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:
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
Or, get inspired, get educated, and get handy with a good travel or Vanagon book:
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?
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.
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.
World Health Organization, Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Government of Canada, Public Health, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)