The World Nomads Podcast: Road-tripping Post COVID-19

In this episode, hitting the road post lockdown, social distancing in our parks and campsites, and the planning app that should be on every road tripper’s device.

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van in a paddock Photo © Podcast host Kim Napier has converted a van to hit the road in.

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The World Nomads Podcast: COVID-19 Travel News

As governments around the globe impose lockdowns and people self-isolate, coronavirus (COVID-19) has hit the travel industry hard. The World Nomads Travel Podcast has suspended its regular destination episodes and, in their place, offering a round-up of the major coronavirus-related travel headlines, including the future of travel. One sector identified as attractive to travelers post-COVID is road tripping.

What’s in the episode

00:48 COVID cases spike in the US

01:48 Kim’s road trip

02:30 Is 2020 a banner year for road travel?

04:30 The attraction behind RV’ing

07:21 Vanlife movement

09:10 The driving force of social media

13:41 Is road-tripping driven by the media?

18:47 Phil!

21:53 All things VW’s

23:15 Road trips in Britain

26:06 The desire to stay local

28:16 How the pandemic has affected camper hire companies

31:38 The app that should be on every road tripper’s device

34:20 The summer of the road trip

38:39 Get in touch

Quotes from the episode

“I love traveling, but I don't like sticking to strict plans. Right? I feel like travel is most exciting where you let it take you where it wants, and air travel doesn't do that. Hotel travel doesn't do that…” – Joel

“…even today, our travelers are travelers. They get in the car and we've got a big old pallet sign up at work, hand-painted that says ‘Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and adventure’ So our guys go out there and they take a left turn, they take a right turn, they get lost, they break down, they run out of stuff, they have fought in the car, they discover places they didn't know about, they pick up new friends along the way. And they're actually immersing themselves in the destination.” – Peter

“We created Camper Holiday because whenever we go somewhere in a van, everybody wants to stop look at the van, talk about places you've been, things that you've done. And it's amazing how many people are like, ‘Oh wow, I wish we were brave and do that.’ Or, ‘We'd love to do that.’ And you get all these kinds of responses.” - Jo

“I think we want more control over our environment when we travel right now. And RVs are almost this, this lifeline to that, where you have ultimate control over your microenvironment, and you can move it to whatever destination you would like to go to. So, RVing seems like a solution to a problem that we're experiencing globally.” - Steven

Who is in the episode

Joel Holland is the founder of Harvest Hosts offering free overnight stays at over one thousand locations across North America, from wineries, farms, breweries, museums, and more. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Peter Burke runs Travellers Autobarn and Australian campervan hire company, and ‘one-stop-shop’ for backpackers and budget travelers planning their self-drive trip around Australia or simply up the coast in a campervan.

Jo Summers runs CamperHoliday helping travelers have a Campervan adventure of their dreams. Whether you are after the party atmosphere of a festival weekend, a surfing holiday in Devon or Cornwall, a tour around the Northern tip of Scotland, or an adventure in South Wales.

Steven Hileman is VP of Marketing & Communications for the Togo Group - “We’re bringing together products and services that empower travelers to more easily own and maintain recreational vehicles as well as more easily discover, book, and navigate road trips.”  Roadtrippers is also part of the Togo group helping people discover the world around them by streamlining discovery, planning, booking, and navigation into an engaging and intuitive process.

To create an account and get a discount head to Roadtrippers and the use the code WORLDNOMADS. Or you can download the app, the same code applies.

Kim Napier is the World Nomads Travel Podcast producer and co-host. You can follow her van conversion and road trips @adVANture2020 on Instagram.

couple sitting in a frosty field
Photo credit: Supplied. Kim and husband Andy social distancing on a cattle farm in NSW, Australia

Kate Duthie is the Managing Editor at World Nomads. Kate was born in London, where she worked in magazines for 10 years before moving to Sydney.

sandy beach
Photo credit: Supplied. The beach at Rhossilli. Kate’s mother’s ashes were scattered a few miles from here.

