With the unofficial start of summer behind us and months before the kids go back to school—or not—many would-be-travelers with canceled plans are looking for ideas to travel safely. “Safe” does not mean the same thing to all people: While one person might be comfortable in an RV park because they have personal accommodations, another might find the campground itself too crowded for personal comfort.
In any typical year, the end of May marks the official start of road trip season. But 2020, as we’re all painfully aware is not a typical year. The COVID-19 pandemic is not just wreaking havoc on people’s health and livelihoods—in just a few months it’s all but decimated the travel industry as well. Airplanes are grounded, cruise ships are docked, hotels are closed, and several states still have stay-at-home orders in place.
But for those of us who prefer road travel in our own vehicle over flights and cruises, the news isn’t all bad. According to recent headlines from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CNN, LA Times, and many others, the American road trip is about to make a grand, splashing comeback. (Though, if you ask me, road trips never went out of style in the first place.)
Summer vacation will look at lot different for many families this year but perhaps what no one saw coming was the rise of the RV. The spread of COVID-19 has made air travel and public transportation mighty unpopular options while personal vehicles feel like more of a safe haven. Recent studies have shown travelers feel more comfortable in a personal vehicle where they can control the scenario, unlike shared transportation.
The RV Industry Association says RV sales have increased 170 percent when compared to this time last year. Some dealers are reporting sales at any all-time high.
In an effort to keep things more contained, those renting RVs aren’t looking to hit the road and travel to crowded areas. RVshare said its study found 93 percent of respondents want to avoid crowds and 65 percent want to be surrounded by nature. We could see a far greater number of trips to national and state parks and wide-open spaces.
Perhaps playing to Americans’ stir-crazy feelings of confinement, they’re planning to take longer trips, too. Almost half of those surveyed planned to get away for a week or more than 10 days. But, if you’re thinking about taking the plunge on an RV and socially distanced vacation, just know you’re not alone. Quickly, isolated areas could become the next popular destination.
Roadtripping is a great way to explore some of the most beautiful places in the country while still avoiding big crowds, and after being cooped up at home many are understandably antsy to hit the road again. Remember to be mindful of risks, both to yourself and others.
As we venture out consider that some of our fellow travelers are still adjusting to a new normal. To ensure everyone enjoys their chance to travel, keep these common-sense guidelines in mind:
- Before heading out, check the status of the area you plan to visit
- Phone ahead to determine under what conditions a park or attraction has reopened
- Check the rules for recreation ahead of time for the specific area you’re planning to visit
- Avoid high-risk activities like rock climbing or backcountry activities as law enforcement and rescue operations may be limited
- Select low-traffic locations and times
- Consider visiting less-traveled locations at off-peak hours to avoid potential crowding
- Practice physical distancing outdoors by staying at least 6 feet apart
- Avoid crowded locations where physical distancing may be difficult
- Plan ahead, as services and facilities will be limited
- If you are feeling even mildly sick, you should remain at home until you feel better
If we learn anything from these last few months, it should be to behave respectfully toward any people you encounter or communities you visit during your travels. Be kind, act responsibly, and leave it better than you found it.
The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.