(BPT) - Road trips offer exploration, discovery and adventure at your own pace. Car picnics, roadside attractions, historical sites, lake visits, rolling through the Great Plains or canyons, up to the mountains or down to the beach — regardless of where you go, memories are sure to be made at any age. The pandemic has prevented many from traveling these past few months and the summer offers the opportunity to test drive socializing again with family and friends who may live far away.
For many travelers, vacationing in 2020 will look different than previous years. The current environment has led to the cancellation of many trips and made travelers reconsider long plane journeys and visits to international destinations. It seems like the right time to return to a favorite pastime — the Great American Road Trip!
Whether you’re taking the family away to a weekend historical destination, visiting the grandkids, or trekking across the country in search of quality time away from where you sheltered in place this past spring, there are a few key steps to plan your journey. Some tips for planning the perfect road trip follow below — if you’re an AARP member there are plenty of benefits that can help you hit the open road in comfort, style and within budget.
- Pack wisely. Make sure to check the weather forecast at your trip destination so you can pack accordingly, from sunscreen to rain gear. Summer weather can be unpredictable so always have an umbrella stored in the car or in your bag. Considering that the operating status of visitors centers — not to mention your own comfort level of stopping at rest stops — may vary, it’s wise to pack non-perishable food items or load a cooler up with your favorite snacks and sandwich fixings so you never go hungry. If you forget something, from shampoo to sunscreen to snacks, Walgreens’ locations across the country have all the travel essentials. Don’t forget to link your AARP membership card to your Walgreens Balance® Rewards account to earn additional benefits.
- Plan lodging. When mapping out your route, consider where you’re going to spend the night and break the trip into manageable driving segments. After a few days on the road, you may want to spend two or more nights at the same hotel so you can relax, refresh and see the local sights, instead of rushing on your way. For accommodations, check out Best Western Hotels & Resorts, which has launched its We Care Cleansm cleanliness program to keep guests safe and enhance confidence during their stay. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is another option if you’re planning to hit the open road. Wyndham offers a wide selection of brands across the country at various price points and is committed to putting guests’ well-being first with Count On Ussm enhanced health and safety protocols.
- Prepare and protect for the drive. A car is the key ingredient in a road trip. Before you hit the road, make sure your car is up to the task. Safe driving starts with a safe vehicle, so make sure you’re ready to go and get a drive-thru oil change, check your tire pressure and make sure all your fluids are topped off at Valvoline Instant Oil Change.
Roadside assistance is essential for peace of mind wherever your journey may take you. Allstate Roadside plans, including Roadside Elite, help travelers when the unexpected happens on the road. Benefits include 24/7 towing, jump-starts, tire changes, lockout assistance, fuel delivery and more. Not enough room for you and the family or worried about adding hundreds of miles to your daily driver? No problem. You can rent the right car with confidence for your road trip with Avis and Budget car rentals, with locations nationwide.
- Explore local food. Discovering local foodways is one of the best parts of road tripping. A stop at a farm stand for just-picked peaches, roadside barbecue, a sweet treat at an ice cream stand, or other regional specialties (boiled peanuts, frozen custard, pit beef, burnt ends, tamales, fried clams, kolaches, lobster rolls, pasties) can be a highlight of your trip.
Last but not least, make sure you have a handle on the current guidelines and re-opening status of where you will be visiting and keep in mind the following travel and safety tips:
- Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find the most up-to-date guidelines for travel in the U.S.
- Visit the website for any state you plan to drive through or visit. Understanding the re-opening phase of the state and local communities is important. The state website will also highlight any executive orders from the governor such as mandatory masks, quarantine for out-of-state residents, or testing requirements for entering the state.
- Explore the websites of tourism boards for destinations where you will be visiting to see what is open and to manage expectations (for example: mask requirements, outdoor seating only, curbside pickup, delivery, capacity limitations).
- Keep masks and hand sanitizer in your car for easy access.
And finally, take photos, make memories and look away from your tablets and phones. After being closed inside for several months, it’s time to break away. Enjoy the open road!