According to the latest news from the American Automobile Association, despite spiking increases in Covid-19 infections throughout the United States, around 50 million people are preparing to travel for the upcoming 2020 Thanksgiving holidays. Furthermore, 95% of those people (around 47.5 million) are expected to travel by car – a good choice according to a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Dr. Anne Rimion. Dr. Rimion says that, even though there is small risk of catching the coronvirus on an airplane, there are other matters to consider such as going through security with hundreds of other people, waiting in lines to board with those same people, and let’s not even get into using public toilets. She adds, “You also cannot control who you sit next to on a plane, which also dictates your risk.” As a result, the good doctor recommends that, if you’re traveling this year, driving is definitely the better option. If your one of those who simply can’t imagine a Thanksgiving dinner without extended family and are one of the 95% who planning on driving to be with them, here are a few tips that we’ve put together to help you safely share the season with loved ones. The Same Rules Apply Even though many of us have been either self quarantining or working from home for what seems like forever, the world outside hasn’t fallen into some Mad Maxian post-apocalyptic after world. In fact, though it’s a little less noisy outside these days and the air a little cleaner than it was pre-pandemic, the same traffic rules that applied then apply now. There are still speed limits and it’s still a great idea to practice safe driving. This means that Main Street USA is not your very own personal Autobahn. State and local laws are still in place, so drive like it. The only rules that may have changed are those related to stay-at-home orders which are different for each state; thus, if you’re traveling to Poughkeepsie from Miami for Thanksgiving, better check up on the state and local laws of both your destination and the states you’ll be traveling through as well. Packing It Up Once you’ve found out what’s going on where you’re going, it’s time to start packing. Be sure to include things you’re going to need along the way for keeping both your hands and the surfaces you touch with those hands clean. This packing hand sanitizer, disinfecting wet wipes, disposable gloves, sealable disposable plastic bags and tissues. Don’t forget to bring masks for the times you need to go indoors or when you’re in outdoor spaces where social distancing is not an option. Also bring drinks and snacks to minimize your need to stop for refreshments along the way. Filling It Up Whether you’re driving a couple of hours or a couple of days, chances are you’re eventually going to need gas. And unless you live in New Jersey, Oregon, or (for some odd reason) the town of Huntington, New York, you’re probably going to have to pump your own gas. The important thing to remember here is that good hygiene on the road is just as essential as it is at home or work. Pay for your gas with cards instead of cash. This way there’s no need for any face time with the cashier and other customers within the store and you can simply wipe your card down with a disinfectant wipe after you use it – something you can’t do with cash. Health professionals suggest also that you wear disposable gloves while pumping gas. Once your finish, take off the gloves outside of your car and throw them in the nearest trash receptacle. If there is no receptacle, seal them the gloves outside your car or seal them in a plastic bag for disposal later if a trash can isn’t available). Bathroom Breaks As your travel this great nation to your holiday destination, you’re more than likely going to find that some of the public restrooms and rest stops you’ll encounter on the way are closed. This could be due to state regulations, company policy or simply a lack of employees to man the stations due to quarantine restrictions. Whatever the reason, when you really must stop because you really have to go, be especially vigilant when it comes to keeping sanitizing. Wash your hands and use a paper towel to shield your hands afterwards if you have to touch the faucet or door handle on the way out. As many highway rest areas are “touchless” these days, meaning sensors detect when to turn the faucets on and off or even when to flush the toilet, they are ideal places to stop; however, as touchless as they are, it’s wouldn’t hurt to still wash your hands anyway. Dining Out If you plan on stopping to eat, keep in mind that, although many restaurants are open for dine-in service, there may be a limit on the amount of guests allowed inside. They may also offer outdoor seating as an alternative – something to consider if you’re heading towards colder climates this time of year. Nevertheless, most places these days are only offering take-out service, or as in the case with many fast food restaurants, drive through service. The CDC actually recommends the latter rather than dining in as, even with tables socially distanced six feet apart, dining in an enclosed area is still pretty risky. Catching Some Z’s Planning on staying in a hotel or motel during your trip? Although most of the big chains are open, it’s still a good idea to call ahead and confirm your reservations. Many of the hotels have even implemented their own enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols, while also encouraging social distancing throughout their establishment. Many are even switching to a contactless check-in and check-out, keyless entry (where you can use your smartphone to unlock your room), and moving lobby seating to keep guests apart. Even with all of this cleaning and sanitizing, Stuckey’s still recommends that you use your own sanitizing supplies as well, especially on “high-touch” surfaces in your room like doorknobs and drawer handles; the TV remote and bathroom fixtures; and any surfaces on which you’ll set your personal belongings, like the area around the bathroom sink. If your planning on staying for a couple of nights or more, ask what the housekeeping schedule is and see if they’ll allow you to forgo daily cleaning. This way you not only control your own sanitization, but you also have a say in how many people come in and out of your room. Watch Out for Both Walkers and Cyclists Because some things that used to seem so routine have now become monumental tasks, many people have opted to travel by bike or on foot, especially in urban regions of the country. This means take care when passing a bicyclist or pedestrian by slowing down and giving them plenty of space to do their thing. Be especially cautious of cyclists suddenly turning, crossing intersections, and entering the road from hidden driveways. Also Watch Out for Road Construction and Workers While you’ve been working from home, road construction workers have had no choice but to continue to work outside. Add to that the fact that the United States sees an average of 773 deaths a year happen because of work zone crashes according to the Federal Highway Association. Do your part in trying to lessen the numbers of preventable deaths by slowing down when approaching a construction zone. Just as there were traffic delays in the pre-pandemic days, there are going to be delays in the post-pandemic world as well. Be patient, pay attention to possible traffic pattern changes and obey the flaggers. Just like you social distance when traveling outside, social distance yourself in traffic by giving yourself a seven-second following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to avoid rear-ending them if they suddenly stop. One more thing: Our founder W.S. Stuckey, Sr., once said, “Every traveler is a friend”, so if you have to make a stop along your way, well friends, why not make it a stop at one of our Stuckey’s locations? Stretch your legs and browse through our wide selection of fine pecan candies including our signature Stuckey’s pecan log rolls. Grab some snacks for the road ahead like our Pecan Sampler that’s chock full of flavors like Toasted & Salted, Honey Roasted, Vanilla Bourbon, Honey Cinnamon and Honey Glazed Pecans. Or try some of the new flavors of from our Front Porch Pecans line including Unsalted, Sea Salt, and Maple. And don’t forget that Stuckey’s is also a great place for our road weary friends to find some last-minute gifts for the holidays. Beside our wide selection of candies, their also our branded Stuckey’s merchandise like our retro inspired t-shirts and caps. And what coffee lover wouldn’t appreciate a mug festooned with one of our classic billboards waiting for them under the tree? No Stuckey’s along your way? No problem. All of this Stuckey’s goodness and more can be delivered right to your door, just in time for the holidays. See stuckeys.com for more! Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!