RV Shrink: Becoming an RV “trunk popper” during the pandemic

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Dear RV Shrink:
We don’t have enough storage space in our RV to stock up on food and supplies during this pandemic. My husband has a boatload of medical issues and we are social distancing to the extreme. The park we’re in is not too crowded, but people must think we are anti-social. We only go out at night to walk in the dark for exercise. We still see people socializing 6 ft. apart, but those activities still make us uncomfortable.

We left one park because so many of the other residents were still attending church services and other functions a few times a week. They stopped letting additional RV travelers in the campground, but somehow found congregating at events non-threatening.

Our biggest concern is stocking up on supplies each week. I do not want to bring any virus home from the store to my husband. What are others with limited storage doing? —Storing Stores in Sarasota

Dear Sara:
Did your mother ever say to you, “If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you jump, too?” That was a parental lesson that can definitely pay dividends today. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, or what they think about you – protect yourself.

No one knows how this whole story is going to end. We may all be forced to jump-start the economy before food riots begin. I just saw a story highlighting 5,000 families lined up at a food bank in Texas. I have to say, I always wondered what would happen if we had a near-depression in this country in this day and age. Unlike the last one, the majority of the population thinks milk comes from a store. Many have no idea a cow is involved in the process. So here we are – I am getting all my questions answered as this pandemic unfolds day after day.

But let’s get back to your basic question. You don’t have to jump. You don’t even have to get close to the edge of the cliff. My wife and I are perfectly healthy but, like you, we choose to be “anti-social.” We have been using online grocery shopping. Walmart has a user-friendly site. You order what you want, put it in your cyber basket, select a date for pickup, pay and show up. We pop the trunk, the groceries are deposited and off we go. You may not get everything you order, but otherwise it is a smooth operation.

We are suspect that store management might be getting rid of soon-to-expire produce by passing it on to “trunk poppers” like us, but that’s a small price to pay for safe shopping. On our last pickup, we couldn’t get milk even though there was a segment on the news that dairy farmers are dumping their milk on the ground. This is no different than the example I used last week about having over-abundant oil and possible gas shortages. Supply chains are no different than food chains – break one link and the whole process falls apart. 

It is not time to panic – it is time to get creative. Even if the country opens back up for semi-normal business, it doesn’t mean you have to. I used to have a Master Sergeant in the Marine Corps who always said, “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.” Seems everyone has a theory right now – just concentrate on your own actions.

Give drive-by grocery shopping a try. You may never go back to wrestling your way through a grocery aisle again. And don’t worry about what others are doing – this virus has many more questions than answers at this point. The best way you can protect yourself and your husband is to become RV hermits until this whole mess blows over. If you get bored, consider the alternative. It is much better to be a social misfit than a statistic.  —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-books, including Book 2 in his two-book series: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.

##RVT944

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Mitzi Agnew Giles
5 months ago

This is my routine. I dress in long sleeve outfits, no underwear, long ponts glasses and veiled cap. I have swim googles for when/if the local outbreak gets worse. I spray my reusable bags inside and out. All I carry with me are keys, credit or debit card, and drivers license. I have some gloves & spray in the car. When I park I put on my face mask and gloves. I shop. Wearing double gloves so as not to accidentally contaminate myself. I I tell the clerk not to bag, discard I set of gloves IN THE TRAS! don’t be a slob- and pull out the payment card. Wheel a cartload of unbagged groceries to my trunk. Spray everything THOROUGHLY before putting in my totes, except produce. that goes into a separate tote or box. SpraY my doorlatch. Unglove and THROW THEM OUT! Before getting in the car I spray the bottoms of my shoes. Get in use alcohol gel on payment card, steering wheel, keys, my hands and the spray dispenser. Drive home. Tote bags go right into the kitchen and produce into the sink along with my glasses. Refrigerator/freezer stuff is put away. I strip off into the washing machine. The veiled caps is sprayed, as is the mask. I go shower and wash my hair. Come back barefoot up to my chin and wash produce and glaces with germicidal soap. Everything else in pantry . Then I go have a nap. 🙂

Tumbleweed
5 months ago

I highly recommend buying dehydrated and freeze-dried food! I was a full-time RVer for years, in a small rig with almost no basement storage. I became a prepper at some point and started stashing #10 cans and mylar pouches of dehydrated and freeze-dried veggies, fruit, el. al. in every nook and cranny of the rig. Then I realized that this long-term storage food would be very handy for daily use by RVers. You can pack SO MUCH MORE food into your rig this way! It weighs very little, especially compared to the same amount of food in canned goods, and it frees up a lot of space in your frig for even more food. I wished I had known about this on Day 1 of my 29-yr. RVing travels.

Long-term storage food is not cheap, but I suspect that it all evens out when you consider how much food you normally waste because it rots before you use it all, especially fresh produce. With #10 cans and mylar pouches, there is no waste. The only retail store I’ve seen them in is Walmart, which sells the Augason Farms brand of #10 cans. They’re harder to find at the moment because of the panic buying, but there are many online vendors of long-term storage food who will ship orders to you, which would be an additional boon to you in your present situation. Also, check out the Home Storage Centers run by the Mormons, which sell a limited variety of basic foods at the best prices I’ve yet seen. Most are located out West and they don’t ship, so you have to actually go into the stores, but it’s well worth the trip.

