Road Trip Tips for 2021
By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life
So, you’ve pulled last year’s calendar off the wall and tacked up a new one for 2021 (if you still do the hard-copy thing). The question you’re probably asking now is: As far as the pandemic and travel restrictions, what’s really changed?
The CDC is continuing to promote social distancing and warn against subjecting yourself to crowds in gathering places like restaurants, bars, fitness centers, and movie theaters — not to mention travel hubs like airports and mass transit options like trains and buses.
So flying to your destination probably isn’t the best idea, and neither are charter bus trips to Vegas or the Grand Canyon. The good news is that you can still take a road trip and stay safe in the comfort of your own car, truck, van, or RV.
Here are some tips about how to prepare and where to go.
Preparing for Your Journey
Now’s not the time to fly by the seat of your pants. Before you leave, make sure everything’s solid on the home front and you’re ready for Murphy’s Law to potentially take effect on the road.
Examine Your Insurance
The best time to check your auto insurance coverage is before a major trip. You need to know what’s covered and whether you’re comfortable with the response you might get if your car breaks down (do you have roadside assistance?) or you’re in an accident.
What kinds of coverage do you need, and what are your deductibles or limits for bodily injury, property damage, etc.? Maybe you want gap coverage to help pay off your car loan if your vehicle is totaled. These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself, and there’s no time like the present — before you get on the road.
Secure Your Home
You’re leaving your home behind, so the last thing you want to do is spend your whole trip worrying about it while you’re gone. Be sure your roof’s in good repair, your deadbolts are locked, your mail delivery and newspaper service are paused, and your home systems and appliances are covered in case something goes wrong.
Who wants to come home to frozen pipes, a busted furnace, or a flooded basement? A home warranty can protect you against those calamities and more, making sure you don’t add costly home repairs to your vacation expenses.
Firm up Your Finances
Before you hit the highway, be sure you’ve got enough money in the bank to cover the cost of the trip, plus enough credit to back you up in an emergency. Check your credit score and be sure you’ve got enough room on your card to address any situation — whether it’s your car breaking down or the appearance of that overpriced souvenir you’ve just gotta have!
Stock Up Before Heading Out
The fewer stops you make along the way, the better, so stock up on groceries ranging from water bottles to snacks (protein bars, string cheese, beef jerky, whatever’s your personal favorite road food).
Also lay in a supply of personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes. Don’t forget to prepare for other emergencies by being sure you have things like a tool kit, jack, fire extinguisher, extra motor oil, a flashlight, and jumper cables.
Mapping Out Your Trip
The best part about planning is the fun of choosing great destinations. In normal times, you’d have free rein. But during a pandemic, you’ll first have to take a number of factors into account that you wouldn’t otherwise need to consider.
New coronavirus hotspots emerge daily, so keep up with the latest news and be willing to change your plans to skirt places where the virus is out of control.
Avoiding heavily populated areas is always a good idea in these times, but who wants to see a lot of used-car lots, rail yards, and industrial parks? Navigation apps can help you find a clear, safe path — with better scenery.
Stay in Your Vehicle
The more you stay inside your vehicle, the less you expose yourself to the virus. Fortunately, there are plenty of cool sights you can see from the comfort of your vehicle, ranging from natural wonders to quirky roadside signs, without even getting out of your car. Pull off the road at a vista point, roll down your window and take photos/videos that will preserve the memories of your trip.
Find Out-of-the-way Places
Who needs a crowded beach or amusement park? Why not look instead for secluded campgrounds and hidden treasures? Instead of standing in line for hours to enjoy a 30-second roller coaster ride, you can stand for hours gazing at majestic mountains or giant sequoias, far away from the throngs of people and safe from the threat of the virus.
Plan a visit to remote but scenic sites like Jackson Hole in Wyoming, the redwood forests of Northern California, Bar Harbor in Maine, or Denali National Park in Alaska.
It might seem like the virus put a damper on travel in 2020 (and who knows how far into 2021?), but you’ve still got more options than you may realize. Many of them are even great alternatives to what you might see on a typical road trip.
COVID-19 has forced us to get creative and think outside the box, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It may even lead you to adventures you’d never have considered — ones which you might enjoy more than the typical by-the-numbers vacations we all take when everything’s safe and sound.