Resources & links

Even after the risk of COVID-19 passes, many will be uncomfortable with air travel, research says

Expert advice for a safe road trip.

Here’s what to know if you are planning on visiting a National Park in the US.

The National Park Service (NPS) advises prospective visitors to check NPS.gov to find a specific park’s current conditions. 

Inspired by the documentary The Meaning of Vanlife, this World Nomads Travel Podcast explores why modern nomads have ditched traditional homes for a life on the road.

With people on the move in the United States, coronavirus cases have spiked.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and World Nomads Travel Insurance Coverage.

Travel safety alerts.

In self-isolation? You can put your time to good use practicing your travel writing skills

You can get in touch with us by emailing [email protected].

We use the Rodecaster Pro to record our episodes and interviews when in the studio, made possible with the kind support of Rode.

Kim: Packed and ready to go! In this episode hit the road post lockdown, social distancing in our parks and campsites, and the planning app that should be on every road tripper’s device.

Hi, Kim and Phil with you a huge thanks for joining our special episode exploring road tripping. In this episode, we won’t discuss specific routes necessarily, but rather tune into four experts discussing the rise of road travel as borders open and travel restrictions begin to ease amid COVID-19

Phil: It is worth noting as the States started opening up their economies, COVID cases began to spike again, in some areas by as much as 25% and according to World Nomads Head of the America’s Christina Tunnah has to be a consideration in how folks do a road trip to minimize further spread.

Kim: Well that’s what’s attractive about road trips right? Christina says places with campsites and inherent social distancing like national and state parks will be the preferred destinations. She also says many are allowing people in only by strict daily caps and reservations, some even denying entry to out of state visitors.

Phil: Our first chat is with Joel from Harvest Hosts which he will explain about shortly, but we should put out, as it pops up during this episode, Kim you are a huge fan of road travel.

Kim: Yep we converted an LDV G10 diesel delivery van just before the pandemic and have since managed one road trip as restrictions are lifted here in New South Wales Australia to a cattle farm near a place called Mudgee. Our set-up is the lead image on the website for this episode btw. They had social distancing rules in place, especially around the drop toilets where everything had to wiped down after you used it with sanitizer and if you were lining up maintain the 1.5-meter distance. As for the site itself, the farm was so big it was easy to keep away from others. Anyway, we kicked off asking Joel if 2020 was a banner year for road travel.

Joel: Yes. Hard stop. The interview is over. No, it's funny, rarely is there a question was such an easy answer. I think it was very speculative back in March. It was a lot of up in the air, like, "Whoa, what's going to happen?" And everyone paused. We saw our memberships, new memberships really dropped off a cliff. Everyone was nervous about the unknown. What we're seeing now, is that everything's exploding in the RV world. So our business is up 400% versus this time last year. We're seeing rental companies like Outdoorsy and RVshare also up 400%. So I think people are, number one, they're ready to get back to traveling, and number two, RVing is a very safe way to do it. Even amidst this COVID crisis, what is safer than being in your own RV, in a spacious area, without crowds. So yes, I think this is the year. I think this is a year, and I hope it lasts because you and I would probably agree, RVing's a pretty wonderful thing to do.

Kim: Sure is. In fact, as I've sat at home for three months during this COVID lockdown, I want to avoid anything that's hectic, and I want to avoid expectations. So jumping in the van for me, and just disappearing somewhere, is what I'm going to do for the rest of the year. And moving forward, if I can convince my husband to leave his job.

Joel: Yeah. Well, man, that's so funny. We're about the same. I'm trying to convince my wife to leave her job, for the same reasons. I'm like, "This is our opportunity to just be nomads-"

Kim: Yes.

Joel: ... and travel, right?" So I wish you the best of luck, and please wish me luck too.

Kim: Yes. Thanks for that. Otherwise, we could meet halfway somewhere and just be travel buddies.

Joel: That's right.

Kim: So you've done it for a year. So just for those that haven't, and are dabbling their toes in this world of RVing, what is the attraction?

