Photo by Karim MANJRA
For now, traveling in the time of the coronavirus is completely out of place.
At the beginning of the month, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) placed four destinations on its equivalent of a “do not travel” list: China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy. Since then, many countries have closed their borders, strictly limiting international and local travel, and governments have asked people to confine themselves at home and broadly recommended that everyone avoid non-essential travel.
Like so many other countries, it’s unusual to receive travel restrictions and advisories within the United States. However, since cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have now been reported in all 50 states and some areas are experiencing community transmission of the disease, the authorities had to discourage non-essential travel in order to help contain the spread.
People are worried, some are fearful, and the news we receive daily doesn’t really ease our current stress levels. Scientists are still learning about this new virus and all we know is that it can disproportionately affect elderly people and those with respiratory diseases or weakened immune systems.
Those passionate about traveling or simply those who wanted to take advantage of spring break or the upcoming summer holidays to explore a new destination or visit faraway relatives and friends may need to rethink their travel plans and come up with new and safe ideas.
For now, people are encouraged to stay home, but when the travel bans and social distancing measures are lifted, many communities and businesses will need the support of travelers to help boost local economies. When that time comes, consider taking a road trip within your home country - here are a few ways to do it in a responsible and educated manner.
Photo by REVOLT
Where Would You Like To Travel to?
Down the road, even when it’s safe to travel again, the spread of COVID-19 will probably influence and/or limit the places you can visit on a road trip. There may still be recurrences and isolated breakouts happening in some communities, making them off-limit to travelers. Your best bet is to check your destination’s local health department website for the most updated information.
Once it’s safe to travel, you might want to consider checking out some natural areas where they might be fewer people (and less risk of getting infected). There are so many national parks in the United States where visitors can admire stunning natural views, be in close contact with nature, and discover the local flora and fauna.
If you’ll be driving your own car on a road trip, take it in for a full-service appointment to ensure that everything is running the way that it should be.
And if you plan on renting a vehicle, don’t forget to evaluate investing in a car rental insurance policy provided by an independent third party. Many times, the one provided by your credit card or the rental agency is more expensive or doesn’t provide you with the coverage you expect. There are many options available on the market, fortunately, such as the one here.
Photo by Scott Webb
Even if your travel plans are way in the future and it’s considered safe to travel again at that time, consider packing lightly. The fewer things you take with you, the fewer things you’ll have to keep an eye on, and the fewer things you’ll need to worry about potentially getting exposed to something harmful.
Don’t overload your luggage with clothes. Opt for natural fibers, loose and comfortable clothes that you can easily mix and match. Even if you’re traveling in the spring or summer, it can be a savvy idea to include a light coat or sweater or a denim jacket just in case it gets chilly at night.
It would also be a good idea to always pack antibacterial wipes, soap, hand sanitizer, and travel-sized packages of tissues. They are life-savers if you’re away from home, need to wash and dry your hands, need to blow your nose and make sure that what you touch is free of germs.
Photo by Ola Mishchenko
Bring healthy snacks
Having a cooler will make your road trip much easier and more comfortable. It’s handy to have fresh water, juice, fruit, sliced vegetables or vegetable sticks, sandwiches, and even yogurt or cheese slices at hand when you feel hungry and you don’t want to spend money in fast food restaurants. You can always refill your cooler on the way in local grocery stores or markets.
Typically, this will save you quite a bit of money as opposed to eating out in restaurants for every meal. You’ll also have the flexibility of stopping for a nice picnic wherever you’d like while on the road.
If you’re traveling with children, packing a lot of healthy snacks is key to an enjoyable road trip. Whole-grain crackers, veggie straws, raisins, and other dried fruits are all great ideas for kids! Basically, you’ll want to consider bringing foods that will take a bit to eat to help pass the time :)
Photo by Timon Studler
How to have fun during the drive
From traditional car games such as “I-Spy” to singing out loud to your favorite songs, there’s plenty of ways to keep everyone happy and entertained during your road trip.
If you’re traveling with kids and you choose to let them watch a movie or show while you’re driving, consider offering them this option as a last resort, and if possible, establish limits and rules for their use. Some devices and shows can be way too overstimulating for kids, and having overstimulated kids confined in a car isn’t much fun. Not to mention, it can also lead to car sickness if they’re constantly staring at a screen in a moving vehicle.
Instead, encourage everyone to enjoy the scenery and opt for offline games such as tic-tac-toe, bingo, or guessing games. In case you do need to resort to a movie (no judgment here!), be sure to pack some headphones so that the noise isn’t distracting for you or other passengers.
Photo by Man Pan
Undoubtedly, the coronavirus has made a lot of folks reassess their personal hygiene and cleanliness, and rightly so. When we begin to travel again, I think this will have a big impact on where we decide to spend the night.
Crowded camping sites, inexpensive hotels or motels by the roadside might be some places that aren’t cleanly enough and you might want to consider avoiding. Instead, think about looking for accommodations in boutique hotels or bed and breakfasts where there would be fewer guests and, although they will certainly be pricier, most likely they will be a lot cleaner.
This article was produced in collaboration with Bonzah.