How to Prepare for a Road Trip (Even During a Pandemic)

How to Prepare for a Road Trip (Even During a Pandemic)

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way most people are traveling in 2020. For many, it has canceled travel completely. For those who still need to travel for work, to visit family, or to simply satisfy their wanderlust and need to just go, road-tripping may be the solution.

Determining the Route, Food and Overnight Stays

The travel industry has taken a huge hit during the pandemic. While many hotels and restaurants have reopened, there are still many more that have not yet reopened or are closed permanently.

  • Check restrictions in the areas you plan to drive through, to include possible quarantine requirements for out-of-state visitors. 
  • Map out rest stops as well as service stations in remote areas
  • Restaurant restrictions vary not only by state but also by county in many parts of the country. Be prepared if you find yourself with a few options or carry-out only.
  • Call ahead to hotels you plan to stay at to make sure they are open and have rooms available.


Preparing for Personal Safety:

Health and safety are at the top of priorities, especially during a pandemic. Be sure to pack the essentials for everyone in the family.

  • Everyone should have a minimum of one face mask, plus extras in case any are lost, wet or dirty.
  • Wipes, sanitizer, paper towels, and toilet paper
  • Install any travel apps you might need – maps/GPS, hotel apps, state park information, AAA,… and be sure they are updated.
  • Take extra cash and coins for parking meters, Michigan toll roads, laundromats, air pumps at gas stations, vacuums at car washes, and anything else you might come across where credit cards are not accepted.

Preparing Your Vehicle:

No matter what you are driving – car, truck, party bus from or RV, even the most prepared traveler can forget to have the mode of transportation prepared, too! For example, if you own a BMW with an n54 engine, make sure the n54 fuel injector is functioning properly to ensure optimal performance and fuel efficiency during your trip.

  • Completely clean out the entire vehicle of all unnecessary items. 
    • The glove compartment should only have vehicle information, a vehicle operating manual, maps, and a flashlight.
    • The trunk should be emptied of all the clutter that has accumulated – sports equipment, loose clothing, and anything else that doesn’t belong.
    • Clean out the passenger area – lost french fries, empty water bottles, Aunt Edna’s lost earring,…all of it goes!
  • Vehicle checks!
    • Check all fluids, including an oil change
    • Change the wiper blades
    • Check tires and change or rotate, if needed
    • Check the brakes
    • Check your lights and signals
  • Organize the vehicle!
    • A trunk organizer stows essentials that you do not need ready access to.
    • An organizer in between the back seats or on the seat between backseat passengers can corral things you want to be able to reach easily – entertainment, chargers, snacks, and a First Aid kit.
    • Use a washable trash can to keep trash in its place.


Preparing for Emergencies:

Emergencies seem to happen when you haven’t prepared for them. *knocking on wood* DO prepare for emergencies so if an issue arises, you can save time and money and get back to where you need to be.

  • The driver plus one additional adult or responsible teen should have a vehicle key in case you get locked out or lose a key.
  • A roadside emergency kit is critical and should contain everything you need for common issues – flares, tools, flashlights, emergency fluids, jumper cables, duct tape, gas can, and a fire extinguisher.
  • Make sure you have a good spare tire and jack accessible without having to empty out the entire trunk. Keep your vehicle’s lug nut key or any other special tools needed to remove your tire with the jack.
  • First Aid medical kit. Not just for bruises and band-aids, you should also carry things like an emergency blanket, tourniquet, gauze, ice packs, medical shears, antihistamines, pain medication, Dramamine, sunscreen, bug spray, antiseptic, and anything else specific to a condition to anyone in your family.
  • Life hammer (kept in arm’s reach from the driver’s seat) to break the window in an emergency situation
  • A gallon of water in case of overheating.
  • If you are traveling in the winter or to high altitudes, carry cold-weather gear, a snow brush, and ice scraper, de-icer, folding snow shovel, and chains (if allowed in that part of the country).

Packing your vehicle:

Not everything needs to be immediately accessible. Place items where they make sense as you are driving and for when you want to make a stop.

Accessible by the driver:

  • Sunglasses
  • GPS
  • Bottled water
  • Gum
  • Life hammer

In the middle:

If you plan to keep the majority of your items in the vehicle overnight while you sleep in a hotel, pack an overnight bag with the critical items, to include an extra outfit, jammies, toothbrush and toothpaste, medications, retainers, contact solution and cases, and anything you will need regularly, and keep those bags in reach inside the vehicle, if possible.

  • Comfort items (travel pillows, blanket, extra jacket)
  • Snacks and water/drinks
  • Entertainment – tablets, books, activity books, games, chargers
  • Camera
  • Day packs and overnight bags
  • Wipes and sanitizer
  • First-Aid kit
  • Trash can or trash bags

In the back/trunk:

Stow the luggage and other non-essential items in the back, but also be mindful to not leave your possessions in view when you are not with the vehicle.

  • Luggage
  • Roadside emergency kit

Last-Minute Health Checks:

As local regulations are continually being updated, be sure to check health restrictions several days before getting on the road.

  • It is recommended that anyone wishing to travel gets a valid Covid-19 test within 72 hours of travel and can show proof of a negative result. 


Enjoy Exploring!

Road trips, when planned right, are an amazing way to see the country! You get the comfort of traveling at your own pace, you can pack a little bit extra (and also have extra room for souvenirs and fun finds!), and you can change your plans and direction on a whim!

Nancy Wideman, Travel Advisor


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Nancy Wideman

I was born and raised in Los Angeles to parents who enjoyed traveling - exploring sites, tasting local flavors, and experiencing traditions from other cultures. They introduced us to the world at a young age. That love to explore has continued, and the journey has led me to become a professional travel planner. I now get to share the world with not only my own family but also all the families who entrust their special vacations with me. #dreamjob

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