Travelling during a pandemic, it’s not an evident thing. First of all, many countries put heavy restrictions on any international or even national trips. You can’t just move freely like you used to do before, every single (mini-)vacation comes with a long list of commitments, of obligations even. Secondly, aside from legal restrictions, you also have to overcome some kind of mental threshold. You may be overwhelmed by guilt, by fear of contamination, by a long list of to-do’s and not-to-do’s. Have you managed to overcome all of those obstacles and are you ready for your next holiday? Great, but you’re not there yet.
During a pandemic, travelling by car seems to be the most secure thing to do. You’re not stowed into a crowded plane together with God knows how many strangers, nor do you have to worry about disinfecting the armrest in the train for fear of getting infected by your predecessor’s germs. When you’re just on your own or with your relatives in your car, it may seem like you can’t be touched by the virus in any way. Yet, even in that case, there are some things you have to keep in mind.
1. Paperwork and tests
The first thing to get sorted is the paperwork you’ll need in order to be able to travel around. Depending on where you live, this administrative side of things might look different. Maybe you’ll need proof of where you’ll be going, maybe you have to fill out a declaration of honor, maybe you need to pass by the city hall… Every state handles this differently, so make sure you know what to do. One thing’s for sure, you’ll most probably need a negative test to leave the country. Don’t wait too long to book that appointment, because, and I experienced this myself, you won’t be the only one to cross that border. And you don’t want to be that one person who has to stay behind because they didn’t manage to get a test on time.
2. Curfews and other restrictions
Once you know which steps to take in your own country and once you’ve got that negative test (congratulations), it’s time to get acquainted with the measures put in place in the countries you’ll be travelling through and to. Even if you don’t need a negative test or some kind of other document to leave your hometown, this might be necessary anyway if you want to cross the border. Moreover, some states hold onto a strict curfew which you’ll need to respect if you’re just travelling for fun. Make a detailed plan of your voyage and make sure to book a hotel if you won’t be able to reach your destination on time. Just see it as part of your holiday and make the most out of it.
Sure, it might seem easier to just stop somewhere along the road and get a bite to eat. Taking lunch with you might even remind you of travelling with your parents, who always had a cooler and a load of food and drinks in the back of the car in order to save some money – which actually is quite a good trick, but that’s a whole other question. Let’s focus on travelling during a pandemic. While travelling by car is a great way to avoid other people when you’re driving, those rest stops are a true hotbed for any kind of disease. People from all over the place are crossing paths at those fast-food chains along the highway, making it the perfect place to catch that much-feared virus. Instead of buying your food while travelling, it’s therefore a much better idea to just pack your lunch and eat it at a quieter place. Maybe you have to get off that highway and drive a few kilometers in order to find a perfect picnic spot but then again, it’s all part of the journey.
4. Pandemic-proof equipment
Even if you’re prepared like never before, chances are you will have to get in contact with the outside world at least once during your road trip. At least, if you have to travel for more than a few hours. And especially if you’re not part of that half of the population who can take a wee while standing. Don’t panic though, if you’re prepared for it, this doesn’t have to be a disaster. Make sure to have a bottle of disinfectant in your car, pack some masks and don’t forget the tissues. Oh, and choose your stop wisely; if there are too many people, just get on the highway again and try the next one. Same goes for supermarkets where you’d like to do groceries for your trip or any other place you’d have to make a stop while on the road.
5. Road trip fun
Ok, we’re right in the middle of a pandemic. Ok, it’s important to keep the safety measures in mind while travelling. Ok, doing something spontaneous might not be as easy as before. But don’t forget you’re heading off for a vacation and you’re allowed to have some fun. So download a couple of nice playlists, pack some games and don’t forget your camera to capture all those memories. 2020 and 2021 have been strange years but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time every now and then.