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This summer, your plans may have taken a turn as borders stay closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While globetrotting may not be in the cards for you, many people are taking to the roads to explore their own backyards this summer, touring in recreational vehicles (RVs) and vans. Want to turn the idea of a family road trip into a success? Read on.

Know your options when planning a trip

Travelling Canada as your summer holiday is a big idea — the country is huge! If you want to see a lot of the country, a multi-day trip may be required. Looking for a weekend getaway? RVs also fit the bill, elevating the idea of camping to the next level. 

More and more, people are taking the comforts of home with them, choosing to travel in an RV or outfit a van. This means you’ve got a place to sleep and eat, all on four wheels. The largest option is an RV, which is typically purpose-built. It may have its own cab or you might need to hitch to a vehicle. You can’t miss it on the highway, as RVs have a very distinctive shape and can be substantially larger than the average vehicle. 

On a smaller scale, vans are a wide-ranging category, most are often converted work vans or delivery trucks (think of a Mercedes Sprinter). A popular do-it-yourself project, #VanLife creators build out all the comforts of home in a shell of a vehicle. Vans are merely a starting point, with many choosing to build out other vehicles like trucks, SUVs, and even sedans. 

Whatever you choose, hauling your home down the highway extends the reach of your vacation. If there is great internet speed, you can even take your work from home set up on the road, too. Coronavirus has everyone craving change, with RV rental companies reporting a nearly 7-fold increase in bookings. Mobile homes also give people the option of space, allowing social distancing and summer to coexist.

Make the dream a reality

Trip planning comes with the option to either rent or buy a vehicle. RVs typically come fully kitted out, and can be quite the investment if you’re a first-timer — making renting an RV more realistic. Vans and other conversion options usually appeal to those interested in purchasing, and perhaps even doing the conversion work themselves. However, given the skyrocketing popularity of #VanLife on Instagram, there are conversion shops and rental options popping up across the country. 

Selecting the right vehicle is up to you, your family, and the goals of your summer. Interested in a comfortable way to extend your day trips by a day or two? Check out a van. Looking for the long haul? Perhaps an RV with all the bells and whistles is the way to go for your next family road trip.

Stay safe in your (mobile) home

Introducing the activities of daily living to your vehicle is definitely an upgrade, but one that comes with a few extra safety considerations. Proper ventilation is key, especially when you’re cooking inside. When focusing on the kitchen, check that your water sources are clean, purifying where it seems suspect. If you’re planning a DIY van or upgrading an RV, consider heating and cooling options for the climate you’ll be exploring.

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Already the proud owner of an RV or van? Time to make sure all maintenance is up to date. This includes normal vehicle inspections, like oil changes, filters, tires, but also includes the elements of your mobile home. Check your tanks (they should be clean and well connected), electrical connections and fridge operations. If you use solar panels to create electricity, test the system to ensure that everything is charging. Using a trailer and hitch behind your SUV or truck? Inspect the hitch for any wear points, the signal light connections, and the trailer licence plate registration.

Before you hit the open road, do a test run to see what shifts and tumbles underway, even if it is just for a weekend trip. Secure loose items, cupboards, and tanks to keep things locked up. Find secure homes for important items such as electronics, documents, and money. This allows you to park anywhere with peace of mind, knowing that your home is safe from potential burglaries.

Master the road 

With RVs and vans, the journey is just as important as the destination — so keeping that journey stress-free is critical. If you purchase a new adventure-mobile, check in to ensure you have the appropriate insurance coverage. Depending on the size and configuration, you may need to adjust coverage accordingly. 

Chances are, an RV or van is a much bigger rig than you’re used to driving. Practice in the rental parking lot or on quiet streets to master parking and braking, while locating your blindspots. The dashboard may have more controls or an updated layout — figuring it out on a peaceful side street, rather than a chaotic overpass, may be the best option.

Get to know your vehicle inside and out, from fuel pumps to dimensions. This can help avoid filling a diesel tank with gasoline, or shearing the roof in a parking garage. Have a plan before you head out of where you will stop for the night, and secure a safe parking spot. National and provincial parks are popular, while the #VanLife community swears by the user-generated app, IOverlander.

Travel in the age of COVID-19

Taking a trip in your own self-contained home on wheels is a great alternative to traditional public travel methods, especially during COVID-19. Just remember that you’re best off sticking to great sanitation and hand-washing as you travel, with extra vigilance in heavy traffic areas such as rest stops and restaurants. Whenever you stop, it is advisable to check local regulations and bylaws for masks and public areas.

Keep yourself healthy on the road by cleaning what does come into your home on wheels, and monitor any symptoms. While no one wants to get sick on vacation, early intervention can lessen the spread of illness. Once you’ve covered all your bases for a safe and successful holiday, the only thing left is to enjoy the journey!

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