AS I PLAN my family’s holiday road trip in a few weeks’ time, my mind keeps turning to The Oregon Trail. Just like in the game (and the lives of actual early travelers), we’ll be traversing several Western states, dodging deadly illness, and rationing food. But if I’m honest, gamifying my thoughts has been an escapist treat, a way to not face my true fears of hurtling down the road in a thin steel box for days on end.
The reality is scary. The pandemic may be entering its worst phase yet, with coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surging all over the map. But the social cost of keeping families apart is rising too. My parents are elderly, and these many months of isolation and postponed medical appointments have walloped their health. They haven’t even met their youngest grandchild. Finding a way to see them—safely—has become one of my highest priorities.
For me that means a multiday journey down Interstate 80. Some road-tripping advice hasn’t changed from the summer, when cooped-up travelers sprinted for the closest campsite. But winter weather—and a surge in case loads—adds complications. Here’s my checklist for traveling long distances while limiting your chances of spreading or contracting the virus.