Camp Westfalia

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Making the Most of Stay-at-Home Orders, for Van-Campers

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have chosen to self-quarantine in our homes for the next several weeks. Cancelled trip plans, indefinite isolation, travel restrictions, Spring fever, and information overload can all be a recipe for anxiety and boredom.

We are van-campers, damn it! We are not homebodies, and we crave the hills, forests, seashores, and deserts!

Still, few are perhaps as well suited to such home confinement as those of us who travel and live for weeks on end in a rectangular steel box barely larger than the Eagle lunar lander. We can do this!

Here are a few ideas to help you maintain and improve yourself, your home, and your Vanagon!

First, Protect Yourself

Just as the airline flight attendants explain, in case of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, first don your OWN oxygen mask, before attempting to assist others with theirs. Making sure you’ve got oxygen first is crucial if you want to be alert enough to help others.

The same is true while living under the COVID-19 health crisis; keep yourself healthy and sane so you can assist those around you.

Care for Family & Neighbors

Current health protocols suggest that, unless a member of your household is exhibiting early symptoms, or you have reason to believe someone has recently introduced the virus into your home, you can live your life as usual while under Stay-at-Home orders. So, you don’t need to practice ‘safe-distancing’ with healthy household members.

Feed and clothe your kids, enjoy meals with your partner, watch movies and play games with the whole fam together.

But beyond that, check in with neighbors or relatives near and far, especially the elderly or those who live alone (from a safe distance, of course). Ask if they need anything: food, medications, their dog walked, the trash bins taken out to the street, etc..

Use phone, email, or neighbor-to-neighbor online communities to communicate and coordinate with others to ensure that everyone in your area is getting the support they need.

Care for Your Home

A lot of people are using time confined at home to … take care of the home!

Clean the basement or garage, rake the lawn, weed the garden, clean the gutters (well, maybe that one can be procrastinated a little longer). But do be extra careful when doing these neglected household projects: an urgent-care physician friend recently reminded me that slicing your foot open with the lawn mower is always bad; but doing so now, when ER staff are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, is an especially dumb idea. They don’t want you now, and you don’t want to be there!

You might also consider preparing a room in your home in case someone does get sick. Ideally, plan to set aside a separate room with a bed or couch, preferably with it’s own attached bathroom, where a household member could rest and recuperate in isolation from other family.

In advance, collect some supplies to help care for any ill family members:

  • Extra bedsheets & blankets
  • Gatorade, juices, or other fluids for proper hydration
  • Acetaminophen fever reducers
  • Over-the-counter medicines may help with other symptoms
  • Digital thermometer to monitor fever
  • Room humidifier to help ease a sore throat and cough

More information on caring for a sick household member:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html

Use the Internet

Unlike previous epidemics requiring social isolation, we now have far more ways to keep in contact.

Phone calling & text messaging, social media, email, video chat, and a plethora of apps now allow us to easily communicate with friends and strangers around the globe. Please use them, to take care of loved ones near and far, to educate and entertain yourself, and to share your thoughts and plans.

We’re all stronger when we stick together, even when we’re apart.

Preserve Our Economy

The other crucial front on which we must fight this threat is the broader economy.

For better or worse, most every citizen of the world is an active participant in some way of the wider financial world, and this pandemic has thrown it right off the rails. To put it back on track will require the efforts of everyone doing what they can.

To the extent that you can, support local small businesses, especially those most impacted by this pandemic:

  • restaurants, bars & pubs
  • brick-and-mortar retailers
  • providers of goods or services with elastic demand that are not seen as necessities

Consider ‘buying it forward’ by purchasing online gift cards from those businesses that you care about and want to help preserve. Think of it as an investment in a vibrant and thriving future economy, populated by the kind of businesses you believe benefit your community.

Of particular interest to those of us who love old Vanagons & Transporters, please consider ordering parts and supplies from your favorite Vanagon vendors, local or distant. Most of these are surprisingly small businesses, serving a narrow specialty niche that can be especially hard hit by larger economic contractions. Help keep them afloat by ordering Vanagon parts for your next big project, or just stock up on consumables you know you’ll be needing in the future anyway: filters, belts, brake shoes & pads, etc.. Your support now may help determine whether they are still able to serve you tomorrow.

