7 tips for a safe and fun family road trip.
It’s autumn again, and winter is fast approaching. In any other year, you’d be happily planning your holiday vacations, perhaps thinking about visiting family for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Things are a little different this year. You’re probably still thinking about the holidays — but with trepidation, not knowing what to expect when you venture out of your home.
That being said, you might also be desperate to get away from the stresses of remote work, online school, and everything else that has come with the pandemic.
The good news is, you don’t have to deal with the stresses that come with air travel (even in normal times) to get away on a family trip. In 2020, road trips are very much in vogue, and people are using them as creative ways to travel safely.
Want to hit the open road with your family this fall or winter? Here are seven tips for a safe and fun family road trip.
Prepare the kids
Begin by prepping your kids, especially if they’re too young to understand the pandemic and the safety protocols that come with it.
Practice wearing masks long before you leave. In many public spaces, kids older than 2 years of age are required to wear masks (with some exceptions). Get them used to the idea beforehand by having practice sessions.
Let them choose fun cloth face coverings that reflect their personality. Make it a game with prizes. The last thing you want to deal with is a fussy child who refuses to wear a mask while you’re traveling.
You’ll also want to try to curb small children from the habit of touching everything they see and putting their hands in their mouths. Again, start this well ahead of your trip. You can set them up with fun videos about social distancing and hygiene before you go, and read some educational materials on how to get your kids to help keep themselves safe.
Plan your route and stops
These days, with coronavirus spikes cropping up in different regions, it’s hard to know what will be open. Plan a route where you can find open gas stations, grocery stores, rest stops, and accommodations. Google will usually tell you what’s open in your search results, but be sure by clicking through to websites. Things can change at a moment’s notice.
If rest stops are still closed in the states you’re driving through, see if any have porta-potties have been added. They’re cleaned thoroughly and routinely, so take advantage of the convenience. (Just remember your hand sanitizer afterward!)
Check your finances
Before you head out, it’s critical to be sure your finances are in order. Having enough cash and credit will make your trip more fun — and safer, too.
Most places these days encourage customers to order online and pay with plastic. Make sure your credit is solid and you have enough wiggle room on your card to pay for things as you need them. In general, it’s smart to check your credit routinely, and know when and how to give it a boost.
Take advantage of deals
The tourism industry is still really struggling for business. Many accommodations, services, and attractions are offering great getaway deals as incentives for would-be travelers. Many are emphasizing safety and hygiene to help visitors feel safe.
Tip: Be sure to look at TripAdvisor, Yelp!, or other review sites to ensure that places are making good on their deals as advertised.
Pack a hygiene safety kit
Aside from washing your hands and wiping down dashboards and door handles, you’ll need to disinfect little hands, toys, books, and other items. Pack a safety kit with the supplies you’ll need to keep your family healthy and safe. Grab a sealable plastic bin and include the following:
- Multiple cloth face coverings and disposable masks
- Disinfecting wipes in both large and small packages
- Plenty of hand sanitizer, including a larger bottle to refill smaller ones
- Rubbing alcohol
- Disposable gloves
- Paper towels and napkins
- Small, sealable plastic bags
- Trash bags
- Any preferred soaps and detergents your family uses
When stocking your kit, be aware that the FDA has recalled hundreds of dangerous hand sanitizers. Check the labels on any sanitizers you plan to take against the FDA’s “do not use” list.
Give your car a checkup
There’s nothing worse than breaking down when you’re traveling with kids. Before you leave, be sure your battery, heater, brakes, windshield wipers, and tires are in good shape. Then check your oil, antifreeze, windshield wipers, and all other fluids to ensure they’re full.
Also, make sure your insurance is in order before getting on the road. Carefully go over your insurance coverage in advance so you’ll know your options in the event that you break down or have an accident.
Know the forecast
At this time of year, the weather can feel like a summer’s day or a cold winter’s night — or both, in turn. Know the forecast in the regions you’re traveling through so you can pack appropriately. To help you plan, download a good weather app so you can track what, if any, wintry weather might be lying in wait along your route.
You or your kids might be sensitive to cool weather, so depending on your destination, you might bring along some warm coats, hats, and gloves in case they’re needed along the way. (One of the benefits of traveling by car or van is that you don’t have to limit your packing as severely as when you fly.)
Once you’ve gone over your list and checked it twice (after all, the holidays are quickly approaching!) and you’re sure you’re prepared, you can load your family into your car and hit the road, knowing you have the tools to stay safe and have a great trip!
Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life