Joel: Freedom. I mean, again, it's a one-word answer, but I think it really captures it. For us, for my wife and I, we got into RVing six years ago, and the concept in our heads, we're like, "Well, wouldn't it be nice to do a road trip? It seems so freeing and open and exciting." When we did it, we fell in love with it. I mean, it really is true unbridled freedom. You make a decision every day about whether you want to go anywhere or not? Where you want to go? Do you want to go East, West, North, South? It's great. Right?

And for people like us, I love traveling, but I don't like sticking to strict plans. Right? I feel like travel is most exciting where you let it take you where it wants, and air travel doesn't do that. Hotel travel doesn't do that. You have to be very structured about where you're going to be, and when. And in the RV, you wake up every morning and make your destiny. I think that's super cool. There are so many unknowns, and to me, the unknowns lead to interesting stories. And so that's what I love. When I find myself talking about stories that have happened from travel, more often than not, it's an RV story, because these wild, unexpected things happen.

Kim: You mentioned your business, Harvest Hosts. Tell us how it works, because I know, and I think it's a great model.

Joel: Yeah. Thank you. So it's very simple. It's a membership organization for RVers. So if you own an RV, that's self-contained with a bathroom on board, you can join Harvest Hosts, for a low fee. It's about $79 for an entire year, and that gives you unlimited access to stay overnight at over a thousand wineries, breweries, farms, distilleries, golf courses, really unique places. And you don't pay anything per night. So there's no per night fee to stay anywhere. But we do suggest that you support the local businesses that you're visiting.

So if you go to a farm, you can buy some of the produce, and we've gotten such nice fresh produce. If you go to a winery, obviously you can enjoy a few bottles, and not have to drive anywhere, which is one of our favorite things. My wife and I both enjoy wine. And before Harvest Hosts, only one of us could go tasting, right? Because the other one had to drive the rig. Now we'll pull up on a beautiful scenic winery somewhere, enjoy maybe a little too much wine, and then crawl back to the RV for a nice sunset and sleep. So, it's a fun program. It's all over the United States. So it's an all the lower 48 States and Alaska. We're in every Canadian province, and we're in Baja California, Mexico. Not yet in Australia, but I know that caravaning is super popular there, so maybe one day we can try to expand into other places.

Kim: And the van life movement, which has been going from the seventies really, but it's no longer gray nomads that get into RVs or caravans, and do a lap of Australia or whatever route they would take in America. It's young people wanting to live off the grid. And are you seeing that increasingly in America?

Joel: Yes. Yes. RVing has become a cross-section of the entire culture, right?

Kim: Yeah.

Joel: We have lots of young people in their twenties even, as young as twenties, who are giving up, what they call it here, giving up the sticks and bricks, instead, for a van life experience. And sometimes that's a year, a couple of years, full time on the road, sometimes longer. But yes, young people are really, they seem to be enthralled with road tripping, because of the freedom we talked about earlier, it's less expensive, obviously. I think people, especially the younger generation today, is really, they're prioritizing experiences over goods. And so instead of having a house, full of a ton of things, they do the van life with a very simple lifestyle, full of experiences. So yeah, so we're seeing that on both actually. So we've got the young people, but we also have, as you call them, the gray nomads, I love that, a lot of our parents' generation retiring. And they're also excited to finally get on the road and start traveling. So we're seeing growing at both sides.

Kim: Yeah, and look less is more. The tiny house movement in Australia is huge as well. I'm not sure what it's like in America. That idea that you don't need to have four bedrooms, and three bathrooms, and two living areas, and 17 different types of dining settings.

Joel: Great.

Kim: It's just pared back lifestyle. And with the vanlifers, how much do you think is influenced by Instagram?

Joel: Oh, good question. Instagram certainly has a huge impact. I think all social media does. I think that social media was a pretty big driving force for van life because it opened people's eyes to what was possible. And when you get on Instagram, or you get on Facebook, or whatever, Snapchat, and you see your friends, in a really cool van, with the back open looking over the Grand Canyon, how do you not get addicted to that, right? So yes, I think social media of all types has driven this movement.

