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Top 10 Tips for a Pandemic-Safe Road Trip This Spring

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When my mom called me asking if I would drive with her from Colorado to California for work, we were both hesitant. Since the pandemic struck the world almost exactly one year ago, travel safety has seemed shaky. It was an unavoidable trip, and she couldn’t do the drive alone. But how could we road trip safely?

We brainstormed and researched while we quarantined in preparation for the trip. Two-weeks on the other side of the trip with no complications, road tripping safely seems very possible. Here are my top 10 tips tested tips for traveling in a way that is mindful of your own health and the health of others.

two women in car wearing in masks

1. Bring Disinfectants

Packing a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol was probably the best thing my mom and I did to prepare. It was the answer to everything. Gross gas station bathroom? Disconcerting smells in your hotel room? Spray everything with rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol has the upper hand on some other cleaning products – it’s effective, affordable, and it doesn’t stain. As soon as we opened the door to our hotel room, we would wipe down and spray every surface in the room (including sheets, carpets, and couches). Several of the COVID-killing disinfectants on the CDC’s approved list have Isopropyl Alcohol as their active ingredient. Make sure to fill your spray bottle with at least 70% rubbing alcohol to make sure you kill all those germs.

Car Disinfectant spray

2. Air-Out Hotel Rooms

Airing out your hotel room as soon as you arrive is a good way to ensure the germs of the previous guests and the hotel staff aren’t passed on to you. Air circulation, especially outside air, has been proven to be key to keeping the virus at bay. Leave the windows open for an hour or two while you spray down surfaces and settle in.

Woman opening hotel curtains and windows

3. Bring Plenty of Masks

Something to consider is that not all masks are created equal. According to the CDC’s mask guide, double-layered masks that fit the wearer’s face closely and securely and do not let any light through are better at stopping the spread of the virus. We decided to bring KN-95 masks, which are known to be some of the most effective. Many counterfeit KN-95 masks have been circling the market lately, so be sure to choose ones that are legitimate. Make sure that you change your mask out every day. We brought enough masks to have two for every day of our trip.

Couple putting on masks in car

4. Pack Single-Use Gloves

Before we pumped gas, we would put on single-use latex gloves. When it was time to get back in the car, we tossed them in the garbage can and used hand sanitizer. That extra layer of protection in public places eliminated a lot of contact with surfaces. But make sure to shop for gloves, cleaning products, and food before you start your drive. Going into grocery stores in towns outside of your sphere is a good way to spread germs. It can also deprive the local community of hard-to-get supplies.

Women wearing gloves carrying groceries to car

5. Bring Your Own Breakfast

Buffet-style breakfasts are low on the list of safe ways to eat during the pandemic. We packed cereal, milk, fresh fruit, and yogurt, and bagel sandwiches (and a bottle or two of white wine) in a cooler bag. Not only did this preparation help us keep ourselves and others safe, we also saved money!  

Food brought from home

6. Pack Your Snacks

According to Business Insider, packing your snacks ahead of time is one of the best ways to keep safety in mind while road tripping. We chose to bring some of our favorite snacks that we would normally pick up at gas stations along the way – pretzels, party mixes, cold teas, granola bars, and chocolates. We also made hummus and chopped up carrots for a fresher, more protein-filled snack.

Snacks from home

7. Bring Extra Clothes

Even during normal times, a long journey can make the “I just got off the plane. Where’s the shower?” feeling last for several days on end. We packed a little heavier than we normally would to eliminate the need to wear the same pair of clothes for more than one day. We also packed enough pajamas to have a pair for each hotel stay, which is another good way to increase peace of mind and prevent carrying germs with you from place to place.

Fully packed suticase

8. Stop at Drive-Thrus

Indoor dining has consistently been one of the worst virus spreaders. Look for drive-thrus that you’re familiar with and that have high cleanliness standards. We picked a few favorite meals and drinks ahead of time from establishments that consistently have drive-thrus. Whenever we needed to stop, we knew that we would get what we needed quickly and safely. Just make sure to put on that mask (over both your mouth and your nose) before you roll down your window.

Mcdonalds Drive Thru

9. Have a Game-Plan for Stops

This is a situation where you absolutely should judge a book by its cover. If a place looks busy, move on. Choose the gas station with the fewest customers. We also made sure we knew where the gloves and sanitizers were before going in so that we were ready to de-germ as soon as we came out.

Empty gas station

10. Know the Guidelines

Before you start your trip, read up on the guidelines of any states that you will be passing through. Each state is different, and it is important to know what is required in each place you will be traveling or staying in.

New york city cop wearing mask

Bonus Tip: Plan Your Podcasts and Playlists

Driving for hours on end, even for the most seasoned and joyous road trippers, can get tiring. And the pandemic isn’t helping anything. The Harry Potter audiobooks, classic rock playlists, and our favorite history podcasts kept us in good spirits. Download them at your hotel so you have happy listening all day long.

Pddcast in Car for roadtrip

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Saturday 27th of February 2021

Nice tips but why would you need to wrap your food in plastic? There are many sustainable options that aren't bad for the planet. (Same question for all the disposable face-masks on the pictures, that's why there's so much 'corona' garbage in the streets nowadays, yuck)

Kashlee Kucheran

Saturday 27th of February 2021

Very good point - There are many great reusable wax paper or other alternatives that should have been suggested. We will update the article