A Little Time and a Keyboard: Lessons Learned on the Road Traveling During COVID-19

Lessons Learned on the Road Traveling During COVID-19

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Lessons Learned on the Road Traveling During COVID

Tips for Travel During COVID-19: Lessons Learned on the Road 

We recently returned from our longest road trip during the COVID-19 pandemic. All-in-all we have taken three overnight road trips during the pandemic once restrictions eased. We followed established protocols during our most recent 8 day journey from the Chicago area to Colorado. We felt that we had a handle on things after our two shorter trips. However, we still learned a few things during this longer trip. I will be writing more on this later on tips to stay safe. However, I thought that I would write some quick impressions while they are still fresh in my memory. Overall, the best characteristic to maintain during travel happens to be remaining flexible. This is ever so more true now than ever before. Here are some tips for road travel during this time:

  • Research Food Options: We already have a handle on this. I thought I would include a reminder because it is vital. Research availability of grocery stores ahead of time. Also, restaurant hours and selections may vary greatly. There more you know ahead of time, the more at ease you will be during your trip.
  • Bring Food With You: Bring what you can with you. Prepare with coolers and remember that you will need to keep some food cool along the way. We also pack a lot of high protein shelf stable snacks along with other snacks.
  • Bring Sanitizers: We had several bottles of hand sanitizer. I think it is good practice to have multiple because inevitably as things shift in the car, you may temporarily lose one. We also brought plenty of Lysol wipes for wiping down the hotel room.
  • Bring Extra Masks: Each member of my family had three cloth masks. In addition, we had medical grade disposable masks just in case. Inevitably, we misplaced masks from time to time. So, be sure to bring a few for each family member.
  • Make Sure You Are Following Quarantine Rules:  You will need to check rules both in your home area AND where you are traveling to.

Hiking Green Mountain in Colorado

  • No Valet Service: We stayed in Denver, so parking for our hotel was in a parking deck. So, hotels may not currently be using valets. Valets are very exposed because they are in and out of so many cars. So, this makes sense. Yet, we did not think of it ahead of time!
  • Research Parking Ahead of Time: Since you may not be able to use valet but may need to use a parking deck, you may benefit from researching parking options before you travel. We LOVE to use Spot Hero to reserve a spot. Plus, we save money!
  • Do Forget Old Necessities: We spent so much time remembering extra items we thought we may need due to COVID, that we forgot items we normally do not. (Hello, deodorant!) So, lists may be even more necessary now than before.
  • Travel Restroom Ideas: Our first approach is to sanitize the bathroom in our hotel and try to plan stops around the hotel to take advantage. For public restrooms, we are going to less trafficked areas. We are careful to not touch anything and use napkins when we need to touch something. (I keep a number in my pocket.) We wear masks. Sanitize immediately after. Try to pace it so you enter when there are fewer people -- ideally no one in the public restroom.  I recommend also bringing your own liquid soap that you can use for a good scrub after if necessary. Travel John, a disposable urinal, is also another option in a pinch.
  • Do Not Rely on Hotel Perks: Depending on protocols where you are traveling, perks you may be used to such as a cocktail hour or breakfast may not available. Additionally, DO NOT expect the hotel's website to be updated. Contact them. If you are a member, it does not hurt to ask for accommodation for the loss of perks.
  • Check Hotel Protocols Ahead of Reserving: We were impressed by the safety measures implemented by the Hilton in Denver. If you are wary, you can contact hotels BEFORE reserving to learn about their protocols in place. Also, don't forget to search out reviews. I will say that we found the Hilton Denver City Center to be extremely clean. Staff members were always cleaning. Proper spacing was required throughout the hotel and masks were required.
  • Camping is a Great Option but Plan Ahead: Campsites were packed all over during our trip. So, you will need to plan your spots and make reservations early if traveling in high season. I can tell you that it looked like there was little concept of social distancing at Rocky Mountain National Park. It appeared families were on top of each other and children running all over. I would recommend camping at a less popular location. You will still love it and enjoy a nature getaway!

A waterfall tumbles at Rocky Mountain National Park.
A waterfall tumbles at Rocky Mountain National Park.

  • Prepare for Timed Entry: You do not want to miss out on your must-see-list items. Some sites are requiring advance reservations and time entries. Familiarize yourself and order tickets early when necessary.
  • Take Advantage of Audio Tours: Audio tours can help you learn about a site and enjoy it while keeping your social distance. With an audio tour, I found it easy to pick and choose spots on a guided hike based on flow. Thus, I was able to keep my distance and return to spots when a cluster had moved.
  • Arrive at Popular Sites Early: We arrived at popular hiking sites very early in the morning. This is a good way to guarantee fewer people on the trails.
  • Look for Less Popular Sites Rather Than National Parks: National Parks are always popular but now they are really having a moment. I love, love, love National Parks. However, if you can locate lesser known natural spaces to explore you may just find a gem without so many other visitors. During our recent trip, we rerouted to natural spaces in less populated areas and truly benefited. An app like AllTrails can provide incredible insight into whether a further afield trail is worth it.

Hiking Cheyenne Cañon in Colorado
Hiking Cheyenne Cañon in Colorado
  • Ask Locals: Asking locals for input can help you with tips and tricks and give you a heads up on possible constraints during these times. For example, I was given information about possible closings to car traffic that I may have not realized on my own until it was too late.
  • Familiarize Yourself With Protocols Everywhere You Go: In Colorado, we were instructed to wear masks in public places. So, we even wore them on the trail. It is always good practice to wear them anywhere you cannot maintain proper social distance -- which sometimes can be on a trail.
  • Treat Yourself: Traveling is fun and you can still have fun while being safe. However, the new protocols may be a bit stressful. So, don't forget to give yourself a little treat!

Safe Travels! If you have additional travel tips during COVID-19, leave a note in the comments. I would love to hear what you have learned!
Lessons Learned on the Road Traveling During COVID-19: Travel Tips

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