With the COVID outbreak negatively impacting many travel and tourism industry channels, many Americans are now resorting to road trips as a safer alternative. While risks are still present, check out a few tips that can help you road trip safely and avoid common pitfalls.
Planning Your Road Trip
Nearly every facet of the country has seen the changes from the COVID-19 outbreak, and businesses are no exception. Even if your next trip is one you have made before, the first big tip is to plan your route carefully. You are likely to have many temporary closures or altered hours on your route, which can mean snags and obstacles for the unprepared traveler. Keep in mind that many restaurants and shops may no longer have bathroom access available, so be prepared to stop early and often to avoid any last-minute issues.
Beyond just planning your route, you will want to ensure you pack plenty of sanitization supplies and make sure your vehicle is in proper shape. A vehicle breakdown will likely be a much worse inconvenience now than compared to recent years, and you will not have any sanitization options should the businesses or accommodations be unable to provide them. It is a lot better to have them and not need them then the other way around!
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Credit Cards and Gas Stations
According to the AARP, it can be a really good idea to limit your payments for gas and other items to a credit card instead of cash. This will not only limit your face-to-face exposure with others but also presents a safer payment option since a credit card can easily be cleaned with disinfectants whereas paper money cannot.
It’s also important to be aware of and limit the number of surfaces you touch at the gas station. Studies dating back to 2011 reveal that gas pumps are among the germiest surfaces in America, even edging out toilet seats! The metal and plastic makeup of a gas pump handle is an ideal breeding ground for COVID, which has been reported to survive on these surfaces as long as a few days. When touching fuel pumps, handles, or keypads at the gas station, be sure to wear gloves or sanitize immediately after. If you don’t have any gloves handy, keeping a few plastic grocery bags in your vehicle is a great alternative to protect your hand from direct contact with the high touch areas at the gas station.
Dining on the Road
While restaurants in many states have resumed dining-in service, this is not something to take for granted. Many restaurants have remained closed or restricted to drive-through or take-out options. Planning or calling ahead can help you to avoid hiccups, but even this will not guarantee a restaurant will not hit their limited or reduced capacity before you arrive. Consider packing groceries and snacks to avoid the extra contact of visiting a restaurant each time you find yourself hungry on your trip.
While it may be tempting, avoid spending any time as the driver eating while actually on the road. Not only can this limit your ability to properly handle steering the vehicle, eating while driving is actually considered a distracted driving activity. We recommend playing it safe and not sorry, and pulling over in a nearby parking lot if you need to eat or snack in your vehicle on your trip.
Sleeping and Accommodations
If you have planned to stay in a hotel overnight, call ahead to confirm any reservations you plan. Though many hotels are back in business, they have recently had to re-address all guidelines for check-in, check-out, and cleaning. It will benefit you to not rely on these processes and re-sanitize all the high touch surfaces of your room upon arrival. Doorknobs, light switches, TV remotes, and bathroom fixtures are all important areas where contamination can survive if not properly cleaned.
Additionally, it is recommended to consider requesting that room service forgo any housekeeping services for trips lasting more than one night. This will help limit the number of people who visit your room during your stay, overall limiting your contact points for possible contamination. Lastly, if you need to make use of the elevator at a hotel, be sure to follow all guidelines for limiting each elevator’s capacity. Without proper distancing and mask use, an elevator can be a large transmission risk if any other passenger is a carrier.
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Practice Safe Driving Habits
There is never a good time to get into a car accident. However, with the Coronavirus lurking around every corner, it may be as inconvenient a time as ever. Remain alert and vigilant while driving, follow all local road laws and signage, and avoid driving while drowsy. You can never control all the circumstances or predict every other driver on the road but practicing safe driving habits will limit your chances of being involved in a car wreck.
Should you be involved in an accident, follow all social distancing guidelines as best as possible while clearing travel lanes, sharing contact information, and contacting the authorities. If you have any questions about what legal options you have, contact the Morris Bart law firm for a free consultation. Our firm is still available 24/7 and has measures in place to ensure the continued service of all exiting and future clients throughout the COVID outbreak. You can text, chat, fill out an evaluation form, or call us 24/7 at (800)537-8185.
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