TravelingMan
5 months ago

It’s now a good time restock and get ready for round 2. The charts were indicating great progress but by reopening so soon, its bound to occur. In most areas, we really needed about two more weeks of solitude. Time will tell. Its amazing to watch how impatient/selfish people are. You waited this long. What would two more weeks have hurt? We’ll see…In the meantime, we’ll be non social for at least another month. We’re looking forward to getting back on the road just to look for a safer place to be besides the DFW area of Texas.

If you need a place to stay though, there are plenty in this area. Just look NW of Ft. Worth about 18-20 miles out. There is a brand new park between Springtown and Weatherford. Lots of space. Around $400 a month + Electric. Just opened a few days ago.

Clayobx
5 months ago
Reply to  TravelingMan

Agree, we, as a nation to protect all citizens must have two more weeks. We’ve invested all this time, money, and mental health as well as physical. Let’s please be pro active collectively.🙏👍🇺🇸

M. Will
5 months ago

Buying groceries from Walmart online and or by phone and going down to pick them up is great. Wait until you do pick them up and see what you did order but they were out of and then what do you do??

Tsippi
5 months ago

Sara: Despite what jerks commenting on this article may say, you are doing the right thing. My asthma specialist has told me not to leave my apartment at all because the risk of catching the disease in elevators, stairwells, and from thoughtless people on sidewalks and walking trails is too high. I realize I will eventually catch Covid-19, but the longer I can put it off, the more likely there will be better treatments available and the less likely I’ll have to be hospitalized in the local convention center rather than an actual hospital. Additionally, my heart breaks for the police, fire fighters, medical personnel and retail employees who have died in my city so far. We owe it to the rest to try to get transmission under control until there is more protective equipment. One thing that I have done is find a young, healthy, trustworthy person who was already working gig jobs and pay him directly to run errands for me. Given the atrocious way some gig shopping services treat their contractors, I feel better doing things this way. He is in touch with me while he’s shopping, so I know what he actually was able to obtain. I Venmo or Zelle him money before he gets to checkout so that he’ll have enough in his checking account to pay the bill. Then, while he’s on his way to my place, I pay him. I’m paying a lot (more than double minimum wage, including for driving time), but I feel like I’m helping out a person who needs the money right now.

Irv
5 months ago

Once you get home with groceries in your trunk, you need to disinfect the packages and food so you can minimize the chance of catching the virus. Here’s a good video by a doctor.

All this is necessary if one of you is at high risk!

You can disinfect using bleach in water, rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide. Whichever is most available and cheapest.

Lee Ensminger
5 months ago
Reply to  Irv

Irv, I didn’t see any link for the video you mentioned…

Jane
5 months ago

Sara, Continue to do what right for the two of you and your comfort level, what matters most is that the two of you stay safe and healthy.

We were in GA for the month of March as things were shutting down and getting weird. I wanted to stock up because of all the unknowns. To make the most of our freezer and cupboards I got hold of bins, crates…use these in the freezer and cupboards to help organize. In a pinch you could cut down a cardboard box. They get heavy, but now the bin holds a lot more stuff than just the space without the bin and I pull it out to get what I need and I don’t have boxes and cans falling on my head. Do the same with the freezer again, I’m able to fit more food and organize. If you have space between the bins, what can you store between them?

Reorganize cupboards and refrig/freezer, combine old bottles of the same. Ditch the condiments you’ve been saving for the last year and still haven’t use… Use bins to help organize/stack items.

Pots and pans- I stored a bag of potatoes inside a pot, I had a melon in a pot also for a couple of days to get it out of the way, while I was waiting for it to ripen. What about the oven, I’ll bet you have pans in there, but can you put something in that top pan? If not food, utensils?

Can you reorganize your clothing and put food boxes/cans in there (these are strange times). My DH loves his tomato juice, he found space in his drawers to shove his extra bottles. Now he knew where to find it when he ran out.

When you open a drawer, kitchen/bedroom, is the drawer full to the top? Reorganize so you are using the full dept of the drawer.

What about your basement? Reorganize to optimize space. Crates, bins or cardboard box, Use all the space not just the bottom half. Stack. Label so you can easily find things when you need them.

How we organize for today, doesn’t mean that’s how it has to stay organized. You’re in a different mode now. Be creative and rethink your space. If you are seeing ‘air’ space in your cupboards or Frig/freezer think, How can I better use this?

Good luck and stay healthy!!

Steve Sims
5 months ago

Seems to me that a couple who would fire up the rig and move because others, with whom they had zero contact, were attending church services has problems more enduring than how to get their groceries.

TravelingMan
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Sims

God is with you wherever you are. Where 2 or more are gathered, I will be there he says. WHY do folks have to go directly to the church just during this brief period. God gave you a brain. Use it. Continue to pray about the situation and the safety and recovery of others. This too shall pass. Watch your favorite services on the internet or TV during this time. Hold a prayer vigil on a telephone conference call. Get out your Bible and actually read it. There are ways to mitigate this without inflicting harm on others. Thou shall not commit murder. Are you contributing by exposing others to Asymptomatic symptoms? Just think about it…

Gary Byler
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Sims

Matthew 6:5-6 New International Version (NIV)

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Larry H Lee
5 months ago

And be sure to wipe those bottles, cans and boxes down with a cloth dampened with dilute bleach. And remember to wear gloves while doing it!