By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life
During the past year and a half, we’ve come to think of “safety” as nearly synonymous with COVID precautions. But now that vaccines are widely available and the pandemic is easing somewhat (at least in the United States), it’s a good time to remind ourselves that safety extends beyond wearing masks and social distancing.
Most of us, Boomers included, had never experienced the kind of global crisis the pandemic triggered. Sure, we’d heard our elders talk about World War II and the Great Depression, but we hadn’t had to weather anything quite that severe, ourselves.
COVID changed all that, upending our way of life more completely than any event since the Second World War, and leaving more Americans dead than in that conflict, Korea, and Vietnam combined.
Coming out of WWII, our parents and grandparents enjoyed new prosperity and hit the road in record numbers. But they faced new threats to their safety, too. The Cold War led them to build bomb shelters, and more cars on the road meant more accidents, which led to things like speed bumps and seat-belt laws.
Then what kind of steps can we take to stay safe today, as we, too, hit the road again, following our own crisis? Here are a few ideas.
Choose the right vacation for you
Ask yourself whether you want a relaxing time at the beach or an active summer adventure. Then ask yourself where you want to go. You’ll have a broad selection of options, from the Hawaiian Islands to historic New England to a trip to the South, land of Georgia peaches and Cajun cooking.
If you enjoy golfing and lakeside recreation, Lake Oconee in Georgia might be just the ticket. Halfway between Atlanta and Augusta, it also offers everything from fishing and hiking, to canoeing and an air-rifle range.
Or you can just relax by the lake and take in the beautiful scenery. Even though COVID is now less of a concern, more remote getaways still offer added safety, along with privacy and some great scenic views.
Have the proper technology on board
Whether you’re heading out in a car, RV, or other mode of transportation, be sure you have the right technology with you to get where you’re going, keep yourself safe, and stay in contact with the outside world.
Get there easily
Take along an emergency kit just in case. You might not think of tools as “technology,” but they can sure come in handy when your tech breaks down. Things like a tire pressure gauge and other diagnostic tools for your oil pressure, antifreeze, and exhaust system can help you make sure you’re good to go.
A reliable GPS can show you the safest, quickest route and help you avoid road construction and accidents (toll roads, too!). A good weather app can steer you clear of summer storms, flash flooding, sweltering heat, and dangerous weather conditions — or at least tell you when it’s a good idea to stop for the night and let the storm pass.
Keep yourself safe
Think about investing in roadside assistance. It’s available through most insurance companies, as well as RV clubs. Having roadside assistance can keep you from getting stranded somewhere, especially if your car breaks down and the repairs aren’t something you’re comfortable doing yourself.
If you plan to go off the grid in your RV, it’s also a good idea to have a backup power source. Consider a portable generator to make sure your phone stays charged and the lights stay on.
Stay in contact
Before you leave, give a copy of your itinerary to a trusted family member or friend and let them know how to get in touch with you. Then, check in a couple of times during your trip.
Take an extra cellphone charger and adapter with you just in case. And if you’re going far from civilization, invest in a Wi-Fi booster to ensure you’ve got a signal. A portable solar charger and CB radio are other good options to keep in mind.
Be prepared financially
If you’re planning a vacation, start setting aside money for your trip well in advance, a little each month. Open a bank account as a vacation fund, and calculate how much you think you’ll need. This will require a little research: Look into what gas prices and room rates are likely to be when you’re planning to go — these can change significantly from season to season.
Before you leave, make sure you have access to a payment method other than cash. While many Boomers have embraced debit and credit cards, there are many who still have neither. Others only use them in emergencies. But the world is changing, and many vendors and accommodation providers no longer accept cash or check.
If you’re worried about security, credit cards are better than debit cards, as you won’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges. Even if your credit isn’t in great shape, a secured credit card, guaranteed by a deposit, can give you access to a credit line. Plus, it builds your credit along the way.
As COVID begins to fade into the background, safety remains essential. But safety means more than just steering clear of the virus. It’s still out there, and you still need to be smart — hand-washing and sanitizing are good ideas, with or without a pandemic. But staying safe doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time… so you most definitely should!