What 2022 looks like for RVers

2022 is shaping up to be another strong year for camping

The RV market exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel restrictions remained in place, many craved any opportunity to get out of the house.

Camping at Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As a result, recreational vehicles provided a glimmer of relief for those seeking safer travel. The demand for self-sustaining travel kicked the RV market into high gear in 2020 with record numbers of travelers buying or renting an RV.

But what about 2022? Will the trend continue?

Camping at Meaher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Despite relaxations in COVID regulations for airlines and international travel, one phenomenon of the pandemic appears here to stay—campers are staying dedicated to the great outdoors. A new study from Kampgrounds of America (KOA) shows that camping and its many variations, particularly glamping and RVing, is quickly being embraced by the new leisure-seeking traveler and is becoming a part of travel culture faster than ever.

Camping at Potwisha Campground, Sequoia National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Over the past two years, the camping industry witnessed a growth of 36 percent with over 9.1 million first-time campers joining the scene just last year, the KOA survey showed.

While one-third of the newcomers said that COVID was their main catalyst to try camping, these numbers also come in tandem with the increased interest in leisure and wellness travel since the start of the pandemic. People are increasingly searching for quieter getaways, outdoor wellness retreats, and escapes into the wilderness.

Camping at Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Among all survey respondents, two-thirds reported regularly participating in some type of leisure travel whether it’s camping or other types of travel. In 2021, camping accounted for 40 percent of all leisure travel.

Related Article: Why are RVs So Popular?

Camping at My Kentucky Home State Park, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The urban camper

Among regular and new campers, the urban resident is proving to be a rising star in the camping scene. In 2021, this type of camper emerged as “one of the most avid camping segments in terms of both trips and number of nights spent camping”, according to the KOA report. 

Camping at Poches RV Park, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping provides city residents a chance to find local or domestic activities that still offer a change of pace. The urban residents who intend to continue camping reported interests in a variety of camping categories starting from RVing and road trips to backpack camping and glamping.

Camping at Buccaneer State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While music festivals continue to be one of the urban resident’s most popular reasons to go outside they are still developing a new curiosity to the offerings of camping. In 2022, 44 percent of this group reported plans to replace a traditional leisure trip with a camping trip due to economic reasons and avoidance of crowds.

Camping at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Glamping as leisure

Similar to the year prior, close to half of new campers said they tried glamping in their 2021 camping experiences. This interest is expected to grow in 2022 with 50 percent of respondents saying that they are also seeking a glamping experience.

Related Article: RV Sales Continue to Soar and Here Are the Reasons Why

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

While 40 percent of leisure trips result in camping, 80 percent of all leisure travelers chose camping or glamping for at least some of their trips. Due to the high level of interest in camping and glamping amongst the leisure traveler, many industry leaders are recognizing the importance of camping in the hospitality industry. 

Camping at Seven Feathers Casino RV Resort, Canyonville, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Our research shows that camping is one of the primary ways households prefer to travel and spend their leisure time because 75 percent of campers say it reduces stress and contributes to their emotional well-being,” said Whitney Scott, chief marketing officer of KOA. “Camping is driving leisure travel’s recovery and its benefits will fuel future market share.”

Camping at Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Work life balance in the Great Outdoors

But, it’s not just leisure that new campers are seeking. 

Related Article: How to Choose the Perfect RV Park and Campsite?

Remote work is flipping the traditional ideals of workplace culture on its head inducing both support and concerns about the new normal. Many people aren’t exactly longing for a complete cut-off from work when they travel nor do they view it as completely realistic or possible. The distinction between leisure travel and remote work is being obscured and when it comes to camping behavior, 46 percent of campers said they worked remotely during at least some of their trips which an increase of 5 percent from 2020. 

Camping at Cedar Pass Campground, Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As a result, close to half (48 percent) of campers list having Wi-Fi as a critical element to their camping experience impacting their ability to stay outdoors so they can stay connected to their work life. Providing connections to the digital world even when out of doors is becoming an important part of customer satisfaction with campgrounds.

Camping at Holiday Travel Park of Chattanooga, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV boom continues, but will it last?

In addition to glamorous camping, RVing is also recording an all-time peak with almost two million new RV renters in 2021 and 15 million households RVing at least once to explore the outdoors. In a profile of 2021’s New Camper in the KOA survey, RVing was the most popular form of camping that people wanted to try with a 57 percent response rate. It was quickly followed by tenting at 56 percent and glamping at 51 percent.

