14 Must-Have Essentials for a COVID-Safe Road Trip

14 Must-Have Essentials for a COVID-Safe Road Trip

Current state: In between road trips
Current location: Mission Valley, San Diego

In the last 3 weeks I managed to sign 2 new apartment leases, moved out of the first one - a studio at CentrePointe turned out too small for me so I found and moved into a more spacious one bedroom apartment in another complex. Right after unloading my boxes at the new place, we ventured out again on a San Diego - Austin - Denver girls road trip that spanned 7 states in 10 days.

Girls roadtrip

I just finished unpacking the essentials at my second new place when my friend Ana called to see if I wanted to go on a road trip to Austin with her. ‘Absolutely no way’ was my first thought as a thousand of reasons rushed through my head why we should not attempt such a crazy idea in the middle of both the pandemic (Texas was #2 fastest growing state by the covid-19 cases at the time) and political unrest in the country. On top of all that, I literally just moved again - for the 3rd time since I returned to San Diego in May - and finally started to feel more settled after 6 month of living gypsy style out of my suitcase.

A little backstory there, Ana and I were both in transition and were both thinking about potentially moving from San Diego to Austin for a fresh start, but have never been to the Lone Star State before. Her situation was more urgent as she was looking for a new job and was hoping to get some interviews in Austin so next thing I know I’m packing my suitcase again. Can’t believe I’m actually doing this.

Road tripping through pandemic has its own limitations like not being able to visit museums or enjoy a local music concert but we prioritized outdoor activities and safety to make sure we travel responsibly and maintain the best practices of social distancing.

Here’s a checklist of things to pack for your COVID19-safe road trip:  

  1. Water & Water bottle: buy 1 gallon water bottles (1 gallon for 2 people per day) and refill your water bottles to minimize both: stops at convenience stores and use of plastic
  2. Hand Sanitizing Wipes 
  3. Hand Sanitizer
  4. Face Masks - bring at least 3-4 reusable masks for 10 days
  5. Healthy snacks - protein bars, mixed nuts, bananas - pick your favorite to keep you satiated , especially if you're like me who goes straight for gummy bears and other delicious junk at the first pit stop
  6. Bag of apples - they make a perfect healthy snack and look cool on the back seat
  7. First aid kit 
  8. Thermometer - stay aware of any changes in your body temperature and take proper action if you need to isolate.
  9. Pepper spray - just to be on the safer side. 
  10. Pillow - any pillow would do: neck pillow, meditation pillow etc - might come in very handy if you have a long drive and need to take turns with your partner. 
  11. Chubby stick or lip balm with SPF for those dry lips.
  12. Sunscreen - make sure to apply on your face, neck, hands and arms to protect from the damaging UVA rays that can penetrate car windows while you are driving long hours.
  13. Sunglasses and hat for those quick stops on the way to check out a local attraction or take a photo.
  14. Entertainment:

Don’t forget about entertainment and navigation on long drives. You will be most likely passing through areas with no or limited reception so do not rely on your phone to be connected at all times and make a fun plan for when you’re offline. This is a great time to catch up on your favorite podcasts or to listen to a new book you’ve been wanting to read but did not have the time:

  • Earbuds or headphones: in case you have different tastes in music or literature.
  • Journal and pen: my friend was journaling while I was driving. That was the perfect moment to do some free writing or a gratitude exercise. 
  • Download Google or Apple maps to use offline: it saved me from getting lost in places like Yosemite or Big Sur more than once.
  • Download audiobooks and podcasts. We listened to the Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama as we were driving from Nevada back to California in the night.
  • Download your favorite playlists on Pandora or Spotify to play offline. Most paid plans offer the offline listening feature. If not 👇
  • CDs: for when you don’t have a connection or forgot to download anything. If you rent a car, newer cars often come  without a CD player these days but if you have a selection of your favorite CDs, you might as well bring it for the ride. Nothing speaks road trip better than your favorite music played in the old school fashion. On that note, when exactly did CDs already become old school?
  • Car charger: as a back up plan to keep your phones charged in case built-in USB ports are not working like it happened with our rental car a few hundred miles into our trip. 
  • Inflatable Donut Pool Float - just for fun in case you find yourself near the water, it packs next to nothing and adds the perfect laid back vibe to a day on the lake, by the pool or at the beach.
Austin day on the lake

Remember to maintain safe distance, wear a mask, wash or sanitize hands after each stop at a gas station and you will have an unforgettable adventure of traveling and experiencing the country during the unprecedented times. Enjoy and have a safe trip!

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