As lockdown restrictions due to coronavirus are lifted, many Americans are thinking about leaving their homes to take summer vacations. Until the public feels safer about air travel again, though, road trips by car will be the preferred method of travel in the summer of 2020.
For those who may be dreaming of a driving vacation in the next few months, consider taking a few extra steps to stay safe both on and off the road, courtesy of experts from the CDC and the American Automobile Association [AAA].
Make a detailed route plan.
Even if you’re headed to a destination you have been to multiple times, experts recommend mapping out the roads you plan to take, and checking conditions in advance. Be aware of any travel advisories or restrictions in states you’ll be passing through; some, for example, have changed the way they collect highway tolls or have closed some rest areas.
The Federal Highway Administration maintains a list of state transportation department websites [fhwa.dot.gov/about/webstate.cfm] which can provide the most up-to-date information available before you hit the road.
Plan a sanitizing strategy.
In addition to bottled water and snacks, health experts advise packing ample supplies of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, disposable gloves, tissues and sealable plastic bags. They suggest wearing gloves every time you pump gas, and then discarding them in the trash before getting back in the car.
Because many drive-through restaurants have closed their restrooms to travelers, gas stations and truck stops may be the only places available for bathroom breaks. The experts suggest wearing a mask inside, bringing tissues or wipes so you can avoid touching door handles and fixtures, and sanitizing car door handles before touching them afterward.
Another tip is to pay for gas and other purchases made during the trip with cards, not cash – this eliminates some face-to-face interaction. Cards can also be cleaned with a disinfectant wipe after use.
Pay extra attention to lodging and dining plans.
Many hotels and other vacation rental providers like Airbnb have upgraded their regular sanitization procedures in response to the coronavirus outbreak. However, the CDC also recommends sanitizing “high-touch” areas of your room yourself upon arrival. These include exterior and interior doorknobs and handles, the TV remote, bathroom fixtures and counters, and any areas where you will be unloading your luggage. In addition, some experts recommend adding a literal extra layer of protection by bringing your own sheets and pillowcases.
Advance planning is also recommended around meals. While restaurants in many states are resuming dine-in service, all are limiting the number of guests allowed inside and requiring extra spacing between tables, so making reservations or calling ahead are important steps.