Rving during the Coronavirus Pandemic: Challenges, Triumphs, and Considerations
In the last couple of years, more and more people have been adopting the RV way of life. However, the freedom of living and travel that was once alluring is quickly becoming dreadful in the face of the corona pandemic.
Campsites are shutting down, and governments don’t seem to have van-lifers and RV dwellers included in their corona guidelines and strategies. This could be the end of a culture. Even so, Rving is all about adapting and triumphing over challenges.
*Please note as the Covid-19 rules and regulations change daily, always call ahead for openings/closings of RV Parks, National Parks, and State Parks.
COVID-19 challenges for RV Dwellers
1. Van-lifers make a ‘negligible ‘segment of the population.
As a result, no government or health agency has taken the time to create custom guidelines for them. There are stay at home orders, but how does that apply to RVers? Campsites are shutting en masse, and quite often, the police come around to tell you to “go home,” not knowing that your vehicle is your home.
2. It’s hard to stay inside your car all day.
The stay at home order is being interpreted literarily by law enforcers in certain regions. That means that RV dwellers really have to stay inside their vehicles. It beats the whole meaning of Rving, which should be about the great outdoors. And it might be easier when you are alone as an adult, but kids—it’s hard to tether them inside the vehicle for the entire day.
3. it’s scary. Most campers just want to find a place and lock it down.
Most of them are conscious about their health and want to help stop the pandemic. That means no more sunsets, beaches, and wildlife. Staying put in a small house is a big sacrifice. And it requires mobile homeowners to find a safe place to stay for longer, which is a challenge in itself.
4. Parks and campsites have been closed to everyone.
Things are bad in Europe and countries with higher corona infection rates. All public spots are closed. For a van lifer/ RV dweller who has no place to call home other than their vehicle, his/her life is, in other words, is ‘outlawed.’ In states like California, Florida, Colorado, and 26 others, campgrounds remain closed. Police are pushing RV dwellers around.
In their mind, everyone has a brick and stick home that they can go to. A public place is not a home, that’s what they believe, and that’s what someone needs to address.
In the early days of the outbreak, many people turned to Rving as a way to escape the pandemic.
The national government encouraged recreation as a way to successfully implement social distancing. In the period between Feb 1st and March 11th, for instance, camping grounds in California state parks had 77 % more reservations compared to a year ago. But things started changing when closures began around mid-march to combat the pandemic. Now, Rving falls among “non-essential travel” in most state guidelines.
5. Dispersed camping is allowed in some public camps at this time, but that has a two weeks ultimatum.
In the states, some parks and campgrounds are still in operation. You can rough it out there because there is no other alternative. There are many acres of land owned by the Bureau of Land Management –you could set up your RVs in these areas. But after 2 weeks, you will have to find a new isolated place to hunker down.
6. The disconnection from the world is getting wider than is comfortable.
Now all forms of shopping have to be done online and probably delivered to lockers in town where you can pick them with minimal interactions. During the pandemic, it’s hard to meet fellow travelers.
Life in the dispersed camps is isolation with pets and wildlife as the closest thing to friends. And in such campsites, there is no electricity, no showers or even bathrooms. You have to live without all the comforts of RV facilities.
7. All travel plans have been canceled.
You must now stay in one place indefinitely. With the coronavirus pandemic, living in an RV feels like living in an actual home, at least on the permanency aspect.
You cannot travel to new locations as you please. You are tethered down to one place. And when you do move, you will have to self-quarantine for 14 days before even stepping out to buy groceries.
8. Social distancing is a big challenge in an RV.
There isn’t much space in an average RV, and that means that you might still be in close contact with family members even when they show signs of an infection. If there is one case of coronavirus infection in your mobile home, it’s highly likely that everyone will contract it.
9. Storage space is limited, and so there is always a chance that you will run out on tissue paper.
Unlike those that live in fixed homes, vacationers in camp trailers cannot shop in bulk. There is not enough space to store groceries. That means that you must make several trips to the retail store, which makes it riskier for you and your family. It also means that your family could suffer the biggest brunt if there is ever a commodity shortage orchestrated by the virus.
10. When you get sick out of state, it’s a medical insurance conundrum.
What does an RV dweller do when they fall sick out of their home state? Does their state insurance still apply for where they would be?
In most cases, out of state coverages only cater for medical emergencies. There is also no definitive description of what these ‘medical emergencies’ entail.
11. People are suspicious and concerned about travelers.
Locals are growing colder towards visitors and tourists. In an incident at Utah’s Arches National Park, locals came with vuvuzelas shouting at travelers to leave, that the town did not have enough medical facilities and supplies for tourists.
Moab hospital boss asked visitors to stay away from the parks, in response to an earlier statement by the state that had hinted that staying in the outdoors was the best way to beat the virus.
