RV sales are up as people try to make something of a summer lost to COVID

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Jessica Bruder stands on top of her RV in the Sonoran Desert near Quartzsite, Arizona. Photo courtesy of SwankieWheels.

The summer vacation season has been pretty much canceled due to COVID-19. Americans are banned from entering Europe. Many people don’t want to board planes for safety reasons, and they’re concerned about hotels and Airbnbs.

People are turning to camping instead, and RV sales are exploding. But there’s some planning to be done before you hit the open road. 

Jessica Bruder has spent a lot of time in an RV as she did research for her book “Nomadland,” which documented the lives of older Americans living full-time in their RVs.

She’s about to start a two-week road trip with her partner. She offers these tips:

Camp in your friends’ backyards

“We've got a tent. We've got a solar shower. We're going to be seeing friends from Massachusetts up to Maine. Perhaps this is TMI, but for the first time in my life, I own a pee funnel, aka a ‘Shepee.’ We've all had a lot of weird experiences during COVID, but learning how to urinate standing up is revelatory and strange.”

Explore free federal lands

“There are many areas that the Bureau of Land Management designates long-term camping areas. And in many places, it's free or very inexpensive. You can be there for 14 days before you have to move on. “


Tent camping on federal land outside Zion National Park in Utah. Photo by Kathryn Barnes/KCRW.

Go off the grid

“A lot of people who I spend time with do what they call boondocking, which is going out to federal lands and being completely self-sufficient. They might have solar panels. They're self-contained for everything from toileting to keeping food cold. And that's really ideal in the COVID era. 

RV parks are a little more complicated. You get electricity and water, but you often have common shower houses, and your neighbors may have different standards than you do. If we're parked next to each other, do they wear a mask? Maybe they don't, so staying away from people sounds a bit easier.”


Boondocking on federal land outside Crested Butte in Colorado. Photo by Kathryn Barnes/KCRW.

Respect nature

“If people kind of want to be good citizens of this burgeoning community, they can do it. So much of the knowledge about how to do this well is out there already.”

—Written and produced by Kathryn Barnes

Credits

Guest:
Jessica Bruder - Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; author of "Nomadland" - @jessbruder

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Angie Perrin, Kathryn Barnes