Road Trip Planner: Vacationing During Covid-192020 is the year of the road trip. Here is how to plan it right.
Sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the unplanned detours you didn't mean to take.
In the wake of COVID-19, many families are feeling restless from months of limited activities and staying inside. Our homes have become schools, backyards have transformed into summer camps and kitchen tables are now workspaces. The quest for fresh air and new adventure is on the rise. This year’s summer travel forecasts over 683 million people will set off into the sunset on out of state road trips or a ‘go-near’ local weekend get-away.
The road trip is a great way to explore the nation with minimal contact. According to a recent survey conducted by the Travel Association in partnership with MMGY Travel Intelligence, 68 percent of travelers “continue to feel safest when traveling by personal vehicle and when visiting outdoor destinations such as parks (34 percent) and the beach (26 percent).” Nearly half (45 percent) of the respondents said they are likely to travel more by car. The CDC advises people to not travel if they're sick, are in a higher-risk group for the coronavirus, or live with someone who is. Higher-risk groups include people 65 and older and those with chronic health conditions.
So, how does one plan a road trip with new restrictions of closed restaurants and attractions in mind? Is it safe to take a road trip in the COVID-19 era? Well, roll down the windows, let the warm summer wind flow through your fingertips, and turn up that summer playlist. Feel the sense of freedom and wanderlust … here is the ultimate safety guide to get you on the road.
1. Build your road trip itinerary
A road trip planner is a must during a pandemic. This vital planning will organize the necessary steps to protect both your family and others, here are new wrinkles affecting road trips in particular: Not all properties are open right now, and many have limited space so they book up fast. You can build your itinerary using a travel app like Roadtrippers. To help you better plan your trip with inspected hotels and restaurants, try AAA. It’s a gold mine of information from quirky roadside sights to trustworthy accommodations.
Here are some of the top 25 travel apps of 2020 (and they are all free).
You can also drop a coin on a map and take the road less traveled. The USA is rich in culture and beautiful parks, you won’t be disappointed.
If you are visiting a national or state park, call ahead to find out if they are open and if you need reservations ahead of time. Many parks are reducing visitor and parking capacity to limit crowding and most visitors will have their tickets prior to arriving.2. RV, Camping or Car?
A family road trip across America looks different than back in the day when Route 66 connected the Midwest to the California Coast. These days there is still a vast country to explore, but what is it like to road trip now, and how can you maintain optimal social distancing? An RV rental is one of the hottest ways of transport this summer. However, they do book weeks out. You can find your perfect RV rental direct from local owners like rvshare.com or a reputable company like cruiseamerica.com/rv-rentals.
Sleep under the stars at popular RV sites like Koa.com. They have lots to offer from classic comforts and fully equipped patio areas for RVs, campers and cars. Most RV sites are processing contactless check-ins upon arrival. Call ahead and inquire how to access your parking spot after hours in case you enjoyed a detour and are arriving late. It is always important to read RV site reviews on safety, dog-friendliness, amenities and restroom cleanliness.
If you prefer to snooze in your car during the road trip, bring a pillow and car mattress for quality sleep. At night the car may get hot so keeping windows open will ensure a more comfortable sleep. Try this simple and clever trick to keep the bugs out with just a few magnets and netting:
- Measure the door frame. Cut two pieces of mesh/netting so they fit inside the door with 4” to spare.
- Sew or glue magnets into the mesh fabric along the inside of the two mesh flaps.
- Once the magnets are sewn or glued into the mesh, you can hang the two halves of the mesh screen in your doorway. The magnets stick to your car door, easy!
The Auto Club published a helpful checklist as a reminder to make sure your vehicle is as ready for your road trip as you are. If you are renting a car be sure to review their cleanliness policies along with pickup, return, and pricing. Enterprise posts its cleaning procedures, as an example.
Travel well. Travel often.
_______________3. Pack it up, but pack it smart!
After you have planned your trip, keep in mind there is a pandemic happening, so it may be hard to find restrooms or places to dine. So, first things first, create a coronavirus kit.
Packing essentials will help keep you and your family safe and your vacation at ease. Do not rely on anyone or anywhere to supply these to you. Make a kit for each member traveling with you. Write their name on the kit and include:
- 2 Face Masks (one always goes missing, right?)
- Hand Sanitizer
Then, create a Road Trip Survival Kit for the entire group that holds:
- Toilet paper
- Pain reliever
- First aid kit, especially if you plan on hiking or biking during your road trip
- Other essentials to get you by if you find yourself in a quarantined situation
- Trash bags
- Cups, utensils and napkins
Once you have your essentials and survival kit ready, pack the fun items. Snacks, games and drinks.
Here are 70 Road Trip Snacks for Kids that Will Make Your Trip 10X Better to get started. “Keep all your snacks in the back of your van or the trunk of the car. You can keep the cold things in a cooler until they’re needed. We like to keep a small cooler by the front seat and load it with each day’s cold snacks.” – The Treasured Mom
Make Sambucol a part of your summer. Sambucol Black Elderberry gummies can be taken daily.
Enjoy the journey on the way to the destination This is when memories are made.
_______________4. Road Trip Games and a Lifetime of Memories
A full day of driving may seem tedious but heading directly to a destination means missing out on life’s awesome moments. On the drive is when so many memories are made. Here are some ideas to make the most of the journey:
- Stop at intervals for an ‘out of the car moment.’ Stretch, jump, run, search for cool rocks, take photos, do jumping jacks. This is a great way to get rid of extra energy and stretch your legs.
- Bring a journal for each child to document their travel adventures turn by turn. When you get home, print photos and tape them into the journal.
- Go star (and comet) gazing. A road trip is a unique time to be tucked away under the night sky far from city lights. You do not need to be an astronomer to find stars or constellations in the sky, just open an app like SkyView® and let it guide you to their location and identify them.
- Practice mindful moments. You may be driving 60 mph but take a moment to roll the windows down, take a deep breath and relax. Watch all the roadside attractions as they pass you by and take it all in, filling up your mind with new memories to dream about. This will be powerful when you get back home to a regular setting.
- Pull out your road trip planner and let the kids make some exploration decisions. From choosing the next stop along the way or an activity, this involvement will teach them to explore beyond imagination.
Take only memories, leave only footprints.
During a road trip especially, it is important we do our part to help Mother Earth. Always leave every place the same as you found it. These are teachable moments to pass onto your kids. If you see trash, pick it up safely and throw it away appropriately.
This summer, smaller destinations are going to be big. With a well-planned behind-the-wheel adventure, you can hit the open road safely and admire the nation’s best scenery. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!