Updated: Sep 3
Safe as possible road trip? In June when things had calmed down a bit and everything was opening up again, Caleb and I decided last minute to do a road trip. To be honest, I was super nervous. We had been quarantined for 4 months and I was used to that routine of safety we had created for ourselves. It was a romantic time together, full of growth in our marriage, sweet simple days and really enjoying and cherishing the little things. Other than our 5 mile walk early in the morning, we were at home working from our office, playing lots of games at night and hanging out with Honey Bear, the bunnies and each other.
But we decided to take the leap to do the road trip because I missed my family so much (they live in Pennsylvania) and my baby nephew.
We drove from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh, making some really gorgeous stops along the way. This place, Arches National Park, is a favorite of ours we got to visit. Caleb & put together a little road trip travel guide for you today. As we were driving back from Pittsburgh, PA to Los Angeles things started getting worse again and everything was closing again. But I know a lot of you asked about our road trip, so I wanted to put information together for you for when you feel like it’s a safe time for you to travel again. Let us know what questions you have. We took a different route home, and got to visit more amazing places, so let us know if you want us to do a travel guide for that one too.
It’s such a weird time, but I hope that the safety tips we shared will allow you to travel safely when you feel it’s the right time for you.
This guide lays out not only our favorite travel locations for our way out to the East Coast, but also how to travel in a way that is the most safe. If you are looking for how to travel during Covid-19, this is the guide for you!
FLY vs. DRIVE
We went back and forth on whether we should fly or drive across the country, and with little information at the time (and even now) about the possible transmission of the virus, we decided to drive. The main reason being that there are many more things we could control with driving. We would be in our own space, we wouldn’t have to sit next to anyone we didn’t want to and honestly we could limit the interactions (and possible spread of the virus) significantly by just avoiding most people as we went about our trip. For these reasons, we decided to drive. Trust us, it was well worth it!
AS YOU DRIVE
Be sure to avoid speeding. Not only is this not safe for you or the other drivers on the road, but the law enforcement are aware of people speeding on highways throughout the country and they WILL pull you over and ticket you to make sure the highways stay safe. Having these types of interactions not only are unsafe for the virus, but they cause you to loose precious time on the road, so be safe while you drive and try to avoid going too fast. The last thing you need is a speeding fine!
Gas stations can be problematic for many reasons during a pandemic, but if you take the right safety precautions, you can at least keep the exposure levels down while you make a necessary stop. We both would put on our masks, as well as gloves as we got gas from the pump. Using sanitizer on our credit card after we used it as well in order to keep things as clean as possible. A mask is a must when entering the gas station for the restroom or food. We would advise wearing gloves as well. Assume that others are not as careful as you are being (they definitely are not) so try not to touch things you don’t need to, and make your trip inside as quick as possible. Use sanitizer once you get back into the car, then be on your way. You can obviously do whatever you like or what you are most comfortable with. The best thing is for you to be safe and feel comfortable.
If you need to make a quick restroom stop or to stretch your legs. Be sure to have your mask and sanitizer read at all times when around other people. When you have to go inside to use the restroom, wear your mask and gloves to avoid contact with surfaces that could be dirty. The more careful you are, the less likely you will contract anything. Again, being safe, comfortable, and respectful of others is the most important.
For the best chance of avoiding interactions, we advice against eating out as much as possible. The more meals that you can prepare on your own and bring on the trip, the safer it will be. We borrowed a 48 quart cooler from our family, and packed it with ice to keep all of our food cool throughout the drive. Not only did it make it easier for us not to have to stop for food, but it was convenient to be able to eat meals in the car, or if we saw a beautiful sight on the side of the road, we could stop for a quick meal. Some food ideas that we have to bring are: hard-boiled eggs (in a carton), fruit like apples, bananas, grapes, something salty like chips or popcorn, and we even cooked some seasoned chicken on our stove before we left and had it in a glass container which we ate for dinner a couple of nights. Though the food was cold, we enjoyed these meals as it provided a way for us to be fed and feel safe.
Once you run out of food, try finding a grocery store to re-stock, or order ahead at any restaurants that you either have been to before on a previous trip, or that might be in a city that you are passing through. Be mindful of when everyone gets hungry, and try to plan ahead for places that you are comfortable ordering from, and have your food prepared so that you can just pick it up on your way. We ended up ordering some take-out from a few different places which allowed us to eat in our own environment and which is how we felt the safest. We highly recommend cleaning the box/bag and containers that your food comes in.
This is where things can get a little tricky. As you are road tripping across the country you have roughly four options for staying overnight. You can, stay in a hotel, stay at a camp site, stay with friends or family, or sleep in your car. We like to stay in hotels when there is no option for family. When looking for a hotel to stay, check reviews for recent stays (especially ones during the pandemic) so that you can see how people’s experiences went with cleanliness. We only book hotels that have over four stars in reviews and have mostly positive reviews for pandemic stays. Once arriving at your hotel, keep your mask, gloves, and sanitizer handy while checking in. They should have clean pens for you to use (maybe even sanitizer) but try not to lean on any counters, or get too close to others in line while you are waiting. Make sure to clean your credit card and ID off before you put them back into your wallet.
