The COVID-19 pandemic has led to wide-spread lockdowns across the country, leaving many people feeling stressed. To combat the stress of self-isolation, here are some road trip ideas that you can undertake to explore the country while remaining safe.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone to embrace a new normal. “Lockdown”, “self-isolation”, and “social distancing” have become the new buzzwords. Even as some restrictions are being lifted, people are still sceptical about stepping out of their homes. But there are others who are yearning for a breath of fresh air amidst the unadulterated beauty of nature.

Let’s face it – you can’t travel the way you used to in a world that’s fighting a pandemic. But that doesn’t mean you should ditch your travel plans altogether. All you have to do is find a safe way to travel and ensure that you follow all the preventive measures. While a vacation in another country or continents may not be feasible right now, you can always go on a road trip with your close friends or loved ones.

What makes road trips the ideal travel choice during a pandemic is that you have complete control over the journey. Moreover, it saves you the trouble of using public transport to reach your destination. You can avoid huge crowds and have a great trip without exposing yourself to too many health risks.

But before you hit the road for your next escape, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Safety First

Here’s the thing – just because the lockdown restrictions are being eased, it doesn’t mean that the pandemic is over. If you’re planning a trip anytime soon, you must take the necessary precautions to ensure that you have a safe and joyful experience. Here are a few tips to make your pandemic road trip a memorable one:

Plan Your Route

Impromptu getaways can no longer be a thing. If you want to have a hassle-free road trip, it’s important to plan everything in advance. This includes the route you’ll be taking to reach your destination. Check for information about state borders and make sure none of the highways on your route are blocked. You can use apps like Roadtrippers and AroundMe for this purpose.

Pack Wisely

Apart from your typical road trip essentials, make sure you carry your mask, disposable gloves, garbage bags, and plenty of hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes. It’s also a good idea to carry some dry snacks and packed food. Don’t depend on convenience stores and eateries on your route to pick up essentials.

Check for Accommodation

If you’re planning to make a few stops during the trip, make sure you book your accommodations in advance. Even after your booking is confirmed, it’s recommended that you call the property and check whether they’re open. Alternatively, you can take an RV, or pack camping equipment and pitch a tent at a suitable location. However, you should check the route and confirm that you’ll find a proper place to camp.

Prioritize Hygiene

If you’re going on a road trip, you’ll likely make a few pit stops. Whether you’re stopping at a gas station or public restroom, make sure you follow social distancing recommendations. Avoid touching common surfaces such as doorknobs, faucets, gas pump handles, etc. with your hands. Instead, it’s recommended that you wear disposable gloves. Also, sanitize your car and keep it clean by wiping down areas of your car that have been touched or come in contact with.

Now that you’re eager to start planning your next getaway, here are a few pandemic road trip ideas:

Grand Pacific Northwest Road Trip

This road trip, encompassing northern Oregon and southern Washington, combines the best of the Pacific Northwest. From the jaw-dropping Columbia River Gorge to the resplendent Mount Rainier National Park, it offers something for everyone. It also hides lesser-known marvels such as the two-tiered Multnomah Falls and Yakima valley desert.

The journey, covering more than 500 miles, requires you to be on the road for around 11 hours. Starting from Portland, you can reach Chanticleer Point for an awe-inspiring view of the Colombian Gorge. Next, head to Yakima and marvel at its gorgeous landscapes. Hit the road again to reach Mount Rainier National Park before heading back to Portland.

Oregon Coast Road Trip

Oregon is famous for its picturesque coastline replete with gorgeous beaches, stunning cliffs, idyllic pine forests, and towering sand dunes. The abundance of scenic destinations makes it ideal for an all-encompassing road trip. Some of the highlights on this route include Cannon Beach, Oswald West State Park, Cape Kiwanda, etc. A recommended route would be to start from Astoria and head to Newport via Cannon Beach, and ending with Brookings via Coos Bay.

Northern California & Southern Oregon Road Trip

This route lets you explore some of the most majestic landscapes, gorgeous state parks, and ethereal beach towns. Start from California’s Central Valley and head to Crescent City via Arcata. Next, cross the state border and take the Oregon Coast Highway to reach Port Orford. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself stopping to take pictures of the scenic landscape every few minutes.

Olympic Peninsula Road Trip

This breath-taking road trip starts from Seattle and takes you across the scenic Olympic Peninsula. The biggest highlight of this trip is the stunning Olympic National Park, bejewelled with lofty mountains and lush forests. Other attractions include Tacoma, Lake Crescent, Olympia, and Port Townsend.

Carrizo Plain National Monument

Often hailed as California’s Serengeti, the Carrizo Plain National Monument is every wildlife enthusiast’s dream come true. It’s tucked in the far eastern corner of San Luis Obispo, on the Central Coast of California. It’s home to many rare and endangered wildlife species including the giant kangaroo rat, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, pronghorn antelope, Tule elk, and many others. If you’re lucky, you may even find a spot for car camping near the foothills of the Caliente and Temblor ranges inside its grounds.

Van Damme State Park

Known for its hiking trails, pristine rivers, and pygmy forests, Van Damme State Park is situated on the splendid Mendocino Coast in Northern California. A road trip to this nature lover’s paradise takes you through idyllic redwood forests and wetlands. You can either marvel at the breath-taking natural scenery enveloping you, or indulge in activities such as fishing, kayaking, and birdwatching.

Monument Valley

Straddled on the Utah-Arizona border in the Colorado Plateau, Monument Valley features some of the most iconic landscapes in the U.S. Known for its mammoth mesas and colossal sandstone buttes, it’s situated in the Navajo region. A road trip to Monument Valley will captivate you with its panoramic views and the rich history of its indigenous tribes.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Situated in northeastern Arizona, Canyon de Chelly National Monument is another crowning jewel of the Navajo Nation. It’s known for the Spider Rock spire, an 800-feet tall monolithic structure. It is also home to a treasure trove of awe-inspiring archaeological sites brimming with prehistoric rock art.

New Mexico

When you think of road trips in the U.S., New Mexico isn’t likely the first place that comes to mind. However, the self-proclaimed “Land of Enchantment” casts a magic spell on visitors with its diverse array of unique historical sites, and natural wonders. It’s recommended that you start your trip from Chaco Canyon, which can be accessed by any of the highways coming from Arizona, Utah, or Colorado. Head to Santa Fe and make a quick stop at the Tsankawi Prehistoric Site, before reaching White Sands National Monument, and concluding your trip in Taos Pueblo.

American Southwest Road Trip

If you want to embark on a refreshing and slightly longer journey, a road trip across the American Southwest is your best bet. Offering enchanting views of deserts and magnificent national parks, it’ll be one of your most memorable trips. Some of the major attractions include the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Arches National Park. Trip duration of 8 to 10 days is recommended.

Final Thoughts

The uncertainty and stress of a pandemic can take a toll on your physical and mental health. As health experts around the world are racing to find a vaccine for COVID-19, you can still find ways to enjoy life and create memorable experiences while still maintaining proper health and safety measures. The next time you feel those anxiety pangs overwhelming you, pack your bags, and head out for a memorable road trip.