Lots of People With Canceled Summer Travel Plans Are Diving Into the RV Life

RV travel could work well for couples, small friend groups, parents and kids, or any group that's already been quarantining together. (Photo: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock)

There's never been a more appealing time to be turtle-like, to carry your home on your back and see the sights from the safety of your own cocoon. Of course, this has always been one of the appeals of the RV lifestyle, but for people itching to travel, it's even more appealing in the time of coronavirus.

With some places beginning to ease restrictions on movement, local travel is again a possibility for some people. Travel does increase your risk of being infected or spreading COVID-19, and the safest way to avoid the virus is to stay home as much as possible, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you do travel, shorter trips are generally better. A long incubation period can make it easy to unwittingly carry this coronavirus with you on vacation or back home.

Choose your destination carefully, as it's easy for small, rural hospitals to become quickly overwhelmed if you or a member of your group gets ill — and that's hardly fair for the people who live in your vacation destination full time.

Traveling in a bubble

We still don't know if some types of travel are safer than others, the CDC points out, as we are in uncharted territory in terms of understanding COVID-19. But theoretically, you could minimize your health risk and those of the people in the place you visit by packing all the food and supplies you'd need into an RV and heading somewhere in your region, only stopping to fuel up. Most RVs even have their own bathrooms, meaning you wouldn't need to use any public toilets.

And with many campgrounds in open-air settings, it would be possible to maintain social-distancing protocols once you arrive at your destination.

Given the pros and cons, it's no surprise RV sales and rentals are up for the summer holidays — it seems safer, while still giving people the ability to spend time on the shores of a beach or lake, or in a woodsy spot.

While further waves of the virus are likely, there's also a very real mental-health toll on people who have been stuck at home for months, so lots of people are trying to figure out what makes sense for them.

Where to go?

What works for each group of RVers may differ, although staying away from crowded locations of any kind is smart.

Whether campgrounds will be open depends on where you are and the rules there. Even if some are open, others may not be; it will likely depend on the type of campground, including factors like size, density and ownership.

And as anyone who has spent time at campgrounds knows, some have lots of space between sites, while others are set up to maximize the number of campers in a given space. All these variables might affect whether they're allowed to open or not, as well as how comfortable an individual might feel there.

In some locations, campgrounds might be open — but with new rules meant to enforce social distancing. Recently reopened Colorado state parks are only allowing 50% capacity, for example. And communal areas like pools, workout facilities, sports areas, and game rooms are likely to be closed.

RV campgrounds that are open are filling up quickly, as people who scuttled their summer vacation plans in April are now rebooking new vacations closer to home and incorporating RV rentals, which are also selling out.

“In states that are opening, we are hearing from our members on a daily basis that they went from no reservations to booked solid in no time,” David Basler, the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds vice president of marketing, told the Colorado Sun. “As restrictions start to loosen, we are not going to see people cruising cross-country or flying, but they are looking at how they can get outside, closer to home and be as safe as possible. The RV is a self-contained way for them to do that.”