By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Whether we like it or not, coronavirus is focusing a spotlight on the RV lifestyle. Widely read magazines are publishing stories about how RVs may just be the “dream machines” to carry the American public on safe journeys across the country. It’s no news to us. After all, RVers appreciate sleeping in their own beds, and showering in their own bathrooms. Instead of bumping elbows with strangers in the motel “dining room,” they’re perfectly happy to sit in their pajamas (or less) while breaking their fast – in their own traveling dining room.
But this week, more attention has been focused on RVers. This time you can thank CBS News’ own travel editor, Peter Greenberg. He’s been puffing all week about just what the future holds for the traveling public, and toward the end of the week, he hopped on the RV bandwagon, this time broadcast on Washington, DC’s top-rated news station, WTOP-FM. You can only imagine plenty of people heard him – and the station ran the print version on its website. Here are just a few excerpts:
“Families will want to travel together, and an RV gives them the opportunity to be in their own self-contained quarantine-mobile, if you will, to rediscover their own country. They’ll stuff the RV full of groceries and head down the road, skipping needless stops at restaurants or hotels, and avoid any danger of the bug they might have picked up, had they had to stop like an ‘ordinary’ traveler.
“Camping is going to be big, whether at the national or state park level. A lot of state parks will be rediscovered because the national parks are going to be full. You can count on that,” Greenberg said.
And where would these zealous traveling families go? Happily, Greenberg focused on his nearby audience, recommending, “Washington is a great hub, and it doesn’t mean that we all have to go to Rehoboth. It means we have options here. Take a look at the map. Take a look at a 3- to 400-mile radius from where you live right now, and you’ll be surprised at what’s available to you that won’t be crowded, that will be accessible and that will give you a wonderful travel experience at an affordable cost.”
He suggested avoiding tourist traps and big metro areas. Instead his advice was to hit Main Street USA towns. “Social distancing is almost … the definition of a small town anyway, and as long as it’s not inundated, they can handle you and you can handle them. You’ll learn about American history, you can go antiquing, the restaurants won’t be neck and neck, and you’ll have a better chance of having a better experience within the boundaries of what’s acceptable social distancing and good hygiene principles.”
Greenberg’s words may have hit a primarily Northeast audience, but similar ideas are being floated in publications and websites everywhere. It’s like somebody drove through neighborhoods all across the land with a booming loudspeaker on their roof: “Listen up everyone! Go rent an RV and see America! You can stay safe! You can have fun!” The statistics and stories from RV rental firms are showing that people are already taking the advice. And RV dealers are happy as clams as they take in plenty of clams, selling RVs, many to first-time buyers.
For us who consider ourselves “practiced RVers,” we may find ourselves practicing patience if we head out on the road. If you thought that spaces in RV parks were scarce last year, just imagine what it may be like. If some of the parks have folded, or perhaps haven’t yet reopened, the already tight space will be tighter. Combine that with a rolling wave of newbies competing for a space next to the swimming pool – this well could be the RV summer from hell.
It’s time to think seriously about boondocking!