Essentials To Keep You Safe and Happy While Hitting the Road

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a view across scrubby desert of three rustic wooden buildings
Image Credit: Paul Anderson for Hunker

I'm sure everyone has felt the way my husband and I did a few weeks ago: We were bummed as we looked at the calendar and saw the days that we should have been on our family vacation had passed. We were still where we'd been for MONTHS ... at home. My husband and I are definitely not homebodies — we love to travel and needed to get out of town, STAT!


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We knew that flying anywhere was out of the question since we were trying to stay socially distant. We decided that driving somewhere would be our best bet, so we packed up our toddler, our 60-pound pooch, and hit the road to head to beautiful Carbondale, Colorado. (It's a 14 -our drive from Los Angeles with one overnight stay at an Airbnb. )

Because my family loved road-tripping when I was a kid, I learned that it is important to travel smart and small. (Truth: We didn't do so well on the small part this time, but we did our best given the current health climate and having to pack extra supplies.) Here are my smart travel necessities that kept us fed, safe, and comfortable on the road during a pandemic.

Water! Water! Water! I definitely don't drink enough water as it is, but it's important to keep hydrated while driving through the desert. This steel bad boy holds 32 ounces of water and keeps it clean and fresh for days. We each have one and we are able to go a long time without having to refill.

Since we wanted the least amount of stops and touching all the things, we packed all of our food for the drive. It's hard to keep food fresh and from getting wet in a standard ice cooler when on a multi-day road trip. This iceless cooler was key for cold drinks and non-soggy sandwiches.


When it was time to eat, we stopped at a park or campsite far away from people, but where we could still enjoy the sights along the way. This compact and waterproof blanket takes up little space and was big enough for us all to sit comfortably and relax before jumping back on the road.

We encountered both the glaring sun and torrential rain while on the road. This extremely sturdy umbrella has a two-year warranty and is built to withstand winds up to 72 miles per hour, and the down-pours of summer storms.

I know this may be considered a luxury item, but I've always traveled with my pillow. There is nothing worse than an uncomfortable bed and a terrible night's sleep while on vacation. Bringing our pillows not only helped us sleep well, but protected us from sharing germs with strangers.

These glass food storage containers stacked beautifully in our cooler and kept our food organized and easy to grab. Pro tip: Assign a top color to each to member of your group to avoid any fights over who ate all the food!


I love this no-spill alternative to bottles of hand sanitizer. I keep a pouch in every bag for easy access at all times. Even though Airbnb has new cleaning protocols in place, you can never be too careful. When we arrived at our rented house, I wiped down all the touch points (door handles, light switches, and faucets) for our overnight stay.

Wearing masks should be a no-brainer at this point, but we were very surprised to see some gas stations and grocery stores along our journey had "MASKS NOT REQUIRED!!" policies. Of course, we always wear our masks, but were extra careful to sanitize after we visited these establishments.

As I said before, we didn't do too well on the "pack small" part, so we needed extra storage for our car. This top-rated roof bag was simple to strap onto the car without a roof rack, and held all of our travel necessities without sacrificing valuable car space. The best part: It folds up neatly in a compact bag for easy storage when you get home.


Colette is the Hunker House manager. She previously worked for Nickelodeon, Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros., and has produced concerts for The VH1 Foundation. She loves to travel and listening to live music.