Mind and Body

Road trips & Covid-19: Take these 5 steps to minimize risk

To stay totally safe, stay home. If you are going to travel by car, there are crucial factors to consider.

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The Covid-19 pandemic has sent shockwaves across the travel industry: grounding planes, docking cruises, and decelerating public transport.

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That's because one way to avoid catching or spreading Covid-19 is to stay put and social distance.

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If you don't need to travel — don't do it. As of July, one-third of states have restrictions for travelers.

Still, research shows that Americans are increasingly turning to one form of transportation during Covid-19: the road trip.

If you're planning a road trip, here's how you can minimize risk and travel safely.

Dawn Nolt, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Oregon Health & Science University, tells Inverse that, when contemplating the "safest" way to travel, there are three factors to consider.


1. The number of strangers you may encounter

2. The proximity of passengers

3. The duration of time spent in the car

"Traveling by car allows a lot of control to the traveler. You know the health status of your fellow passengers, and interactions with people outside your social 'bubble' can be minimized."

— Dawn Nolt

Once you've considered those three factors and determined your trip can be done safely, these 5 steps can help you execute the trip most carefully.


1) Choose travel partners wisely

Stick with your social "bubble." If riding with people outside this group, wear masks, keep the windows down, and let the outside air circulate to avoid transmission.

"In my opinion, the car has the least risk if you know your passengers, even if the space within the vehicle is much smaller than other venues and it takes the longest time to get to the destination."

— Dawn Nolt

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2) Map carefully

Every state or country's coronavirus cases, guidelines, and protocols are different.

Use live Covid-19 trackers and local public health agencies to determine where to travel and what you'll need to do when you get there.

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3) Pack smart

Bring masks, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, phone chargers, essential documents, snacks, and water.


4) Limit number of stops

When you do venture into public spaces, wear your mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands.

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5) Avoid touching heavily trafficked surfaces like gas station pumps, public toilets, or roadside restaurant counters.

6) Book accommodation in advance and check cleaning protocols.

Airbnb's, motels, and hotels often have their sanitation procedures online.

If possible, skip a turndown service, the public pool, and make check-in as quick and contactless as possible.

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"We know the backbone of what we can do to minimize spread – the unsexy practices of keeping your distance, wearing a mask, and cleaning your hands."

— Dawn Nolt

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"Armed with this knowledge, we then venture out in the world with the best intentions."

Covid-19 is still circulating. But with these factors in mind, you can minimize risk.


If you do head out, safe travels!

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