How to stay safe on road trips amid COVID-19

Taking a road trip during the coronavirus pandemic—having to use public bathrooms, stop at restaurants, and stay at hotels—inevitably carries some risk, say experts. But there are strategies that can make it safer.

For instance, a hotel room that’s been unoccupied for three days will be safer than one more recently occupied, according to a September 1, 2020 New York Times article. And checking in at off-hours can help minimize interactions with strangers.

Outdoor dining is safer than indoor dining, according to the experts. But Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases—who recently completed a round-trip from Boston to New Orleans—sometimes found no outdoor option or an already full patio. She said travelers should consider the level of risk they’re comfortable with if plans don’t go as expected. “When you’re on the road you’ve got to eat,” she said.

She noted that many big restaurant chains have put strict standards in place regarding masks and social distancing. “They just make it very easy right now to drive through 10 states—you know there’s always going to be somewhere safe to get food,” she said.

As for public bathrooms, it’s important to wash your hands with soap and water twice—upon entering and before leaving. Fortune noted that typical spots for bathroom breaks, such as large hotels, department stores, or museums, may be closed during the pandemic or not open to people from the street—so it’s important to plan for such contingencies.

She said she’s fairly risk tolerant and was comfortable using public bathrooms during her trip. “The bathrooms I saw this summer had all been scrubbed within an inch of their life,” she said.

Read the New York Times article: Help! What Are the Best Precautions When Traveling by Car?