This article is for anyone who is longing to take a Road trips and want to be very safe in doing so. Traveling during this pandemic is no easy thing. You will have to be very careful on where you go, how you go and what you come in contact with. Based on our experience we are sharing these tips and etiquette to help you travel safely during the pandemic.
You know we love travelling and it’s a big part of our life. It’s been way too hard for us to stay indoors for months. So we started to brainstorm and explore ideas on how to travel safe. Our goal is to be “Completely self contained and contact free”.
First we started with small one day road trip(car only) to a nearby place on a weekend to see how we are able to cope up without any external contact. Based on that experience we strategized and planned for long trips. The main things is to tackle are the mode of transport, food, restroom usage, fuel refill stops and night stays. Additionally, we will be also sharing some tips and travel etiquettes to follow during your trips.
Remember that I am going to talk only about road trip safety measures in this article and not about air travel or public transports. Also it’s within US only. Its been seven months since the pandemic started and people have pretty much gone back to normal life here. Roads are busy, rest areas are open (mostly) and all restaurants are open, for take-away at least. Most of them wear masks, but we wanted to be extra careful and make the trip fully contact free.
Wondering what to pack for your Road trip? We have the complete list of items covered in below article. It even includes free printable checklist
How to take road trips safely during the pandemic?
Best Mode of transport:
Avoiding pubic transportations will greatly minimize the risk of contact. So using your own vehicle is the best idea. And the obvious solution for avoiding stays in hotels is traveling in a RV. If you do not own one, you could rent an RV. But remember to completely disinfect every inch before using. In our case, we took our self built tiny mobile home. Nowadays many have realized this solution and bought an Rv during this season or utilized their work from home time in building one on their own.
Also choosing an RV or camping vehicle will also solve the problem of using restrooms. Finding a bush or a secluded spot for your nature calls is not really a feasible option every time. In a RV you will have your own restroom and don’t have to be anxious about using public restrooms during this pandemic. We have a portable potty in our converted trailer. We would just stop in any parking lot or any unoccupied vehicle turn outs for such pitstops.
If you do not have the option of travelling with an RV, you can try still take the road Trip with your car and do camping in it. We have covered everything you need to know before heading out for car camping in a separate article here : Car camping Essentials . Also it includes FREE checklist on what to pack and what you absolutely need for such trip. Everything in there is based on our own experience and what we follow in our travels.
Choosing the destination:
Consider camping trips to state parks, national parks or forests rather than visiting museums, theme parks or beach. This way you can avoid direct contacts and be stress free on your vacation. At this time some parks are open but some remain closed. So, research well before your visit.
We recently visited Chaco culture national park. It was open from 8am to 5pm for visitors but the visitor center was closed. They had a table set up outside where you can get the park maps and drop the entrance fee on the designated box there. Or just buy the daily pass online. Since we travel a lot to places like such, we get America the beautiful annual pass. With this, you can visit several federal recreational sites within US how many ever times you want in that year.
This is something you can’t avoid during road trips. Thankfully all the pumps in US are self serve. Did you know that you can also pay through your phone for that particular pump. No need to deal with using and disinfecting credit cards. Several major gas stations have their own app which lets you check the prices in real time and has an option of paying from phone. Here we are using the Philips 66 app. Simply park your vehicle in front of the pump and make a note of the pump number. In the app, turn on your GPS location, select the fuel station, enter pump number correctly and choose payment option in mobile before getting out of your vehicle. Then go ahead and pump the fuel. Based upon how much you pumped, you will be charged via the card registered in the app. It’s simple and easy to use.
Wait, this process is not all contact free. Still you have to get down and operate the pump to pump fuel. For this, I advice you to wear a disposable glove. 100 count plastic gloves are only a dollar from dollar tree. This was very helpful during our trips.
One of the main reasons we love to travel is to try local foods or cuisine. So far, this is a big challenge for us to deal with during this pandemic.
For a day trip its easy to prepare meal at home and bring for the trip. For longer trips, we pre plan the meal schedules and stock the ingredients in our trailer. Cooking in a camping vehicle is not the same as we cook in our home. We have to use minimum ingredients, minimum water and preferably single pot recipes with limited space, fuel and water. It’s challenging but very much doable with some tweaks to the recipes. Do your research before hand and plan your travel meals.
If you are looking for snack ideas for your road trip, check out this article. We have lots healthy snack suggestions for you.
Avoid eating out as much as you can unless it’s really necessary. It will greatly reduce the possibility of contact. Even if you did buy, try drive thru and mobile pays to reduce contact. But drive thru might not be possible while traveling in an RV due to height restrictions. So, we would order and pay through mobile but pick up food in store. Wear mask even for food pickup. Next, disinfect all the food containers using disinfecting wipes and leave it for a minute before eating. For this, we have allotted a small separate disinfecting space in our car. We would also wipe this space all over and clean our hands before eating. Use our own cutlery or use the ones that came along with food only if it’s in sealed pack. Remember to wipe the cutlery pack as well before opening it to use.
Every now and then its good to take a break during Roadtrips. Stretch your legs little bit, take a bathroom break, refill water bottles & munch on some snacks. On freeways, you can easily find nearest rest areas and store parking lots to take a break. Some even will have tables and seating to spend time. But what if you are to travel through small roads or small towns or to some remote destinations like us?. You won’t find any public rest areas. But you can find many turn outs in such small roads.
If you couldn’t find a turn out, try to find a deserted building or empty parking lot. Staying overnight might be illegal in such spots but you can stop for sometime to take a break.
Where to stay for the night:
Obviously you will be staying inside your RV or vehicle. But where can you park for the night? Most of the spots might not be practical or even illegal. Following are the FREE options for overnight stays:
- Rest Area Parking lots – you will find lots of RVs and semi parked there for the night. Sometimes its easy to get a spot but sometimes you won’t. The noise from running engines is another point to consider.
- Small town Recreation parks – when travelling through small roads, you will come across many small towns. Most of them will have public parks with few spots equipped with table and space for RVs to park overnight. It will be little hard to find them on map, but these towns have signs on the road for such parks.
- State park or forest Campsites – Not all, but most of the state parks have free primitive camping spots for visitors. Usually these spots will be around a lake or near a mountain with scenic overlook. But there is very good possibility for them to be unmaintained. So, better reach early and scout the location before deciding to stay.
- BLMs for boondocking – If you can find BLMs you can stay there for upto 14 continuous days for free.
Useful websites to find campsites : campendium.com, freecampsites.net
Apps : Rest stops, free roam, Parkadvisor
Tips & Etiquettes:
- When you leave a campsite, make sure to take the trash with you. Leave it better that you found.
- If a turn-out is already occupied, then find next free one for yourself
- Wear mask if you will be near a person or inside a building
- Carry a sanitizer with you all the time. Check out this DIY no sew sanitizer holder that can he hung outside your handbag, backpack or belt buckle.
- Try to practice contact free transactions. Avoid cash & cards. Prefer mobile or online payments when possible.
So what are your tips on how to take a road trip safely during the pandemic? Let us know!