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Old 05-02-2020, 03:31 PM   #1
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Cross-country (emergency) trip during pandemic

Hello everyone,

My husband and I are in the process of buying an Airstream (either Bambi or Caravel 16) to cross the country to see my Dad who suffered a massive stroke last week. Without going into too much personal detail, we are planning to travel across the country from Seattle to Atlanta to see him and potentially bring him back home with us depending on his recovery.

We are deep in research about which trailer to purchase and how to plan a cross country trip during this pandemic. I have read through some of the relevant forums but I'm wondering if anyone would be able to offer advice on:

Resources for booking campsites during the pandemic (it looks like KOA is a good option-any other resources?)

Should we consider immediately adding solar or a lithium battery in case we have to boondock due to rerouting due to severe weather, or coming across a site being closed for reasons associated with the pandemic. (We are new to all of this- any tips appreciated.)

Any route suggestions (Seattle to Atlanta) or other helpful links, tips, forums or resources that might help us navigate our first ever trailer purchase and trip.

Thank you,
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Old 05-02-2020, 03:50 PM   #2
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Very sorry to hear that your circumstances are so trying for you.

If you truly want the reassurance that you can boondock anywhere, you will need a generator with enough power to run the AC. Solar will not run the AC. As it is now May, that means that you will likely need to run AC when you leave the arid west and hit the middle of Kansas, through the Ozarks, Smokey Mountains, and Hot-Lanta. If you are not used to being around the humidity then you can forget that it is a factor.

Even if you think you won't need it again where you live and will typically camp, if you actually plan to do this and will need to be 100% able to know you can safely take care of your needs, this is something to consider strongly.

I would imagine you could buy a generator, use it for this trip, and then sell it for most of what you paid upon your return home.

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Old 05-02-2020, 03:52 PM   #3
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Sorry to hear about your father.

I have found that RV Trip Wizzard is a great tool for trip planning. I have used it for trips from Arizona to Alaska, Newfoundland and the Florida Keys.


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Old 05-02-2020, 03:52 PM   #4
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Sorry about your Dad. I'd just try to make it as simple as possible. Stick to interstate highways for fuel availability and truck stops, cracker barrels etc for possible stop overs. I would just get a generator that will cover electrical needs rather than deal with solar at this point.
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Old 05-02-2020, 04:12 PM   #5
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Very sorry to hear about your Dad. Good on you for wanting to be with him and help and even take him home with you.

Boy, that's a long road trip. Especially two ways. has a good planner for breaking the trip down into manageable segments, pointing out the logical city stops along the way. There suggestions will be of the Interstate/fastest way variety which I suspect you'll want in this circumstance.

I would definitely start by searching for the closest KOA in each of those way point locations. KOAs are pretty easy to deal with, a big plus for you.

Although I don't have it or firsthand knowledge of how good it is, the owners of this site and others have a trip planner that I understand from other posts is keeping track of additional RV parks that are open during the pandemic, so the app RVLife may be a good investment.

If I were you I'd consider flying down--scary, I know, but fast and you can be as careful about it as you want, masks, sanitizing your seat, etc,--then renting an RV for the ride back. That way you only have to drive one way and can right-size the rented RV for you and your Dad for the ride back. Your Dad will have to ride in the tow vehicle if you buy a trailer. In an Class A, B, or C RV he could relax in a bed for much of the long hauls and nursing, if necessary, would be a lot easier. To avoid the flight you could also rent an economical auto for the ride to Atlanta, then take the rental RV back.

Similarly, I'd consider driving your potential tow vehicle to Atlanta, and buying your Airstream there. Once you make your decision about which model you want, you can make your deal at a distance as easily as if you were right there--and maybe get a better deal because you aren't local.

Best wishes and good luck!
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Old 05-02-2020, 05:12 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Kimberlee View Post
. . .
. . . help us navigate our first ever trailer purchase and trip.
. . .
So sorry about your Dad, Kim, and welcome to the forum!

You are brave to undertake such an adventure with no previous trailering experience.

