Thinking about a road trip during the pandemic? Bookmark our guide to the key things you need to consider for safe road trips during COVID. And don’t forget: always check the latest local government guidelines before booking travel.
Pack some essentials
The UK government has put together a handy list of items to bring with you if you’re planning a road trip during COVID. At the top of the list is face coverings, whether they’re masks, scarfs, bandanas or other types of cloth that cover the nose and mouth. Take more than one with you, and put used face coverings in a plastic bag to be washed before reuse. As of August 2020, it’s mandatory to wear a face covering in shops and on public transport in the UK, as well as several other places: see the government website for a full list.
It’s also a good idea to bring along some hand sanitiser and tissues to catch any coughs or sneezes. You should be looking to wash or sanitise your hands after visiting petrol stations, shops, and so on. Always throw used tissues straight into the bin and wash your hands immediately.
Check your vehicle
It’s always a good idea to check over your vehicle before a long journey, but this is especially the case for safe road trips during COVID, as maintenance places such as garages might not be open or easily accessible.
Checking you have enough fuel should be your first priority. It might sound obvious, but in 2015 alone people had to call out breakdown services 7,000 times after running out of fuel. Checking the water level and the oil level should be next on your list, as well as checking the tyre pressure. Under- or overinflated tyres can affect fuel efficiency and steering.
Plan your journey
The idea of leaping into a car for a spontaneous road trip is fun, but doing it during a pandemic requires a little bit of forward thinking.
If you’re planning to use trains at any point on you’re journey, you’ll need to reserve a seat in advance, as well as check which services are running. You’ll also need to be aware of any areas with local restrictions. If you’re going to be travelling through any of these areas, be aware that some services and shops might not be available.
Think about food
Most motorway service stations are open now in the UK, but it’s a good idea to limit your interactions with others as much as you can, to minimise virus transmission risk. So safe road trip during COVID means bringing your own food for the journey whenever possible.
If you’re planning on eating out, make sure to book ahead. Not all restaurants are open, and many that are have limited seating or timed slots. You’ll be asked to provide details to the restaurant in case you need to be contacted as part of a track and trace operation.
Use petrol stations responsibly
Always wear a face covering when paying for petrol in the kiosk, or use pay-at-the-pump facilities where you can. Many petrol stations also provide disposable plastic gloves that you can use while filling up to avoid contact with the pump handle. You might want to bring your own disposable gloves in case they aren’t available. After use, dispose of them in the bin.
Plan accommodation in advance
As a result of quarantine rules on foreign travel, huge numbers of people are holidaying in the UK rather than abroad. That means many hotels are fully booked, so check before you travel to see where accommodation is available.
Once booked, check what restrictions your hotel is using to deal with COVID-19. For example, guests might be asked to take their breakfast to their hotel room rather than eat in the dining room.
Avoid busy areas
Ideally, you want to limit the amount of contact you have with other people, so safe road trips during COVID mostly involve avoiding packed beaches and big cities like London. Luckily, the UK has plenty of utterly gorgeous wide open spaces, like the Yorkshire Dales, Dartmoor, the Scottish Highlands and the North Pennines. We’ve put together a guide to 10 incredible places to visit in England other than London.
And if you’re planning to take your road trip abroad, you can find the latest information on which countries are open to travellers on our dedicated travel restrictions global map.
We know travellers are keen to explore the world again, and we hope that these tips might inspire your next road trip – and give you the confidence you need to feel safe while on the road.
Want to read more?
- Coronavirus travel advice
- Is it safe to travel?
- What it’s like living during a pandemic in the Scottish Borders right now
- Coronavirus travel questions: Your COVID-19 queries answered