Who doesn’t love a good road trip? With COVID-19 grounding most flight passengers, this age-old form of travel is more popular than ever. To appease my never-ending itch for adventure, I took several road trips from my hometown of Miami, FL to St. Pete Beach, Orlando, Atlanta, Asheville, Durham, and most recently, New Orleans.
Sidenote: If you’re planning a road trip to NOLA next year, Virgin Hotels will have a hotel for you! Virgin Hotels New Orleans will open in the Warehouse District in early 2021.
And while road-tripping is fun no matter how you do it, my road trips in the COVID era did come with some new things to think about. Organizing your own pandemic joy ride? Learn from what I learned, below.
Oh… and wear the mask.
Want to try that cool Mexican restaurant friends told you about? Planning to go to a theme park or a museum? Heard about an outdoor festival that feels safe to try?
In the age of COVID, it’s important to make reservations for things like these well in advance. With many cities, counties and states implementing reduced capacity laws—some allowing just 25% or 50% of the normal guest flow—restaurant tables are being snapped up quickly and most festivals and theme parks are requiring advanced online reservations.
And even if places are open, they may have shorter hours or restaurants may only offer curbside or delivery service. To avoid missing out, call ahead to double-check.
Let the drive be part of the fun.
Pack your favorite junk food or make fancy snacks. Make a good playlist everyone in the car will love. Learn all the lyrics to your favorite rap song. Tell ghost stories. Come armed with a list of good car games—“20 Questions” and “The Movie Game” are some of my favorites! If you want to go all out, decorate the car so that it feels like an actual party bus. Life is all about the journey, and when the journey involves a lot of time in a packed car together, it serves you and your passengers to make it a good one. Need a little playlist inspo, check these out.
Plan to spend a lot of time outdoors.
When planning a trip, we’re all so guilty of wanting to hop on a plane and fly overseas, when there’s so much beauty to see right here in the United States. For example, during my aforementioned road trip to New Orleans, my friends and I skipped the bars and restaurants in the French Quarter and instead spent our days exploring nearby Fontainebleau State Park, walking along Lake Pontchartrain and day-tripping to Oak Alley Plantation to see its famously-beautiful live oaks.
As every traveler knows, we can’t plan for everything. Throw in a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic, and you can pretty much guarantee that nothing is guaranteed. Your favorite restaurants or must-see sites might be closed. Obviously, an avoidance of crowds and person-to-person contact means most annual festivals and events have been canceled, or at least drastically changed. Heck, it could rain one day and your day in the mountains could get scratched!
Plans will change. In pre-COVID life, as it is now, things won’t always happen like we expect them to. Go with the flow, know this time of uncertainty will pass, and in the meantime, have a blast road-tripping with the people you’re lucky to spend quality time with. Happy traveling!
Written By: Jennifer Agress