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

In the past, most RVers rented or borrowed RVs for their vacations but the results of the recent survey showed that they are displaying more permanent commitments to these mobile homes with 77 percent of RVers now owning their recreational vehicle. Interest in owning an RV is still present among the remaining non-RV owners with 32 percent saying they have intention to purchase an RV in 2022.  

Camping at Arches National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

However, this spike in RV interest may soon hit a cap as soaring gas prices are prompting RVers to make a change of travel plans in 2022. Some are seeking to either change their RV or even consider selling or listing the RV. About half of new RVers say they are considering selling their RV this year while a fifth are downgrading their RV to lower payments and operating costs.

Camping at Cave Creek Regional Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Increasing Fuel Efficiency

Currently the harsh reality is that fuel prices are higher than usual. So, whether you camp close to home or plan to travel farther away, you can avoid paying high gas prices by simply doing a few things that will make your RV more fuel efficient.

Camping at Roosevelt State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep your RV and tow vehicle tires inflated to their recommended tire pressure. Every five pounds per square inch (psi) of tire pressure you lose can translate into a 2 percent loss of fuel economy.

Related Article: Is This The Summer Of The RV?

Keep up with vehicle maintenance. Oil changes and tune-ups on your motorhome or tow vehicle can result in between 4 percent and 40 percent increase in fuel economy.

Camping at Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t be a lead foot. Rapid accelerations and fast driving can quickly drain your tank. Keep your speed constant. Going slow and easy coming out of stops will really help decrease fuel use too. Speeding and rapid acceleration can decrease fuel economy by a whopping 15-30 percent. To avoid having to fill up as often be sure to maintain your speed a constant 55-60 miles per hour.

Use the air conditioner sparingly or not at all. Using the air conditioner in your RV or tow vehicle will reduce fuel economy as drastically as 5-25 percent. That’s a big drop. Traveling in the cooler early morning hours will help you avoid the heat of the day.

Worth Pondering…

It’s a beautiful day for it.

—Wilbur Cross

National Plan for Vacation Day

Plan the perfect RV trip on National Plan for Vacation Day

The fundamental freedom to travel is one of the aspects of our lives that have been most profoundly changed by the pandemic. We can all do ourselves a favor by looking ahead and planning travel.

Of course, there is no better way to travel the country than by taking a road trip in an RV! 

Road trip on Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to the US Travel Association, National Plan for Vacation Day celebrated on the last Tuesday in January, is a day to encourage Americans to plan their vacation days for the WHOLE year at the START of the year—and inspire them to use those days to travel to and within the U.S. This year’s National Plan For Vacation Day will fall on Tuesday, January 25, 2022.

Road trip on Bush Highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since 2015, when the travel industry and partners began tracking American vacation usage, survey findings have shown that vacation days are not being used, negatively affecting mental health, personal relationships, and job performance.

Scenic byway through Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National Plan for Vacation Day helps highlight the importance of taking time off to travel for our personal health and wellbeing. It’s also meant to highlight the importance of vacation planning and how much it can help our mental health, as studies have shown that trip planning makes us happier.

Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to Planning the Best Summer Road Trip

White Sands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping many people at home, it’s a great time to get a head start on planning your next road trips and adventures. In fact, research has even shown that vacationers are happier from planning a trip and looking forward to it more than when they return from their travels.

The study, published in Applied Research in Quality of Life (ARQOL), consisted of over 1,500 respondents and compared several variables including the length of stay, days passed since their return, and how much stress they experienced on the trip.

Along Creole Nature Trail, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Statistically, the most dramatic difference was between pre-trip happiness and post-trip happiness, indicating that there is more happiness from looking forward to a vacation rather than when you get back into the same old routine. Essentially, people who anticipate a vacation feel better off than non-vacationers, and once the trip is over, that post-trip happiness does not last long.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Planning vacations reduce burnout. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of workers feel at least moderately burned out and 13 percent are extremely burned out. Avoiding burnout was the top-rated motivator to book a trip in the next six months—ranked even higher than travel discounts/deals.

Of course, there is no better way to travel the country than by taking a road trip in an RV! 

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be planning my summer road trip right now rather than staying glued to the latest news on COVID-related lockdowns and vaccine mandates. Get a head start on your trip planning with Rex Talks RVing TODAY and enjoy the happiness and anticipation of later travels during a much-needed time.

Lake George, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After two years of living through the COVID-19 pandemic, we are feeling burned out and ready for a change of scenery. More than half (53 percent) of remote workers are working MORE hours now than they were in the office and 61 percent now find it more difficult to unplug from work.

