5 Ways We’re Adapting to Our New Normal of RVing
5 Ways We’re Adapting to Our New Normal of RVing
A look at one couple’s changing RV life during the pandemic.
By: Jon & Nadia Bajuelo
RVing during a global pandemic has been a little different, to say the least!
Looking back so far, we see five key areas where we’ve adapted our RV style the most. Initially, we made changes to our usual manner of RVing due to the spring lockdown. But, while lockdown has ended, we’ve actually kept up most of our changes. Times still feel a bit uncertain to us, but our new habits provide a sense of safety and confidence.
If you’re a full-timer like us, you’re not alone in adjusting to a new normal. Maybe you’ve made similar changes, too. And, if you’re looking to get back out there for short trips and weekends, the five ways we’ve changed how we RV during the pandemic can help you make your RV plans.
Campsite Reservations Before the Pandemic
Do you need to make campsite reservations? Our answer before the pandemic would’ve been a resounding ‘no!’ (with a few exceptions). In fact, we wrote a whole guide on how to RV without reservations because we find it less stressful, and chances are you’ll have to at some point while on your RVing adventure. Reserving our campsites ahead of time has never been our norm.
Anyone else have those days where it seems like 2020 has gone to the dogs?
Campsite Reservations During the Pandemic
We love the freedom that RVing without reservations allows, but we’ve found reservations are the way to go during the pandemic.
At the beginning of the whole thing, we happened to be making our way cross-country. With so little known at the time, we suddenly found ourselves less comfortable relying on Walmarts and Cracker Barrels – our usual backups. We began making reservations for stops along our way instead.
Then, when the spring lockdown began, stays needed to be long-term in order to park your RV. Again, we immediately made reservations.
We find we’re still not ready to rely on Walmarts and Cracker Barrels as a backup. We also don’t want to be moving around too much, so for now, we prefer month-long stays and we’re loving reservations.
2. Campgrounds & Campsites
Pre-Pandemic RV Campground Choices
Before 2020 opened up Pandora’s box of goodies, our favorite campgrounds were Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and state park campgrounds. Typically keeping to these types of campgrounds, we pretty much never had a campsite with hookups, much less full hookups.
RV Campground Choices During the Pandemic
Well, a lot has changed. At first, all of the aforementioned favorites were exactly the campgrounds that closed. We found private campgrounds mostly remained open though.
By now, the closed campgrounds have reopened. But for the time being, we don’t want to have to be looking for our next spot every 14 days. Being newfound fans of month-long stays, we’ve stuck mostly to private campgrounds. If you’re weekending, however, we’d say definitely go for the state park or U.S. Forest stay!
While we’ve had full-hookups about a handful of times in four years of full-time RVing, we find them pretty convenient for long stays. The power and consistent internet (nope, not campground Wi-Fi) have been great to have, and essential for our entertainment these last few months. And, if you’re not always on the move like we were, it’s great to essentially dump your tanks right at your campsite.
RV Showers Before the Pandemic
We usually shower outside of our RV. Our Trend’s shower is great. But, a great RV shower and a residential shower will always be two different things. Not to mention, we’re among those that use their RV shower for storage (it’s a great spot for the paddleboard and hamper - Ha!). But, with COVID-19, gyms and campground bath houses are no longer our first choice for showers.
RV Showers During the Pandemic
We now shower exclusively in our RV. Gyms, if they’re open, don’t have showers available at this time. And truthfully, we personally aren’t comfortable with gyms or the mostly reopened campground bathhouses just yet.
Another reason we loved showering outside of the RV was to stretch our boondocking stays. Now that we’ve been camping mostly with full hookups, that’s not much of a concern. It’s been a great time to take advantage of the fact that our Trend has a nice shower.
While we're boondocking considerably less, if we do need to boondock between longer stays, we use an outdoor shower that lets us keep our RV shower as storage. First, we set up our outdoor bathroom tent. (We have a basic one from Walmart.) Then, inside we set up our Nemo Helio Pressure Shower. We love our little Nemo shower! It packs up small, it's proven very durable, and it has allowed us to stretch our boondocking stays so many times in the past.
RV Food Choices Before the Pandemic
Before the pandemic hit, we ate out fairly often. The travel that an RV allows has always been part of the magic of RVing for us. A big part of what we enjoy about travel is food. After four years, we have favorite restaurants all over the U.S. - from low budget to splurges. We’re crossing our fingers they’ll all be there when we can make it back!
We also usually love to grill. However, we were caught by the pandemic out east, where humidity and bugs have us feeling a little less enthusiastic about grilling.
RV Food Choices During the Pandemic
We pretty much stopped eating out cold turkey at first. At the beginning, there were many unknowns and things were a bit scary. (Remember when we didn’t even know if we should or shouldn’t be wiping down our groceries?) We stocked up on a month’s supply of groceries and hunkered down.
Since then, we’ve of course done takeout and gone through the drive-thru. However, we’re often sticking to very small towns where the options can be pretty limited. So, we’ve been eating in and cooking inside the RV. We’ve also become very good friends with our microwave! We hardly ever used it before because we boondocked so much.
5. Media Consumption
Our Pre-Pandemic RV Alternatives to Cable & Satellite
Our Trend came equipped with a King Jack HDTV antenna. We also subscribe to Amazon Prime, and at any given time we usually have one other streaming service. Even before RV life, we were cord-cutters.We even put together a guide for cutting the cord as an RVer. In that guide, we talk about one of our favorite alternatives for traditional television, YouTube TV.
RV Alternatives to Cable & Satellite During the Pandemic
We’re watching a bit more TV than usual in 2020. Right now, we’re really enjoying our streaming services.
Unfortunately, we have run into a pandemic issue with our live TV streaming service. Until now, we’ve had a good experience with YouTube TV. However, there’s a catch that doesn’t affect weekender or seasonal RVers and has never affected us as full-timers before.
YouTube TV requires you to sign-in to your account from your home area at least once every three months. That was never an issue for us since we’ve always traveled to visit family in Florida throughout the year. We haven’t traveled to Florida this year. Skipping our usual spring visit, we’ve lost use of our YouTube TV service.
Overall, these are a series of small changes, really. The feeling of a “new normal” probably comes from the bigger changes we’ve all had to make whether we’re full-timers or not.
While it will take some time to travel without a care again, we can say, with some adjustments, RVing still delivers on much needed time close to nature!