RVers across the country have been unable to hit the road like they have in years past. But as quarantine restrictions begin to lift and safety regulations lessen, RV travel is looking to pick back up. If you’re eager to take a trip, but unsure where to start or what to consider, here are some things to keep in mind when planning a post-quarantine RV trip.
First Time RVer?
Even if you’ve never RVed before, you might still be considering it for your first post-quarantine trip. RV travel is not only flexible (you can adjust your departure time, route, and destination as needed), it can also be a convenient and safe way to practice social distancing. You can still self-quarantine in an RV (especially if your rig comes equipped with a bathroom) and limit your exposure to others. Some RV rental companies are even offering contactless delivery, where a cleaned and disinfected RV gets dropped off right in your driveway or at your campsite. The campsite delivery is a great option if you want to reap all the benefits of an RV trip, but don’t feel totally comfortable driving, towing, or setting up.
If you do decide to rent or borrow an RV for your post-quarantine trip, make sure you research and plan ahead. This not only includes understanding what type of RV to get, but also the logistics of your trip (route, packing lists, campsite reservations). Luckily, we’ve got all of this covered for you below…
Trip Planning: Put in Extra Time
Like most travelers, you probably spend some time planning out the details of a trip before you take it. But with so much changing—and so quickly—the planning phase becomes extra important when you’re considering a post-quarantine trip. What happens if campgrounds or parks suddenly close again? What if you can’t get access to a dump site along the way? Putting in the extra time to plan out all of the daily details of your trip will really help in the long run.
Start by figuring out your final destination (or destinations, if you’re considering a few stops). While you’re probably eager to head straight to the nearest national park or monument, it may be wise to consider a smaller, local spot instead. The details of planning an RV trip when you’re closer to your homebase will be much more manageable, and will require less travel time should you need to end your trip early. Plus, it’s much easier to access information about your own state’s closures and travel policies. Read more about the benefits of camping close to home here.
Once you’ve chosen your destination, consider your route carefully. Try to get everything (food, fuel, propane, firewood) before you head out, and avoid unnecessary stops along the way. This will not only help keep your trip expenses down, but will reduce your contact with others. Plan when and where you will stop for things like food and gas, and call those places before you leave to ensure they are open. Do the same for propane filling stations and dump sites. Once you have your route and stops figured out, download them to your phone before you leave. This way you will still have all the details handy, even if you lose service.
The Backup Plan
Always have a backup plan. Openings and closures seem to change by the day and, pandemic issues aside, things like weather and road closures can also impact your trip. During the planning process, figure out where to go should something unexpectedly close. Even if you call ahead and someone tells you the campground, gas station, or dump site is open, things might change in the short time before you leave, so make sure to have some backup options. Select parking lots and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land are both great alternatives for free, overnight camping that don’t require advanced reservations.
Packing and Prepping
Once you have your route and backup plan figured out, it’s time to start packing and prepping your RV. For a post-quarantine trip, you’ll want to keep in mind how you can minimize your contact with others, which may alter what you pack. For example, since your RV likely won’t fit through a drive-through and many restaurants are closed or have limited services, you’ll want to consider packing more food and cooking more meals inside the RV. The same goes for water—invest in a high-quality drinking water hose for your rig, and save yourself multiple trips to the store to buy water bottles.
In addition to essential food, clothing, and toiletries, you should also pack face masks and gloves. Some locations (especially grocery stores) require that visitors wear a mask upon entering, so it doesn’t hurt to have a few extra. Cloth masks are great because they can be washed and re-worn multiple times. Purchase a small laundry wash bag and clean the masks (and gloves, if needed) on the road. This will help you avoid laundromats and preserve valuable reserves in your RV fresh water tank.
Equally important to the packing is the prepping—is your RV actually ready to hit the road? Double-check your maintenance schedule, tires, generator, and tanks to ensure your rig is ready for an uninterrupted trip. It’s also worthwhile to give your RV (and your tow vehicle) a good deep clean before you go, including a proper disinfecting. This will not only help eliminate any dirt and germs, but will also make it easier to keep things organized and maintained while on the road.
While it may be tempting to pack everything and anything, try following a premade RV trip checklist. This should help ensure you have everything you need, while also preventing you from stuffing all pantries, cabinets, and drawers.
If you’ve already booked a campsite for this summer, many campgrounds and RV parks have begun to release specific policies regarding COVID-19 cancellations, and some are even allowing reservations to be rescheduled at no cost. If you’re looking to make a new campsite reservation, always read the small print before signing or agreeing to anything. Some campgrounds might say they are open, but there could be restrictions with that—some are only open to full-timers, seasonal RVs, first responders, or open with limited access to amenities. Call ahead and ask about what is open and what the campground’s cancellation policy is due to health and safety. You can also ask how much money is required upfront to pay for the reservation. Some places have an extended period of time before you need to actually pay anything (which could help if things need to close again).
When deciding what campground to stay at during your post-quarantine trip, consider the difference between public and private campgrounds. Public campgrounds are usually run by government agencies and include those found in national parks, state parks, and national forests. Private campgrounds, on the other hand, are owned by individuals and are considered for-profit businesses. And while private campgrounds are usually more expensive, they are definitely worth considering for your post-quarantine trip. Many private campgrounds are currently operating under less restrictions than public campgrounds (meaning more campsites and facilities are actually open) and they’re often smaller, which will help eliminate an influx of crowds. Most private campsites also provide full hookups and generators—another benefit if you plan to practice social distancing and spend most of your time inside the RV.
To stay updated on the most recent campground closures and openings—including both public and private—check out this state-by-state campground guide.
The Benefits of Self-Containment
By now, we’ve all heard about the benefits of being outdoors and enjoying nature. And while an RV trip can definitely help with both of these, traveling in an RV is also uniquely beneficial during these fluctuating times because it allows travelers to be as social—or isolated—as needed. You can still quarantine in an RV and practice safe social distancing if you have a self-contained unit (meaning an RV with all the essentials to live fully independent from your surroundings—including water, power, and sewer systems). This comes in handy if you or a loved one start to show any signs of sickness, and it also gives you the ability to still function if things close and travel restrictions get implemented again.
While we may not know when things will open back up, we do know that eventually they will. Planning and prepping for a post-quarantine trip gives us something to look forward to—but remember to stay informed and flexible. The last thing you want is to finalize a trip, only to have another outbreak cancel it. Double check your details and proceed with caution.