RVing During COVID-19: Maine Road Trip Tips
RVing During COVID-19: Maine Road Trip Tips
Planning a trip to ‘vacationland’ during the pandemic.
By: Shanae & Mark McDevitt
Bob Dylan said it best, “the times they are a-changin.” This year has been one of unexpected change, to say the least. It has required a lot of adaptability and patience on all of our parts. For us, after a few months of adjusting to our new reality, we felt comfortable getting back on the road to explore.
As we started preparing for our first RV trip to Maine during the COVID-19 pandemic, we felt confident that with our knowledge of RV travel and ability to research ahead of time, we would be able to safely enjoy our chosen destination.
Our plan, pre-COVID, had already been to travel to Maine during the summer. We were longing for the coastline with its pebble beaches and harbor towns.
If you don’t know, Maine is called “vacationland.” The first time I traveled to the state and saw the slogan on the welcome sign and license plates, I thought it was making a pretty big promise. But Maine delivered; it’s where people go to get away from it all and embrace a slower, simpler, relaxed state of mind. Maine’s natural setting and laid-back atmosphere only solidified that this is where we felt safe traveling during the current pandemic.
Preparing for an RV Trip During the Pandemic
Before talking about our time in Maine, let’s discuss what researching and preparing for this trip looked like!
States have done their best to be very clear about their policies, expectations, and guidelines for travelers during COVID-19. In a time where the internet is flowing with information and opinions, it’s important to make sure that when it comes to travel restrictions, you’re fact-checking by going directly to the source. This is not the time to stop researching after reading one blog post, take the next step and verify the information that you’re finding. We suggest starting with a Google search along the lines of “(state) website travel restrictions.” The first result in a search like this should be the state’s government website.
In our research, this led us to the Maine.gov website and then, with one click, to the “Keep Maine Healthy” initiative. This laid out how Maine plans to keep residents and tourists safe during COVID-19. Put simply, the policy asked that visitors either get tested before arrival or do a 14-day quarantine after entering the state. Residents from certain states were exempt from this. (Be sure to check these sites regularly for the most up-to-date information).
After knowing the overall state policy, we focused on where within the state we wanted to travel and stay. We planned to be by the coast, close to nature trails, and able to drive into the city of Portland if we needed to do so. Knowing that we would be staying at an RV park, and not boondocking, we called our chosen park's main office where they were able to make us aware of any policy changes at the campground or in the general area.
One thing to consider when planning your own travel is if you will be stopping at other states along your route. If so, you will want to research those specific areas, so you know what to expect. At our time of travel, most of the upper northeast states were open to interstate travel and had similar guidelines. (Side note: Be aware of where your vehicle is registered and be prepared to answer questions about where you are traveling from).
Highlights of Our Maine trip
Harvest Hosts Stop Along the Way
For us, RVing has always been about getting off the beaten path and finding new-to-us places. On our way up to Maine, we stayed one night at a Harvest Hosts location in Connecticut that was really a treat.
We had already researched the travel regulations in the states we would be driving through, so we had a rough idea of what to expect. Originally, our plan was to sleep at a rest stop, but as we sat in New York City traffic, we decided we preferred a better view out our window in the morning and looked at our Harvest Hosts options.
You should always call before planning to go to a Harvest Hosts location, but especially now when there may be additional policies in place. The owner of Rose’s Berry Farm told us where we could park, made us aware of their current face mask policy on the farm, and invited us to join them the next morning for their “Sunday with a view” brunch.
This change of plans made it so that we woke up to geese flying into the pond as we walked the berry farm before breakfast. It was worth the slight detour!
Brews in Portland
The park we stayed at for our two weeks in Maine was just south of Portland, and we wanted to be sure to visit some of our favorite brew and food establishments while in the area. Before making the drive, we were sure to check their websites and, when necessary, call ahead to double validate information.
For example, Allagash Brewery was not offering tastings, but did have an outdoor pick-up option. In downtown Portland, side streets were closed off to create outdoor seating for restaurants. Many had options for curbside pick-up or outdoor dining. It was not uncommon to provide our name and phone number for contact tracing in case anyone was to have or contract COVID-19 during the time of our visit.
A drive along Maine’s coast is a treasure trove of inlets and small towns full of charm and smiles, albeit currently hidden behind masks. On a few different occasions, Mark looked at me asking “north or south,” and shortly after we’d be on our way driving. It was reassuring for us to know that our car was a safe bubble, and we could choose when we felt comfortable stopping, stepping out, and exploring.
It’s worth saying that Mark grew up going to Maine in the summer, so we had a general idea of where we were and areas to investigate. If you’re traveling to an area that is completely new to you, you’ll want to lean more heavily on research and speaking with your camp hosts.
Getting Out into Nature
Some of our favorite moments were spent walking nature trails, catching gorgeous sunrises, and wading across rocky beaches looking for interesting finds. We love to try to find things that we can bring home with us that remind us of where we have gone and keep that memory alive. It could be as simple as a trinket, antique, or even a paper good. Part of the allure is getting to know an area and bring back, in a leave-no-trace way, a relic of the time spent there.
Final Thoughts on Traveling During COVID-19
One final tip for travel during COVID-19 times would be to double-check openings and business hours. Many travelers enjoy strolling the main streets of towns and popping in and out of shops, but this plays out differently right now.
On this trip, trial and error taught us that Google Maps is not always accurate when it comes to store hours. Many of the small towns had reduced hours and were closed on Sunday, but this wasn’t reflected in Maps. We suggest checking the store's website and social media or calling to get the most accurate information.
Safe travels, friends!