Why NOW is the Best Time to Plan Your Travel Bucket List

Have you been dreaming of destinations that you’d like to be quarantined in?

As we travel again, having had time to consider how much we miss traveling and exploring, will we do anything differently? Will we make better use of our time by ensuring that our travels have a defined goal in mind?

I posed the above question in an earlier post titled, Why Do You Travel? Many of us, I suggest, travel for the wrong reasons, putting the ‘where’ ahead of the ‘why’. We have a perfect opportunity to change all that with a new travel paradigm.

Ocean Drive, Newport, Rhode Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A renewed and surging interest in travel suggests that many people (including myself) are starving for travel and as it becomes safe to travel again, many of us will embrace it— and we should. But will we travel better than before?

Audubon Swamp Garden, Charleston, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This pandemic is not the first major disruption to travel and besides other outbreaks from SARS and Swine Flu to MERS and Ebola there have been volcanic eruptions, terrorist attacks, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados, and wildfires. But because this is so widespread and long lasting, I for one will emerge with a newfound sense of seizing the moment.

World’s Only Corn Palace, Mitchell, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Life is short enough without one not knowing when the next shoe will drop. A lesson to be learned is that if there are things you want to do in your life, you should put a plan in place and Just Do It.

In terms of travel, this is not a new idea since the pandemic. Each trip we create is by definition unique. What all of our trips share in common is the belief that any journey worth taking should be a rich personal story set within the larger narrative of life itself.

Lady Bird Wildflower Center, Austin, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In Why Do You Travel? I concluded that in this time of reflection we can make the most of the opportunity to plan our future travels by first asking why rather than where. Because travel is so freely available we tend to rush through this question.

Fort Jackson State Historic Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The bulk of travel that puts the where ahead of the why follows a predictable blueprint that hasn’t changed since the days of the Grand Tour; we visit the Louvre, tour the Pantheon, and ride the London Eye. We do all these things automatically because they’re what you’re meant to do.

Laughlin, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That is why you need to think about what you really want to do and see? Create your own Bucket List and do it in multiple categories that could focus on family trips and personal passions that could include an interest in history, architecture, food and wine. Then plan a realistic timetable to accomplish your goals.

Fountain Hills, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

During the pandemic, time is the one thing we have in abundance which makes travel planning even more desirable. This forced break is the optimal time to begin planning those big trips that require considerable research and forethought. We may also see tighter restrictions in place in terms of visitors to some of the most coveted sights which makes advanced planning even more important.

Julian, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This multi-year calendar approach makes a lot of sense for many reasons. Bucket list sporting events such as the Kentucky Derby, Indy 500, Daytona 500, Masters Tournament, Rose Bowl Parade, and Superbowl benefit from booking a year out.

Daytona Beach, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition, some trips can be done by just about anyone while others require a modicum of fitness and mobility that may mandate simply not waiting too long. If you want to hike the Appalachian Trail or heli-ski in Rocky Mountains, these should be closer to the front of your list.

Fort Frederica National Monument, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But besides these logistical issues the biggest reason to plan a multi-year bucket list calendar is to ensure you do what you want to do while you’re physically able and in a way you can afford. Since the world is just too big and diverse not to explore, use some of your downtime and emerge from this crisis with a better sense of all the things you want to do and see with the time you have remaining.

Rebecca Ruth Chocolates, Frankfort, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.

—Hilaire Belloc

How to Travel Safely As Restrictions Are Lifted?

Interest in RV travel has grown exponentially during the coronavirus pandemic

The travel industry has been profoundly impacted by the uncertainty and anxiety currently enveloping the country. Airlines, resorts, and hotels are now offering discounted prices in order to rejuvenate their bottom lines but thus far the public’s appetite for travel seems to be stuck in neutral. However, there is an alternative to traditional vacations that could ease your concerns about mingling with the masses.

Welcome to the world of RV travel.

RVs at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since early April, RVShare.com, a company that arranges RV rentals between RV owners and the general public, has seen a 650 percent rise in bookings as “long periods of isolation and social distancing have halted most forms of travel” and left people anxious to be on the move again but with personal safety always in mind.

Fishing at Goose Island State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When planning a trip in the next three months, the overwhelming majority of respondents (93 percent) want to avoid crowds, according to RVShare. This wasn’t always the case. The importance of avoiding crowded places when traveling has increased by 70 percent since the pandemic started. Additionally, 84 percent plan to travel with their partner or immediate family instead of friends or extended family.

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“RV travel has been a trend steadily on the rise for years due to RV rentals being more accessible than ever thanks to sites like RVshare,” said CEO Jon Gray. “We expect RVs to continue to gain traction as a preferred method of travel while consumers are seeking flexible options and a unique way to experience the outdoors.”

