(This arti­cle may or may not con­tain affil­i­ate links. What does that mean?)

I’m not sure when exact­ly that my fam­i­ly reached their per­son­al break­ing point in quar­an­tine.  It was like­ly around the time Chica­go was get­ting doused in apoc­a­lyp­tic rain.  So, not only were we not allowed to go any­where, but we also could­n’t step out­side with­out wash­ing away to Lake Michi­gan.  It seemed like the gods threw us a dou­ble whammy.

After one par­tic­u­lar­ly rough after­noon, dur­ing which I unplugged our Roku and threat­ened to throw it out the win­dow if we could­n’t all peace­ful­ly agree on what to watch, we decid­ed it might be in our best inter­est to get away for a bit.  My extend­ed fam­i­ly has a vaca­tion home on the East Coast that was peace­ful­ly wait­ing for some­one to enjoy it.  It would be an 18-hour dri­ve, but if I’m being hon­est, 18 hours on the open road sound­ed like the great­est kind of adven­ture after two and a half months of look­ing at the same four walls and non-stop Sponge­bob marathons.  My hus­band and I took the time to painstak­ing­ly plan every­thing out for our road trip.  If we were going to do it, we were going to do it right and do it efficiently. 

One week lat­er, we loaded every­one into the car and stole out of Chica­go while the sun was com­ing up, as gid­dy and elat­ed as inmates who’ve just escaped Sing Sing and are on the lam.


Wake me up before you go go.


We made it to our des­ti­na­tion safe and sound a day and a half lat­er.  While it was the best kind of free, dri­ving down the wide-open high­way, to say things are dif­fer­ent trav­el­ing dur­ing COVID-19 is an under­state­ment.  But it does­n’t mean you can’t still have a safe and suc­cess­ful road trip.

Here are the 5 big things we learned about trav­el­ing, or doing a road trip, dur­ing the coro­n­avirus to help oth­ers who are ready to start get­ting back out there.



Choose the right destination


family hiking

Ahh­hh the great outdoors


Kind of seems like a no-brain­er, right?  Like you would ever inten­tion­al­ly pick the wrong des­ti­na­tion.  But in the age of COVID, what con­sti­tutes the right des­ti­na­tion has changed a bit.  So when decid­ing where to go, keep the fol­low­ing things in mind.

  • Crowds – What is your cur­rent com­fort lev­el with crowds?  Are you okay going to big cities or busy beach­es, or would you pre­fer more wide-open spaces right now?
  • Things to do – Are things open and easy to get into where you’re going?  Will there be enough things to do to keep your kids occu­pied and enter­tained?  If you’re wor­ried about hav­ing activ­i­ties, maybe con­sid­er a vaca­tion in the great out­doors, where things are always open and admis­sion is free or near­ly so.  Plus, after all the time inside, our pale, translu­cent skin could use a lit­tle Vit­a­min D.
  • Food and accom­mo­da­tions – Will there be restau­rants open or at least gro­cery stores that are eas­i­ly acces­si­ble and decent places to stay with maybe a kitch­enette?  Good food might still be a lit­tle hard to come by in cer­tain parts of the coun­try, so hav­ing the space to cook your own meal might be nice after mul­ti­ple nights of Olive Gar­den and Pan­era take out. 



Plan out your route


dog on family trip

The feel of the open road.


We’re all for tak­ing the road less trav­eled, going off the beat­en path, and being adven­tur­ous, but if ever there was a time to be reg­i­ment­ed with trav­el, this would be it.  Plan­ning a route in advance can help ensure you have decent places to stay and eat along the way.  And, it can min­i­mize the num­ber of times you need to stop.

It might sound extreme, but by lim­it­ing the num­ber of times you stop, you’re also lim­it­ing the num­ber of times you’re expos­ing your fam­i­ly to new peo­ple and any cooties they might be car­ry­ing.  This helps keep you and your kids healthy and also helps keep oth­ers safe.  Every time you get out of your car, you’re not just tak­ing your slight­ly stale road trip car smell and messy hair with you, you’re also tak­ing a cloud of invis­i­ble germs and bac­te­ria that are all too hap­py to set up camp and unpack.  Not unlike Pig­pen in the Peanuts strips.



While most rest stops are open and many restau­rants are offer­ing dri­ve-thru and curb­side options, hav­ing a plan in place can also help quell some of the jit­ters you or your fam­i­ly might have about trav­el­ing right now.



Bring extra food


cookies for family trip

Don’t skimp on the cookies.


There were actu­al­ly more restau­rants open along our route than we expect­ed.  But we were glad we had packed a bunch of extra food when we made it to our des­ti­na­tion on night one, a lit­tle lat­er than antic­i­pat­ed, and every­thing was already closed due to reduced hours.  In our fam­i­ly, I’ve learned it’s bet­ter to be safe than sor­ry when it comes to food.  Hangry does­n’t even begin to describe our moods when we miss a meal.  Sav­age is more like it. 


