For the past few years, good old-fashioned family road trips have been on the rise as parents yearn for the nostalgia of their own childhoods. For many, the craziness of 2020 has only magnified these feelings even more. As the US and Canada start to reopen, the thought of packing up the car, throwing some food in a cooler, hitting the open road, and teaching the kids “punch buggy” and “iSpy” is appealing to a generation who grew up on station wagon family road trips. Families are looking for a vacation that is both worry-free and simple; road trips are fulfilling those requirements for a lot of people this year. However, many are wondering how to do that while also being mindful of the current pandemic. So, here are a few ways you can go above and beyond in order to safely take a family road trip this summer and keep those adorable munchkins happy and healthy!
Hand Soap Sheets
While hand sanitizer is great and should definitely make your packing list, washing your hands with good old soap and water is still the best way to fight all types of bacteria and viruses.
If you haven’t heard of hand soap sheets, you are not alone! Loved by campers, these paper-thin sheets of soap are also the perfect travel companion for traveling with young kids and babies. We all know kids have this really “neat” magic trick where you can wash their hands, and within 2 minutes of turning around…they are dirty again. (We still don’t know how they do it!). The CDC however, does not recommend hand sanitizer when your hands are visibly dirty or greasy. Instead of hoping that rest-stops and restaurants will be stocked with soap, throw a pack of these hand soap sheets into your pocket and be assured that your family will be able to wash up anywhere. Just pull one out, add a small amount of water, and scrub the dirt and germs away.
Pro Tip – Rip the sheets in half or even quarters for younger kids as one sheet can be a lot for little hands.
Speak to your Pediatrician
Give your pediatrician’s office a quick call and let them know you will be traveling a week or so in advance. See if there are any options for telemedicine or if they would be available by phone for advice in the event your child gets a minor illness while on the road.
We also asked Dr. Steve Silvestro, a Washington D.C. area pediatrician and host of The Child Repair Guide Podcast, about other precautions you can take in order to ensure a safe road trip this summer. “We know that crowded, enclosed spaces—i.e., restaurants, rest stations—present a higher risk for spread. Avoid these if you can. If you can’t, have everyone in the family wear masks when they go inside. Even though cloth masks do more to protect others from you than to protect you from others, it would still be wise for everyone in the family to wear one. When you’re outdoors, masks aren’t likely necessary unless you expect to spend significant time in close contact with other people. Outside of that, the everyday basics—making sure everyone eats healthily, gets enough sleep, and moves their bodies around—will help to keep everyone healthy and strong.”
Dr. Silvestro also adds, “This pandemic has been stressful for everyone, whether you know people who’ve gotten sick or not. It’s important for all of our families to find some joy and adventure this summer as best we can. And while extra precautions will have to be taken, that joy is there for us to find!”
SensorSafe by Cybex
An essential item for parents wanting to safely take a family road trip, this award-winning product will definitely keep your mind at ease knowing your child is safe and comfortable in the backseat. If your child is rear-facing, it can be challenging to respond to the needs of your child, so many times parents will find themselves pulling over or twisting their bodies into a pretzel in order to check on them. For parents who prefer not to do yoga in a moving car, (seriously don’t do this!) SensorSafe is a great and convenient option to help you keep your eyes on the road. It is incorporated into the chest clip of CYBEX SensorSafe-enabled products and provides essential safety alerts. If your child unbuckles the chest clip, the car temperature in the back seat has become too hot or too cold, your child has been left alone in the car, or your child has been seated for too long, the Sensor will notify you so that you can take appropriate action. Definitely taking road trips up a notch!
Go ahead and download a decent GPS app in the event of unplanned stops. One of the great things about road trips is the excitement about what you will find on the road. These apps are great for telling you about quirky roadside spots that the kids might just love (Idaho Potato Museum, anyone!?) or even picnic spots where you can pull over to eat and avoid those dreaded fast-food fries that you will find six months later wedged between the seats. A couple of popular apps amongst seasoned travelers are Roadtrippers and Maps.me. Roadtrippers is great for finding a stop nearby when the kids have asked “Are we there yet?” for the hundredth time. Maps.me can be used offline since you download the maps ahead of time. You can then just easily pull them up if you end up lost without a signal or you are ready to make a stop!
Pro tip – if you have an extra older phone, use that to download the Maps.me app and keep it in your car. Since you download the maps, they can take up some room on your phone and you will want to make sure you have enough space for all those pictures you are going to take!
Stop when you are tired
This may seem like an obvious “tip”, but it’s a really important one. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that drowsy driving was responsible for 91,000 crashes in 2017. So, if you feel your eyelids getting droopy, have your passenger pull up some close hotels and book your family into one. We know that you may be concerned about making an unplanned hotel stop and questioning the cleanliness of it. Rest assured though; hotels are doing everything they can to keep their customers safe. Here are a few lodging options and their clean promises.
In addition to the clean promises described above, here are a couple of extra things you can do as well:
- Ask for a room that hasn’t been occupied in a few days.
- Take off the bedspread and just use the sheets.
- Wipe down the remote control and doorknobs
- Don’t drink out of the glassware—ask for plastic cups if you need them
Check Travel Restrictions
In order to safely take a family road trip this summer, an important step in your planning needs to be checking government websites for current travel restrictions and openings between countries and states. We know this can be a daunting task if you will be driving through multiple areas, so we went ahead and listed some resources to check before you leave.
Please check individual state government and state travel websites for any state you will be visiting or driving through. In addition, we have listed the CDC’s list of individual health websites for you to reference.
Please do not travel to any country or state if you are experiencing symptoms of Covid19.
This is the most important tip of them all! By planning your trip ahead of time and taking a few extra precautions you can ensure that you will be able to safely take a family road trip this summer and have a ton of fun in the process. So go ahead. Relax, turn up the tunes, make memories, and enjoy those little ones!
You may also like: