Pandemic Road Trip Tips

With the pandemic continuing around the world, air travel continues to be considered with more scrutiny.  Ed and I included had to forgo our normal travel plans this year for a social distanced road trip for our August-September vacation.  This is the longest road trip we had completed together since 2015 when we drove to the Florida Keys and then later that year to Yellow Springs, Ohio.  Turns out we actually had a lot to relearn and rethink our tricks when it comes to a successful road trip.

Thinking of everyone out there who will probably be taking to the road instead of the air for holiday travel this year.  Here are some things tips gathered from our recent  7 state road trip.  

Pandemic Road Trip Tips
Our trusty car at Garden of the Gods in Colorado

Clean Your Vehicle Inside and Outside 

It is nice to start with a clean car when packing and driving for hours.  Take a morning to wash, vacuum, clean mats, and wipe your dash.  Ed had deep cleaned my car before our road trip.  This was nice since it got filthy from all the outdoor activities and dusty roads on our trip.  Think of how much time would be lost packing the car if there were hundreds fast food bags.  

Service Vehicle 

Road trips will add miles of abuse to your vehicle.  This is essential not only for practicality, but safety as well.  I took my car to the dealership for an oil change the week we left.  This was great because the dealership also gave my vehicle an evaluation by checking everything from windshield wipers to battery power.  It is also important to know the status of your break pads, and tires.  If your oil change place does not do this, find a place or mechanic who does.  Bonus:  Being up to date on tire pressure and maintenance will also save with better gas mileage!  

Create a Sanitization Bag With Car Kit

Along with jumper cables and a flashlight, consider the current state of things.  Think of needing to sanitize your Airbnb and what you should do after learning a gas station bathroom.  I thought of this before our trip and gathered the following:

*Big bottle of hand sanitizer (The pocket sizes won’t make it through the whole trip!)

*Roll of paper towels

*Bleach wipes 

*Plastic gloves

*Extra face masks  

*Toilet paper 

*Wet wipes (Like Dude Wipes)

*First Aid Kit 

Consider Packing Less

Even though you do not have the 50 pound or carry on limits implemented from airline companies, you still have space restrictions.  Even less space is available when adding passengers to the trip.  Some may also need to make room for presents being transported or a pot to fry turkey if you are from our parts.  This trip, we really considered the amount of liquids we packed.  We found medium sized shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste.  This was more than enough to cover our 2 weeks out, but did not take up as much space as the bottles in our shower at home.  Also consider using soft sided bags that can be stuffed in nooks and crannies around the vehicle.  

Call Banks and Credit Cards

Even just crossing state lines can cause cards to be flagged for possible fraud.  Actually, my only time my credit card was flagged for fraud was for a suspicious Maryland Hotel charge.  (It was fraudulent and the company quickly called me.) My husband’s debit card was paused when being just 2 states away.  So save yourself the trouble and call your card companies ahead to let them know your travel plans.  The side of a highway in middle of nowhere Texas is not conducive to getting your bank card working again!

Make a Road Trip Meal Plan

We made a point not to go crazy eating out on the road.  In order to make use of our AirBnb stays we also used some of their kitchens.  I had our meals for our first 3 days mapped out as well a extras.   Ed got very creative making tacos on the roadside and reheating beef he vacuum sealed for a fancy livable bus meal.  Some things we used this past trip were chicken salad, pimento cheese, and buffalo dip with croissants.  Noodle bowls from the Asian store that were tasty and unique.  We snacked on pre-bagged hard boiled eggs as well as fruit.  Think of what makes your family happy and think if you can adapt it to the road.  

Drink Plenty of Water!

You still need to consider basic needs, even when on the road.  Take care to drink plenty of water.  It is expensive to buy bottled waters at every stop.  So we bought two 1 liter jugs of water to refill our insulated containers up front.  We bought another big jug mid trip and refilled in places where the tap water didn’t taste too funky.  Remember, dehydration is no fun with 8 more hours on the road.  

Create an Easily Accessible Snack Bag

Since we had so much food that was made for meals we had multiple storage containers.  There was a Rubbermaid container in the back with a Yeti Cooler.  I then took my Vera Bradley tote that fits behind our seats with ready to grab snacks.  That is where the quick grab snacks lived like granola bars, nuts, and fruit gummies.  However,  be careful, little hands could grab them and overindulge in the back seat.  (My friend shared this as personal experience!)

Pandemic Road Trip Tips
Iced coffee is always a welcome road trip treat.

Hide a Treat

I try to find reasonably healthy snacks that are filling so we do not consume too many empty calories. For all the good intentions, one still gets a craving for something too salty or sweet.  Planning for this, I packed us a box of Reeses Pieces and peanut butter M&Ms respectively.  Halfway through this past trip as the desert sun scorched down as we drove between Las Vegas towards Phoenix we were struggling.  So then I launched myself towards the back of my Nissan Rogue and retrieved our treats.  This lifted our moods without ordering from the Dairy Queen at the next gas station.  

Plan for Losing Signal

We normally stream our road trip directions and entertainment.  This past trip signal was lost at least 40 percent of the time on the road.  So it is important to plan ahead.  Get some old school audiobook CDs from the library or download them to your phone.  Also plan to download music and podcasts in order to have remote access when signal is weak.  Directions are just as important in order to not miss important exists and turns on the road.  Take screen shots or go old school with atlas.  You can go further with printed directions a la old school MapQuest.  

Anticipate Delays

Even with best laid plans road trips take forever.  Each day, we seemed to need an extra 2 to 3 hours when taking in stops.  It is always imperative to stop to use the restroom, eat, and get gas.  We sometimes knock this down by leaving at night.  There is also traffic from construction, accidents, and rush hour in big cities.  So when creating a timetable, keep these in mind.  I sorely regretted forgetting time changes as well on the way back causing us to roll into San Antonio, Texas after 1 A.M.  

Life is a Highway, But Still Stay Safe

There is a lot going on during the holidays.  Stay mindful of the hazards on the road from weather to Christmas trees not tied down well.  Some pre-planning, cleaning, and check lists can help ease some of the travel stress.  Be mindful of your schedule and keep hydrated. I hope these tips were helpful for you during these weird times.  Safe travels!

What are your road trip tips?

Pandemic Road Trip
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