In these uncertain times, it's essential to keep yourself and your family healthy when you take your next road trip. I just returned from a week-long road trip with my family. Here are a few things I learned that will help you as you prepare to hit the road.
PACK YOUR HAND SANITIZER
Bring a large pump-style bottle of 70% alcohol-based sanitizer for the car (avoid the packaging where you have to flip up the top, if you can, so you'll have less handling of the bottle). Use the back of your hand to trigger the pump, and sanitize before getting out of the car. Sanitize again immediately when you get back in. Provide smaller individual-sized for each passenger, depending on their age, which should be carried with them when leaving the car. You can also refill the smaller bottles with the larger pump.
BRING SANITIZING WIPES
Keep a packet in the car, and get in the habit of regularly wiping down key areas of contact like the steering wheel, radio, gear shift, interior and exterior door handles and seat belt latches – everywhere that you touch frequently. This is especially important if you're sharing the driving responsibilities among multiple people. Don't have wipes? Pump a little sanitizer onto a napkin and apply. Have an extra packet of wipes to carry with you when leaving the car. You can use a wipe when opening the door to a public building, using a gas pump, or wiping down surfaces in public areas, such as restrooms or dining tables.
WEAR YOUR MASK
Don't be shy – everyone's wearing them. They are required in most municipalities when entering any public building or outdoor spaces where people congregate. You can even match them to your outfit. Plan ahead and buy them online; you'll find a variety of price points and styles – and remember, the bandana or gaiter style of mask is not approved in all public areas – specifically at Disney. Bring one washable mask for each day of your trip; you should use a new one daily. I saw lots of lost reusable masks in parking lots and various places, so have a constant place to hold your mask when it's not in use. A quart-sized plastic bag is a good idea to keep it somewhat clean and separate from your other items. Use a separately labeled bag with clean masks for each person and another one to hold all the used masks. If you are traveling with kids or several people, it may be more efficient to invest in a box of disposable masks so everyone can simply grab and go.
PACK A LUNCH, AND A LITTLE MORE
Packing food and snacks will help reduce the number of stops you have to make, and therefore the number of potential interactions. Pack lunch when you can, along with a variety of snacks in single-use packets so you're all not reaching into the same bag of pretzels, for example. Bring a cooler with water and beverages of your choice for your road trip companions. And you'll reach your destination that much sooner.
If you decide to stop for lunch (or just a comfort break), keep six feet apart when standing in lines. Most fast food places I visited had already spaced out their tables with signage indicating which had been sanitized and which were open for seating. They also had distance and directional markers on the floors, so remember to look down. Consider stopping at places where you can order via a mobile app – you'll have less contact with restaurant staff and can pay with a stored credit card. You'll be able to order, eat, and go that much faster.
USE THE AAA MOBILE APP
Speaking of mobile apps, remember to bring the AAA Mobile app along with you for the ride. You'll be able to make hotel reservations along the way at AAA member rates, and find local attractions, restaurants, and other venues that offer AAA discounts.
IF YOU FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE, LEAVE
We entered a few places and noticed the workers were not wearing masks properly (they should cover the entire mouth and nose). In some areas, there were simply too many people inside. We didn't hesitate to leave.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Most of the places we visited were uncrowded. We got reservations at popular restaurants on the same day we called. We toured historic mansions, gardens, and took a trolley tour and a harbor cruise, all without any crowds at all. If you're thinking of going out and exploring our beautiful country, it's a great time to go. Just go safely.