Organize Your Stuff

A bit of down time at home is a good opportunity to clean and organize your camping gear, tools and parts, workshop area, etc.

But don’t stop there; if you continue cleaning out the garage of all that old scrap wood, leaky garden hoses, and that treadmill you never use anymore, you just might be able to fit the car or van in there again!

Start Planning Your Road Trips

Eventually, we’ll be able to ‘flatten the curve,’ travel restrictions will be eased, and we’ll all head screaming for the wide open spaces. Start working out some possible destinations and time frames, camping spots, and sights to see along the way.

Planning a Road Trip
https://campwestfalia.com/planning-road-trip-part-1-go/

Or, get inspired, get educated, and get handy with a good travel or Vanagon book:
https://campwestfalia.com/camp-westfalia-book-shelf/

Your Van Plan

As the weather improves, take the time to start working out any big mechanical repairs or upgrades you’ve been putting off. Organize your work space, collect the tools and parts, and start getting your van ready to go!

What’s Your Van Plan?
https://campwestfalia.com/whats-your-van-plan-for-this-year/

Get Cooking

Now, while you’re stuck at home all day and eating in, is a great time to try out some new camping recipes.

Experimentation is always best done on familiar ground, like your home kitchen, where you have a pantry full of backup options. So, find some new recipes (or create your own) that might be easily made in the campervan and practice them at home.

Get Out

If conditions and local health officials allow, get outside.

Rake the lawn, trim the hedge, walk the dog, ride the bike, work on the van, but go outside. The sunshine, the fresh air, the wave from your neighbor, all contribute to a healthier and happier you.

We Can Do This

Together, we can “flatten the curve” and begin to resume our lives.

Remember to reach out to friends and family for help and support when needed, and make the most of your time at home.

Watch for an upcoming article on proper and safe hygiene while traveling and camping. And stay in touch with Camp Westfalia on Facebook, or get Crosswinds, the free newsletter!

Resources

World Health Organization, Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)
https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus (COVID-19)
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Government of Canada, Public Health, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

Essential Apps for Van-Travel

Navigation and travel apps for your mobile device help you find campsites, points of interest, and the routes to get there, or even to make reservations while you’re still en route.

Here are some of the Camp Westfalia crew’s favorites …

Camping

VanAlert

Among all the other great features of VanAlert is a directory of user-submitted favorite camping spots to help you find a place to call home for the night. You can even find other VW Vanagon/Bus owners who have volunteered the temporary use of their driveway for short stays while traveling.

https://vanalert.com

Kampnik

Kampnik is built on the venerable USCAmpgrounds.info database of more than 13,000 campgrounds in the United States and Canada with a focus on public car-accessible campgrounds whose existence and location has been verified by a human. With Kampnik, you can find public campgrounds in National Parks, National Forests, Provincial Parks, State Parks, City and County Parks, and more on federal, state, provincial, and local lands. From beaches to mountains and rivers to deserts, Kampnik will help you find campgrounds for the places you want to go.

http://kampnik.com/

iOverlander

iOverlander is a free site (and phone apps) created to help overlanders on the road find their next destination. Please help us make this site great by updating our information and adding places you have been.

http://ioverlander.com/

Allstays

The number one camping app for iPhone, iPads and iPods. From resorts to hike-in spots. Amenities, maps, truck stops, rest areas, Wal-mart and casino parking, RV dealers, sporting goods stores and much more. Two modes: one uses GPS and maps that you can filter. One is an offline manual lookup mode for when you don’t have service.

https://www.allstays.com/

WikiCamps

Plan your next adventure using the WikiCamps Trip Planner. Create unlimited trips, add multiple locations, notes, and custom map pins. The ultimate camping companion for your smart phone, tablet and Windows 10 PC. USA’s largest database of campgrounds, RV parks, backpacker hostels, points of interest, dump stations, visitor information centers, water taps, toilets, showers, and more.

https://usa.wikicamps.co/

KOA (Kampgrounds of America)

