For most of us, RVing is recreation. Yes, there are over a million full-timers that call their RV home, but for the majority of owners RVing is a hobby. Most recreational vehicle enthusiasts start their vacation and trip planning in late winter and start executing those plans in early spring. They enjoy their RV through the temperate months and shut it down for the winter.
While most news pundits were arguing daily about Election 2020, Pandemic 2020 snuck up on us all. Suddenly, RVing was simply not important…until it was. After weeks of quarantining, social distancing, and working from home we found ourselves with mixed emotions.
On one hand, we felt grave concern for those affected by COVID-19. On the other, we longed to scratch that itch of being on the open road in our RVs, planning campfires and anticipating the rush of seeing epic national monuments and parks. In the midst of it all, we found a lot of time for reflection.
A good friend often said, “You always make time for what matters.” Initially, we all did that. We gathered the family together and hunkered down. We prayed for those that weren’t with us, and for those on the medical front lines. We stocked up what we could, and conserved the rest. The first few days for many of us were a surreal vacation, not really expecting it to last and enjoying the break at home.
As days slipped into weeks and the gravity of the situation took hold, we realized that we should try and keep our minds and bodies as busy as possible to ward off both weight gain and worry. Many RVers turned to RV maintenance and renovation. Some of us turned to writing and reflection. During these times I thought a lot about RVing and what it really means to me.
1. Having an RV is a luxury
One of the criteria I had before purchasing an RV was that we must keep it at home. We had a 60-foot concrete slab poured and a 50-amp service put in to hold our big diesel pusher. Seeing it every day in my driveway not being used was a reminder that having this motorhome is really a luxury. We didn’t need this RV, we wanted it. We could have rented more frequently, or chose an alternate style of vacationing, but we simply wanted to do things this way, with an RV.
Surprisingly, getting rid of this luxury during difficult times was only a brief thought. Rather, the benefits of having a self-contained bug-out vehicle just in case things went really sideways was appealing. We’ve kept the fuel tank full, kept it insured, and had everything ready to go shortly after the beginning of this coronavirus crisis.
2. It’s more than just a hobby for many
During the COVID-19 crisis, RVers across the U.S. and Canada were monitoring vital websites like RV LIFE Campgrounds, Recreation.gov, and their own state park sites to learn the status of campground closures. Why? Why get so worked up about finding a place to “vacation” during these difficult times? Because RVing is more than just a hobby for many. It’s a lifestyle, an escape, a way of life.
What could make more sense than getting away in a self-contained quarantine station on wheels to a more remote location? Self-isolating is exactly what many RVers do, and long to do every year. RVing Facebook groups were awash with comments from thousands of RVers biding their time and scheming to make that next RV trip as soon as possible.
3. RVing is freedom
There is a certain freedom, a release from the norm, that RVing provides. For me it’s hitting the road in our big rig, sitting eye-level with 18-wheelers and enjoying the open road. For others, it’s that relaxing time in the evening in front of the fire pit outside or the fireplace inside, momentarily away from the cares of this world.
RV freedom is waking up and stumbling outside to stoke a breakfast fire or take the dog for a walk without the slightest concern about what you are wearing or what you look like. It’s a feeling of brotherhood, whether you are towing a pop-up camper or driving a Prevost. RVers all seek the same thing, freedom.
4. RVing defines America
Though popular all around the world, usually called caravaning elsewhere, RVing is inherently American. RVing embodies that age-old American spirit to explore, often in a westerly direction. We expect the freedoms we enjoy at home to go with us as we hit the road and choose where, when, and how we wish to go. We relish the choice, our choice, to camp in the woods, on the beach, or in a $100 per night luxury RV resort.
As Americans, we bond with strangers as we share our national treasures. Standing next to others on the rim of the Grand Canyon, we beam proudly as visitors from around the world stand in awe of our great natural resources. We stare up at the faces on Mount Rushmore and look at our past presidents.
5. RVing is the future of vacationing
As has been pointed out frequently lately, the future of the American vacation, at least for a while, will be RVing. As cruise lines continue to struggle and other countries mind their borders carefully, sheer good sense will dictate that perhaps the safest way to vacation for the time being will be to buy or rent an RV and see what this country has to offer.
Hotels, cruise ships, and airports will not be the best place to congregate initially. As restrictions start to loosen, state and national parks will open back up. Private campgrounds that have closed due to COVID-19 will open back up as well. RVing was strong before the coronavirus pandemic, it has the potential to really boom after it.
A glimmer of hope
As a return to normalcy begins to emerge, RVers are checking tire pressures and de-winterizing in hopes that summer and fall will soothe the RVing itch that has gone unscratched thus far.
All around RV industry enthusiast who has been RVing for 8 years and enjoys trips with his wife and dogs in their diesel pusher.
Kathi Feyti says
Thank you for the nice article. Certainly in agreement. When we all get ‘cut loose’, we’ll be vying for campsites and I’m sure the campgrounds will be raising their prices to make up for the spaces lost during these months. Lets pray that we will all be here next year planning our lives again in the RV.
