I planned a road trip for last April. But the pandemic arrived, sweeping aside plans I’d made—not only for April’s road trip. Literally every event that was on my 2020 calendar in March has been cancelled, falling like dominoes nudged by Covid-19.

After consultation with the family members I want to visit, I’m planning a road trip again. With every human interaction outside my own household, the risk of exposure to the virus increases. Here’s the new road trip playbook, thanks to Coronavirus.

Pack with health in mind.

Pandemic packing will require hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes for those gas pumps and public restrooms, face masks, and disposable gloves. And bring a couple of rolls of toilet paper—someone may have raided the convenience store bathroom.

Become a planner.

No more travel by the seat of your pants, even if that is your natural inclination. The rules vary not just by state, but even county to county, so schedule your nightly stops and book lodging, which may be in limited supply. Double-check with your hotel a couple of days before arrival, in case that county’s circumstances have changed.

Bring your own food on the road.

Yes, I mean a cooler packed with sandwiches, string cheese, canned drinks, and brownies. You’ll save space on ice if you buy an electric cooler that plugs into the cigarette lighter. Bring a large thermos of any hot beverage you need. The fewer stops you need to make, the less your potential exposure to illness.

Don’t let unexpected closures shut you down.

If there are landmarks, museums, national parks, or beaches you want to visit, confirm in advance with local authorities whether those will be open, and what restrictions might affect your visit.

Respect those most vulnerable.

If you have elderly or high-risk family members, ask them if they prefer you to quarantine for a few days prior to a visit. Do they have safety protocols they want you to follow? Would they would prefer to put off a visit to another time?

The best time to make alternate plans is before you leave home—while you are still planning. Will a smaller motel and breakfast from a drive-through be safer than the familiar hotel with breakfast included? Check maps online for road construction projects you might want to avoid. Far better to know in advance than having to change plans as darkness is falling in unfamiliar territory.

Try to anticipate and prepare for some of the most common travel disruptions. Take your car in for servicing and a road trip safety check up before you leave. Is your roadside assistance plan up to date—and is the number handy in your car?

Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash

Connect with nature, connect with loved ones, invest in an activity that feeds your soul. Whether it’s visiting grandparents, a picnic at the beach, or losing yourself in a good book, fill a few days with simple pleasures. Even if you have only a long weekend to get away, with the right precautions, a road trip can provide refreshment for your mind, body, and spirit.

I’d love to hear about your pandemic road trip–you can connect with me right here on my website.

Read about my epic road trip experience in The Drive in ’65, now available to order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores.