Summer is almost here and the open road is calling your name. Recreational Vehicle (RV) travel is one of the safest ways to enjoy the great outdoors while still protecting yourself and your family from COVID-19. RVing allows you to go wherever you desire by land, on your own time, and to still practice social distancing. When it’s safe to get back on the road, you can see the sights you’ve been longing for during coronavirus quarantine, controlling your itinerary, schedule and adventure.
“The allure of RV travel is as enticing as ever,” says Bob Martin, President, Chief Executive Officer & Director, at THOR Industries, Inc., one of the largest RV manufacturers. “RVs provide a safe, controlled environment and allow consumers to dictate their travel plans.”
Rina Baraz Nehdar, an avid RVer and editor of L.A. Family Travel, says she can’t wait to get outdoors and travel with her family. “Clean air and nature have a lot of healing power. Kids running through rivers or the woods, building campfires and telling stories around them at night, enjoying hot cocoa, riding bikes along the driveways that connect the sites, scouting critters and going on nighttime flashlight hikes. These are not city dweller activities. This is a remedy for our rushed routines, a way to slow it down, breathe and take a break.”
Colorado-based Mona and Tom Mesereau had been on the road in their RV exploring the country with their Goldendoodle, Molson, since September 2018. The duo, who run a PR company for adventure travel clients, worked out of their RV, provided they were in range of WiFi and near an airport.
“We love farmers markets, buying and cooking local food, wandering towns and seeing quirky attractions,” says Mona Mesereau. The couple had planned to wander up the California coast this spring, but decided to wait out the quarantine in a Denver rental home. But they are eager to get back on the road. “After 19 months, 30 states and 17,000 miles, we are not done yet. Not even close.”
As more people take to the highway in the coming months, there’s a high likelihood of more trash (including PPE, such as used gloves and masks) on our public lands. To make a positive impact on the environment, a new program, called Pick Up America, is asking RVers and campers to pledge to pick up trash (in a safe manner, of course) on their adventures.
THOR Industries, in partnership with Kampgrounds of America (KOA), started the program to make a difference for the environment. The Pick Up America program, started in May of 2019, had a target of collecting 50 tons of trash. Since then, it’s had 468,699 bags pledged, amounting to approximately 234 tons. This year, it aims to continue keeping outdoor spaces pristine.
Nehdar says they usually pick up trash when they hike or spot it in the parks. “This would be an organic extension of that,” she shares about taking the Pick Up America pledge. The Mesereaus also took the pledge to collect garbage once they get back on the road.
“We’re proud that Pick Up America is a program that families can do together, teaching our next generation the importance of conservation and responsible outdoor recreation,” says Martin.
Below are tips from Bob Martin for planning an RV trip and participating in the Pick Up America Program:
- Do your research and be prepared. There will be a transitional period as businesses reopen and parks and campgrounds begin offering increased services. These locations may have limited hook-ups and public lands may not be fully staffed. Call ahead and confirm parks are open, inquire about available services and bring your own supplies.
- Travel as far as you’re comfortable, ensuring your safety while planning overnight stays in advance to ensure campgrounds and parks are available. The ideal distance depends on the type of adventure you seek. RVs can be utilized for short weekend trips, week(s)-long adventures of lifetime, a full-time life on the road and many adventures in between. In looking at the total RV community, over half spend time camping within a 3-hour radius of home. This allows them to RV on weekends, holidays and any time possible throughout the year.
- Another great benefit of traveling in a RV is having your own personal kitchen and bathroom in your rig — preventing the need to run into a gas station and interact with others, should you choose not to. When selecting a gas station, regardless of social distancing, you must be cognizant of the height, space and turning radius requirements to reach the pump. It’s recommended to utilize larger islands or pumps that accommodate trucks to ensure you don’t encounter any unwanted obstacles.
- While picking up trash, wear gloves to protect yourself. Children should be encouraged to ask for help from adults prior to picking up anything sharp or potentially hazardous.
- Bring your own trash bag. Whether going on a family walk in a local park or an all-day hike, bringing your own bag will ensure you are able to pick up any trash you see.
- Dispose of trash responsibly. If the park or area in which you are cleaning has public trash receptacles, then it can be placed there. If receptacles are overflowing (or not available), particularly as parks begin reopening with limited staff, we recommend finding an alternative place for disposal. If you are organizing a community clean up, we suggest contacting your local park service to coordinate the best location and obtain recommendations of areas in your community that could use your help.
- Wash your hands. Once trash is properly disposed, be sure to wash your hands when you remove your gloves. You may also want to remove and wash any clothing that was in contact with the trash.
Safe travels on the road!