17 Tips for RVers Riding Out the Coronavirus Pandemic

Tips for RVers Riding Out the Coronavirus Pandemic


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Tips for RVers Riding Out the Coronavirus Pandemic

Camping in the Coronavirus Age

COVID-19 has upended the lives of pretty much everyone, and when it comes to having a safe space to shelter in place, those living full-time in their RVs have really had the rug pulled out from underneath them. In the latter half of March, campgrounds everywhere — both public and private — began to shut down as state and local governments mandated those types of changes. And many that have been able to stay open are blocking access to bathhouses, laundry facilities, and other public spaces. Whether you're a full-time RVer or were just planning on some travel in your rig in the next few months, here are some websites, tips, and other resources that will help travelers plan ahead and stay safe.

Related: 26 Little-Known Facts About RVs

Consider Private Sellers

Stay Home ...

If you're not a full-time RVer, now is not the time to plan or embark on any trips, says Angela Neylon, who RVs full-time with her husband, Bill, and their dogs Henry and Cailin. "My father-in-law heard about people renting RVs to leave a bigger city to go quarantine at parks in Arizona and Nevada. If you are not a full-time RVer, I do not recommend doing this," Neylon notes. "I understand the appeal. If you travel in an RV, it's pretty easy to stay isolated on the road. However, with spots at parks being so limited right now, those spots need to be saved for full-timers."

Offer Your RV for Good
SDI Productions/istockphoto

… and Offer Your RV for Good

If you're a casual RVer or a full-timer who has family or friends to hunker down with until the COVID-19 threat has abated, consider offering your unused RV to healthcare workers who don't want to risk their family's health, Neylon suggests. A Facebook group called RVs 4 MDs is helping organize those efforts.

Research Campground Status

Research Campground Status

Lots of RV parks are closed right now, with more shuttering every day. Plan ahead if you must travel. The following resources are regularly updating what's open, what's closed, and safe alternatives to campgrounds and parks.

- Campendium: "They have been making updates to their site daily as policies change and as parks make decisions about their opening status," Joe and Kait Russo, who run the blog We're the Russos, wrote about Campendium in their own "COVID-19 and RVing Resources" guide.
- Rootless Living: The Russos recommend this site for its State Parks page's "handy color-coded list that allows you to see at a glance which states are the most available for RVing in real time," and for its state-by-state list of extended stay parks still accepting RVers.
- ARVC: This National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds page is offering daily, state-specific updates of affected RV parks and campgrounds.
- RVillage: You can find another list of open RV parks here.
- Reserve America: Find an updated list of state park closures and facility updates here.

What if the RV Breaks Down

Find Land to Shelter on

As an alternative to campgrounds and parks, the Russos recommend the following resources for finding available land to park your rig on:

- Space for Roadlifers - Directory: This Google doc has people listing land and other spaces that they're willing to let RVers ride out the pandemic on.
- Displaced Nomads and Full-Time RVers Relocation Resource: Offer a space or seek a space on this Facebook group.
- Hipcamp: Another resource where RVers can find space to park their rig and wait out the virus. "I recommend reaching out first to make sure they can do contactless check-in and to see how they are handling COVID-19 and how long someone is able to stay there," Neylon says.

RV campsite

Check Out Paid Resources, Too

In their resource guide, the Russos recommend some paid-membership sites that can "expand your universe of places to stay, either long term or just for a night if you're traveling from one long term spot to another." These include Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, and Thousand Trails.

Check Local RV Parking Laws

Check Local RV Parking Laws

A number of towns and cities — Sydney, Nebraska; Fort Collins, Colorado; and Fresno and Clovis, California, for example — are relaxing laws and regulations and allowing RVers to park overnight on some streets. If you're traveling, be sure to research whether towns where you might be overnighting are among these.

When in Boondocking Doubt, Ask

When in Boondocking Doubt, Ask

Stores like Walmart, Sam's Clubs, Cabela's, Bass Pro Shops, and Home Depots often let RVers hunker down for the night in their giant parking lots. It does vary from store to store, so it's best to call ahead and ask the store manager if boondocking is okay at their location.

Related: How to Find Places to Boondock or Free Park in Your RV

Resume Writer

Join Facebook Groups

There are a number of Facebook groups for full- and part-time RVers that have a wealth of collective information. Join some and, if a question comes up — whether related to campgrounds or RV issues — you're almost certain to get an answer from group members. They're also great places to vent about RVing in the time of coronavirus. A few of the larger, more general groups include Full-Time RVers, RV Tips, RV Resource Group, and Full-Time Retired RVers.

RV camping

Remember: Campground Etiquette Has Changed

"Usually people are very outgoing and friendly at parks," Neylon notes, "but now a lot of people are keeping to themselves. People are still trying to be friendly, but from a distance." In other words, people are social-distancing in campgrounds, too. Campendium recommends that campers avoid bathrooms and laundry facilities, even if they do remain open.

RV laundry
Fire Risks

Avoid Contact as Much as Possible

RVers are a friendly group by nature, and might crave human contact now more than ever. But until the quarantine lets up, do everything possible to avoid being around people. This can include using drive-thrus for meals rather than going into a restaurant, paying for gas at the pump, and signing up for toll programs like E-ZPass when possible. Finally, Campendium recommends calling ahead for remote check-ins at parks and campgrounds that are offering that option.

Social Distance, but Stay Social

Social Distance, but Stay Social

A site called Good Vibe Collective is hosting weekly classes, happy hours, discussions, and more on its Instagram account for those who live the nomadic lifestyle. You can find out more about those activities there.

Asking for Towing Trouble

Visit the CDC's Travel Page

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a "Coronavirus and Travel in the United States" resource that anyone considering travel should visit. It has FAQs about traveling as well as Domestic Travel Advisory alerts.

Keep Up with Industry-Related News

Keep up With Industry-Related News

There are a number of sites posting regular updates on how Covid-19 is affecting travelers as well as the RV and campground industries. They include RVTravel, RV News, and RVIA. You can also join RVTravel's RV Coronavirus News Facebook group for "breaking news and information about the coronavirus pandemic and how it affects RVers."

Burning Concerns

Gas up Your RV

As the pandemic ramped up, gas prices plummeted. One thing RVers who aren't full-timers can do right now is head to the gas station and fill up. When all this is over and you're hankering to hit the road, you'll already have a topped-off tank that you paid much less than normal for.

Related: 20 Ways to Save Money on Gas for Your RV

RV air conditioner

Know Your Rig — or Don't Go

In the past, it's pretty much been par for the course that if you can't figure out how something works on your RV, someone in the campground will wander over to help you. Given the universal social-distancing going on, you can no longer count on that happening. And RV travelers with engine issues have reported waiting days or longer for an RV tech to become available. So if you don't know how to hook up your water, handle small electrical issues, troubleshoot your AC unit, or handle any other mechanical issue on our own rig, don't hit the road. Again, staying home is the best practice for non-fulltimers right now. But if you're determined to travel, remember that now is not the time to fake it 'til you make it.

Get Vocal and Sign the Petition

Get Vocal and Sign the Petition

Many RVers and park and campground owners have noted the unfairness of closing campgrounds while hotels remain open. The RVIA, along with other industry movers and shakers, is leading an effort to convince local, state, and federal officials to keep more public and private parks and campgrounds open for RVers in need. The Escapees website has a number of suggestions for how RVers can help in these efforts. Finally, RV community site TruckCamper is circulating a petition to keep campgrounds and parks open. You can review and add your signature here (scroll down to the bottom of the page to sign).