Search KOA’s huge selection of campgrounds to find your perfect fit. Search by city, state or attractions. Or find a nearby KOA campground based on your current location. Get detailed campground descriptions, hot deals, driving directions, as well as descriptions of local attractions and local and campground activities.

https://koa.com/get-the-koa-app/

Roadtrippers

Enter where you want to start and finish your road trip, and then discover the coolest “off the beaten path” places along the way. Our database includes millions of the world’s most fascinating places, making planning the unexpected easier than you thought. Road trip planning can be tedious… and what do you get from it? Most of what you find online will funnel you into the same places, filled with other travelers. It can feel like you need a local guide to get an authentic experience on your trip, but Roadtrippers helps you escape the tourist bubble and find the coolest stops.

https://roadtrippers.com/

Ultimate Campgrounds

Thousands and thousands of public camping sites across the US and Canada – free, dispersed and formal campsites

http://www.ultimatecampgrounds.com/

Freecampsites

Freecampsites.net is the primary source for information on free campgrounds and boondocking locations. We believe that free camping sites are often the most beautiful and peaceful camp sites. There are many free camp sites, but they can be difficult to locate. Here, we provide a simple, map-based search engine for free and cheap camping locations. It is also a platform for sharing locations you have discovered with others.

https://freecampsites.net

Hipcamp

Book unique camping experiences on over 300,000 campsites, cabins, RV parks, public parks and more. Hipcamp is everywhere you want to camp. Search, discover and book ranches, farms, vineyards, nature preserves & public sites for camping across the U.S.
From public parks to private land, we’re the most comprehensive guide to camping in the nation.

https://www.hipcamp.com/

Park4Night

Perhaps the most wide ranging of all the camping apps, Park4Night helps you find camping and parking spots from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

Search user-submitted parking & camping spots on your smartphone or car GPS unit, enjoy your camp, then leave your new comments or updates for future travelers.

One intrepid Camp Westfalia reader reports having wild camped all over Europe using this app.

https://park4night.com/

Other

Waze

Waze helps riders and drivers get where they’re going—faster, smoother, safer, and happier—while working to beat traffic. Traffic starts with us, but it can end with us, too. Waze develops practical solutions that empower people to make better choices, from taking the fastest route, to leaving at the right time, to sharing daily commutes.

https://www.waze.com/

GasBuddy

Over the last 15 years, GasBuddy has saved users over $2.9 billion dollars. Download our easy-to-use app to start saving at the pump, complete fun challenges and win free gas today

https://www.gasbuddy.com/App

Chimani

Chimani is the leading national park mobile app. Our intuitive app draws on the power of GPS-enabled interactive mapping technology to guide your national park adventures. Chimani’s national park guides include descriptions of points of interest, trails, amenities, and more. “No service” when you’re out in the wilderness? No problem. Chimani’s app works with or without WiFi or data signal. Chimani’s app is free to download from the Apple Appstore and Google Play.

https://www.chimani.com/

Dark Sky

Dark Sky is the most accurate source of hyperlocal weather information. With down-to-the-minute forecasts, you’ll know exactly when the rain will start or stop, right where you’re standing. It’s almost like magic.
Powered by our own homegrown weather service, Dark Sky is the best source of accurate weather forecasts to help you plan your life.

https://darksky.net/app

Star Walk

Star Walk 2 is an exquisite stargazing tool that combines astronomical data with premium technology to deliver an effortless journey through thousands of stars, comets, and constellations. All you have to do is point your phone or tablet at the sky.

http://www.vitotechnology.com/star-walk-2-guide-sky-night-day.html

Camp Westfalia Book Shelf

Travel Aids

Vanagon travellers tend to wander off the beaten path, and these old-school travel guides will help you find your way, enjoy the scenic drive, and discover a sweet campsite, even when you’re off the grid.


Travelogues

If a good map or atlas helps you with the ‘how and where’ of a road trip, these epic travelogues will inspire you to find your own ‘why.’


Workshop Manuals

Though few modern cars are as easy to work on as the Vanagon / Transporter, these workshop manuals will not only help you be a better partner to your Vanagon, but also to reclaim the lost art of self-reliance and independence.