Facts about the Coronavirus for RVers

For the record, when I say “facts” about the coronavirus for RVers, I mean factual experiences and observations about how the current pandemic – and the crisis created by societal reactions – has personally affected full-time RVers like Rene and me, and our fellow digital nomads.

COVID-19 Alert

I do not present any statistics, there are plenty of those to be found. This is an opinion piece. So…

How does the Coronavirus affect full-time RVers?

I am no epidemiological expert. But I have been full-timing and working from home for 13 years now. And, I manage the largest workamping group on Facebook. So, I have some observations to share about how the coronavirus pandemic – and how society is reacting – affects the nomadic lifestyle.

Essential Travel for RVers

All travel is essential for full-time RVers. We live on the road. So as travel becomes more limited, and restrictions become more strict, what are nomads to do? After weighing our post-pandemic travel options, we decided to bug out from our last location and head somewhere we can stay indefinitely. Thanks to some very gracious friends!

With no idea of how bad this might get, or what measures state authorities might take to prohibit entry, I wanted to get across the Oregon border without any hassles. We made it just fine, Texas license plates and all. But now I am seeing more and more stories of checkpoints in some states stopping out-of-state vehicles to screen and document visitors. All while some remaining states are refusing to enforce any sort of sequestering at all. That I simply do not understand. 

One fact I do believe – as we all should – is that this virus does not move. People do. Limiting the movement and interaction of people is the only way to slow the spread of COVID-19 – or, flatten the curve as they say. As we drove through L.A. in late March, we did notice a nice reduction in traffic. Driving up I-5, the majority of vehicles we saw were trucks. Kudos to all the truckers out there keeping logistics flowing.

Apparently Sacramento didn’t get the memo…

COVID-19 Alert

Precautions for Travelers on the Road

While keeping our travel basically essential, we have also been taking extra precautions on the road. After being pretty sheltered from the outer world at FOY for the past few months, I was looking forward to getting out and checking out small town America once again as we headed back north for the summer season. The COVID-19 pandemic took care of that. But we did need to cover about a thousand miles in a few days.

Fueling Safety

That required fuel. Lots of fuel meant frequent stops, interacting with others, and touching things they have touched. I kept a bag of disinfecting wipes in my pocket and wore gloves whenever getting diesel. I would wipe down pump handles and the keypads for the next customers who may not be taking this as seriously as they should.

Gas pumps are among the filthiest surfaces numerous people touch every day. After Rene had to pay inside – when our card got declined because we are on the move again – she didn’t touch any door handles, and quickly disinfected the debit card.

Quick Side Note: Yeah, having your card declined at the pump is a common issue for nomads on the move again after being stationary a long time. Full-timing Tip: Call your bank to put a travel plan on your account when moving on to new states. FYI: Payment at the pump is an online transaction which is more likely to be declined than paying in person – Yuck! Even more so these days.

fueling safety

This trip also required stocking up prior to arrival. We had not done any major shopping for a long time, so it was shock enough to walk into a Winco. Rumors of empty shelves and toilet paper hoarding turned out to be true. I’ll save those photos and commentary for my next fun friday fotos post.

empty shelves

RVers Sheltering in Place

After three days traversing the length of California, things honestly didn’t appear that different. Most people seemed to still be going about their business in the big cities. The first real sign I saw of any sequestering orders being followed were the empty parking lots at all the factory outlet malls.

To be perfectly honest, nothing much at all has changed at home for Rene and Me. We have worked from home for more than 20 years. And we really don’t get out much anyway. So this whole Coronavirus thing hasn’t really hit home for us. And I simply cannot understand how some people out there living the default life are getting bored or going stir-crazy. Many seem to have a hard time deciding what to binge watch on Netflix. Well now there is an app for that, more than one in fact.

Our homes may have wheels, but we do need a place to park them. All RVers should enforce their own essential travel rules, by traveling as little as possible. Now is not the time to keep checking states off the map on your door. Most attractions are closed anyway. Find somewhere safe and stay put a while.

Workamping with Coronavirus

Wait, that sounds wrong. I don’t mean workampers with Coronavirus. But I manage the Workampers Facebook group, so I’ve seen how the COVID-19 is having an affect the workamping lifestyle. I have already had to shut down a few conversations and booted members when those discussions turned ugly. Give Faceborg trolls any reason and they’ll turn topics into a political fight or anger fest. But I digress.

Workampers need to get from one job to the next, requiring essential travel. Unfortunately, many parks are also closing down, or cutting back their staff. With state and national parks closing, many of those workampers are being told not to come. Also, very unfortunately, there is a growing percentage of workampers workamping because they have to – and not because they want to. These folks often need paying jobs, and only travel from one workamping job to the next. When they are told to leave their job, or that they cannot arrive, what are they to do? See essential travel above.

Some workampers are being told they must self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival, without getting paid. For those who live check to check, week to week, it must be very difficult. All the more reason to develop multiple revenue streams to support your nomadic lifestyle. It is times like this we are happy workamping to us means working and camping wherever we want.

COVID-19 Alert

In these unpredictable times, one hing is certain. Full-time RVers like us comprise a forgotten segment of society. Measures to shelter in place and limit essential travel take on new meaning when your home has wheels. Shutting down public lands to promote physical distancing, limits the available options for those of us who call those places home. I will say, that I do feel better quipped as a nomad to ride out this pandemic and whatever affect it has on society.

Barren store shelves, empty highways and COVID-19 alerts are kinda creepy. But things will likely get worse before they get better. Personally, I plan to heed my mother’s advice: Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.

How are you coping with Coronavirus while RVing?

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4 Responses to “Facts about the Coronavirus for RVers”

  1. It’s at times like these that I’m thankful we were already in a long-term park when all this went down. Luckily here in Oregon the attendants pump your fuel for you, and most of them wear masks and gloves, so all we have to disinfect is the card.

    We just had to go into WA yesterday to get to the closest bank branch that’s still open (drive-through only), and so far no monitoring or border shut downs up here.

    If you run out of TP, I’ve noticed Fred Meyer tends to restock faster than Winco.

    Hugs from up in Portland. Hopefully we can meet up once it’s safe.

  2. Hey Jim and Rene,

    Thanks for the post. Greg (my travel companion and hubs for over 30 years) and I are almost 3 years into this full time RVing lifestyle. We had our first experience of being asked to leave an Escapees Co-Op in Benson because we just missed checking in the day before because the office closed early that day. And, the Board voted that night to not let new folks come in. We missed getting in by about 15 minutes… at first I was scared. But they gave us a list of other places to try and we got another spot just down the road and it was really nice. We then made a plan for hunkering down. While it is not the place I would normally choose to stay for a long period due to weather, it has some benefits: local family (with a new baby to boot), and some access to stores within a 1/2 hour drive, and beautiful scenery. We landed in the Texas Hill Country. And we are scheduled to be here till the end of May. All of our reservations at National and State Parks during this period have been cancelled one by one. We only hope our schedule volunteer projects in New England this summer still get to happen. Greg is really bummed about missing Gatsby Days in RI in late May, but the event has been cancelled, and it makes sense. I think going forward the ability to travel and go to new places will be situational, depending on when the virus peaked in that area. So moving forward on our travel plans is sketchy. Regardless, it is people like you that make me NOT want to give all of this up and succumb to the sticks and bricks home. I yearn for a chance to “live off the land” with a lithium and solar system, a big ole garden and a few animals to help mow the lawn. But alas my 35 foot fifth wheel has to made due and I will certainly be giving my AC a good workout for the next couple of months.

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