This guest article was written By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life
No matter how much we wish we could wake up from our COVID-19 nightmare and find out the world is back to normal, we have to face the fact that our lives have been changed indefinitely. But even though things have changed, we can still live our lives to the fullest. We just need to make a few alterations.
The air travel industry has taken a major hit this year, causing families to seek alternative traveling plans for the summer. For many, that means reviving the tradition of the Great American Road Trip. Luckily, there’s less risk involved in hitting the road with your family than there is in flying — as long as you approach it safely. Here’s a list of seven tips to help you do just that.
Stock up on Essentials
No matter where you’re headed or who you’re traveling with, the list of road-trip essentials for the future has grown beyond safety-on-the-road supplies to include basic hygiene helpers. Whether you’re planning to hit the road for hours or days, assemble a road kit that includes the following items:
- face masks
- first-aid kit
- disposable gloves
- hand sanitizer
- jumper cables
- sealable plastic bags
- dish soap
- rubbing alcohol
- facial tissue
- paper towels
- canvas tote bags
- trash bags
Plan Your Route
Another important task to check off the list before you hit the road is mapping your route. Technology makes it much easier to do this today than in the past. These days, you can simply download an app and set your route — scenic or speedy — as you wish. (But stash a paper map in the glove box, just in case you find yourself in an area without phone service.)
Take safety into consideration when planning. It can help to do some research about viral hotspots or other trouble that might lie ahead, then adjust your route accordingly by adding stops, avoiding certain areas, and so forth. Different states have different regulations, so make sure you know what lies ahead as you create your retail, lodging, and dining itinerary. It’s also important to identify health care facilities along the route and near your destination, in case anyone in your party ends up needing medical care.
Get a Tuneup
If you’re using a rental RV, you’ll likely be fine no matter how far you drive — and you should be covered in case of a breakdown. However, if you’re driving your own vehicle, you should make a point to get a tuneup first. Check your tires, battery, fluid levels, safety belts, air conditioner, and other key components of your vehicle. Also, be sure to get any repairs that you may have put off, to ensure that your rig is capable of traveling for a long distance.
Secure Your Finances
Before you head out, check your credit and make sure you have room on your cards. Going on the road takes money — and, in terms of contagion risk, credit cards are the safest form of currency.
First, ensure that you can take time off work without straining your budget. Then, make certain you have enough set aside to pay for the kind of unexpected expenses that always seem to pop up during road trips (whether it’s a tow truck or those incredible souvenirs you can’t resist). Also, depending on your route and destination, you should keep in mind that food, gas, and other travel expenses may cost more than they do in your area.
Disinfect After Stopping
As the pandemic continues, it’s vital to keep your RV as clean as possible. Bring enough supplies to keep your vehicle clean and disinfected for the entire trip. In addition to including the safety and hygiene items listed above in your road kit, it’s important to plan ahead for times when you’ll need to pull over and visit a convenience store or rest stop.
Ensure that your vehicle remains clean and safe for your family for the entire trip. Have disinfecting wipes handy, and after every stop, wipe down door handles and armrests, control knobs and buttons, the steering wheel, and other surfaces you touch frequently. Also, keep a supply of hand sanitizer that’s at least 70% alcohol accessible to everyone in the towable.
Brush up on Your Driving Skills
Although you obviously know how to drive, it never hurts to brush up on your driving skills if you plan to drive long distances, for long stretches at night, or on rough or unfamiliar terrain. It’s just you and the road out there, so it pays to get to know it. Before your trip, familiarize yourself with the traffic laws in the areas where you’ll be driving.
It’s also a perfect time to check your driving skills when it comes to driving bigger vehicles. Before you hit the road, find an empty lot or secluded area where you can practice driving a big motorhome. Safety is your priority and little mistakes can lead to major mistakes.
Hope for the Best and Prepare for the Worst
Although enjoying your vacation should be the top priority, you also should be prepared for the worst. The farther you get from home, the higher the stakes are if anything unexpected happens. This means you should get your emergency contacts and documents in order, be sure your medical and auto insurance policies are active and have your ID cards handy.
Also, make sure you and your passengers have brushed up on basic first-aid knowledge, especially those practices relevant to where you’re traveling (for example snake-bite response if you’re hiking, water safety, and CPR if you’re headed to the beach). Then you can relax and enjoy your trip, knowing that you’re prepared.
Taking a road trip can be a highly exciting and sometimes even life-changing experience. But since we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, extra precautions are necessary. These tips are an excellent starting point for anyone planning a road trip in the near future.
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