Tire Tips for Safe RV Travel


Replace older tires: Regardless of how much wear or use they have, CR recommends replacing tires that are more than 10 years old, or sooner if specified in the vehicle owner’s manual. 

To determine your tires’ age, check the Department of Transportation code that follows the letters DOT on the tire’s sidewall. (You may need to get underneath the vehicle with a flashlight to find it.) The last four digits of that code indicate the week and year the tire was produced. For example, 2007 would indicate the tire was produced in the 20th week of 2007. Note: Tires manufactured before 2000 will have only one digit for the year. A 7 could mean 1997 or 1987, etc. This should be a red flag that the tire is too old for use.  

Check newer tires, too. Even if the tires are less than 10 years old, carefully inspect the sidewalls for signs of aging or damage, such as cuts, cracks, and blisters. If you find any, replace those tires as soon as you can because those are signs of weak points that could result in a failure or flat during your travels.

Choosing RV tires: There are a limited number of models available, compared with the market for cars. Likewise, there are a few popular brand names, and some smaller suppliers that may be unfamiliar. Don’t cut corners in your choice. This is an item to spend money on to get the best tires for your application; literally everything is riding on them. Best sure to consult the manual for your vehicle for recommendations on size and load capacity. On balance, it is better to buy tires that can handle more weight than risk your vehicle or trailer being at the tire’s threshold when fully loaded.  

Maintain the correct inflation pressure. It’s key to allowing tires to carry an RV’s heavy load safely and should be checked before each trip. This includes the hard-to-reach inboard rear tires and the spare. Look for the inflation pressure recommendation on the left side of the driver’s seat for Class B and Class C RVs; on the doorjamb; or in the owner’s manual. 

Care for tires properly. Clean the tires periodically with soap and water to remove contaminants that may have accumulated on the sidewall, and block them from direct sunlight when parked; both can deteriorate the rubber over time. Don’t use tire dressing products, meant to improve the tire’s appearance, that contain petroleum or alcohol. These add a temporary sheen, but they, too, can deteriorate tires.  

Balance the weight in your RV properly, so tires take an even load. Refer to the owner’s manual for how to load your RV. RVs should not be loaded by volume but by weight capacity and distribution. That includes the weight of any towed vehicles or trailers, cargo in the basement, and water in the tanks. If you are unsure, consult an RV specialist before heading out.  

Add aftermarket tire pressure monitors. It is wise to invest in tire pressure monitors that can warn of problems before they become disasters. There are several products made specifically for RVs, with different levels of specificity (“low” vs. a readout in pounds per square inch) and that work with different displays, either their own or another in the vehicle. 

The better systems involve fitting a sensor inside the tire. This is the pricier option, but the more accurate pressure reading and ability to monitor tire temperatures (which can signal an emerging problem) make them the prime choice. There are also many systems that simply screw onto the tire valve. No matter the system, it will give extra peace of mind, and notably make it much easier to check the pressure on the rear inboard tire.



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Mom moves family into an RV to help pay debt, travel full time: ‘Life is too short’


After two years of “barely scraping by,” and living in debt, Karen Akpan and her husband Sylvester decided it was time to move their family into an RV to travel full time

Akpan, 32, told Fox News that they sold their California home in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit the U.S. Akpan, Sylvester, 43, and their 8-year-old son Aiden moved into their renovated RV by May of that year. 

“We were just sick and tired of being sick and tired of all the bills and living in California and barely scraping by,” Akpan told Fox. “We decided we just wanted to do something different for our son.”

Karen Akpan and her husband Sylvester decided it was time to move into an RV to travel full-time in February 2020.

Karen Akpan and her husband Sylvester decided it was time to move into an RV to travel full-time in February 2020.
(Courtesy of Karen Akpan)

She said she and her husband had several goals in mind when they made the move. 

“First of all, to pay off all our debt and then to create generational wealth,” Akpan said. “And then just spend more time together, which is so important to us because I feel like life is too short. And what matters the most is just you being around people that you love.”

COUPLE SELLS THEIR DREAM HOME TO TRAVEL AROUND SCOTLAND IN A VAN

Now that it’s been about a year and a half, Akpan said her family has been able to pay off $200,000 in debt, about half of which was student loan debt. 

“It sounds scary when you say that because, to be honest, we shouldn’t have been in that much debt in the first place,” Akpan said. “It was absolutely nuts.”

The Akpans travel full-time, both around the U.S. and internationally with their 8-year-old son Aiden. 

The Akpans travel full-time, both around the U.S. and internationally with their 8-year-old son Aiden. 
(Courtesy of Karen Akpan )

Though they still have a little more credit card debt they’re working to pay off, Akpan said they’re almost done. 