According to the company’s data, national parks are the preferred destination of 65 percent of their customers.

Alabama Gulf Coast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

TurnKey Vacation Rentals reports that although summer bookings are down from 2019, they’ve seen spikes in bookings over the past two weeks as well as travelers booking beach and mountain retreats for trips. As destinations start to open, there’s increased interest in the Alabama and Texas Gulf Coast and in mountain areas like Asheville, North Carolina and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It is worth noting that these locations are drive-to destinations as travelers now prefer to avoid air travel and stay closer to home.

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Outdoorsy is a peer-to-peer marketplace that connects families, solo travelers, and travelers of all kinds with trusted RV owners so they can rent an RV to power their road adventures. Their selection spans easy-to-navigate campervans to vintage Airstreams to luxury Class A motorhomes.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travelers can personalize their trip, customize their itinerary, and choose the price point that fits their budget. In addition to RV rentals being a controlled environment where renters can choose how much or how little they are exposed to others, where they travel, and more. Outdoorsy owners are held to high cleanliness standards and provide clean, sanitized, and germ-free RVs to those new to the RV lifestyle and veteran road travelers alike.

North Beach at Corpus Christi, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A survey commissioned during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shows that camping rates very high when Americans and Canadians are asked what they’re looking forward to once life regains some normalcy. Very strong majorities said it would be “reasonable” to have social distancing measures employed at campgrounds and on trails.

Terre Haute KOA, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Performed on behalf of KOA, the “North American Camping and the Effects of Covid-19” survey reached out to 4,000 American and 500 Canadian households for their opinions on how the pandemic affects their plans for camping in the months ahead. The survey is bullish in saying “camping is well positioned to rebound earlier compared to other types of travel once travelers themselves deem it safe to travel again.”

Gila Bend KOA, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nearly half (46 percent) of the campers surveyed said they view camping as the safest form of leisure travel in the post COVID-19 world. That percentage jumps to 72 percent when the question is posed to Baby Boomers. They also ranked camping as the safest type of trip, the survey found.

Camping in an Airstream at Lake Pleasant, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At the same time, 90 percent of leisure travelers and 95 percent of experienced campers said there should be some measures in place to enforce social distancing. Forty-seven percent of campers and half of leisure travelers “agree that limiting the number of people on a trail is reasonable.” Nearly half (48 percent) of prospective campers thought limiting group sizes would be reasonable.

Stephen Foster State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Twenty-one percent of the campers surveyed said they thought it was safe to camp right now while 54 percent said they thought another month or two should pass before it would be safe.

Bernheim Forest, Krntucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. Sometimes it is better to abandon one’s self to destiny.

—Napoleon Bonaparte

Uncertain Times?

Few things having to do with travel will be unchanged in the post-coronavirus world, but of all the ways we travel, the road trip may be least affected—at least, from a regulatory standpoint

Travel is one of the easiest ways to relieve stress. The adventure of exploring a new location—or returning to a familiar spot to unplug and relax—is a healthy way to recharge. With so many digital ways to divert ourselves these days, many are looking for meaningful ways to unplug. They’re rediscovering the necessity of just being. 

Middleton Place, Charleston, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But as we all work to “flatten the curve” and halt the spread of the coronavirus getting away and finding solace in the freedom of the open road has become difficult.

And now we’re all hopeful the day will come soon when regional and cross-country travel will become normal again. As we head into the summer months of 2020, the aftermath of the stay-at-home orders are affecting the way we think about travel plans and how we spend time outside our homes as safely as possible. 

Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What will we all do after this pandemic fades and the need to social distance recedes? As we emerge from The Great Indoors once again to The Greater Outdoors, I know I will approach life with an increased urgency and sense of wonder.

“We’ll get through these uncertain times together.” That’s what every single ad says these days. Have you noticed this as well?

Moody Mansion, Galveston, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But, life has always been uncertain. What are these people talking about? Life is nothing but change. That’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life.

You see, life was uncertain last year as well…and the year before. So in a way, nothing has changed. We can always count on change. In 2020, things are simply changing faster.

La Sal Mountain Scenic Loop, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the world inches towards recovery, I’ve started thinking about when I will feel good about traveling again. I’m fairly certain that it will be difficult to know with any certainty what’s completely right in the moment. Risk gives decisions consequences. That’s what makes them matter. 

Mobile, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I look forward to the moment when I can travel once again and take in the beauty of mountains and deserts, the forests and lakes. Like many people, my life lately has been one of increasing government regulation, a search for normalcy, settling in, neighborhood adventures, and wondering how and when it will all end—all rolled into one.

