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How to Plan a Safe Summer Road Trip During COVID-19

A woman sticks her head out the window of a jeep and enjoys the breeze during a road trip.
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For many people, the summer months are filled with long-awaited vacations to see friends and family. But this year looks a little different. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans around the country are trying to salvage their vacation plans, despite the increasing restrictions on air travel. As an alternative, many people are choosing to drive to vacation destinations instead.

According to Farmers, 62% of Americans are planning to travel in a car or RV at some point over the next few months. If you’re one of those people, there are some additional precautions you should take before embarking on a road trip during COVID-19. Keep reading for some tips that will help you have a safe and healthy summer road trip.

5 Tips for planning a safe road trip this summer

Getting ready for a road trip can take time, but it helps ensure a successful and fun trip. Here are five tips that can make your road a little smoother.

1. Get your vehicle ready

Road trips are full of fun until your car breaks down or you unexpectedly pop a tire in the middle of nowhere.

If you’re not a frequent roadtripper, it’s easy to neglect your vehicle’s maintenance or even avoid fixing problems you know about. Before you load up the car for your summer vacation, take your car to a local auto body shop for an inspection and a tune up.

Your road trip safety checklist should also include any tools or supplies you might need along the way. For example, if you have an extra tire stored in your trunk, make sure you have the equipment needed to change a flat. It’s also a good idea to keep flares or cones handy in case you need to do roadside maintenance at night.

2. Avoid common distractions

When you’re on a long road trip, it’s easy to get distracted behind the wheel. But distracted driving—on a road trip or your morning commute—has a number of consequences. In 2018, 2,841 people died due to distracted driving.

Some common causes of distracted driving include eating while driving, texting while driving and playing music loudly. If you’re concerned about distracted driving during your road trip, plan adequate time to stop for meals and catch up on your missed text messages. It’s tempting to reach for your phone during a long stretch of road, but it’s not worth the risk.

3. Check your insurance coverage

Before you leave on your road trip, review your car insurance coverage. If you get into an accident or something happens to your car, it helps to know what’s covered. Also, if you tell your car insurance company you’re going on a road trip, the provider might even help you make arrangements for out-of-state roadside assistance or car repairs.

If you’re renting an RV, you’ll need a special type of insurance. You can probably purchase a temporary policy from the rental company, but it might be cheaper to get one through your car insurance company. An agent can help you decide what type of coverage you need and how much coverage you need for your RV adventure.

4. Plan your accommodations beforehand

If your road trip will take multiple days, plan your hotel accommodations before you leave. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many hotels remain closed, and home sharing services have strict rules around bookings. For example, Airbnb now requires a minimum of 24 hours between reservations for enhanced cleaning. You can read more in our article about booking Airbnbs during the pandemic.

A few weeks before you hit the road, make your reservations. Because state and local regulations are always changing, it might be worth purchasing insurance in case you need to cancel at the last minute.

Also, ask about any changes in protocols so you know what to expect. For example, you might have to bring your own linens or flatware to your Airbnb.

5. Make safety a priority and follow the rules

The most important tip we can offer is to make safety a priority during your road trip. Stock your car with extra masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Use them consistently. That means putting on a pair of gloves and a mask at the gas station and using hand sanitizer after you’re done. Keep those items handy so you don’t have to dig around in your luggage every time you stop for something.

When you get to a hotel or your final destination, take a shower, change your clothes and wipe down surfaces to be extra safe. It might sound extreme, but remember that the pandemic doesn’t stop for your summer vacation.

If you’re traveling to a location that requires out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine, make sure you’re prepared for an extended stay.

The bottom line

If you’re going on a road trip this summer, the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t have to cancel your plans. But before you hit the road, it’s important to be extra vigilant when preparing your road trip checklist.

Get your car inspected, check your insurance coverage and stock your car with masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. Also, make sure to book your sleeping accommodations in advance to avoid cancellation issues. Most importantly, drive safely and eliminate distractions so you and your family can have a fun and relaxing road trip.

Written by
Elizabeth Rivelli
Insurance Contributor
Elizabeth Rivelli is a contributing insurance writer for Bankrate and has years of experience writing for insurance domains such as The Simple Dollar, and NextAdvisor, among others