By Nancy McLaughlin, of Nancy’s Deals

With the difficulty of social distancing on an airplane and concerns about health, many people have decided to take their vacations by car this year, including my family, who has taken both an RV trip AND a family road trip.

Here are some top family road trip tips that we learned that you may want to keep in mind before you hit the road on your next adventure! 


6 Top Family Road Trip Tips During the COVID-19 Pandemic


1. Get Your Rental the Night Before

If you’ll be renting a car or an RV for your family road trip, consider picking up the vehicle the night before you leave, so you can ensure several hours have passed since the last renter to allow for some fresh air to circulate.

Wipe down high-touch surfaces with disinfectant wipes (if you can’t find Clorox wipes, try alcohol wipes or a disinfectant spray with a cloth).

If you’re interested in an RV rental, check out my post, RV Travel Trips to Get Away Closer to Home.


2. The “New” Road Trip Packing Essentials

Packing for a road trip requires a few different items these days.

Remember your first aid kit (including a thermometer), several masks for everyone, disinfectant wipes, gloves (for pumping gas, though some stations, like Speedway, offer these to customers) and bottles of hand sanitizer.

I was happy I had packed extra prescription medication when we decided to extend our stay with family by a week!


3. Hit the Grocery Store Before You Go

We planned ahead and prepped meals to fill our cooler with sandwiches, pasta salads, cut fruit and veggies, drinks and water. Don’t forget to pack non-perishable protein sources and snacks, as well.

Try to limit your stops for food to reduce exposure to new environments. If you do stop,  in order to avoid contact with others, consider drive-thru or carry out options. 


4. Bathroom Break Best Practices

family road trip tips - rest area

When visiting rest stops, try to go in and out quickly, touching as few doors as possible, using your foot to open them if you can. We noticed many doors were already propped open.

Flush the toilet with your foot.

Additionally, I used hand sanitizer instead of washing my hands. Remember to physically distance 6 feet from others and wear a mask.

Here is a list of states requiring masks.


5. Hotel Smarts

hotels coronavirus masks

We stuck to the major hotel chains with published cleaning policies like Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt hotels. 

At check-in, I requested rooms that were not occupied the night before and on low floors, so we were able to take the stairs and avoid the elevator.

We also used side entrances to avoid another trip through the lobby.

Be sure to sanitize and wipe down the high-touch surfaces (door handles, surfaces and faucets) in your hotel room before unloading your items.


6. Need WiFi?

Starbucks parking lot building

Most WiFi access is available in the parking lot of your favorite coffee shop or restaurant even if you can’t go in.

Starbucks, Taco Bell, Arby’s, Subway, Panera and more provide FREE WiFi. Check out this list with the best WiFi speeds. We used McDonald’s, so my son could attend online school from the car. How’s that for school on the go?!

Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Do you have any favorite family road trip tips? How has your travel changed in light of the pandemic?


  • Lyn Mettler

    Lyn Mettler is a longtime travel writer for US News & World Report, USA Today 10Best and The TODAY Show who created Families Fly Free, a program which teaches families her simple system to use travel rewards to fly for free.

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