COVID-Safe Road Trip Checklist - 2 Dads with Baggage
Santa Barbara Waterfront

COVID-Safe Road Trip Checklist

We’ve completed a couple of successful family road trips during these strange times. It’s been a process to determine the best places to travel and feel safe, considering all the scary stories about traveling during COVID. As we worked to determine safe and clean places to take our family, we created a COVID-Safe Road Trip Checklist. I’m happy to share it with you here in case you’re planning on taking to the road anytime soon!

No Ava did not drive us in the Mini on this road trip, silly!

COVID-Safe Road Trip Checklist

The information we have all been receiving is so conflicting. Can we travel safely? Should we feel confident staying in a hotel, that everything will be clean and safe? There are many things to consider as you plan your road trip during COVID. As we asked ourselves these questions and more, we came up with a COVID-safe road trip checklist. Answering these questions helped us narrow our search and ultimately decide on a great COVID-safe visit to Santa Barbara.

empty road with telephone poles and cloudy skies in Central California
Getting on the road early always makes the trip go faster.

Begin your search by considering these questions:

Choose a Destination

  1. Research road trip destinations within reasonable driving distance from your home. Being in the car for too long may require you to stop for restroom breaks or to get food. Most places are not allowing people to use their restrooms, so that leaves gas stations – ugh.
  2. Make a list of 2-3 destinations you would love to visit with that radius, and research their COVID infection and hospitalization rates. You can typically find this information by county, available on the county websites. If their rates are high, perhaps that destination is not ready for your visit.
Field + Fort restaurant in Summerland, CA and COVID-safes tables
Restaurants like Field + Fort in the Santa Barbara area go out of their way to ensure guests’ safety.

Choose a Hotel

  1. Once you have chosen a destination, research places to stay. Many hotels and resorts are open and have enacted extreme measures for sanitizing all guest rooms and common areas. Most have listed their COVID-safe protocols on their websites for you to research. A good place to start is the tourism bureau for that destination. Sites like are extremely helpful.
  2. Contact 2-3 hotels on your short list to inquire further about their COVID-safe policies. Most have additional information they are happy to supply. If they don’t answer your questions to your satisfaction, cross them off the list and move on.
  3. Look for information like: how long has the room been empty between guests? Is there a way to let fresh air into the room? To reach your room, is an elevator required? How is parking handled to avoid valet if you don’t want a stranger driving your car? Can you refuse maid service for the duration of your stay? How are they handling guests who are not wearing masks?
Guests in COVID-safe masks check into Hideaway Santa Barbara hotel.
Our arrival at Hideaway Santa Barbara included a rundown of their COVID safety protocols.

We’ve recently taken a couple of successful road trips using the above criteria for a COVID-safe road trip checklist. We had a blast in Santa Barbara and felt 100% comfortable at the boutique Hideaway Santa Barbara hotel near the marina downtown. We also stayed at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara and they are doing a fantastic job managing the safety of their guests. Just last weekend, we motored up to beautiful Dana Point and stayed at the lovely Monarch Beach Resort – also a very safe destination that did a great job taking care of us.

Check out our adventures on our road trip to Santa Barbara here.

You can read about our fantastic COVID-safe road trip to Dana Point here.

Lobby of Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, CA
Signs throughout the Monarch Beach Resort remind guests to follow the safety rules at all times.

Once You Make a Destination Choice

OK, you’ve settled on a destination and hotel you feel comfortable with. Here’s a few things to consider as you pack and prepare to have fun:

Bring Your Supplies

  1. If you think a restroom stop will be needed during your drive, plan ahead. Do a little research and choose the best and cleanest places to stop (if your body clocks allow!)  This way you aren’t stuck making a hasty decision or driving around looking for someplace clean. Surprisingly, truck stops with interior rest rooms are some of the cleaner options.
  2. Pack your own cleaning supplies. I know this may sound extreme, but it helped me just knowing I had it if needed. I brought bleach, bathroom cleaner, wipes for doorknobs and disposable rags. (The only thing I used were the wipes, but I was prepared just in case.)
  3. Bring extra masks. Our family members have been known to lose them or forget them in their “other purse” and such. I just kept a stash in my backpack for those just-in-case moments. Had to dip into the stash just once, but again it comforted me to know we were prepared.
  4. Bring along some portable wipes. There were times when we visited spots where I just felt a quick wipe down might be helpful. I did not get any side-eye from other guests for doing this. (I am currently obsessed with Infuse cleaning products because they are environmentally safe and chemical free.)
man cleaning bathroom tub with Infuse Cleaning Products
Infuse cleaning products are my latest obsession.

Make Good Choices on the Road

  1. Choose a good restaurant table. If you have a choice of where to be seated in a restaurant, grab a table in the breeze. Preferably choose a table where the breeze is blowing towards you without any other tables in front of you. (You want to be positioned at the front of the breeze, not the back.)
  2. Scan for mask wearing. If you are in a public place, are other people wearing their masks too? If not, why not? Leave if you are not comfortable with others’ behavior.
  3. Avoid fast food. This is a very subjective suggestion, but I believe that fast food or fast casual restaurants may not always have the cleanest protocols behind the scenes. We have experienced some great experiences at fast places doing a great job – Starbucks and In-N-Out to name a couple. So there are some exceptions. But maybe that sketchy taco stand is something to skip for now.
dining al fresco at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, CA
All dining at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort was outside.

Other Suggestions for our COVID-safe Road Trip Checklist?

I’m sure you’ve got a million suggestions for this COVID-safe road trip checklist too! Let us know in the comments and we’ll see about adding your ideas to the list.

View of bedroom suite at Hideaway Santa Barbara
Our room at the Hideaway was sweet and spotless.

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