The Positive Side
1. The isolation takes you further from the pandemic.
Even in disperse campsites; there is a sense of calm and peace. There are no crowds, and you are outside without worrying about contracting the disease. Most RVers feel safer with their nomadic lifestyle, and despite the many challenges as listed above, if given the option, most of them would still choose the bus life.
2. You still get to enjoy nature with family, as opposed to being holed up at home.
Even though you might have to look harder to find an open camping facility at this time, the rewards justify the hassle. Also when it’s isolated camping in the BLM or national forest service lands, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with your family. It beats being hopelessly marooned in a brick and mortar home.
3. RVs for MDs are now helping health workers get to safeguard their families.
As a front liner in the fight against the coronavirus, you wouldn’t want to go back home to your family after interacting with COVID 19 patients. Thankfully, many RV owners with vehicles that they don’t use have stepped out to donate them to healthcare workers. With these recreational vehicles, doctors can park and live near home without really being home to risk the health of their family members.
4. The RV community is showing love to campers on websites and social media.
To help fellow campers sail through the coronavirus pandemic, fellow Rvers are sharing ideas online. They are spreading the news about open campsites, those that are about to close, and the good Samaritans offering parking on their lands.
The coronavirus crisis has brought out the love and camaraderie in the Rving world. It is much unlike the situation with land-based homes.
5. It’s easier to liver cheaply, and that’s good because tough times are coming.
An ‘economic winter’ is coming. All signs point towards a recession. If you are a Rver, all you have to worry about is a few dollars that you have to pay for ‘rent’ at campgrounds every day. And if you have the grit to toughen it out in BLM lands, then it’s free.
That’s unlike real estate home dwellers that are stuck with mortgages and rents. It’s going to be extremely hard to make it work amid layoffs and furloughs. Increasingly people might turn to Rving as a way to sail through the tough times.
6. Vulnerable Rvers are opting to stay put in their campsites.
There is plenty of assistance linking campers aged over 60 to parks with long term reservations. That means that they can stay in one place for long and avoid risky and unnecessary travel. That’s the best thing to do now, to find somewhere safe, put the travel plans on hold and wait it out.
1. Get off the road and go somewhere safe.
If you have a family member that can offer you parking or accommodation, go there for a while. All RV dwellers have a responsibility, just like everybody else, to help flatten the curve for the corona infection. Minimizing travel is one way to go about it.
2. If you have to go on with camping, stay in dispersed BLMs where you can have a safe distance from fellow campers.
Regulated RV parks are closed, and those that are open might be crowded at this time. Your best shot at minimizing the risk of spreading or contracting the virus is to park in an isolated place.
3. Don’t go too far away into isolation. Stay close to your home state. Stay where there is a medical facility.
4. Stock up on food and water as much as it is possible. The idea is to minimize your shopping trips to the grocery store.
Also, stay in touch and updated. Talk to your family and friends back home to keep up with the state of the pandemic and new rules in your home state or country. Watch the news.
5. Find alternative ways to spend time.
Maybe you have been forced to cancel your trips, or perhaps you are minimizing your outdoor activities to stay safe—what you need now are ways to have fun without travel. Enjoy the beauty of nature by yourself or with your family. Read, if you have books or a kindle subscription. Watch movies. Don’t go out to parties or social gatherings.
6. Follow the stipulated personal safety measures.
Wash your hands whenever you get back from meeting people or shopping. Sanitize the surfaces that you frequently touch. Wear a mask when you go out. Don’t touch your face. All these measures could help you stay safe from the virus even as you remain true to the RV life.
7. Strategize your financials. There is no telling when this pandemic will end.
And that means that the temporary gigs that most RV dwellers pick up along the way could remain closed for long.
So find ways to save money.
Consider free campsites, shop at discount stores, and minimize unnecessary expenses.
8. Stay fit and adopt a positive mentality.
At least you are in the great outdoors with nature all around you. It’s different for fixed home dwellers that are trapped in their four walls. What you can do now to live through these tough times is exercise regularly and maintains a positive attitude.
9. Stay active online and on social media.
Websites like The Dyrt are regularly updating on a state by state camp closures. It would help to stay on top of such news and to find alternatives before you have the police knocking on your door.
10. Living alternatives for RV dwellers at the moment, as mentioned by Lonely Planet, include AirBnB and temporary rentals. There are websites, social media pages, and apps that can link you with the right facilities.
The future remains uncertain and is mostly dependent on how successful the world is at combating the pandemic. Meanwhile, stay safe and observe the CDC and the president’s COVID 19 guidelines. Stay updated on official notices and closures and other restrictions to parking and travel. And don’t forget to stock up on hand sanitizers.
Written by R. Green For RV Groovin Life