On the Road Again: Staying Healthy and Safe on a Road Trip

Planning a social distancing road trip | road trip travel

This post is sponsored by Kelley Blue Book; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Hello from the inside! It’s been awhile since I’ve traveled, written a new blog post about travel, or used my car, even (with the exception of a grocery store run here and there). It’s been nearly three months since Los Angeles mandated sheltering-in-place and I’ve surprised myself by thoroughly enjoying this time at home. I’ve spent time getting reacquainted with my kitchen, which I’d neglected in favor of restaurants. I’ve started growing herbs in the garden. Ramadan came and went. It’s been surprisingly fun to have quality me time, especially as an introvert. But now that summer is quickly approaching, I’ll admit that I’m really starting to miss travel and hangouts with friends.

I always associate summertime with epic adventures, whether I’m home in Los Angeles or gallivanting across the world. It’s a time for breezy beach days, juicy seasonal fruits and vegetables, and most importantly: good times with great friends. So when Kelley Blue Book asked me to share what I’ll be doing when all of this is over, I replied, without hesitation, “road trip!” Specifically, a California road trip with some of my gal pals. And the good news is this: staying healthy and safe on a road trip is relatively easy, partially thanks to their new Auto Repair Guide. I’ll get to that later.


What will travel look like in the future?

Planning a social distancing road trip | road trip travel
Travel will probably look something like this for awhile

Here’s the thing. None of us really know what travel is going to look like when all of this is over. Sure, members of the travel industry (myself included) have speculated, but opinions seem to be mixed and conflicted. Will flights be cheap or expensive? Will airplanes be cleaner and less crowded? Will responsible tourism finally become mainstream?

I have no clue, although I would love to see a world where responsible tourism is the norm and over-tourism is non-existent. Only time will tell. One thing I’m pretty confident of, though, is that more than ever, people will be traveling domestically (specifically by car) whenever possible. Road trips are making a comeback. And with road trips comes car maintenance.

I, for one, can’t wait to explore more of California and the United States. I’m notoriously bad at exploring my own backyard, and since I became a full-time travel blogger nearly five years ago, I haven’t spent much time traveling in the United States, let alone my home state of California. How sad is that? I just didn’t make domestic tourism a priority. Perhaps this is a silver lining of the dark cloud that has loomed over the globe in the last few months: we’re all about to become familiar with the gems just beyond our own backyards. I can’t wait!


Car travel is making a comeback

Planning a social distancing road trip | road trip travel
I’ve been sheltering with my family (including my sister, pictured here) so I’m excited to hang with friends again!

I have a confession: before I started traveling frequently, I actually hated road trips. I know, I know. That’s sort of a crime, especially when you’re from a state known for epic road trip itineraries. Here me out, though. When I was younger, most travels with my family consisted of two routes: the 6-8 hour journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco to visit my cousins or the four-hour trip through the desert to Las Vegas. My younger self hated sitting in the car for so long and definitely didn’t understand the concept of enjoying the journey as well as the destination. I mean, what did my parents expect from a 10-year-old, anyway?

The early-20s version of me wasn’t a fan of road trips either, because my only experience of them were the long trips from my childhood. So what changed my mind? My first road trip without my family, this time for the joy of a road trip. I was skeptical and intrigued by this as a concept, but a friend of mine who loves road trips told me one of the tricks to making them fun is plenty of stops along the way (plus, you know, good snacks and a fun playlist). Together, we made our way up the California coast one holiday weekend and I haven’t looked back since. In fact, before we all went into quarantine, my sister and I did the exact same road trip for her birthday back in January and we had an epic adventure. In fact, I had just as much fun on that short trip as I did on my subsequent trips to New York, Doha, and Paris.


Where to next?

In honor of the first road trip I ever truly enjoyed, I’m planning an awesome road trip to Central and Northern California when all of this is over. I’m excited to reunite with a few friends here in Los Angeles and spend 4-5 days driving, stopping wherever we please, and exploring some of California’s many hiking trails. Monterey, Big Sur, and San Francisco are just a few places I’d like to (re)visit.

Coincidentally, I share my birthday month (June) with two of the above-mentioned friends, so it will be an added reason for us to go on a (belated) fun-filled adventure when it’s safe to travel again. We’ve already talked about it extensively – now we’re just waiting for California to be officially open. We’re confident that a road trip will be a great way to explore a new place while still remaining safe and cautious.


But first, car maintenance 

Planning a social distancing road trip | road trip travel
Got to make sure the car is in tip-top shape before I go!

My car has been sitting in the driveway for awhile. Sure, I use it every other week to get groceries but besides that, it’s basically a glorified umbrella for my driveway. So before I use it to travel anywhere, I need to make sure it’s in top form. That’s where the Kelley Blue Book Auto Repair Guide comes in. This tool is amazing, especially for someone like me who is a bit clueless about car maintenance and repair in general.

Not only does the Auto Repair Guide include information about recalls, maintenance and repair work, it also has a tool called the Fair Repair Range Estimator, which helps inform consumers how much they should be paying for various services on their cars. How cool is that? Plus, you can easily schedule service appointments with your local dealer directly on the Kelley Blue Book site. Win! With my car remaining virtually unused for so long, I definitely want to make sure it’s up for a long drive before I start my road trip.


Other tips to keep in mind

The most important thing to remember when planning upcoming road trips is safety first. After making sure my car is serviced, here are a few other things I’ll be doing as extra precautions (and you should too!).

  • Put together a hygiene kit for your car, complete with masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, wipes and more. Make sure you disinfect your car frequently, especially after visiting gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants.
  • Stock up on snacks and water – the fewer trips you have to make for supplies, the better!
  • Stay in smaller, independent accommodation. It’ll be much easier to socially distance at a bed and breakfast with 20 rooms than in a hotel with 500 rooms.
  • Plan your activities ahead – call and see what’s open and research any new policies that might be in place for visitors. Better yet, opt to visit wide-open places where crowds are unlikely.
  • Have fun! We’ve all been cooped up for awhile so let’s enjoy being outdoors again.


On the road again

There’s no denying that we’re going to be seeing plenty of changes to the travel industry. Although we don’t know exactly what they are, I have a feeling that more and more travelers will be taking advantage of cool places in their own city, state or country. One thing’s for certain, though: road trips are here to stay. I can’t wait to explore the state I so often took for granted.


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