Cabin Fever’s Got Americans Giving New Meaning to the Term ‘Getaway Car’

maserati-granturismo-2018-sunday-drives-coronavirus.jpeg 2018 Maserati GranTurismo | photo by Steven Phamm

We’ve heard of a getaway car — but this is something else entirely. With terms like quarantine and shelter-in-place now part of our everyday vernacular amid the nation’s effort to flatten the COVID-19 curve, the collective case of coronavirus cabin fever millions of Americans are coming down with as we endure stay-at-home orders is unavoidable — but evidently not untreatable, as research shows.

Related: Ride-Sharing Drops, Online Car Shopping Increases in Coronavirus’ Wake

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People who’ve had their fill of family time, solitude or Netflix binges are absconding to their personal cars for a little getaway. Be it to go on a contact-free family outing, get a little space from the spouse and children, or find a private place to office out of, motorists are stealing away to their getaway vehicle and rediscovering the romantic notion of their car as a symbol of freedom.

Here are the three major trends in creative car escapes reported to in a survey of nearly a thousand respondents, nearly evenly divided between parents/caregivers and non-parents:

1. Vehicular Vacay

Nearly 60% of parents and 45% of non-parents have resurrected the leisurely Sunday drive as an activity to get out of the house, according to data. Can’t take that spring family road trip you were looking forward to? Well, you can still grab some snacks and take a scenic drive through the backroads, have a singalong, play some travel games and just enjoy the change of scenery same as you would if you were on your way to Aunt Sally’s — and you’ll be able to return to your own bed that night rather than that uncomfortable pullout sofa sleeper.

2. Kicking the Kids to the Curb

More than half of parents (53%) admitted to using their cars as an opportunity to get away from their homes and kids. Look, we know you love your brood and your baby mama/daddy, but being cooped up with them 24/7 is enough to drive anyone to … drive. Suddenly, that return trip to the supermarket to get that item you forgot from your spouse’s shopping list doesn’t seem like such an inconvenience, and that Honey-do list can’t be long enough.

3. Career Mobility

According to the survey, as many adjust to a work-from-home lifestyle, more than 1 in 4 Americans are using their cars as a makeshift office — particularly parents. Working moms and dads have had to adopt all sorts of measures to balance work from home with homeschooling their children or babysitting their very young ones, from split schedules to simply embracing the chaos. Officing out of your car isn’t the worst idea in the world: First and foremost, in this hyperconnected modern world, it provides privacy for all those Zoom meetings you’re having (this guy knows what I’m talkin’ about). But also, depending on how lucrative the business you’re in is and the car you drive — check this one out — it could be a prettaaay, prettaaay good place to schlep out your 9-to-5.

mazda-mazda3-2019-01-dynamic--exterior--profile--red--water.jpg 2019 Mazda3 | photo by Christian Lantry

But Before You Go …

… Keep in mind that a stay-at-home order in your state or community means just that: You’re supposed to stay at home unless you really need to leave. And while exercise, dog walking, grocery shopping and picking up medications are generally considered essential activities and exempt from orders, going on a drive for pleasure or just for the heck of it (could you have had those groceries delivered?) is probably not in the spirit of the order, if even to the letter of the law.

While we at wouldn’t presume to advise you on what is an acceptable excuse to drive your car versus a blatant rationalization, what we will say is, be responsible. Thoughtfully consider your area’s order as well as the health and safety of those around you. Perhaps it’s as innocuous as taking the long way to the pharmacy, or rolling your little family Sunday drive into your weekend trip to the supermarket or scheduled car-maintenance visit — just remember that if you break down on the roadside and need a tow or your kids can’t wait to use the bathroom until you get home, your family and those around them are now at increased risk for exposure.

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Keeping Your Car Fit

One thing that’s not explicitly covered as an essential activity yet decidedly not a rationalization is taking  your car out for some exercise — you and Fido aren’t the only ones who need to stretch their legs. Auto maintenance is universally listed as an essential activity, but like the cliche says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Sitting unused can allow your car’s battery to die within as little as two weeks, and rust can begin forming on your brake rotors in as little as a couple of days if parked outside. Taking your car for a drive is a defensible way not only of getting out of the house for half an hour or so, but of preventing the need to go to a dealership or service garage for maintenance.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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