By Chris Holbert, CEO SecuraTrac
Summer travel plans may not be exactly what people started planning for at the beginning of this year. But many people are still hoping to get out of town and visit family and friends or explore a new destination. According to a survey of consumers by travel center operator Pilot Flying J, 53% of people are planning a road trip for this summer.
For at-risk populations a road trip can reduce the opportunities for exposure. In a recent survey, 35 percent of people surveyed said they would prefer driving over flying because of fears that they could be exposed to the coronavirus on an airplane. You still want to make sure you have planned ahead for your trip and are well supplied on the road with backup plans in place. This is not the summer to simply open a map to a random page and start driving.
Travel at Off Times This Summer
If possible, plan on traveling at off-peak times. Build a few extra days into your trip if necessary, so that you can avoid rest stops and restaurants in the middle of the day when they are likely going to be the busiest.
Overpack PPE, Cleaning Supplies
It is impossible to predict where you might have to stop on the road, if you will have a breakdown and what state restrooms at rest stops will be in when you arrive. Be prepared for any situation by packing enough PPE such as hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, paper towels and other cleaning supplies. Calculate how many stops you plan on making and then double that number of supplies.
Instead of stopping at restaurants along the way pack meals you can prep and eat in the car. Pack a cooler with meat and cheese for sandwiches, a loaf of bread and peanut butter, or seasoned tuna in cans or pouches. Snack bars, chips and fruits like bananas, citrus and apples will also travel well and be easy to eat while enjoying the view from a scenic overlook.
Also, consider packing freeze-dried meals or Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) that you can easily prepare with hot water. Some freeze-dried meals are even available self-warming now. If you want to enjoy local restaurants along your route, research them ahead of time so you know their service hours and that you can get curbside takeout without leaving your vehicle.
Keep Friends + Family Informed
Everyone has a cell phone, but you never know if you might get caught in a situation where you have no signal or the battery dies. It is best to provide friends and family with your travel itinerary before you leave home. And then if you have to make any changes update them along the way. A check in every few hours with an updated location is a good idea when driving so that if anything does go wrong, people know a general area of where to look for you.
Before you hit the road call the non-emergency number for highway patrol, the local police or forest service in the areas you’ll be driving through that day. Talking to a real person will give you better insights into road and weather conditions in real-time than you will get from searching online.
Rely on Technology
Portable power is a must for the road or air travel to ensure your phone is always powered. And, keep any mobile personal emergency response devices like the Mobile Defender Model S, or SOS button, you may have in an accessible garment pocket. This way if you have an emergency and cannot dial your phone it is within easy reach to call for help. Consider downloading helpful weather, route guidance, gas station finders and other relevant travel apps to your phone. These can give you alerts about bad weather, where to find gas, traffic delays and other local news alerts.
There is always a lot to get done when planning and packing for a road trip. This year the planning may take extra steps and require extra gear, but after months of staying at home the investment in a well-planned trip will be well worth it.
Chris Holbert is the CEO of SecuraTrac. As the CEO, he is responsible for leading the company’s vision of developing, marketing, and selling a suite of mobile health and safety solutions that bring families closer together and improve employee safety through state-of-the-art location-based services and mobile health technology.