Road Trip

5 tips for road tripping during the COVID-19 pandemic

Navigating the ins and outs of a road trip during a pandemic can be tricky.

Photo by Jovanmandic/Getty Images

America is getting out, stretching their legs, willingly being cooped up in their car for hours rather than their homes. That's right, it's road trip time. Before you head out on the road, there's a few things you need to consider for traveling during this national health crisis - take it from someone who just got back from a lengthy road trip.

Check local regulations.

Not only do states have different regulations, there are variances between counties and towns as well. Check the regulations the day before you leave - they're prone to changing quickly. While some regulations effect dining hours and service, some impact things like public restrooms, wearing a face mask, and public gatherings.

Make planned stops.

Waitress with face mask serving family with children outdoors in summer on terrace restaurant


Photo by Halfpoint Images/Getty Images

Don't just play it by ear when it comes to bathroom breaks and meals. Planning ahead will help you determine what is open and where, as well as the regulations that come with dine-in service versus take out. Remember, not all service station bathrooms are open and you might not be able to just pop in to a fast food restaurant for a bathroom break. Many rest stops and parks also have closed bathrooms.

Remember to bring cash.

With the coin shortage and the switchover to cashless payment for most businesses, it's important to remember that tolls booths still run mostly on cash-only service. Bring an assortment of bills (lots of ones, not as may fives and tens) and coins to help you achieve exact change when going through toll booths to ensure that you don't have to get change and expose yourself (and the tollbooth worker) to additional risk.

Pack personal protective equipment and other supplies.

Young mother squeezing hand sanitizer onto little daughter's hand in the playground to prevent the spread of viruses

Photo by d3sign/Getty Images

If you have a few days before your trip, consider ordering a package of disposable face masks to keep in your glovebox or center console. You'd be surprised how easy it is to spill on your usual mask, drop it in a parking lot, step on it, or get it stuck between the seat and center console. What if it suddenly breaks? It's good to have a back up. The last thing you want to do is arrive at your destination out of luck.

Check and double check your car's emergency gear.

Being self-reliant is more important than it has been in recent memory. Before you set off, double-check the situation of your spare tire, making sure that you'll have the tools on-hand to change out a flat on your own if you need to. Don't remember how to change one out? Watch some YouTube videos and brush up on your skills.

You may want to consider purchasing a roadside rescue kit as well. These usually contain jumper cables, a shovel, reflective sign, tools, a flashlight, and more to help in the event of an emergency.

Refill fluids that need it. Stock the first aid kit and make sure that you have a few bottles of water and a clean cloth or two in reserve just in case.

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Driving in the country has its own unique challenges.

Photo by Sergiy Trofimov Photography/Getty Images

Tis the season for getting stuck driving behind a tractor. Country roads have their plusses and minuses - the scenery, the lack of traffic, the ability to push the speed limit. But, they also come with their own set of safety hazards. New guidance from GEM Motoring Assist gives drivers safety tips for navigating back roads. Plus, we threw in a few top tips of our own.

"Driving in the countryside is usually a great pleasure, with good views, quiet roads and a variety of interesting terrain," said GEM chief executive Neil Worth. "But country roads are used by many different people and vehicles, so it's vital to look for the clues – some obvious, others less so – as to what might be round the next bend."

Rule #1: Expect the unexpected

According to Neil Worth, country road hazards may be unique. "What's round the corner on a rural road with restricted visibility? It could be another car or a motorcycle coming towards you too fast, a group of cyclists on a ride out, sheep or cattle crossing the road, a horse and rider, a wild animal, a slow-moving farm tractor…

"Until you have perfect sight of what's ahead, you need to be ready to anticipate what could be there. By adjusting your speed and position accordingly, you're doing your bit to keep yourself and the other road users safe."

Rule #2: Mud can be a sign of what's to come

If you see mud on the road, expect to see slow-moving farm vehicles. Sometimes you'll get lucky and see them in the lane. Other times, tractors enter the roadway from a pasture or field unexpectedly and can be obstructed from view by crops or animals.