Picacho Peak (State Park), Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From experience where we are now feels a bit like climbing Picacho Peak’s steep and twisting trail with steel cables anchored into the rock in places where the surface is bare. It’s an uncomfortably temporary place to be. It’s a shaky limbo that lacks the excitement of moving forward and the comfort of being back on solid ground. I’m itching to start moving and doing, not to go back, but to move forward on our way to a new normal. 

Picacho Peak (State Park), Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are many decisions to be made in the coming months about when we can travel and where and how far. These decisions will require our utmost level of critical thinking and risk assessment. But, not today!

Pinnacles National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Today I’m here just sitting with it all. Shouting words of hope into the abyss and finding new forms of connection across canyons, across countries, and across the street in my own neighborhood. Will we get through these uncertain times? Yes, yes we can.​

City Market, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sooner than later, the campgrounds and national and state parks around the country will be bustling with like-minded folks eager to embrace the sweet relief of fresh air and colorful sights not available on the flat screen in their living room. Social distancing might be a priority for quite some time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t explore open spaces safely. At the end of the day, you can confidently return to the safety and comfort of your home on wheels.

Snake River, Twin Falls, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Do you know why a vehicle’s WINDSHIELD is so large and the rear view mirror is so small? Because our PAST is not as important as our FUTURE! So, look ahead and move on. 

Tips for Cleaning and Disinfecting Your RV

If you’re on the road during the COVID-19 outbreak—or even if your RV is waiting patiently in the driveway—now is the time to give extra care to your usual cleaning routine

Stay at home orders and basic guidelines for social distancing may be a new way of life for a while but that doesn’t mean there’s still not plenty of means to take advantage of your RV. In fact, I will argue that social distancing in your rig is one of the better ways to do it.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even if you’re minimizing contact with the outside world, there are some best practices you can take for keeping your coach clean and disinfected—and keeping everyone inside healthy and happy.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s a difference between simple cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning removes dirt, germs, and impurities using soap and water. This step doesn’t kill germs—it simply removes them which help lower their numbers and thus the risk of infection. Use soap and water to regularly clean surfaces. Be sure to pay extra attention to high touch surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, faucets, and sinks.

Cleaning Inside Your RV

2019 Dutch Star motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The inside of your RV likely contains a variety of different surfaces: wood, glass, corian, tile, fabrics, stainless steel—and more. All purpose cleaners are a good, broad option but they may not work as effectively on each surface. There is also no single product that works on all surfaces inside your rig. Before using a product, read the label and then test it on a small and inconspicuous area.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This is ideally a two-step process. First, there’s cleaning which is the removal of germs from surfaces. Second is disinfection which kills any germs left behind after cleaning. Start by using warm water to clean all high-touch surfaces. These include:

  • Steering wheel, dash controls, switches
  • Door handles, locks, handrails
  • Tables, countertops, cabinetry
  • Electrical cords, chargers, switch panels
  • Faucets, sinks, toilets
  • Electronics, tablets, touchpads, touchscreens, remote controls
2019 Dutch Star motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Soft items can be tossed in the laundry. Check product manufacturer tags for their highest recommended wash and dry temperature settings. If these items can’t be removed to put in a washer, steam cleaners and carpet cleaners are an alternative. These items may include:

  • Throw pillows
  • Upholstery and drapes
  • Carpets and area rugs
  • Window treatments

Disinfecting Inside Your RV

2019 Dutch Star motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After using soap and water to clean, use a disinfectant to kill germs that remain. Use each product according to instructions. Disinfecting wipes are also a good alternative. In any case, allow for proper ventilation when using a disinfectant.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you don’t have—or can’t find—disinfecting products, you can use a bleach solution. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a solution of 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water, or four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. When using a bleach solution, always use gloves.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We don’t often think about our phones, GPS units, laptops, and tablets when it comes to cleaning, but these high touch items can be especially germy. Often electronics manufacturers will have suggested cleaning methods listed in manuals or online. If you can’t find these to follow, use alcohol-based wipes or sprays that contain at least 70 percent alcohol.

Cleaning the Exterior of Your RV

2019 Dutch Star motorhome exterior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Part of being in the great outdoors means actually getting outside. Fortunately, it’s easy to disinfect the outside of your coach and stay safe—whether you’re in an RV park or boondocking off the grid.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome exterior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you arrive at a new campsite, disinfect any connections or hookups you’ll use. Use vinyl gloves for additional protection. When you’re finished, immediately throw the gloves away.

