10 COVID Road Trip Tips & How to Stay Safe & Sane

New Nissan Rogue sitting in parking lot in the Badlands National Park

If you’re anything like me, staying at home for months due to COVID was really starting to drive you crazy. Not because it wasn’t necessary, because it was. But because you had to cancel multiple trips and the definition of “exotic” became your new patio furniture. However, you also know that you can’t just ignore a global pandemic. And, any traveling you end up doing needs to be done safely and responsibly. A road trip was just how my fiancé and I decided we could live at the intersection of travel and safety. And in all of our packing and preparation, we were able to identify some COVID road trip tips that came in SUPER handy.

Where did we go?

This road trip was intense. We probably spent 60 hours on the road during our two-week trip. We started in St. Louis, Missouri, drove up to the Badlands in South Dakota, then over to Yellowstone. From Yellowstone we went down to Grand Teton, followed by the Great Sand Dunes, and then headed back to St. Louis. On this trip, we identified some key COVID road trip tips that kept us feeling safe.

Here are our 10 best tips:

  • Pack multiple bottles of hand sanitizer. You’ll want normal sized ones and also minis that you can carry on your body the entire trip. Keep the normal sized ones in the car; one in each door.
  • Pack at least two masks per person, and keep your extra in the glove box/console/wherever in the car. Even if grabbing your mask feels second nature, it’s important to have a backup in case you forget your primary one.
  • Grab some key groceries when you’re leaving and pack them in a cooler. That way, you can make your own food in the car and avoid stopping places on the way.
  • Pack ice packs so you don’t have to go into gas stations to buy ice for said cooler.
  • When you get to your destination, go grocery shopping for food. That way you can cook yourself without having to go out. I’d definitely recommend buying local fare and looking up recipes to make a regional dish vs. something you’d normally make at home.
  • If you do decide you want to grab food elsewhere, call the restaurant and see if they do pickup. Lots of restaurants were doing carry-out but simply hadn’t updated their websites to tell you.
  • And if you want to actually dine somewhere else vs. pick it up or make it yourself, reach out to the restaurant and ask what COVID cautions they’re taking. You can reach out by either calling them, finding them on social media and checking out their more recent posts, or checking out TripAdvisor/Yelp. TripAdvisor specifically has a “COVID-19 precautions for this restaurant” section, which is lovely. We ate at The Granary in Jackson Hole and they did an excellent job.
  • Avoid indoor activities and attractions. I know, it sucks, but that’s where you’re the most vulnerable. If you just must do something indoors, try and figure out a time when said activity will have the fewest people attending (usually right at open or just before close).
  • And in that same vein, start your day early to avoid crowds anywhere. We did lots of hiking and exploring in Grand Teton and Yellowstone, and if I could leave you with one COVID road trip tip, it would be to simply try and do your activities outside of peak hours.
  • Self-isolate or get tested before and after your trip.

There you have it – my best COVID road trip tips based on my 12 days on the road during global pandemic. Literally a sentence I never thought I’d write, but here we are.

Keep yourself safe and sane, and I’ll see you on the road… but honestly hopefully not – social distancing and whatnot, ha.

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