9 Tips for a Road Trip during COVID-19

travel tips for up north, tips for your next trip to grand marais

As people are starting to venture out of their homes now, I know the big questions is.. to travel or not? After experiencing my first long weekend trip away, I say if you are able to go while being safe and respectful – do it!

Although adventures will look a bit different now, there’s no reason you can’t still have a great time! It may take a bit more pre-planning, but that won’t put a damper on your trip at all! Check out the tips below before going on your next trip in Minnesota (especially if you’re heading north) to have a safe, sane, and fun time! Some are a bit of common sense but hey – just making sure you don’t forget them! 🙂

Check your Lodge’s Linen Policy or Bring Your Own

Some new rental properties and hotels might be updating their policies regarding your next stay so make sure to check beforehand! We stayed with Cascade Vacation Rentals where their new policy is to bring your own linens. We packed our bedding, towels, and a few extras and it actually made it a bit cozier – like we were at home! It was one extra bag that didn’t take up much space at all. Even if hotels or Airbnb’s aren’t doing anything it’s not a bad idea to bring your own too.

Pack PPE Gear

After pre-washing all of our face masks, I packed a handful to bring with! It was nice to interchange them if we’ve been out for a long day. During our trip north, every employee we encountered was wearing a mask, however, it wasn’t so lucky with everyone else. We were respectful, kept our distance, and wore our masks anytime we went into places. We also had a lot of people thank us for wearing masks! I know it’s not fun, but it’s only for a short duration. Having several masks at hand made it easy to always have a clean one on hand. You want to have good hygiene on the road, just as much as you have good hygiene at home.

Bring Hand Sanitizer

While this one might be a bit of common sense, it made our trip so much easier when we had hand sanitizer in every bag! Throw it in your backpack, purse, glove compartment, and suitcase. And use often! I can’t tell you how many times we couldn’t wash our hands if we were out because of so many restrooms closed to the public.

Research Businesses Ahead of Time

I can’t stress this one enough. Don’t expect all your favorite places to be open right now – because they aren’t. Make a list of all the places you love and want to check out then research to see if they are open, what their hours are, how you can order from them, etc. Know the rules of where you’re going. I ended up writing a little cheat sheet to bring along in the car for all the places we love in Duluth and on Highway 61! Pro tip too: Check every outlet you can – ALL of their social channels, website, etc. If you still don’t know – call them! I can’t tell you how many places we visited only updated one of their social sites and none of their other ones!

If it Looks Busy, it’s Probably Busy, and You Should Skip it

This one might be the most self-explanatory. Limit stops and opportunities for contact with others as much as possible. While driving up we saw a few of our favorite stops just crowded with people. It wasn’t worth the stop, treat, or souvenir if we were going to be crowding around so many people, so we decided to forgo our typical visit. While it was unfortunate it wasn’t life-altering!

Be Creative when Shopping Local

There are still several small businesses up north that are closed. However, check-in on these small businesses – they’ve been getting pretty creative with Instagram sales, ordering online for curbside pickup, or even window shopping! When I was in Grand Marais, I ordered online from a few shops and selected curbside pick up. It was the easiest ever! I was able to bring home some goodies I normally would have gotten anyway. Also, these small shops are surviving from our business, so as much as you LOVE shopping in person, consider ordering at least one thing from them if you can. If you come across a business that doesn’t seem like they are doing anything – message them or call them! It may surprise you they are still indeed selling their items and your one sale might make their whole day.

Enjoy the Fresh Air & Bring your Chairs 

Excuse you spring, summer has arrived! The weather has been beautiful lately so take advantage of the prized Minnesota Summer that is here! Opt for wide open spaces to visit. I spent more time outside than I normally do but it was so great to soak up the sun, discover some new hikes, and dine al fresco by the lake! Some places don’t have outdoor seating yet – so pack some chairs and create your own picnic!

Pack your own Groceries

As of June 1, a lot of restaurants will be opening back up if they aren’t already doing takeout. However, consider the people traveling, the lack of resources restaurants may have, and limited hours and staffing. It is helpful if you bring up some of your own groceries if you are able to! While we were up north, some restaurants closed early, had long lines, or even sold out of food! Having a backup lunch or dinner is always handy to have. Most grocery stores in the area are only open for call ahead/ delivery options too so you aren’t able to enter.

Just Be Smart & Respectful

For my final tip, it’s the most straightforward. These are unprecedented times that we aren’t used to yet. If you’re deciding to plan a trip – awesome! However, be patient with businesses as they navigate how to make their business thrive again. Be patient with hotel staff who are working tirelessly to clean and sanitize everything to make you feel safe. Be patient when waiting for your dinner to go, as there is probably only one person in the kitchen. And finally, be respectful of your surroundings and leave it the way you found it.

If you are traveling in the near future I am so excited for you and know you will have a marvelous time! If I’m missing anything that would be crucial for planning a trip right now, let me know!



7 thoughts

  1. Well here’s my second attempt at this … so I’d love if you’d provide a list of places you’d recommend for a family wanting to travel north in the next few weeks. My parents and I generally spend a month (end of May/beginning of June) at our property in Steamboat, CO but due to the pandemic that didn’t work out. We’re wanting to travel though this summer and take some time away from the “city” life. We haven’t lived in Minnesota long so we’re still don’t know the best places to visit up north. If you could recommend cities to visit, places to stay, and restaurants to frequent I’d really appreciate it.
    On a side note, are you excited for MOA to reopen on the first? Have you gotten yourself an appointment to get your hair, nails, etc. taken care of? I personally spent an hour on the phone today trying to get all of those things rescheduled. Happy to support my hair dresser, esthetician, and nail person in anyway I can though, so it was worth it. Well I stop blabbering. Have a great night!

    1. Hi Lindsay! thanks for your patience in my reply! If I could recommend only one place it would be Grand Marais hands down! I have a few posts about them and another one just recently posted!

      As for things opening up, I’m excited for them to open but I will definitely be slowly easing back into the norm. No scheduled appointments yet but maybe soon – I’d really love a manicure, haha!

Leave a Reply