Getting places by public transportation is on hold for many of us. That doesn’t mean traveling is on hold. Gas prices are unprecedentedly low and the road beckons. Before flying became mainstream, Americans romanticized the road trip. Suitcases strapped to the top rack of the Vista Cruiser used to be a thing. Vehicles today are packed with creature comforts and space. Let’s look into lens of your ViewFinder and create the perfect road trip together.
Make a Plan
What can you do to be sure you have the maximum amount of fun and adventure? It’s simple, make a plan. No matter where you’re headed, knowing where you’re going, how you will get there and what you will do while you travel takes a lot of stress out of what many families find challenging, especially those with young children. Teenagers or tweens will present their own special personal needs. Make sure you anticipate what those needs may be and be ready for most challenges.
Things to Do
Here is a list of things to do while traveling long-distance in a car. Before you get started, have a family conversation about taking a road trip. Don’t laugh; the longest some families spend together in a car is in the carpool lane and trips to and from home to an activity. Find a few things that each family member can be tasked with so that they have a feeling of ownership in the activity and will be more willing to participate. Do some internet research about the activity and create 3 ring binders for younger travelers that include plastic pockets where planning pages and lists can be stored in anticipation of “doing” the activity.
Taking photos is more than just selfies on Instagram. There is a whole art to taking photos with a smartphone. Children age 5 and up are capable of handling a camera and their natural curiosity plays right into creating a series of themed lessons that they can put in their notebook. Make photo sessions a learning experience and have them take pictures of certain colors or letters.
Adults can really create magical memories by checking out an online guide on smartphone photography. There are many features built into phone cameras these days that almost negate needing a professional camera. There are tons of YouTube videos on the topic. Just search “smartphone photography tips and tricks” and you’ll find inspiration for days.
Music and Books
If your family is fortunate to have smartphone devices for each family member, then you have magic at your fingertips. Before taking your trip, make sure that each child has a game they like, an audible book to listen to or pre-programmed music. You can make a “NAME’s Road Trip Playlist“ for each family member as you share one device or personalize individual devices. Be sure that some of the audio and visual is downloaded to the device itself in case you reach “dead zones” where there is sketchy to no cell service.
Health and Wellbeing
From healthy snacks, hydration and mental detoxing, find new things to love that give you a feeling of peace and tranquillity, even if packed like a sardine in a can “cheek to cheek” in the back seat. If you want to sleep, bring earplugs and a blackout mask. Make some detox tea for the road and slice some fresh fruit to add to your water bottle. When you stop for a break, get out of the car and breathe deeply. Do some light stretching exercises. Dab on some lilac essential oil on your temples. Bring your most comfy slippers and sweats to keep the seatbelt the only thing binding you to the car.
If traveling with friends, pick a book to read before the trip and have a “book club” discussion around the book while you drive. People can get pretty philosophical in the right situations. You may just learn something valuable about someone you thought you knew everything about. Conversation is underrated. It can be real and raw. We think we know ourselves, but the truth is, we just don’t interact in personal ways anymore and having intentional conversation can become treasured moments. Plan a special bottle of wine to treat your fellow travelers when you get to your destination.
Plan for Minor Emergencies
Someone is going to get a headache, carsick or need frequent bathroom breaks because they ate something “funky” at lunch. Make sure you have on hand the things you would have on hand at home in the medicine cabinet. Something for headache, muscle ache, tummy aches, cuts, sunscreen, eye wash – you know your family. Take care of yourself by taking care of them. If you need medical attention, stop at a gas station if possible and ask where they would go if they needed to see a doctor. Most will be locals who will be more than happy to help you take care of your problem and get back on the road. If an emergency, call 911.
COVID-19 and Road Travel
It’s recommended to look for low-risk ways to venture out which means when going on road trips, staying closer to home, and avoiding states where virus cases are spiking. (Shephard, 2020)
- Have the essentials handy – First & foremost you must pack plenty of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, and don’t forget your cloth mask.
- Check on the destination before you start and its regulation rules – Before you finalize on a specific destination, research to make sure that the place is welcoming visitors and to see what regulations are currently in place. Tourism boards and local government websites are usually great sources of information. (Romero, 2020)
- Make sure your companions during the journey are not suspects of COVID – Sharing a vehicle with those in your immediate household with whom you’ve already quarantined is fine but in case someone else is going along for the ride, or if a family member has had outside contact that’s suspect, it’s not a bad idea to ask them to get tested before departing.
- Sanitize hands frequently – It is advised to keep your hands frequently especially when you’re not in your car. Disinfect your hands before and after using the restroom, checking out at the convenience store, and pumping gas. (Gorzelany, 2020)
- Follow Social Distancing – Always remember to keep six feet of distance between yourself and others. While stopping at a rest stop or convenience store, wear your mask, avoid lines, and maintain your distance.
- Safety measures at gas stations – Before pumping gas, use disinfectant wipes to clean the gas pump station — wiping down the keypad and the gas pump handle. If you don’t have wipes, use a paper towel, napkin or tissue to touch the gas pump. (Stieg, 2020)
For further advice on travel, CDC’s webpage has certain details and suggestions.
Enjoy the Moments
A memorable road trip is something that you’ll reflect on for years to come. “Remember when…” and storytelling is a cue to road trip organizers that the trip was a success. Plan your journey, make health and safety considerations and create positive memories. Be ready to take on the unexpected. Practice changing a tire with family members. Everyone should know how to do that! Our vehicles are meant to be driven and rediscovering the call of the road can be a valuable experience that you’ll want to repeat again!
“Considerations for Travelers-Coronavirus in the US.” 28 June 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html
Stieg, Cory. “Taking a Road Trip? How to Be Safe, from Bathroom Breaks to Fast Food Pit Stops.” CNBC. CNBC, 02 July 2020. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/02/how-to-travel-safely-by-car-during-coronavirus-pandemic.html
Gorzelany, Jim. “Is It Safe To Take A Summer Road Trip In The COVID-19 Era?” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 09 July 2020. Web. 21 July https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2020/07/09/is-it-safe-to-take-a-summer-road-trip-in-the-covid-19-era/#7fcd2f5a1c2d
Shepard, Alicia. “We Traveled across America on a Coronavirus Road Trip. Here’s How We Stayed Safe.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 20 July 2020. https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2020/07/19/coronavirus-road-trip-safety-health-covid-19-column/5461556002/
Angela, Lisa, and Linda Romero. “Tips for a Safe Road Trip During COVID-19.” Bearfoot Theory. 15 July 2020. https://bearfoottheory.com/road-trip-tips-covid-19/