Our Tuesday series today features preparedness, as we are on the brink of spring breaks, summer vacations and the welcome return to normalcy that we’ve all been craving for quite some time.
Most travel preparations focus on airports, airline travel and hotels, but an often-overlooked area is equally important as well: Rental cars are now in short supply and high demand! Plan ahead to secure access to this format of mobility if ridesharing does not best fit the nature of the trip(s) you’ve planned.
As citizens of the planet who are now all too aware of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting changes it brought about, we’re well-versed in social distancing, vaccinations, masks and hand sanitizers.
However, once a tourist takes the keys to a rental car, other hidden dangers abound!
Every adult renting a vehicle should make it a priority to prepare the vehicle to be as safe and hygienic as possible for the duration of the vacation. Here are some key areas to consider:
• The average rental car steering wheel often has over 500 kinds of bacteria on it, markedly more than a typical public toilet seat has.
• Take the same approach you’d take in a hotel room, where sanitized wipes are handy to clean and disinfect doorknobs, sink handles, television remotes, light switches and any other areas touched regularly and often.
• In a rental car, spend time disinfecting the steering wheel thoroughly, and then move to the gearshift, radio knobs and door handles. The same principle applies to the “cocoon space” a rental car provides, similar to that of a hotel room. Pack enough quality disinfectant wipes with you so that you’ll be able to give your rental car a deep and thorough cleaning in less than five minutes. Those few minutes at the top of your trip can make the difference between a wonderful vacation and one that faces health challenges days down the line.
• For those travelers with children, be especially aware of child car seats in rental cars. For obvious reasons, this is one the most dangerous spots inside the vehicle, especially due to spilled food particles that can begin to mold, particularly in the summer heat. Rental car companies often don’t specifically clean child car seats between rentals, and for those that do, it’s unlikely they clean as thoroughly as a diligent parent would. Take special care to disinfect this area completely before you slide your precious young one into this seat to be buckled in.
• For those who are nonsmokers, check to see if you can request a nonsmoking car so that your first smell inside the vehicle you’ll be using for a week or longer is not the stench of tobacco.
• Finally, clean and disinfect all cup holders and seatbelts. Along with the inside door handles, these areas are the ones that collect the most bacteria other than the aforementioned No.1 area: the steering wheel.
Once you’ve taken these precautions, your peace of mind should be greatly elevated, and you’ll soon focus with confidence on the scenery around you.