Then clean and disinfect any items you’ll have outside—things like patio furniture, railings, grill handles, and other high-touch surfaces.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome exterior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Maintain a safe distance from other campers (most health authorities recommend six feet). And avoid public restrooms, water fountains, and other public areas if at all possible.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome exterior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With so many products and surface types in your RV, the best way to ensure the products you’re using to disinfect are safe is to check care and maintenance directions provided by each manufacturer. These can be found in your manufacturers’ owner’s guides or online. These guidelines should help you stay safe and healthy while you’re still enjoying your RV.

Worth Pondering…

Each day I will rise and greet the morning sun, for it is a good day.

Life after Coronavirus: Ready to Travel as Soon as it’s Safe? So Is Everyone Else

How to stay safe but get somewhere too? Recreational vehicles are perfect for self-isolating at 65 mph.

The first half of 2020 has been filled with twists, turns, and roadblocks none of us expected. We’ve had to change our lifestyle … say good-bye … learn to wait. 

Make every day an adventure! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Everyone has a touch of cabin fever after the worldwide COVID-19 (coronavirus) lockdowns. So it’s no surprise that people want to travel soon. The travel industry took a hit during the crisis. Suddenly the idea of crowded airports made travel less appealing or even impossible for most people. It was no different for the RV industry. With campgrounds shutting down and stay-at-home mandates, RVing was also put on hold.

Bush Highway, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But, this pandemic won’t last forever and it’s important to look to the brighter future. After spending months at home cooped up inside, many people are planning to book, or rebook, a much-needed vacation.

Near Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to a recent survey of RV travelers, 77 percent are looking to make travel plans within the next three months. While the rush back to airports or hotels in busy cities will take more time, many will turn to RV travel.

Mount Dora, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVing is the ideal way to travel to not only avoid large groups, but a way to escape into nature and spend time outdoors whether it’s hiking your favorite trails, reading a book beside the lake, or cozying up around a campfire. RVs not only enable the outdoor lifestyle; they also provide a self-contained existence that other forms of travel don’t allow.

St. Mary’s, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV travel allows people to sleep in their own bed, cook gourmet meals, and control where they go and when. As federal and state restrictions are lifted, they’ll be able to experience the endless range of outdoor wonders throughout the country and the freedom of independent travel that RVs offer.

Lava fields, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVs are the ultimate self-contained units—it’s the reason why so many RVs are being used by medical professionals and others to self-isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic. RVs range from small towables to large motorhomes and many of them are designed to be completely self-contained with generators, solar panels, and laundry facilities.

Old Bag Factory, Goshen, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVs provide travelers control: they allow people to travel where they want and when they want. And they do this with the ability to stay connected with family and friends. These features are particularly attractive during this most unprecedented time. RVs provide a wonderful opportunity for people to enjoy vacations with their families while still adhering to social distancing which may stayin place in some form for a considerable time.

Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Trips that focus on outdoors/nature will be on the rise. People are ready to stretch their legs and get outside after months of being confined indoors with 65 percent of travelers reporting they will be heading somewhere in nature such as a national or state park.

The Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most RV parks provide site maps on their websites which offers the ability to note the general layout of the park along with the amount space between sites. Privately owned and operated parks usually offer numerous amenities including full hookups, Wi-Fi, cable TV, and laundry facilities. Public campgrounds offer fewer amenities and are typically found in national and state parks and local recreational areas. Visit recreation.gov to find listings of campgrounds on US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other public lands. 

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What kind of trips will be popular after the pandemic? 

RV travel, outdoor and nature style experiences like camping will likely see a surge of popularity. Vacations that minimize risks by avoiding crowded areas such as large cities and public transportation will provide a sense of comfort and security.

El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That’s it for today. Hope you enjoyed this edition of RVing with Rex.

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Anticipating and Planning for the New Era of Travel

Rethinking travel and changing your perceptions is the key to getting the most out of your travel time

Flight delays. Flight cancellations. Lost luggage. TSA checkpoints. Baggage screening. Customs. Turbulence. Little leg room. Hotel rooms not satisfactory or not ready. These are a few of the inconveniences that can set a vacation up for failure.

Blue Elbow Swamp, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Carnival Cruise Line is trying to weather a sea of ill-will by offering August trips for as little as $28 a day which for some is cheaper than staying home. Carnival has yet to disclose what precautions it will be taking to prevent further outbreaks. Until it does, $28/day cruises might not be enough to dispel passenger fears of jumping aboard another floating disaster. 

Reunion Lake RV Resort, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

COVID-19 (coronavirus) is making people rethink what a vacation looks like. How can we get the adventure and connections we crave without going through airports or taking a cruise? RVs answer that call.

