Basics of RV Travel Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The history of Recreational Vehicles (RV) is terrific, but RV travel safety has a new meaning in 2020.

People began converting cars, vans, and trucks into camping vehicles almost as soon as the invention of automobiles. The first official RV was made in 1910, making RVs 110 years old.

When the Pierce-Arrow Touring Landau rolled off the assembly line, it had almost modern amenities. The back seat became a bed. A phone system connected the chauffer to the passenger compartment.

Also hidden behind the driver’s seat was a small sink. Outhouses weren’t prevalent then, so Pierce-Arrow even thought to include a chamber pot (ewwwww).

It wasn’t long before pull-behind trailers began to roll off the assembly line. Camping has been a popular family activity ever since. But how do you enjoy camping in the middle of a pandemic?

This year, RV travel safety changed from checking tire air pressures to packing extra masks and disinfectant wipes. But you can still camp and keep your family safe.

What RV Travel Safety Means

RV travel safety previously meant performing mechanical and equipment checks on gear, but 2020 has brought about a change in definition.

COVID-19, or the Coronavirus, has swept around the world, creating a shift in lifestyle for everyone.

Since the virus will be around for a bit, we must adapt to continue living our lives while also trying to safeguard ourselves and our families. The best method of staying safe is by staying at home and not traveling.

Unfortunately, after six months of modified “lock-down,” we are all experiencing a bit of cabin fever. As we re-evaluate the meaning of safe travel, our packing list will also change.

There are several things that you can do to remain safe while traveling. The chances of coming into contact with a contagious person greatly increase while you are traveling.

We mentioned face masks and disinfectant wipes earlier. You may also need hand sanitizer, disinfectant soap, extra clothing, extra food supplies, a thermometer, and additional tissues.

Another factor not many people consider is a change in the itinerary to decrease person-to-person contact.

Skip that tourist attraction that everyone else is visiting. Opt for a quiet hike on an almost deserted trail for a safer adventure.

The new definition of RV travel safety means rethinking how we pack and how we plan. Keeping a mind on where we go, who we will meet along the way, and what we will pack to keep ourselves as safe as possible.

Don’t skip checking the air in the tires though — you still need to do that too.

What the Government Says About COVID-19

When we say the “government,” we are referring to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). While you may hear differing versions and recommendations elsewhere, the CDC is still the authority on infectious diseases.

The most general recommendation from the CDC is to stay home. Most of us have been doing that, but the desire to travel is rearing its head. Therefore, if you must travel, the CDC recommends:

  • Find out the level of COVID-19 at your intended destination
  • Check numbers for each state you will be passing through
  • Determine if you or a family member are at an increased risk
  • Find out restrictions/requirements at your destination

Although that is a fundamental list, it should put you on a path to retooling your thoughts as you pack and prepare. Keep a mind to safety and exercise common sense.

Being aware of local requirements for masks or other personal protective equipment (PPE) is a good start.

How to Find Out State Safety Requirements

While traveling around within the United States, each state has its own set of rules and restrictions regarding COVID-19. Checking each state is where your research skills will come in handy.

Start at the CDC listing for State & Territorial Health Department Websites. You will find a list of links to every state and territory health department website.

If you are visiting any tribal lands during your journey, you can find rules for those areas on the CDC’s Tribal Health website.

Regardless of the individual state requirements, at a minimum, you should follow the basic travel guidelines of the CDC for safer travel:

  • Wear a mask covering your nose and mouth in any public space
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all persons not in your household
  • Wash your hands often or use a good quality hand sanitizer
  • Avoid contact with anyone that is visibly sick
  • Don’t touch your face — nose, mouth, and eyes

These necessary steps limit your potential exposure to COVID-19. But they will not offer you 100 percent safety.

If you or a family member is in the high-risk category, the CDC recommends not traveling.

Additional resources:

Avoid travel to and through areas where the infection levels are high. Once you are at your destination camping site, stay there rather than touring the local venues. Safety measures won’t protect you if you act recklessly while traveling.

Be courteous in your travels. Remember that everyone is a potential victim of this virus. CDC guidelines are the bare minimum to keep your family and others safe.

Planning RV Travel Safety into Your Itinerary

One of the advantages of RV travel is that you can travel more and stop less. By carrying travel food and using the restroom in your RV, you can avoid many public areas.

But you still park in RV parks during the night, and you will need gasoline.

Although you won’t be 100 percent protected, there are a few things you can do at fuel stops to lessen your exposure:

  • Pay at the pump to avoid contacting other people directly
  • Use disinfecting wipes on the pump handle and keypad before use
  • Apply hand sanitizer after fueling or wash with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Take the extra time to wash again when you arrive at your destination

If you make food stops, use curbside pickup options where available (because most drive-thru lanes can’t accommodate your RV’s height). Eat your meals in your RV or outside settings away from other people.

In packing, remember to include enough of any medications for the trip (add two extra days for emergencies and dropsies).

Pack food, water, pet food, and other amenities to allow you to avoid unnecessary shopping excursions. Masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting soap were already mentioned, but it never hurts to double up.

