If you follow us on social media or YouTube, you know that we just got back from a 3 month road trip. We actually felt safer during our trip than we feel at home. That mostly comes down to the fact that on the road, we kept away from other people. It was possible for us to have a safe trip and we wanted to share our top travel safety tips.
Before we share our travel safety tips, we want to make 3 things abundantly clear.
- Everyone has to choose if they feel safe to travel. We are absolutely not advocating that you plan a trip. We noticed that many people are traveling right now or thinking about travel and thought it might be helpful to share our experience. We wrote this post to share how we protected ourselves and attempted to be careful of coming into contact with others.
- We believe that everyone should follow the rules of their local government. If you are under strict quarantine, please respect the rules. If you are allowed to travel, be careful and consider everyone’s safety, not just your own.
- We are not experts of any kind. Nothing we say here is meant to serve as an expert opinion that will provide you safe travel. We are only sharing the things we did to have a safe trip.
- If you want to stay 100 safe, stay home and don’t go near others.
To Have a Safe Trip – #1 Maintain Social Distance
The hardest part about traveling and maintaining social distance is that you can’t travel like normal right now. Guy and I do not go out to restaurants or do any group activities. Some people may opt to not take a trip if they can’t do the things they love on vacation and that’s fine. We tried to find experiences we may not have had otherwise. Sometimes is was great and other times, it was a bust.
We turned down every activity that involved us getting into a vehicle with other people. Even though most people feel comfortable dining at a restaurant outside, we only did it once and the restaurant was super safe. But we’ve seen places where the waiters stand right next to the guests (ordering without masks) and then doing the same thing at the next table. It just felt safer to get takeout food.
Safe Accommodations Help You Have a Safe Trip
This is a biggie and the hardest one to master. Here’s how we have made our accommodations safer. You may think these are crazy suggestions but this is how we do it.
Opt for Places That Have Less Turnover
Airbnbs typically have people that stay for longer. Hotels have lots of 1 night guests. The less people that have been in the space before you the better. Here’s a $50 off your first Airbnb if you’ve never tried one. The other benefit to an Airbnb is that they often have a kitchen where you can cook your own food.
Choose Places With a Separate Entry
Houses, townhouses or guest houses are better than a hotel where there are common areas like an elevator everyone has to use or a lobby that’s the only place to get Wifi. Hotels that have outside access to your room are preferable.
Consider an RV or Camper Van
An RV that can go where you want and has it’s own bathroom is probably the safest way to travel at the moment. You are always on your own sheets and you won’t have to keep changing accommodations. You take your lodging with you.
Camper vans are another option with the same benefits. Even without a bathroom, it’s safer than a hotel but using a public bathroom at a campground makes it less safe if you are not careful. It is great to have a sink in your camper van for washing your hands and even better if you have a bathroom.
If you are looking for a RV or camper van rental, try Outdoorsy or RVShare. Both have rentals around the country. This is the Utah camper van rental we got to visit Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. It cost about the same price as a average hotel room and it was so much fun to try out van life. We liked it so much, we are now converting a sprinter van to use for future travel.
Camping in a Tent
If you like camping, this is the perfect time to pitch a tent and stay outdoors. If you haven’t stayed in a tent, why not give it a try. We just camped at Crater Lake Mazama Campground and it was my first time since I was a Girl Scout. It turned out to be so much better than I thought, actually fun. We did it again at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on BLM land which was a completely different experience and so beautiful.
Avoid Public Bathrooms
Any time you can avoid public areas, you are safer. Since we left on our trip 3.5 months ago, I have only used a public bathroom once. Here are some funny but completely effective methods. We have heard the gamut about public urination so beware that it may be illegal.
Ladies, if you need to pee by the side of the road, find a safe, quiet spot, open both doors on the passenger side and you will have a little private area that no one can see. We jokingly call this the “double door.”
Some people told me about a pee funnel for women. I think a urine specimen cup like the one from the doctor seems much more functional and easy to use. Make sure you travel with a pool of toilet paper. I have no tips for #2 which is why I used the public bathroom once.
