On the Road Again: Preparing For Your First Post-Pandemic Road Trip

After the events of the last couple of years, we could all do with a little getaway. 

Do you remember when the pandemic first hit? We were all cooped up inside for months at a time with no end in sight, afraid to go outside for fear of catching a life-threatening virus and winding up in the ICU: even if we wanted to go back out and enjoy the things we used to, most shopping centers, restaurants, and cultural hotspots closed down pretty much overnight. The ongoing quarantine period had a negative effect on most of us, affecting our mental health in ways we couldn’t prepare for and creating an entirely new condition known as “pandemic brain.” 

traveling woman in airport

Now that the vaccine is out, however, and booster shots are becoming more prevalent slowly, we are finally free to get back out there again in some capacity and start reclaiming small fragments of our pre-pandemic normal. However, with variants like Omicron and the newly discovered variant in France starting to make the rounds, it’s still important to vacation safely. For people looking to get away from their homes and explore the world, a road trip might be the perfect way to get out and get some much-needed rest. 

The reasons to go on a road trip were varied even before the pandemic struck, with road trips providing families and friends alike with an inexpensive way to travel the country and see all that it has to offer. However, with the pandemic still raging across the nation, road trips have suddenly become one of the safest, potentially most viable vacationing opportunities available right now. You just have to make sure you’re adequately prepared for the challenges the road may throw at you, especially if this is your first time ever planning a road trip.

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While this isn’t an exhaustive list of things you’ll want to do before you hit the road, it should give you the fundamentals you need to make sure that when your tires hit the pavement, it’s a smooth ride to your eventual destination. With that in mind, here are some steps you’ll need to take before you pack the family up and start your post-pandemic vacation. 

Make Sure You’re Up on Your Insurance

While nobody likes to think about the worst happening, especially on vacation, it’s better to be prepared for it just in case than to be caught unawares. As such, before you get on the road, you’ll want to take some time to look at your current car insurance policy, and if you don’t have one, you’ll need to get one. Nobody likes paying for insurance at the moment, but you’ll want to have an active, functioning policy before driving to unknown territory, where your potential for getting into accidents may go up. Take a moment to browse through and compare offerings on the market even if you have a current policy, and look for providers that offer features like roadside assistance: those will be most helpful if the worst should happen while you’re on vacation. 

Budget, Budget, Budget

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that it’s always better to over-budget than to under-budget. Before you hit the road, make sure you have enough money to take care of everyone’s fundamental needs in accordance with the duration of your trip and the number of stops you intend to make. Make sure you have enough for gas, plus a little extra to give yourself a cushion, as well as money set aside for food for each family member, activities that you plan to do along the way to your destination, and hotel rooms for each night you plan to be away. 

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On that note, if you can reserve a room (i.e., if you know for certain where you’ll be on a particular night), do so. You don’t want to go to your hotel of choice at night, expecting to walk in, only to find that they’re fully booked and that you’ll have to stay at a more expensive place. 

Have Distractions Planned

Even the closest of families can start to get on each other’s nerves when they’re in such close proximity for so long, and that’s without considering the fatiguing nature of long drives. As such, make sure each family member has a thing or two packed away that they can do to claim some downtime for themselves, whether that thing is a book in their favorite series, a Nintendo Switch on standby, or downloaded episodes of their favorite show or podcast. Make sure they have a variety of such activities packed, and you can always do the hokey group-activity thing if you want: though be warned, singing the “bottles of pop” song has been known to make children like their parents less. 

Once you hit the road, the success or failure of your road trip (and whether everyone has fun) will depend on the kind and variety of preparations you’ve taken. Don’t be afraid to go big with your planning, but leave yourself some flexibility to account for the unknown. Your family will thank you for it, and your first post-pandemic road trip will be one for the books.

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