Related Article: Epic Road Trips for this Summer and Beyond

Camping Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

However, Americans and Canadians are still not using all of their vacation days. Workers left an average of more than four days or 29 percent of their paid time off on the table last year but 64 percent say they desperately need a vacation.
Nearly six in 10 (59 percent) agree that travel is more important than ever and 61 percent plan to make travel a top budget priority in 2022. 81 percent of Americans are excited to plan a vacation in the next six months.

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of course, there is no better way to travel the country than by taking a road trip in an RV! 

Planning an RV trip ahead of time is always a great idea. You’ll know exactly which routes to take and what roads are safe for your RV. You don’t want to get stuck driving down a road that is too narrow or down a highway with an overpass that is too low for your rig.

Camping at Gulf State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Searching for that perfect camping experience? Not all campgrounds and RV parks are created equal. You’ll want to read campground reviews to see if your destination will be right for you. Maybe you want specific amenities like a pool and sauna, pickleball courts, or reliable Wi-Fi.

Distant Drums RV Resort, Camp Verde, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Good Sam has released its newly minted list of top-rated RV parks and resorts for 2022. In a review of their 157 top-rated parks, I detailed my list of the Top 20 RV Parks and Resorts for 2021 in two categories: My Top RV Parks that Received a Perfect Rating by Good Sam and My Top RV Parks Not Receiving a Perfect Rating by Good Sam.

While you’re planning your travels on National Plan for Vacation Day, you will also likely be running some numbers and working out your budget. Here are six ways to save money and cut down on expenses on an RV road trip.

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan on visiting national parks in the next year? Writer and historian Wallace Stegner famously called national parks America’s “best idea.” Turns out they’re also among the best ideas for an affordable RV vacation thanks to hundreds of drivable destinations throughout the country, free or inexpensive admission, camping, picnicking opportunities, and tons of cheap activities.

Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your National Park Vacation

Here are five reasons national parks make a great low-budget getaway.

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To save even more obtain an America The Beautiful Pass. They cost $80 and are good for the full year. With some parks charging $35 in entrance fees, the pass will pay for itself after just a few visits. America The Beautiful Pass is especially great if Utah is in your travel plans.

Myakka River State Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

State parks are wonderful places to visit on an RV family vacation. They usually have campgrounds and plenty to do.

Plan to eat in your RV as much as possible. Though it’s always fun to try the local restaurants in the areas you’re visiting, the cost of eating out can add up quickly, especially for traveling families. According to Journey Foods, the average price per serving of home-cooked meals is $4.31 while the average cost of eating out is $20.37.

Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Save money on fuel. Get a fuel discount card or check GasBuddy.com to find the cheapest gas in the areas you’re traveling.

Related Article: 6 Ways to Save Money on an RV Road Trip

Search online for coupon codes. Whether you’re buying something from a major department store or tickets for a local attraction, you never know if there is a code available that could give you a discount. Additionally, you may want the free Honey browser extension (joinhoney.com)  to scan for coupon codes.

Mississippi Welcome Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visit the local Visitor Center, Chamber of Commerce, or Tourist Center. There are always free things to do and visit like museums, hiking, birding, and local parks. Ask about discounts for major attractions.

Texas Travel Information Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There is no doubt that RVing is one of the easiest and safest ways to travel. No crowded planes or questionable hotel rooms are required—an RV gives you the freedom to explore and the peace of mind of having your own space.

Worth Pondering…

The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult.

—Marie de Vichy-Chamrond

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Travel Trailer

A travel trailer offers the amenities of a home with the portability of a trailer

If the coronavirus has you going stir-crazy, there’s a good chance you’ve thought about buying an RV and taking a road trip. After all, an RV allows you to travel without exposing yourself to germy airports and hotels.

Scamp travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You wouldn’t be the only person to come up with that idea. But if you’re a first-time RV buyer, there can be a steep learning curve to overcome. First, you need to figure out which type of recreational vehicle is right for you.

Solaire travel trailer at Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travel trailers are the most popular—and most varied—type of towable RV. They have solid walls and often feature a slide—a section of wall that pulls out to provide more interior space when camping.

In an earlier article we discussed advantages of a travel trailer and factors currently fueling an increasing demand for this type of recreational vehicle.

Travel trailer at White Tanks Regional Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A recent study revealed that demand for travel trailers is expected to rise 5.2 percent per year through 2022 to $12.6 billion with volume reaching 475,000 units on 3.9 percent annual growth.

Jayco travel trailer at Golden Village Palms RV Park, Hemet, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travel trailers are favored for their variety of options, from luxury to low-cost entry-level versions, and from those that require a truck to tow them to those that can be managed by most small automobiles.

Travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In this article we’ll outline the different types of travel trailers available for purchase and the pros and cons of this type of recreational vehicle.