Bring Your Own Sheets
I saw a horrifying news report about hotels not changing sheets/pillow cases between guests so we bought sleep sacks. It is basically a sheet with a zipper that makes it a sheet sleeping bag. There’s a spot that holds your pillow too. We bought 2 different brands, and this is the sleep sack that I like the best.
We also travel with an inexpensive queen sheet set and a king flat sheet for bigger beds. When we arrive, I put the fitted sheet over the bed, then my sleep sack on top, with my own pillow and satin pillowcase from home. We also have our own blankets with us since we are in our own car but you can use the hotel duvet over your sleep sack and still be completely protected.
Travel With Cleaning Supplies
We have a container of Clorox Wipes that we use to clean all the heavy touch points as soon as we arrive. Make sure to clean door knobs, drawer pulls. faucet handles, the toilet lever, light switches, lamp switches, the thermostat control, the coffee pot handle, and the remote control. You want to clean everything you could possibly touch with your hands during your stay. One of my friends travels with a ziplock bag to cover the remote control. Genius!
This may sound like a huge hassle but it takes 5 minutes and adds an extra layer of protection. It’s so worth it to give yourself some peace of mind.
Visit Places with Lower Infection Rates
No where is 100% safe right now but choosing places with lower infection rates is just a good idea. I have been using the Harvard Covid Risk Level Map and I love it. The information is updated daily and it gives you risk level taking population into account.
If you choose a place that has mandatory quarantine, follow the rules or don’t go to that place. They have lower infection rates because they have been diligent about the situation and you should respect that by following their rules.
Wear a Mask
It is really important to acknowledge that you are a risk to the residents of the places you travel. You should put other people’s safety at the top of your priority list. So if you are one of the people that thinks you don’t need to wear a mask or thinks that Coronavirus is a hoax, then STAY HOME. Masks mostly protect other people more than you. It is the only way to be a responsible traveler.
Don’t Go to Places Where People Don’t Wear Masks
It is inevitable that you will find non-mask wearers everywhere. Just keep your distance. But for goodness sakes, don’t go to places where large groups get together without masks. We’ve all see it on the news. Don’t do it! I know there are plenty of people that think mask wearing is a conspiracy, and if you fall into that category, just stay in your home town.
Bring Gloves and Hand Sanitizer
A latex glove is a great way to stay safe getting gas. That’s pretty much the main thing we use it for. You only need to use one glove when you fill up. There’s really no need to touch extra germs when you don’t have to.
The hand sanitizer is something everyone probably has everywhere right now and is using all the time. It shouldn’t replace hand washing whenever possible but it’s a great addition when you can’t wash your hands. Sanitize your cell phones regularly and your steering wheel for extra protection. Also sanitize credit cards that touch anyone else’s hands before they get back into your wallet.
Don’t Touch Handrails or Buttons
This will sound like the most obvious advice but we just went to the Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone and it was shocking how many people were holding on to the handrail that was unnecessary for safety. In less than 3 minutes, I saw a minimum of 30 people (all ages) sliding their hand right along the whole thing, just because it was there. Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park in the photo above is closed because you need to hold on to the chain rail to stay safe and it gets way too crowded.
Also avoid elevator buttons, cross walk buttons or any surface that other people may have touched. Wear a glove or carry a sanitizing wipe to touch buttons.
Slow Travel is the Best Way to Have a Safe Trip
Slow travel is a trend that started before the world turned upside down in March. The concept is to spend time getting to know a place authentically instead of running from one tourist attraction to the next. Our road trip was the definition of slow travel and it gave us a chance to see places in a whole new light. Instead of staying in the center of town, we stayed in Airbnbs in local neighborhoods.
National park hikes were closed forced us to find local hiking spots that were amazing. Look at travel right now as a way to enjoy the outdoors and a way to spend quality time with your travel partner(s). Traveling at a relaxed pace will actually give you a real vacation where you get a renewed sense of energy.
Can You Have a Safe Trip on an Airplane?
You have probably noticed that I haven’t discussed airplane safety in this post. Personally I would prefer to drive and stay in my own space. Airplanes seem like an unnecessary risk. I know there are plenty of people that are flying. If you are flying, you should probably ask someone who has flown for their advice on how to stay safe on a plane.