posts in category travel

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Traveling During Covid-19: How We Chose to Safely Roadtrip

My Idea of a Vacation

One of my absolute favorite things to do is to leave this state and go "on vacation." Now my vacations tend to be short and sweet and busy. While lying on a tropical beach with a cool drink in my hand and just napping to the sound of the waves sounds incredible, when I bring three boys with me, that isn't going to happen.
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How to Travel with Children

Note: I absolutely recommend inexpensive handheld gaming systems which run on batteries. They aren't fancy pants systems, but if your child isn't too into the world of more sophisticateds systems, they will eat away at some of that boring ride time.
This affiliate link is similar to what my boys get to play with on car trips:

South Dakota or BustImage may contain: 2 people, child, outdoor, nature and closeup

So on a whim, because time was passing quickly and I needed to keep spending to a minimum, one of my daughters and I took my boys up to South Dakota to sightsee. This was THE perfect social distancing vacation. For one thing, there aren't that many people in South Dakota! The only time we ran into crowds was at Mt. Rushmore and even there, everyone clumped in their own little groups.
Driving through the Black Hills and Custer State Park was a pretty solitary adventure, as was the Badlands.

Cleaniness in the time of Covid-19

Although using public restrooms is a necessity when traveling some thorough handwashing and hand-sanitizing had us car ready. Keep a box of disinfectant wipes in the car, and you can wipe down handles, steering wheels, and oft-touched surfaces on a regular basis and keep it safe and as germ-free as possible. Now, I didn't have the wipes and periodically poured hand sanitizer on a napkin and wiped down surfaces. It is also recommended to wipe surfaces in your hotel upon arrival.
I definitely recommended stocking up on spray hand-sanitizer to keep in your car!
This affiliate link will have you stocked for months!

Making Memories

We spent three and a half days in the car. While I wouldn't call having three young boys in the back of a sedan relaxing (or quiet-they fight!), we saw some amazing sights and in the end, that is what we will remember.

I will remember the fresh pine and the towering rocks along Needles Highway in the Black Forest. Custer National Park was worth the $20 per car entrance fee to see the wildlife and wide open spaces. My boys were SO excited to see buffalo and they chased prairie dogs across a section of the park.
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The Badlands were simply spectacular. As the quiet warm wind whipped around us, I tried to imagine what it must have been like for the early pioneers traveling by ox and wagon across that desolate landscape. What did they think and feel? Were they in awe or overwhelmed? We went to the Badlands on Memorial Day and the $30 fee was waived, I assume due to the holiday. But how amazing! We spent 3 hours in the park driving, hiking a little, climbing some simple hills. It would absolutely have been worth the money.

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One of the scariest parts of the trip was when we were two hours outside of Rapid City on our way there. A huge thunderstorm had been lighting up the sky for awhile and we drove right into. Lights flashed all around us, nickel (and up to quarter) sized hail fell around us, and we slowed down but kept driving. We saw very few people on this stretch of the highway on a Saturday night. Strangely, we didn't hear any thunder. Eventually we got through the storm and arrived late to our hotel in Hill City.
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Image may contain: 2 people, including Taryn Hessee, people standing, sky, mountain, cloud, outdoor and nature

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The worst part of the trip was an encounter with bedbugs at the dive hotel we stayed in a barely there town in Northwest Missouri on our way home. I felt too tired to continue driving so I stopped at questionable Super 8, and unfortunately, after a couple of hours, my daughter awoke me with bites across her face and back. Thankfully, we hadn't brought much inside and just shook out what we wore and hit the road. Everything was quickly washed and dried once we got home a few hours later.

If I had to do it over again, I would add one day of planning in and get a cooler full of fresh foods. Even kids burn out on McDonald's and gas station food after awhile. Also, we learned my 3 year old gets carsick, and Benadryl does appear to help some with that. I would stock up on the medicine before we hit the hills next time.

Self-Quarantine after the Trip

Overall, though I felt it was the refreshment my soul needed before starting the online classes I am teaching this summer. Seeing new places (well, I had been there before, but it had been 15 years), and just breathing in the air of "elsewhere" was soul-lifting. While we are now 9 days of mostly isolation, and I know the boys are dying to play with the neighbors after the next six days, it was well worth it.

Just Do It!

Depending on which area of the country you live, it is likely there is somewhere beautiful within a day's drive from you. If you can swing a short mini-vacay (or even just a day trip), I highly recommended getting out and doing it, especially those of you who are still working from home like me. With a few precautions you can remain safe and still make some memories!

What about you?

Are you planning a trip this summer? How do you plan to keep safe if so, and if not, what are your plans for beating those summer blues? I would love it if you'd drop me a line and let me know what you think.


I always pack a jacket or sweater when I travel because you never know what surprises Mother Nature will throw at you. While I wore a hunter green light field jacket, this cute vest would be perfect for chilly mountainside memories in the mid-summer!

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