazy being cooped up at home with my husband and two kids for 3 months! I needed a change in scenery and going away for a week was exactly what I needed to feel mentally refreshed. Here are 10 tips on how to go on a road trip safely during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Research the Covid-19 Cases at Your Destination
There is definitely risk of Covid-19 infection when you travel. However, you can lower your risk by doing your homework and finding out what the Covid-19 cases are like at your destination. Are the Covid-19 cases trending up? Is it a new hot spot? If so, don’t go. Be smart, find a place that has a low case count so your chances of infection is lower. Don’t just limit your search to the State level. You should also look at the county by county Covid-19 case counts. This will give you a better idea of the risk you are taking.
Minimize Public Restroom Usage
Probably one of my biggest concerns, when I was planning my road trip, were the rest stops and using the public restroom facilities. Given that there is a lot still unknown regarding Covid-19 transmission, I wanted to minimize our risk of exposure. Ideally, I did not want to have to stop during our road trip but traveling with an 8-year-old without stopping for breaks can be challenging.
So when I was looking into possible destinations, I limited our road trip to a doable 2.5 hours. I did not want to have to stop. Plus I wanted a relaxing drive without having to deal with the constant “Are we there yet?” coming from the back seat. If you are traveling with kids, a 2-3 hours road trip is probably doable without having to stop to use the public restrooms especially if you made sure that everyone used the bathroom at home before getting in the car. While if you are traveling with older kids or adults, then you can probably get away with a 4-5 hours road trip without making any stop. Of course, if you had to stop, be prepared and have gloves, masks, hand sanitizer and brass door opener in a bright colored bag easily accessible in the car. Ready to go if you need it.
Stay in a Place with a Kitchen
As you are planning your road trip, make sure you stay at a place with a kitchen- either a partial kitchen with microwave and fridge or a full kitchen. Because of the need for a kitchen, Airbnbs, condo-type timeshare units or extended-stay suites are ideal for Covid-19 vacations. I found that our dining experience during our Covid-19 vacation was not like our usual pre-Covid-19 vacations where we dined out every meal and occasionally had room service. Although outdoor dining was open at the local restaurants, we ended up eating all of our meals in our unit. We ordered food delivery or picked up curbside to limit Covid-19 exposure. We stayed in a two-bedroom unit with a full kitchen equipped with a dishwasher, fridge and stove. I found the dishwasher handy because I was able to run a load to clean all the dishes and cutlery prior to use. I was also able to reheat the freshly delivered restaurant food prior to eating (yes, I’m one of those overly cautious people who transfers food out of takeout containers and reheats the food prior to eating!).
Disinfect the Room
Be prepared to disinfect the room. I packed disinfectant spray, wipes, masks and gloves. After checking in, wearing my mask and gloves, I went to the room by myself while my husband and kids waited in the car. First I opened all the windows to air out the room. Then I wiped down all the tables, kitchen countertop, doorknobs, remote controls, toilets, light switches and handles. I was overly cautious and even wiped down the headboards!
Bring Your Own Linens and Sheets
This step adds a lot more planning and work to your vacation so it depends on your tolerance level and how much you want to minimize your exposure. I’m overly cautious and will do anything to minimize my family’s risk of exposure so I packed bedsheets, flat sheets, pillowcases and towels (bath towels and hand towels). Call the hotel before you go so you know what size sheets to bring. I felt less on edge after changing the sheets and towels! I’m glad I bought extra hand towels since hand towels needed frequent changes. I also packed extra flat sheets which I draped over the couch and on the floor for when my 8-year-old sits on the floor.
Limit Exposure in Public Spaces
Given that Covid-19 transmission appears to be primarily person to person, I wanted to limit bumping into other guests. That meant limiting our time at indoor public spaces such as lobby, elevators, and hallways. Because of this, I knew that a traditional high rise hotel with elevators was out for now as the layout of the building opens up a lot of opportunities for exposure to other guests. I opted for a resort that is comprised of several low rise buildings. The main lobby was in a separate building so we didn’t have to go through the lobby to get to our room. The buildings were low rise, two-story buildings without elevators which these days is a plus! That meant walking up the stairs with our bags however we did not have to risk being in an elevator with anyone else. Plus there were only 8 units per floor. I even called the resort in advance to request a room that was closer to the stairs to minimize walking down long hallways.
Decline Daily Housekeeping Service
If you are staying at a hotel with housekeeping service, I suggest declining the housekeeping service and towel change. Since you already disinfected your room after checking in, if you have the housekeeping staff come in to clean then you will potentially re-expose yourself.
Be the First Guests
As states start to open up, you can take advantage of staying at a place where you are the first guests. That is what we did. I specifically found a resort that just opened up and we were their first guests. It gave me peace of mind knowing that no one else stayed in our room and it had been unoccupied for 2 months. However, if you can’t find a place that just opened up, then you can call the hotel and find out what their policy is regarding keeping the rooms vacant in between guests.
Go to a Place with lots of Outdoor Activities
You should definitely plan to go to a place with a variety of outdoor activities where you can safely social distance. City trips and taking my kids to museums was out. I did not want to go to a crowded beach destination either. We ended up going where we can safely hike, bike and go boating.
Bring Your Own Gear
If you are the type of traveler who typically wings it, don’t. Vacationing during the Covid-19 pandemic requires a lot of planning to be safe. I knew that we were going to go biking and boating during our trip. During pre-Covid 19 times, I would have just shown up and rented all the gear. However, for me renting helmets and life vests was out of the question even if they disinfect after every use. I decided to bring our own gear. I had a bike rack installed before our trip. We were able to bring all our bikes and helmets. I bought life vests for everyone. When I found out the resort had a sports court, I packed our own basketball.
Taking a road trip safely during the Covid-19 pandemic is doable but it takes a lot of planning beforehand. And of course, you can’t let your guard down. Remember to take the same precautions of social distancing, mask-wearing and washing your hands frequently. You may be on vacation, but that doesn’t mean the virus is taking a break.
My Covid-19 Bag
I packed a Covid-19 bag in the car with these essential items. It came in handy during our road trip for having everything in one place.
- Bright Colored Bag (so you can easily spot in the car)
- Brass Door Opener
- Face Masks
- Hand Sanitizer (I like the spray type)
- Disinfecting Wipes to wipe down surfaces, not your skin (If I want to conserve my disinfecting wipes, since it’s impossible to buy, I wipe things down with Isopropyl Alcohol or Hydrogen Peroxide (not diluted, straight from the bottle). Just be careful when using Isopropyl Alcohol and Hydrogen Peroxide to wipe items because it can cause discoloration.)
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Note that I’m not a medical expert and I’m sharing these road trip tips based on my personal experience. This is not medical advice and you should do your own research and when in doubt consult a medical professional.
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