“Right now we’re at the tail end of it,” Akpan said. “We have very, very little left.”

HOW TO ROAD TRIP WITH KIDS, FROM PARENTS WHO LIVE IN A BUS YEAR-ROUND

Through their journey of paying off their debts, Akpan said she’s become something of an advocate for financial literacy, encouraging her friends and family to start their own Roth IRAs and learn more about ways to save for their future and avoid going into debt. 

“People don’t know these basic things that they could have that could help them, help their families, help them save,” Akpan said, adding: “So it makes it hard for you not to get into debt and make these silly mistakes when you literally don’t know.”

“To be honest, we shouldn’t have been in that much debt in the first place. It was absolutely nuts.”

— Karen Akpan

She added: “It is a mission of mine, especially this year, to talk about it and make people aware … especially with my friends. Just starting with my friends and my family who don’t know these things.”

THESE FOLKS LIVE IN VANS — HERE’S THEIR LIST OF ULTIMATE ROAD TRIP ESSENTIALS

Akpan added that she and her husband have been educating Aiden along the way, while also starting to invest in his future through his own accounts, including a Roth IRA and a 529 plan.

“We have set up our lives in a way that we are not just pouring into ourselves and our future, but we’re already pouring into him right now,” Akpan said. 

The Akpans have been able to pay off about $200,000 in debt since they moved into their RV. 

The Akpans have been able to pay off about $200,000 in debt since they moved into their RV. 
(Courtesy of Karen Akpan)

Akpan talks about financial literacy and financial planning for kids on her blog, The Mom Trotter. She also runs a nonprofit called Black Kids Do Travel, where she encourages families of color to explore the world. 

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Aside from being taught financial literacy, Aiden is also homeschooled, which makes it possible for the family to travel full time, both around the country and internationally. 

“His learning has always been on the road,” Akpan said. “Everything is a learning experience for him. And the difference is that he gets to not only watch videos and read about it, he gets to see it. He gets to be there.”

"We were just sick and tired of being sick and tired of all the bills and living in California and barely scraping by," Karen Akpan told Fox. "We decided we just wanted to do something different for our son."

“We were just sick and tired of being sick and tired of all the bills and living in California and barely scraping by,” Karen Akpan told Fox. “We decided we just wanted to do something different for our son.”
(Courtesy of Karen Akpan)

Aside from getting to experience places first-hand, international travel also allows Aiden to learn about other cultures. 

“It’s really been very important to me to expose my son to different cultures and different people and everything and being able to travel internationally gives us that opportunity for him to appreciate and be respectful,” Akpan said. “I want to explain to my son: ‘Everybody will not do things the way you do it. And the fact that they don’t doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with them.’”

“Being able to travel internationally puts us in a place where he’s right front and center of all of it, so he’s really learning to be a global citizen, which has really been a goal of mine.”

— Karen Akpan

“So I want him to actually see other people’s cultures, see how they live, appreciate it, ask questions and be respectful of it,” she added. “And being able to travel internationally puts us in a place where he’s right front and center of all of it, so he’s really learning to be a global citizen, which has really been a goal of mine.”

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Akpan told Fox that after the last year-and-a-half of full-time traveling, she’s still not ready to go back to living in a house.

“I’m not going back to that monthly mortgage,” Akpan said.”If we ever do live in a house, I always say this, we would have to buy in cash, to be honest. I cannot go back to monthly payments… I just can’t. Not with the lifestyle I’m living now.”

She added: “I can afford more vacations that are not strictly budget, where I’m counting pennies everywhere we go. So, living in a house would take that away from us again.”



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47 Last-Minute RV Rentals Available On Memorial Day Weekend By The Beach


Make this Memorial Day memorable by renting an RV for your beach getaway! We’ve selected some of the best beaches to camp on from coast to coast. We’ve also found beachside RV resorts. All you have to do is book an RV through RVshare. 

RVshare lets you borrow someone else’s RV. Many of them can be delivered — no setup or driving required! We’ve selected a few RVs that are available (at the time of this writing) to book for Memorial Day. For each location, we chose a small drivable RV, a towable trailer, and a large luxury motorhome, but RVshare offers a wide variety! To see more RVs, simply enter the desired location, number of guests, and dates into their website. Some RV owners are offering discounts to active duty service people, veterans, and/or first responders in honor of the holiday. 

