Road trips can be a therapeutic experience for drivers and passengers alike. You get to enjoy the freedom of going anywhere the road takes you—even places that are well beyond the road, if you happen to drive an off-road or all-terrain vehicle.
Unfortunately, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to stay in our homes and away from friends and extended family for safety’s sake. Even with some states being in the first phases of reopening, it’s important for us to continue to steer clear of public spaces and to minimize direct contact with other people.
But staying at home 24/7 can mentally wear you down. You can only binge on so much Netflix and comfort food, and stand the sight of your same old wallpaper peeling off the same old walls for so long. Soon enough, the urge to bust out the door will become irresistible.
The best cure for cabin fever is a change of scenery along with a little fresh air. In this article, we’re sharing some ideas for venturing out safely, but please be sure to check your latest local and state guidelines carefully before you head out.
Activities You Can Do While Staying Inside Your Car
The next time you take your car out, you don’t have to make it a quick and boring drive. Take the time to have fun and do new things while staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Drive by a place you’ve seen on TV or the big screen
Is there a place of interest near you? You may live near a house, building, or location where they shot a popular movie or television series.
Do some online research to figure out the best route as well as places to legally park and get the best views of your chosen location. If you’re lucky, you might find blogs, forum threads, or Yelp reviews that offer helpful tips. Here’s one we’ve found useful for finding good leads: Check if others have visited and tagged the location on Instagram, and filter by recent posts.
Once you’re ready, hop into your car, drive over to that filming area, and scope out the place from the outside. Bring a pair of binoculars or use the zoom function of your camera or smartphone in case the place lies some distance from where you’re allowed to park.
As your eyes rove across that iconic landscape or building’s facade, let your imagination take you inside the premises as you relive the most memorable scenes from your favorite show or movie. Or better yet, watch the episode or movie on your mobile device and see if you can spot the same exact views in the background
2. Tour your hometown
With many of us only leaving our homes for important things like supply runs, social distancing has altered the way our streets look for the time being.
Drive around your town or city to see how things have changed. Take note of which establishments have closed down for the duration of the crisis. You’ll get a better idea of how your community is handling local and state orders.
3. Turn a road trip into a scavenger hunt
Ordinarily, we don’t give much thought to fire hydrants, trash compactors, and other common objects we pass by while on the road. But with a little planning, these everyday items can help take your passengers’ minds off the pandemic and in the moment.
Arrange a scavenger hunt around these roadside objects. Print bingo cards that list objects instead of numbers and distribute the cards to your passengers before you all get in the car. When a player spots an object on their card, they can cross it out.
You can even get your friends and neighbors involved. Coordinate with them so they can place designated objects in front of their homes, and map out a route that allows you to drive by their places. This way, you can share your scavenger hunt with them and others in your community so they can keep their passengers entertained, too.
4. Contactless car show
Many of us take great pride in our cars’ appearance. For those of us who invest a lot of time and effort in our vehicles, it’s only natural to want to show off when we make any new upgrades. So why not hold a contactless version of a car show?
Recruit your car-loving friends via phone or social media. Once you get a good number of people signed up, arrange a meeting spot with enough space to line up all participating cars.
Get your car ready for the contest. Once you fully kit out your car, give it good detailing or bring it to a drive-thru car wash.
At the car show, take turns driving past each car and admiring the details your fellow car owners have put into their rides. You can even organize a poll where everyone votes on the best-looking vehicle.
Best of all, no one needs to roll down a window or open a door during the entire event.
5. Go on a wilderness safari
When we’re overstressed, nature can have a positive effect on our minds. Whether it’s a sprawling vision of lush greenery or the sounds made by a natural body of water, there’s just something about experiencing the beauty of nature that fills you with a sense of calm.
Your hometown or city may feature a large urban park with access roads for vehicles. Or you can head to less-populated areas with views of the countryside or secluded beaches.
Adventurous types may be able to take an extended road trip to a state or national park, many of which offer scenic drives. California residents, for example, can visit some parts of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. You may even want to drive along one of our many national highways, like Historic Route 66 or the Pacific Coast Highway.
Just be sure to do your research beforehand, as some sections of these roads may be closed, and some parks may discourage non-local travel.
6. Have a picnic inside your car
Few things bring people together like a meal, and good food tastes even better when you’re in good company, whether you’re able to take immediate family in your car or have friends come along in a separate vehicle.
Prepare your favorite foods at home and put them in portable food containers. If you’re craving something other than home cooking, support one of your favorite local restaurants that offers curbside pickup. Don’t forget to bring garbage bags for the trash.
Of course, even if everyone is extremely careful, spills can still happen and leave a mess in your car. Consider getting floor liners designed for easier clean-up and odor eliminators to reduce any lingering smells of food.
Cleaning your car’s interior and keeping it smelling fresh are a small price to pay for the pleasure of eating outside (yet inside) with your quarantine crew.
Things to Do Before Setting out on a Car Adventure During COVID-19
1. Check the latest local, state, and federal regulations on driving around your town/city and state as well as the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Inspect your vehicle before going on the road. Check the condition of vital components and systems like your wheels. Bring repair tools and emergency supplies, including a spare tire, flash light, and jumper cables. You don’t want your car to break down when calling for a tow truck or bringing your vehicle to an auto repair shop can prove to be complicated due to social distancing.
3. Good hygiene habits reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. The CDC and WHO have recommended the following practices:
- Wash your hands with water and soap before leaving the house. If you can spare the space for them in your car, bring water and soap with you as well.
- Bring alcohol-based hand sanitizers for your hands and disinfectant wipes to clean any surfaces you may need to touch.
- Wear facial masks that cover your nose and mouth.
- Avoid touching any objects or surfaces that others have likely handled in the past.
4. Maintain social distancing. Keep a distance of at least 6 feet from other people. Keep your car’s windows rolled up.
Your car doesn’t need to be a strict “supply run” vehicle. During these uncertain times, it can still be a vessel for making memories, and help restore peace of mind by getting you out of the house while keeping you safe.