Planning a Road Trip During COVID

road trip during covid
I had wide open roads for most of my trip through the Midwest.

It’s fair to say that not a single life has gone untouched by COVID-19. But for the avid traveler, this new way of life presents some specific challenges. If, like me, you’re not ready to take on the risks of air travel, you’ll have to prepare to road trip during COVID. 

I am by nature a rule follower and the lack of clear guidelines on what to do has been stressful. Within the U.S,. each state has totally different rules (actually, more like unenforceable guidelines). Phase numbers don’t match up. This Phase 2 town might allow dine-in restaurants to open; that Phase 2 town might be take-out only. 

But the most confusing and frustrating thing for me right now is the question of should we travel?

We know without a doubt that staying home is the safest option. The Traveler Broads have not encouraged tourism since the first lockdown, and we have been frustrated watching unmasked tourists from surrounding states come party in our neighborhoods. But I do think some hyper local getaway options are safe and essential for our mental health. So, we’ll be doing some exploring around the New Orleans area soon and share our favorite options.

For me, I decided that I would rather spend some of my lockdown with family than alone. The problem being my family is nearly 1,000 miles away. A few weeks of planning and a COVID test went into making it happen, but I’m glad I did. So, here are a few things I learned that might make your road trip during COVID less stressful

2 weeks out:

Everything is constantly changing and being too rigid in your plans is only going to cause you more stress. Everything is theoretical 2 weeks into the future, but you can:

  • Research where to get tested. There’s no magic number of days ahead to do this but if you do it too soon, you run the risk of having a false sense of security. Too late, and you won’t have results before you go. In New Orleans you can check the city’s resources website  for new testing locations daily, and Crescent Care is offering tests to both insured and uninsured people M-F.
  • Start limiting your contact with other people. After you take your test you should consider yourself in quarantine, so schedule your grocery delivery.
  • Make sure you have a roadside car kit. There are a couple versions of this one, but I always like to at least have jumper cables in my car. 
  • Research any travel restrictions in the state you are traveling to. At the time of my trip there was a 14-day self quarantine mandate for 18 states traveling to Chicago. But by the time I got here they had added 3 more. So, check again before you leave.
road trip during covid
Rest stops are a great place for bathroom breaks and to stop to eat with lots of physical distance.

1 week out. 

  • Plan your route. How many hours can you drive in a day? Hopefully you can minimize the number of nights you need to stay in a hotel. You don’t need to know exactly where you’ll stop, but save some hotel options at your optimal stopping point in Google Maps. Then save one an hour closer and an hour farther, so you have options the day of. My favorite affordable hotel right now is Drury Hotels (more on that below)
  • Now might be a good time to use airline miles you won’t be using for a while on a hotel room instead.
  • A list of things to you might want to start gathering:
    • Disinfectant wipes
    • Lysol spray
    • Masks
    • Plastic gloves
    • Hand sanitizer
    • A gallon or two of water. Keep one in the cooler to refill water bottles, and one for handwashing. Even when you are sanitizing, it’s nice to have a rinse occasionally.
    • Cooler
    • Car snacks
    • Sandwich ingredients
    • Download podcasts
    • Thermal drink containers
Traveling during covdi
Fast food stops are considered safe, but still wear your mask and use Clorox wipes on your credit card and sanitize your hands before you eat. Most are drive thru only.

Drive day:

travel during covid
Pump gas with disposable gloves or Clorox Wipe
  • Check to see if there are any new travel restrictions for the state you’re traveling.
  • Gas up. It’s really easy to use plastic gloves at the pump but as long as you have disinfectant wipes, you’ll be good.
  • Drive through fast food is considered a safe option, if you want hot food. But most fast food restaurants are not opening their dining rooms, so no toilet use.
  • Gas stations are an option for toilet stops, but rest areas are your best bet! They’re state-run, so there is a consistent safety standard. Plus, they’re really big, so less chance you’ll have to wait in line in a small space. Also, many have places to refill your water bottle and spread out picnic areas to stretch out and eat lunch.
covid road trip
Safely fill water bottles at rest stops.
  • Hotel stops: Hotels are also generally considered to be safe. All modern hotel rooms have their own air conditioning unit pulling outside air (rather than a central system circulating air throughout the building). Just make sure to wear your mask in the lobby or any shared space. No matter what hotel you stay at, you should always wipe down hard surfaces, light switches and door knobs. 
    • This is not a sponsored post, but I highly recommend Drury Hotels. They are always affordable, pet friendly and offer a lot of free perks, like:
      • Free Breakfast
      • Free Parking
      • Free Wifi
      • Free “5:30 Kickback” – which is hot food and 3 alcoholic beverages!
      • Since the pandemic, they have updated some safety protocol. Meals that are normally served buffet style are now served by a masked staff member. The remote control was sanitized and wrapped in plastic. Gym is by appointment only. Signs suggest only one guest or family uses the elevator at a time. 
Drury Hotels sanitized the remote control.

Whichever hotel you choose, stop in on their website to see what safety measures they are implementing. Drury Hotels says everyone must be masked in common areas, but at the one I stayed at in Missouri, most guests were not masked. Here are the links to the some other popular roadside hotel’s safety statements

Times are scary, but you got this. If you must travel right now, you can still road trip during COVID as safely as possible!

traveling during covid
traveling during covid
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Missing New Orleans? Check out our Quarantine History series on You Tube.

9 thoughts on “Planning a Road Trip During COVID”

  1. I’m planning a road trip for next month here in Georgia – I was a bit hesitant at first, but I think it’s the safest way to travel right now. Thanks so much for all the valuable road trip tips!

  2. I’ve been using sanitizer at the gas pumps, but I like your idea of the disposable gloves. I’m going to pop a box in my car! Stay safe out there 🙂

  3. Great tips. I’m jealous you still have Clorox wipes. They haven’t been seen in Canada for months! I’m doing my first road trip this week, with all the precautions. Exploring locally a lot recently but taking the next step for a few days away

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