Family Road Trip Tips during the Coronavirus Pandemic

family road trip

Family Road Trip Tips during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Cabin fever is real. What was at one point expected to be an eight week interruption has turned into a seemingly year-long pandemic. With social distancing measures in place, our choices to escape our daily routines are few. It’s hard to look forward to the weekends when you can’t go out and do typical fun summer activities. A road trip might be one of the best ways to take a break from it all and safely explore something different this summer.

In fact, the United States Travel Association (USTA), in partnership with MMGY Travel Intelligence, conducted a survey on Americans’ current perceptions of travel. According to the survey, 68% of travelers, “continue to feel safest when traveling by personal vehicle and when visiting outdoor destinations such as parks (34%) and the beach (26%)”. Additionally, 45% of the respondents said they are likely to travel more by car. Are you a part of this large group planning to end the summer with a fun family road trip? If so, you’re going to want to follow these 4 tips to ensure a safe and fun family road trip:

1. Safety First

cleaning supplies and first aid

If you’re planning to travel with the intent to escape coronavirus, think again. It’s always important to keep a first aid kit with you while on a road trip, but it might look a little different during the coronavirus pandemic. Make sure to pack plenty of hand sanitizer for the road, as well as a few masks and disposable gloves. Additionally, check the current rules and guidelines in place at your stops. Just because your hometown doesn’t currently have a mandatory mask requirement in place doesn’t mean that will be the case in the cities you’re traveling to.

Don’t forget to pack a few garbage bags, paper towels, toilet paper, and wet wipes for accidental spills as well. Although these essentials aren’t specific to the viral situation, they’re commonly overlooked and could avoid an unnecessary stop that increases your potential exposure to the virus.

2. Creative Ways to Save Time and Money

Waze app helps save time on family road trips

Use Waze to Reduce Road Rage
With more than 2.5 million iPhone downloads alone, Waze is widely known as the best free app to use while driving longer than your daily commute. How does this free app stand out compared to the standard maps app in your phone? Live traffic updates, warnings of police speed traps, and up-to-date road closures help Waze stand out. We all know that summer means construction, but Waze takes road construction into account to optimize your route. The coolest part is that it’s all run by an active community, so users report on traffic conditions, construction, etc in real time. Waze can even help you navigate tolls. Join the community today!

pack a cooler to save time and money

Pack a Cooler
This one is an absolute must if you’re trying to avoid crowded restaurants, long drive-thru lines, or are traveling on a budget. Packing food and drink in a cooler will not only help you save time throughout the trip, it will also help you save money. Checkout Pinterest for some easy road trip meals that can be packed in your cooler.

Use GasBuddy to save money on your family road trip

Use GasBuddy to Get Cheap Gas and Win Cool Perks
GasBuddy, another wildly popular app, is run by a community of people who love cheap gas. Even though gas prices around the U.S. are still quite low compared to 2019 prices, it doesn’t hurt to save money on the non-negotiable costs of a road trip. Use GasBuddy’s Trip Cost Calculator to plan your route efficiently and get the best deals on gas along the way! Plus, you can earn cool perks like free gas cards by confirming or updating prices in the app.

3. Enjoy the Path Less Traveled

take the scenic route and avoid large crowds

Traveling to more remote locations during your road trip will mean less potential exposure to coronavirus. Modern tools like the National Forest’s Interactive Visitor Map make it easy for you to find dozens of great locations for camping and other outdoor recreational activities. It’s even easy to set a maximum distance to travel so you can plan your route to fit your schedule. For more information on how to camp for free around the United States, check out this ultimate guide to dispersed camping.

Aside from reducing your risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19, centering your getaway around nature has other health benefits. From limiting your screen time to improving your circadian rhythm, there’s plenty of documentation supporting direct health benefits achieved from camping in the great outdoors. A few include:

  • Improved air quality
  • Reduced stress
  • Natural dopamine boosts
  • Stay stimulated and inspired

4. Download Content Ahead of Time

download content for your road trip ahead of time

Although we encourage reducing screen time while you’re at your destination, a long car ride can be the perfect time to catch up on your favorite tv series or movie. Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ all offer content that can be downloaded to your smartphone or tablet ahead of time. This allows you to watch your favorites without any Wi-Fi or cellular data connection.

Don’t limit yourself to shows and movies. Checkout some of the nation’s favorite podcasts or download a fun playlist from wherever you get music. For a more vintage experience (or to give your kids a history lesson), try burning a CD for the trip ahead of time.

