As states have reopened and summer marches on, many Americans have begun to travel again. With the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus still circulating widely within the United States, travelers need to take a lot of additional precautions before they leave home. Whether you are flying, road tripping, or just just leaving the house for a short staycation outing like a local hike or time on the beach, all travel now requires some thoughtfulness and pre-planning.
While traveling at all is still a controversial choice (see my current concerns about travel in this post), if you do choose to travel, it’s vital to travel responsibly at the moment. A huge part of how you can do that is by taking the proper steps to plan for your trip, including packing and bringing the things with you to keep your traveling party healthy. Instead of adding extra drug store or grocery runs to your trip, pack as much as you will need to minimize unnecessary contacts with others.
And as my family gets ready to take our first intra-California road trips to Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe in the next couple of weeks, I’ve been beefing up my usual packing lists with all of the extras I know we will need to deal with the additional uncertainties of COVID-19. Here are all the important items you may not have thought of to add to any coronavirus packing list. And be sure to scroll to the end if you want to download the free printable version!
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Things to Add to Your Coronavirus Packing List
1. Hand sanitizer
The CDC recommends hand sanitizers with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol to kill coronavirus. I recommend taking a few different size bottles in your travels for different situations – you’ll want a travel size one for a day pack at your destination but perhaps a bigger bottle for your car, hotel room, or vacation rental. (If you have Trader Joe’s in your area, I can highly recommend their travel-sized grapefruit scented spray hand sanitizer, which has become my go to!)
If you are headed to a hotel in your travels, soap will surely be provided. But if you are doing something like camping or staying in a condo or rental home, regular soap – bar or pump – is a must have.
3. Alcohol/ Disinfecting Wipes
To quickly and easily disinfect surfaces like doorknobs and light switches you encounter in your travels, you’ll also want some disinfecting wipes like Clorox or Lysol brand to take with you. Many of these wipes are still in very short supply so start your search for them long before any trips. You can also make DIY disinfecting wipes with a bleach solution, but those are only usable for about 24 hours so be advised for longer road trips. I recently learned that my go-to to wipe airplane tray tables, Wet Ones, haven’t been proven to kill viruses like SARS-CoV-2. So make sure you get wipes that are effective against coronavirus!
4. Lysol/Multipurpose Cleaner
If wipes are hard to find, many spray cleaners like Lysol disinfecting spray or many all purpose cleaners work too. We plan to pack a spray bottle of Lysol all purpose cleaner for cleaning kitchen surfaces in our vacation rental, since it cleans up grease and works against common food-borne pathogens like salmonella too.
5. Paper Towels
With all these things to spray and wipe and clean up, you are going to need paper towels! Paper products can still in short supply in a lot of places, so this is an important item to bring from home.
6. Masks/Face coverings
Masks are a necessity in our daily life now, but are even more important for travelers. Pack plenty of masks because you might not have access to the same laundry options as back home. And if you are headed on a trip to a destination with a different climate, pack a wide variety of different kinds of masks. You might find one works better for different activities, humidity levels, or temperatures. For outdoor activities, for example, I’ve found this cooling gaiter style face covering works quite well.
At this point in the pandemic, the experts are mostly advising against using gloves for daily use because average non-medical people don’t use them hygienically. But if you plan to have to do some heavy duty cleaning like in a vacation rental though, having gloves to protect your hands from harsh chemicals isn’t a bad call.
With all the cloth masks we are all wearing, you’ll need something to clean them too. If you are headed to a destination where you’ll have access to a washing machine, pack regular detergent. If you plan to wash masks in a hotel sink, a more portable detergent like Woolite or Tide Sink Packets work well.
9. Water bottles
Water fountains in many destinations are turned off for safety reasons. Pack your own water bottles for everyone in the family for a less contact drinking option. Don’t forget dish soap if you are going to wash them out to reuse them, if not available at your destination! For our kids, our tried and true favorites (that do not leak!) are the Contigo Autoseal Trekker water bottles.
10. Snacks & Food
Avoid roadside convenience stores or fast food stops by bringing your own snacks from home. If you are headed to a condo or vacation rental, you may want to pack groceries sufficient for the entire trip as well.
If you are road tripping, a cooler is a must-have for bringing a wider variety of food and drinks along for the trip. This softsided Coleman cooler is compact enough to keep in the back seat for easy access to snacks and drinks you might consume during the journey. Or pack a big grocery haul in the trunk in a larger hardside cooler.
12. Ziploc Bags
I use Ziploc bags for a million and one different purpose on our family’s travels from trash bags to makeshift compression packing cubes, but they are especially helpful right now. For example, you can put clean masks in one labeled bag and dirty ones in another so you don’t cross-contaminate your mask supply.
13. Travel Potty
Public bathrooms along the highway are the biggest fear for a lot of travelers right now. If you can find a way to go on-the-go (or at the very least have a solution for younger kids who won’t be as fastidious when using a public bathroom), you’ll save yourselves a lot of unnecessary exposures. Of course, we all have differing levels of comfort with some of the solutions out there. So yep, I’m going to gently suggest a couple of more adventurous products, like the following and let you decide:
In the post-COVID era, shared pins to sign credit card receipts are probably something you want to avoid. Pack a couple of your own just in case.
15. Touchless Pay Methods
Speaking of not wanting to touch shared surfaces, purchasing things presents a real risk of exchanging germs. A credit card is preferable to cash in most circumstances. And if you haven’t used a touchless pay method yet, now is the time to get to know Apple or Google Pay!
16. Health insurance cards
Hopefully you won’t get sick on vacation, but having your health paperwork on hand is more important now than ever. Make sure to have your card in your wallet and consider taking a photo of the card to keep on your phone as a backup.
17. Proof of Negative Covid-19 Test (Where Required)
An increasing number of destinations are requiring that travelers prove they are COVID-19 negative before visiting. Places like Alaska, Hawaii, and Bermuda all will or have already been requiring a test within 72 hours of arrival if travelers want to skip a 14 day quarantine. So find out what exact paperwork your destination requires and bring it with you in your carry on.
So many places are conducting temperature checks these days before allowing guests to enter, so having your own thermometer to check temperatures in your traveling party is a smart call.
Hopefully no one in your family gets sick in your travels, but if anyone does, you want to be prepared with necessary medications. Fever reducing medicines like Tylenol/acetaminophen especially are smart to have with COVID-19 circulating. Be sure to bring the infant, toddler, or children’s versions if you have younger kids!
Download the Printable COVID-19 Packing List
Need other packing lists? Check out these related posts: