My husband and I drove through 18 states in 4 days with our two-year-old to relocate from California to Maine we only came into contact with 10 people and spent 852

Get the Full StoryMary Kearl

Mary Kearl is a professional writer and digital marketer who spends time traveling the world with her husband and young child.

In mid June, Kearl and her husband decided to leave California and set out for her parent's house in Maine to be together to wait out the coronavirus pandemic.

Over four days, they drove 3,190 miles across 18 different states, only stopping for gas, food, and hotels, and were careful to stay safe and avoid close contact with strangers.

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Like nearly everyone else on the planet, I wasn't prepared for the current global health crisis. At the start of the pandemic, I was so busy trying to absorb what was happening that I couldn't imagine relocating in the midst of so much uncertainty.

And yet, 91 days after sheltering in place, that's exactly what I, my husband, and our toddler set out to do traveling 3,190 miles and 48 hours across the country.

The fact was, my family's circumstances, like millions of others, changed dramatically between the start of the year and the spring.

My dad lost his job, and, with hiring freezes across the board, another one wasn't likely to be in sight for some time. Up until losing his job, he was planning to help us be able to buy our first home by cosigning for our mortgage, since we as freelancers otherwise would otherwise have to show two years of income to apply for bank financing and we only have one year to show. Instead, after losing his job, my parents ended up seeking relief for their own house payments and are now in mortgage deferment with their monthly mortgage payments delayed until the fall.

While we never intended to move during the middle of a pandemic, that's ultimately what we ended up doing putting our plans of buying a home in southern California on hold to wait out the uncertainty with my parents and help them with some of their living expenses as they too wait out their own uncertainty.

Since I hadn't ventured outside our neighborhood, let alone the state of California, since mid-March and had only been inside another building other than where we lived a total of five times over those three months possible thanks to being a full-time freelancer I had no idea what to expect.

Would the roads be crowded? Would we be able keep a safe distance from others? Would people wear masks? What would it be like staying in a hotel again?

With the community we were leaving, Kern County, California, having reported 3,281 known cases and 53 deaths as of the day we left, and several states across the country experiencing rises in cases, we were very mindful of the risk of potentially unknowingly spreading or catching the virus. We took every precaution to avoid exposing anyone or getting exposed.

We planned everything so our toddler would never come into contact with anyone but ourselves the whole trip, something my husband and I were successful in pulling off by taking turns going to the bathroom at rest stops, only one of us picking up food from restaurants, and only one of us checking in at the hotel lobby. Of course this was possible to do since our child is not yet potty trained, and we handled diaper changes in the back seat of our car.

Here's what we experienced while driving through 18 states or 36 of the country and the breakdown of the roughly 852 we spent on this road-trip-meets-move over the course of four days.

Total trip costs: 852.07

Pre-travel expenses: 100 on snacks, toilet paper just in case , and cleaning supplies

Travel expenses: 752.07

Hotels: 329.04 three nights

Food: 131.36 dinner each day, over four days

Gas: 229.78

Tolls: 13.50

Because we had already been living as digital nomads, traveling through South America and throughout the US in 2019 as I launched my freelance career, we didn't have any typical moving expenses. Since we had already donated or gifted our furniture and friends and family were already kindly storing some of our personal items like our bikes, photos, and other keepsakes , all we had to do was transport ourselves, our car, and the suitcases we'd been living out of for over a year and a half.Day 1: Kern County, California to Grand Junction, Colorado

Courtesy of Mary Kearl

Distance traveled: 800 miles

Total spent: 205.87

Hotel: 112.65

Food: 29.98

Gas: 63.24

On our first day on the road Sunday, June 14 one of the first highway signs we passed read: "Your actions save lives. Stop COVID-19." We also passed through one of the world's biggest creators of wind-powered electricity, the Tehachapi Mountains, known as the birthplace of wind power on this continent and home to some 4,731 wind turbines.

The next stretch of the drive, we saw more Joshua Trees than people. As we hit Las Vegas, which officially opened for business June 4, we expected to see more cars.

Mary Kearl

We did come across the first traffic jam of the trip, as drivers headed in the opposite direction slowed to a stop, a sign we took to mean that since it was on a Sunday around noon weekenders from visiting from LA and southern California were heading back home, after the area's second weekend of being open for tourists.

Fifteen miles outside of Vegas, we stopped on the side of the road for a bathroom break a precaution to avoid the crowds we'd just passed.

We passed through Arizona and entered Utah before taking our next rest stop in Beaver County, which, when we visited, had had zero known cases of COVID-19. It was like traveling back in time, seeing workers and patrons in both a local gas station with about a half dozen guests and a restaurant with about 15 dine-in guests with no masks on.

When we made it to our final destination, a Holiday Inn in Grand Junction, the hotel front desk agent wore a mask and avoided touching my husband's ID and credit cards. Our toddler and I went into the hotel through a side entrance to our first-floor room to avoid encountering anyone in the lobby and the need for taking the elevator.

Day 2: Grand Junction, Colorado to Topeka, Kansas

Mary Kearl

Distance traveled: 781 miles

Total spent: 178.16

Hotel: 107.28

Food: 19.59

Gas: 51.29

One of the first signs of the morning told us, "Stay home, save a life." On day two, we climbed up and up and up among some of the most popular mountains of Colorado, reaching a peak of nearly 11,000 feet elevation, with the area's ski resort towns' tourists largely replaced by road construction that caused traffic from outside Vail to Denver to come to a grinding halt for nearly two hours. Fortunately, Google Maps suggested an alternative route for us, and we were spared the addition to our already 11-and-a-half-hour-long drive.

We stopped to use the bathroom and get gas car among the ski towns in Summit County, CO, where the area had had 265 cases and one death recorded as of the time of our arrival. At the gas station where we stopped, everyone wore masks.

By the afternoon, my parents were texting us asking if we could stop somewhere along our route to get tested for COVID-19, because if we and they didn't want to self isolate for 14 days, per Maine's travel guidelines we would need to have negative test results that showed we don't have the virus.

We'd told them we didn't want to get tested while on the road because, from what we'd read, if we were to get infected while traveling, it could take about three days from the point of that exposure to COVID-19 for the virus particles to actually reach the levels needed to be detected.

In other words, if we wanted to really know if we'd been infected at any point on our trip, we should wait until three days after our arrival. The catch was that tests in Maine were only available to state residents with symptoms.

See the rest of the story at Business InsiderSee Also:A day in the life of a COVID-19 tester in South Carolina, where new cases surged to a record-breaking daily high this weekCalifornia just reported a record number of new coronavirus cases and it could roll back its reopening if the surge continuesA California chef just signed the lease on his first restaurant during a pandemic here's why he has no doubts about the decisionREAD MORE: My husband and I left our full-time jobs to travel the world for 6 months and only spent 288 from our savings. Here's how we found remote work.

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