We never thought we would be writing a post with tips for RVing during a pandemic, and yet, here we are! After spending over two months in quarantine, we recently took our much delayed season-opening rip to Lake George. We want to share that experience since it was anything but a typical camping trip for us, and we hope we can help you plan your first post-quarantine camping trip–if you’re feeling ready.
We know everyone out there has different opinions of camping during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some of those opinions are reflected in our own home. Jeremy felt totally rejuvenated by our camping trip and was ready to jump in, while Stephanie was more cautious about taking that step.
We hope being honest about our experiences and sharing these tips for RVing during a pandemic will help you decide whether or not you are ready. If you’re not, that’s completely understandable. No shame from us. And, if you are ready, then plan accordingly, and get ready to get out there.
First up, we want to remind everyone that we each live in different areas of the country, and we have had different experiences throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Some states and regions were hit much worse than others. Each state has had different responses. So, again, we know there is no right answer for everyone, everywhere.
If you want to hear our twelve tips for RVing during a pandemic, click “play” on the media player above or look for The RV Atlas wherever you find your favorite podcasts.
If you ARE thinking about RVing right now, here are our tips for doing so:
Call ahead to know what is open at the campground and what is not open.
Right now, the situation varies a lot from state to state and even from campground to campground. Some parks have limited access to the facilities and amenities offered onsite. You may find shower houses, restrooms, playgrounds, pools, camp stores, and etc. closed. Therefore, it is very important to call ahead and find out exactly what will be open at the park you plan to visit. This is especially important if you have kids.
You want to prepare your kids for your experience in advance. We visited Moose Hillock Camping Resort in Lake George, NY. They have an awesome pool, but it was not open during our stay. We made sure to tell the boys this ahead of our visit, so they wouldn’t be disappointed when we arrived. Of course, they looked at it longingly when we walked by, but we made sure to find other ways to have fun without the pool. Our kids are old enough to understand, but if you have little ones who don’t understand, it can be hard.
Try to find campgrounds that are on the same page as you.
Campgrounds are owned and/or managed by people who may or may not be on the same page as you regarding safety during the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, it is important for you to feel that out ahead of time. Of course, this can be a little dicey to figure out.
Consider giving the campground a call and asking them what social distancing policies they have put into place to keep everyone safer. Their answer will be quite revealing! If they say they are using contactless check-in systems to eliminate traffic in the camp store, that is a good sign that they are taking this seriously by adjusting procedures. If they act confused or annoyed by your question, then you know they aren’t making adjustments, and some will tell you straight out that they aren’t. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which kind of place fits within your comfort level right now.
Camp with friends that are on the same page with you.
Many of you are starved for socialization after weeks in quarantine at home. Camping with friends is a great way to spend time together in a safer situation…but only IF those friends are on the same page as you. Again, there are tons of viewpoints in America, and you should feel no shame in having a discussion about what will and what will not be okay on the shared trip.
For example, we camped with friends during our first outing, and luckily, we all felt comfortable having an honest discussion about what we were and weren’t comfortable with for the trip. Be sure to go over things like meals, contact between kids, social distancing while visiting, and so on. Instead of stewing later about missteps and mixed expectations, just talk in advance!
Be thankful for what you can do, and don’t focus on what you can’t do.
We cannot emphasize this enough right now. We know everyone just wants to get out for a regular camping trip, doing all of the favorite things you love doing. That likely isn’t possible right now. While things are opening up, they still are far from normal. If you focus on the things you can’t do, you’ll make yourself miserable. Instead, focus on what you CAN do, and look for new activities to enjoy.
As I mentioned, we couldn’t enjoy the awesome pool at Moose Hillock. So, instead, we spent a lot more time at Lake George, and we all loved it. It was the perfect place for Maggie and the boys to splash around! I’m so glad we changed up our routine a little and tried out new locations along the lake.
Avoid crowded places at crowded times.
