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 2021 RV trips will still look different compared to “normal”.
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.
Every state has its own guidelines and restrictions, 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 with many campgrounds open for 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, 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.
Still, 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 impact their local communities. 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. Social distancing measures should still be taken, but by now we’ve adjusted to not sharing food and marshmallow roasting sticks.
#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 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.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2020 and has been updated to reflect the latest information.