If you’re planning a road trip this summer, but want to be safe and smart about it due to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve got some easy tips to help you prepare. This summer, in particular, it's not only important to keep your car in good shape but yourself and your passengers, too!
Road Trips and Your Safety
With some countries closing their borders to travelers, many people are considering taking road trips this summer. Since international travel isn’t recommended, or even possible in some cases, many people are considering the good old-fashioned road trip.
According to AAA, car trips dominate over summer vacations, “accounting for 97% of the favored mode of transportation,” and 97% of summer trips are road trips. While road trips are still preferred over air travel (which has been reduced) everyone has likely put on the brakes when it comes to planning their next vacay since the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t ended.
If you’ve already booked a trip, or you simply can’t be inside any longer, keep these considerations in mind before you head out so you can be safe, and make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape.
Before You Go...
First, is the trip necessary? If you’re at risk, consider the pros and cons. Where are you going? Do you need to rely on a neighboring town’s grocery stores, restaurants, or gas stations? These places are hot spots for contracting the virus since they’re considered essential. As you travel, you or your passengers could end up spreading the virus to another town or city, or end up contracting it yourselves.
You should also consider who’s going to be in the car on your trip. Are they people from your household? Going on a road trip means being in confined space for hours at a time, which could mean spreading the virus to people outside your household, or getting it from someone else. Wearing a mask during a long road trip isn’t likely to be followed through (but wear it as much as you can), so consider your passengers and your own safety before you hop in your vehicle.
To help prepare for the trip, try to social distance and quarantine yourself as much as possible beforehand, and consider telling your road trip partners the same, as well. Try to do this for about two weeks, since signs of the coronavirus could take that long to appear. This way, when you get into the car with someone outside your household, you can be more confident that they haven’t contracted the virus while you were planning the trip.
It might also be worth it for your group to get tested before you head out – better safe than sorry!
Prepping Your Car for the Long Haul
Your health isn’t the only thing to consider when you’re going on a trip; check the health of your car, too!
Prepping your vehicle for a long trip means:
- Making sure you have a spare tire and the tools needed to replace it.
- Getting an oil change, as well as checking other fluids and other regular maintenance items.
- Considering adding roadside assistance to your auto insurance.
- Knowing your car’s driving range.
- Having safe and working jumper cables. You can also consider investing in a portable jump starter.
If you get a flat tire, and you’re not sure you can fix it, roadside assistance could save your trip from total disaster if something happens. It’s always best to be prepared when you’re going to unfamiliar areas.
You should also look up your vehicle's range. This means figuring out how big your car’s gas tank is, and how many miles per gallon (mpg) it gets. Take the gas tank size and multiply it by the mpg, and you can get a good range estimate.
For example, if your vehicle gets 30 mpg on the highway, and it has a 10-gallon gas tank, that’s an estimated 300-mile range. Easy! This allows you to plan ahead your major stops. Can you imagine running out of gas in the middle of nowhere? It may make for a good story later, but, in the moment, it could strand you and ruin the time line of a trip.
On the (Pandemic) Road Again
Avoid stopping in a lot of public places, or planning a trip where you’re going to need to rely on a foreign town for supplies. Take some time to pack lots of water, snacks, and meals to reduce stopping in public places.
If you must stop or want to stop at a landmark, wear a mask and stay 6 feet away from others in public spaces; although you’ve probably heard this advice by now! While reciting this may seem redundant at this point, it’s especially important when you’re traveling. Some cities are hot spots, some are relatively clear of the virus, but it’s nearly impossible to tell what town is “safe” from the virus at any given time.
Also, try to wear disposable gloves whenever you can. When you’re done touching surfaces, throw them away before you get back into your car. There’s no point in wearing gloves if you touch all your stuff or face immediately after touching an infected surface!
Another big part of your trip to plan ahead for is gas station stops. If you’re bringing a trailer, consider bringing an approved gas can that can be stored outside your vehicle safely. This way, you won’t have to stop at as many gas stations, and you could fill up at the same place twice. If you’re not bringing a trailer, still consider packing an empty gas can in case you do run out. Again, better safe than sorry.
Other Pandemic Road Trip Considerations
Keep in mind, some states may still be on lockdown, which could mean no indoor seating at restaurants, or reduced hours at some grocery stores. There are even some cities with individual curfews where everyone must be home or inside by a certain time. When you’re traveling cross-country, or even statewide, it can be hard to plan for stops when every town may vary in their storefront availability.
Some other quick tips include:
- Bring plastic bags – You can put hotel remotes inside them to use a TV, or use them for your cell phone if you go to the store or public area. Once you’re done, toss the baggie and move on.
- Bring disinfecting wipes – Wipe down your car’s cabin in between stops if you stop at a store or gas station.
- Lots of hand sanitizer – Sanitize your hands often and before you reenter your vehicle.
- Bring face masks – If you’re on a road trip, you may not get a chance to wash a reusable face mask. Be sure to bring multiple disposable and fabric ones for the trip.
- Call ahead – It’s probably worth it to call ahead to some major stops that you’re planning on checking out to be sure that they’re open to the public.
Is Your Car Road Trip Worthy?
If you’re not feeling too confident about your car’s ability to take on a huge road trip, it may be time to trade it in for another! Why not start here with us at The Car Connection?
We’re connected to dealerships across the country, including those that work with bad credit borrowers. To get matched to a dealer in your area that can work with unique credit situations, fill out our free auto loan request form. Get started right now!