What happens when freedom is taken away from RVing nomads?

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By Ingrid Hubbard

A nomadic lifestyle may seem like a dream and for many it is, especially in the beginning, but there are some disadvantages to the nomadic life that become evident over time and more so now than ever before. Al and I have been living in our RV full-time for the past seven years, and we have a pretty good handle on the slew of emotions, good and bad, that come with living a nomadic life.

The life of an RV nomad is usually filled with a mixture of thoughts and emotions that will ebb and flow from day to day … excitement, dreamy, adventurous, rewarding … along with challenges, uncertainty and fear. Let’s add in a worldwide pandemic and those challenges, uncertainties, and fear are taken to a whole new level.

Shelter in Place – Stay at Home – Social Distance
Those are new phrases that many of us have never used or used on any sort of regular basis prior to March of 2020. These days, stay at home, shelter in place or social distancing are phrases we hear routinely on a daily basis. We’re living in a new reality that has brought to light a major disadvantage for those living a nomadic life.

We’ve seen our favorite nomad YouTubers stuck in foreign countries or scrambling to get back home … wherever they consider home. We’ve seen our fellow RV nomads posting on Facebook and RV forums asking for help in finding a spot to shelter in place. Across the United States, campgrounds and public lands are closing left and right and in the process canceling reservations that full-time RVers were counting on as a place to live. RVers are told to return home. The problem for a full-time RVer is we have no physical home to return to. Home is where we park it. So, where are we full-time nomads expected to shelter-in-place?

Fear and uncertainty
When local governments started ordering non-essential businesses to close, that included campgrounds – public and private. Apparently, no one took into consideration the million or so Americans that live in their RVs full-time.

With the help of several RV organizations, a few state governments were flooded with pleas and, fortunately, we’ve seen either a rule reversal or a little leniency regarding the essential need for private RV Parks to remain open.

The situation varies from state to state and here in Arizona, the rules aren’t as strict or cut and dried as in other states.

Sure, the Grand Canyon is currently closed to all visitors, but private RV parks throughout Arizona are open and left to make their own judgment call in regards to accepting new guests.

Also, most BLM (government-owned) land in Arizona is still available as a place for RVers to hunker down.

Considering Arizona is such an RV-friendly state with a huge population of full-time RVers living here half the year, I believe our local government is well aware of these facts and realizes cutting off RV access would not solve anything but rather cause a whole new problem.

In addition, many of these private RV parks in Arizona and Florida have year-round residents. Some of these folks live in Park Models while others in an RV. Asking folks to leave an RV Resort would be tantamount to asking anyone in a traditional subdivision that they’d have to move out of their house.

So, since Al and I rent an annual lot, we weren’t in any jeopardy of not having a place to shelter or “stay at home,” and we’ll stay home in Phoenix until we’re told it’s safe to travel again. But many of our RV friends aren’t as lucky and are scrambling to find a solution. No one wants to be the cause of spreading this virus any more than it already has and most full-time RVers aren’t traveling unless forced to by circumstances.

We’ve seen the good in people when complete strangers offer up shelter to those in need. Whether it’s a room in a house or a driveway or piece of land to park the RV, these stories are heartwarming. We’ve also seen the not so good from rude individuals posting nasty comments on social media (biz as usual for some, I guess). But overall, good seems to prevail during this time of crisis.

Freedom and Independence
Most of us choose the RV lifestyle to immerse ourselves in a sense of freedom and independence. We long to discover the country’s deepest secrets and hidden gems. We strive to capture the perfect landscape photo and/or Instagram selfie (guilty of both). After all, it’s the stuff dreams are made of … trading in the traditional nine-to-five routine for a freewheeling, wind in your hair kind of carefree lifestyle – a lifestyle of freedom.

Freedom: the absence of constraint in choice or action. The state of being free, independent, without restrictions.

For RVers, freedom usually means having the ability to go wherever whenever one chooses. We live independently on our terms. We’re adventurers, explorers, and out of the box thinkers.

But what happens when we’re told we can no longer move freely about? What does our life begin to look like? We’re not the kind of people to linger in one spot long enough for the grass to grow under our feet, but we’re living in uncertain times and unchartered waters and the wheels need to stop rolling. Some RVers have found a place to ride this unconventional storm out while others are still struggling and wondering where they can park for the foreseeable future. We’re all in this together and trying to find a new normal.

