Your summer RV Trip faces unprecedented challenges this year.
We’re still in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Camping and non-essential travel is restricted in many places. Dangerous riots have erupted across America in every major city and in many smaller ones. The Canadian border is closed. There are safety concerns, financial concerns, and seemingly a new crisis every day.
This week in the RV Podcast, we talk about those summer RV trip challenges and how you can make your RV travel as safe and satisfying as possible, given the very unusual circumstances under which we now find ourselves in the summer of 2020.
Hello everyone and welcome to episode 297 of the RV Podcast. We have a lot to talk about this week. We have RV news, your questions, an interview about how you can get around those summer RV trip challenges, and get your RV to Alaska by ship, plus RV tips and suggestions.
Shownotes for Episode #297 June 3, 2020 of The RV Podcast:
RV Podcast: WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK
What tumultuous times we live in. Last week, as we finally started to move out of the national lockdowns from the coronavirus pandemic, we were saying who could have seen such a terrible thing.
This week, we look at the wave of terrible riots and violence sweeping the country in the wake of the protests over police brutality and the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and we say who could have seen such destruction and pain.
This podcast is about the RV lifestyle but we certainly have to acknowledge the terrible times we are living through. Jennifer and I are people of faith and optimistic by nature and we know many of you Fellow Travelers are the same and join us in prayer for our nation. None of us know what is next.
But at the same time, we believe we can move forward when it comes to summer RV trip plans but we have to do so recognizing the challenges we face. This will be a summer like no other we have expected.
As this episode of the RV Podcast releases, we’re still in Florida on Okaloosa Island. We’re planning a getaway camping trip next weekend and then, the week after, barring the unexpected – which is certainly happening a lot this year – we plan to leave Florida after almost six months and head to our home in Michigan.
We have lots of RV travel plans for late June and July and beyond but if we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that those plans have to be flexible.
RV PODCAST NEWS OF THE WEEK – Summer RV Trip challenges
Judge denies request to lift mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors as court challenge works way through courts
As we talk here on the RV Podcast about summer RV trip challenges, let’s start in Maine, where a federal judge has upheld the governor of Maine's requirement that all out-of-state visitors be quarantined for 14 days when entering the state. Two campgrounds were among several small businesses that filed a federal lawsuit saying the quarantine is unconstitutional for discriminating against out-of-towners. The governor permits Maine residents to go camping, but out-of-towners must be quarantined for 14 days before they can travel about. The small businesses, heavily dependent upon tourism, said this order was hurting them financially and sought a preliminary injunction to lift the order as their lawsuit works its way through the legal process. While the injunction was not granted, the case is still in the early stages. We'll keep you informed when we hear more.
One in four Americans interested in doing some sort of RV camping trip in next year, according to report
That’s just one of the summer RV trip challenges this year. But despite the many concerns, one in four Americans plan to take some sort of RV trip in the next 12 months according to a survey released last week from the RV Industry Association. The reason why so many want to travel by RV is because of COVID-19. As people shy away from airline travel, and express concern about staying in a hotel, more and more are buying and renting RVs and planning to do a summer RV trip in a self-contained style. We've been telling you this was coming and each week we hear about people buying RVs and camping trailers sight unseen. The demand remains very strong.
Yellowstone rocked by a cluster of 11 earthquakes in 24-hour period
How’s this for a summer RV trip challenge: Yellowstone National Park experienced 11 earthquakes in a 24 hour period last Friday, with the largest measuring 3.1 magnitude. Yellowstone, which just opened its remaining gates to the public this week, often reports earthquakes, but 11 in a short amount of time is notable. The park is home to a supervolcano, though authorities don't expect it to erupt soon. The earthquakes are part of what makes Yellowstone such a fascinating place. To see our favorite Yellowstone hike, click here.
More campgrounds continue to open, but check before you go
More campgrounds and national parks are continuing to open across the country. Michigan just opened camping in its state parks this week. Nebraska is opening more of its state park campgrounds June 4. In Washington state, counties reopened campgrounds Monday, yet other locations still pose summer RV trip challenges, like Vermont, which only allows camping for Vermont residents. As always, if you are heading out, check ahead to see what is open. States are opening more and more, and the best place we have found for knowing what is open is Campendium which you can access by clicking here.