When planning activities during your RV vacation, keep safety in mind. Be aware of any hot spots for COVID-19 along your travel route.

Avoid large social gatherings or areas where many people are congregating. Save that boat tour for next summer, or a later time when the risk factors are lower.

If you have been exposed to a person who has or had COVID-19, please stay home. Be aware of the symptoms and seek medical attention if you experience any of them.

Keeping the Kids Safe While Traveling

Traveling with children can present challenges without the added risks of COVID-19.

Younger children may not understand the importance of keeping a face mask on. Little Johnny sneezes, and your 4-year-old instinctively says, “bless you” as you cringe and reach for the hand sanitizer.

Believe it or not, children are more adaptable than adults. Don’t shame or try to scare them into compliance. Be honest and tell them the truth.

Yes, COVID-19 is bad and can make us very sick, but wearing our masks can keep us safer.

While on the road, select less populated areas to allow your children to stretch their legs and run and play a bit. With GPS readily available on cell phones, don’t be afraid to explore some lesser-known roads along the way.

Although more challenging, traveling with children can be an excellent adventure for the entire family. Keep the disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer close and have fun!

Pack It Up and Move It Out

As people venture out, RVs are taking a front seat over air travel. The advantages are many, and RV parks are stepping up to ensure safety in their parks.

Among the advantages of RV travel:

  • Using pay-at-the-pump means no personal interaction
  • There are off-grid camping areas throughout the country
  • Self-contained restroom facilities
  • Food storage and prep is in your control
  • No worries about contamination in hotel rooms
  • No worries about canceled flights or recirculated airplane air

Even if you don’t own an RV, there are plenty available for rental at reasonable prices. While you should sterilize a rental RV, once you do that, you can enjoy the other benefits.

After your trip, you should plan on staying home in at least semi-quarantine for 10 to 14 days. No matter how safe you were during your trip, there is still a possibility that you encountered COVID-19.

Keep an eye out for any symptoms and seek medical attention immediately if you start to feel ill.

RV travel can be safe and enjoyable for the entire family. With a few safety precautions, planning, and exercising common sense, you can have a great vacation.

Enjoy your trip!


RV Halloween Ideas: Decorating, Food, and Fun Ideas on the Road

If you are an avid RV camper, then Halloween camping is something you need in your calendar. It is a tradition in many camping areas. Campgrounds hold competitions for the best decorations, best spooky food, costumes, and much more. Some families return year after year to try to win top honors. Take your RV Halloween decorating ideas to the next level.

Have you got kids? Even better. With Halloween activities, your children will stay safe, busy, and have a ghoulishly good time haunting the campground. There is no shortage of family-friendly activities (even socially distanced ones!): family haunted hayrides,  scavenger hunts, a night hike through haunted trails. Halloween camping in an RV is a secret that needs to escape. Put on your zombie make-up, and let’s go fall camping!

RV Halloween Ideas — Yep, It’s a Thing

Camping and decking out your RV for the holidays are two things that meld surprisingly well. Not only can you enjoy the great outdoors, but you can scare kids, and that is always fun!

But what do you pack for a Halloween camping trip? Generally, you would pack everything you pack for a typical camping trip, and then you add the Halloween decorations.

Depending on your location, you might need cold-weather clothing: warmer sleeping bags, boots, rain gear, and snowshoes. October can undoubtedly be a mixed bag in the weather department. So how do you plan for every contingency and still manage the Halloween decorations?

Basic Necessities to Bring

Start by evaluating your bare necessities. These are the items you need to haul along on any camping trip such as food, water, and clothing. Make yourself a checklist:

  • Food for the number of days/number of people in your party
  • Clothing for the number of days (plus spares just in case)
  • Warmer clothing — sweatshirts/light jackets for evenings
  • Firewood (please check local laws regarding firewood)
  • Food prep equipment/grill
  • Portable heater

That is a very basic list. Yours will probably need more equipment and provide more detail. Please don’t forget the sunscreen, bug spray, and first aid kit. If you are like many RV owners, much of your day-to-day camping supplies, stay packed in your RV year-round.

Because fall camping can be unpredictable, you should pack an array of clothing for warmer days and cooler nights. This should include items that can be layered if needed for extra warmth, but you probably won’t need parkas, scarves, and woolly mittens.

NOTE: A quick word on firewood. Due to invasive bugs such as the Emerald Ash Borer, many states prohibit transporting firewood from one location to another. Check local and state ordinances before your trip. Some states even restrict transporting wood from your home within the same state to a wilderness area.

Do You Need the Witch Automaton?

Whether you are a full-out Halloween fanatic or just enjoy camping, you can have fun decorating your RV for Halloween. Ideas begin with the RV itself. You can use spooky lights around the awning or in the windows. Grab some of that sticky, stringy spider web stuff and wrap it around the outside of your rig.

You can also set up decorations around your campsite. Fake tombstones, bones, and plastic garbage bag spiders are all easy to set up and remove when you leave.

Be mindful of the weather predictions when deciding on your decorations. If it rains the whole time you’re camping, you’ll be living with that electronic witch automaton inside the RV with you.

