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Road Trip Tips For This Summer - How To Stay Safe

As I contemplate hitting the Road again, I thought it was thoughtful of the WSJ to run this article today. It ran under the heading of "Expert Advice for a Safe Post-Pandemic Road Trip," which I thought was a bit misguided as I don't think we are close to be in a "post pandemic" world yet. Still, the article offered some good advice.

As vacationers hit the road this summer, they should exercise caution to stay safe from Covid-19. With cities and states in various stages of reopening, guidance about the virus is changing quickly. Also, road-trippers may encounter traffic or roads blocked off due to social-justice protests. We asked experts for advice.

What health-related issues should drivers consider before going on the road?

Discuss with your doctor any questions about your or your passengers’ health and level of risk to severe illness if any of you are exposed to the coronavirus, said Joyce Sanchez, an infectious disease specialist and medical director of the Travel Health Clinic at the Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin. Older individuals are more susceptible to illness so they should consult with doctors before traveling. Pay attention to conditions at your destination. “What is the state of the pandemic where you’re going to be going?” she said.

Where can travelers find the latest Covid-19 information?

Check the CDC’s Covid data tracker, municipal and state health departments and local news for updates on coronavirus cases before leaving and continue to do so while on the road. Search for hotels with free or flexible cancellation policies. Sites like Travelocity have filters to find such hotels. Call ahead to parks or businesses you plan to visit to make sure they are open and check which activities are allowed, said Sanna Boman, lead editor of Roadtrippers, a trip-planning app.

Some cities and states have Covid-19 checkpoints and rules about who may enter. How can travelers learn about the requirements?

As of June 6, a number of states including Maine, New Mexico and Texas still required visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days, according to AAA. Meanwhile, when visiting Florida, each traveler or “responsible family member” must fill out a traveler form and provide contact information and trip details.The CDC recommends checking the state or local health departments where you are setting out, along your route and at your destination. AAA’s Covid-19 Travel Restrictions Map at has the latest state and local travel restrictions.

What should travelers bring along?

AAA’s Covid-19 & Car Travel Tips recommends bringing travel documents—driver’s license, registration, insurance—as well as health-insurance cards. “Taking your health-insurance card with you is just an extra precaution,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel at AAA. The organization recommends that in addition to an emergency roadside kit, travelers consider bringing face coverings, gloves, disinfecting wipes, and cleaning supplies, including EPA-approved disinfectants.

How do you get gas in a safe way?

“If you do wear gloves at the gas pump, put on a fresh pair and immediately discard them when done,” said Ms. Boman of Roadtrippers. “Most gas stations seem to be adamant about cleaning frequently touched surfaces like pumps and keypads, but use hand sanitizer before and after touching them to minimize risk of spread.”

How can travelers stay safe when using public restrooms?

Gas stations, which are essential businesses, may be your best option for restrooms, according to AAA. Use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol before and after touching door handles and other surfaces, Ms. Boman said. Wash hands often, keep your distance and wear a mask in public, per CDC guidelines.

What is the safest way to pick up food along the drive?

Consider ordering from a restaurant that offers contactless, curbside pickup, Ms. Boman said. When picking up food, whether from a restaurant, fast-food outlet, drive-through or convenience store, make sure servers are wearing masks and gloves. Henry Wu, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at the Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Emory TravelWell Center, suggests treating food containers as if they are potentially contaminated. “Right before you dig in, wash your hands, sanitize your hands,” he said. “Therefore if there’s anything on the outside of that container, it essentially eliminates the risk it will get onto your hands and infect you.” The same applies to packaged foods like wrapped sandwiches, snack cakes or bags of chips.

Is it safe to valet park?

“Just understand that there is another person who is interacting with you, both person-to-person as you exchange the keys, but also using that space,” Dr. Sanchez said. “Take the necessary precautions. After they bring it back, disinfect the surfaces that you’re going to be touching, let some air circulate by drawing down the windows. After you take those measures, the risk is probably quite minimal.”

What about rental cars?

Rental-car companies have adopted extra sanitization measures in the wake of Covid-19, Ms. Twidale said. Enterprise, for example, details steps taken under its Complete Clean Pledge. Customers should research or ask companies what they have done to sanitize vehicles—and can wipe down the car themselves.

For roadside assistance, what should travelers do?

You should be able to call a mechanic or tow service, Ms. Boman said.“Just be mindful that they’re on the job, so keep your distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands.” Some car companies have their own roadside assistance programs. Drivers also can use their AAA membership to seek help.

What should travelers do before staying at a hotel, Airbnb or motel?

“What I’d want to know, whether it’s a hotel or Airbnb, is if they are taking special precautions for cleaning in between guests,” Dr. Wu said. Hotels listed on, for example, highlight their health and hygiene measures, which can include hand sanitizer for guests, contactless check-in and checkout, social-distancing measures and enhanced cleaning.

“Even better is if it’s a room that has not been occupied for several days,” Dr. Wu said. “We do know that Covid has a limited period of time where it remains viable on a surface and after several days, in probably most situations, it’s no longer viable. In short, the longer it’s vacated, the better. I’d be specifically asking if there’s a room that has been empty for some time.”

What steps should travelers take upon entering the room or rental place?

The CDC advises disinfecting all high-touch surfaces, including tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, remote controls, toilets, and sink faucets. Do that even if the room has already been cleaned to be extra safe and for peace of mind, Dr. Wu advised. “If you can avoid touching things like the remote control and telephone, don’t touch them,” he said. “These are the surfaces I’d be the most worried about.”

What about towels and sheets? Should travelers bring their own from home?

“I don’t think [bringing your own sheets] is too much if it’ll make you comfortable; however, I don’t think it’s worth going through a lot of trouble,” Dr. Wu said. “I hope that the staff are taking precautions, using gloves and clean hands or face coverings so there’s minimal chance of them coughing on your linens and your towels. On top of that, things like bed sheets, even though you’re touching them, we know that even if there might be small amounts of virus on it, this virus is passed primarily through inhaling it or getting it into your eyes or mouth. If there’s a little bit of virus in your sheets somewhere, the chances of it getting into your nose, eyes or mouth is probably extremely low. But if it’s easy to do and you’ll sleep better and be more relaxed, go for it.”

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10. Juni 2020

Two Saturdays ago, cruised down the Blue Ridge parkway to Peaks of Otter with Annie. Last Sunday drove to Richmond, picked up my brother and sister-in-law, and we rolled to Malvern PA for my son's 30th birthday . . . with 10 in attendance. In stopping to get gas and use the bathrooms, the signs said mandatory mask wearing . . . but it wasn't enforced....

Planning trips this summer to the Outer Banks, Yardley PA (my other brother), and to MT, ID, WA.... I'll also be going to see Chuck Nesbit . . . as soon as Susan lets me....

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