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road trip during covid

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When I so much as think of an airport right now, I hear the theme music to either “Jaws” or “Scream.” That seems like a very scary place right now. So many people filter through airports every day, touching everything, sneezing on things, coughing on things, and just…spreading their germs. Then there’s an airplane, where you just share recycled air with people who may or may not be sick. A lot of people feel like me right now. But, a lot of people are also feeling antsy for an adventure. We’ve all been stuck inside for so long. The places we visit and the things we see every day have been very limited. I feel like I’m bursting out of my skin, wanting an adventure. And so, a lot of travel junkies are hitting the open road for a road trip. Many are taking this time when business is slow, or when they’re out of the job, to take that trip they always said they’d take, but that they never found the time for. And, hey, a lot of hotels are offering cut-rate prices right now, and a lot of national parks and other landmarks that often charge admission are either free, or very cheap to visit. Taking a road trip provides a great way to get a close-up look at our country. It’s also much more stress-free than traveling by plane, as you go at your own pace. But, COVID-19 is still a real threat. So here are ways to stay safe if you take a road trip during COVID-19.


road trip during covid

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Camp if you’re comfortable with it

One of the best ways to make sure nobody infected interacted with your sleep space is by camping. Or by renting an RV (of course, you’ll want to wipe down the surfaces in there). Staying in hotels means constantly changing your sleep location, and putting yourself at risk of touching a surface a sick person touched. If you camp or stay in an RV, you know exactly who has been in your “room” every night.

road trip during covid


Wear a mask when speaking to road authorities

You may need to speak to many authorities on your road trip. Your vehicle may be checked when crossing state lines. You may be pulled over. You may need to pay a toll to go through some freeways. Put on your mask before rolling down your window to speak to these authorities, as you need to get pretty close to them to hear them.

road trip during covid

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Stay safe when pumping gas

You’ll be putting a lot of miles on your vehicle, meaning you’ll need to fill up your gas tank several times. A lot of hands touch those gas pumps. Pack disposable gloves to pump gas. Wear a fresh pair each time you pump, and then throw them right out. You should also sanitize your hands when you get back in the car, just in case.

road trip during covid

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Pack as much food as you can

The more food you can pack for the road, the less you need to stop to buy meals, which not only saves you money but also minimizes your risk of interacting with the virus. This could be a good time to invest in a big cooler and fill it up with ice and a few days’ worths of food. When you run out, find a market, and load up again. It’s better to just stop at a grocery store every three to five days, than to stop at a restaurant for every single meal.

road trip during covid

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If you buy food, buy hot food

If you must stop to buy a meal at a restaurant, get hot food. Heat may kill the coronavirus. And watch out for places that still put out hot dogs turning on spits, buffets, or any other form of food that isn’t properly protected. Buy packaged food, or food that is made behind the counter, in the kitchen, and given directly to you, rather than put on a buffet.

road trip during covid

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Pack lots of hand sanitizer

You’ll be surprised by how many times you’ll be glad you have hand sanitizer on this trip. There will be many, many rest stops and public restrooms at which you stop, that are out of hand soap, or where the how water isn’t working. Or what about times you pump gas, and then want to eat at snack in the car?

road trip during covid

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Don’t touch bathroom doors

Avoid touching surfaces at public restrooms as much as possible. Wear gloves if you must go in public restrooms. If you can push a door open with your back instead of grabbing the door handle, do so. If you can swoop in a door while someone else is holding it open, do so.

road trip during covid

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Pack a tiny toilet

You can pack a camping toilet, and use it at camping grounds and other places where using these items is acceptable. When you have a portable toilet, you never need to use a public restroom. You don’t need to open a door to go into a bathroom. You can just set up a toilet in nature.

road trip during covid

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Stay up to date on hot spots

Though you want to check out from reality a bit on your road trip, it’s important to follow the news. You want to know if any new hot spots for cases have developed, in places you planned on visiting. If that’s the case, then you may want to re-route. And certainly don’t stop in those places to eat or use the restroom.

road trip during covid

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Be in the know on the protocol

Every state and even city has its own protocol right now. Some require masks to enter any type of business. Some only require masks in grocery stores and pharmacies. Some require masks any time you’re outside your hotel room or vehicle. Stay up to date on these rules as you cross state lines.

road trip during covid

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Eat at parks and outdoor spaces

Take advantage of all of the beautiful places you’ll visit, and enjoy meals al fresco. You’ll pass gorgeous parks and national landmarks. It’s much better to pick up food to-go, and take it to eat outdoors somewhere, away from crowds, than to eat in the dining rooms of restaurants.

road trip during covid

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Sanitize hotel rooms yourself

If you do stay in a hotel, motel, or AirBnb, pack disinfecting wipes, and sanitizer surfaces yourself. Think of spots hands touch often, like the remote controls, door handle, window crank, sink and shower levers, hotel phone, coffee maker, desk pens, and more.

road trip during covid

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Bring disposable masks

You likely won’t have much access to laundry to wash your reusable masks. Even if your hotel does offer laundry machines to guests, you might not want to use those, as others who are infected may have used the machines. So pack tons of disposable masks so that you’re covered.

road trip during covid

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Avoid cash-only spots

You will be tempted to pull over to all the adorable cash-only spots. The fresh jerky stands. The fruit stands. The quirky, local tours. There are way too many opportunities to use cash on a road trip, especially when you go off the beaten path. But cash carries so many germs. Be prepared to use lots of credit cards on your trip. Hey, you’ll rack up reward points.

road trip during covid

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Bring your own disposable cups, including ones suitable for hot beverages. Pack silverware and plates. Bring your own towels. Bring your own folding chair and beach toys, rather than buying or renting any at the beach. Think of anything you might need on this trip, that you wouldn’t want to borrow from a hotel, and pack your own.

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