Aging Successfully: Six lessons from a pandemic road trip

Last year, when the coronavirus first broke out, I was shocked. However I was not too fearful because at the time my lifestyle was one of a semi-recluse. If I was careful everything would be fine until this “medical storm” passed over.

During that time, I had no idea I would end up driving half-way across the country. I learned many things during my trip. Maybe the most important was, do not do any long distance driving during this pandemic if you can avoid it.

In November of 2020 I left the Olympic Peninsula and drove to southeast New Mexico to be with a special cousin and her family. The driving distance was approximately 2,000 miles.

Life on the road was not normal. Some of the rest areas along the interstate freeways were closed and most restaurants were closed. Fortunately the gas stations were open — though some were out of gas or had strict procedures on usage.

Here are six things I learned from my experiences and from what others shared with me.

• Do extra planning

Make sure you know your route and how long it will take to drive, then allow extra time for the unexpected. Carry more food, water and clothing than you think you will need. Take toilet paper and hand sanitizers with you as well. Plan your trip to drive only during daylight hours. One friend advised me to follow the truck drivers as they know of good places to stop.

• Have technology backup

Carry up-to-date paper maps with you. You may find yourself in places where there is no internet or satellite connections. North of Moab, Utah, there was no satellite coverage so I called my cousin in New Mexico and asked her to navigate me back to the appropriate highway to continue my journey.

Also, many of the places where you could charge your electronics were closed.

• Carry hot water

If you become chilled, drinking warm water is the fastest, and easiest, way to warm the body. Even during the summer it can get very cold at night in the southwest and in the far north. If your radiator overheats it is better to refill it with hot water than with cold.

• Sanitize your lodgings

To be on the safe side I took my own bedding and towels for the few nights I had to stay in motels. Once I signed in to a motel, I checked out my room and disinfected it before taking in my belongings and the dog. I spread out my bedding on top of the motel’s bedspread.

• Learn quarantine policies

Each state has its own policies on dealing with this coronavirus, and some states seem to change their policies often.

• Be respectful

If you are visiting family or friends who must deal with public and the virus is of greater concern for them, quarantine yourself before visiting and/or plan other lodging for the duration of your visit.

Opening up

Since that trip south in November most places have loosened their quarantine policies, and more places are open. Most tourist attractions are still closed, and National Parks have restrictions on usage. Again, if you do not need to travel, don’t.

Remember the old and wise quote, “It is better to be safe than sorry.”

In my October 2020 column I posted another contest – before I knew about the New Mexico trip. You will be happy to know the contest winners’ book is in the editing process and will soon be published.

Email and share with us your pandemic road trip story to I answer every email personally.

Crystal Linn is a multi-published author and an award-winning poet. When not writing, or teaching workshops, Crystal enjoys reading a good mystery, hiking, and sailing with friends and family. See