Independence Day weekend approaches and travel may be on your mind
By AAA of Western and Central New York
Independence Day is almost here and many travelers whose plans have been altered due to the impact of COVID-19 may be looking for local destinations to quench their pent-up desire to travel. AAA’s travel forecast was released last week (June 25) and predicted road trips are the summer travel trend this year with motorists making up 97% of all summer travel.
AAA wants to ensure travelers are aware of the extra planning and precautions they must take before and during their trip. AAA offers these tips for safe summer travel.
•Planning your trip:
√ Planning is more important than ever. When looking for places to stay, search for hotels with free or ﬂexible cancellation policies.
√ Check the CDC’s COVID-19 data tracker, municipal and state health departments and local news for updates on coronavirus cases and continue to do so while on the road.
√ Consider taking your car into a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop and ask them to do a trip check. To find one near you, visit AAA.com/autorepair.
√ Make sure your AAA membership is up to date so you have the peace of mind if you have car troubles while you are on your trip.
√ Call ahead to understand capacity limits and, where possible, make reservations in advance. This is highly recommended for any local or theme park attractions you plan to visit.
√ Be sure to pack face coverings, gloves, cleaning supplies like disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer, and thermometer.
√ If you can’t find gloves, bring some plastic sandwich bags. They can serve as an effective barrier between your hand and a fuel pump handle, doorknob, hotel remote control, etc.
√ Also, consider packing extra snacks to reduce the need to stop at restaurants – which may not be open or might be operating at reduced capacity.
•Restrooms and rest stops:
√ TripTik.AAA.com can help you determine which rest-stops, gas stations and hotels are open along your route.
√ If you need to use a restroom, try not to touch anything. Use gloves or a plastic sandwich bag as barriers between your skin and surfaces. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when you leave.
•Restaurants on the road:
√ Use TripTik.AAA.com to find restaurants that are open along your way. Be aware that seating may be more limited – leading to longer wait times – because of reduced table capacity.
√ If you choose to eat-in, consider wiping down your table with a disinfectant wipe. Use hand sanitizer after interacting with servers or cashiers.
√ Drive-thru or curbside pick-up might be quicker and will reduce contact with other people.
√ Always call ahead to ensure your hotel is open and to ask about any restrictions or changes to the check-in process. It’s likely that the hotel has reduced the face-to-face interactions with guests.
√ When you check into your room, remember to wipe down surfaces with disinfecting wipes. Some surfaces to pay special attention to: light switches, door knobs, remote controls, room phones.
√ Look for hotels that have earned AAA’s Best of Housekeeping badge. These hotels consistently demonstrate a commitment to the highest standards of cleanliness.
•On the road:
√ Travel with all necessary travel documentation, including health insurance cards.
√ Pack snacks, water, disinfectant spray or wipes and thermometer.
√ Find the best gas price by using your AAA app.
√ Sign-up for Fuel Rewards Program. AAA members can save up to 5 cents per gallon when filling up at participating Shell branded stations across the U.S.
√ Get rest before you hit the road. Drivers should not rely on their bodies to provide warning signs of fatigue and should instead prioritize getting plenty of sleep (at least seven hours) in their daily schedules. For road trips, drivers should also:
√ Have an emergency kit in your vehicle. Consider this list of things to include and tips on where to stow them. Be sure to replenish any depleted items as needed.
√ Rental-car companies have adopted extra sanitization measures in the wake of COVID-19. Hertz, for example, has introduced Hertz Gold Standard Clean, an enhanced vehicle disinfectant and sanitization process.
√ Customers should research or ask companies what they have done to sanitize vehicles. For extra peace mind, use disinfecting wipes to wipe down door handles, steering wheels, shifters and control panels.
√ AAA provides member benefits through Hertz, and you can book on our website or with a AAA travel agent.
•Air or rail travel:
√ Pack face masks, gloves, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer for the airport and while on the plane. TSA has announced passengers are allowed one liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags until further notice.
√ Wipe down your space – seat, tray table, armrest, seatbelt, screen, etc.
√ Purchase beverages and snacks once through security and before boarding. Many airlines are suspending in-flight beverage service. Amtrak café service still offers food service, but as carryout only. Seating in the café will be closed.
√ Passengers should check with their carrier for details about face coverings, boarding process and seating arrangements.
√ If traveling by rail consider, where available, private rooms for both short and long-distance trips.
√ Continue to practice social distancing on trains and planes.
As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.