Rule #3: Watch for fresh cut grass.

If you smell or see fresh-cut grass, there's a good chance that there's a mower nearby. Whether it's the local department of transportation doing their work in the median on a highway or the side of a thoroughfare, or a resident cutting their lawn, it's important to remember that they may veer into the roadway to get their job done.

Rule #4: Don't stop but smell the manure.

Usual the smell of manure has you reaching for the air circulation options on your dashboard, and rightly so. Smelling manure is a sign that livestock is nearby. Plops in the roadway may mean that there is a horse ahead, either being ridden, pulling a buggy, or on the loose.

Rule #5: Watch out for garbage cans.

If you live in the suburbs, you know how a strong wind can make garbage bins go flying around your neighborhood. Make the wind stronger, give it a clear path, and you're now seeing one of the finer points of country living. When you see garbage bins on the curb on a windy day, pay heed, they may come your way.

Also, having bins on the curb means that it either is trash day or that trash day is tomorrow. Either way, pay attention for stopped and slow-moving garbage trucks along your route.

Rule #6: Make room if you can.

Country roads can be especially narrow, with just barely enough for two vehicles to pass each other. When a vehicle approaches in the opposite direction, it is appropriate to slow on my narrow paths to determine if you'll both fit. Don't be afraid to be the one to pull off to the side to let another vehicle pass, as long as you can do so safely.

If you encounter a horse rider on the road, drive very slowly and give the horse a wide berth. It's important to not frighten the hose, only passing when you're able to safely do so.

Rule #7: Beware the bumpy road.

Not all country roads are paved. Bumpy dirt roads don't just kick the dust up, they can easily hide potholes, drops, and sharp rocks.

Rule #8: Keep your head up for cyclists.

Country roads don't traditionally offer sidewalks or bike paths. Cyclists don't always travel in packs and when moving at speed, can be hard to see against sunshine. Like with horses, give cyclists a wide birth and slow your speed when passing. The wind movement from a passing vehicle can be enough to knock a cyclist off their bike.

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This 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is just one of the models up for auction next month.

Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions

Mecum Auctions will return to NRG Center in Houston for its 10th consecutive year this April. The auction is set to feature an estimated 1,000 American muscle cars, classics, Corvettes, exotics, trucks, hot rods, and resto mods.

Mecum will be taking up 706,000 square feet of space in 11 separate halls at NRG Center from April 8-10, 2021. Doors open daily at 8 a.m. with the vehicle auction beginning at 10 a.m.

The auction house has already had a number of vehicles consigned to Mecum Houston 2021 including a 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon (Lot S122) with a mere 3 miles on its odometer, and a 2005 Dodge Ram SRT-10 Yellow Fever Edition Pickup (Lot S65) with just 2,555 miles. There's also a 1966 Plymouth Belvedere Hardtop (Lot S63) that has had a comprehensive frame-off restoration.

1966 Plymouth Belvedere Hardtop This 1966 Plymouth Belvedere Hardtop is set to cross the block at the Houston auction.Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions

1966 Plymouth Belvedere Hardtop

Mecum Auction's website is updated daily with the latest consignments including detailed descriptions and photographs of the vehicles.

In order to get a vehicle at the auction, bidders must register ahead of time via the Mecum website. They can also register on-site for $200. Bidder registration includes admission for two persons to all three days of the auction.

Remote bidding options are available available and include online and telephone bidding.

General admission tickets are available online for $20 per person, per day up until Wednesday, April 7. After April 7, the price rises to $30. Children ages 12 and younger receive complementary admission. There will be no on-site box office.

The auction schedule is still TBD and will be announced closer to the event date.

Portions of Mecum Houston 2021 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network with details of the coverage to be announced.

There's still time to consign a vehicle to be auctioned at the event. Those interested can learn more by visiting Mecum.com or calling (262) 275-5050.

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