Travel Advisory: COVID-19
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Road Tripping During COVID-19

As COVID-19 began to spread throughout the US this spring, we all spent months at home doing everything we could to stay safe and healthy. While it feels good to know we’ve done a little to help combat the spread of the illness, we also know that as areas around the state began to open back up for business many of us started itching to get out of the house and into fresh air. The problem here is two-fold: we’re still supposed to be staying close to home and the pandemic is still ongoing. Add on top of that the fact that most folks are used to taking our family vacations and getaways during the summer and darn it—we miss vacation! We used to take for granted how readily we could just book a flight, rent a car and explore pretty much wherever we wanted and how we wanted. Well kids, as much as we hate to say it, that ship has sailed, at least for a while. Public safety just has to come first. 

Knowing that, there IS a way to get away during a pandemic and prioritize not only your own health, but that of others as well. Taking a road trip can be a great way to grab a little change of scenery but only if you do it safely. (We can’t emphasize this enough!) Planning ahead and being committed to safe and healthy practices is essential. 

Plan your trip with the understanding that not spreading COVID-19 has to be a top priority. This means taking every possible measure into account during your planning process.

  • Travel close to home. While we all want to do the cross-country road trip in our hearts, we should all admit that this just is not the right year to do it. 
  • Travel in your own vehicle or RV and understand that sanitization has to happen before, during and after your trip.
  • Only travel with the folks who live within your home and that you’ve been quarantining with in your vehicle. If you are hoping to travel with friends or family outside of your immediate home, plan to caravan in separate vehicles and meet up at least 6 feet apart for outdoor activities along the way.
  • Travel only to locations that are open to non-essential travel. Do your research beforehand and do not break the rules. The health and safety of others always has to come ahead of our desire to visit different locations.
  • Research the social media accounts for the communities or natural areas that you plan to visit. Are they telling the world to come visit or are they asking folks to wait? Even if their area is open to non-essential travel, if the tourism offices of these areas are asking you not to come yet, please be courteous and honor their requests.

Once you have an overarching location-based itinerary of places that you know are open to non-essential travel, determine if you will be day-tripping or overnighting. 

If you are overnighting, plan to make reservations in advance after researching lodging establishments that are clearly communicating their sanitization practices and other steps taken to ensure public safety. If you’ll be camping, be sure you’re planning to camp in areas where camping has reopened and that safety and sanitization measures are being communicated clearly. Check to see if reservations are required and ensure that your camping supplies are packed and organized for easiest access. 

Make sure your vehicle is road trip ready! Start out with a fresh oil change, topped-off fluids, tires aired-up properly and in good condition, fresh wiper blades, and of course, a full tank of gas (unless of course you’re driving an electric car, in which case, plan where you will charge up .) Place GPS and/or road maps where they are easily accessible. Pack a first-aid kit, flashlight with fresh batteries, and if possible, an extra key. Pack for comfort and ease of travel. Do NOT forget charging cables (you know at least one will go missing or stop working right when you need it, so bring at least one spare.

Plan to put all permits and passes in a readily available location (not the dashboard where they will inevitably blow out the window when you can't resist driving with the windows down).

Plan your activities—only those that can be done safely while social distancing. Need some ideas? Here are a few to consider:

Once you’ve planned out all of your activities, go back one more time and make sure you have a Plan B. Limiting exposure to COVID-19 and the potential for contracting or sharing the illness have to be priority number one, and if you get to your desired trailhead or birding location and it’s jam-packed, please plan to have a second and/or third option in your pocket. The risk of continuing the spread the illness just isn’t worth it.

Pre-pandemic we could all just make quick decisions on the fly and plan to grab food and supplies on the road as we went. Again, that ship has sailed, at least for a while. In order to stay safe and healthy we need to give ourselves the time necessary to really plan well and pack ahead. Not only do we need to pack adequate layers of clothing, gear, medication, first aid, etc. that we normally would, but now we really need to pack our food and hydration before we leave too. Many of the smaller communities that one might visit during your trip are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks. Please limit your exposure in these areas and take the time needed to pack all food and hydration ahead. Whether you make your own food or source it from a local grocer or restaurant in your neighborhood—just plan to have everything ready before you head out. If you MUST eat out while traveling, please opt for establishments offering drive-through service or curb-side pickup. And finally, pack more than you think you’ll need of the following:

  • Masks and/or face coverings
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant wipes or cleaners

If you’re planning to head into the outdoors, make sure you have a mask or face covering easily accessible in case you aren’t able to maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. Plan to have at least one back up in your backpack or bag in case your primary mask is dropped or lost. Plan to have at least one back backup in your vehicle. The same goes for hand sanitizer. Be sure to carry some on your person while out and about, while also having a backup in your pack or bag, and a backup in your vehicle. 

And last but not least, be sure to leave a copy of your travel itinerary with a loved one or friend. As much as we all try to plan ahead and be prepared for anything, life has a way of throwing us curveballs—even when we’re already in a pandemic. It’s always safest to make sure at least one person knows where you’ll be throughout your journey.

The Cascade Loop Scenic Byway LOVES having visitors but we love having safe communities and healthy people even more. Happy and safe traveling!