Travel during the coronavirus pandemic
, even with some state restrictions lifted, means more preparations and precautions are necessary. Many people have avoided flying because of the pandemic and may see travel by car as more responsible.
If you do have to hit the road, there are some new considerations, as well as the traditional advice for getting your car ready for a road trip.
- What’s open? Planning is especially important this year because many state parks and businesses are closed due to COVID-19. Make sure you know what is open or closed before you head out. You don’t want to head over to the Corn Palace to realize it’s shuttered!
- Face mask. Bring one for every passenger, and wear them in public. Even places where it looks like social distancing is in force can become crowded in a hurry. Make sure you have a place to wash a reusable mask, or that you have plenty of disposable masks for the entirety of your trip.
- Call ahead. Be sure to confirm any potential restrictions for where you are traveling. Each state you visit may have different restrictions, so make sure you are always following the correct regulations and restrictions.
- Who are you visiting? Limit the virus exposure to yourself and others. The CDC advises to be especially mindful when visiting family and friends who may be especially vulnerable. Keep your distance from people, especially vulnerable people or strangers.
- Stop early and often. Stop for fuel and food breaks sooner than essential, just in case. Check online to see whether state-run highway rest stops are open and which facilities are in operation. And, make sure you wear your mask inside, and sanitize/wash your hands before you get back in your car.
- Glove up for fueling. Carry disposable nitrile or latex gloves in your car to use when touching the pump handle. If you can’t get any gloves, you can try to use paper towels that are sometimes available at the pump or have some with you to cover your hands when you touch the handle.
- Bring your own. Some gas stations have been noted to be short on paper products, so bring your own disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers, and a toilet paper roll. Clean your hands often, including after refueling and handling a credit card for payment.
- Oil changes. For cars that need light maintenance before a trip, some quick lube shops—including Jiffy Lube and Valvoline Instant Oil Change—can perform oil changes and other services while you stay in the car, minimizing touch and potential exposure.
- Roadside assistance. AAA told CR that it will continue to provide roadside assistance to members across the country, and its service providers have protocols in place to protect their safety and yours.