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Your Next Vacay: To RV or Not to RV

take social distancing on the road

Coronavirus concerns have made our leisure time—particularly vacations—look different. Many of us canceled trips (or had them canceled for us) over the summer, especially those that involved air travel. But what if you really need a getaway? Enter the RV.

The Benefits of an RV Trip

Two big perks to an RV are that you have your own space and can bypass airplanes. And we’d bet there’s a decent chance you know someone who rented or bought a motorhome recently and took to the open road. RVshare—a person-to-person RV rental marketplace—says demand has surged in 2020, and while reservations typically dip in the fall, that’s not the case this year. Many RV and travel trailer dealerships are reporting an uptick in sales. Some families have even taken homeschooling on the road with a camper.

So could RVing be right for you?

It was a great choice for Joe and Tina Dieber and their kids. The Colleyville family became first-time RVers over the summer.

“We planned to go sailing as a family in the British Virgin Islands, a vacation we had been anticipating for some time,” shares Tina Dieber. “But because of COVID-19, our flight out of Miami was canceled.”

So they decided to give an RV road trip a try, renting from ProRV in Colleyville. The Diebers—including twins Anthony and Genevieve, 6, and Victoria, 12—immediately felt at home as they embarked on their adventure: a 10-day trip to Lake Meredith in the Texas Panhandle, Angel Fire and Taos in New Mexico, and Mueller State Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.

“RVing provided us with flexibility and complete control over where we would stop and what we would do,” says Dieber, noting that they rented a pontoon boat, rafted, hiked, mountain biked and rode ATVs over the course of the trip. “For me, being able to take my kitchen with me was a huge plus. We didn’t have to rely on stopping in restaurants during the pandemic.”

The family hooked up video games for the long stretches, and the kids enjoyed traveling by RV much more than traditional car-based trips. That refrain parents often hear on the road (“Are we there yet?”) didn’t come up even once on this vacation. “In fact, we often heard, ‘We’re there already?’” recalls Dieber.

The family also discovered that there are many destinations to enjoy not too far from the Metroplex. “We usually focus on what new country we can explore, but really, there are so many amazing destinations right here, some relatively close!” says Dieber. “We wanted to be able to socially distance while still enjoying some adventures and making memories as a family—and this was a terrific vacation that exceeded all of our expectations.”

In fact, the Diebers took another RV trip right before school started (this time booking through RVshare.com), and they’re planning to make RVing part of their annual plans.

RV Road Trip Tips

As a now-veteran RVer, Tina Dieber offers these tips for families:

  • Stock up at the grocery store. “Food choices included one-pot meals, toaster waffles—my son’s favorite—cereal, oatmeal, sandwiches, veggie burgers, s’mores ingredients, microwave rice and more,” she says. “I also baked cookies and banana bread the day before we left.”
  • Be ready for varying temperatures. “We layered our clothes. Some warm temperature clothing, some cooler temperature clothing plus a light rain jacket made up the majority of what we brought,” Dieber says. “PJs, swimsuits, outdoor gear—we were able to bring it all without the fuss of suitcases.” For the few items that needed to be washed, Dieber brought a small container of detergent and a bungee line for drying.
  • Consider taking your pup. “As we traveled, we saw several other RVing families with their dogs along. We opted not to bring our dogs, but the ability to do so is an undeniable benefit of an RV trip,” she says.
  • Be sure you (or at least another adult on the trip) is good to go for long periods behind the wheel. “Long drives can obviously be tiring if you don’t enjoy that sort of thing,” Dieber points out.
  • Don’t spend a lot of time and energy worrying about getting set up at your campsite. “As a newbie to RVing, I was very worried about how the hook-ups at various campsites would play out, but my husband was easily able to handle a variety of hook-up settings without any problem,” she says. “We didn’t really encounter many challenges on this trip.”
  • Finally, if you’re renting, check out the cleaning policies. You want to do everything you can to have a virus-free excursion.

Find more RV tips with Consumer Reports’ Beginner’s Guide to Motorhomes.

Photo courtesy of Tina Dieber.