Escaping onto the Open Road
After months of community closures, stay-at-home orders, and adhering to public health mandates, it’s safe to say that most Americans are experiencing something that far surpasses simple cabin fever.
Amid a global atmosphere of constant uncertainty and very real concerns about contracting or carrying COVID-19 as the virus makes a fresh sweep across the country, the urge to escape has driven travelers onto the open road to satisfy their wanderlust while maintaining conditions of relative isolation.
It’s truly proving to be the “Summer of the RV”, but even if you’re planning on camping out or renting indoor accommodations in the course of your road trip, there are some key considerations to think about for keeping your family as safe as possible along the way.
RV Mattress shared some valuable insights and recommendations to help those hitting the road this summer enjoy vanlife to the fullest while implementing effective precautions for preserving your health.
1. Getting Out By Staying In
Motor-vehicle travel provides a high degree of flexibility and self-sufficiency like no other method of travel. Camper vans and RVs, in particular, can provide pretty much the whole vacation package: means of transportation, lodging, cooking area and private bathroom. With everything you need in one place that only you can access, RV vacations have the advantage right now of keeping you and your friends or family safe by limiting exposure to other people, so you can socially distance to your heart’s content while still seeing the world.
2. Map Everything Out First
Having a clear idea of the route you’ll be following to your final destination is critical at the moment, and where there are stops for fuel, food and restrooms you’re likely to use along the way. Depending upon jurisdiction, some businesses have been forced to re-close due to rising infection rates in the area. If you’ll be crossing state lines, it’s especially essential to stay informed of conditions on the ground in places you plan on staying or even passing through, as there are various state-specific restrictions and quarantine rules in some areas for travelers, sometimes down to the county or city level. Do some research or call ahead of time for local information to make sure the way will be open to you.
3. Choose Accommodations Wisely
Besides being cognizant of local regulations, it’s important to call ahead to confirm the availability of any hotels, campgrounds or RV parks you plan on using. With some venues still completely closed and capacity restrictions in place at others, you’re unlikely to be able to spontaneously pull up and secure a spot. You’ll also want to ask about which amenities are still available and which might be temporarily off-limits, and inquire about what health-and-safety protocols might need to be observed on the property.
There may be modified procedures for check-in, checkout or any sort of food-service offerings that you’ll want to be aware of. You may also wish to get an idea of the cleaning and disinfection protocols being used in guest rooms or public areas to make sure you feel confident in staying at that facility. Regardless, it’s a good idea to bring along some disinfecting supplies of your own to ensure that high-touch surfacing are freshly and frequently wiped down.
4. Maintain Safe Spaces
Diligence in taking personal responsibility for the continuous disinfection of high-touch surfaces is equally important in your own vehicle and among your personal belongings. Treat your RV or vehicle as you would your own home to maintain a healthy interior environment. Have everyone sanitize their hands as they’re entering and regularly disinfect high-touch points, including electronic and entertainment devices that everyone’s brought along. If you’re camping outdoors, establish a perimeter at a safe distance around your campsite and ask anyone from outside your group who may enter to wear a mask. And, as always, wash your hands before eating, whether indoors or out.
5. Avail Yourself of the Outdoors
A good portion of the fun is surely getting outdoors and releasing some stress and pent-up energy from the past several months. Walking, hiking, biking or swimming are all awesome activities, but be aware that experts say aerosolized viral particles disperse more quickly in the open air, so make sure to maintain a minimum of six feet from persons outside of your own party. If making use of parks, playgrounds or any other public facility, remember that surfaces are being touched by others and wash your hands frequently or use hand-sanitizer you bring along yourself.
6. Consider Culinary Options
Preparing your own food is probably the safest option and promotes some peace-of-mind, if you have a cooking area in your RV or kitchenette available where you’ll be staying. Remember that many hotels have discontinued their breakfast buffet service, but likely offer room service as an alternative, or might want to stock up on easy-to-make breakfast and snack options to have in your room. If you plan on dining out, determine ahead of time which restaurants are offering drive-through, takeout or delivery options, or are open for dine-in service with socially-distanced indoor or outdoor tables.
7. Bring a Bunch of Masks
Masking-up is encouraged pretty much everywhere and is even required in plenty of places. Since wearing a contaminated mask can be just as infectious and touching your face, but washing them isn’t really practical while you’re on the road, you might want to buy disposable masks in bulk for your group and throw each one away after prolonged exposure. They may not be the most fashion-forward, but they get the job done!
8. Get Used to Gloves
Sure, you’ll be washing and sanitizing your hands frequently, but there are some situations in which its more practical to glove up, get things done and then get out of there, like handling the gas pump or having to stop at a public toilet. We all know that restrooms in public parks, rest stops, even roadside gas stations are Petri dishes on a human scale, and the wash area is usually without soap, so it’s best to be able to just peel off pair of disposable gloves afterward and toss those germs right into the trash.
9. Protect Your Hand-Sanitizer
The formulations of hand-sanitizer products vary and their efficacy can be compromised by environmental factors that may be hard to control while you’re on the road. Alcohol evaporates more quickly when exposed to air and doesn’t do too well in hot, dry environments, while hydrogen peroxide loses potency with prolonged exposure to sunlight. Storing your hand-sanitizer at temperatures between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit might prove more difficult on-the-go, but try to remember to store it in a cooler, darker spot, such as the glove compartment, center console or even a handbag.
Stay Home If You Feel Unwell
This one is pretty self-explanatory, right? You’ll find the same advice being issued by organizations and businesses from health authorities to your local grocery store. It may seem like common sense but bear in mind that COVID-19 can present as anything from feeling mildly unwell to violently ill in different individuals. You don’t want to become a modern-day Typhoid Mary that goes around unwittingly spreading the disease, even if you aren’t the one to suffer its effects. Johns Hopkins has a handy symptom checker tool you can reference if you’re curious about what signs of illness you should be on the lookout for.
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