Reactions have ranged from surprise to giddiness when they find out that I am still taking road trips during the pandemic. Their eyes light up as I’m peppered with questions ranging from everything from the availability of gasoline to closures. If you are like some people I’ve talked with, I have good news. You can travel during the pandemic by doing some pre-planning and taking personal responsibility. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Travel changes are global. Don’t assume that every place you visit is like the one you just left. Differences in restrictions can exist within the same state. Research laws and guidelines of each area where you’ll be stopping before you leave home.
Plan ahead for food. I strongly recommend bringing snacks. As I type this, restaurants in Tennessee are open in full capacity while restaurants in Kentucky are limited to take-out. Virginia restaurants are open with limited seating.
Hotel breakfasts look different. Expect everything from a takeout bag with a protein bar and bottle of water to a cafeteria style menu with a breakfast staff member standing behind plexiglass. This photo was taken at a hotel in December 2020. Our hot choices were two different types of microwaveable biscuits and oatmeal packets. Cold was a prepackaged bowl of cereal, yogurt and a couple of muffins. It will be nice to see toast and boiled or scrambled eggs again but not bad considering the pandemic.
Double check store hours. Don’t be caught off-guard when picking up supplies. Some grocery stores and Walmart locations that were open 24 hours may now close at 9pm or earlier. This holds true for drug stores and pharmacies as well.
Pack extra masks. It goes without saying that you need to take masks with you. Have you thought of bringing extra though? I kept a box of disposables in the car on my road trip across Tennessee. They were great for times when mine was accidentally left in the TV or when an ear strap broke. You won’t go wrong with having extra. They can always be donated later if you don’t use them on your road trip.
Drive on the top half of your tank. Gas stations in some areas are closing earlier than usual. Keeping your tank topped up reduces the chance that you’ll be left until the next morning to fill an empty tank.
The biggest road trip tip that I can give you is to be patient. From staffing shortages to closures everything we did on our last few road trips took longer. Stick a magazine in your bag or download a quiet game that you can do while you’re waiting. It will help you remember that you’re on vacation where de-stressing is the name of the game.