Here are three ways to use an RV or camper as a Family Emergency Vehicle for self-quarantine, medical care for sick loved ones, and escaping from coronavirus. Don’t panic. Just prepare.
We are exhausted from reading and watching coverage of coronavirus. It seems Covid-19 has literally infected the mindset of the entire planet. Even my favorite filmmaking websites – usually a welcome respite from the news – are full of event cancellations and coronavirus content. It’s everywhere.
Taking a step back, coronavirus presents an opportunity to discuss how RVs of all descriptions – trailers, fifth wheels, motorhomes and truck campers – make for excellent Family Emergency Vehicles. In fact, coronavirus has added to our appreciation for how RVs can be used in crisis situations. Here are three ways an RV can help keep you and your family safe during the outbreak.
1. RVs as Family Emergency Vehicles
I first wrote about RVs as Family Emergency Vehicles back in 2008 after my late grandfather had a medical scare. At the time, he was still living at home and needed some help monitoring his medications, preparing food and generally taking it easy as he recuperated.
With our truck camper rig, we were able to stay at my grandparent’s house without being houseguests. I could check on my grandfather every morning, make sure he got his medications, help prepare meals, and generally lift his spirits. Looking back, I’m so glad we were able to do that.
It was through that experience that I started looking at RVs as Family Emergency Vehicles. When a family member or friend needs help, you can drive to their location, park your RV, and be there – all without being a burden. Whether they’re in a house, nursing home or hospital, you can help out, and then recharge and refresh in your RV. After all, your physical and mental heath is important too.
With coronavirus, being able to travel to family and help – while maintaining your personal space and safety protocols – could be a game changer. If a family member becomes infected, you could travel to them, park in their street, parking lot or driveway and provide them with care, food and supplies. Then you could return to your camper, wash your hands, relax, and enjoy some personal time.
2. RVs for Self-Quarantine
I bet most of us have self-quarantined at one point or another. When Angela or I get sick, we separate our sleeping situation in an attempt to not infect each other. When we had a house, that usually meant the sick person slept in the guest room. Now that we live full-time in our truck camper, that means the sick person sleeps in the dinette converted into a bed.
We have also self-quarantined when one of us was sick and we get invited to a gathering. Rather than potentially infect a party full of friends or family, we stay home. It always makes us crazy when someone who’s obviously sick comes to a party or other social gathering. I bet we can all trace back a bad cold to someone that should have stayed home and self-quarantined.
Chances are, you do not live full-time in a RV and still own (or rent) a house, condo, apartment or other permanent structure. If that’s the case, your RV becomes a fantastic solution should someone in your house develop symptoms of coronavirus. Rather than send them to the guest room or sofa, they can self-isolate in your trailer, motorhome or camper.
Fully stocked, an RV provides shelter, food, water, heat or air conditioning, a bathroom with toilet, cooking appliances, storage for clothing and supplies, and places to sleep and sit. Add a television, books, and the internet and the self-quarantined might even be a happy camper – even if they are sick.
Ideally, the RV would be parked in a residential driveway or property allowing family to easily check in. If possible, the RV would be connected to hook-ups. This might be limited to 15-amp electric but, by all means, connect to fresh water and sewer if you have it. Long-term camping in a RV connected to full hook-ups would be significantly more comfortable.
Another possibility is that your wife, son and daughter all show symptoms after encountering someone who was sick. You were not with them when they came into contact with this individual and have no symptoms. In this situation, you might stay in the RV and use the house as quarantine for your sick family. That way you can stay healthy while caring for your loved ones.
Either way, it’s worth considering having your RV staged, stocked and ready for use for quarantine. That might mean moving the camper into your driveway, filling the propane tanks, getting gas for the portable generator, being ready to de-winterize, and generally preparing the RV for a potentially long-term stay. Adding at least two-weeks worth of food and water in the house and camper isn’t a bad idea either.
3. RVs for Avoiding Coronavirus Hot Spots
Staying put in a RV appears to be an ideal way to keep away from coronavirus hot spots and ride out the storm. For example, we have good friends with us here in Florida who are considering extending their snowbird season in a Florida campground rather than returning to their Northeast homes where the coronavirus situation appears to be worse.
The specifics of this plan are simple. Pick a campground with plenty of space between campsites, full hook-ups at each site (or at least water, electric and access to a dump station), and settle in for a potentially long stay. That means stocking up on food, medicines and supplies before pulling into the campsite – at least 14-days worth, or more.
As full-time RVers, this is exactly the course of action we have been following for the past few weeks. Other than a few outdoor walks around the campground, we have kept to ourselves inside our camper. When we do go for a walk, we have maintained social distancing. When we went to the store, we went first thing in the morning when the store was stocked, and loaded up with two weeks of food and supplies.
Cautions About Traveling In An RV During Coronavirus
On the flip side, a typical on-the-road RVing lifestyle is not advisable during this outbreak. Traveling in an RV, you need grocery stores, laundromats, fuel stations, propane stations, dumps stations and campgrounds on a daily or weekly basis. That’s a lot of public locations – and potentially infected people – you’ll be encountering.
In the event of an infectious disease outbreak like coronavirus, avoiding contact with people in public is rule number one. If you want to stay in an RV, stock up, find a campground and stay put until the situation abates.
The Critical Exception: Local and National Lockdowns
During the 48-hours I have been writing this article, the situation with coronavirus has intensified. Specifically, we can no longer rule out the possibility of local and national lockdowns in the United States and Canada to blunt the spike and spread of coronavirus.
In the event of a national lockdown, citizens may not be permitted to leave their homes unless it’s a necessity, for work or a health situation. In addition, all non-essential retail and service businesses will likely be forced to close.
During a lockdown, it’s also likely that all federal, state and local parks and campgrounds will be closed. As of this writing, state campgrounds in New Mexico have already closed in response to the coronavirus. If a national lockdown is declared, expect all federal, state and local parks and campgrounds to follow.
What’s not clear is what happens with private campgrounds. Millions of United States and Canadian citizens live full-time at private campgrounds. Millions more may be traveling via RV without realizing that all private campgrounds could close.
Campendium has published a state-by-state list of current campground closures. They are updating it daily.
This is uncharted territory. If you are a full-time RVer, or currently traveling long-distance in an RV, our advice is to have a Plan B ready now.
Here are three options in the unprecedented event that all campgrounds close:
1. Drive to a friend or family member’s house or property – hopefully with a campsite featuring full hookups – and stay there in your RV until this situation resolves.
2. Park your RV someplace (friend or family member’s house or property) and move into a house or apartment (again, with friends or family) until this situation resolves.
3. If you don’t have one of the above options available, take your RV to storage unit and rent a house or apartment for the duration of this situation.
While we sincerely hope coronavirus exits as soon as possible, plan on staying put in your Plan B location for weeks, if not months.
Cautions About Boondocking During A Lockdown
While some RVs and RVers are well prepared for up to two-weeks of off-grid self-contained camping, after that most if not all RVs need to fill fresh tanks, dump holding tanks, fill propane, and resupply with food. In a lockdown situation, these vital services and resources may or may not be available. Unable to dump, fill and resupply, RVers could be in real trouble.
Unless you have assembled a specialized “prepper” rig with water filtration systems, multiple weeks worth of food and supplies – and have advanced prepper/survival skills and equipment – we do not recommend driving out onto your local BLM land to ride out a potentially multi-week (or longer) coronavirus lockdown. Those of you who are prepared for this kind of situation know who you are. For everyone else, stay home or choose option from 1, 2 or 3 above, and hunker down.
Don’t Panic. Prepare!
Hopefully this article has given you some new perspectives on how owning an RV can be a tremendous help during the coronavirus outbreak. Whether you need to stay on site and care for a friend of family member, self-quarantine, or get out of Dodge, a properly prepared RV could be a life saver – literally.
Even if coronavirus, the next hurricane, or Snowmageddon III ends up being more hype than harm, it makes sense to always have your RV ready to go, and a couple weeks of emergency food and supplies on hand. Nobody disputes that serious disasters sometimes strike. It’s better to be prepared.
I am very glad to own an RV, for so many reasons. I love the traveling lifestyle. I love meeting new people. I love exploring new places and always learning new things. If I had to go back to living in a house, I could, but part of me would forever miss the endless adventure we enjoy now.
The fact that our truck camper also provides us with multiple emergency Plan B options gives us both peace of mind. We don’t own an RV because it can help us avoid a hurricane, escape a forest fire, or take care of sick family and friends during a viral outbreak – but we’re sure glad it offers those possibilities. And the two weeks of food and supplies needed to be ready? It’s cheap insurance.