Get some help plan­ning (or sur­viv­ing) a road trip with your kids here.


Need­less to say, I come pre­pared for any road trip with enough food to sus­tain a mod­er­ate­ly sized army, but this trip, in par­tic­u­lar, I oper­at­ed under the assump­tion that we might have trou­ble find­ing decent food options at some point and was strate­gic in what I packed.  We had a cool­er full of sand­wich­es, string cheese, and yogurt, and some healthy but fill­ing snacks, like trail mix and gra­nola.  Luck­i­ly it was enough to cob­ble togeth­er a lite din­ner that kept every­one sat­is­fied until break­fast and we were able to avoid any Don­ner par­ty reenactments.



Take all the essentials with you


I’m not at all ashamed to admit that I looked like Mr. Clean’s crazy, dis­in­fec­tant-obsessed wife on our trip.  All I need­ed was a fan­ny pack or a tool belt and my look would have been complete.

We had it all – hand san­i­tiz­er, dis­in­fect­ing wipes, Kleenex, and facemasks for kids and adults galore.  On a good day, my fear of pub­lic bath­rooms is sec­ond only to my pho­bia of wolf spi­ders.  These days it bor­ders on mild para­noia.  Not only did we wash our hands in the bath­room, but I stood sen­tinel at the car door when every­one traipsed back out­side, dis­pens­ing Purell like it was the elixir of life. 

Though my meth­ods might have admit­ted­ly been a tad extreme, if you opt to trav­el right now, it’s impor­tant to try to do your part in lim­it­ing the spread of germs.  Dis­in­fect when you get out of your car, and dis­in­fect when you get back in.  Pack extra masks, because it nev­er fails that one of your kids will lose theirs.  And nev­er, ever use the hand dry­ers in the bath­room.  Yes, peo­ple claim they’re more envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly than paper tow­els, but they also recir­cu­late dirty bath­room air right up into your face.  If you don’t believe me, believe Cleve­land Clin­ic.





Do your hotel homework


Most major hotel chains have sent out emails or post­ed updates to their web­sites of the height­ened clean­ing mea­sures they’re tak­ing to ensure peo­ple remain safe while lodg­ing with them.  Mar­riott, Hilton, and Airbnb have all enhanced their san­i­ta­tion pro­ce­dures to ease trav­el­er con­cerns, so it’s rel­a­tive­ly easy to find a clean and com­fort­able place to stay. 

The Hilton off­shoot we stayed at in Albany was hands down one of the clean­est hotels I think I’ve ever stayed in.  Every­thing was spot­less.  We still opt­ed to wipe down heav­i­ly trafficked/touched spots in the room, like the remote, the door han­dles, light switch­es, and sink fix­tures, just because we’re now germ freaks and it made us feel a lit­tle bet­ter.  But we were very pleased with how clean the rooms, com­mon areas, and hall­ways were.


Read about How to Plan Your First Trip After Quar­an­tine here!


Bear in mind that some hotel ameni­ties that you’ve become accus­tomed to might not be offered in the age of social dis­tanc­ing.  Pools and gyms might poten­tial­ly be closed and hotel restau­rant and con­ti­nen­tal break­fast options are prob­a­bly going to look a lit­tle dif­fer­ent.  All of the break­fast options at the hotel we stayed at were grab and go and meant to be con­sumed in the com­fort of your room, away from oth­er guests. 



kids in a boat

A lit­tle nature does the body good.


Still not con­vinced? Read about How to Sur­vive Trav­el­ing with Kids here!



Over­all, even though the expe­ri­ence was rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent and a lit­tle more stress­ful than in the past, we were so grate­ful for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get away and rel­ish a change of scenery.  And the time we had as a fam­i­ly once we made it to our des­ti­na­tion was exact­ly what we need­ed.  If you’re think­ing about trav­el­ing now or in the near future, our biggest tips are just to plan ahead and be smart!



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5 Can't Miss Tips for Traveling During COVID: I'm not sure when my family reached their breaking point in #quarantine. Maybe when Chicago got doused in apocalyptic rain. We're stuck inside and couldn't go outside without washing away. Learn the #traveltips we used for our #familytrip during #COVID


Safe ways to travel with family during COVID



Dis­claimer: I recent­ly became an affil­i­ate for the Ama­zon web­site since, as a mom, it’s the most fre­quent way I shop now and it’s also how I rec­om­mend prod­ucts to friends that I’m using and love. You can’t hold back my love. Yet, I’m not an affil­i­ate of any of the oth­er prod­ucts I rec­om­mend­ed. See? Love.