Kim: Now, you offer unique places to stay, but pre-COVID there were about 60,000 new trailer camping spots, that are becoming available in the US. So you guys are really set up with infrastructure, aren't you?

Joel: Yes. So we have total, I'm looking at my list, we have 1414 locations. And we have a team dedicated to adding new locations every day. And so our goal is to have that infrastructure, is to have a network of hosts everywhere, so that no matter where in the country you are, really anywhere in North America, you can find a place to stay. And it's interesting, the campgrounds were getting pretty full here in the US last year, now that there are always these new RVers hitting the roads, we might see a little bit of I'm bursting at the seams. So, we're working as fast as possible to add more and more hosts, so that there's always a place for people to stay.

Kim: And also in your national parks, state and national parks, there's enough infrastructure there for people to pull in and stay for a couple of nights?

Joel: Yes and no. The infrastructure is good. If you can get them, the camper spots are great. I think people are going to have a hard time finding spots this summer. And we're seeing that already, like Arches National Park opened recently here, and they had to close it, within three hours, because so many people went to the park, not just RVers. But they were overrun because everyone's so excited to get back to the national parks. So, the answer is yes. We've stayed at lots of national parks. You just have to book pretty far ahead of time or go for the last-minute cancellations. And so, as we talked about, I don't plan months ahead. In some of these parks, you have to book six months ahead of time in order to get a spot. We have stayed places like the Grand Canyon, where we'll show up and I'll go and ask the park ranger, "Hey, did anybody not show up today?" And oftentimes there are no shows, and you can grab their spots.

Kim: So in your year of traveling, apart from the Grand Canyon, where you've mentioned you stayed, give us your biggest highlight.

Joel: Yeah, let's see. So every year we spend a few months on the road. Our home base is in Colorado, Vail, Colorado. So we typically head east. We'll go south and around and come back around. So we'll do big circles around the US, and try new States and new locations every time. Last year was pretty interesting. So one of the most unique events we attended, was the Formula One race in Austin, Texas, and RVers can go boondock. And so we stayed in this big parking lot with a thousand other RVers. And it was so much fun. Everyone was partying, and going to the car races, and coming home, and playing corn hole, and drinking games and that was really quite a good time.

We then headed to Florida, which is always a nice place when it starts getting cold. Stayed at a couple of Harvest Hosts locations, on golf courses, which are always pretty. And then man, the number of wineries, we love wineries. So I think 2019, we hit a whole bunch of wineries, and they're all so different and so unique. We stayed at a winery in Canyon City, Colorado, that was built in the 1800s by monks. And so it was a monastery. It is no longer a monastery, but it's still an active winery. And so it's this beautiful, 1800s monk monastery building, where you can go park among the vines, as a Harvest Hosts member, and enjoy wine. So, that most recently, that was my most unique trip.

Kim: Perfect, links to Harvest Host in show notes and Phil I don’t really want to quit my job and hit the road, although I have recorded interviews in the van before it was converted, so it’s possible to do both.

Phil: Peter runs Travellers Autobarn renting out campervans and while Joel was enthusiastic about road travel being a banner year, Peter has a different take.

Peter: It's not going to be a top year for anything. The question really is, what's the year going to be like for RV Travel? I think the answer is it's going to get a little bit of press because it does sound like a good idea for everyone who's been locked up and it's one of the very few things that you can do post lockdown and you can still remain isolated. So it's getting press. Just because the press have got it and they're talking about it that could generate quite a bit of interest in it, but chicken or egg? I don't know whether someone mentioned it in one story and another journalist picked it up and another one and then a TV station and they're running with it cause it's one of the few positive things.

But the New Zealand market and the Australian market, I don't think the domestic uptick from everyone being locked down and with no other choice but to see their own backyard. I don't think it's as big a deal here in Australia and New Zealand cause nearly everyone has their own car, it's probably a bigger deal in the US. The US is definitely seeing a little bit of an uptick. They just haven't taken to the isolation and the rules.

Kim: Well, they've had the best year, Peter for sales of RVs since 1972. So, obviously, it's more than just a story in America. People are actually acting on the idea.

