Many of us had our summer RV trips mapped out and campground reservations made months before plans were derailed by COVID-19. Now, as summer approaches, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that our 2020 RV trips will look very different compared to last year’s adventures. And while some RVers are still holding onto a thread of hope and refusing to cancel those highly-coveted national park reservations, others are trying to maneuver a new camping season—one shaped by social distancing guidelines and ever-changing local and state policies.
According to the North American Camping Report, more than 30 percent of camping trips take place less than 50 miles from home. This might be the perfect year to discover what one third of campers already know: You don’t have to travel far to reap all the benefits of a campground. So chin up, RVers, and let’s start planning your local getaway.
Why Camp Close to Home this Summer?
#1: The logistics of RVing close to home are more manageable right now.
At the moment, RVers face many challenges when navigating longer road trips. Every state has its own unique guidelines for shelter-in-place orders, creating confusion for out-of-state travelers. It’s much easier to access and stay up to date on your own state’s policies and guidelines for post-quarantine activity. Plus, researching campgrounds in your home state is going to be far easier than mapping out a string of open campgrounds between your home and the final destination on a longer trip.
#2 You can embrace the simple pleasures of the campground.
Even if many campgrounds have reopened by peak summer travel season, popular activities—like evening ranger talks, guided hikes, and rafting trips—could still be on pause. If that’s the case, then this summer is the perfect opportunity to embrace the quiet pleasures of the campground, with nothing on the schedule but morning coffee and evening s’mores. Break out the board games and the corn hole. Try out that new dutch oven recipe over the open fire. Or better yet, grab a book and spend the afternoon in the hammock. These precious moments can happen just as easily at a local campground as they can far away.
#3 You can keep your family and local communities safer.
Right now, one of the easiest ways to travel more safely is to minimize contact with other people. When you camp close to home, it’s simple to stock the RV with groceries, fill the tank with gas, and avoid making any stops between your home and the campground. Since many campgrounds are offering contact-free check-in, you can still maintain social distancing practices while enjoying time in the RV. Staying closer to home will also support the health of communities around the country. As campgrounds begin to open in popular tourist locations (think national parks and well-known state parks), many residents are worried that the influx of visitors could overtax their own healthcare systems. We can do our part to protect those small towns by simply finding great RV spots in our own backyard.
#4 You can gather with friends and family and still maintain safe social distancing practices.
We are all missing contact with friends and loved ones. But the good news is that a campground can be the perfect place to spend time together and still practice social distancing. Book a spot at a local campground, park the RVs, set up those camp chairs at least six feet apart, and catch up around the campfire. You can even invite non-RVing friends to rent a cabin or pitch a tent at the campground you’re visiting. Granted, gathering will look much different than in the past, and we’ll all have to adjust to not sharing food and marshmallow roasting sticks, but those are small sacrifices to make for being able to share laughs with our camping buddies once again.
#5 You can become a tourist in your own state.
This is the perfect time to explore some outdoor activities in your own backyard. We are often so busy in our daily lives that we don’t enjoy biking, hiking, kayaking, or climbing opportunities in nearby state and county parks. Ask your local rangers or campground hosts for recommendations—you might be surprised at all the places you’ve never heard of before. Find a local bird sanctuary, try your hand at geocaching, or check to see if Roadtrippers has any Extraordinary Places to recommend nearby.
Additional Tips for Camping Close to Home
- Stay Updated: Looking for campground updates in your home state? Start by checking out our State by State Guide for RV Camping During COVID-19.
- Call Ahead: Call campgrounds and confirm what amenities are actually open to guests. Some campgrounds have closed playgrounds or even bathhouses. You’ll also want to discuss any special policies or procedures they have put in place to keep their campers safe.
- Keep Things Clean: Think about how you will keep your RV clean and your family healthy. We have an article on properly disinfecting your RV if you need a crash course.
- Social Distancing: Wondering what social distancing looks like for RVers? Here are some tips for incorporating these new guidelines into your next camping trip.
- Act Like You’re Far Away: Don’t go back to the sticks and bricks. If you are camping close to home, it’s tempting to run back to grab the mail or water the plants. For maximum camping bliss, we highly recommend you pretend your local campground is a million miles away. The plants will be fine, and you need a break.