First weeks of “social distancing” followed by a “stay at home” order
What is normal during a pandemic? I spent the better part of March binge-watching stuff on my computer accompanied by feelings of denial, surreal, and WTF. Now in my defense, I’ll remind everyone that I was extremely ill during the month of February and it took most of March for me to regain my energy. Hey, when I get sick, I get sick, no mild stuff for this gal…. sigh! With that said, I still have an occasional cough that freaks people out every now and then. (*Always uses arm to cover mouth. 😷)

Yep, it’s just an annoying cough. I’ve been to the doctor, had a CT scan, followed up with other medical stuff and I’m perfectly fine … finer than frog’s hair. Ever since I had Valley Fever a few years ago, I’m more susceptible to coughing than the typical person.

And now that I’ve flipped the calendar to April, I feel renewed, one might even say normal, whatever that is these days. Yeah, the world is still turned upside down, but my energy has returned and instead of being a blob on the couch, I’m once again a productive human being – well kind of. I’ve managed to stock up on way too many groceries, filling every nook and cranny in the RV. I have enough toilet paper, paper towels and Kleenex to last us for the next six months. (I am sharing and not hoarding, just so y’all know.)

I’ve been having fun in the kitchen playing around with new recipes and getting in some much-needed exercise so I don’t pack on the pounds with my tasty experiments. Life is slow and relaxing at the moment. Life has its stressful moments, but I have confidence that we’ll get through this.

I’m not sure how different life will look on the other side. I do have concerns, especially for the rising unemployment. Al and I know what it’s like to have bills, a mortgage, and a couple of small children and lose our income unexpectedly. That’s not a situation I’d wish on my worst enemy, and yet, millions of people around the globe are experiencing this unfortunate dilemma. Tourism in Arizona has been especially hit hard and many of our acquaintances are out of work … temporarily, I hope. My heart aches for these folks!

Every time I visit the grocery store, Walmart, or the RV dealer for parts (time to tend to those RV repairs), I thank the folks for working and make sure I stand as far away from them as possible. I keep those outings few and far between with hopes we can stop this virus from lingering or spreading any further.

Hitch itch and that desire to get those wheels rolling onto some new scenery are starting to settle in for many of us. I’m in dire need of a new landscape to photograph, but until we can hit the road, I’ll focus on cooking, taking advantage of this slow pace of life, and doing my part binge-watching something.

Ingrid Hubbard and her husband, Al, live full-time in their RV. You can read more, explore their YouTube channel and see their beautiful photographs on their website Live Laugh RV

##RVT943

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steve
5 months ago

MONEY is freedom, the more You have the more free You are

Larry Struck
5 months ago
Reply to  steve

I can not agree with that!

michael kaminski
5 months ago

hi, I enjoyed the article about r-v, and what the people are going to do about it, during the r-ving nomads. I don’t own an rv anymore, but when I did, it would be a terrible thing to think u don’t have a place to stay. simply HORRABLE. I can’t even imagine what these people are thinking right now, with no where to go and almost all of the campgrounds closed, I would be pulling my hair out trying to think of a place to park suck a monster like most of these motorhomes are. and the thought of being able to dump your sewage and get water. these are trying times for sure. I am only glad I was able to purchase a home right before the whole thing started with the virus and people not being able to go outside or just visit with your friends. I feel truly fortunate to be in the position I am in. well, I will get off my soap box now. lol

Nanci
5 months ago

Thank you for the term “hitch itch”. So true! We are full time RVers sheltering in the AZ . I am the nomad of the family and even my husband is getting the “hitch itch” to head back north. Instead we hike and I sew masks.

Bud
5 months ago

You raise a few legitimate points in your commentary. People living full-time in their RVs or needing to get to a safe place to shelter do need to be accounted for. But once in a safe spot, RVers need to stay put. There are very few examples of private RV parks being shut down to full-time RVers who are willing to stay put. Some counties in well known vacation spots have been aggressive, but the next county over that doesn’t offer ocean or canyon views will be open. Shelter there. And shelter; don’t think you should continue to travel from park to park.