Looking to visit Rocky Mountain National Park? Be sure to sign up in advance
Here’s a new summer RV trip challenge. Advance reservations to visit… that’s right, I said just visit… a national park. Anyone seeking to visit Rocky Mountain National Park will now need to reserve an entry time. In an effort to limit visitors during COVID-19, all people entering the park beginning June 4 need to sign up in advance for a permitted entry time. The goal is to reduce visitors to 60 percent pre-COVID-19 numbers. The system permits 13,500 vehicles to enter per day between 6 am and 5 pm. We'll be watching to see if the timed entry system spreads to other parks as well. Speaking of National Parks, Arches National Park had to close three hours after opening because of huge crowds this past weekend… that’s how desperate people are to be outdoors after the long shutdown caused by the pandemic. And up in Canada… where the Canadian-US border remains closed for non-essential travel including RVing until June 21… Canada was opening some of its national parks but will not allow camping at least until June 21.
(Our RV podcast interview of the week coming up in just a few minutes will talk about how to still do your summer RV trip to Alaska)
When you talk about summer RV trip challenges in 2020, canceled RV shows is another casualty of the pandemic. For four months now, every regional RV show and gathering and rally has been canceled, messing up the travel plans for tens of thousands of RVers. Now it appears that those plans will stretch into the fall. The biggest RV show in North America is the annual Hershey RV show held every year during the first week if September. While that show is technical still on the calendar, it suffered a major blow this week when Camping World, perhaps the show’s biggest exhibitor, announced it would not be participating in 2020.
Here’s a sound bite of how Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis announced that decision in a corporate video,
“As you might imagine, RV shows tend to draw large crowds, with long lines and packed aisles – all very exciting,” Lemonis said. “But in light of COVID-19, it feels irresponsible to subject our associates and our customers to this type of environment. I’m concerned not only about the density of crowds, but the travel required to get there. I’ve been attending the Hershey RV Show in Harrisburg, Pa., for years and I always look forward to it. But because of the lack of clarity around guidelines, our company – Camping World, Gander RV and Good Sam – will not be attending.”
I’m betting that with things so unsettled because of the virus and now the riots, that the whole event will be canceled. That hasn’t happened yet. But I bet Hershey will cancel.
Then there’s the question of what will happen to The California RV show, scheduled fr the first two weeks of October. California is one of the most restrictive states in terms of shutdowns and travel restrictions and Los Angeles, just a few miles south of Fontana where the show takes place, has been hard hit by riots this week. It’s going to be a tense summer out there and I predict that California will cancel its show, too.
Let me stress, both the Hershey and California shows are still scheduled to take place. But my advice to you is make flexible RV trip plans if you plan to attend either of them. I wouldn’t bet on them happening.
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RV PODCAST LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK ABOUT SUMMER RV TRIP PLANS
QUESTION: We are supposed to leave for a long-planned summer RV trip in two weeks. We have confirmed our campground spots will be ready for us. But we’re scared to death as our route as us traveling through several cities that have had very bad rioting this week. First the pandemic and now this! Should we go? We trust you and Jennifer and respect your advice. – Callie
ANSWER: Some of our suggestions (amplified on in the podcast):
- Don’t believe social media (fake news accounts)
- Travel during daylight hours
- Get through the cities on the interstates as fast as safely possible.
- Monitor local news radio stations before you are there,
- Be aware of your surroundings as you travel, ie smoke ahead, people on the interstate, brake lights.
- Turn around if anything looks wrong
- Allow a full cars length ahead of you when stopped so you can turn around, zoom down a shoulder, etc
- Check out this RV Lifestyle blog post: Why this is the year of the RV!
Do you have a question you’d like us to answer on the RV Podcast or a comment on the things we’re discussing? If so, we invite you to leave us that question or comment on the special voicemail number we have for the podcast – it’s 586-372-6990. If you are driving and can’t write it down right now, just go to the RV Lifestyle travel blog at rvlifestyle.com and scroll down the page. You’ll see that number prominently posted on the blog.
This part of the RV Podcast is brought to you by Battle Born Batteries, maker of quality, safe and reliable lithium batteries that can be installed in just about every RV. Get in touch with Battle Born to find out what lithium batteries and an upgraded energy management system can add to your RV Lifestyle. Check them out at https://rvlifestyle.com/lithium
RV PODCAST INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
One area of summer RV trip plans for 2020 that is challenging many right now is visiting Alaska, which always is at the top of everyone’s bucket list when we survey RVers about where they most hope to visit. With the Canadian/US border closed at least until June 21, a lot of planned RV trips to Alaska have been postponed or put on hold.