Joe Spidle says
Good article. I’m not sure we will all be seeing packed campgrounds anytime soon though. Many families that already own an RV may or may not hit the road for some vacation time. Much will depend on their financial situation after this whole thing slows down. As far as newly retired folks running out to purchase an RV for traveling….again, a lot will depend on financial situations. How much did their 401K get hit? I guess we will just have to wait and see what 2020 and 2021 brings.
Blanck S & K says
Good information! I hope that this site will give us a list of places which are open rather than closed!
Good article, I enjoyed reading it.
…but I’m not as optimistic that we’ll be “cut loose” anytime soon. Normal is still a very grey concept. Having our rig gives us a feeling of possible escape. To where…from what to what…the mystery is still evolving
Joe Allen says
Your thoughts and ideas hit home for us, as we are on our 7 year of full time adventure! We should never take our freedoms for granted and enjoy all that living life in an RV has to offer! We are so blessed to live in the greatest country in the world. I pray that God heals our lands and allows us to continue in this great lifestyle! Stay safe out there!
Paul Goldberg says
I agree with much of your article, but you give short shrift to fulltimers who today are struggling to find places to STAY SAFE off the road to wait out the clearance to move. It behooves the RV media to remind those who have a choice to CHOOSE to Stay Safe at home and leave any spaces that might be available for those who do not have that choice. I am comfortably situated on my own site in an Escapee Coop. I have hitch itch as bad as any, because I actually am living in the beast. I will not roll a wheel so long as the closures continue lest I deny a fulltimer who has no choice access to a site
Patrick Buchanan says
Paul, I agree. Full-timers have it tougher than I led on. Through an initiative we’ve started on Campground Reviews to contact over 20,000 private campgrounds, we are tagging as many as possible as Covid Open or Covid Closed to provide the best hope of someone finding a campground.
You are a good person and I thank you for being considerate of your fellow human being. 😊
This article sums up everything I’ve been thinking about as this pandemic pushes on…the brotherhood remark really hit home – I love being by myself in my RV away from the world but with others, like minded…never could put my finger on it until you nailed it…thanks
The most accurate article I have read in a long time.
Ronda Stavinoha says
This was Fabulous..
Thank you, God Bless. Stay safe and healthy.
Patrick Buchanan says
Glad you like it Kathi. Hopefully we can make up for some of this later this summer and fall.
Debbie Melin says
Thanks for this positive article amid the strange new world we are living in. The work and lives of those who RV full-time has changed as drastically as any during this time of craziness. I hope and pray for the USA and for those of us who share a lifestyle that reminds us of the precious freedom we have in our RVs.
Landon Kimbrough says
Yes. Went out for my monthly generator run and sat there really missing being on the road. This time two years ago we were just heading out for Newfoundland and icebergs. On the other hand, the yard is sure getting some needed clean-up that just doesn’t get done when we’re gone half the year.
I live in an area in NH that’s surrounded by campgrounds. I get that people from afflicted states like MA, NY, CT, RI can’t wait to come up camping (we RV too), but many of us are concerned.
For one, visitors will quickly overwhelm our local resources; our few food stores that already have semi-empty shelves and our small, limited care hospitals. (Closest one has only 25 ICU beds, one respirator.)
Secondly, NH’s COVID-19 counts may seem small so a safe place to come to, but that’s because many of us have not been tested. I read one estimate that may be up to 10x more than counted. As an example, my husband & I may have suffered through 4-6 weeks of COVID-19, exposed by a friend who flew back from Las Vegas in February. We live 25 miles from nearest hospital so just toughed out the headaches, burning throat, dry cough & struggling to breathe at home. Other neighbors told us the same – got sick but just rode through it. Nobody has tested or counted us yet.
NH’s population grows considerably due to campers & people that own summer homes. Our governor is asking RVers to self quarantine in their RV for two weeks. That said, we are voicing to keep camgrounds closed for now. Please be aware that those Johns Hopkins numbers don’t tell the whole story. Thank you.
Eric on the Left Coast says
I would echo the sentiments expressed here, on staying away from organized RV campgrounds if we still have a fixed residence (house/condo/apt), and that for most of us, owning and using an RV is a luxury, although it may seem to be a necessity right now.
So, when we can finally get out safely and use our RV, let’s remember this: we are more fortunate than many, and whatever new rules or requirements have been implemented are for everyone’s safety, so be sure to observe them all.
Hello and thank you for your wonderful article. I do wish to emphasize, as a full-timer, that due to “vacationers”, and yes, there are a number of “in-state vacationers” out every weekend! The practice of “safe-distancing” has forced us to remain in our rig when vacationers are afoot and taking extra precautions in our “area”. We have experienced difficulty locating anywhere we can stay within the midwest for a period longer than 14-days, if we are lucky. Most of those which are open are price-gouging horribly! I’m talking $75-77 per night in comparison to their previous fee of $28-33! Also, unable to locate spots which are available “reasonably” for monthly’s, as they are implementing a “seasonal only” rate which too are not within reason. Gratefully, there are a few states of which are allowing for self-contained full-time RV’ers in their State Parks for short-periods of time. And with HUD’s 2016 changes to parking allowances (even in your own driveway, in HUD regulated states), this adds to the stressors for those of us who just wish to park our home and de-stress.