In In Transit, National Parks, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North America, Pandemic, Travel Tips, USA, Vermont

Road trips have been one of the silver linnings of this pandemic. It has forced us to look closer to home for opportunities to explore.

Living in New Jersey, we were fortunate that after the initially terrible coronavirus case numbers, the Northeast did very well containing the virus for most of the summer and part of early Autumn, allowing us to take several road trips without the need to quarantine between states.

We took two road trips to New Hampshire and Vermont during the peak foliage time.

We also planned several road trips to the New England states for our clients who wanted to be able to travel to domestic destinations that were low risk. With the travel restrictions and rules constantly changing, we were able to tweak their plans accordingly, something that would have been much harder for them to do on their own.

Below we share our best tips and tricks to ensure you have a safe road trip should you choose to embark on in the near future. Please bear in mind that the coronavirus numbers have been increasing at an alarming rate nationwide and although we are sharing our tips and tricks, we highly recommend staying home until it is safer to travel.

In addition, many of the states that had travel/quarantine exceptions for residents of neighboring states have reversed their decisions. Most of these states have returned to full 14-day quarantine rules, applicable for ALL leisure travelers. Please be sure to check specific state’s COVID-19 rules before visiting. 


Know Your Risk

Any form of travel will have a risk with regards to exposure to the coronavirus. It is really important for each person to assess their own risk assessment and that depends on an array of factors which differ person to person. Before you head anywhere, be sure you have taken all of the following into consideration in addition to any other that may be important for you personally:

  • your health
  • your companion’s health (if applicable)
  • your households health
  • location of origin
  • location of destination
  • method of transportation (personal vehicle or rental)
  • length of travel
  • time of travel

Be Flexible

One of the biggest asset to road trips is that it gives you flexibility in a variety of way which is crucial for our current circumstances. If travel regulations change last minute, you have the ability to change details of your trips accordingly. When it came to our own road trips and that of our clients, we had to make several changes days before departure because of changes in quarantine policies at the destinations.

While visiting New Hampshire, we checked into a hotel that did not make us feel comfortable from a cleanliness standpoint, so we were able to walk out and book another hotel. The fact that we had our own vehicle and a flexible schedule allowed us to move to a different part of the state and check into a hotel we felt more comfortable with, without hassle. This was only doable because we kept our general day to day itinerary flexible, allowing us to make last minute changes as necessary.


Destination

With so many travel restrictions, even within the United States, consider your destination carefully. You can have a perfectly peaceful escape within your own state if you know where to look. Alternatively, if the bordering state regulations allow for visitors where you live, then hop over to a nearby state for a much needed and deserved R&R.

  • Be flexible with your destination.
    • Rules change consistently and constantly.
    • Be prepared to change destination at the last minute if necessary.
  • Know the 14-day quarantine rule of your home state.
    • A lot of state have rules that if you travel out of state, you will need to quarantine for 10 or 14-days upon return (this varies based on individual state mandate).
    • Some states have exceptions to this rule depending on where you are traveling back from; check your local state’s website for up-to-date information. 

Vehicle

Taking your own vehicle is the safest, but renting a vehicle can be just as safe, especially if you do your due diligence and wipe everything down as soon as you get into the vehicle.

  • Wipe down the steering wheel, door handles, and console every time you step into the vehicle. This will ensure it is always clean and sanitized. 
  • Once you have done that, and you don’t allow anyone outside your travel companions inside the vehicle, it can basically be your safe zone.

Accommodation

  • Book hotels that have a good cancellation policy in place.
    • Most chain hotels have adopted a 24-hour cancellation policy, meaning you have until 24 hours before check in to cancel without penalty. Try to stay with these hotels. In addition to great refund policies, they are also following a strict cleaning procedure that is mandated company wide. 
  • Inspect the room before settling in.
    • All hotels are trying their best to stay on top of all the COVID cleaning protocols, however, things can still get overlooked. On more than one occasion, we have had to change our room because we didn’t feel comfortable. Checking your room properly before putting your things down will make the transition (if necessary) into a new/cleaner room easier.
  • Once checked in to your room, disinfect every surface area.
    • Disinfect all the tables, switches, lamps, phone, TV, remote, and bathroom counter areas. Anything you will touch, wipe it down with a disinfectant wipe.
  • Camping is also an excellent pandemic friendly accommodation option!

Restaurants/Food

The safest thing to do is get food to go and eat outdoors in nature. If it’s dinner and the sun has already set, take it back to the hotel. Although many restaurants are offering indoor and outdoor seating at limited capacity, to be the safest you can possibly be on travel, it is best to avoid eating at restaurants.

Pack some blankets, pillows and warm clothing and head to a park for an outdoor picnic. Alternatively, park your car at a scenic parking spot (think state park, local park, scenic overlook, campsite (during the day), beach — the options are endless depending on where you live) and enjoy your meal from the warmth and comfort of your vehicle. 


Sights and Activities

  • Go early wherever you are headed – beat the crowd.
  • Stick to outdoors sights.
  • Do not visit sights or partake in activities that will involve others or big crowds.
  • Bear in mind that no matter how safe a place is, there is always an inherent risk to COVID-19 in any public place.
  • Practice Social Distance at ALL Times!
  • Use this time to connect with nature. Being in nature has profound positive impacts on your physical, mental and emotional health.

Packing

Pack for your destination, for the weather and for a pandemic. Below are a list of items we strongly recommend taking with you no matter where you are headed:

  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Disinfectant Wipes/Spray
  • Paper Towel
  • Bar Soaps (you can cut up smaller pieces for each travel companion to avoid waste)
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Masks (disposable and cloth)
  • Filters (for masks)
  • Thermometer
  • First Aid Kit
  • Medications
  • Water Bottles
  • Snacks
  • Small Trash Bags (especially if you are visiting state and national parks, leave no trace behind)
  • Pillowcase (if you want to be extra careful)
  • Powerbanks/Portable Chargers

There is no denying that the face of travel has changed trifold in light of the global pandemic. Things you never thought twice about before are the significant concerns in the forefront now. But it does not have to be complicated. It does not have to be taxing. It just requires patience, planning, and being vigilant about one’s health and safety.

Wear a Mask.

Wash Your Hands.

Practice Social Distance. 

Above all, if you or someone in your household is not well, STAY HOME.

The world is still waiting to be explored, but not everyone is ready to head out exploring, and that is perfectly OK. Whether you are ready for road trips depends entirely on your personal threshold for risk. The truth is, any form of travel involves some form of risk.

The restrictions will continue to change. But, when it is safe to travel again and you feel comfortable to travel again, know that we will be here to help. Reach out to us with any travel planning questions, concerns or assistance you may need.  

Stay Safe, Everyone!

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