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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.