Let’s face it, traveling is challenging right now, and things that seemed easy to do a year ago, like gassing up, bathroom breaks, or choosing a hotel room, suddenly feel complicated. The CDC has cautioned that travel during COVID-19 presents numerous unforeseen risks for everyone involved. If you plan on hitting the road during the holidays, good planning can help lower your risk of contracting coronavirus.

Holiday Travel Tips for Road Trips During COVID-19

Bring Plenty of Masks

Wearing a mask is the best way to protect yourself and your family while traveling, even in areas with limited restrictions (most at the moment require masks). Recent studies have established that masks help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and masks are recommended for the community’s benefit.

Practice Social Distancing

To practice social distancing, stay at least six feet, about two arms’ length, away from people who aren’t part of your household. This rule applies to both outdoor and indoor spaces.

Grocery Shopping

Packing your own snacks and beverages will reduce the need to stop for food and exposing yourself to others. If you do need to buy groceries, order ahead using an app if the store has one or arrange to pick them up curbside.

Dining Out

As some states follow reopening guidelines, restaurants are welcoming patrons, following social distancing requirements. The important thing to remember is that just because you can dine in doesn’t mean you should.  By now, you know that COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets that are expelled when people cough, sneeze, etc. Unfortunately, you can’t eat and wear a mask at the same time. Your safest bet is to pack your own food or order pickup or takeout. If you decide to eat at a restaurant, dine outside at least 6 feet away from other diners outside of your group. Eating indoors at a restaurant is not worth the risk.

Disposable Gloves

If you’re forced to use busy rest stops or other high-traffic areas like gas stations, play it safe and wear disposable gloves (synthetic vinyl). When pumping gas, either wear gloves or wipe down buttons and handles with sanitized wipes before touching them, immediately sanitizing your hands afterward.

Hand Sanitizer

If you’re in a place where you can’t wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol (strong enough to kill the virus and other germs). Since you’re traveling, choose options that are “travel-friendly “sizes. Since so many surfaces are touched while traveling in the car, it’s also a good idea to wipe them down after stopping to eat, gas up, etc. Also, as often as possible, practice good and consistent handwashing procedures.

Soap, Water, and Towels

Wash your hands with soap and water whenever possible, for at least 20 seconds, and use a towel to dry off. Studies have shown that towel drying your hands is more effective than using an automatic hand dryer that can spread virus particles further.

Using the Restroom

Think about where and how you’re going to use the restroom along the way. Do you plan on using gas station bathrooms (small, cramped spaces full of germs)?  Or are you bringing a separate container along to use as a makeshift potty, a disposable urinal, Travel John, or porta-potty?  All need to be considered for long road trips.   If you do need to stop in at a gas station or rest stop to use the bathroom, wear a mask even if you don’t see anyone else inside – you never know when someone else will come in or be standing outside. Wear disposable gloves (plastic sandwich bags work in a pinch) to keep from touching surfaces. When you’re done, wash your hands well, towel dry, or use hand sanitizer.


Plan your sleeping arrangements before you leave on your holiday travels. If you’re not up to sleeping in the car, check out accommodations online and choose the ones that have COVID-19 safe processes in place. If they don’t, keep looking for accommodations that do. If you’re staying in a hotel, consider bringing along your bedding (pillows, pillowcases, sheets). Use disinfectant wipes to wipe down the seats and surfaces before you use them. Camping may be a good option, or traveling in an RV, just make sure the camp/RV spots aren’t crowded this time of year. In particular, RV parks are usually busy public places that can end up putting you in close contact with others.

Accept the fact that there are definite COVID-19 related risks in everything we do right now, including holiday travel, especially road trips. Taking the precautions listed here, regardless of the requirements of the cities you travel through, will help ensure your safety. Of course, don’t forget the everyday things to consider for holiday travel.  Click here for a handy road trip car checklist.

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