Suggest keeping the trailer setup as simple as possible with no extra frills, given that the learning curves for all systems can be time-consuming and overwhelming. Stick to KOA's or whatever is available with at least an electrical hookup.

Have you ruled out travel by airline?

Happy trails,

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Old 05-03-2020, 12:45 AM   #7
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You are caught up in a nightmare... but no matter how desperate the situation is, it is up to you to find wisdom, and not go into "do something now!" mode.

The prior poster who recommended renting a motorized RV so your dad could travel in bed was absolutely right, riding IN a moving trailer is like getting into a commercial dryer that someone drops a quarter in and starts it. You get out fast or get hurt BAD!

IF you have driven a school bus or box truck you'll be a lot safer in a big rental truck RV than taking a major trip with an unproven tow vehicle and no experience. You didn't mention what you would use to tow an Airstream and that is a major issue in itself. How much of dad's stuff do you need to bring or ship back?

Consider Sky-Med air ambulance. I have never used them, but as I understand it, they can bring your dad to you, with a medic or nurse to monitor his condition. I am sure they are expensive, but less so than buying any trailer or even renting a motorized RV. Even chartering a plane might be feaseable. And a flight even with 2 or 3 refueling stops takes hours, not days. How well will a stroke victim tolerate the stress of traveling and upset routines lasting days?
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Old 05-03-2020, 02:44 AM   #8
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Thumbs up

Very well said, Paula.

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Old 05-03-2020, 04:12 AM   #9
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Ditto what Foiled Again said. (she's my sister) Our mother had several strokes and could never have tolerated a many days long trip in a vehicle. Worst case scenario he has another medical issue while you're on the road and you're stuck with whatever medical facility happens to be nearby...or not. Give him a few weeks to recover as well as possible and fly him home. Calling Sky-Med is a good idea and costs nothing to ask.

A good question for his docs would be "How well will he tolerate air travel?" I cared for our mother for several years post stroke, learn all that you can, ask every question you can think of and don't be afraid of sounding stupid.
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Old 05-03-2020, 05:20 AM   #10
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RVTripWizard for trip planning.

RVillage is maintaining the most current list of open campgrounds, but KOAs are usually open and reliable.

Download one or several Weather applications to your smartphone, and check the weather along the route a few times a day.

Consider CoachNet or other RV road assistance program.

I'd recommend I-80 east then drop down through Tennessee.
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Old 05-03-2020, 05:55 AM   #11
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Ditto to all the words of caution re purchasing your first trailer, then hauling it cross country and back with an ailing parent.

Carrying your parent halfway across the country by vehicle would be a huge challenge, by itself, but add in all the learning curves of RV’ing and it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

The trip away from what is familiar may well be extremely disorienting for the recovering patient, adding to the travel challenges, not to mention riding for hours each day in a vehicle.

I would fly down there, assess the situation thoroughly, talk with the medical providers as to what is needed longer term, and go from there.

Flying your parent back sounds like a better option, if the medical providers agree.

A matter of only hours, and everything but managing the patient is left to others.

Good luck,

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Old 05-03-2020, 08:29 AM   #12
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Agreed with the comments above recommending Sky Med or renting an RV. Sky Med, if you can handle it, would probably be much easier on your Dad. Also, most rental RV motor homes come with an on-board generator should you need one, and rental RV motor homes from national companies will likely be in good operating condition.

One thing as a new buyer that you may not know is that a brand new RV (even an Airsteam) is nothing like a brand new car. Stuff will be wrong with that brand new RV that you'll either have to ignore or fix during the trip. Most of the busted things you find right off the lot will be things you can ignore, but there's no way to know for sure until you get your RV off the lot and start camping in it.

Oddly enough, an RV rental from a national firm like Cruise America is more likely to be in 100% operating condition than a brand new RV. It's not a guarantee, because in any RV something is always busted, but rental RV's have been through the mill, serviced, and have a semi-national network of rental locations that can help you out, possibly up to putting you into another working RV so you can continue your trip if something goes intolerably wrong.

