When American households began to quarantine, we all experienced unique challenges. Not only were we homeschooling our kids while working from home, but “family togetherness” had a whole new meaning.
While the end of the school year typically marks the start of summer travel, there’s a good chance that you had to cancel a family reunion or that quick anniversary getaway with your spouse.
The way we travel has undoubtedly changed, but many families are still planning their quintessential summer family road trip. Whether you are taking a road trip to your favorite beach, lake, or campground, consider these road trip tips to help keep you and your family safe this Summer.
Essential Family Road Trip Safety Tips To Keep in Mind When Traveling this Summer
Family road trips have always been synonymous with summer vacation. You went on road trips with your family when you were a kid, the Griswolds made it famous, and even the Muppets took an epic trip cross country.
Road trips require careful planning, but even more so after spending months in quarantine. Don’t forget these road trip safety tips to ensure a memorable traveling experience.
Never Travel If Anyone is Feeling Sick
This might go without saying, but it’s important to keep everyone’s health in check before, during, and after your family road trip.
It’s also important to remember that symptoms in kids may be different than adults. If anyone in your family is experiencing fever, coughs, excessive fatigue, or other common symptoms, its best to postpone your trip or get tested before you hit the road.
Consider CDC Recommendations
After staying home for months on end, nearly everyone is eager to get out and about. With festivals and other summer events canceled, it might feel like summer is more or less canceled, too.
Fortunately, if you plan responsibly, summer road trips are still an option for many. Before you plan your trip like you have every other summer, it’s essential to keep the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations in mind.
Similarly, if the state you live in is strongly advising against travel or have a “stay at home” order in place, plan your trip for a later time. Don’t forget to keep an eye on state checkpoints and news about border crossings.
Get a Tune-Up
Perhaps one of the most important road trip safety tips is making sure your vehicle is road trip ready.
Your trusted mechanic probably misses you, and even if you haven’t driven your vehicle much in the last 3 to 4 months, you definitely want to get a tune-up before you hit the road.
Vehicles that sit around, undriven, for extended periods are more likely to have uneven tires, rusted brakes, and other problems under the hood. Not only will car issues leave you stranded by the side of the road, but it can also increase your chances of having a car accident due to poor maintenance or faulty parts.
Haven’t driven in a while? It’s easy to get out of the habit of keeping your eyes on the road and avoid distractions.
Research Your Route
One of the best things about a summertime road trip is the opportunity to be spontaneous and visit out of the way places. Unfortunately, this summer, the places to go and things to see might be limited, but you can still have fun with some careful planning.
While you might like to live by the “take the road less traveled” mantra when traveling, this year’s family road trip will be different. Doing some research ahead of time will reduce the chances of hitting numerous dead ends and “Sorry, We’re Closed” signs.
Whether you’re camping or staying at hotels, double-check availability before you leave. Don’t assume that reservations that you made months ago are still valid.
It’s also a good idea to pick a route and area that has medical facilities in the vicinity. Many rural areas are fun to explore while on a road trip, but they often have limited medical care or no facilities nearby.
Have a Plan B
When the country was up and running as normal, traveling was easy. If one plan didn’t work out, you could quickly choose something else to do. If itineraries aren’t really your thing, you’ll need to make one with a few backup plans as well.
Speaking of your travel plans, it’s always a good idea to let someone know where you’re going and share a copy of your itinerary. Whether it’s a neighbor or a distant family member, someone should be aware of your plans and know how to get a hold of you if an emergency arises.
Mask wearing is a hot topic these days, and regardless of your stance, you should have at least one mask for every member of your family over the age of 2. Depending on where you travel and what you plan to do when you reach your destination, a mask may be an absolute “must.”
It’s definitely better to play it safe than to go without. Ideally, it’s a good idea to have one mask for every family member for each day of the trip. Since cloth masks need to be washed after each use, you’ll want to make sure you have enough.
Disposable masks are another great option to consider; just make sure that you dispose of them properly.
Take Precautions at Rest Stops and Other Public Places
While some well-known landmarks might be closed for the summer, rest stops and other public places like gas stations and grocery stores are likely to be open. Continue to practice social distancing, handwashing, and other precautions when visiting any place where people are likely to visit throughout the day.
It’s best to explore as many contactless options as possible when traveling.
Your Family’s Road Trip Packing List
No road trip plan is complete without a packing list. This summer’s list might look a little different and longer. Here’s what we recommend:
- Pack more food and water to avoid restaurants and stores
- Garbage bags for dirty clothes and masks
- Hand sanitizer/hand soap
- Toilet paper (the shortage isn’t over)
- Prepaid cards instead of cash
- First-aid kit including a thermometer and health insurance cards
- Enough medication for the whole family
Making The Best of Your Family’s Road Trip This Summer
Life during and after quarantine means that we’re all experiencing a new norm. Even though many things have been put on hold indefinitely, a family road trip is not completely out of the question.
Planning your family road trip with these safety tips in mind will not only ensure that your travels go smoothly, but your family stays safe and healthy.
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