Keeping safe on the road during Covid-19 requires all of us to be more aware of places and things we usually wouldn’t consider.
Despite warnings from health officials, states have begun reopening their economies, and the desire to resume “normalcy” is a high priority. With a little common sense and preparation, a family road trip can be a safer option for this Summer’s activity plans. Especially when you drive in the wide-open spaces of the western United States, where social distancing is not an issue. Regardless, America is in the grips of an aggressive pandemic, and we need to protect ourselves while enjoying the open road. Here are some tips to help you navigate your trip armed with vital information. Information is our best friend during this outbreak.
Travel Restrictions by State
Keep abreast of up to date travel restrictions within each state you plan to drive in. Here is an interactive map provided by AAA to help you plan and prepare the best routes. Notice that some of the western United States have “no travel restrictions” as of July 6, 2020. Of course, this is subject to change but it’s obvious that remote spaces in specific states are open for free travel. Even more appealing, states like Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado have some of the most scenic drives in America! While you and your family are relatively sheltered inside your vehicle, you will be able to enjoy the sights. It’s when you stop for gas, food, camping, lodging, or a bathroom break, you need to know the local ordinances as they pertain to Covid-19. Most especially, the wearing of masks in public areas. Refer to the AAA map link provided above for these restrictions and requirements. Each requirement is color-coded for your information. In addition, be aware of your surroundings. Practice social distancing and wash your hands after touching public area surfaces.
Dining Out While on the Road
Dining out while on the road is one of the many joys of traveling. Sadly, many western states have restaurants that have gone out of business or now have limited services and menus due to the pandemic. Be prepared to dine outside an establishment with limited space or seating. Be ready to wait for a table and perhaps the meal itself, as the result of reduced staff. Take out or preparing your meals is probably a better choice, but this may require you to eat in your vehicle. Summertime heat in many of the western states makes it uncomfortable to picnic or sit outside an establishment. If you have kids, you know how messy eating in a car, van, or SUV can be. While you can run your A/C to remain comfortable while you eat, be prepared for a mess. Bring extra napkins, wet naps, or old towels for cleanup. Be aware of your vehicle’s engine temperature if you’re stopped and idling. Eating on the move isn’t that safe for the driver, but we all have done it. Use your discretion here! Keep hand sanitizer close by because when you enter any establishment, you’re going to touch things.
Camping and Lodging During COVID-19
Camping and lodging restrictions during COVID-19 will vary by state. Here are some resources listed alphabetically by each featured western state to assist you in planning ahead. Keep in mind, since road travel is very popular right now, many campsites and hotels are completely booked. Mostly due to demand and partially due to limited space enforced by park officials and hotel managers. In order to adhere to social distancing parameters, several parks and lodges have altered their availability. Be prepared for this contingency! Do not drive all day and arrive at your destination exhausted with no place to bed down for the night. Here is the list of states. Click each one for information. Each state is subject to change its restriction policies.
Other Road Travel Tips During COVID-19
Although it’s probably wise to continue to stay home during what seems to be an aggressive resurgence of this virus, if you decide to take a family road trip, here are some other tips.
- Be sure your vehicle is mechanically sound. Check tires and be sure your A/C system operates appropriately. The last thing you want to do is to hang around a busy garage.
- Although highly unlikely, prepare for the possibility that you may get quarantined to a set location for 14-days.
- Plan your route and consider less-crowded destinations. Before you head out, make sure you’re aware of up-to-date travel information. Check to see if COVID-19 is spreading more rapidly where you’re going. More importantly, is the virus prevalent where you live? Asymptomatic spreading of this disease is a serious consideration.
- Make a checklist of items to bring: snacks, drinks, sunscreen, bug spray, extra drinking water, hand sanitizer, extra face masks, and yes, toilet paper!
- Consider where you’re going to sleep during long road trips. We suggest renting the appropriately sized camper if you plan an extended trip.
In closing, most of us are hopeful that this awful virus will disappear sooner than later. While there are varying opinions surrounding this pandemic, we believe that it’s better to lean on the more cautious side. In the age of information, there seems to be way too much confusion. With that dynamic in mind, go with your instincts. Stay home if you need to! If you do take a summer road trip, be proactive, and plan your trip accordingly. Be safe and stay calm! See you on the road!