Eight Tips for Car Travel During COVID-19
Wednesday, November 4, 2020
As 2020 progresses and two of the biggest holidays for travel are quickly approaching, it is important to be prepared and informed to ensure safety for yourself and others.
The first sentences of the Considerations for Travel on the CDC’s website states “Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. Your chances of getting COVID-19 while traveling also depend on whether you and those around you take steps to protect yourself and others.”
Boiled down, traveling is certainly less safe for yourself and others than staying home.
But we know there are things that come up that require us to hop in the car and go visit someone, take care of an issue, or tend to an emergency. Below find eight practical tips to help keep you and others safe if you must travel.
Those who “travel-light” and don’t pack the whole kit and kaboodle in years past have been praised, but this year it is much safer to “travel-heavy.” Ensure you have everything you need before embarking on your trip. Of course, pack the essential clothing and toiletries bag, but also make certain to pack your “safety travel pack” that should include hand sanitizer, extra masks, disposable gloves, and disinfecting wipes.
- Map out your route
Like any other car travel, you’ve likely looked up your route on a map or asked someone else the best route to take. This year make certain you also research your destination and the travel requirements of the state, county, and city you are visiting. Know whether you will have to quarantine upon arrival, if rest areas will be closed, and if there are areas that are COVID-19 hot spots. An important consideration of your destination and route is the local COVID-19 transmission rate. Take a moment to research local trends where you are visiting, and traveling through, to consider if a different route could keep you safer. The best resources for these are the local health department websites and the state Departments of Transportation.
- Service your car
Now more than ever, preparation is key before embarking on a road trip. Take a moment to call a local mechanic you trust who offers contactless service to get an assessment if anything needs to get looked at before you get on the road. This limits the potential of having to stop in an area you don’t know with stores and shops who may not offer safe, contactless service. After the mechanic gives your car the stamp of approval, ensure you wipe everything down with disinfectant wipes.
- Pack a picnic
Road trip snacks are always a good idea. Especially now when limiting your external exposure is so critical, it is much simpler to have your food ready to go and in the car. Pack a small cooler with plenty of snacks and beverages to limit your need to stop for food. But if you are like many of us and tend to underestimate how much you will eat in the car, opt for drive-thru windows instead of going inside a restaurant. Be certain to put on your face mask when interacting with the drive-thru attendant and don’t be shy about asking others to wear their masks appropriately.
- Gassing up
As the gas pump is a high-touch surface, consider the different ways to protect yourself at the pump. The best protection would be those handy disposable gloves you have in your safety pack! Put them on before you get out to pump your gas and then dispose of them after you finish, making certain to remove them properly from the inside out. If you weren’t able to find disposable gloves, other options are wiping down the handles and buttons with disinfecting wipes or using a paper towel to touch these surfaces. When finished and returning to your vehicle, apply hand sanitizer.
- Bathrooms and Rest Stops
Road trip public restrooms are not known for their glittering, clean surfaces and now, more than ever, it is important to be on guard when stopping for bio breaks. Be smart where you stop. Consider using disposable gloves or a disinfectant wipe to open door handles, turn on faucets, and make contact with any other high touch areas. If you can, use your foot to flush the toilet and open doors. And of course, wash your hands appropriately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer before you get into your car.
- Overnight stays
When you need to stay overnight in a hotel consider checking to make certain masks in public spaces are required and only book a reservation where they are required. Many hotels offer contactless check-in which would also limit your exposure to others upon arrival as well. Review the hotel website or call the hotel property before booking to confirm their current protocols. Per CDC recommendations, when you enter a hotel room, use your own disinfecting wipes to sanitize “high-touch” surfaces like doorknobs, drawer handles, the TV remote, bathroom fixtures, and any area you will be putting your stuff on while there. For stays of more than one night, let the front desk know upon arrival that you will forgo housekeeping services allowing you to ensure you can control the sanitization of your room. Also, consider staying in a contactless Airbnb or VRBO property as well.
- Wash up!
Finally, when you get to your destination, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Sing whatever song you need to, but ensure you scrub thoroughly!
These tips are courtesy of UMC Support’s Travel and Meeting Planning Department. Just because we can’t physically be together right now doesn’t mean that we aren't meeting! Our Travel and Meeting Planning Department is currently offering virtual meeting services – let us help you plan your virtual event today! Contact Connectional Relations at 866-367-4232 or email ConnectionalRelations@gcfa.org today!