While travelers are eager to go on summer vacations, more than 20 states reported a spike in COVID-19 cases during June. This means that large-scale gatherings and travel involving air travel are likely to be delayed. Here’s a tip for those who are driven by wanderlust: Go on a ride in an RV.
Interest in recreational vehicles has increased due to the pandemic. Motor home rentals and sales have increased dramatically. Although industry-wide data is still incomplete, dealers who reopened in May reported that their monthly sales were up 170 percent year-over-year; reservations through RVshare for the Fourth of Jul weekend have increased 81 percent over 2019.
The rental period has also increased in length. Jon Gray of RVshare, a peer-to-peer rental site, says that there has been an increase in people spending money because the average rental duration has increased. Renters now book for seven to ten days, instead of long weekends.
The Year of the Camper is 2020 thanks to the drop in gas prices, which are expected to stay low through the summer months. “People know it is the safest way to travel,” said Gigi Stetler, RV Sales of Broward, Florida, founder of RV Advisor. This advice site is member-driven.
It takes planning to sell my motorhome and navigate the country with a trailer, but that shouldn’t stop travelers from getting on the road. This is what you need to know about campervans.
Getting in gear
Begin by researching booking companies. Go RVing and Cruising America will help you find rental companies in the U.S. or Canada that have a variety of vehicle sizes. RVshare, Outdoorsy both peer-to-peer rental sites that offer everything from motor homes to popup trailers are available.
According to a study by RV Rentals , most rental companies charge a daily fee of $165 per RV or camper. There may also be a per-mile fee. TRA Certification lists a number of eco-friendly brands, from practices to parts, that have been certified.
To avoid any unpleasant surprises later on, renters first time should consider additional costs such as gas, food and campground fees. There are many options for vehicles, but most renters recommend an RV with a toilet. Renters must ensure that the RV is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, especially during the pandemic. RVshare has partnered up with TaskRabbit, offering professional cleaning services for camper owners.
A majority of rentals don’t require a special driver license. Before you book, make sure to inquire about rental insurance and roadside assistance plans. Before you start your RV, take advantage of an RV training session. Check the policies for your rental if you intend to bring a pet friend along. It is important to book in advance. Gray suggests that you speak with the RV owner to find out what other items they have onboard for renters in peer-to–peer rentals.
The road is yours to own
Aaron Levine has dreamed of owning a home with wheels for a long time. He says, “I love to fish, hike and enjoy being in the natural world.” He says the appeal of owning a campervan is the freedom and mobility it offers. The pandemic prompted the Phoenix resident to finally secure a deal for a 28-foot-long Gulf Stream travel caravan. He says, “It’s an opportunity to keep active and to avoid people.” Outdoor enthusiast, he has taken his trailer on the roads twice already and is planning to take a whole summer.
You might be drawn to the idea of a home-on-wheel if you are in love with it. Levine recommends road-trippers take time to research the options, as prices can vary from a few thousand dollars to a pre-owned folding or “pop up” camping trailer to well above $500,000 for a Class A motorhome.
Levine says, “Buy something you can trust to work for your family.” Think about what activities you are planning to do. A campervan or truck camper is the best choice if you plan on regularly climbing hairpin mountain passes and embarking upon day-long hikes. For large families, motorhomes 45 feet in length with large wastewater holding tanks and cooking appliances are a great choice.
Local dealers are a great resource for newbies. It will reduce maintenance problems down the line. Stetler says, “Do business with your local dealers because you’re going be needing them for service work.”
Where to go
Just as 18,000 campgrounds across the country are reopening, the RV boom is also taking root. However, there are restrictions. These restrictions can vary from campgrounds to campgrounds because states are responding to the pandemic at different levels. They’re likely to fill up quickly as sites reopen.
The National Park Service’s 8,585 motorhome pads will be limited for visitors to national parks. However, NPS officials claim they are “continuing to increase accessibility on a daily basis”. Upper Pines has RVs up 35 feet in length, and trailers up 24 feet. Wawona Horse has 93 RV and trailer pads. These sites aren’t connected to the internet, so there is no access to water, electricity or dumping. While more convenient than campsites without hookups, they are more expensive.
The Tower Fall campground in Yellowstone National Park and Fishing Bridge RV Park remain closed throughout the year. Madison, Bay Bridge and Grant Village campgrounds remain open. The remaining seven sites will be opening on June 19th and July 1st.
Especially during pandemics, ensure that you follow all park guidelines. Cynthia Hernandez, spokesperson for the National Parks Service, stated that visitors are encouraged to create responsibly and to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to lessen the spread of COVID-19. You can find a complete list of campgrounds on the individual parks’ websites.
Privately owned campsite operators are offering discounts and guarantees of strict physical distancing to campers. However, this means that they have to give up services that make them attractive alternatives for national parks, such as dog boarding, dining facilities, and communal fire pits.
Whit’s End Campground is located in West Ossipee. It is currently only open to New Hampshire residents. Management stated that the site’s swimming pool was reopened on June 15 and that there is good availability all year round, even though it is busy on holiday weekends.
The Grand Canyon Railway RV Park is located in Williams, Arizona. It has 124 RV spots and reports that they are available throughout the summer. Campers are advised to call or email the National Geographic Travel Center for any updates on facilities such as kenneling or communal fireplaces.
A short drive from Zion National Park, Utah, Zion River Resort reports that there is high occupancy at its 122-space campground in the coming weeks. However, availability will increase starting in mid-July. The management says that a typical year will see many European camping enthusiasts starting in July. However, this is not the case this year. This opens up more options for U.S. tourists.
Alexandra Keeling says that no matter where you travel, it is important to be flexible when plans change or mishaps occur. She has been traveling across the country for over a year with her tiny tin can trailer. Road life is always unpredictable. She says that traveling is much more enjoyable when you are able to go with the flow. “I have made some of my most memorable memories in places that I didn’t plan to go, and the hardest blows put me in a position to enjoy some of the best experiences.”