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Saturday, February 13, 2021

My Pandemic Road Trip Tips

Earlier this month, we went on a road trip. The first trip of any kind that I've taken since March 2020, and the first trip my husband has been on since September 2019. While we've been doing our best at home and doing many short staycations, it was nice to leave our house and get in new surroundings. We made sure we were as safe as possible - for us and others - to make sure we were following guidelines. So, now that I've taken this trip, let me give you some tips on how to safely take a road trip during this time.

My tips on how to take a safe and fun road trip during this pandemic.

Bring a mask for (at least) every day of your trip 

Masking is still important and 100% necessary wherever you go. I have plenty of masks that I rotate through (as you probably have seen on my Instagram) and I washed them all before I left and packed them all in their own separate bag. Once we've worn one for the day out, it went into the laundry and we used a new one. 

Luckily, everywhere we went people were masked up (there was one guy not wearing one, but he was outside and standing at least 6' away from cars while scanning tickets for the ferry), even when we drove past people hiking, they were wearing masks outside all on their own. Every business we went into had a sign that asked people to either use their handwashing station or use the provided hand sanitizer before going in. Anytime we were out of the car, we were masked up and had sanitized our hands. 

Bring your own food

While we stopped for food a few times on the way there and back, we also brought our own. We always bring food for the dog, but I also bring snacks, drinks, and items to make sandwiches and such. When we arrived, we went to the grocery store for a few other things, because most places weren't open, even for take-out. 

When we did stop for food or got food at our destination, we ordered ahead and picked up or used the drive-thru. There was one exception, and that was one breakfast at a coffee shop, but we ordered our food and then waited outside for 20 minutes until it was ready. As always, we either ate at a park or back at our rental, after cleaning our hands, either with sanitizer or washing or both. On the evening when nothing was open for pick-up, we made our own food in our rental's kitchen (I cobbled together a delicious cinnamon peanut butter French toast with bananas). 

My rest stop MVPs

Bring bathroom essentials

Nature calls on road trips. Right now, you can't go inside to use public restrooms, so your choice is basically rest areas. Now, I've been to a lot of very badly-maintained rest stop bathrooms, so I knew I needed to be prepared. I brought a bag that had toilet paper, paper towels, water, sanitizing spray, TP Kits, Fanny Pacs, lotion (for after all the handwashing), potty bags for the dog, and plastic bags for garbage. 

You never know what you'll encounter on any given trip, and we were lucky to stop at rest stops that were well-stocked and clean, but that doesn't mean you always will. I'm very happy I brought all these things, especially since a few places had hand dryers that didn't work well, and I needed the paper towels to properly dry my hands, and one didn't have soap, so I was able to use my sanitizer in a pinch.

Keep your phone charged

This might sound really stupid, but I also kept a back-up battery with me, for when we were using our phones in the car while it wasn't running, like sitting at the ferry dock for over an hour. This is not just for playing on your phone though. Here are other reasons I keep my phone charged:

  • To look up dining establishments
    • And to order food via app or phone call while on the move
  • For directions
  • To take pictures
    • not just of cool stuff you see, but because of Covid, rest stops no longer have brochures like they normally would, so you may want to take a picture of an ad or a map they have posted to remember later
  • Keeping your e-tickets and confirmations handy
  • Communicating with your travel companion(s) if you've split up

Have some cash on hand

While most places aren't accepting cash, sometimes there's a place where you're going to want to have some dollars in your pocket. We encountered a toll road. We tossed some money into a box for donations at a sculpture park. We also came across some vending machines that couldn't get a signal to use our credit card. It's just always good to have a little bit, even if it's just $20 in small bills. 

Keep an eye out for viewpoints

Normally, I'm so focused on doing other things that I usually pass up most viewpoints on a road trip. This time, with almost everything being closed, now is the time to stop and just take in the view. We saw so many lovely things, got to get out of the car and stretch our legs a bit more, and let the dog get out and potty more often by doing this. If I could have gone inside a restaurant (safely), I probably never would have driven up the hill to get this view, or any of these.

Visit state parks and other free outdoor activities

Staying outside is great and a pretty low-risk activity. We drove a lot, but we also got out of the car a lot in sparsely populated places to explore and take pictures. Some of my favorite things were on San Juan, where we found lime kilns, and sculpture park, and some really pretty views in general. 

Enjoy a walk around town to enjoy free art

I tend to do this wherever I go regardless, because building murals are amazing, but it's also a much different experience than seeing art in an "art" setting, like a museum. I enjoy both ways to view art, but I especially like to view street art and sculptures throughout a city. Now that many things are closed, or you may not be comfortable going to those things that are open, this is a really wonderful new way to view a city and learn about their artists and the history of the city itself. 

Roche Harbor is a quaint little town with a gorgeous harbor full of boats, feels a bit like a seaside European town, and has their first lime kilns on display. While no longer working, you can see these kilns and learn about them and their role in the limestone and other labor industries. 

With so many things closed entirely, or just to walk-in traffic, road trips are actually much less stressful, because you don't have too many options on what to do. It's a great time to learn to prepare for future trips and also to plan for repeat trips when it's safe to do more things. We were only gone 4 days, but it felt a lot longer, because we actually relaxed and weren't able to pack our time with things. We are also thinking of doing more road trips in the coming months. 

Have you taken any trips during this pandemic? 

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