Planning a road trip can be a tough job as it is important to pack absolutely everything you need if you’re driving to remote areas. On trips like these, access to the internet, groceries or clean drinking water can be hard to come by. From checking if your vehicle is in working order to planning the route, here are a few tips to stay safe and avoid any preventable road mishaps.
During this time of a global pandemic, avoiding public transport and flights should be at the top of your mind. Though travelling by your personal vehicle is a safer option, it still carries a lot of risks. Making stops along the way for fuel, food, or bathroom breaks can put you and your travelling companions in close contact with other people and surfaces.
Covid-19 Road Trip Safety Tips
Here are a few tips to keep yourself and others safe while road-tripping during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carry a mask on you at all times, in case the place you're going/passing through has a regulation (plus, it's a good idea)
Carry sanitizing wipes and hand sanitiser (with at least 60% alcohol) with you at all times when leaving the car
Wash your hands thoroughly (with soap and water for at least 20 seconds) once you have finished using the restroom, and sanitize your hands before touching your car keys or door handles after leaving the facilities
Public restrooms might be closed (some gas stations or fast-food restaurants may have restrooms available, but some might not). If the opportunity to use the toilet presents itself, take it
Camping is a good option – just in case hotels/motels/hostels aren't offering the most COVID-safe facilities
Check your accommodation online first: Are there COVID-safe processes in place to keep visitors safe? If not, look elsewhere
Bring your own pillows and pillowcases if staying in a hotel, and carry a sleep sheet
Wipe down hotel surfaces or seats and facilities before using them
When re-filling at a gas station, wipe down handles and buttons (if wipes are available) at the pumps before you touch them, and if not, sanitize your hands immediately after
Read up on the requirements before you cross state or territory borders, as restrictions may change with little notice.
If you are hiring a car, review rental vehicle websites for enhanced cleaning procedures, social distancing measures for check-in, and what new policies they have put in place to reassure customers.
Know The Route
Planning a road trip allows you to map all the sites and attractions you want to see, and it becomes even more important during the pandemic to find out if the tourist attractions are open for visitors. If so, what measures do they have in place to keep you safe? Planning also allows you to know if there are restrictions at your destination and if you need to quarantine if you’re arriving from a COVID-19 hotspot.
Small towns in remote location are a great way to stock up on supplies if you’re running low. Make sure to respect any restrictions that they have in place. If a shop owner has put a sign up recommending masks, follow their lead.
Offline Maps And Paper Maps
Make sure to download offline maps of the area you’re travelling to as internet connection may not be stable in all areas. However, if your phone battery dies while navigating, it can get easy for you to lose direction. Carry a paper version of the map and plot out key locations, that way if you do get lost you might be able to identify where you are and get back to civilization.
Take A Break
If your road trip is a long one, plan to take a break every few hours to stretch your legs and give your eyes a rest. Driving while tired is one of the most hazardous things one can do. If you’re driving with a partner or a friend, share the driving duties every couple of hours or so and always over for a moment if you feel tired.
Stock Up On Water
Buy some good quality cans to stock up on water as sometimes you won’t come across a shop to buy bottles. If you are travelling to remote areas, carry large jerry cans filled with water, and allow for 10 litres per day for a person. That may sound a lot, but considering you’ll be using that water for more than just drinking, it becomes essential to carry extra.
Carry Sufficient Fuel
Always carry extra jerry cans of fuel if you’re going for a remote road trip. Fuel stations can be few and far between in rural areas, and even if you find one it may remain closed. If you’re driving through well-populated areas, jerry cans aren’t always necessary. Studying your route can help make sure for you to plan ahead.
Pack Enough Food For Extra Couple Of Days
If you’re planning a week-long driving trip to a remote area, you might encounter a few issues that can extend your trip longer than expected by a couple of days. To be on the safe side, it is advisable to pack up on groceries for a few extra days than the planned trip schedule. If you’re running low on food, stock up whenever you pass through a town.
Check The Weather Forecast
Keep an eye out for the weather predictions in the locations you are travelling to. If there are severe weather conditions on the forecasts, it would be advisable to defer the trip to a later time. However, if you must have to travel under severe conditions, inform your close family and friends and check in as often to let them know you’re safe.
Check Your Vehicle Before You Go
Get a thorough check-up from the service centre or local mechanic of your vehicle before you leave for a trip. Few things to have a look at are tyres, tire pressures, oil, coolant, brakes, wipers, water, lights and the battery.
Modify Your Vehicle
If you’re planning to go off-road during your trip, it is important to add some accessories and modifications to help you out of sticky situations. You could add things like a bull bar, winch, portable air compressor, tire deflator, snatch recovery gear, max tracks, long-distance radio, snow chains, satellite phone, high lift jack, shovel, spotlights for better vision at night and always carry spare tires, and a spare fuel filter.
Furthermore, keep a set of spare tools for your vehicle like a can of WD40, extra spark plugs, a roll of duct tape, extra engine oil, transmission oil, a multi-tool or pocket knife a roll of wire, some zip-ties and ratchet straps.
Always ensure you have a first aid kit before leaving for a long trip. Some of the key things to pack in a first aid box include compression bandages, bandaids, antibiotics, tampons, space blanket, antiseptic cream, antiseptic wipes, saline solution, triangle bandage, tweezers, scissors, antihistamines, basic pain killers, sunscreen and zinc, water purification tablets, aqua ear, eye drops, moisturizing cream, hand sanitiser, sunglasses/safety glasses and mosquito repellent.