By Kareemah Ashiru, hijabiglobetrotter.com
After several months of quarantine, my friends and I were ecstatic to finally dust off our luggage for a Southwest road trip. It was an adventure we had talked about for over a year, but due to the uncertainty of COVID, it took us a while to finally go ahead with our travel plan. These tips below helped make our southwestern road trip full of everlasting memories that we will forever cherish. I believe they will do the same for you too.
Advanced planning: COVID-19 has made travel planning more uncertain than ever before. Always have a plan B or C for unexpected mishaps. My general rule of thumb for arriving at the airport is to do so 2 hours ahead of your flight boarding time (if you live an hour away from the airport) for domestic travel and 3 hours ahead for international travel. But with COVID precautions still lingering and longer security lines, 2.5 hours and 3.5 hours respectively could be a good start.
Book car rental reservations in advance: Road trips are on the rise and so is the demand for car rentals and RVs. Book months in advance for a car or an RV and expect higher than normal price packages.
Drink lots of water: Summer temperatures in the Southwestern region can reach over 110 degrees Fahrenheit and the weather is very dry. According to AP News, “heat is the top weather-related cause of death in the United States.” To stay on the safe side, bring water with you and stay hydrated.
Research food options ahead of time: If you are a Muslim traveler, finding Zabiha food might be harder on a road trip. Most medium- to small-sized U.S cities don’t usually have this option, so it is safer to stick to vegetarian or seafood options. However, if you are visiting Phoenix, Arizona, here are some Zabiha-friendly restaurants to check out:
Be vigilant at all times: Unfortunately, when it comes to outdoor travel or road trips, travelers of color have to be extra vigilant. Not all towns are welcoming to ethnic diversity. Download the GasBuddy app to quickly find the nearest gas station during your trip. Pay close attention to your surroundings and always trust your gut.
Look down—especially when you are outdoors! There are eleven species of venomous snakes and other poisonous species in the Southwestern region. When you visit national parks like the Grand Canyon, always watch where you step.
Support local businesses: Part of responsible travel is to get to know and support the locals, especially those from marginalized communities. Below are some helpful directories of Black- or Native-American-owned businesses to support in Utah and Arizona:
Protect nature: Cryptobiotic crusts, AKA desert glue, is a layer of revered biotic organisms that protect the Southwestern region from drought. In addition, ecosystems need to be protected. Avoid walking on vegetation and be mindful of animals crossing the road when driving through the wilderness. We all have a role to play in keeping our planet sustained.
Check the weather forecast and time change: Driving through states and even within a state can bring a wide range of weather and time zone changes. For example, Utah and Arizona only share the same time zone during part of the year. Check for these changes on a daily basis during your trip.
Share your location: Keep loved ones, family, or friends updated on your location. Google Maps has a location-sharing option you can use for both Android and iOS devices.
Do your research: Learning about the history, the people, food, and culture of your location can make for a more informed and enjoyable trip.
Be prepared to go offline: 24/7 internet connection is not always guaranteed while on a road trip. Go old school, prepare your favorite offline playlist, and whip out that map or travel guidebook when you lose connection.
Choose your travel buddies wisely: You could be traveling for hours and possibly weeks. The time spent with your travel partner could make or break your trip.
Travel smart and enjoy the ride: Equipped with these travel tips, once you embark on your trip, all you have to do is to take it all in, enjoy the moment, and enjoy the ride.
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About Kareemah Ashiru
Kareemah is a travel content creator and founder of Hijabiglobetrotter. Her work includes stories from underrepresented voices and travels from a Muslim’s perspective. She has been featured in NYT, Refinery29, MVSLIM, CondeNast Travel, AirbnbMag, and many more. Besides travel, Kareemah is passionate about languages, especially Spanish. Playing tennis, trying new cuisines, watching travel or mystery-related shows, or chatting with friends over a warm cup of tea, are activities you can find Kareemah doing on a chill day.
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