Peter: I don't know where you get that stat from because pre-COVID Apollo and THL in their financial reports were reporting part of the reason their whole share price is down is because of the slow sales of RVs. So, there could be a surge and there probably definitely is a surge in sales right now. And if we're talking calendar years, 2020, it could be the best year, but it has to be a late surge. I don't have those numbers. And plus the other side to that surge could be that the [redeal] is just not there. People are just selling to generate cashflow. Probably there could be good deals and good offers on and that would obviously see an increase in sales as well.

Phil: Obviously, apart from the effect it's having on your particular company and notwithstanding the lack of obedience to rules in the United States, do you think you're going to see more people embracing it though?

Peter: I don't care whether the media ... Whether there's any real truth or any huge numbers behind the positive news about RVs at the moment, but it really doesn't matter because perception is reality and at the moment it is a hot topic. So I think coming out of it, all publicity is going to be good publicity and this is strong publicity. One of the issues we had in the States is that we've introduced Camper Vans, not RVs. Even though they are RVs, everyone thinks RV, everyone thinks motorhome and we've introduced Camper Vans. So there's a little bit of education required in that market over there. But I'm going to be honest with you. There just seems to be little Camper Van companies popping up everywhere in the States. So again, I suppose it's like the introduction of good coffee to the States. It will spread. Everyone will enjoy a Latte eventually over an Americana.

Phil: Yes, I remember the first time in New York or somewhere, I saw somewhere that sold Flat white and I went, "awesome."

Peter: Exactly, exactly.

Phil: [inaudible] driven to buy the Van Life generation?

Peter: Yep. Yep. What came first Van Life or Instagram? I don't know.

Kim: I'm going to say Van Life.

Peter: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So that is a really, really big market. And it's very good for us. It's slightly different in that the true Van Lifer is living out of their van, they're not just renting it. But, all that aside who really wants to live in their van for that long. So a lot of people are going to like the idea of living in a van for a short while, but not forever. I think we'd benefit from the #vanlife thing immensely. We love the imagery, we join in with that imagery and the message. I don't know where that came from, but I love it.

Phil: It started back in 93. And the whole backpacker industry has changed since then. But do you still come across some resistance from the Camper Vans? Is it still associated with a less desirable type of traveler?

Peter: I never ever had that perception of our customers as being less desirable. I honestly believe that back then and even today, our travelers are travelers. They get in the car and we've got a big old pallet sign up at work hand-painted that said "Attitude is the difference between ordeal and adventure." So our guys go out there and they take a left turn, they take a right turn, they get lost, they break down, they run out of stuff, they have fought in the car, they discover places they didn't know about, they pick up new friends along the way. And they're actually immersing themselves in the destination. They're also living that it's not about the destination it's the journey. I think our travelers are the only real traveler's lift in the world. Everyone else is commoditized and packaged and they sold something and then they graduate to a cruise ship.

Kim: Now Phil did Peter not just kind of sum me up.

Phil: Yes, totally.

Kim: Yes. I may have my own hashtag adventure, but-

Peter: Oh, really?

Kim: Yeah, we converted it just before COVID hit. So, we haven't had a real ... We were campers before, but we've got the van. But one thing that we do is play left, right. And we don't only do it in Australia, but we've played it in Europe. We always have our first night in our last night planned and in between it's, "Okay, which way do you want to go quick? Is it going to be left or is it going to be right?"

Peter: Exactly. That's the spirit. That's exactly what we're talking about.

Kim: And in playing that game on the way back from our trip to Mudgee Phil we stumbled across a town called Sofala an 1851 gold mining town, jaw-droppingly historic, could have been a movie set, in fact it has been featured in a number of films, and I am not surprised we stopped and pulled out our kitchen and made egg and bacon rolls by the river and then hit the road again.

Phil: Still to come the company offering our listeners a deal on a great road trip planning app but let’s head to the UK and catch up with Jo from Camper Holidays.

