Traveling this Summer? If you are, you'll probably being doing a significant portion of it behind the wheel. However, making stops along the way for gas, food and restrooms can put you and those riding along in close contact with other people and surfaces.
Travelling does increase your chances of contracting and spreading COVID-19. Before you travel, check to learn if coronavirus is spreading in your local area or any of the places you plan to visit. According to the CDC, traveling to visit family may be especially dangerous if you or your loved ones are more likely to get very ill from COVID-19. If you or those you are traveling with are at higher risk for severe illness, you’ll need to consider taking these extra precautions as well.
The following tips are all recommendations for staying safe while you travel. Regardless of whether you’re driving yourself or riding along with others, these tips should help you reduce your chances of catching anything on your trip, but most importantly protect everyone in the car from COVID-19.
What to bring and how to prepare the vehicle for your trip.
What to Bring (pack a road trip kit with these essentials)
- Masks (plus a spare or two for yourself)
- Gloves (great for fuel stations and rest stops)
- Disinfecting Spray or Wipes (both if possible)
- Hand sanitizer (don’t leave home without it)
- Tissues and/or paper towels (a great backup to gloves)
- Water and Snacks (it’s much safer to bring your own drinks and snacks)
What to Wear
- First and foremost, remember to wear your mask or face covering! We recommend bringing additional cloth masks or disposable masks depending upon what is available to you.
- Wear whatever clothes you are most comfortable in.
- Covering up more can protect you from direct contact with surfaces. A light jacket or hoodie may be a good idea for covering up more if you need to leave the vehicle. Then, simply shed that layer before getting back into your vehicle.
- Think of your car as the plastic bubble you want to be germ-free, not so much your clothes.
Cleaning the Car
- Use a non-toxic disinfectant spray or wipes to clean the inside surfaces of the vehicle.
- Remember to spray and wipe:
- the key fob or key
- the door handles (internal & external)
- the seatbelts and buckles
- the steering wheel
- any other high contact spots
- Clean the windows
- Vacuum the floors
- Drive with your windows cracked so the air within the vehicle circulates. This is even more important if you’ll be riding along with others.
- Do NOT share snacks or drinks. Bringing your own snack and beverages is a great way to reduce contact while on the road, but you still need to remain mindful about sharing things within the car.
- Designate seats and try to stay in the same spot for the duration of the journey. Everyone should have their own little ‘bubble’ within the car.
- Spread out as much as possible. We know that's easier said than done, but it's important, nonetheless.
Stay safe on the road and at your destination.
Gas Stations / Charging Stations
- Designate one person to operate the pump or charging station.
- Avoid using the pump or charging handle without some kind of barrier. Use either a paper towel or glove to avoid direct contact the pump or charging station.
- Try to avoid taking any trips inside the gas station unless necessary.
- Make sure to use a debit or credit card to pay at the pump. Try to avoid paying with cash, which can easily carry germs. Again, be sure to use a paper towel or something similar to cover your finger when entering your card information.
- Depending on the distance to your destination you may be able to get by without stopping for restrooms. More than likely though you'll be stopping for at least one or two restroom breaks on your trip.
- If you do need to make a pit stop to use the restroom, be sure to wear your mask, avoid touching anything directly and wash your hands thoroughly. Use a paper towel to open the door on your way out as to avoid direct contact with the door handle after washing your hands.
- As an extra precaution, use some hand sanitizer to disinfect your hands completely before removing your mask and/or re-entering your vehicle.
Accommodations / Lodgings
- Check your accommodation’s COVID-19 policies and prevention practices before you go.
- When possible use options for online reservations and check-in, mobile room keys, and contactless payment.
- Wear your masks in the lobby and other common areas. Try to minimize your use of areas that may lead to close contact with others like the gym or pool.
- Request contactless delivery for any room service or food deliveries. This will help to reduce the risk of bringing anything back into the room.
- If you are considering cleaning your travel lodgings yourself, review our guide for How to Properly Disinfect.
Camping / Closures
- Camping can pose risks if you come into close contact with others or share public facilities at the campsites or along trails. Be aware that you will have limited access to medical care the more remote you are.
- Check the National Park Service for closures and important updates before traveling to any national parks. Do NOT risk arriving at your destination only to be turned around.
- You can also find information regarding state parks, but you’ll need to search each state’s website to find important information and updates regarding closures.
State and Local Travel Restrictions
- Remember to follow state and local travel restrictions. You can find up-to-date information and travel guidance with the state or local health department. Check for health department guidelines where you are, along your route and at your planned destination.
- It is possible that while you’re traveling a state or local government may put into place travel restrictions, such as stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, mandated quarantines upon arrival, or even state border closures. Continue to check for updates while you travel.
We hope this guide is helpful and for anyone traveling this summer, stay safe!