Recently, my girlfriend and I went on a little (12 hour) road trip throughout the state of Arizona with her little sister. If you haven't seen the mountainous terrain and forests of Coconino and Yavapai county, AZ, you'll be shocked by the beautiful scenery and towering plateaus. There were some eyesores, but my inner Dora The Explorer agrees that there are no bad adventures.. While we couldn't get out of the car to enjoy the shops and small town atmosphere, we didn't have to stare at each other from across the living room.) There were many things we planned ahead for as well as a few inconveniences so I figured I would share some tips before you embark to find your own pandemic paradise.
1. Might as well start off with the most important answer here and say snacks. ALL THE SNACKS. No matter how far you go, please bring snacks you enjoy. Nothin' wrong with a 'lil splurge. As responsible members of society, we wanted to bring a packed lunch to indulge in the car instead of the usual drive thru or entering stores needlessly. The amount of chips consumed on this trip is more than we would like to admit, but it made for a pleasant time.
2. One word: masks. You should always bring a mask with you, even if you're only making a small trip to the store.Unless you have a camel's bladder, you will eventually need at least one bathroom break. Public restrooms--especially rest stops--are already unholy and untrustworthy as it is without COVID-19 factored in. This brings me to the next essential item on the list.
3. Hand sanitizer, soap, or (if you've one of the lucky ones) clorox wipes. Personally, I always have this on hand but now more than ever it is essential. You never know when you'll have to touch a gas pump or hit up a toilet with no sink. I can think of at least one stop where this happened in a family restroom. As someone with a niece and nephew under the age of two, disinfecting every surface is a requirement. Regardless of personal hygiene, step up your cleaning game.
4. Directions. This is the one we obviously slept on. I printed out directions but got distracted by my cute girlfriend singing and missed a turn. Or three. Thank goodness for GPS, right? We even got lost trying to get to a starbucks that right was across the street.
5. Research the area you plan on visiting. If you are as scared of the pandemic as some of my loved ones, you'll want to look up statistics to see where to avoid getting out of the car. I kept track of cases by county using the AZ Department of Health Services COVID-19 dashboard and the state and county maps offered by the CDC.
My girlfriend and I (and your friend Steve) went to Prescott in February and we tried to remember where the cheapest gas was and information like that in one of the many small towns we went to would have been helpful.
On top of that, check the weather. This may sound funny considering AZ weather doesn't change often but we lucked out of some storms by doing so. If we had planned to go a day sooner, who knows what would've happened on those slippery mountainous roads (although you may not be able to avoid the 10-mile-long cloud of insects we drove through).
6. Anti-nausea medication (we used Dramamine 24-hour) was a must for my girlfriend and her sister. Car sickness can instantly ruin any trip. Medication in general, even aspirin, chapstick, or bandaids is a good call. You can never be over-prepared.
7. A bag for all the wrappers from your fruit roll up feast. Being in a small car with trash everywhere for hours on end makes for a bad time.
8. Phone charger. You know, for when the paper directions don't align with where you're at in the middle of a forest. Plus, pictures are nice for showing off what you got to see.
There are countless other things to bring on any day trip, but rambling does not make for good reader value. Maybe we were overpacked with a cooler full of fruit, sandwiches,chips and whatever else we craved lately. Based on my experience, comfort food is a necessity on any trip. Overall, going out of town was definitely a nice break and gave us something to feel productive about. The only thing we would probably change is not driving between towns for a total of 12 hours roughly 200 miles from home and ending in cramped Sunday-evening traffic.