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As we head into the summer months of 2020, the aftermath of the stay-at-home orders are affecting the way we think about travel plans and how we spend time outside our homes as safely as possible. 

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Numerous travelers have ditched an overseas vacation or cruise in favor of a road trip. When traveling in an RV, you don’t have to wait to get to the hotel to unpack and begin enjoying the trip, you aren’t affected by flight cancellations or delays, and every layover “stop” can be planned by you. You will never arrive at an unsatisfactory room because your luxury condo-on-wheels is your method of travel.

White Sands National Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The idea of vacation has changed significantly over the last few decades—even in the last few weeks. We have to get creative and change our perceptions of what makes for successful time off. The idea of vacationing more often and exploring more frequently has been a growing trend in recent years.

Marietta, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And as the world begins to return to some semblance of normal, it’s likely that “normal” will look and feel quite different. Our idea of getting away may shift in unexpected ways. Lavish, all-inclusive trips may give way to a minimalist approach in a desert expanse or a quiet forest. As we shift our expectations, some of the necessary lifestyle modifications may turn out to be exactly what we needed to achieve the relaxation we need.

Great Swamp Sanctuary, Walterboro, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More than ever before in recent history, people are cognizant of the safety requirements to maintain their health during the pandemic. The perception of walking into a hotel or restaurant with other people has changed simply because there’s an unseen risk that didn’t cross our minds a few months ago. An RV is a self-contained home on wheels that include a full kitchen, bathroom, sleeping and lounging areas, and entertainment which keep the family safe and healthy.

Texas State Aquarium, Corpus Christi, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Few things having to do with travel will be unchanged in the post-coronavirus world but the road trip will be least affected—at least from a regulatory standpoint. No one will tell you to wear a mask or take your temperature before you hit the road this summer.

Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

People will continue to be wary of crowded locations. Many will avoid the close quarters of airplanes, cruise ships, hotels, and restaurants with 93 percent of those polled stating they will avoid crowds.

Quail Gate State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here’s what your road trip of the future may look like. This will be the summer of road trips with the family including stops in national parks and state park and local recreation areas. It’s a controlled environment and a chance to spend time as a family and see the country—not just the airports or ports of call.

The roads are clear, fuel is a great bargain, and as places reopen they’ll be ready for you. Also, it’s easy to maintain social distancing.

Arkansas Welcome Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s nothing better than having your own space to come back to after a day of hiking or biking, lounging on the beach, or exploring a national or state park. Shower up, cook your own meal, relax with your favorite book or show, and settle down in your own bed.

Bartlett Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An RV is your self-contained home on wheels and gives you plenty of choices about how your travel experience looks and feels. Steering clear of busy public areas and eschewing the recycled air on a crowded flight will likely be smart decisions when trying to stay healthy in the coming months—and possibly for years to come

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Your Essential COVID-19 Guide to Staying Safe on the Family Road Trip This Summer

Traveling alone, together

Memorial Day is less than three weeks away which means the summer travel season is here. But with major airlines grounded, 90 percent of routes cancelled, the cruise industry hemorrhaging, and travel to Europe banned, the pickings are slim.

Highway 12 Scenic Byway, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

However, on the upside, fuel is cheap, crowds are down, traffic’s light, and RV rental deals abound. With 28 states slowly re-opening and easing stay-at-home orders, non-essential travel is back throughout most of America. So instead of sacking your summer plans and sulking at home there’s never been a better time to pack your family up in the RV and hit the road on an adventure.

Bush Highway, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here are 10 tips to make sure your summer vacation road trip is safe, sane, and life-sustaining.

1. Assemble a Corona Road Kit to assist in practicing safe hygiene and social distancing wherever you are and in all types of different public environments. This is as much for your own safety as the safety of the people you come into contact with. Some of the obvious basics include disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, disposable plastic gloves (buy them in bulk), face masks, rubbing alcohol, and bleach.

Newfound Gap Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Disinfect your RV and car frequently. Your vehicles are mobile “high-touch” surface areas both inside and out. Your door handles, seatbelts, gear shift, emergency brake, steering wheel, turn signals, phone chargers, seat adjusters, and every other knob and button you’re constantly grabbing are potential sources to transmit coronavirus. The good news is that you and your family likely will be the only ones in your vehicles. The risk is when you get back into your car from the grocery store, eating at a restaurant, fueling up, or returning to your RV you could be bringing the virus with you.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Use disinfecting wipes to clean down all the high-contact surfaces every time you get back into your car or RV. On any road trip your RV and car are your safe spaces. Keep it that way.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Stock up on essentials. A simple way to avoid the risk of contracting coronavirus is to avoid doing the same thing more times than necessary. Plan your trip to include stops at the grocery store and fueling up to minimize social contact.