Jo: So Camper Holiday is born of nothing short of love, admiration of all things Vee-Dub camper vans really. We created Camper Holiday because whenever we go somewhere in a van, everybody wants to stop look at the van, talk about places you've been, things that you've done. And it's amazing how many people are like, "Oh wow, I wish we were brave and do that." Or, "We'd love to do that." And you get all these kinds of responses. And I guess camper holiday is all about taking away... We're about making it easy for people. So, the vans are, they're modern vans, rather than the old style split screens, so they come with a degree of reliability.

I have a friend who has a lovely split-screen. And I swear to God if is wasn't for the first three years that I knew him, I thought he'd only had knees because the only part his body was I saw his knees sticking out from under the van. And so, we make it easy because we also help people to plan routes. We figure out some nice campsites for them. And that's what we're all about, we're about helping people go from that whole, "Wow, we'd love to do that." To doing it.

Kim: I have someone with me who's done it, Kate Duthie, our Managing Editor, also from England. Now, Jo, what you're trying to do is help Brits plan a safe getaway on four wheels this summer. Kate, what's it like to do a road trip in England?

Kate: Oh, it's brilliant. There's so much diversity to the landscape in Britain. And because I live in Australia, I do find myself getting quite defensive and argumentative, because a lot of Aussie travelers and [inaudible] travelers tend to go to Europe, they might fly into London, and then they immediately go to the continent.

And I don't think they understand that Britain has mountains, lake regions, an incredible coastline. And it's so diverse and interesting. And yes, the weather can be unpredictable, but I mean, I think something like 70% of Britain is covered in open fields and moorlands, there are national parks. So for me, it's just a no brainer, that you can go from the tip of Cornwall all the way to Scotland and just see completely different landscapes all the way. And what do you think some of those misconceptions might be, Jo?

Jo: Number one, I think is the weather. And we have dogs and I can count on one hand the number of times a year that I get soaked walking the dog. Yeah, we do have rain, but it doesn't rain all day, every day. And the beauty of a camper van is that you follow the sun, right? So, if you want to head to Scotland and the weather looks better on the East Coast than it does on the West Coast, then head up the East Coast roots, right? That's the beauty of it. Don't get fixated on the destination, get fixated on where you're going to get the best experiences is my take on it.

So I think the first misconception is the weather. I think the second misconception, I think you're absolutely right, for people outside of the UK is it's all about London. I love London. I've lived in London. I'm a big fan of the tourist attractions that you can see in London. But it's hectic, it's stressful, And in the current environment, it's pretty tough to social distance. And the UK is so much more than London.

It is all of the things that you've just described. We have amazing mountains. We have amazing lakes. And some of our beaches are just some of the best in the world, in my view. And outside of London, there are other amazing cities. So one of the cities that's close to me is Chester, very similar to York in terms of appearance, but totally different from London. So if your experience with the UK is London, and I think it's a really diluted experience of London. There is just so much more than the UK has to offer than just London.

Kate: Now I noticed as well, Jo, quite a lot of the routes that you suggest for your customers are in the North West, which again, doesn't always have the best weather compared to some other parts of Britain. Do you have plans to maybe extend those routes?

Jo: Yeah. So we're very conscious at the moment that with everything that's going on there is that desire to stay local. We've still got some Welsh routes on that, I'm a Welshy I can't help it. But we've got loads of other Welsh routes, which we're not posting because we don't want to be seen to be encouraging people to cross the border when all the Welsh police are trying to discourage that.

So we are quite consciously trying to keep the routes quite local to the van at the moment. But in the background, we've got North 500 around the very northern tip of Scotland in the making, with some fabulous photos that had been provided by one of our followers who did the route last year. And they are just mind-blowing.

We've got a route in Norfolk, we've of course got Devon and Cornwall, literally loads for Wales. We've got bookings in August. People who really want to go to Wales and we're planning routes for them, we're just not publishing them at the moment because we think it gives the wrong message and is counter to the messages that the Welsh government is giving.

