As the reality that we’re not travelling internationally for a while really sinks in, road trips have been enjoying a rightful renaissance. But in a post-pandemic world, you need to think about more than chucking a packed bag in the boot.
Road trips are a quintessential travel experience for a reason: no dealing with airports or getting caught in crowds, you can come and go as you please, there’s lots of time to think and be in nature, and you have the opportunity to discover gems en route to your destination you’d otherwise miss.
But like everything in this strange new world, it’s worth taking a beat to think about what previous habits you have that don’t serve the current reality or your aim to be a responsible traveller.
There’s now extra prep to do to ensure you and your crew are safe on the road, and to minimise the risks for people working in the hospitality, tourism and health industries. The name of the game? Avoiding other people as much as possible.
Here are five things to consider before hitting the road (and after you’ve tested negative).
#1 Make sure your car is road ready
This tip stands pandemic or no: check your tyre pressure, your tyre condition and tread, and get under the bonnet to check coolant, oil and wiper fluid levels.
According to Continental Tyres, checking your tyre pressure ahead of a big trip is important for vehicle safety (but you should actually check it every month) as well as for maximising fuel efficiency. Tyres are best checked while they’re cool, so use your vehicle’s handbook to find the recommended pressure, then head to your nearest service station to pump your tyres up with air for free before you get going.
Continental also has a neat trick for knowing if you have enough tread on your tyres and you’ll only need a 20c coin. Place the coin into the tread of your tyre and if it doesn’t reach the bill of the platypus, it means there’s less than 3mm of tread remaining.
#2 Have a detailed plan
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This might take some of the spontaneity out of your journey, but that’s a small price to pay for your health. Type A’s, this is your time to shine.
With the COVID situation constantly and rapidly evolving in each state, you’ll need to create a detailed road trip itinerary that is able to adapt to the latest information. (It’s also smart to include where you’ll stop, eat and stay in this itinerary, but more on that below).
Consider the current situation in your destination/s as well as where you’re coming from – if you’re in a hot spot, you’re advised not to travel to reduce the risk of spread. You can keep up to date with COVID here and get trip inspo here.
#3 Pack the car with COVID in mind
In addition to whatever you’d normally pack for your trip, think about how you’ll minimise your interaction with the outside world and what you’ll need to achieve that.
Pack an esky with lunch from home, cold drinks and fresh fruit, plus lots of snacks – unless you intentionally want to bring an Empty Esky to buy produce and goods to support local towns affected by the devastating bushfires. Either way, BYO serviettes and utensils so you don’t have to take them from outlets.
Most importantly, assemble thee a Coronavirus kit: hand sanitiser, antibacterial wipes (which you can also use to wipe down any touch-screen surfaces or drape over the handle when getting petrol), and extra face masks.
Pop extra hand sanitisers in easy-to-reach places within the car, and assign someone to be in charge of making sure everyone sanitises their hands each time before they want to get back into the vehicle.
#4 Research where, when and how you’ll want to eat
Stopping for a meal is a great way to support local restaurants and cafes — and there are easy ways to do this without putting workers at risk.
It’s now iffy to rock up anywhere without a reservation. Many places have either closed or altered their opening hours and all will have reduced capacity to honour the 1.5m rule, so calling ahead or booking online means establishments can prepare from their side and you’re not left in the lurch.
Researching also lets you figure out what upgraded cleaning or safety protocols are in place, and if a restaurant or cafe has an outdoor area where you can eat. Chowing down outdoors or in larger, well-ventilated areas should be your preference or better yet, order takeaway.
#5 Choose your accommodation based on COVID-safe measures
You’d want to book your accommodation ahead for any road trip (turning up to the only rental on your route being completely booked out is rough), but this is especially important during a pandemic.
Cherry-pick where you’ll stay by checking if your accommodation has clear, upgraded COVID cleaning measures in place. You don’t want to stay anywhere not taking it seriously.
And if you’re staying longer than a night and somewhere with housekeeping — skip it. Remember, you’re wanting to minimise the amount of interaction you need to have with others outside your pod. It’s also better for the environment, too.
Alternatively, there’s always camping. Again, book ahead and avoid having to use public facilities where possible.
To get started, here’s your ultimate guide to Australia re-opening.
(Lead Image: Pexels / Sabel Blanco)
Sonia feels most at home on the road, with travel her greatest passion. But really, she’s hype about a lot of things: beautiful design, tasty food, wellness, nature, interesting people and women’s issues. The Founding Editor of Junkee’s The Cusp and former Homes Editor at Nine, Sonia prides herself on seeking out authentic experiences with charm and loves sharing a personal rec. Catch her on Instagram @sonnietothetee.