I just returned home from a summer road trip through British Columbia’s mountain roads, along Alberta’s scenic Cowboy Trail, and the dusty grid roads leading to my birthplace in Saskatchewan. Safe travel during the pandemic is a top priority, and the back of my SUV looked a lot different this year! Given this recent experience, I want to share this list of road trip essentials to help you travel by vehicle this year.
Cleaning Supplies and Safety Precautions
Health experts stress the importance of handwashing, physical distancing, and face masks (where physical distancing isn’t possible) to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These safety precautions are important considerations at home and when you are packing road trip essentials.
Clean Your Hands
Handwashing with soap and warm water along with scrubbing the surfaces for at least 20 seconds is recommended, but it isn’t always an option during a road trip. To ensure the cleanest hands possible while travelling by vehicle, I assembled a kit with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol), basic wipes for sticky fingers and faces, tissues, and paper towels.
Pack the Face Masks
I’ve ordered re-usable face masks for the family from Kit and Ace and Airinum. The three-layer Kit and Ace masks are very comfortable. I’m still waiting for the shipment from Airinum, and I will update this post once the masks arrive. Also, I keep a box of basic surgical masks (see below) in the car in case someone needs a clean one.
Don’t Forget About Electronic Devices
Kindle e-readers, iPhones, MacBooks, and our Skyroam Solis X WiFi Hotspot (learn why we don’t leave home without our Skyroam here) accompany us when we travel. Experts recommend disinfecting these frequently handled devices.
Apple recommends the following method to clean Apple products, “Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces. Don’t use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any opening, and don’t submerge your Apple product in any cleaning agents. “
I use individually packed isopropyl alcohol swabs like those pictured below to clean electronics. These swabs often contain just enough alcohol to clean the devices without saturating them with moisture.
Disinfect High-Touch Surfaces
Along with electronic devices, other high-touch surfaces like door handles, and the steering wheel should be disinfected. I used either a non-bleach disinfecting wipe or a paper towel moistened with rubbing alcohol to clean the high-touch surfaces in our vehicle.
Road Trip Entertainment
When I was a child, comic books, a treat bag from my mom, and the seemingly neverending guess the next licence plate game kept me entertained during road trips. Today, there are many more options. I feel like my kids prefer watching movies on their devices, but I download audiobooks from Audible and encourage everyone to listen to them while we travel. Click the Audible image below to learn more. Recent road trip approved audiobooks include The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (narrated by Tom Hanks), The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, and the Theodore Boone series by John Grisham.
During the school closure, Audible launched a new program called Audible Stories so kids can listen to books for free. I don’t think you can download these books so make sure you have decent (and reasonable) cell connection or use a WiFi hotspot like the Skyroam Solis to listen to the Audible stories during your road trip.
Drinks and Snacks
In the past, we would travel with some snacks and drinks, but stop and purchase additional items whenever necessary. In order to minimize contact with others during the road trip, we packed a cooler bag (similar to the one pictured below) with drinks, snacks, and homemade sandwiches. If you ask my kids, tasty (and accessible) food and refreshing drinks are at the top of the list of road trip essentials.
A combination of bagged ice cubes and freezer packs layered on the bottom of the cooler kept the contents cold. If it’s hot outside, freeze juice boxes before the road trip and pack them on the top or outside of the cooler.
Plan Your Route and Places to Stop
While planning your road trip, visit the applicable government website(s), and confirm that your preferred destination is accepting visitors. It’s also a good idea to learn about mask-wearing requirements so you can be ready when you arrive. The status of a region can change quickly, so keep an eye on the status and select an alternate (just in case).
Once you’ve selected your vacation destination, identify places to stop along the route to use the washroom, stretch your legs, re-fuel or re-charge, and eat. For example, in British Columbia, the BC Parks Map highlights parks and provides information on services at each location.
Good to Know – Road Trip Essentials
- Be sure to fill your gas tank before you leave home. I refueled a few times on our summer road trip and felt most comfortable at self-serve gas stations where it was easier to practice physical distancing.
- The days of random bathroom breaks are behind us (at least for now). Be sure you and your passengers use the washroom before you begin driving. And keep a roll of toilet paper handy in case you can’t find a clean and safe-looking restroom. A reader suggested packing disposable toilet seat covers in case they aren’t available in the washroom.
Have you travelled by vehicle this year? Please share your road trip essentials! I’m designing a printable list of road trip essentials and would love your suggestions.
Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. I may earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As always, I will not recommend a product to you, if I don’t already use and approve it.