So at the moment, there is very much a local emphasis. It also means that it gives people the opportunity to just do daybreak in the van, cause we are allowed to do that at the moment, but you can't do a day break from where we located. You can't do daybreak to Norfolk from where we're located. So at the moment, I think what you're seeing on the website is more a reflection of circumstances. And as time goes on, we're going to launch routes further afield in the UK, further afield in Europe. And we're absolutely going to put some US and some Aussie and some Kiwi routes on there because it's about inspiring people, about what they could see if they think about holidays in a slightly different way.

Kim: Okay. Firstly, I've got a couple of questions. I'm just going to just kind of challenge you both. You said you got some of the best, sorry to laugh, you've got some of the best beaches in the world. Kate, this is new to me. Jo?

Kate: Well, this is why sometimes I think maybe we're not really friends Kim.

Kim: No, it was definitely tongue-in-cheek. Jo, Camper Holiday, how's it been affected by COVID?

Jo: Positively, really. I mean, yes, we've been quiet, we had Easter bookings that we've had to defer. But they've been deferred and we've made that really easy for people, there hasn't been a financial penalty for people. We would have liked to have been super busy and in May and June, and obviously that's not happened in June. I think we will do some more day hires, which creates some logistical complications because we're cleaning the van, we're also trying to use UV and ozone to sanitize the van between handovers, et cetera.

So, we've had to pivot and change and adapt and that kind of thing. But really, people are desperate and eager to be out and about in July and August and September, and going on holiday. And actually said a lot of people want to give their children, some of the experiences they remember as children. And longer-term bookings over the winter sun, still loads of interest in those, I think the January to March period.

Kate: The other thing that I don't think a lot of people outside of Britain realize, there's a really massive festival culture.

Jo: Yes.

Kate: And particularly in the summer months, thousands of people, there's a festival every weekend, and everybody goes and camps in the well-organized camping facilities. Not just Glastonbury, but all over Britain. And that's a big part of the camping culture, isn't it, Jo?

Jo: Yeah. And I think that there's a festival for everybody. There are arts and crafts festivals, there are food festivals, there are family orientated festivals with kids' activities.

Kim: Okay. So people are sniffing around. Do you have the infrastructure to support increased travelers on the road or in the parks?

Jo: I think there are lots of different answers to that question. Yes, I do think we've got the infrastructure. Will the capacity be reduced because of social distancing? I don't know, we're still waiting for guidance on that, Kim. So I don't know what effect that will have is. What we are doing, is when we are planning routes for customers, we are advising that they do book at least a couple of nights in advance.

We are trying to get their bookings with campsites in place, if they're going in, they're just going to stay and situate at one campsite. We're trying to get that booking confirmed for them sooner rather than later because I do think that capacity will be reduced in order to achieve the social distancing.

Kim: Jo, in closing, is there anything that you wanted to share with people tuning into this particular episode. Who may not have had a camper before?

Jo: I would just be open-minded and give it a go. Even if you've not tried it before.

Kate: Jo, before you go, I want to show up Kim. So I'm just going to share my screen so we can show Kim-

Jo: Yes. [inaudible 00:09:15].

Kate: This beach is so beautiful. My mum's ashes are scattered on the hill above there.

Jo: Oh wow.

Kim: What am I going to say to that, Kate. Seriously?

Kate: [Crosstalk 00:00:09:31].

Kim: I can't. No, they are beautiful pictures. You're absolutely right. Ladies, thank you so much for joining in the conversation.

Jo: Fantastic. And yes, happy to keep in touch.

Kim: I had to take it back Phil, the beaches they showed me were stunning, and thanks to Kate for her insight in that chat. Now, Togois a time-saving app that helps RVers keep track of service, maintenance, vehicle info, and trip checklists. They also have a second app called road trippers which I use and love, Steven is here to tell us more about both.

Steven: Yeah, Togo RV is an app built just not too long ago, essentially to help streamline the user experience of RVing. There's a lot of complex things in RVing these days, from complicated vehicles to finding places to stay, to servicing and maintaining your vehicle, and checklists. And we've tried to create an app that kind of boils that down into something really simple, to take a little bit of the stress and anxiety out of the camping trip.

