For the Aventura family—father Nando, mother Jess, daughter Isa, and French Bulldog Casanova—travel has long been their passion, and one that they have shared on their website, The Family Aventura. But when the pandemic struck, their plans had to be redefined to take into account virus-related limitations and restrictions.
Not ones to sit home and wait it out, they instead purchased their first TAB and decided to hit the road, while staying safe in their home-on-wheels.
We reached out to Jess to ask her about traveling during the pandemic: what it was like, what precautions they took, and what are their plans for 2021. As you can tell from her responses, this is not a family that lets the grass grow under their feet—or under their camper!
Purchasing an RV during a pandemic
So, tell us, Jess, what prompted you to purchase your first camper right during a pandemic?
COVID-19 changed the way we planned to travel and explore. We travel domestically and overseas pretty frequently. We love the outdoors and camping, but our primary travel has always been via air and hotel. We canceled all plans for travel once the pandemic hit. With air and hotel out of the picture, we wanted to find a way to have family adventures safely so that we could continue to create memories and explore new places.
We purchased our TAB in June during the pandemic, and we wish it was something we had considered doing sooner! We absolutely love exploring via RV travel. It’s not just the destination but the journey along the way that makes it so special. There is nothing quite like being outdoors with family exploring and enjoying the slower pace of life.
Also, since traveling is a big part of our family lifestyle, having an RV was the only way we could see continuing to travel during this time. We also wanted to have our own bathroom and kitchen so the need to use public spaces would be minimal to none. And with our own personal space, the cost of hotel stays dropped dramatically!
The TAB was also perfect when we visited family. Sometimes we would use the camper to stay overnight and other times during shorter visits, the camper’s bathroom meant we didn’t have to go inside the house when nature called.
Having the camper meant we were completely self-contained—we had our own bathroom, kitchen, etc. This way, we could safely visit outdoors and use our own space inside the camper when needed. One awesome thing about the TAB is that it is literally small enough to fit in between two houses but big enough to have everything a family needs (plus space for the dog!)
Visiting Family and Traveling
One of the big reasons you wanted to be able to travel was because of your father’s health. Tell us about that.
My father has been fighting cancer for 12 years and was put on chemo right around the time COVID started. We did not see them at all for months because everything was so uncertain with the virus that the doctor couldn’t tell us what was safe and what wasn’t. After getting the okay for outdoor meet-ups, we purchased the camper. This way, if we needed to use the bathroom, warm up a meal, or wash our hands, it could all be done in our own self-contained area and we wouldn’t risk bringing other germs into my dad’s environment.
We continued to follow really strict rules in case the time came to have more normal meet-ups with my dad and the camper played a big role in that as well. Because we continue to do things like virtual learning and work, no eating out, and no meet-ups with friends, etc., the camper allows us to get out and explore, have some normal outdoor time while staying within the guidelines to keep our family and my dad safe.
Holidays looked a lot different this year as well. We spent all of our holidays and birthdays doing outdoor meet-ups with family with the TAB in tow.
What were some of the places you visited in 2020?
We traveled to Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee. We also went to Colorado, which gave us a chance to visit with grandparents and our aunt and uncle.
Putting aside the COVID issue, how is this form of travel different than the way you had done it in the past, relying on planes and hotels?
Camping really allows you to focus on family time and connect with nature, which has been a huge silver lining through everything this year. We also love traveling by road as there is so much to see that you miss from the air! We focused our camping trips on being more remote, finding places to hike, fish, and explore together. There is less of a rush to get from point A to point B and less focus on attractions to see.
Just taking the time to be outdoors, relax while fishing, and cooking together over the campfire gives us more time to connect as a family, to just have conversations, and enjoy our time together without distractions. Camping seems to be a much slower pace compared to other travel, which gives you more of a chance to just be in the moment.
Even with having your “home” with you, you still had to abide by COVID rules and regulations. What were some of the precautions you took because of the virus?
COVID definitely changes the way you pack your bag! We loaded up on face masks, hand sanitizer, water jugs, and hand soap, hand wipes, and disinfecting wipes. We wanted to make sure that any time we traveled, we minimized the number of times we would need to go into a store, so we tried to bring as much as possible with us. And that included food! We pre-made food to keep cold and packed a lot of non-perishables and as much fresh fruits and veggies as we could manage! We were also sure to pack extra propane, water, and our generator—again, to try to minimize contact in whatever new location we arrived in.
We did research state rules before traveling and adjusted accordingly. If states were not allowing out-of-state visitors or were requiring quarantine, we would avoid them. We only visited states when they were open to visitors, and we were sure to follow any rules they may have had, like face mask policies, for example. It was also important to check each state’s guidelines for things like state parks. There were some states that had parks closed or open to residents only. So the research on where to go was slightly more intensive than it may have been in the past. We didn’t want to plan a hiking trip at a park that was closed to us! But it was easy enough to find information on state park and government websites and adjust plans.
What plans do you have for 2021?
So far, our plans for 2021 include more travel in our TAB! We love being out west and plan to head back to Colorado for sure. Also, we plan to spend some time on the East Coast and do more visiting with family from the comfort of our tiny home on wheels!
We hope to be able to also take my Dad camping at some point. We figured we’d give them the nice space in our TAB (maybe they will have one of their own eventually!) after a good deep cleaning, and we could tent camp nearby for some fun outdoor family time!
We have also come to the realization that RV travel could possibly be the only form of escape from the house for anyone high-risk. Even if it’s just to a campground a few blocks from home, the change of scenery would be good for anyone in a similar situation and being able to remain completely isolated is the key to making that possible!
We hope to be able to utilize our TAB to give my Dad a little bit of that freedom at some point this year. We highly recommend looking into RV travel for 2021 whether you have high-risk family members or not!