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Stay in areas where social distancing comes naturally. The last place anyone looking after their health right now likely wants to be is in Las Vegas or any other large city. It’s more difficult to maintain social distance in high density areas than in small towns and rural areas. Consider not only where you’re traveling but also the availability of RV parks and campgrounds in the area.

Grand Canyon Railway RV Park, Williams, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Pre-plan your activities. Wherever you travel this summer many locations and activities that require close contact with others including amusement and theme parks, casinos, and water parks will be closed. Research in advance what you can and cannot do wherever you’re going, especially if you’re traveling with children and plan accordingly for your own quarantine entertainment. Bring hiking boots, bikes, fishing rods, and golf clubs. Pack board games, puzzles, iPads, and charger.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Be sensitive to locals. Numerous articles have been written recently criticizing the tens of thousands of people who fled New York and Toronto and other dense, urban cities to second homes and vacation rentals in more rural areas. Be respectful of the full-time residents in any town or location you’re visiting. They are struggling to keep their small businesses afloat and their families safe and will appreciate every effort you make to support them through your travel spending while respecting local social distancing guidelines and quarantine requirements.

Lake County, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Understand your health insurance and have a plan. This should go without saying especially for those traveling with children or anyone already predisposed to contracting coronavirus due to pre-existing conditions or compromised immunities. If you do get sick on the road, understand exactly where and how to get treated immediately. Put a plan in place in advance. When you register at an RV park inquire as to the protocols they have in place should someone become infected.

Wawasee Lake, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Always be prepared. Do your due diligence by completing preventive maintenance on the RV and toad. Carry a basic tool kit (store on curb side), LCD flashlights, spare batteries, and first aid kit.

Bluegrass Country, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Last but not least. Enjoy nature. Get off the beaten path. Go some place that you’ve never been. Explore. The coronavirus pandemic has confined hundreds of millions like never before. A good old-fashioned road trip will remind you to never take your freedom for granted again.

Crowley, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

On the Road Again: RV Travel the Hot Post-Coronavirus Travel Trend

America is slowly but surely reopening for business

As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak winds down, everyone is thinking about their next adventure. However, many are wary of crowded spaces. Many travelers will be replacing journeys to big cities with trips to smaller towns closer to home. But what if there was a way to see the country without stepping foot inside an airport or hotel? Welcome to the world of RV travel!

Utah Scenic Byway 279 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campers and RVs have been around for a long time. Covered wagons pulled by horses were technically the first campers ever. While the history of the RV is somewhat up for debate, the Smithsonian states that the first RV was unveiled in 1910 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Called the Touring Landau, it was quite luxurious for the time and even included a sink with running water. It was for sale at $8,250 dollars.

New River Gorge National River, West Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From there, the industry was off and running. As America developed its roadways and as national and state parks were established the drive for adventure had people hitting the road in record numbers. From Dutchmen and Shasta to Airstream and Winnebago, recreational vehicles were suddenly everywhere.

Botany Bay Plantation Road, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVs are now more popular than ever. Whether it’s buying your own or renting RVs through sites like Cruise America the old notion that RVing is only for snowbird retirees has gone out the window.

Geauga County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And why shouldn’t RVs be popular with people of all ages? If you include the price of your plane ticket, plus nightly hotel charges, RV travel is cheaper, plus, you get to sleep in the great outdoors. Camping in a national or state park and hearing the sounds of nature is a great way to add a whole new dimension of adventure to your road trip. Another benefit that many travelers love is that most campgrounds are pet-friendly so nobody in the family gets left behind.

Brasstown Bald Scenic Byway, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s nothing better than having your own space to come back to after a day of hiking or biking, lounging on the beach, or exploring a recreation area. Shower up, cook your own meal, relax with your favorite book or show, and settle down in your own bed. An RV is your self-contained home on wheels and gives you plenty of choices about how your travel experience looks and feels.

Historic Route 66 between Kingman and Oatman, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A great road trip is more than getting from point A to point B. It functions as a restart button; a cruise control for the mind. But it’s also a chance to gain inspiration, connect with a corner of the world different than your own, and make lasting memories.

Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here we provide suggestions for four road trips that wind through backroads, small towns, natural wonders, historical markers, quirky sites, and unforgettable views. Whether you’re searching for rural charm or a history refresher, these trips encourage you to stop along the way and take your time. Or maybe you don’t want anything out of a road trip other than an empty path, a warm breeze, and the sweet taste of freedom.