We have had plenty of practice with the next part of our guide as we have been doing this for years, but we always clean our hotel room before we get settled in. This helps us feel the most comfortable, and feeling safe for our stay. We always check the bed for hair or any debris from previous stays, and we use wipes or spray to clean all of the counters, doorknobs, light switches, tv controllers, and the room phone. These are the most used surfaces, and often times housecleaning can miss those highly used areas of the room. Once we do this (it takes 10-15 minutes) we get settled in and take a shower. Staying in a room where someone else could have stayed the night before is a bit tricky, but if you take the necessary precautions, not only will you feel safer, but it gives you the best chance not to contract the virus.
OUR TOP RECOMMENDATIONS FROM OUR TRIP
Bryce Canyon National Park
This was the absolute gem of our trip from the west to east coast. Bryce Canyon is a mini grand canyon with beautiful orange and red rock formations. We had an absolute blast exploring the many trails that they have throughout the park. A great thing about the trails is that man of them are close to the entrance of the park, and are easily accessible from the parking lot. You can see many parts of the park from the main parking lot which allows you to go on miles of trail while not having to constantly move your car. Sunrise and Sunset are absolutely stunning from any part of the park. We highly recommend staying later (around 9pm) near the ranger station at the main parking lot for a stars demonstration and talk from the rangers, it was beautiful and very informative! This ended up being one of our absolute favorite national parks.
Where we stayed: Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel 2 nights for $145.85 (total price for both nights). 4.0/5 on Expedia.
Pro Tip: Go hiking early as to avoid too many interactions on the trails with other people, the temperature was cool even in the midst of the summer in the morning.
Arches National Park
This was our second trip to Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. We absolutely love the park and the beautiful arches that are sprinkled throughout. Staying in Moab is a must, we loved staying at the Moab Red Stone Inn. A cheaper option, which is like staying a cabin. Perfect for convenience at a good price. Take a hike to see the delicate arch, the most famous of them all. It is an easy hike there and back, with a little uphill. We highly recommend eating at the Sweet Cravings Bakery, it is the best place in town.
Where we stayed: Red Stone Inn 1 night for $115.36. 4.1/5 on Expedia.
Pro Tip: It is EXTREMELY hot in Moab, so we definitely would recommend doing everything at the park in the early morning as to avoid the heat. If you go at sunrise, not only will you miss the heat, you will miss the hour-long wait times that it takes to enter the park.
Also our second time to Aspen in Colorado, we had an amazing time exploring this area a little more in depth. During the summer, you can avoid the pricey hotels in the town of Aspen by staying in Snowmass Village, just fifteen minutes up the road. We stayed at the Snowmass Mountain Chalet, which met all of our needs perfectly. Be aware that you will have to park about 5 minutes from the hotel, so drop off your stuff in the lobby or in your room before you go to park. We were just five minutes from a few hikes right by our hotel, it was definitely the perfect spot. There are much fewer people staying in Snowmass so it was safer as well from staying in actual Aspen which can get pretty crowded. If you are planning to visit Aspen, make sure to make a reservation to see Maroon Bells, it is one of the most beautiful places in America and the main reason to stay in Aspen.
Where we stayed: Snowmass Mountain Chalet 2 nights for $213.43, (total price for both nights). 4.0/5 on Expedia.
Pro Tip: Colorado has moved many of their popular hikes to the reservation system, causing you to book a time slot for a hike sometimes weeks in advance. If you are planning to make a trip anywhere in Colorado, be sure to check for hiking restrictions or make any reservations in advance!
Another one of our favorite locations, Colorado Springs is a great spot just outside of the rockies to relax, and enjoy one of Colorado’s greatest wonders, The Garden of the Gods. This park is a great place to explore with miles of trails passing many of the beautiful red rocks that are all over the park. It is free admission, but can get crowded in the late morning and early afternoon, so be sure to go early if you want a parking spot to explore from.
Where we stayed: Wingate by Wyndham Colorado Springs, 1 night for $102.53. 4.2/5 on Expedia
Pro Tip: Bring lots of water because it can get deceptively hot at the garden. Also, plan your trip early so that you can enjoy the park before the heat of the day.
Being able to explore all of these places was such a needed getaway for us during such a crazy year as 2020. We were apprehensive about how the experience was going to go, but we quickly realized that you can definitely travel safely during the pandemic. If you are willing to do a little work, it can go a long way towards avoiding the virus while also keeping things as comfortable as possible. We were also able to do the entire first half of our trip for under $1500 for 10 days which was definitely affordable for us! If clean freaks like us can travel, you know that you can as well! We hope this guide was helpful for you, please let us know in the comments what you thought about it, or if you have any travel hacks that have helped during this time.
We will soon be posting our favorite places from the way back home on our blog so keep a look out!
P.S. We got to see some of our family and friends along the way!
We stopped and stayed with our family in Missouri for one night.
We stayed with our friends in Dayton, OH
We finally arrived at our destination Pittsburgh, PA! We got the most cherished time with our family and baby nephew!