How to hit the open road during a pandemic

Travel enthusiasts can hit the open road this fall with their peace of mind intact, especially if they follow a few safety precautions while heading off for parts unknown. Metro Creative Services photo
Travel enthusiasts can hit the open road this fall with their peace of mind intact, especially if they follow a few safety precautions while heading off for parts unknown. Metro Creative Services photo

Fall has traditionally been a great time of year to hit the open road. Fall foliage annually provides an idyllic backdrop for fall road trips. But 2020 is a year unlike any other, and veteran road trippers may wonder if it’s wise, or even legal, to take to the open road this fall.

The COVID-19 virus has forced local governments to implement various changes aimed at preventing the spread of the potentially deadly virus. While interstate travel during the outbreak is different, it’s not illegal. However, many states put specific policies in place that mandated out-of-state visitors self-quarantine for a certain period time, most often 14 days. Such measures compelled many would-be travelers to remain within the borders of their home states.

But traveling need not be a relic of the past because of a pandemic. In fact, travel enthusiasts can hit the open road this fall with their peace of mind intact, especially if they follow a few safety precautions while heading off for parts unknown.

  • Determine how far you really need to go. Restrictions have been lifted in many areas, but it’s still most convenient for drivers to stay somewhat close to home, ideally within their own states. That makes it easy for them to buy food, gas, use a restroom, or visit a park or monument without violating the spirit of quarantine mandates. A trip need not cross borders to be fun.
  • Plan for fewer pitstops. The fewer stops drivers make on their trips, the lower their risk of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus. In lieu of dining out during your trip, pack your lunch at home and take it with you. In addition, fill up your car before embarking on your trip so you don’t have to visit the filling station while on the road. Bring enough water and snacks so you can stay hydrated and don’t become hungry while out and about.
  • Get a tuneup before your trip. No one wants to confront car trouble during a road trip, and that’s especially so when traveling during a pandemic. A breakdown during a pandemic may force drivers to visit roadside body shops or arrange for tow trucks, potentially putting them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. Drivers should take their cars in for a tuneup before taking a road trip to lower that risk.
  • Avoid densely populated areas if you intend to get out of your vehicle. If you intend to get out of your vehicle during a road trip, avoid visiting areas that tend to draw large crowds. Popular lookout points may provide some beautiful fall views, but such points also draw crowds that may exceed the limits on group gatherings recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health agencies.

It’s possible to travel during a pandemic. But drivers must take extra precautions to reduce their risk of being exposed to potentially deadly viruses like COVID-19.