RVs gained a boost in popularity during the pandemic, providing a safe, personal space while on-the-road and camping.
“RVs provide freedom and flexibility to enjoy the open road as well as the necessary social distancing and coronavirus precautions,” said Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue.
From customized minivans and camper vans to towable trailers and massive motor homes, RVs are designed to be a home away from home. You’ll be able to choose the size and amenities to fit your situation. And RVs are perfect for small group travel.
Some RVs are completely self-contained with generators and solar panels, allowing RVers to live off-the-grid for weeks. Some include kitchen facilities, helping you avoid restaurants, or bedrooms, eliminating the need to book hotels. NPR describes RVing as “self-isolation at 70 MPH.”
As the severity of the pandemic abates, RVs are as popular with those who want to take a nearcation — a vacation close to home — in order to beat inflation and rising gas prices. According to Outdoorsy, 91% of survey respondents are planning to take a road trip in 2022, and 83% would be more likely to vacation in a RV or campervan if there are COVID surges.
[Related Reading: Road Trip Safety Tips]
Not Just for Grandparents
You may think RVing is just for the older crowd. True, it is popular with retirees and grandparents and allows older adults a travel option that doesn’t expose them to crowds. Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends older adults put off non-essential travel during the coronavirus pandemic.
But RVing is quite popular with all ages. Some 40 million Americans RV camp regularly, according to industry research from GoRVing, with adults aged 35 to 54 the most likely to own an RV.
It’s a travel trend likely to continue. More than 9 million households in the U.S. own recreational vehicles. An incredible 9.6 million households intend to buy an RV within the next five years and the RV industry is on pace to build more than 600,000 RVs in 2022.
Owning vs. Renting
If you are an RV owner, you are familiar with the rules of the road. Harding Bush, associate manager of operations at Global Rescue, provides advice for newer RVers, specifically learning the associated gear. He recommends:
- Making sure the vehicle is well maintained. Coach-Net offers advice for prepping an RV for travel.
- Studying the features and capabilities of the vehicle. “Fuel range, acceleration, stopping distance, height and weight and turning radius,” Bush said.
- Being comfortable driving the vehicle. “Practice,” he said. “Start with shorter and easier trips with less traffic, more direct routes, or during the week for less crowds.”
- Knowing where all the equipment is and how to use it. “This includes knowing how to change a spare tire to understanding all the features of the GPS/navigation system,” he said.
- Staying at a campground close to home for a few days to get used to how all the systems work. “Learn how to properly hook up and disconnect electricity, water, waste and other features,” Bush said. “You have to make sure the campground is compatible with electricity, water and waste hook-ups if you don’t intend on being self-sufficient.”
Bush noted that RV road trips take much more planning than your typical road trip.
“There are many more planning requirements for a RV road trip,” Bush said. “You just can’t park anywhere like you can in your car and there are other limitations you need to be aware of such as height, weight and maneuverability. If you are trailering a car behind the RV that takes a specific skill, especially while backing up and you’ll need to practice.”
“Have a well-planned route — maps and GPS. Know when nightfall and sunrise will occur and factor this into your planning. Write it all down,” he said. “Research and plan where you will overnight, and stick to a schedule if your routes are time dependent.”
Bush also advised sharing your trip plans with someone not on your trip and notifying them of any changes. “Be sure you have consistent communications connectivity, whether it is a mobile phone, radio or satellite device,” he said.
There’s no shortage of online information to help travelers plan a trip:
- The RV Industry Association has created a chart of what is open and what is closed (by state).
- Kampgrounds of America (KOA) keeps a list of their open campgrounds up to date.
- New membership organizations, like Harvesthosts.com, provide a network of wineries, breweries, distilleries, farms and attractions that invite RVers to stay in more than 1,052 stunning camping sites. Program requirements include usage of a self-contained RV with a toilet, water tank and inside cooking facilities.
- Online sites, like Outdoorsy, make it easy to rent an RV for as few as three nights.
- Recreation.gov offers a database of 3,600 facilities and activities and more than 103,000 individual reservable sites across the country.
Travel Protection Services
Even if you are traveling domestically, you still need travel protection services.
“Even if you’re not particularly far from home, things can still happen – and it is not always easy to get help,” Richards said.
Here are a few examples of how a travel protection services membership can give RVers peace of mind knowing they are informed, prepared and protected for domestic travel:
Travel advisory services. You’re traveling from North Carolina to California and state regulations are changing daily due to coronavirus case counts. If you need an update, there is no additional charge for Global Rescue members to call and ask for advice.
“Our operations teams are up to date on state-by-state and city-by-city restrictions, quarantines and hotspots in all 50 states and more than 200 countries worldwide,” Richards said.
Medical advisory services. Your throat is sore and you’re tired. Is it allergies or coronavirus? Global Rescue’s medical experts are available to provide medical assistance, find you a doctor or hospital in your location, or connect you with virtual telehealth services for face-to-face support from a board-certified physician.
Case management related to emergency travel assistance services. If you’re traveling in state, local field rescue waives mileage restrictions and can help you if you are ill or injured and unable to get to safety on your own.
“Global Rescue takes care of all the case management and logistics so you can focus on being the patient — or being there for someone you love who might be the patient,” Richards said.
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