Travel trailers come in a wide variety of sizes and designs:

Airstream travel trailer at River Run RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
  • Small retro-inspired teardrop trailers are essentially a tent and bed on wheels
  • Small molded fiberglass trailers like the Casita and Scamp have passionate fan bases for their low-maintenance designs
  • Mid-priced trailers offer a lot of space and features for the money
Travel trailer on display at RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The iconic Airstream has a distinctive aluminum body. Aerodynamic and low to the ground, these are easy to tow but are expensive for their size.

Travel trailer at Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Smaller trailers have a single axle; larger trailers can have two (or even three). More axles increase towing stability and increase your living space, but they also add to tire replacement costs.

  • How long are travel trailers: 8 to 40 feet
  • How much do they weigh: 1,000 to 10,000 pounds
  • How many can they sleep: From two to eight
  • How much do they cost: $10,000 to $150,000
Travel trailer at Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pros:

  • Spacious, open floor plans suitable for a variety of uses
  • Rigid walls provide some insulation from cold and noise, compared with a pop-up trailer or tent
  • Lower profile allows roof storage of items such as canoes
  • Very little setup time
  • Come in a wide variety of lengths and weights
  • Provides more interior space per length foot than motorhomes because it does not contain driving and engine compartment
  • Can be towed with a variety of vehicles fitted with a standard ball hitch and rated for the trailer weight
  • Tow vehicle doubles as local transportation
  • Lower profile allows easier entry than a fifth wheel trailer
  • Available in a wide range of amenities
Travel trailer at Sea Breeze RV Park, Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cons:

  • Less storage than fifth wheel trailers because it lacks a raised section
  • Driving and living compartments are separate; living area inaccessible while moving
  • Require a suitable tow vehicle
  • Least stable on the road of all RV types
  • Requires the most skill to tow and back up
  • Towing requires learning (and practicing) some different driving skills
  • Larger models can be difficult to maneuver in tight spaces
  • Larger models require large storage area when not in use
  • Large trailers require large trucks to tow
  • Larger trailers won’t fit into small campsites
Travel trailer at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere you find yourself.

—Anon

Why Do You Travel?

Is our urge to travel—to put some distance between ourselves and everything we know—still a worthwhile compulsion?

Why do you travel? Perhaps that’s not the easiest question to answer. Some people would say they travel to relax or to experience something new. But these things can be done from the comfort of our own homes. So why do we really feel the urge to travel?

Being grounded during the current COVID-19 crisis is forcing us to evaluate why we really want to leave home in the first place. 

Lake Pleasant, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If we stop to think about it, we travel because something we need is not available where we currently are. Historically that meant traveling to find fresh pastures, food supplies, hunting grounds, or goods to trade. Today, don’t need to travel across the seas to taste the spices of the Orient. But we might travel to find something within our subconscious mind that is not available in familiar surroundings. Our internal exotic spices if you will. 

Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But are we traveling because it’s a habit that we don’t really think about. Travel is often marketed as the ‘obvious solution’. Whether that’s Spring Break or a school assignment on ‘where I went this summer’ we are programmed to believe that a year without a vacation is an oddity to be avoided. We travel out of habit, we travel without asking ‘why?’ It’s time to think more carefully. Thought in travel? Now there’s a thought. 

Joshua Tree National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

My theory about our impulse to travel is that we have an inner drive towards growth and self-development. When this is blocked, we get unhappy. Self-development means the rounding out and development of our natures, the exploration of our potential. The desire to travel is a part of this inner drive to develop and improve ourselves.

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

This gets disguised when we are drawn towards specific experiences for seemingly benign reasons. But by digging deeper, we can realize that we idealize relaxing on a beach because we are stressed. We yearn to hike a mountain trail because we are tired of taking the street through the same city every day. We dream of joining a Mardi Gras parade because we want connection with vibrancy and community.

Crystal River, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So, in this time of reflection, how can we make the most of the opportunity to plan our future travels? 

The first question should be why, rather than where. Because travel is so freely available at a moment’s notice, we tend to skip through our reason for travel. The end result is we’re NOT focused on our motives and desired outcomes and often end up feeling rather blah and disappointed. We haven’t learned anything tangible or made any lasting changes to make us a better person.

Historic River Street, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The bulk of travel that puts the ‘where’ ahead of the ‘why’ follows a predictable blueprint, a blueprint that hasn’t much changed since the days of the Grand Tour. In the 17th and 18th centuries, aristocratic young men were sent with their tutors to travel around Europe and further their education by studying the work of the greats including Greek sculpture and Roman architecture. 

