Well friends, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that the current pandemic situation is having its effects upon the travel industry. With much fear and uncertainty about even leaving one’s house, travel is probably the last thing on most people’s minds.
However, the fact is that state-by-state, we will soon be opening the national parks and lifting the stay-at-home orders, and that means you can finally quench your wanderlust and vanquish that cabin fever with a van camping trip. You may be wondering how long you should wait, and how you might take a trip in a way that reduces the risk of catching or spreading the disease.
That’s why we’re writing this month’s blog post about safe travel in the age of covid-19. So, buckle up, get those disinfectant wipes ready, and let’s talk pandemic-proofing your break-out campervan excursion.
Do Your Research
Since the lockdown rules and the lifting of them will be a state-by-state matter, you really have to check your route and do extra research, if you plan to go across various states. For instance, some states have banned in-person toll booths, which means that if you don’t have the electronic pass for that state, which of course you won’t, you may receive a fine or a bill for the toll in the mail. You can reference the DoT directory to investigate issues like this for the states you’ll be traveling through.
Of course, many state or national parks are also closed or have limited facilities, so you’ll need to verify that your chosen destination(s) are open and that you have what you need if certain facilities aren’t available.
Choose Camping Partners Carefully
None of us would want to endanger our friends or family, but the fact of the matter is that many people are taking this epidemic much less seriously than others. Alternative beliefs range from believing it’s over-hyped, to the conspiratorial idea that the virus doesn’t even exist. In considering who to go camping with, don’t be shy about bringing the subject up in conversation, and at least making sure that you’re on the same page about it.
If you go camping with someone who has radically different opinions from you, then those differences will also play out in the precautions you want to take, and this can lead to a disharmonious camping trip, which is never fun.
Packing and Extra Precautions
It may seem too obvious to mention, but you’ll definitely want to bring whatever hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, or disinfecting wipes you’ve managed to scour from the ravaged store shelves. You have to also keep in mind, especially at gas stations, that facilities on the road are frequented by truckers, who travel so much across the country that the chances of being exposed are drastically increased. Be very aware of what you’ve touched, and whether you’ve washed your hands or sanitized.
The same goes for campground facilities. Many people from highly infected locations like New York have fled to escape the situation there, often making a camping trip out of it, which means you could have infected city-dwellers in your campsite. Even if the virus is on the downturn, you should still be very cautious.
Seek Sparsely Populated Campgrounds
This may seem like another no-brainer, but don’t think that it’s excessive to avoid crowded campgrounds. If you don’t mind doing without facilities (which increase your risk anyway), why not go for dispersed camping? There are many dispersed campgrounds in the various national and state parks which are much more private, and practically impossible to get crowded. Camping out on BLM land can also be a great option. Van camping is ideal for any of these options, because the van provides more “facilities” than a typical tent camping situation would.
Trails and Social Distancing
With so many people off work, reports of crowded trails have been prevalent, and so if you’re planning to continue upholding social distancing rules, you’ll want to be mindful of the kind of trail you’re on, how narrow it is, and how crowded it is. While it seems like the great outdoors would be a low-risk place in terms of disease spreading, if a narrow trail forces you to pass within a foot or two of an infected person, that’s not necessarily the case.
Don’t be shy about letting fellow hikers know that you are taking this seriously, and prefer to avoid coming close. If you have to, you can step off the trail into the brush, to let them pass by.
Note: This blog post does not constitute medical advice, please consult the guidelines of medical institutions like the CDC or WHO when making your travel decisions.