7 Genius Group Travel Hacks for Your Next Road Trip
Whether it’s a college reunion, a romantic couples’ getaway or even a bachelorette weekend, group trips can be tricky. Add in the complication of COVID: wearing masks indoors, sticking to socially distanced activities and checking which restaurants do takeout and which do outdoor dining, and you’re basically a one-woman travel agency. Luckily, we pulled together seven genius travel hacks for road tripping with your squad in the middle of a pandemic.
1. Coordinate Packing Lists
Limited car trunk and suitcase space means you should be divvying up who brings what. Talk beforehand about who will pack small appliances like the hair dryer, the curling iron and the straightener (you really only need one of each). If you want to get really coordinated, take it a step further and assign a bottle of hand sanitizer to one person, shampoo to another, and car snacks to someone else.
2. Don’t Forget the Toilet Spray
While sharing a big AirBnb is the most fun way to go, the lack of privacy is always kind of concerning, especially when it comes to the bathroom situation. But discretion is possible when pack a handy travel-size bottle of toilet freshener, like Air Wick’s V.I.P. Pre-Poop spray ($6), for life’s smellier moments. Just spritz the mini bottle into the toilet bowl three times before you go to trap odors under the water's surface and keep the group commode smelling as fresh as the day you checked in.
3. Use an App for Splitting Expenses
We’ve all been there: You volunteer your card for a meal and vow to do the math later. Except, the last thing you’ll feel like doing when you’re back to reality is hunting for that receipt and requesting cash from your pals. Apps like Splitwise and Tab make it a breeze to calculate what each traveler owes. In Tab, simply snap a pic of the itemized receipt, then tap to select the items that are yours—like the glass of pinot and burrata flatbread. The app will then calculate your total and let you decide how to pay (like Venmo or PayPal). Splitwise does the same, but can also keep track of other expenses, like gas or toll fees, in one easy-to-decipher list that’s shared with your whole group upfront.
4. Keep Social Distancing in Mind When Booking
Good news! Because we're living in COVID times, traveling in a car (and avoiding mass transportation and airports) is definitely the least anxiety-inducing way to travel. But be sure to think ahead: Pack extra masks in case someone loses theirs, book socially distanced activities like hiking and walking tours and call ahead to restaurants to make sure they accommodate outdoor dining. You should also communicate with the hotel or AirBnb ahead of time about what you're expected to bring, since many places are asking travelers to pack their own bed linens, towels and cleaning supplies as an added precaution.
5. But Leave Time for Spontaneity
Remember: Building in down time is crucial to a successful trip, especially with more than a couple of people. Not only do certain activities always take longer than expected (especially when you're calling ahead to see which places are still open and sanitizing your hands and belongings All. The. Damn. Time.), but leaving enough time for everyone to do what they want, break off into smaller groups or have a free afternoon is essential to a happy and enjoyable sojourn. It’s all about flexibility, people.
6. Create a Shared Album in Advance
You already know you’ll be taking loads of photos of your fab vacation (because, “pics or it didn’t happen”?). But instead of Air-dropping them willy-nilly to each other whenever you get around to it, start the trip with a designated photo album for everyone to use from the get-go. This way, you don’t have to pester anyone for not sending that group shot when you’re ready to ‘Gram. (Yea, the one you looked particularly amaze in).
7. Hit Up the Local Grocery Store
Traveling in large groups often means a hefty bar tab or restaurant bill, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Once you arrive at your destination, pinch more than a few pennies by donning your mask and stocking up on booze and snacks from the local market or grocery store. Pregame dinner with a glass of wine instead of springing for bottles of the same stuff at dinner, but for double (or even triple) the shelf price.