How an RV Helped Us Solve COVID-19 Travel Dilemmas


Last summer, my husband and I bought an RV to drive across the U.S. to see my dad. My mom died last spring, and we hadn’t yet traveled to visit my father in Florida, because of COVID-19. I really needed to hold my dad’s hand and hug him. I needed to be in the same space with him and feel his warmth so that I could grieve.

Unfortunately, my immune system is compromised due to the medications I take to control my eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA). Traveling in an airplane wasn’t considered safe at the time. I’d sit in my California home each week knowing that I needed to get to Florida. My healing process couldn’t begin until I saw my father.

After months of thinking it over, and after realizing that COVID-19 would be around for a while, my husband and I sat down to discuss how to safely get to Florida. I need to avoid intermingling with people, and I also needed major surgery at the time, which ended up limiting my mobility for a few months.

Driving seemed to be the safest option, given all of the variables. So, we came up with the idea of buying an RV — a Class B camper van, to be exact. We hadn’t realized it had become popular to buy RVs for traveling while limitations are in place due to the pandemic. But we soon found out after buying one.

Three months after purchasing the RV, we made the long trip to Florida to see my dad. It was a bittersweet reunion with plenty of both smiles and sadness. We spent a month in our RV and felt safe from COVID-19 the entire trip because our van is self-contained: We have a full kitchen, bathroom, shower, bedroom, and even an entertainment system. We can make all of our meals inside it and avoid restaurants and fast-food chains. We traveled 6,000 miles and never had to use a public restroom. Our RV is an incredible way to avoid germs and viruses. Basically, it’s like a hotel room on wheels.

Our camper van at Joshua Tree
Settling into a perfect camping spot near Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. (Photo by Suzanne DePaolis)

When we returned to California later, we began using our new hotel on wheels for other purposes. After having self-isolated for seven months, we were starting to go stir-crazy. The RV helped us get outdoors while staying safe from COVID-19.

We began using it for date days, parking it on the beach, and having small picnics inside it. We have even managed a few overnight stays in winery parking lots and at private campgrounds. My husband and I don’t feel so isolated when we travel to new areas while staying in the RV’s safe cocoon.

This vehicle has allowed me to rest more while traveling. We can stop at rest stops, pull the curtains shut, and take a nap if we want. Since my EGPA diagnosis, fatigue has been a constant symptom in my life. The RV has provided me with a great place to rest while still being functional. I feel a sense of freedom I thought had disappeared from my life due to my illness.

We bought an RV for a specific purpose, but now we have become long-term RVers. And once again, I have fallen in love with traveling.

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Note: ANCA Vasculitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ANCA Vasculitis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ANCA vasculitis.

Suzanne, a columnist for ANCA Vasculitis News, speaks at vasculitis conferences and is on the board of the Vasculitis Foundation. Diagnosed at age 40 with eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA), she is passionate about educating and advocating for patients living with vasculitis. She lives among the redwoods in California and enjoys spending time with her horses, chickens, and other transitory wildlife. Suzanne hopes that her column, “Veni, Vidi, Vascie,” will inspire readers to realize that living with a rare illness does not end one’s dreams — rather, it makes those dreams evolve.





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