RV Travel During a Pandemic

Plans vs. reality

Having been affected differently than most by the stay at home order, executed just days after we left California, our current 2020 RV trip requires some explanation to anyone following our 2020 Social Distancing RV Trip, the COVID-19 diversion.

The thing about traveling in an RV while you’re supposed to be sheltering at home is that your home is on wheels. Sure, we have a sticks and bricks home back in San Luis Obispo, CA but it’s currently occupied by a lovely family who got caught up in this mess while remodeling their home. They leased our home during construction and while we were on our “East Coast RV Trip”. Of course this turned into the social distancing tour that we’re on as I type.

Shouldn’t we be somewhere physically distancing? What about moving around, is that safe? Can one follow CDC guidelines while camping in an RV? Aren’t all the campgrounds and RV parks closed, where do you stay?

The previous questions all make sense to ask, but only in this warped world we all find ourselves in. There are over 1 million full time RV’ers, mostly baby boomers who either sold their houses and hit the road, or they travel part of the year like us.

At this “COVID moment”, we find ourselves affected only by the number of destination campground options we have to stay in, and how long we’re able to stay there. In the non-pandemic world, we’d have a lot of options but alas this is not a normal situation.

When state governors started handing down orders to shelter at home and practice social distancing, many states closed their public and private campgrounds. National parks closed, along with BLM and National Forest campgrounds, and private RV parks in California stopped taking new reservations. Most of our hard fought East coast trip reservations from the gulf states, Florida and up the East coast cancelled about the time we hit Arizona.

All of our trip plans changed in March of 2020, but the reality is different for everyone, and for some it was devastating. Families separated, jobs lost, businesses trashed after years of hard work. A pandemic of this magnitude is communal and far reaching, but in this writer’s opinion it is always important to think global, act local. Make plans as close to home and family as you can with the big picture in mind. We can all see the results of a big centrally planned pandemic reaction handed down to the most individual outcomes.

Reality determines next steps

Everyone has been affected by this pandemic and it’s the reality that determines our next steps. Our governors all had different realities to deal with. Each county board and city mayor had their own different set of issues. Each business and each family, right down to each individual in this country, all had a different reality, perspective, and level of impact given their own health, financial, and work situations.

We got lucky in that we had already planned to be on the road, away from family, for six months while our house was leased and we continued our “work from the road experiment” that we did last year as well. We planned to travel and work in our RV from different locations along the East coast. Our income was not determined by an “employer” and we had the open road to look forward to.

When the full impact of this pandemic hit us, we had to factor hospital capacity and infection rates for personal health reasons in the state where we landed; Arizona. In mid-March it was about flattening the curve to increase hospital capacity. At the time, we felt that we had landed in the perfect place within a great state to ride out a pandemic. So our reality and our options were in the “very good” category compared to the heartbreaking situation others were dealing with.

Arizona decided not to close public and private campgrounds. This was good for us from an occupancy standpoint because it turns out that the end of March is when the snowbirds from Canada and the Northern states leave places like Tucson and Phoenix. There is a golf saying that applies; better to be lucky than good. I love golf!

There are over 2 million snowbirds that flock to Arizona in the Winter, then leave in early April. 300,000 of them are RV’ers. The prime minister told his Canadian flock that insurance wasn’t going to cover them in Arizona past April, so they left early. The end result was a timely increase in Arizona campground capacity. Again, lucky.

So, even though many of the national park options were closed to us, we had state and private campground options that we could string together throughout the state. Social distancing? There is no better way to socially or physically distance than to go camping. Thank God Arizona and Utah both kept their state facilities open to RV’ers. Both governors implemented a thoughtful approach resulting in a very low impact on RV’ers, as well as the local economy. Again, lucky.

The evolution of the COVID-19 reality

As I write this, we’re 2 months into lock down. After following the news day in and day out, scouring CDC and WorldoMeter website stats, reviewing medical journals, and listening to politicians drone on, we find ourselves with a different and much clearer view of this pandemic today vs mid-March, and we’re not very happy about what we see.

When a news reporter, commentator, author, or politicians says that our economy was destroyed due to COVID-19, I have to pause and remember that it wasn’t the virus that shut down the economy, it was the politicians. Sure, I still think it was necessary but I have a different opinion today…

So, now that we’ve collectively evolved to understand the impact, the control and the options we have over this virus and how it can affect our lives, what do we do? How do we act?

When there is no direct answer to a question, we rely on principle to guide our actions. I believe that it is now time to take personal responsibility for ourselves and for our loved ones. I don’t trust politicians to make good decisions. Everyone acts in self-interest, but the difference between us and politicians acting in our own self-interest is outcome.

The decisions always need to be made locally at home, in the communities, with guidance from the state and federal authorities. However, it’s now time to calculate our own next steps with our businesses, with our family, with our events, and with our tribes.

Until we have treatment and/or herd immunity through vaccine or infection, we need to think of others, be smart, follow CDC guidelines, and yet live. Think globally, act locally.

Life doesn’t happen when we live in fear, life happens when we take chances to progress, to move, to build, to change, and to conquer. Yes, we can and eventually will die. The circle of life renews at death and we do all we can to balance life and death every day with the personal decisions we all make.

It’s time to take the power away from the elite politicians and let local economies in local communities decide how they emerge from this disaster. Liberty and freedom does mean more to people than fear and safety, even if some don’t realize it.

Let’s go camping!

Published by Russ Lovell

I am partner and co-founder at RVPlusYou.com, a peer to peer sharing platform: RV Rentals by owner, delivered and setup at your destination, ready for your arrival. RV owners earn extra income via an easy, safe and proven rental process. RV renters enjoy hassle free outdoor accommodations in a clean comfortable RV delivered, setup and ready upon arrival to just about any destination. Weddings, camping trips, retreats, and events. It's like a vacation rental on wheels, anywhere you want it! I live and work from the road now, along with my wife, we travel the US and Canada about 6 to 9 months a year. We love travel, whether it's around the country in our RV, or overseas. Memories, knowledge, and experience are the "things" you get to take with you. "Stuff" is temporary. An entrepreneur and inventor at heart, I love to build and create. Life is full of opportunities, niches, concepts, and perspective. Figuring out what works and where value can be created and delivered is magical.

2 thoughts on “RV Travel During a Pandemic

  1. Hi Russ,
    This is your SLO neighbor Greig. I do not see any updates on you current trip. I just wanted to make you aware that the county campgrounds are open to local residents.


    1. Hi Greig! Great to hear from you. Hope you and the family are all safe and healthy. We’re in the Coeur d’Alene area now, Farragut SP, so not good internet. Might be a few more days before I can update the social distancing tour photos. Hope all is well at home. I get morning news on KCBX. Heard about the campgrounds being closed to out-of-towners. SLO county closed online reservations; first come basis now. Had a ton of cancellations at campgrounds in Monterey, SLO, and down through Santa Barbara. I feel bad for everyone having to cancel, but, it is a pandemic;-) Hope the locals take advantage of it. Should have a lot of open sites. See you around mid-August.


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