After being locked indoors for several months (plus still needing to follow safety precautions and restrictions afterwards) many of us feel the desire to get out and explore! Have you been unsure if it’s safe to travel during the coronavirus? While the pandemic is somewhat limiting of how and where we can travel, there are ways to work around it. Flying is technically allowed again, but many share the anxiety of flying on a crowded airplane – keeping most travels within the state or road tripping through out the country. There’s also the possibility of some states having large COVID-19 outbreaks and causing borders to close again.
Experts agree that traveling by car is a safer option when it comes to Covid-19 transmission.“You have a little more control of the situation on a road trip, and if you’re careful, you’ll have less interaction with other people than if you went to an airport or on an airplane.” CNBC
Don’t worry, there’s good news! The pandemic has lead to road trips being a popular option this summer and fall season. People are excited to explore the open road, but many of us are a bit out of practice when it comes to road tripping. When’s the last time you took one? Do you remember what necessary items you need to bring? Or unsure on how to do a road trip safely during the pandemic?
All of us at Checkexpress understand the feeling of cabin fever. We’d like to help our customers enjoy the last days of summer as well as our beautiful Midwest autumn safely. We want to make sure you have the best time possible while being responsible and prepared!
Checkexpress has done the research and curated this handy road trip guide for a successful vacation during the coronavirus…
Preparing Yourself AND Your Vehicle
First things first! You and your car both need a check up – and anyone else who is joining the adventure!
- Your health: It’s always best to be safe than sorry. Since you are about to hit the open road and possibly come in contact with others, the responsible thing to do is get your travel companions and yourself tested for COVID-19. Don’t have insurance or have limited funds due to recent hardships? Check out these community resources, find medical and financial aid here. Once you and your road trip crew have been cleared of the coronavirus, you’ll have a peace of mind traveling…and others will thank you!
“Traveling with family and friends limits contact with others, and those travel companions are likely to be the same individuals you’ve quarantined with over the past few months. If any of your passengers have had outside contact, however, it may be advisable to wear masks inside the vehicle. As an aside, experts caution against wearing a mask when driving alone because of a potential reduction in oxygen and possible lightheadedness.” Travel and Leisure
- Your vehicle health: Having a reliable vehicle you can depend on is vital for a successful road trip. We recommend checking your car out. Take it to your local mechanic or your dealership to have it serviced. Some service plans are geared specifically for the open road. When you call to schedule your appointment ask for these packages. If your car isn’t up to par, it may be time to purchase a new one. Now is actually a good time to buy a car with interest rates extremely low and dealerships offering delayed payment plans due to these challenging times! If you buy a new car or purchase a used car, we can help you with the final documents. Learn how Checkexpress can transfer and register car titles!
Getting your vehicle checked out by a mechanic is also a great way to prevent car malfunctions during your trip. Here is a list of things to have your mechanic check for before you hit the road:
- Windshield wipers/fluid
- Tires – pressure and check for rubdown
- Oil change
- Gas meter
- Address any maintenance lights on
- Emergency roadside kit
The Auto Club published a helpful checklist as a reminder to make sure your vehicle is as ready for your road trip as you are! It’s especially important this year, as availability of service might be limited, and fewer outside contacts are desirable.
Are Your Vehicle Documents Up To Code?
What a major bummer it would be to get a ticket for outdated plates, vehicle title, or not having proper city stickers… Did you know you can purchase these important vehicle documents at Checkexpress? That’s right, you can totally avoid the stress of visiting your local DMV! If you’re a newly licensed driver, read our guide about Illinois state documentations and the ones Checkexpress can help you acquire!
Don’t Get Caught Without Enough Cash and Money on Your Prepaid Cards
- ATM’s: No need to stand in a long, crowded bank line. Quickly make a withdrawal at your local Checkexpress. Low on funds? Learn how you can make money without leaving your couch!
- Money Transfers: In case of an emergency, family can wire you funds from Checkexpress with Western Union or MoneyGram. Remember, when on the road to protect your valuables like ATM cards. Read our pro tips on debit card safety here.
- PrePaid Cards: Carrying cash does increase the chance for direct human contact, so opting to use a prepaid debit card may be the next best option. This might also be the perfect opportunity to teach your kids about finances and budgeting. Give them some independence to buy their own souvenirs and keepsakes by preloading a set amount of money.
Need more advice about using our services for travel? Here are a few convenient ways to use Checkexpress on the go!
Quick tip: Pay for gas with cards, not cash. This eliminates the face-to-face interaction necessary for a cash transaction, and cards — but not cash — can always be cleaned with a disinfectant wipe after use.
