As states across the country begin to lift COVID-19 restrictions, people are starting to plan for summer vacations. With long flights and large gatherings off the table, many travelers are turning to the old-fashioned American road trip.
If you're among them, you'll want to take extra precautions to protect yourself, your family and your community from the coronavirus. Here are some simple, practical ways to make sure your road trip is safe and stress-free.
Bring extra supplies
Pack your own supply of masks, disposable gloves and hand sanitizer. Keep gloves and masks accessible so you can use a clean pair every time you stop somewhere. (If your masks aren't disposable, you may be able to wash them by hand with soap and water, but it helps to have at least a spare for everyone.)
If you're traveling in an RV or camper, make sure you have enough soap. Also bring disinfectant spray or wipes to clean surfaces regularly. (You can't count on stores having these items right now, so buy them ahead of time if possible.)
Have a well-stocked first-aid kit so you don't have to stop at a drugstore, which may be hard to find. Bring a thermometer to check your temperature in case you feel sick.
It's important to also have a spare tire, jumper cables or even a portable jump-starter as backup. With fewer people likely to be on the road this summer, it may be difficult to find someone to give your battery a jump.
The CDC's travel guidelines Opens in new window suggest that you wear a mask when you're around other people, like at gas stations, restaurants or rest areas.
Be mindful about touching public surfaces, and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds afterward. If that's not an option, use hand sanitizer.
Consider camping, renting a cabin or staying in your RV — but keep in mind that many campgrounds are closed, and crowded campsites can act as a breeding ground for COVID-19.
If you'll be hiking, bring a mask, follow trail paths and respect roped-off areas. Also, bring a physical map — don't assume you'll have cell service — and avoid being out after dark. You don't want to get lost and have to rely on emergency services to locate you.
If you're used to making travel plans on the fly, consider more forethought this summer. Some hotels and restaurants may be closed or have limited capacity due to local restrictions. Make reservations beforehand to avoid scrambling to find a place to stay or eat.
Cities and states may have different stay-at-home orders and restrictions, so be aware of local ordinances. These can change on a day-to-day basis, so check the news before and while traveling.
Stay close and minimize contact
Staying closer to home is safer than driving across the country. Try to bring your own food, including drinks and snacks. And minimize the time you spend around others, especially indoors.
Once you return, it's wise to self-isolate for two weeks if you can. This helps ensures you won't spread COVID-19 in your community. (It also might be required where you live or by your employer if you work in an office or directly with others. This is especially important if you'll be around people at higher risk, like the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.)