We’re facing a lot of “new normals” and unknowns, not just in the U.S. but worldwide right now. As the summer is approaching, many of us are thinking about travel plans. Our international travel plans may have been canceled, but does that mean you can’t take a road trip?
The answer is really that it depends. Last summer, if you were considering a road trip and how safe it would be, your main considerations were probably the weather and making sure you stayed awake and alert on the road.
Now, you have to add different state’s quarantine restrictions and the steps you might need to take on your own to keep yourself safe.
The following are things to think about if you’re weighing a road trip this summer, during coronavirus.
It Can Be A Good Time for a Road Trip
Honestly, if it’s something you’re thinking about and you plan carefully, this summer might be a great time for a road trip.
For one, gas prices are very low. You might not see such low prices at the pump for quite some time after this. Plus, traveling by car is much simpler than trying to fly right now.
While airlines are still operating, they are enacting stringent rules regarding things like facial coverings and social distancing, and they are slashing routes.
Traveling by car takes away some of the major hurdles of other types of travel right now. For example, while you can technically travel, if you’re going through airports and you’re on planes it increases your risk of being exposed to coronavirus.
If you travel out of the country, you may be required to quarantine for 14 days once you get there, and that doesn’t make for a fun trip.
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Plus, some foreign countries have closed their borders anyway.
Plan Your Route
If you’ve thought it through and you’re going to use this as an opportunity to take the road trip of your dreams, you want to plan your route thoroughly. This isn’t really the time to hit the road and hope for the best.
There are several key reasons you should plan and research your route before you leave for a summer road trip.
First, you need to make sure there aren’t any travel advisories in the places you’re going. A lot of those have been eased, but it’s still good to double-check.
Additionally, you’ll need to consider whether or not there will be lodging open and available, whether you’re stopping along the way or you’ll need a place to stay when you arrive at your destination.
Many of the major hotel chains are still operating, but it depends a lot on the city or state. If you do find open hotels or lodging, you can probably get a deal.
Many states have serious limits on dining in restaurants, although a few states are opening up restaurants for dine-in. How will this affect your trip?
Downsides of Taking a Road Trip Right Now
Along with the perks named above, when you take a road trip right now, you’ll probably find the traffic is pretty light and bathrooms at rest stops, and gas stations may be cleaner because businesses are taking more precautions to sanitize.
It’s not all good news, though.
Most local areas are taking this quiet time to do road construction projects, so as you’re planning your route, think about that. Some tolls may be closed to maintain social distancing, and if you come across ones that are closed, they’ll mail you a bill.
Since there are so few people on the roads, there may be more of a tendency to speed on your part and the part of other drivers, so be mindful of possible roadway risks.
Road Trips Are a Popular Option Right Now
A few weeks ago, there were still strict stay-at-home orders in place for most of the country, but now those are ending, and it looks like a lot of people plan to take to the highways in the coming weeks.
A survey from GasBuddy, a travel app, found that 31% of respondents plan to go on a summer road trip, although 18% also said they’d definitely ruled out a road trip.
The CEO of GasBuddy said in a report that there’s likely to be a last-minute surge in road trips toward the second half of the summer, as more people become comfortable moving around a bit.
If you do decide to take a road trip, make sure you’re as safe and healthy as possible so you can enjoy getting out and about, perhaps for the first time in months.