With the cruise industry completely shut down, and now RVers restricted from coming up through Canada on the Alaskan highway from the US, the tourism industry in Alaska has taken a major hit. Devastating is perhaps a better word.
Making that even worse is that British Columbia, the main Alcan Highway route which US travelers take as they head to Alaska on their RV trips, has closed its provincial parks to all non-residents for the entire summer. Yes, the entire 2020 camping season. Another challenge to summer RV trip plans for 2020.
Well… where there is a will, there is a way.
Enter a company called Tote Maritime Alaska, which normally transports trucks and containers across the Gulf of Alaska to Anchorage. In an effort to help the devastated Alaska tourism industry, the company is offering steep discounts to those who want to ship their RVs to Alaska. We interviewed Taylor Janney from the Tote Maritime Alaska. Here’s the details:
Here’s a company video of the ships:
The RV Podcast interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country
Your summer RV trip will be very different.
While we may be able to move about more than we have since the nationwide lockdown started in March, RV travel and camping this summer will be far from normal. We feel the need tothe share what we think will be the main challenges for those venturing out for a summer RV trip and camping.
Even before the virus, a chief complaint by many RVers was that campgrounds were too hard to get into. Many required reservations far in advance. With some state and public campgrounds expected to be still closed or limited to in-state camping this summer, all those new RVers are going to make it even harder to book camping spots.
You'll encounter crowded campgrounds in your summer RV Trip
As a result of the pressure on private and commercial campgrounds, you’re likely to find it much more challenging to find those idyllic, isolated boondocking or dispersed camping spots off the beaten path.
We still think boondocking will be the best way to do RV travel and camping this summer, but you should expect to have neighbors out there.
Social Distancing, Sanitizing and Face Masks will not go away on your summer RV trip
In all this talk about summer RV trips, we need to stress that the coronavirus is not going away. It will still be with us over the summer and the need to take every precaution when we are in public will still be great.
Indeed, with some health experts predicting a second wave to show up later this year, no one should take a summer RV trip without bringing along a supply of hand sanitizer, gloves, sanitizing wipes and face masks.
Safety tips for your summer RV trip
When you are fueling up along the road, wear gloves when you touch the pump.
Wear face masks when you go into gas stations, restaurants, or grocery stores.
Try to avoid public restrooms at businesses or in campgrounds. One of the reasons you have an RV in the first place is because it is self-contained. So, use the bathroom and shower in your RV.
You’ll need more patience for getting RV service and parts during your summer RV trip
While the RV boom may be good for the industry, the extra demand it is putting on RV service shops means it is going to take more time to get your RV serviced.
RV manufacturers, suppliers, and parts companies all shut down for almost two months. Existing inventories were quickly depleted and until the supply chain can restock, things like water pumps, air conditioning parts and circuit boards for various RV accessories like power awnings, retractable steps and the like mean you can expect longer repair wait times.
In addition, many service techs who were laid off during the shutdown have found other jobs or moved on, meaning many dealership service shops are short-handed.
Summer RV trip solution for service? Try mobile service techs
Our best recommendation is to find mobile RV repair services. Most of these are small businesses, individually owned. Even in the best of times, we have found them to be very prompt, usually coming right to our campsite.
We have found these mobile RV techs are familiar with all the things that can go wrong on an RV and pretty much able to fix problems right on the spot. Google “RV mobile repair” near your location and you’ll find them.
Or call a nearby campground and ask them who you can call. Every campground has the name of at least one mobile RV tech service.
So there you go. None of these changes to your summer RV trip are particularly good. But we believe in being real here.
And we also believe that there will still be lot of good RV travel and camping opportunities this summer.
It’s just going to be different.
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Looking for more ideas for a Summer RV trip?
Check out our library of 7 Day RV Adventure Guide books.
Each of these ebooks is a seven day guided exploration of a scenic area of the US that we’ve explored and think would make an excellent RV trip.
In each location, we provide a suggested route and itinerary (7 stops in each guide, one for each day of a week trip!) as well as links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, local tips, and interesting things to do at each location.
You can hit everything in seven days, do a whirlwind weekend tour, or you can take your time and explore the area over a 2+ week period.
Planning an RV trip can be very time-consuming so that’s why we’ve done the research for you! Just take our guides and use them, we’re sure you’ll have an RV trip for the ages!