While we spent most of our time at the more secluded parts of Lake George, we checked out one of the popular beaches on our third day, thinking the crowds had already headed home. Boy, we were wrong! This beach was definitely overcrowded–so much so that even one of the boys noticed. We opted to leave.
Think about which places are busiest and when they are likely to be crowded, and avoid those spots. Also, don’t be afraid to abruptly change plans if you get somewhere and it is out of your comfort zone. Just go somewhere else.
Bring more of the fun with you.
As we’ve mentioned, lots of campgrounds have changed the access to their facilities and amenities. So, plan ahead and take more of the fun with you. Bikes are great right now! Take all of the sports equipment and outdoor games you could possibly use. Splurge on some new items, if you can. We have a great list of recommendations here.
Playground and common areas can be stress spots.
While many campgrounds have closed facilities and amenities, others have not. If you are going someplace where playgrounds and pools are open, you need to decide ahead of time what your comfort level is and communicate this with the kids. Playgrounds and other common areas are likely to be stress spots.
Watch the kids closely. Even if your kids have been allowed more freedom to roam, this summer, you may cut back on that, especially if you don’t plan to let your kids mingle with others. Little kids likely won’t understand the need to social distance, so you’ll have to keep them away from the playground or watch super closely.
Expect the unexpected.
No matter how much you plan and talk through all of the situations you might encounter, you’re likely to encounter unexpected situations. For example, we were out playing basketball with the kids and some other kids asked to join in. Jeremy felt like a big jerk telling the kids no, but we just weren’t comfortable playing together. Again, some families are not expecting their kids to practice social distancing, but if you are, it will fall on you to explain.
Big sites are more desirable than ever.
Large, private sites are going to be at even more of a premium than ever before. While in the past, you might have prioritized being close to the amenities, this summer, you may be looking for the huge site tucked away in the corner of the campground. Look for the sites that make it easier to practice social distancing. Call ahead for recommendations.
BRING ALL THE FOOD!
Your RV is perfectly equipped for survival without restaurant and grocery store visits. Pack up all of the food you’ll need ahead of time. This is helpful in case you find restaurants and grocery stores closed or offering limited access. Plus, even if those places are open, going inside adds another layer of risk.
You won’t even have to stop for food while in route if you think through some quick and easy lunches and dinners that can be grabbed from the RV during pit stops. We love doing this since our family often eats healthier when we grab sandwiches from the camper instead of fast food while on the road.
Take rest stops in your RV.
On the day we left the campground, we made the mistake of leaving pretty late when we were already tired. We stopped for gas, and everyone was hungry. When we stopped for gas, the kids saw McDonald’s at the service plaza. Of course, they asked if Jeremy would run in to get some. Even though we had totally planned not to go in places on our trip, it was super tempting!
Jeremy executed the McDonald’s visit like a ninja. He donned his mask and made it in and out without touching a surface. He even managed to go to the restroom! (Again, we were camping in New York state, which had been hit very hard by the virus, so we were taking no chances.)
If you don’t want to deal with people and surfaces, take rest stops in your RV as much as possible.
Consider the safety of spending time in the outdoors.
Many public health officials and experts are saying that time spent in the outdoors is safe, as long as reasonable precautions are taken. Continue to avoid groups, practice social distancing, carry sanitizer, and get out there, if you feel comfortable. Enjoying the outdoors is good for your mental and emotional health.
Finally, we want to reiterate that we all have different comfort levels right now. If you do not feel relaxed and do not feel safe while camping, it’s totally fine to continue staying at home. No one should make that decision for you or pressure you to feel one way or another.
Ultimately, we were glad we decided to go. Stephanie was so happy to experience some times that just felt normal after weeks and weeks where nothing felt normal. It felt so good to watch the boys toss a ball at a campground again. Jeremy sincerely felt reborn. From the time in the outdoors to the cozy nights in the trailer, he cherished this opportunity.
Please share your experiences and tips in our RV Atlas Facebook group. But, be sure to be respectful that others have different opinions and experiences right now. We truly hope you are able to get out there, if you are ready!
See You at the Campground,
Stephanie + Jeremy