Sorry about your Dad, and best wishes to all of you.
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Old 05-03-2020, 09:12 AM   #13
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Just a note about Sky-med. I used them to bring my Dad home from Florida (to NJ) about 20 years ago. He had a massive heart attack. It was in the late 90's. I flew down from NJ and Sky-Med had everything all arranged from picking him up from the hospital to bringing him to the private jet. I boarded along with a nurse and a pilot. When we arrived in NJ, they arranged for the ambulance to transport him to Deborah Hospital where he had his second bypass surgery. At the time it was $8,000, and I charged it on my credit card, much to may amazement. One day you buy shoes, the next day a medical jet.
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Old 05-03-2020, 09:30 AM   #14
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If you choose to buy a generator make sure it will start the AC.
And make sure it is a "quiet" one. Inverter type.
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Old 05-03-2020, 09:32 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by dnas View Post
Just a note about Sky-med.
. . .
Thanks for the detailed feedback.

In retrospect, would you say that the trip was well worth the cost, especially considering the convenience and speed of the process?


PS -- Kim, I hope your Dad is doing OK.

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Old 05-03-2020, 10:31 AM   #16
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Consider also that the Bambi and Caravel are TINY trailers, barely large enough to accommodate two seasoned campers. Although the amenities appear fairly comfortable, I can't imagine taking care of a stroke victim for several days while traveling across the country in one. Do try the Sky Med or another such service
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Old 05-03-2020, 10:39 AM   #17
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Traveling with a stroke victim

Kim, I am so very sorry for you and your dad.

I am a major stroke survivor and perhaps I can offer you a few words about traveling with a stroke victim.

All strokes are different. During life-saving procedures, part of my cerebellum had to be removed, leaving me unable to walk again. That, along with other needs, caused a stay in a re-hab situation for several months before I was medically released to travel about 200 miles to home, where more re-hab took place. Most of the time before my release to go home, I could get in a car (with help), but I was primarily bed-ridden. Even after I was home, I spent most of days in bed, and about 13 years later I am still pretty much bed-ridden. Not fun for me, nor my necessary 24/7 caregiver (my wife).

Thus, I can tell you that travel is not easy. Off the top of my head I would strongly urge you to first have a good talk with your father's doctor(s) and ask them for their advice regarding your travel plans. I'm going out on a limb here without knowing his prognosis, and will make the suggestion that to get him transported to your Seattle home, an air evac will be necessary, as well as expensive.

Travel with a trailer on interstates will probably be the most comfortable and least fraught with travel COVID restrictions but, understand that your father may require stops more than you do. I don't think you will be stopped by any LEOs but, if you do, I'm pretty sure they will be sympathetic and possibly helpful.

I don't envy you. God will reward you for your concern, no matter what the outcome.

This is just my two cents. Please confer with his doctor(s) for the best advice.

Be safe and God speed!
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Old 05-03-2020, 11:27 AM   #18
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Kim I would consider something bigger than a 16’ if three people are to sleep in it. My first Airstream was a used 22’ Sport Bambi. It was great for two people And a child, but no more than that. After two seasons I moved up to a double axel (easier to tow) 27’ .
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Old 05-03-2020, 11:52 AM   #19
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I need to add a comment to my post (#17 above).

If his doctor says that travel is OK in a travel trailer, then consider that it will be very difficult for a recent stroke victim to get in or out of anything let alone a trailer. I assume the trailer is only for sleeping/eating/etc., because in most states safety rules dictate that it is illegal to ride in while moving (even though they are called travel trailers), so as a previous poster pointed out, your father will have to ride in your tow vehicle.

Best, Al
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Old 05-03-2020, 11:56 AM   #20
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Peter- Yes, I would consider it well worth the cost. Time is of the essence when it comes to your health. To be honest, I hadn't thought of Med-Jet until I spoke to my Dad on the phone in Florida in the hospital and he insisted on coming back to Deborah Hospital in New Jersey for the second round of bypass, and he wanted the same doctor. He was pretty persistent, so that meant Med-Jet was perfect for his situation. As a retired Command Sargent Major he wanted what he wanted and he wanted it NOW> P.S. He paid me back.
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