Family Road Trip Takeaways

Coronavirus might have changed your travel plans, but it doesn’t have to ruin them altogether. The main thing is to have fun, stay safe, and respect guidelines put into place by experts. Let us know what other tips you have for making the most out of a family road trip this summer.

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

First of all, what is a carbon footprint? 

A carbon footprint is a  value that represents  “ the amount of greenhouse gases – primarily carbon dioxide – released into the atmosphere by a particular human activity.” You can calculate your own personal carbon footprint by inputting your daily activities into an online calculator. The average carbon footprint in the United States clocks in at 16 tons, which is considered quite high worldwide. 

There’s no better time than during a global pandemic to take small and easy measures for you to help reduce your own carbon footprint. In order to be more environmentally conscious, you may think you need to  restart your life and buy all new bamboo products… but actually that’s not the best way to do it. Living more sustainably can actually be done on a small scale and a small budget,  contrary to popular belief. Here are a few easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

1. Reusable Straws & Water Bottles

A good place to start is by cutting daily, single-use plastics out of your life, like plastic straws and water bottles. I’ve noticed over the years more people have been sporting reusable water bottles and more recently, reusable straws! Imagine the cost alone if you bought a soda product or a water bottle case every few weeks; on average you’d spend $10 per case. After purchasing only  three cases you’ve spent $30. That money could’ve been spent on an awesome, keep-your-drink-colder-than-ever, stylish reusable bottle that you could use for years. We know that filtered water might be a problem, so if you’re more concerned with minerals and electrolytes, there are reusable bottles that can filter and enhance your water! 

2. Back to Basics

Focus on what you really need month to month and try to cut down on those random Amazon purchases. When you do order online, try to consolidate your orders to cut back on the  packaging, shipping, and manufacturing footprint. E-commerce is not a bad thing, however if a product is not necessary try to remember all of the resources,  gasoline, planes, water, and international labor, that might’ve gone into its delivery. Your amazon instant delivery addiction affects more than just your personal wallet. I get it, we’ve all been there, but cutting back on unnecessary online purchases is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money while you’re at it!

3. Dishes & Washing

The chemicals you use matter! Find alternatives to harmful household cleaning chemicals using this no chemical lists.  I know it may be difficult to give up your beloved Dawn duck, but if we want to conserve our water and keep it clean for generations to come then we need to make a change. There is a ton of science behind this, but long story short, the chemicals that go down your drain are the same chemicals that you could be drinking if the system didn’t clean them out. So, do us all a favor and switch your dish soap and shampoo brand. Easy fix: Ditch Dawn and buy Dr. Bronner’s.

4. Meatless Mondays

Your plate: why keto is not always good (especially when it’s not whole foods). It’s been scientifically shown that in order to reduce your carbon footprint, you have to eat less meat. This doesn’t necessarily mean going full-on vegan, it just means being a conscious carnivore and taking measures to moderate your meat consumption. For example, you could try eating vegetarian one day a week. If you really want to scare yourself into not eating meat, watch “Forks over Knives” and “Cowspiracy” which are both currently on Netflix. However commonplace beef may be, once you understand the true cost of this American staple, it will make you rethink the impact of your diet. Easy meat-lover fix: purchase Impossible Burgers or Beyond Beef instead of real beef.

5. Flip the Switch

Heating, lighting, and appliances can sound like a hefty price tag to switch out in order to reduce your carbon footprint. However, it’s the small differences that make the biggest impact. Turn off your lights when you’re not using them, this not only saves you money but it reduces your carbon emissions. Unplug appliances or other electronics when you’re not using them because even when they are not turned on they are using energy. Replace your lights once they burn out to LED lights, which use 85% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than your average incandescent bulb. Another option is to invest in new appliances (after they’re on their last leg) with an Energy Star symbol. This symbol helps you identify money and energy-saving appliances. Easy fix: Turn off the lights when you leave the house.

6. Transportation Time

Carpooling or buying a Prius is the age-old resort to reducing your carbon footprint, but that’s not always feasible for everyone. Carpooling can present logistical issues to already busy, complicated schedules. One simpler way to reduce your transportation carbon footprint is to discern where you need to go from where you want to go. If a grocery store is less than a mile from you, consider biking or walking instead of driving. Not in a rush? Take public transportation. Easy fix: Use highways or more direct routes with less stop-and-go which can increase your average MPG (saves you gas money and emissions).

7. Sustainable Shopping.

Buy fewer products that last much longer. If you need something, try to shop locally to help offset imported goods’ shipping and packaging pollution. Take a reusable bag to the store. Invest in quality products that last.