Remember when John Belushi called, “Road trip, road trip!” in Animal House?
Freedom of the road calls, louder than ever: According to a AAA forecast from late June, Americans will take 683 million road trips between July 1 and Sept. 30. The number is down 3 percent from the previous year, a fraction of the nearly 75 percent decline the association projected for air travel.
For once, there might be some rules to follow: AAA says: Check state government websites, such as the ones run by their health departments and tourism offices. The states have created covid-19-specific pages that include rules about quarantining and masks, plus details about their reopening plans. North Carolina’s tourism office, for instance, has links to destinations with restrictions, such as the Blue Ridge Parkway and the state ferry system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled an online directory of the health departments for all 50 states, eight territories and the District.
So, the road may not be a carefree as before. For example, Ohio is advising travelers to quarantine if they originated from a state with a 15 percent or higher positive test rate (currently six states). The Buckeye State updates its list on Wednesdays. South Carolina’s policy is similar but less specific: “Travelers returning home from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread are recommended to stay home for a period of 14 days.” New Mexico’s mandate is even broader; it applies to everyone entering the state and requires a quarantine of two weeks or the length of your stay, whichever is shorter. And for the most epic road trip, Alaska is offering tourists a few options: Submit your negative test result to the Alaska Travel Portal, share proof of a pending test and quarantine while you wait, or buy a $250 test in Alaska and quarantine until the results are back.
And be prepared for restrictions on your visits to famous places. Reserving in advance might help. Most sites are limiting capacity and require online reservations, even if admission is free. For example, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and the Philadelphia Zoo will only accept guests holding tickets booked in advance online.
Pack and prepare wisely, with all of the supplies needed. Do not count on buying them at your destinations. You should plan to be self-sufficient at all times!
Stopping for restrooms and beverages should be done carefully. Rest stops are usually safer than gas stations, convenience stores, and fast food joints. Use the drive-through whenever possible. And use your credit or debit card instead of cash!
Out of state license plates are a target for police and highway patrol. Be prepared if you are stopped. If you are able to carry a negative test, it would be very helpful.
Sounds like a pain in the a$$? Look at it from my perspective. Even though we are forced to get take-out food, you can bring along your own mini bar!!!! And dessert tray. And your dog (best of all). Make it as enjoyable as possible.
Two good ideas: stay at a place with a patio or balcony for fresh air and privacy. And even better, a place with a kitchen affords much more flexibility around meal and snack time.
Above all, make sure you can get back home. If you state quarantines visitors from certain cities or states, you might get stuck! What a terrible situation, and perhaps costly as well. And if you get back home, you may be required to quarantine for 14 days! Some vacation!
My intention was not to depress you. Heaven knows, reading the Mary Trump book did that to me. Just know what you might encounter and plan accordingly.