The warm, sunny days of summer are quickly approaching, and with it, the wanderlust to explore new places. Though flights are canceled and cruises are postponed, there are still opportunities to enjoy an unforgettable vacation: a classic family road trip. Gas prices are down, crowds are slim, the country is slowly reopening, and states are lifting their stay-at-home orders. There’s simply no better time to enjoy the great outdoors—while practicing proper social distancing, of course. To avoid a boring summer locked inside, here are five tips for a safe and successful summer road trip with the family:
Create a coronavirus safety plan
Traveling during a pandemic not only means taking care of yourself but thinking of others. Put together a kit of hygiene and sanitation items to keep you and those around you safe and healthy. Some things to keep in your COVID-19 kit include:
- A box of rubber gloves
- Disinfecting wipes
- Face masks (or some sort of covering)
- Hand sanitizer
- Spray bottle
If you can invest, consider buying a portable vacuum and your own laundry detergent and hand soap. Keep everything in a plastic box that’s easy to carry in and out of hotels, tents, cabins, or wherever you’re adventuring this summer.
Disinfect your car and space frequently, including the outside. Germs abound in all places on a vehicle, so don’t leave a spot untouched. This even includes charging ports and turn signals. Wipe down major surfaces every time you get in your car, and clean your hands before getting in. While you and your family may be the only ones in and out of the car, you might bring back germs from restaurants, stores, hotels, and other places where coronavirus might sneak on you.
To limit your potential exposure to coronavirus, you’ll want to visit grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses as infrequently as possible. Before you head out on your big summer family adventure, plan out what you’ll need and head to your local store and stock up on items like:
- Paper products (toilet paper, tissues, etc.)
- Nonperishable snacks
- Baby formula, baby food, diapers (if you have a youngster along for the ride)
- Pet food (if your furry friends are joining you)
Not only will this prevent unnecessary exposure, but you’ll also have more time to explore your destinations rather than heading to the store every day to replenish your essentials.
Head to natural socially distant destinations
This world is blessed with miles and acres of natural splendor where social distancing is the easy part of the trip. National parks, forests, and campgrounds are great family-friendly summer vacation sites where you can hit the trails and not see another person (though you might run into some wildlife). Rural vacations not only limit your exposure to others but encourage you to reconnect with nature and disconnect from everything else.
If your trip takes you to the city, consider avoiding the swanky high-rises where crowds can make it hard to social distance. Smaller two or three-story hotels and bed & breakfasts have more space and fewer people.
While much of the country is slowly reopening as summer rolls around, some attractions you may have originally planned might still be closed. Think areas of big crowds, like amusement parks, concerts, casinos, and even some beaches. Research your destinations and find what’s open and what’s not, and create a plan b and plan c.
You don’t have to go to new and exciting places to enjoy a relaxing vacation. Bring along bikes, kites, scooters, rollerblades, balls, and other items to spend a day outdoors with the kids. When the weather gets bad, break out a board game or extra movie that you've packed.
If restaurants are closed, they are usually still open for takeout. Order ahead and take your to-go order to a sunny spot at the park or to your hotel balcony for a quiet family meal.
Have a health plan and always be prepared for the worst
One thing worse than getting coronavirus is contracting it when you’re on the road. On any vacation (even outside the pandemic), it’s important to know your health insurance plan and have family protocols in place in case of the worst. Especially if you have younger family members or someone with pre-existing conditions that could worsen a bout of coronavirus, make sure you know where to go and how to get treated (this goes for any illness—not just coronavirus). Locate the closest hospital or urgent care center to where you’re staying and be sure that you can be treated there if need be.
In addition to potential sicknesses, prepare for any dire situation. Many auto shops might still be closed, so know where your spare tire and jack are and make sure the spare is full of air. Before you leave, refill your wiper fluid, change your oil, and make sure your car is up to date with anything that could go awry while miles from home.
After assembling your COVID-19 safety kit, make sure you also have an all-emergency kit ready just in case. Keep a flashlight, rope, first aid kit, and tools in it.
Have the summer vacation of your dreams!
Your bags are packed, and your coronavirus kit is ready to go. With a plan in place, your family is set to have an unforgettable, adventurous summer road trip despite the pandemic. Coronavirus may have kept you locked away this past spring, but don’t let the summer get away from you too. Explore your surroundings—and enjoy your freedom on the road.