Plane flights are out for the foreseeable future, so many of us are embracing road trips again. The pandemic shows no sign of disappearing, but we want to hit the road. However, if you are planning your next trip, it’s fair to say that 2020 puts an unusual twist on car vacations. Staying safe behind the steering wheel requires a bit of a rethink in addition to the usual checks and preparation. Many of our cars have been idle of seen very little use. We have gotten past the initial spate of dead batteries and flat tires, but that doesn’t mean it stops there. When a car stays parked for several weeks without moving, the tires may well have lost air pressure. How can you tell whether your tires are correctly inflated? Check them visually, better yet with a tire gauge. And the way things are going, get yourself a portable air pressure pump to bring along. Way better than being stranded and needing to break your cleanliness bubble at some dirty station. You need to basically go over your whole car, or have someone do it for you. Some companies are providing webinars on how to check your car yourself.
On the “yourself” side, remember you haven’t been as out and about. Younger passengers may not be used to long car rides anymore, and may well be more prone to motion sickness. You also need to be far more prepared than normal for things like extra water, extra food, extra masks and gloves. One of our vice presidents just got stuck overnight in her car because of floods. That’s bad enough in regular times, now add the whole disease issue. Another thing people are finding is that they aren’t as comfortable driving at night. Perhaps all that screen time takes its toll. If you can’t get to your favorite mall eyewear shop, you can go online. An app suggested by a doctor friend is meant to make a basic assessment of your eyesight. Websites such as Eyeglasses.com are good resources for general information and even ordering glasses. One thing we learned during the pandemic is we need more spares than we ever expected of many everyday items.
Be ready for everything. What if your car does break down, or you have to go to a doctor, or you need to get a ride from someone else or on a bus. Bring your own safety kit in the car, maybe even one for each traveller. Every child nowadays should have their own go-bag or emergency bag anyway, usually the schools make them have them anyway. Put similar prep bags in the car, with extra clothes and water and maybe some food in addition to what you would need if you are planning on spending the night somewhere other than your home. And remember to bring what you may need to clean and sterilize wherever you end up. Which may well be not what you expected.
Something that has been gaining popularity of late and is particularly appealing now is the whole idea of overlanding, or basically camping out of your car. This allows you to be pretty self-contained without necessarily roughing it as much as traditional camping. Not exactly as glamorous or luxurious perhaps as glamping, but at least all the stuff you touch is your own. You can even make a pretty mean steak.
So yes, our world has been tossed into disarray, and yes we have been self-isolating a whole lot. But we also need to see to the well-being of our families and ourselves. Don’t take any chances of course, but be ready for when you can. Besides which, preparation can be fun. Try out the specialized gear that gets you out into the world and sleeping comfortably on top of your pickup truck, SUV or station wagon. During the pandemic, many new roads have opened up that can take you further out more quickly. Check first of course, know where you are going and whether you need things like test results, doctor’s certificates or resident paperwork. But be ready to get back out and enjoy the drive.