Keenan Blog

Summer Travel: Expect the Unexpected Around the Curve

July 29, 2020

The call was faint and scratchy, but still understandable over the radio.

“Is there anyone listening on this frequency who can relay a message?” said the voice calmly, but tinged with desperation.

It was coincidental that I heard it. Just then, I had tuned to a frequency that happened to be linked at that moment to the antenna this person was barely reaching. I answered his call.

“I’m listening and ready to take your message,” I replied.

This person had been driving with his travel trailer when new state public health orders went into effect requiring any out of state travelers to self-isolate for 14 days. He was less than 150 miles from home, but was waiting out his two-week quarantine in a wilderness area with no cell service. He wanted to let his wife know he was okay and would finally be returning home the next day. I called his wife to deliver the reassuring message and she asked me to let him know that all was well at home and looked forward to seeing him on his return. Then, back on the radio I confirmed to the traveler that his message had been delivered and relayed his wife’s good wishes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely complicated summer 2020 travel in ways that we couldn’t have imagined during summer 2019! The story above is an example of how unusual even a routine road trip can get. Fortunately, this traveler was well stocked with food, water and other supplies, and his call over amateur radio was simply to let his family know he was okay and when to expect him. Others in similar situations could have a vehicle broken down, running low on vital needs or, most ominously, falling ill in a remote location.

Whether hitting the road, for a vacation or business, travel preparations this year are more critical than ever. It’s also important to expect the unanticipated. Current circumstances surrounding the coronavirus are so fluid, change is a given.

The safest approach, unless travel is truly unavoidable, is to stay home. Traveling within your own state is not as much of a challenge, although some regions within states have significantly higher risks and local restrictions may be in effect. Always consult your state health department for the most up to date information.

States are at various stages of reopening, but COVID-19 is still spreading rapidly. Several states are reporting record numbers of new cases and some of those states and localities are reinstituting restrictions and closings because of the increases. Restaurants and lodging establishments are operating at limited capacity and some have been forced to cut back again as the situation changes. Even if you have confirmed reservations at a hotel or motel, it is possible you could find it cancelled when you arrive. A contingency plan – with multiple options – can make a big difference during a trip.

Always check the regulations from the department of health for all states you may be traveling through, not just your ultimate destination. Understand what requirements you will need to comply with on your route and figure out what supplies you will need to take with you to keep you and your family safe. Then think about it…is the trip worth it? If you decide to go ahead with the journey, collect what you may need to be self-sufficient along with some extra for the unexpected.

In general, follow these guidelines to protect yourself along the way:

  • Wear face coverings whenever you are out of your vehicle. On the road, have a supply of masks for every member of your party. If you are not using disposable masks, be sure you have a safe way to store used masks until you are able to wash them properly.
  • Carry extra food, water and medicines. You may find yourself in areas you will not feel safe going to restaurants, getting take out or staying in hotels.
  • When stopping in public facilities, avoid contact with surfaces in restrooms, counters in gas stations and other establishments. If possible, use “touchless” methods of payment for purchases.
  • Keep hand sanitizer (60%+ alcohol) around in case clean sinks for soap and water washing are not available. Clean hands and avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth are even more important on the road.
  • If you find yourself in crowded areas where you cannot maintain social distancing (at least 6 feet from others), especially where others are not wearing masks, the safest approach is to get away from the situation as quickly as you can.
  • Wherever you are going or returning from, observe any self-isolation orders in effect. Many places levy stiff fines and other punitive measures for non-compliance. More importantly, self-isolation protects the community and your family members from exposure.

Extra preparation for a trip with coronavirus risks is absolutely essential to deal with the unexpected and avoid serious consequences. Taking to the open road this summer is sure to be memorable, but our wish is that your memories of the journey will only be happy ones.


About Tim Crawford
Tim Crawford is an independent consultant and contributing writer for Keenan. After a 21 year career at Keenan, where he served as the Vice President of Marketing Communication, Tim relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico and became a freelance writer. In his spare time, he is an amateur radio operator and a volunteer storm spotter for the National Weather Service.