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How to Vacation after COVID-19? Road Trips

How to Vacation after COVID-19? Road Trips

The all-American road trip has been a great way to explore the country for decades - you can drive up, down, across, around or straight through every state, and certain routes have become iconic vacations for enjoying the open road.

Generally, road trips are pretty safe and there are plenty of checklists and safety tips and even itineraries that show you how to make road trips fun and memorable. And with the Memorial Day weekend coming up and many states slowing re-opening, you may be thinking it’s time to cue up the playlist and hit the highway, especially now that gas is still relatively cheap and traffic is still light.

Side note: Looking for diagnostic scanners for your DIY maintenances? We've got a selection of scanners from ThinkCar, including the popular portable hand-held ThinkOBD 100 that you can easily keep in the glove compartment for on-the-go diagnostics!

Are road trips safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?

There was never a doubt the world is going to be different after COVID-19 - hardly any industry is unaffected and the world of travel is among those dealt a particularly brutal blow. But of all the ways we travel, the all-American road trip may be least affected. At least no one will tell you to wear a mask or take your temperature before you hit the road.

So, taking a road trip’s got to be safe, right? After all, we’re in our own bubbled space in a controlled car environment.

Yes, and No.

Travel increases your chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19, especially if you are thinking about travelling away from your local community, like epic road trips across America. If you are thinking about long road trips and your city or state has lifted its coronavirus-related restrictions, here are some tips from experts for staying safe and lowering your risk of getting sick.

1. Disinfect your car frequently

Use disinfecting wipes to clean down all of your high-contact surfaces frequently - that means your door handles, seatbelts, steering wheel, turn signals, seat adjusters, entertainment console, and every other knob and button that you and your travel mates might touch. On any road trip, your car is your safe space. Keep it that way.  

2. Stock up on essentials

Think carefully about the length of your trip and your activities, and plan and pack what you’ll need in advance, especially essentials like medications, extra food and water for the kiddos (frozen juice boxes works wonder!), and extra dog food if you’re bringing your dog along. This might mean pushing the limits of your trunk, but it will make you as self-sufficient as possible thereby maximizing your social distancing potential. It also ensures that you’ll spend more time doing the things you got out of the house and on the road to do in the first place instead of needlessly replenishing supplies.

Road trips with dogs? Casar Millan has some tips for you.

3. Stay In Places Where Social Distancing Comes Naturally and be sensitive to locals

Avoid going anywhere where it’s impossible to responsibly social distance, and keep in mind that rural communities don’t have the healthcare infrastructure that larger cities do nor are their supply stores prepared for an unexpected influx of visitors (if you don’t live there full-time, you are a visitor).

4. Rinse with saline spray

Road trips with the kids? Saline solution can be an extra cleanse and hydration boost that will benefit them. Adults should do this as well.

Car camping is one of the easiest and safest ways to travel this summer

It doesn’t matter where you’re driving off to, you’ll likely still end up in some restaurant and hotel, of course - unless you go camping. Car camping and campervanning are likely popular choices this summer.

How to take a car camping trip and what to bring?

If it can fit in the car, you can bring it! That’s the beauty of car camping. While car camping is an excellent cost-saving way to road trip with kids, common areas on many campgrounds, such as washrooms, may be closed this summer due to COVID-19.

If you are still interested in car camping and you’re lucky enough to find a campsite that is open, Outside magazine and Roamworthy have some great suggestions from basic gear to useful tips that will make your car camping experience a whole lot more pleasurable and memorable. Looking for more comfortable sleeping arrangments? You can try sleeping in your car!

Campervanning: the #vanlife might be your best option

Say, you’ve decided to take a camping trip and you’ve gathered all the gear you need and then you find out that the campground only allows RV at this time. So, what’s the difference between RV, campervan and car camping?

RV is best for:

RV camping is best for those who want to bring along the luxuries of home and don’t mind driving a house around. RVs are great options post-COVID because they are self-contained - you have access to a kitchen, bed, bathroom and shower. But as we all know, RVs are huge, making them difficult to maneuver on windy mountain passes, bumpy dirt roads or tight parking lots. Time to fill up on gas? It’s a 50+ gallon fuel tank!

Car camping is best for:

Families on a budget, as well as explorers and backpackers heading off the beaten path. Car camping also makes road trips for couples. As long as you have all the necessary gear (tent, sleeping bags, etc.), just throw them all into the car and start driving. However, sleeping on the ground can be chilly, damp and uncomfortable.

Campervanning is best for:

The classic campervan is the VW bus, which has been taking families on road trips for over 50 years. Campervans have the advantage of self-contained (with food preparation areas and sometimes, washrooms), small and easy to drive and park, and they are cheaper than RVs on gas, tolls and insurance. On the downside, they can be quite cramped inside, so it might not be ideal for family road trips with kids, or larger groups.

Want to give campervanning a try? National Geographic has some tips for you.

What are some road trip hacks to make the most out of Summer?

As anyone who's driven for longer than two hours knows, or anyone’s who’s familiar with road trips with kids, it’s not always all windblown hair and sunshine. Once you've eaten all the snacks and your kids won't stop arguing, road trips can get real old, real fast. Luckily, we've found some road trip hacks and tips to make the most out of summer.

    1. Pack a bag with napkins and composable or biodegradable utensils to make eating on-the-go that much easier.
    2. Frozen juice boxes make great ice packs.
    3. Empty coffee creamer bottles make great spill-proof snack containers.
    4. Multi-outlet adapters keep everyone happy.
    5. Road trips with dogs? Get a safety seat.
    6. DIY seat belt pillow for the comfiest naps.
    7. Hang a headlamp or a flashlight from your car handles to light the interior for the night without draining your car’s battery.
    8. Bring a paper map.
    9. Fit your car with a dash cam. 