Decking Out Your Campsite

Start with lights. One of the quickest ways to add lights is inflatable solar lights. If you have an awning, you have multiple light-style choices from simple rope lights to ornate pumpkin globes. If your budget is tight, these inexpensive lights are mostly battery operated, shorter than electric strands, but equally eerie:

The market is full of inexpensive ways to light up your holiday. These Holiday Ghost Lights have different modes so you can “redecorate” every night just by changing the mode. The basic idea is that it shouldn’t cost a fortune to decorate your RV for the season. A string of simple lights can offer the holiday spirit (ha — see what I did there?) to get you in the mood.

What would RV Halloween ideas be without pumpkins? This can also double as a camp activity for the family. Once you scoop the guts out of your pumpkin, you can carry them to a woody area and give the local critters a treat. Just make sure that you deliver your treat far away from all camping areas. Check with the park personnel for a safe spot to treat the birds and animals.

If you can’t feed the critters, wrap the pumpkin seeds in three layers of aluminum foil, keeping the package mostly flat. Toss the packet onto the coals of your campfire for a great human treat. Always use proper safety precautions with sharp carving tools, knives, and hot roast pumpkin seeds.

With so many decorating options, we can’t possibly cover them all, but perhaps we have spurred your creativity. You are only limited by your imagination. It’s Halloween — let your creepy side out.

Ghoulish Snacks to Pack

During Halloween, we all seem to stock up on pre-packaged candy and snacks to hand out to trick and treaters. We eat plenty of them ourselves, too. Since we can’t live on candy alone, if you are looking for RV Halloween ideas for healthy and ghoulish snacks, there are plenty of available options.

With a simple search, you can find recipes and instructions for simple cupcake desserts like Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes to elaborately decorated Skeleton Cookie Cupcakes. If you have a more sophisticated guest, you could opt for these simple Boo-Scotti Dippers, or perhaps some Ghoulishly Green Popcorn. If you are a baker, you can make snacks before your trip, like these scary-looking Broken Finger Cookies.

While cupcakes and cookies may not fit the healthy diet ideas you want for your kids, there are plenty of ideas for the healthier side of things also. Adding red pepper “nail’ to pizza “fingers” turns a cheesy snack into a portion of witchy finger food.

Arrange colorful vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, and yellow peppers) on a platter to make a candy corn-inspired dish. These Frozen Yogurt Drops blend the concept of candy dots with a healthy alternative. Pretzel sticks and cheese make these cute little Witches’ Brooms.

As with our RV Halloween decorations, our food suggestions are only the tip of the broom handle. Rather than getting swept up in pointing out all the great holiday camping ideas for food and fun, we’ll leave that to your imagination.

Costumes, Kids, and Safety

Costumes are a Halloween must-have. While most commercially produced costumes carry flame-retardant properties, you still need to be cautious. Flame-retardant does not mean fireproof. (Scare alert!) They will still catch fire but will burn slower. Polyester and nylon will even melt and fuse with skin. With that in mind, use caution when selecting costumes.

Things to avoid when buying Halloween costumes for holiday camping:

  • Long, flowing costumes
  • Any costume with a cape
  • Synthetic wigs and wings
  • Costume gloves that limit the use of hands in any way
  • Costumes with larger carry-along props

We are sure you can probably add a few items to our list. If you are in the mood to make your kid’s costumes, there are some adorable and inexpensive ways to keep them safer in a camping environment. First and foremost is to keep them away from campfires, but you knew that, right?

Making a Halloween costume out of everyday clothing is relatively straightforward. With a pair of ordinary blue jeans and a flannel shirt, you can add a little “dirt” to your child’s face and make a lumberjack. With a white outfit and some white face paint, you can make a non-flowy ghost. Keeping your children safe and comfortable while exploring different options is fun and simple. Those blue jeans with the blown knees, and old ripped shirt, and some battered tennis shoes and you have a hobo.

Clothing to avoid is those items made with synthetic materials. Good, flame retardant natural materials such as cotton and wool are great options. They will keep your children safer, warmer, and can be used to create some cool costumes. Zombies are always a favorite and a perfect use for those short jeans your kid is now too tall to wear.

Have a Hauntingly Spooktacular Time

If you are planning on decorating your RV for Halloween, there is no limit to the number of RV Halloween ideas, decorations, and costumes to put a perfect spook on the holiday. While we couldn’t cover everything here, hopefully, we helped to get some great ideas churning.

Holiday camping is a fun and enjoyable way to get family time, say good-bye to the summer, and take a break from daily life. In some families, the Halloween trip has been a long-standing tradition. If you’re new to the concept, make the most of the weekend. If nothing else, you will have a short, fall camping excursion with your family. Pack up your pumpkins and enjoy the waning summer.

Whether you live in the north, south, east, or west, call around to your local campgrounds. Many have a whole list of program options and fall activities planned for Halloween. Some facilities have haunted hayrides, corn mazes, haunted RVs, night hikes, and many other season-specific activities to offer your entire family a great trip. Just remember that October weather can be fickle, so pack for a variety of different temperature ranges.