COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. It’s affected everything: how we work, how we learn, how we shop.
It’s especially changed how we travel. People are traveling less and the number of individuals flying is down. Those who are still taking trips are opting to do so by car, rather than a plane.
Road trips are a safer alternative. It gets you out of the house and cuts down your risk of exposure to coronavirus.
But even as restrictions on how frequently and when people can leave their homes in certain areas begin to ease up, the pandemic is still a threat in many states. Here are some tips on how to stay safe, stay healthy, and stay away from coronavirus while you’re on the road.
Check Local Restrictions
Before you hit the road, check government and health department restrictions and suggestions in the areas you’ll be driving through as well as your final destination. Some areas might require that travelers from certain regions quarantine when they arrive. There could be other restrictions in place for travelers as well. Check all state, county, city, and local health organization websites for the most up-to-date information.
Also, different cities and states are at different stages of stay-at-home orders. This means, while certain businesses might be open in your own city, they could be closed where you’re going. If you’re traveling for pleasure, check in advance to see if restaurants, shops, and other destinations will be open when you get there. If they’re not temporarily closed, they might have adjusted their hours of operation because of the pandemic.
Assess Your Health and the Health of Your Loved Ones
While everyone is at risk of catching COVID-19, older adults and individuals with certain medical conditions have a higher chance of battling severe illness if they get coronavirus. So, before you hit the road, review your personal health conditions, as well as the health concerns of loved ones you regularly spend time with. Then, ask yourself, is this trip worth it?
Short drives to run errands in town are less risky. Still, many with underlying health conditions continue to avoid trips to local grocery shops and other stores for fear of catching coronavirus.
If you do have health conditions that would make contracting coronavirus worse for you or a loved one, consider rescheduling your trip until the threat of the pandemic has passed.
Also, before you leave for any road trip, go down the COVID-19 symptom checklist. If you exhibit several of the symptoms of the illness, postpone your trip. You don’t want to inadvertently spread the virus during your travels.
Don’t Forget Your Mask
At this point in the pandemic, a face mask should be considered an essential item for everyone. Still, if you’re taking a drive, no matter the distance, don’t forget yours.
By driving, you’re inevitably avoiding crowded, public transit as well as airports, and train and bus stations, likely hubs of disease. Don’t get complacent and leave your mask behind when you’re on the road, though.
When driving, there will still be times you find yourself in public spaces: gas stations, restaurants, hotels, shops. Wearing your mask can help slow the transmission of coronavirus.
Pack Water and Snacks
If you bring your own snacks, water, and other beverages on your road trip, this will cut down the number of times you need to stop for a bite to eat or a drink. This means less time in public spaces and less potential exposure to COVID-19.
If you do need to run into a convenience store for a snack or drink, remember to wear your mask and use hand sanitizer when you leave the building. And if you want a more substantial meal while on the road, consider using the drive-through at a fast-food establishment or curbside pick-up from a restaurant.
Use Hand Sanitizer
You won’t be able to wash your hands any time you’d like when on the road, so make sure you pack your hand sanitizer. Throughout the pandemic, hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) has been an essential tool against coronavirus.
Whenever you touch anything at all – a door handle, a gas pump, a bag of chips on a store shelf – use your hand sanitizer immediately. It will help kill any germs lingering on your skin.
Be Wary of Public Bathrooms
When you have to go, you have to go, even on the road. Still, public restrooms are havens for germs even without a raging pandemic.
If possible, use the bathroom before you leave for any drive – long or short – to cut down on the number of bathroom breaks you need to take. And wear your mask into any public bathroom you use.
Limit your time in public restrooms and touch as little as possible. Consider wearing gloves or using your foot or a wad of clean toilet paper to touch door handles, flushing mechanisms, and other surfaces. Also, don’t be shy about bringing a small bottle of disinfectant spray with you to spritz your stall before using the toilet.
And before you leave the bathroom, washing your hands in warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds will kill any germs. And avoid the hand dryer. It just blows germy air around.
Wear Gloves When You Pump Gas
Be cautious and wear gloves when you stop to fill your tank. Gas pumps, which are touched by thousands of people every day, are filthy and covered in bacteria. In fact, studies show that the average pump handle is 11,835 times germier than a public toilet seat. And the buttons you use to select your gas aren’t much better. Let that sink in.
These are germs you don’t want lingering in your car, or on your hands or clothes. To cut down on the chances of bringing something home with you, carry disposable gloves in your car and wear those whenever you pump. (Remember to dispose of them safely.)
Also, use hand sanitizer after every time you touch anything at a gas station. And if you must go into the store to pay for your gas, wear a mask.
Follow the Rules of the Road
Just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean you should ignore road safety. So, drive safely. Even with fewer people on the road because of COVID-19, there will still be car accidents.
Pay attention to speed limits and other road signs. Avoid text messaging and other distractions while driving. Drive defensively and yield to aggressive drivers to avoid trouble. And if you do find yourself in an accident, have contact information for your car insurance company and lawyers in easy reach just in case.
Stay Safe and Stay Healthy
Reality Paper offers a wide range of news and information for readers with all interests. Now that you have a plan to stay safe, stay healthy, and stay away from coronavirus on your next road trip, check out our blog for more lifestyle, health, and travel tips.