Screen time in the car? Well, that’s a big playground debate we don’t really want to get into now as each family is different so what works for the Jones’ might not work for your family. The way we see it - a stress-free journey makes for a happy trip, so do whatever you need to keep the kids happy, distracted, quiet...

Looking for more hacks? CarRentals have 24 road trip hacks you can’t live without. Travel + Leisure’s bumper-to-bumper guide to a smarter summer adventure for you is another great read, too.

Should I bring a dash cam along for the ride?

The best use for a dashboard camera in your vehicle is probably video evident for an accident. - but that is not the only way you can use a dash cam. A car dash cam is essentially a car camcorder so you can take it on a road trip to shoot video of all the things you can’t take pictures of while keeping your hands on the wheel.

In addition to capturing videos, the dash cam also offers many other features that come in handy when you’re on the road, including built-in GPS and various driver-assist features that can warn you if you’re veering into the wrong lane or getting too close to the vehicle in front of you. Some high-end dash cams even allow you to share footage on social media on-the-go.

If you’re planning a road trip or a camping trip this summer, you need a dash cam for:

Protection

Dash cam video records activities inside and outside of the vehicle for proof in litigation. And because most dash cams come with parking mode recording capabilities, you can use it as a car security camera to watch over your car as well as your tent and the campsite.

Posterity

Dash cam record special moments during road travels. With a dash cam, waypoints and destinations will no longer be the only parts of your road travels documented. With a dash cam, you can capture special moments while actually on the road. If you are a travel blogger or vlogger, you will also have the opportunity to share on-the-go photo and video captures so your readers and followers can travel along.

Pleasure

Dash cam capture planned and serendipitous events such as sunsets and carpool karaoke - yes, while many dash cams capture the outside of the car, there are some that can capture in-cabin activities. These interior car camera systems, or IR dash cams, are designed to cover the distance from windshield to windshield, and thanks to the IR technology, it can offer crystal clear images even in pitch black environments. That’s one of the reasons why they are the best car cam for Uber drivers.

Can a dash cam record when the car is off?

Yes, it can, as long as your dash cam supports parking mode recording and you have hardwired it to your car battery (or fitted it with an external battery pack).

The dash cam gets its power supply from the car battery while you’re driving, but when you’ve turned off the ignition, the power supply is cut off. So, the first and foremost thing you need to do is ensure there’s a power source for your dash cam when you've powered down your car. The most economical way is to use a hardwire kit, the easiest way is to use the OBD-II power method, but the safest solution is to use an external battery pack.

I need some way of recording hours without downloading the existing footage.

Dash cam recording in continuous looping mode, which means it will loop and overwrite old footage on the memory card - this way you’ll always have the most up-to-date videos. But, if you want to record the whole drive but you will be traveling without your laptop to deposit the footage, then the easiest solution is to have multiple memory cards.

I want more than just incident clips when my car is parked.

While dash cams stay on and keep recording when the car is parked, recorded clips are not saved on the memory card unless an incident such as an impact is triggered. In other words, the dash cam is a surveillance camera system rather than a camcorder.

An alternative to incident-triggered parking mode is time-lapse mode, in which the dash cam shoots a still picture every second or so. This allows you to watch a time-lapse version of what was going on around your car.

Can’t I just use an old phone or a GoPro?

Yes, you can - but keep in mind that getting the phone GoPro to mount properly on your dashboard will be a challenge and often you are required to spend extra dollars on windshield mounts. Plus, having a GoPro mounted on your dash at all times is showing everything that passes by your vehicle what you have inside.

On the other hand, a dash cam is designed to be sleek and discreet on a dashboard, from the design and form to the car camera mount. Many screenless dash cams easily hide behind the rearview mirror - their all-black nothing-shiny design makes for the perfect car camouflage.

In addition to shaky videos, you may also run into these problems:

  • Overheating or locking up
  • Shortened lifespan of the memory card
  • Suboptimal viewing and recording angle of the lens
  • No parking mode recording (unless you leave your phone or GoPro on 24/7)

Solutions for motorcycles, dune buggies or ATVs?

Did you know that Thinkware makes a dash cam specifically for motorcycle and other outdoor motorsport vehicles - the Thinkware M1 Motorsport Dual Channel. Enjoy your ride without fear of rain, dust, or mud, thanks to the M1’s rugged & weatherproof IP66-rated body that allows it to withstand any conditions.

It’s going to be the year of the road trip

The coronavirus pandemic has confined hundreds of millions of North Americans like never before and a good old-fashioned camping road trip will remind us to never take our freedom to roam for granted again.

So now, let’s roll down the windows, open the sunroof and go places. And if your region is still under lockdown, why not start planning? Design your perfect road trip with the kids and the dog (or drop them off at grandma’s and go for a romantic road trip for couples). Need inspirations? Lonely Planet’s got a few best road trips guides for you.

Now is also the best time to research on the dash cam you want to take along to document it all. Who knows, perhaps you will capture something share-worthy, too - just be sure to share it with us for a chance to win in-store credits towards or an Amazon gift card.

And, heads up, mega dash cam sales are coming up in June!

If there is anything we can do for you, please reach out and let us know. We’re here on Live Chat, phone, and email to support you. Our FAQ Knowledge Base is also another great place to find answer to any questions you might have!

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