Planning Your First Road Trip in 2021? Here Are the Essentials

Cross-country road trips are a big part of American culture. They are pretty much a universal hobby enjoyed by locals and tourists, alike. There’s just so much to explore, from coast to coast and everything in between.

Even amid the lingering pandemic, people are planning ahead and dreaming up the day they’ll be able to hit the road again. The good news is that, while the pandemic is far from over, domestic and mobility restrictions have eased, thanks in large part to the government’s rapid vaccine rollout.

There’s no denying that road trips are not going to be the same as before. But staying up-to-date with evolving conditions can help you plan a great American road trip without a hitch.

Get Vaccinated 

It goes without saying being fully vaccinated should be anyone’s top priority these days. So if you haven’t done that yet, be sure to schedule your vaccination before you embark on your road trip. Not only does it protect you and others from disease, but it also gives you more freedom to move from one locale to another. What’s more, your vaccine card can help you avoid hefty testing fees.

Plan Your Route

While travel is pretty much picking up this summer, it would still be advisable to pick destinations that are closer to home. But if you’re itching for that cross-country trip, it’s important to plan your route meticulously. Most drivers nowadays rely on their GPS devices, but it’s always good to have a physical map outlining your route for when you lose reception or have car trouble. Explore alternative routes, as well, in case you’d have to pass by towns or cities with strict COVID-19 mandates.

Check for State Restrictions

The pandemic is yet to end, and mini outbreaks are still happening across the country. While most states have lifted restrictions, some states are putting more emphasis on masks, social distancing, and mass gathering. But to be sure, check local information boards to get the most up-to-date information. As much as possible, avoid emerging COVID-19 hotpots for your and everyone back home’s sake.

Opt for “Outdoor” Stops

While most states have decided to reopen places of business like restaurants, hotels, and some tourist spots, that doesn’t mean you should indulge in them. For your stopovers, opt for outdoor spots or restaurants with al fresco dining. Instead of eating at a diner, opt for the drive-thru option, for example.

Look for the ‘Safe Travels’ Stamp for Hotels

Staying at inns, motels, or boutique hotels may be necessary if you’re driving long distances and traversing multiple states. But be sure to book ahead as accommodates are operating at limited capacity and are posting higher rates. As much as possible, opt for accommodations that have been issued a “Safe Travels” stamp issued by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). If you want a safer, more private alternative, you can choose to camp out or rent an Airbnb.

Get regular weather updates

COVID-19 is just one of the many factors you should consider on your road trip. Things like weather and road conditions are just as important. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your destination’s climate so you can pack accordingly. And make sure you’re aware of what’s happening in your destination at least a day before you take off.

Observe local health & safety mandates

In addition to mobility restrictions, you should also check for each state’s health and safety protocols. These typically involve wearing masks in public spaces, observing physical distancing, and avoiding crowds or large private parties. If there are restrictions, then be sure to follow them throughout your stay.

Pack masks and sanitizing items

In some states like New York and California, people no longer need to wear masks, but since you’ll be on the road hopping from one state to another, it’s advisable to keep masking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that the U.S. is yet to reach herd immunity, and it might be too soon to forgo masks and sanitizing practices. That said, have a pack of masks and rubbing alcohol with you on your travels.

Get a car tune-up

To avoid sudden car troubles in backroads or dealing with a personal injury case, make sure that your car is in tip-top shape before you get on the road. Have a full sweep from top to bottom, like your brakes, wheels, windshield wipers, taillights, and so on. And don’t ignore recommendations from the experts, as this will cost you even more in the long run. More importantly, have a road safety kit with you so you can have an extra line of defense should your car break down in the middle of nowhere.

The summer of freedom in the U.S. is in full swing as most states ease restrictions. But if you’re taking your much-awaited road trip, be sure to follow these tips so you can easily adapt to evolving conditions caused by the lingering pandemic.

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