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

We continue to travel in this vein without thinking about it because travel guides still follow the same structure and pattern. These are the places we are supposed to go and things we need to see in order to be a good and worthy traveler. 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 when visiting Paris, Rome, and London.

Parke County, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But how do any of these things make us a better person? And if we wouldn’t visit an art gallery or museum in our hometown, why would we suddenly enjoy doing it on our travels? Why is it better to see London from far above when you could be walking the streets, tasting the street food, and looking in awe at the historical buildings?

Bluegrass Country, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Similarly, just because your friend or neighbor found a specific location wonderful doesn’t mean that it will bring you the same pleasure. You may have similar tastes, but you have very different needs, wants, and desires.

St. Martinville, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Once you’ve pinpointed the reason you need to travel, you may realize that the need to travel across the ocean has dissipated. If you are traveling to fix an issue, ensure that it’s a lasting fix, rather than slapping a band-aid on a bigger issue. 

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

When we travel again, having had time to think about 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? Perhaps the pleasure we derive from travel depends more on our outlook, rather than the destination itself, and the best way to make the most of our adventures is learning how to re-appreciate our everyday lives.

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

Worth Pondering…

To travel is to live.

—Hans Christian Andersen

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.”

Might Soon-ish likely be Sort of Over: Virtual Travel and the Revival of the RV Road Trip

If grocery stores are permitted to remain open while employing physical distancing guidelines surely spacious national and state parks and recreation areas can easily accommodate those who wish to treat their physical and mental health in the great outdoors

America is slowly but surely reopening for business. The start of May saw more than a dozen states relaxing lockdown measures that were imposed as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic began. While Georgia, Oklahoma, and Tennessee began relaxing rules earlier in the week these states followed suit as of Friday to varying degrees: Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming.

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The coronavirus crisis is creating health and economic concerns for just about everyone. A bit further down the priority list, it’s also impacting travel plans for a lot of people.

Babcock State Park, West Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

San Francisco-based Destination Analysts is tracking American travel sentiment as the travel industry continues to grapple with COVID-19 fallout and to look for clues to normalcy’s return. During a web event hosted by Visit Santa Barbara, results from their 4th week of analysis based on a survey of 1216 travelers fielded April 3 through 5 were released. Even amidst the daily tally of coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths, 41 percent have tentative plans to travel in July and/or August. Sixty-nine percent of US travelers say they miss traveling and are anxious to hit the road again, a number that continues to rise.

Gloucester, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For major sectors of the travel industry, the new numbers show that safety and health concerns have made hesitation soar. For example, more than 86 percent of travelers feel unsafe about cruising, 85 percent feel unsafe about international travel, 81 percent are concerned about flying, between 75 percent and 77 percent are second-guessing going to amusements parks and restaurants, and close to 70 percent are not sure about the safety of staying at a hotel.

Davis Mountains, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

People are feeling more comfortable with road trips and outdoors activities like hiking and biking which suggests to me that when travel begins to return, local and regional travel will rebound first. When will “normal” travel activity return? I’m thinking June as a likely marker for a gradual turnaround with summer offering a travel deals bonanza and fall becoming the “new summer” for many travelers.

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

More people will visit national and state parks and be in the outdoors away from crowds in the wake of the coronavirus. The types of vacations they take will likely change too. Road trips are poised to make a resurgence and more people are expected to gravitate to the great outdoors and similar social distancing-friendly destinations. Low fuel prices and the peace of mind and flexibility that come with being in your own vehicle will make RV road trips an especially appealing vacation option.

Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When the highly lethal and infectious Spanish flu swept through the country a century ago, U.S. national park visitation numbers which had been growing substantially took a dip in 1918 as the pandemic started. What happened next could be a sign of how travelers will respond to the coronavirus. The 1918 flu pandemic, thought to be the deadliest in human history, killed at least 50 million people worldwide (the equivalent of 200 million today) with half a million of those in the United States.

Raccoon State Recreation Area, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The number in 1918 went down to 436,000 (most analysts concur that Spanish flu, not World War I, drove the bulk of the decrease). People were either too sick or too scared to travel. Then, in 1919, it jumped to 781,000. In 1920, when the pandemic was basically over it jumped again, another 250,000 to over 1 million. From there on, it was fairly stable.

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

This suggests to me that we’ll go through a period when travel is very slow and as people start to feel comfortable again we’ll see an explosion of travel in general.

Watson Lake, Prescott, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With social distancing the new normal, more travelers will seek out more remote, off-the-beaten path destinations to provide a little more elbow room between them and other travelers. Once this thing is over we’ll see RV travel go through the roof. People will have such a lust of going out there to see the country.

Worth Pondering…

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