Either way—let’s hit the road.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Known as one of the nation’s best and most beautiful drives, the Blue Ridge Parkway runs for 469 miles across Virginia and North Carolina. It follows the Appalachian Mountains—the Blue Ridge chain, specifically—from Shenandoah National Park in the north to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the south. Because the Blue Ridge Parkway connects two national parks, it’s easy to visit both during your drive.

Creole Nature Trail, Louisiana

Creole Nature Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Creole Nature Trail, one of only 43 All-American Roads in the U.S., runs 180 miles through three National Wildlife Refuges. The main route is U-shaped with spur roads along the Gulf shoreline and angling into other reserves like Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge and the Peveto Woods Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary. This is the Louisiana Outback.

Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway, Washington

Smokian RV Resort on Soap Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take a drive on the Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway, an amazing 150-mile road trip revealing the story of the Ice Age floods when vast reservoirs of water flooded and receded from this valley hundreds of times. Between three state parks, a national wildlife refuge, visits to the Grand Coulee Dam and Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, you’ll find something for the whole family.

Scenic Byway 12, Utah

Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of the most beautiful stretches of road in the US, Scenic Byway 12 spans 124 miles in Utah’s red-rock country. The history and culture of the area blend together, making Scenic Byway 12 a journey like no other. Scenic Byway 12 has two entry points. The southwestern gateway is from U.S. Highway 89, seven miles south of the city of Panguitch, not far from Bryce Canyon National Park. The northeastern gateway is from Highway 24 in the town of Torrey near Capitol Reef National Park.

Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Safe Summer Vacation Ideas: Find the Place Where Everyone Isn’t Going

Where can you safely go this summer?

Is it safe to go on a vacation this summer? Families across the country are grappling with this question as summer nears and COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to alter our daily lives, six weeks after the country began implementing stay-at-home orders. So what should you do about taking a real summer vacation?

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Consider taking a road trip or going camping, suggests Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician for Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. He says minimal-contact options like those will be the safest options this summer and ideal for people who want to keep their risk factors low.

Along Champlain Canal, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And even though state health departments may give the go-ahead to reopen facilities like amusement parks, he says people with underlying conditions should avoid them because they involve more contact with a larger number of people and thus a higher chance of being infected. 

Along Covered Bridges Scenic Byway, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nothing is without risk and it’s all going to depend on how much risk you want to tolerate. Some don’t want to leave home until there is a vaccine while others are eager to take a family road trip. It’s really about being smart about where you choose. You’re probably best to avoid the bucket-list places that are crowded.

So where can you safely go this summer? The key is to find the place that everyone isn’t going to.

Folly Beach, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The longing to get out of the house is perhaps stronger than ever. The coronavirus has forced us to cancel everything from spring break travel to weekend getaways. For now, the only way we’re traveling is virtually. If you haven’t already taken advantage of it you can tour a national park online. Many zoos, aquariums, even amusement parks are offering similar live-look experiences. But it’s not long before the virtual trend gives way to a revival of the good-old-fashioned road trip.

Palmetto State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We are ready to hit the road and get back to feeling like we have that freedom to travel how we want and when we want. The immediate desire is to keep those trips short, to keep them regional, to keep them easy, and to keep them affordable.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

People are going to be more inclined to road trip than fly. In fact, a recent study shows nearly 50 percent of people are second-guessing flights and looking at road trips instead.

Fall could be “the new summer” and small towns in many states can expect to see a boom.

Dauphin Island, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are national and state parks and local recreation area and miles and miles of scenic highways and byways. These are the spaces travelers will gravitate toward right out of the gate where there will be a little more elbow room between ourselves and the traveler next to us. In other words, places that offer open space and physical distance will be very popular in our new social distancing era.

Borrego Springs, California

Borrego Springs sculptors © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A big part of any road trip is stumbling upon bizarre roadside attractions—and there are plenty to experience in the California desert. Just outside Borrego Springs and near the boundary of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, sculptor Ricardo Breceda assembled roughly 130 gigantic scrap-metal sculptures of animals, including dinosaurs and a saber-toothed cat. These fanciful creatures seem to march across the scruffy flats. It’s quite a remarkable menagerie with everything from desert bighorn rams in battle to a gigantic, 350-foot-long sea serpent that appears to be slithering through the desert sands.

El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico

El Malpais National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The richly diverse volcanic landscape of El Malpais offers solitude, recreation, and discovery. Explore cinder cones, lava tube caves, sandstone bluffs, and hiking trails. While some may see a desolate environment, people have been adapting to and living in this extraordinary terrain for generations. Come discover the land of fire and ice!