As a full-time RVer, think about how different your campground is on the weekend. That is what you will see if campgrounds start re-opening. Just before my state shut down short-term campground stays it was a zoo here. Basically no different than the beaches during spring break. That is what needs to stop in order to limit the spread and destruction of this virus. And the only way to do this is to make sure people who have fixed residences stay in them rather than get in their RV and go on a vacation to get away from it all. They will leave a trail of bodies as they travel across the country.

It’s a shame that nowhere in your commentary did you use the word “responsibility.” It recognizes our responsibility to keep fellow members of society safe. Rarely do I see that mentioned when reading commentary about opening campgrounds.

Carl J
5 months ago
Reply to  Bud

Well said. It seems every day I read on different forums/social media how FT or snowbirders have decided that today is the day the decision was made to hit the road to either go home or some other locale. News flash; absent some govt. order to vacate, they need to stay where they are. The current campground has been great for the previous weeks or months but now at the height of the pandemic, its decided now is the perfect time to leave this safe location. Idiocy. And thats why bureaucrats have over reacted and closed campgrounds and RV parks.

Terry Huggins
5 months ago
Reply to  Carl J

You sir must never have experienced summer in AZ, I have when on business trips and let me tell you when it gets in the 120+ degree temps, it ain’t no place you want to be!!!

Alvin
5 months ago
Reply to  Bud

Bud I certainly have to agree with you that “responsibility” is not in top drawer in most discussions.

For many (and I’m not picking on Ingrid or Al ) It’s live for the moment, tomorrow will take care of itself.

There’s a reason each year food banks, homeless shelters etc in some locales double the need to “serve” their “clients”. They’ve become BIG business with executive boards and lobbyists – the whole works.

I admire those like Ingrid and Al travelling doing their thing enjoying life. I have no problem whatsoever with folks like them, in fact I envy them much – with this caveat,

When the multitudes of wanders, explorers and free spirits among us get to the point they can’t live/travel in a mobile home anymore, they can’t take care of themselves anymore – can’t do their shopping anymore – can’t even get up the step into the RV anymore, with their appliance in tow etc etc!, in other words those folks need help to enjoy the rest of their lives. Have they sufficiently – taken “responsibility” for their future, so can afford to pay for those needs? Did they hatch any plan for that eventuality?
Or do they settle in, becoming another “needy” statistic, a dependent, one reliant on those who did plan and still have something to tax to provide the home, the clothing, food, care…………, for those who lived for the moment.

It’s a looming crisis of paramount proportions about to unhinge itself, of which we’re getting a snippet of during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ken
5 months ago
Reply to  Alvin

Completely agree Alvin. Planning As much as possible for ones’ Old Age must be part of every ones Financial Plan. Don’t be wasting money on toys if you can’t retire debt free and with substantial assets. Do not depend on the “State” (us) to take care of you in your/our Old Age. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY damnit!

Matt
5 months ago

It’s nothing new for the government to pick and choose if they want to allow or follow the constitution, freedom of travel or demand private property and private businesses to close down. They have chased many people off of BLM land, only to send them to crowd into city parks. They insist to stay 6 feet apart, they leave liquor stores open and arrest a person for paddle boarding by himself in the ocean. Any law abiding citizen traveling throughout America with a gun for self defense already knows the government does what it wants and does not obey the constitution.

Mike Sherman
5 months ago

We full-time in our 5th wheel. Wintered in Arizona for the 2nd time, then headed to our home base in Oregon via I-5. Arrived a few days ago. No problem finding open sites in private campgrounds from Bakersfield to Klamath Falls along the Interstate. I fail to understand the logic in the government demands that RV parks close. What for? We stayed in our rig. We gloved up getting fuel and groceries. We avoided other people. We did not use the campground showers or gym (yes, those SHOULD close). The logic escapes me, especially since motels are allowed to operate.

Alvin
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike Sherman

Mike, the logic is simple. Not everyone is like you, preparing well, doing the right thing.

Many RV people (and people in general) do not get the need the urgency) and government agencies – to protect YOU sir – close facilities down with you suffering collateral inconvenience.
Glad to learn you’ve made it home OK,