Has The Pandemic Ruined Full-Time RV Life? This Is What We Know

PublishedDecember 6, 2020

This is strictly an opinion piece.

It's about the changes COVID-19 has made in our lives as full-time RVers.

Question: "Has the pandemic ruined full-time RVing?"

Short Answer:  "Kind of"

Sorry, I know that sounds vague. But hear me out.

Death Valley National Park

First, please know that this perspective leans from a full-time AND a boondocking viewpoint.

This focus is about my (and Marshall's) experience in the changes of living as full-time boondocking RVers camping on public lands during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I cover three big issues you may want to consider before going full-time during COVID. (Written in December of 2020.)

The three issues: Crowding, friend relationships, and moving.

1. Is Camping Overcrowded Because Of COVID-19?

No, I can't say that it is. Early on, there were some public land closures, and many campgrounds were closed, which made finding places to camp more challenging than usual.

However, summer is always a busy time as kids are out of school and people opt to take their vacations during summertime. So yes, 2020's summer was busy. It might've been more busy than usual. (Though EVERY summer it seems to be more crowded than the last.)

Hiking couple Zion National Park

But this summer was no typical summer. People wanted to get out and away from cities MORE than usual. An RV vacation suddenly became very popular.

There was a huge demand for RVs, and new units sold like hotcakes.

However, are we seeing massive overcrowding on public lands now? No, not really.

It's fall now, and things have naturally slowed.

Have we not been able to camp in spots due to overcrowding? Nope. Have we been too crowded in any? Not really.

I have not noticed much change in this department.

2. Is It Safe/Morally OK To Still Be Moving Around?

As you probably know, you cannot stay in one spot or area on public lands for more than usually 2 weeks, max.

This means you are moving at least twice a month, normally to an area at least 30 miles from the last spot. And some campers are still moving from campground to campground.

There is some controversy about whether people should still be camping/moving regularly.

Class C motorhome camping in the Arizona desert

But I think it is fine.

Why? Here's my take:

How is staying in one area going to be any different than moving? Or staying with the same group?

No matter WHERE you are, you (and others) still go into public areas from time to time. Be it the grocery store, gas station, etc. You will still wear a mask (hopefully). Moving doesn't mean you're going to go into public any more than if you were staying put.

And you can still choose to only camp near smaller towns so you're not 'in the thick of it' where the pandemic has exploded.

Yet no matter the precautions you take, you can still be exposed any time you are in public, no matter where you are.

Even staying put with one group of friends who are 'quarantining together' is dangerously misleading.

If you ALL are going out into public, masked, you each can still catch COVID, unknowingly, as many have zero symptoms.

So how is being with the same people, not distancing with them,  'safer' than moving around and not  distancing (or distancing) with new ones who follow the same precautions?

If ALL of your friends take the same precautions, what's the difference?

You all either decide to socially distance, or you decide you're 'safe' and you don't.

YES, it's best to limit your close interactions, but each time you choose to not distance from ANYONE, you have risk.

Gone are social RVing gatherings like this until we have a vaccine.

Marshall and I don't distance. Most couples don't distance, either. It is still a risk. But it's one we choose to take.

So it is my opinion that moving around is just fine. You still have to expose yourself here and there, no matter whether you stay in one place or if you keep moving. Just take the proper precautions.

3. Speaking of Friends... Yes,  Socialization Has Changed

So yes, probably the biggest change for full timers is that we don't gather in the same sized groups that we used to.

This may or may not be a problem for you. (People-person VS not so people-oriented.)

The largest 'pod' of RVs I have been with since the pandemic started was 7, including my rig and Marshall's rig. And everyone stays socially distanced. This includes not hugging upon greeting, not hanging in each other's rigs, etc... it all has been very strange.

Additionally, many full-time friends have purchased homes or otherwise have come off the road permanently or until this blows over.

Others have succumbed to staying in long-term spots in campgrounds together. Marshall and I are still boondocking.

Therefore, we have way fewer friends around these days.

Ketchum Idaho dispersed camping

The good ol' pre-COVID-19 hangout days. 

Still, this has created a loneliness challenge for myself and many full-timers I know. (Not as much for introverts like Marshall.)

Friends have been a HUGE part of the appeal of this lifestyle for me. And the friend cycle for myself and my friends has been greatly disrupted.

Conclusion

Yes, you can still RV full time for sure. Public lands are not overrun. You can still get into campgrounds.

But for me, it hasn't been the same. We no longer have a big pool of friends to camp with. This has been the #1 greatest change and one that hits hard. We don't have the big party get togethers through Xscapers that we used to.

Yes, full-time RVing has ALWAYS meant that you have to be flexible and you must be ready for change.

But COVID has over-stretched the limit of this capability for many. It has disrupted the gatherings that made this lifestyle so much fun, personally speaking.

Additionally, finding reservations in campgrounds has even become harder. And some campgrounds may be too crowded for you to feel safe.

If you are a huge introvert and friends/interactions are not a big deal to you, you'll probably be fine.

 For us, other than social distancing and the social change, (at least so far) not much else has changed about boondocking full-time during the pandemic.

We still do this full time, we still camp on public lands, and there is still plenty of room.

We simply must mask-up when we go to town for things, wash hands or sanitize when we get back into the car/home, and stay as far from other people in public as we can.

Kelly RV Lake Creek Road Ketchum

Same as you would do (hopefully) if you were living in a house anywhere in the country.

I suppose whether this lifestyle has been 'ruined' for you depends on your needs.

Want lots of socialization? I suppose you could have that if you all do very good distancing in a campground. And well, if you and many of your friends don't believe in the pandemic. Not even sure why you're reading this article if that's the case.

But for those of us who understand science, the pandemic has caused a huge fissure in how we interact socially as full-timers.

It has definitely had a huge impact.

Come on, vaccine, come onnnnn.

Kelly Headshot

He-llllo. I'm the co-founder of Camp Addict, which my biz partner and I launched in 2017. I frigging love the RVing lifestyle but in December of 2020, I converted to part-time RV life. Heck, I lived in my travel trailer for over 5.5 years, STRICTLY boondocking for pretty much all of it. Boondocking is a GREAT way to live, but it's not easy. Anyway, I'm passionate about animals, can't stand campgrounds, I hardly ever cook, and I love a good dance party. Currently, I can be found plotting and scheming whether or not to start collecting farm animals (or plotting my next RV trip!) at my beautiful new 'ranch' named 'Hotel Kellyfornia', in Southern Arizona. 

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