If You Must:
The 10 Best Ways to Travel Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Amy Dimond
Summer is either winding down or heating up—depending on where you live and how you look at things. Months of quarantines, stay-at-home orders and social distancing due to COVID-19 have us all looking for ways to maintain our sanity, and carefully balancing the very real need to avoid a malicious, microscopic virus with the very real desire to just…breathe.
It’s no small wonder that all things RV-related, and an isolated kind of wanderlust, are at an all-time high. Given the number of travel inquiries we’ve received at RVMattress.com over the past few months, we thought we’d just put it out there—our top 10 listicle for hitting the road during a pandemic, while keeping the need for social distancing top of mind.
Take the road less risky.
A few pleasures of the past that came from traveling by RV, or any other motor vehicle, were flexibility and self-sufficiency. Now, you can add the ability to keep your distance. RVs, in particular, do it all: provide the mode of transportation, the hotel room of your choice, a mobile kitchen and a private restroom. Each of these luxuries makes traveling safer for you and others. Even if you’re not hitting the road in an RV, you have the latitude to pack your vehicle with cleaning supplies (over three ounces) and a cooler of snacks and beverages, all the while keeping to yourselves. All of these options limit potential exposure to COVID-19.
Know before you (even) go.
Mapping the route to your final destination is mission critical. If you’re thinking of crossing state lines, it’s essential to know what you are and aren’t getting yourself into. Some states have mandatory 14-day quarantine periods for non-residents—and being turned away at the border or forbidden to exit freeways because you’re coming from a hotspot is not merely anecdotal. In addition to honoring local mandates (which protect locals), you want to be sure you’ll be free to stay at your final destination, as well as stop for fuel, food and bathroom breaks along the way. You can check out this full list of state-by-state restrictions before you go.
Find the right fit when it comes to accommodations.
Along with being aware of local guidelines, it’s important to make advance calls to RV parks, campgrounds and hotel properties. Presently, the spontaneous pullover in an RV is less likely to be allowed—plus, you’ll want to know ahead of time which areas are closed, which amenities are still available and how much distance there is between parking spots or campsites. If you’re staying in a hotel, call the local property to ensure that strict cleaning protocols for all public areas and private rooms are in place. It’s important to ask what the check-in process looks like and how many hours (or days) your room will be vacant before you arrive. Some properties offer digital keys and other contactless services, while others ensure a 24-hour period between occupancy for each room and now forego valet parking. Frankly, it’s a good idea to bring in a few disinfecting supplies of your own anyway, just to ensure the room is as clean as possible from the get-go—and to continue to wipe off frequently touched surfaces during your stay.
Create plenty of safe spaces (and peace of mind).
Treat your RV or vehicle as you would your home, doing your best to ensure that everyone—and everything—entering the space comes clean. That means disinfecting your hands just before, or as you get into, the vehicle to maintain a healthy interior. Regularly clean and disinfect often-touched surfaces, including all the electronic devices your family brings along for the ride. Even if you’re setting up camp outside, you can create a safe perimeter around your campsite by making sure that anyone not from your household wears a mask to enter your space. And, of course, always wash your hands before eating—indoors or out.
Take advantage of the great outdoors.
Speaking of outdoors, according to most experts, COVID-19 particles are quicker to disperse in the open air. Hiking, strolling, biking, swimming and more can all be enjoyable outlets for that pent-up energy…if you avoid crowded areas and continue to maintain at least six feet between you and someone not of your household. If you opt for parks or playgrounds, be mindful of surfaces that may have been touched by others. Washing your hands is ideal, but do bring along hand sanitizer as the next best option.
Explore your culinary options with care.
Preparing your food yourself is still the safest bet. Even if you don’t have the choice of dining in an RV, you can still look for a kitchenette at your property, allowing you to make simple meals (like breakfast) inside your room. It must be noted that many hotels that have typically offered a morning buffet in your room rate have curtailed that option now due to COVID-19. If you choose eating out over, say, room service—or you want to support a local business—find out ahead of time if drive-through, take-out, delivery or dine-in with socially distanced tables are offered. One of the benefits of warmer weather are the number of eateries that now offer dining al fresco (more than six feet apart) on the patio, as well as take-out.
Bring masks aplenty.
Unless you just woke up from a long winter’s nap, you already know that masking is highly encouraged, if not actually required. It’s important to face reality when you’re traveling: a contaminated mask can be as infectious as touching your face, but washing masks on the road is probably not all that practical. (Only diehard fifth-wheelers might warm to the idea.) You can buy a large quantity of disposable masks for your group, being careful to throw them away after each prolonged exposure. You can also purchase masks here, at Brooklyn Bedding, that have the comfort and protection of a disposable face covering but are actually washable up to 50 times—with the added advantage of being incredibly affordable, starting at $1 per mask. (We are indeed biased, but we ultimately created the best of both worlds from our customers’ feedback after transitioning a portion of our factory to help essential workers back in March.)
Embrace the glove—just once.
Gloves touch everything your hands do—which is why there should be a one-time-use law pertaining to their employ. When does that come into play? When you’re fueling up at the gas station and/or taking a bathroom break in a public restroom. There’s something gloriously freeing about taking care of business and then discarding your gloves like a dirty diaper in the nearest garbage can. (Please do discard of them properly. Throwing gloves on the ground is littering and unfair to those who have to pick them up later.) Using gloves this way should be the norm long after a cure for COVID-19 is found. It’s that satisfying.
Remember the basics of sanitation—but check your disinfectant.
There’s a lot of science behind the efficacy of your hand sanitizer, but know this: alcohol evaporates more quickly in air—particularly in hot, dry environments—while hydrogen peroxide loses its potency when exposed to sunlight. Storing your hand sanitizer in temperatures between 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal effectiveness gets trickier when you’re on the road. Keep your sanitizer close at hand…but in a cooler, darker place like a glove compartment, center console or handbag when traveling. And, as we’ve already mentioned, washing your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds is still the best way to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 or other illnesses.
If you’re sick, stay home.
There’s no elaboration needed on this point, right? It should probably be our number one tip.
A final word: as an American-made brand, we absolutely get it—the desire to hit the open road, to satisfy the wanderlust, to venture off the beaten path. To be honest, we like the road less traveled too. It’s why we’re one of the only companies in the world to custom craft your mattress in our very own state-of-the-art factory in Phoenix, Arizona and deliver it directly to your door. Whatever your road trip aspirations are in these unprecedented times, we wish you safe travels and (still) promise you the customized sleep of your dreams to get there.