Kim: Okay, well, I've downloaded the Roadtrippers app, so I'll be able to give a firsthand experience of what that is like, but how is it different to the Togo RV app?

Steven: Roadtrippers is specifically about trip planning, point to point, and mapping where you're going and finding and discovering all the little places along the way that are interesting. Togo RV is really a superset of that experience, filtering it for RV destinations. So we take away things like hotels out of the experience, and we put in campgrounds instead. We also focus on a few features that are important to RVers, like checklists. There are things about arriving at a campground, departing from a campground, getting your vehicle ready to go out on a trip for the first time in the season. We built these checklists for users, to allow them to customize them. We've integrated that into the Togo RV app as well. To create this combination of stress reducer and exploration and RV content discovery, all in one simple app.

Kim: Okay, well at World Nomads, the travel podcast as we know it, is destination-focused. And then every second week we highlight an amazing nomad, someone that's demonstrating things like love, fear, connection, discovery, through travel. Obviously we haven't been able to travel because of the pandemic, but now we're starting to see what travel is looking like post-COVID and RVing is definitely at the top of the list. Do you see 2020 as a, as a banner year for hitting the road?

Steven: Yeah, we absolutely do. I've seen it listed several ways. It is the summer of the RV or the summer of the road trip. And I think that's absolutely true. I think we want more control over our environment when we travel right now. And RVs are almost this, this lifeline to that, where you have ultimate control over your microenvironment and you can move it to whatever destination you would like to go to. So RVing seems like a solution to a problem that we're experiencing globally. And I'm excited about that. It comes with a lot of other responsibilities, too. We can't say that without also saying there are things you want to do to protect yourself and to protect others so that you're not being irresponsible out there. We've published some articles on that, both on roadtrippers.com as well as togorv.com with guidance, including a state by state guide in the US for, the individual closures and restrictions at all the major camping facilities.

It's not a free for all this summer, but it surely does look like a summer that that is good for RVs. And there is a bit of Americana to it. We've all dreamt of the big epic road trip. And that is a little bit baked into our sort of American travel story if you will. Even going back to route 66 and then the founding of the interstate system made road travel a lot easier in this country. So it's definitely, there's a lot of activity around RV purchases, for sure. And I think we're just seeing the beginning of it. I think it'll stay hot over the course of the summer.

Kim: How many downloads of both apps have you seen?

Steven: It's been really interesting to watch our app downloads over the course of COVID. We were seeing record app downloads with the Roadtrippers app prior to the pandemic really hitting the States. What happened was, is we dropped about 70, almost 80% in volume towards the end of March and early April. Just the idea of travel just disappeared. It was quite remarkable how quickly downloads and trips planned by users dropped off. That's not only recovered to be on pace with last year, but we've actually seen that superset of RV users using Roadtrippers. That's actually rebounded much faster. It's come back at a much faster rate than Car Travelers has. So that's been really interesting to follow. So we're not only encouraged people to camp close to home. Discover. Be a tourist in your own state or your own region, and discover what's nearby, but take advantage of some things. One thing we call here, a mooch docking, which is basically camping in a friend's driveway and those are the things that we sometimes take for granted. And I think those are great opportunities to get out right now, even in a restricted environment.

Kim: So true Steven and if you download the road trippers app or just go to the site, links in show notes, use the code worldnomads (all one word) they’ll give a discount if you upgrade to the pro version.

Phil: As we wrap up, we will share a few articles in show notes on why road trips are more likely post-pandemic, including expert advice for a safe trip, plus what to know about the reopening of the States National Parks.

Kim: The National Park Service also advises visitors to check NPS.gov to find a specific park’s current conditions. Got anything you’d like to add or share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Phil: We will also share a link to our Vanlife episode in show notes.

Kim: Next time we revisit a couple we featured as Amazing Nomads, who were/are traveling the world in their catamaran but with borders and ports closed they are stuck in Fiji and their beloved floating home in Tonga.

Phil: See you then.

Bye.

 

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