Should you take a camping trip during COVID-19? It’s July 2020 and the United States is seeing a record number of new daily COVID-19 infections and many states are starting to shut down indoor dining, hair salons, and gyms again.
Planning a camping trip during COVID-19
Summertime is also the time many of us take our Airstream or other RV out of storage for a long-awaited summer vacation. But now many camping plans and reservations are being delayed or cancelled due to states closing down local and state campgrounds.
As many of us scramble to try to figure out alternative plans, its probably a good time to look at potential risks while taking that RV camping trip during COVID-19. Knowing what your potential risks for being exposed to COVID-19 will help you make sound decisions on how to stay safe during this pandemic.
Know what the COVID-19 infection rate is where you are currently
The first step to take is to know how prevalent COVID-19 is in your local community and state. States like New York, Florida, Texas, and California have had the most reported cases.
One travel recommendation is if you are currently in a state with a high number of recent COVID19 cases, you probably shouldn’t leave the state to go to a state where the COVID19 rate is lower since you might introduce the virus and cause more infections.
Know the COVID-19 infection rate is where you are planning to camp.
Some states have had very low rates of positive COVID-19 tests. States like Vermont, Maine, Wyoming, and Montana have had some of the lowest numbers of COVID19 cases so far. If you live in a state that also has a low positive case rate, then it might be reasonable for you to plan an RV trip to another state with a similarly low rate of COVID-19 infections.
Conversely, you probably don’t want to be planning to pull your Airstream to Texas or Florida or Arizona right now as their COVID-19 cases are rapidly rising and their hospital capacity is being stretched.
One of the best on-line resources I’ve found for up-to-date COVID-19 infection data is here
Call the campground
Check with the campground you’re planning on staying at to make sure they are open. Some localities have closed campgrounds to shorter stays and are only taking camping reservations for one month or longer.
Find out from the campground what changes they are making to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many campgrounds have closed pools and restrooms in order to combat the spread of COVID-19. Some campgrounds have kept their pools open, but only allow one family at a time to use the pool. Other campgrounds have also increased the frequency at which they clean and disinfected common areas such as restrooms and showers.
Stay outdoors to stop the spread of COVID-19
One of the best ways to stop the spread of COVID-19 while camping is to stay outdoors. The natural airflow of the outdoors helps disperse the virus and doesn’t allow it to concentrate. It’s also easier to social distance further than 6 feet from people while outdoors.
Take the road less travelled by
With more people staying at home, there has been an uptick in people flocking to popular hiking spots and overwhelming the parking lots and leaving trash behind.
So look for hiking trails that may be a little more advanced, harder to reach, or less known. You’ll avoid the crowded parking lots as well as the crowds on the trails.
Social Distance while camping
Social distancing is still one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of COVID19. Instead of planning a multi-family group camping trip or that big group of friends hike, keep your camping group limited to family and others that you are already social distancing with.
Many of the new clusters of COVID19 infections in the past month were from large family gatherings or parties that people held over Memorial Day and the 4th of July weekends. Remember that often times, people infected with COVID-19 don’t have any symptoms for the first several days, but can still spread the virus to others.
Wear a mask and practice proper hygiene
Wearing a cloth or surgical mask should not be a political issue. Wearing a proper covering can prevent the spread of respiratory droplets if you cough or sneeze and can limit the amount of virus that is spread.
Wash your hands with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds. The soap will help break down the outer coating of the virus and the hot water will help destroy the virus.
If clean water and soap aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that has at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropyl alcohol to disinfect your hands. Make sure to thoroughly coat your hands with the sanitizer and allow it to fully dry to inactive any of the virus.
Things to avoid while camping during COVID-19
Avoid big group gatherings
Big group gatherings can increase your risk of COVID-19. Even if outside, especially if the groups include people that you have not previously been social distancing with
Avoid sitting around a smoky campfire
The smoke from the campfire can cause coughing or sneezing and spread the virus.
Avoid big picnic potlucks and buffet-style eating.
As tempting as it may be to have those big group picnics where everyone brings their favorite dish, its, unfortunately, a great way to spread the virus as well. Serve meals individually and consider using disposable plates, cups, forks and knives.
If you’re feeling ill, stay home!
If you are starting to have a mild fever or cough the day before your trip, you might have COVID-19. Stay home, get tested and rest up, the outdoors will always be there waiting for you!