This summer has started off as the perfect time for road trip vacations. With the pandemic still in full swing, extra precautions have to be taken in order to still enjoy summer vacation without spreading the virus or catching the virus. Nick and I dove into our first round trip road trip for the July holiday weekend and here’s what we learned.
Summer is always going to bring the need for hydration as the days are longer and hotter. We started our trip with fully filled reusable water bottles but that did us no good when the water ran out. We ended up raiding our parents’ stock of recyclable bottled water.
Even though we drank less water on the road trip (say no to pitstop bathrooms) we still needed water to stay hydrated while on the road. We also didn’t want to either pay for overpriced bottled water at the hotel while traveling or fill up on tap water.
When we returned home, we made sure to have at least 3-16 oz bottles per person packed in our insulated lunch bag with snacks or cooler (I’ll talk more on this later).
I’m normally terrible with my water intake, but I understand the importance of it so I’ve been making a conscious effort to drink at least 64 oz. per day. Not saying that I’m reaching it, but I’m trying. Read more about my new healthy habits.
Have a cooler
We got hip to the cooler idea when we were trying to pack leftover barbecue for our 16 hour return to TX. This was a great idea because we could also travel with cold food and make less food stops.
I learned the hard way not to pack the cooler with ice to last the entire trip. Instead, freeze some ice packs and spread them out with the food. What’s the advantage of this on road trips? You get to refill the ice on gas stops. Just be sure to check your cooler often so you’re not stuck with wet, semi cold food.
To start our trip, we packed the cooler with ice from the hotel (freemium option) and then checked our items/replenished ice throughout the drive. This worked wonderfully and we’re still able to enjoy food from our families back at home.
Swipe Credit on the Road
I used my debit card for most purchases but I made sure to apply the charges as credit everywhere I went. This helps protect your debit card pin while you’re making transactions all over the country, and it combats any antiquated systems that could potentially double charge your account or that don’t accept debit payments.
Throughout the trip I also saved my receipts and logged the food and gas charges. Since we traveled during the weekend, I’m still getting finally charges to my account the following Wednesday. However, I feel better about the final charges when I see them compared to the receipts and post to my account correctly.
Also, if you are using your actual credit card, you can collect rewards while redeeming them! I’m sure you plan on using rewards during your trip whether it be cash back to your account, points towards the hotel stay, or saving on gas purchases. Why not put your credit card on double duty and earn those points right back? By consistently charging everything to one card, you can rack up points in no time with the extra spending required on road trips.
It was great having all of my charges on one card during the road trip. With the extra spending, I could’ve easily lost control of how much it all cost and what I had leftover from the travel budget and my general living budget. One day since being back home, and I’m confident in the overall control I maintained due to this small habit.
This trick and some other financial hacks are new to my financial management bag. Learn more at this blog post!
Managing Alternate Road Trip Drivers
Nick and I shared the driving for the entire trip, striving to drive the same amount of time each. However, things happened where I got sleepy earlier than expected or vice versa. We maintained our schedule and balanced each other out when we needed it most. Here’s the great advice we got from our mom on how to manage it all:
- Alternate driving so that the other driver can rest/nap if need be.
- Have your music playlist ready to keep you occupied, especially if you’re the only one up and alert.
- Have friends and family on deck to talk with you while driving and to help the time go by quicker
- At food stops, the driver should order something lighter while the alternate driver can handle a more substantial meal.
Overload on Music & Podcasts
What kept me alert and occupied was my upbeat music playlist with varying genres. I was pleasantly surprised with each song because it was a huge contrast to the one before. I also chose only faster songs. Nothing slow made its way to my playlist to make me sleepy. This made a huge difference during my overnight 7-hour stretch on the road.
I also sprinkled in podcasts, as did Nick, to vary things even more. Since podcasts have thought provoking conversation and an element of entertainment, these are great for keeping you engaged in the drive as well.
The last determining factor in making our playlists so productive was the sheer amount of music we amassed for the road trip. Our one way drive was 16 hours and we each planned to drive for half of the total trip. So I made sure my playlist had over 16 hours of content to ensure there was no repeats. I wanted the music to stay fresh the entire time. In order to achieve this, I manually curated the entire list from songs on other playlists to get through it quicker. Believe me, the extra time it takes to do this helps a lot!
Grab Your Car Phone Mount/Charger
We both have Pop Sockets on the back of our phones, which we used for GPS. So the Pop Socket holder was a lifeline for us. I made a mental note to grab the holder from my car before we picked up our rental. Having this holder made it super easy to reference our GPS and navigate our playlists.
Nick also grabbed his phone charger and I had a fully charged Mophie charging bank. Both of our phones needed to be working for the majority of the drive, so having mobile charging options was crucial. You can also use USB ports in the car (if it’s new enough) and in that case, be sure to have your charging cables with the right connection ports!
These are small but mighty additions to the road trip must-haves.
Purchase a Small Air Purifier
With us being in the world of COVID-19, we have to worry about the circulation of this airborne disease. Not only does the virus particles travel in the air when someone coughs, speaks, spits, etc. but it also has the ability to linger. Poor building or vehicle circulation (simply not having enough filtration) can increase your exposure. Increased exposure causes increased chances of getting the virus.
We combatted this in the car and at our hotel with a small air purifier that we found on Amazon. Not only did this serve as double duty to all of our surface disinfecting, but it grabbed any lingering particles that made its way into the car from outside air.
I can’t say that the purifier made a huge, life-changing difference but it gave us more confidence in our safety on the trip. If you consider this option, be sure to do your research that the purifier is sufficient for filtering the small COIVD-19 particles.
Living in this pandemic is hard, but we’re making it work as best we can, right? Listen to this podcast episode about how I’m managing and grabs some tips too!
Modified First Aid Kit
I’ve always been big on having a first aid kit on trips, because you never know what will happen. That was multiplied on this trip in the middle of a pandemic, and I was happy to be prepared. We ended up needing to make a rubber covering alternative for a CPAP machine and my supplies came in handy.
In addition to the typical first aid kit, I made sure to pack:
- Wet Ones
- Rubber gloves
- Disinfectant cleaner
- Tissue to wipe surfaces with the disinfectant
- Hand sanitizer x1,000 (not really!)
- Extra face masks
Those were all of my new additions to this road trip we took during the July holiday weekend. It ended up being an enjoyable trip and we were prepared for everything life threw at us. For the time being we’re happy and healthy now that we’re back at home. The last thing I would suggest is to get a preventative test when you return home to make sure you don’t spread the virus that you must’ve caught on the trip. Hopefully, that won’t be the case!
Happy summer traveling!!