Road Trip Safety During the Pandemic

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Written by Bernie Carr

Although Labor Day, traditionally considered the end of summer, has come and gone, more people than ever are taking road trips.

Whether you are driving to a city or camping destination, driving an RV you have purchased or rented, or just visiting family a few states over, you need to be mindful of safety.

What to bring

Car survival kit

Do you have a car survival kit? If not, assemble your emergency gear before your trip:

You’ll also need a first aid kit for your car, water food, extra trash bags, gloves, knife, multi-tool, seat-belt cutter and window escape tool, umbrella. I like to have some emergency cash, just in case a gas station or store’s electronic payment goes down due to a power outage.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have also added extra hand sanitizer, masks, trash bags and gloves in the storage compartment.

Extra water and food

Pack plenty of water and snacks in a cooler so you don’t have to make extra stops along the way for food.

Car maintenance

You wouldn’t want your trip ruined by getting stranded in the middle of a deserted road. Before going on a road trip, take the car in for an oil change, tune-up and other basic maintenance. Also check the brakes, condition of the tires, alignment and fluids.

Not too long ago, our car’s air conditioning system started failing and temperatures were running at over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We called our usual service center for an appointment and had to wait an entire week before we could take the car in. Apparently, there has been a pent up demand for car repairs due to COVID-19, and many people are now getting their cars serviced. Get your car checked weeks before your planned trip in case there is a wait involved for the appointment or for parts.

Maps and directions

Years ago, before I got into preparedness, I was in a situation where I had to look up directions and found I did not have any cell service in the area. Never again. Download maps of your route and destination on to your phone prior to your trip. Also keep paper maps in your car- you can usually get them free from your roadside assistance company. This way, you have backup ways to find your way in case your GPS fails or you don’t have cell service.

Plan an alternate route in case of your first choice is unavailable such as the highway being blocked due to accidents, construction or even a protest march. Just a few days ago, according to USNews:

Washington State Patrol troopers arrested nine people participating in a protest in which vehicles blocked traffic on Interstate 5 through Seattle Friday, according to people at the scene and the State Patrol.

Source: USNEWS & World Report

If you will be stopping by rest areas, find out in advance which rest areas will be closed by visiting Interstate Rest Areas website.

Check the weather

I know so many people who never check the weather locally, much less their destination. They get very upset when they run into inclement weather. It’s better to know ahead of time so you can be prepared. I installed a weather app on my phone that includes local weather, and I add any locations I might visit.

Local laws

Find out the laws in the state(s) you will visiting to avoid any issues:

  • Does the state have quarantine laws? If you only have a limited time to spend on vacation, you would not want to be stuck in quarantine.
  • Are masks required? Visit the state’s health department site to find out.
  • What are the laws regarding weapons? Some states are very restrictive when it comes to firearms, some only allow certain types of knives, outlaw even pepper spray.

Current events and perils

Be aware of threats that are present in the area you will be visiting. Currently, it’s wildfire season in the Western states. I just heard about 100 campers in California who had to be rescued via helicopter as wildfires raged nearby.

Riots are still going on in some areas. As you know, many cities have moved to defund their police departments. I’ve read reports of restaurant patrons being harassed. This can happen to anyone, so it’s best to be aware what’s going on in the areas you intend to visit.

Crime has also spiked in many cities. According to FoxNews:

Crime tends to increase during summers, but recent events have fueled unrest in the U.S. The troubling figures came as Chicago and other cities saw dramatic increases in violent crime amid protests surrounding George Floyd’s death. Kansas City, for example, is expected to see “close to 700 people” shot by the end of the year, its police chief previously told Fox News.

A host of other cities — Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland and Seattle — also saw spikes in shootings and murders, according to public data. “I think it’s just a perfect storm of distress in America,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in July.

source: fox news

Mental preparedness

You need to also mentally prepare yourself:

  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t be glued to your phone, or be so engrossed in sight-seeing that you forget to look around. Be aware of where exits are located.
  • Keep a low profile. Blend in and avoid becoming a target.
  • Listen to your gut. If you have a feeling things are not right, get yourself out of the situation. There have been times when we pass up a certain gas station because it didn’t feel right and chose to keep going.
  • Be flexible with your plans. With COVID-19 still spreading and business closures happening all over the country, some of your favorite places may have reduced hours, may be closed. Have a “Plan B” just in case.
  • Often, we set ourselves for disappointment by having very high expectations. I find it better to be pleasantly surprised when something turns out to be better than expected.

The final word

With advance planning and taking the necessary precautions, you can have still a safe and pleasant road trip. Have you taken a road trip this year? Please share your favorite safety and travel tips while traveling in the midst of a pandemic.


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About the author:

Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and Clark.com, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.


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