The Pinal Pioneer Parkway, Arizona

Springtime along Pinal Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Pinal Pioneer Parkway connected Tucson and Phoenix in the years before Interstate 10 was built. Now a little-traveled back road, it’s a much more picturesque route than the main highway. The parkway itself is a 42 mile-long stretch of Arizona State Highway 79, beginning in the desert uplands on the north slope of the Santa Catalina Mountains at about 3,500 feet and wending northward to just above 1,500 feet outside the little town of Florence.

Along Pinal Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The parkway is marked with signs pointing out some of the characteristic desert vegetation—saguaro, for instance, and mesquite. Pack a picnic lunch and stop at one of the many roadside tables. Stop at the Tom Mix Memorial, 23.5 miles north of Oracle Junction, at mile post 116, to pay your respects to the late movie cowboy.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A social distancing-friendly destination, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the colorful North Dakota badlands is a great place for hiking, camping, and sightseeing. Bison roam throughout the North and South units of the park and most visitors can see them as they drive along the park roads. Deer, elk, feral horses, longhorns, pronghorns, coyotes, and even bobcats can also be seen in various parts of the park.

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Tips to Help You Plan Your Post-Coronavirus Road Trip

Everyone has a touch of cabin fever after the worldwide COVID-19 (coronavirus) lockdowns. So it’s no surprise that people want to travel soon. But you’ll want to consider a few new strategies to protect yourself and others.

Rethinking RV travel and changing your perceptions is the key to getting the most out of your next camping adventure. Yes, driving trips are still possible, but the road rules are a little different for now.

Highway 12 Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A good driving trip can teach you something important for your mental health: The world is huge and most of it thrives without the slightest concern for human headlines. As lockdown orders end and isolation recommendations ease, the number of travelers on the roads will increase.

Yes, RV road trips are safe—as long as you take steps to protect both yourself and others.

US-321 between Gatlinburg and Townsend in East Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Road trips in 2020 are not like the road trips that came before. This year requires a bit more planning and patience, not just for your own health but to protect other people as well. If you’re planning a road trip—even one that only lasts a few days—you’ll need to consider several new strategies. Don’t worry. The scenery is the same.

Bring hand sanitizer

Francis Beider Forest, South Carilina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s not possible to have a road trip and not touch anything. You’ll be handling fuel pumps, money at check-outs, credit card/debit terminals, the doorknobs of gas station washrooms, and lots of other unexpected things.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Carry a big bottle of sanitizer in your RV and toad—and keep it out of sight because amazingly there have been cases of muggings and burglary in which hand sanitizer was the target. So hide the stuff as if it were money. For that matter, you might also consider bringing some toilet paper in case some lout ahead of you stole what the gas station had.

Drive carefully

Applegate River Valley, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This sounds like standard advice, but these aren’t standard times. People are not driving normally right now. Traffic-free conditions bring out the worst in drivers who think they don’t have to observe the rules anymore. Some locales have even adjusted the timings on stoplights to enforce traffic calming on overenthusiastic drivers.

Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other drivers are traveling slower or more erratic because they’re stressed or they haven’t been behind the wheel much in a while. Even steady drivers are feeling taut as drums because they’re afraid of getting in an accident that will send them to the belly of the beast—i.e., the ER.

Whitehall, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To preserve your sanity and to keep ambulances working on more important jobs, maintain the speed limit and put ample distance between you and the other vehicles on the road.

Plan RV parks ahead of time

River Run RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t assume you can find last-minute RV parks and campgrounds as you travel. It may be possible in some areas but not as easy as it was previously. RV parks are operating in a different way these days. Two new wrinkles affect road trips in particular: Not all private RV parks and public campgrounds are open and not all of them are accepting reservations from non-essential workers and overnight RVers.

On-Ur-Way RV Park, Onowa, Iowa © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So plan your route and nail down your campgrounds ahead of time. (Aren’t you glad you brought that extra toilet paper now?)

Maintain social distance

Bluegrass Country, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Your RV is your domain. You don’t need to worry much about new pathogens appearing in there. But whenever you step outside, Pandemic Rules go back in effect. Keep your distance from everyone.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refufe, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You’ll need to pack more patience. You may need to wait longer for a scenic viewpoint to empty out. You may need to pass on popular hiking trails that don’t provide enough space. But you will find alternatives—a parking spot that’s a little farther down the road, a vantage point that few others have discovered, and unexpected hidden gems.

Mount Lemmon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We still may not have a cure-all for what’s troubling our bodies, but travel has always been a panacea for troubled minds.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”