Planning Ahead is the Most Important Factor for Road Tripping Safely…
When it’s time to rest your head for the night, choosing the right location can give you a restful night’s sleep versus an anxious, uncomfortable one. Book your overnight stays in advance so you’re not scrambling to find somewhere on the road.
- Plan where you will sleep: Worried about using hotels and motels? Airbnb’s are gaining popularity among travelers, especially for longer stays. You can be in control of how many people have access to where you are sleeping which reduces the risk of germ contaminants.
- No choice but to stay in a hotel room: Bring your own disinfectants to clean the room as much as possible before using it. Focus on the bathroom specifically! Strip the blankets and pillows away from the bed. Pack and use your own. Just before leaving, use the hotel washer and dryer to clean your sleeping gear. Even throwing your pillows in the dryer for a few minutes to kill any germs. Some hotel washer and dryers still use quarters. Change currency into coins at Checkexpress!
- Pitching a tent: You may choose to pack a tent and sleep in the great outdoors. REI shares a great camping gear checklist!
- Keep germs at bay: Pack hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, wipes, and bring your own soaps, toilet paper & towels.
Planning Your Route
AARP shares: “Even if you’ve done this trip multiple times, you need to take the research a step further,” says AAA spokesperson Jeanette Casselano. “You may run into some temporary closures.” When considering your destination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests asking:
- Whether COVID-19 is spreading in your community or the area you’re visiting. If so, you may have a higher chance of becoming infected or infecting others.
- If you or a loved one who is returning home has an underlying condition that might increase the risk for complications from the disease.
- If you’ll be able to maintain a 6-foot distance between yourself and others during travel and at your destination.
- Whether the destination requires that visitors quarantine themselves for 14 days upon arrival.
The Federal Highway Administration maintains a directory of state transportation department websites, which should have the latest information about state-specific coronavirus-related changes (AARP also maintains an updated list), along with links to other state resources such as traffic and weather alerts.
Want to Stay Close In (or Close to) Illinois?
Explore the great Midwest! This beautiful part of the United States has so much to offer, especially in the fall season! Here is a list of great places you can visit for a fun DIY staycation…
Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway: Get in the car and just drive…If you’re looking for a quick and easy (possible one day trip) this beautiful drive may be it. Within easy drives of Chicago and St. Louis, the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway threads through natural areas and past water views, bluffs and brilliant fall foliage. Along the way, you’ll also find welcoming hearths, inspiring art and history, and locally produced wines.
Illinois Scenic Hiking at Starved Rock State Park: This special State Park on the Illinois River bluff in La Salle County is one of Illinois’ most beautiful destinations. The park’s 18 canyons feature vertical walls of moss-covered stone formed by glacial meltwater that slice dramatically through tree-covered sandstone bluffs. More than 13 miles of trails allow access to waterfalls, fed season runoff or natural springs, sandstone overhangs, and spectacular overlooks. Lush vegetation supports abundant wildlife, while oak, cedar and pine grow on drier, sandy bluff tops.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: Fall brings crisp days and radiant foliage to Lake Geneva offers events, colors, tastes and wonders for each and every season. Located just 80 miles northwest of Chicago’s Loop. Stroll along the 21-mile lakeshore path that puts you, literally, in the backyards of the lavish estates that ring Geneva Lake. Fall activities typically include apple and pumpkin picking, corn mazes, and Oktoberfest!
Holland, MI: You’ll find a wide variety of local and unique attractions to explore in this driving accessible location. Holland has over 1800 acres of parks for hiking, cycling, picnicking, and playing. Spend a day on the lake charter fishing, swimming, boating, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, or sailing. The outdoor recreation possibilities are endless!
What to Take With on Your Trip
Use our quick checklist of everything should pack in the car…
- Cell Phones and Chargers: Make sure you have a portable charger that can recharge while you’re driving.
- Water Bottles: You should always have water in your car.
- Snacks: If you have snacks already in the car, it will reduce the urge to stop at fast food locations. Also a great solution for loved ones with allergies. “Bring a nice stash of water and snacks, allowing you to limit the number of times you need to stop for refreshments.”AARP
- Lysol Wipes: These will come in handy anytime you stop, come into contact with other people, or purchase anything you need to wipe down quickly.
- Face Masks: Please wear your mask in public spaces!!
- Medications: Before you head out, make sure you refilled and have all of your daily medications.
- ID’s: These include State IDs and Drivers Licence.
- Entertainment: Bring tablets, laptops, and books for the kids. Need help deciding what to watch? Check out quarantine watchlist!
- Spare Keys: Because accidents happen, always bring a spare key on someone else.
- First Aid Kit: Not sure what to pack in your first aid kit? Red Cross has an awesome way to customize your own first aid kit.