I don't know about you but when I hear road trip I always think of National Lampoon's Vacation (the original with Chevy Chase of course). As a kid we packed up the good old Dodge Van and headed south from Philly to Florida many times. It was always an adventure and I fondly remember those South of the Border billboards. Luckily for us we never had to worry about the theme park being closed when we got there back then but now is a whole different story, There actually is a pretty good chance that your favorite summer destination might have some closures or new rules. While up in Lake George recently we noticed that Six Flags park there was not open yet and from what it sounded like it might not open at all this summer.
Now with everything going on, driving to your summer vacation destination is a bit easier and less stressful for most people than flying. Having done both recently I will say the drive was better. Sure flying was faster but having to deal with all the new rules and worries about who might be too close to you and getting stuck somewhere just isn't fun.
Recently we packed up the car and headed north from Florida all the way up to Lake George, NY for my mother in law's 80th birthday. We did make a few pit stops along the way to break things up though. You might not be planning to go 1500 miles for your road trip but either way here are some tips to help you navigate the new rules of the road this summer.
#1 - Be sure to check and recheck the current rules for the states you plan to visit and also just drive through. Google maps can help with this. When we left Florida we checked all of the states we would be going through just to see what the polices were for dining and things like that. When we left Florida New York didn't have any rules about visitors from Florida but as we got closer to NY we started hearing about the possibility of requiring a self quarantine for visitors from Florida. Luckily we got there before that rule went into effect but that is why you need to always check again.
#2 - Plan out your rest stops as best you can in advance. Yes there is an app for that - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.insofttech.reststops&hl=en_US We did a quick search just to know if any along our route might be closed so we could plan ahead. Gas stations might also be a good place to combine your rest stop with a fill up for the car as well but not all gas station bathrooms are created equal. Here is a link to a 2018 article on best gas station bathrooms by state. Personally I have found Wawa, Racetrac, and Cumberland Farms to have nice bathrooms.
#3 - Don't count on being able to dine inside everywhere. Not all states have opened indoor dining yet so you might have to plan to eat either at an outside table or in the car while eating on the road. This also goes back to your rest stop planning as well since you might not even be able to enter some dining locations so that also means no bathroom break at those. We ran into this in North Carolina on our way through and we really hadn't thought of that in advance.
#4 - Book your place to stay in advance. In the past you might have been able to just pull off and find a hotel when you got tried but that isn't a good idea this year. Not all hotels have reopened and others might be limiting the rooms they have available to allow for new cleaning procedures and social distancing. If you are used to camping in the summer be sure to check on that as well as some parks are only open to guests traveling in an RV that has its own bathroom because they are not opening facilities. Some campgrounds might not be opening at all this summer.
#5 - Pack more than what you think you might need. If you want to try and avoid your chances of coming into contact with people while on the road, plan to pack more than you might usually, this way you lessen your chances of needing to stop for something. For example if you don't want to worry about needing to stop for something to eat along the way, plan ahead and pack some sandwiches and drinks to have in the car. The nice part about traveling by car is there are no restrictions on what you can't travel with, well except for maybe the size of your trunk.
#6 - Don't forget to pack the new items that were not on your list previous years like face masks and hand sanitizer. It is a good idea to pack extra masks in case you lose one or get caught out in the rain.
#7 - As always it is best to have your car checked out by a mechanic before hitting the road to be sure your car's health is good as well.
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