Plan a Socially-Distant Road Trip

What to know before hitting the road during a pandemic

Griswold family vacation

The legendary roadtripper himself, Clark W. Griswold Jr., and his family in National Lampoon's Vacation.

Collectively, as a country, we need to do better. The statistics are staggering, and it's having an adverse effect on our jobs, relationships and health. But that's also why a vacation could do us some good.

According to a recent study, a staggering 768 million U.S. vacation days went unused in 2018, and with domestic travel down drastically this year due to the pandemic we're even less likely to set up our out-of-office. But just because we're not flying doesn't mean we're not moving: Memorial Day weekend saw a 48.5% increase in road travel compared to the previous weekend and driving trips of 250 miles or more also spiked to near pre-outbreak levels, according to data intelligence company Arrivalist. It may not be a great time to fly, but it's the perfect time to drive. But only if you're willing to do it responsibly. This isn't about meeting up with friends. It's about escaping your current environment while maintaining smart social-distancing measures.

With the 4th of July coming up we're all going to flee the city (if we haven't already yet) toward remote stretches of coast, to family or parks—basically any excuse to re-introduce ourselves to the sun and take a step back from an extremely stressful Q2. And, like our parents during their childhood, tossing suitcases into the trunk of a car and hitting the road Griswold-style is your best bet.

Just because we won't be jetting to our destination, drink in hand at 30,000 feet, doesn't mean there aren't a number of improvements to make the excursion less excruciating. Pre-made playlists are a must, and podcasts can spark a temporary jolt of motivation, but aural distractions might not cut it on hour five or six. Solo, or with company, a select few last-minute additions will make any trip seem shorter and lanes appear wider. Not to mention, there are some safety precautions to take before heading out. We've merged together some of our favorites for the road ahead.

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Road Trip Essentials

A Phone Mount

It's your DJ, GPS and lifeline all in one: so keep it accessible. The Easy One Touch 4 phone mount keeps your phone from leaving your eyesight, which means you don't need to hand your playlist over until the next state line.

$29.95 at iOttie

Sanitizer Spray

Outfit your car with the pandemic in mind. That means an oversized bottle of hand sanitizer like this one from Chemical Guys, which conveniently fits into a cupholder. It's 80% agave-based alcohol (hence the tequila-like scent) and can be used on both hands and surfaces to keep you germ-free.

$9.99 by Chemical Guys

Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized shades are key to keeping the glare out of your eyes. And if quality lenses and a timeless style weren't enough, these shades come with Maho's Zuma retention system over the ear so they'll be sure to stay on whether you're rubbernecking or running in the sweltering summer heat.

$170 by Maho

Know the Rules:

Remember, pandemic restrictions vary from region to region. Do your homework before you leave to know what rules are in place for visitors and residents, and if any quarantine measures are mandatory. The CDC recommends checking with state and local authorities of any place you plan on staying along the way too. You don't want to pull into a rest stop or roadside hotel after a long stretch of driving only to find that it's been closed.

Radium Blanket

Put a whole new spin on “stopping to stretch” with this homemade “life blanket.” At 7' x 5', the smallest plot of rest stop land can become a legitimate respite from the open road.

$128 by Trek Light Gear

Dang Coconut Chips

Sugary snacks and sodas might temporarily boost your energy—but the crash isn't worth it. Load up on lighter snacks and don't pull into any golden arches until it's absolutely necessary.

$60 for 4 packs,
by Dang

Bandana Mask

We love a bandana in the summer. Be safe, considerate to others, and look good doing it. Just because you'll never be in that gas station on I-95 again doesn't mean you can't leave a good impression.

$15 by Levi's

Cleansing Towelettes

Tackle any road grime, post-meal stickiness or just freshen up before the last exit and wipe away the tears of joy from finishing the journey. These are 99.1% natural and guaranteed to leave you feeling like you've still got something in the tank.

$4.79 by Burt's Bees

Ridley’s General Knowledge
Trivia Deck

Not for the solo traveler: find out which passengers know the highest point in New York State or what artistic movement Braque and Picasso founded. Better yet, dive into pop culture or bizarre fact versions for longer drives.

$25 by Ridley's

Plan Your Trip

The Roadtrippers app and website help you plan road trips by allowing you to plot points on a map. It then calculates the best route between them and helps you find info about what's along the route.

NOTE: Items featured in this story are independently selected by the editorial team. Purchasing via our links may earn Valet. a portion of the sale, which helps fund our editorial mission.

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