Don’t wait to book — Memorial Day will be here before you know it! Make memories with family or friends with a one-of-a-kind camping experience. Here are our picks for an awesome weekend getaway by the beach.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

In addition to beautiful beaches, Myrtle Beach offers an outstanding selection of seafood and Carolina barbecue restaurants. Attractions range from golf to gardens, with a safari in between. 

Camp along the powdery sand and warm waters of the Grand Strand at the Barefoot RV Resort.

Heartland Mallard RV for rent
RVshare.com

Towable: 2021 Heartland Mallard 30′

  • Sleeps: 7
  • Features: Outdoor grilling area and outdoor speakers
RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2020 Entegra Coach Odyssey 31′

  • Sleeps: 8 
  • Features: Beautiful interior
RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2020 Keystone Outback 39′

  • Sleeps: 9
  • Features: TVs in every bedroom, outdoor kitchen, and recliners 

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach is a lovely place for an affordable family weekend getaway. There is certainly plenty to see and do. Between sunset cocktails and scrumptious seafood, enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, boating, and biking. 

First Landing State Park was the first planned state park of Virginia and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Set up camp here, or we’ve also heard great things about the Cherrystone Family Camping Resort about an hour north in Cape Charles, Virginia. It’s one of the top five U.S. campgrounds for RVers

RVshare.com

Towable: 2021 Forest River Wildwood XL 273 33′

  • Sleeps: 9
  • Features: Outdoor kitchen, awning with LED lights, and outdoor Blu-ray speakers
  • Does not deliver to Cherrystone
RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2010 Winnebago View Profile 24′

Large Luxury: 2017 Mirada 35 LS 38′

  • Sleeps: 6
  • Features: Fireplace

Cocoa Beach, Florida

Cocoa Beach is the closest beach to Orlando. This fun beach town isn’t as rowdy as Daytona Beach and is less crowded than Miami Beach. Enjoy water activities, such as fishing and kayaking, or shopping and walking the pier. 

Located on nearby Melbourne Beach, Outdoor Resorts is one of the best RV resorts in Florida. Amenities include a pickleball court, a tennis court, hot tubs, and swimming pools. 

RVshare.com

Towable: 2020 Forest River Wildwood FSX 178BHS 22′

  • Sleeps: 8
  • Features: Outdoor kitchen with mini fridge and gas griddle
RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2017 Thor Motor Coach 25′ 

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Features: Two folding camp chairs, folding table, and beach umbrella
RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2005 Monaco Dynasty Diamond IV 43′ 

Key West, Florida

No one has to be convinced to explore the Keys! Key West is the largest and best-known city in the Florida Keys. In addition to its fantastic beaches, the southernmost point in the U.S. offers so many things to do to keep all travelers satisfied.

Bluewater Key, a luxury RV resort, is close to a golf course and shipwreck museum as well as the Hemingway Home & Museum and the famous Duval Street, where the sunset is celebrated every night.

Towable: 2018 Aliner Classic 15′

RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2020 Coachmen Freelander 27QB 30′

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Features: “All the ‘good stuff’ novice RVers quickly appreciate and experienced RVers demand.”
RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2015 Thor Motor Coach Windsport 32N 33′

  • Sleeps: 7
  • Features: Outdoor kitchen and exterior 32″ LED TV

Matlacha, Florida

One of our favorite quaint Florida beach towns, Matlacha is located near Sanibel Island. A sleepy fishing village-turned-bohemian paradise, this southwest Florida coastal town is a heavenly corner of the Everglades. Like many Florida beach towns, Matlacha offers shopping and seafood, but it is also a haven for birds and wildlife as well as countless varieties of fish. 

Pets are welcome at the Sugar Sand Beach RV Resort, where guests enjoy their very own Sea-Walled Sugar-Sand Beach, plus kayaks and hammocks!

RVshare.com

Towable: 2021 Jayco Jay Flight 32′

  • Sleeps: 10
  • Features: Power awning with LED lighting, exterior TV, and covered outdoor kitchen 
RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2021 Forest River Sunseeker LE 2850SLE Ford 32′

RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2015 Forest River Georgetown XL 37′

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Features: Electric fireplace

Juno Beach, Florida

Nestled in between beautiful West Palm Beach and Jupiter, Florida, you’ll find Juno Beach. This serene hidden gem is where the locals go. You may even see turtles on the beach! Injured sea turtles are brought to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, where you can visit and learn all about the turtles.

Juno Ocean Walk is an RV resort that sits just off Route 1 in Juno Beach. It’s within walking distance of both a public beach and a Fido-friendly beach, as well as the Juno Beach Pier and shops. Amenities include pickleball, petanque, and volleyball, as well as a heated pool, a spa, and a clubhouse. World-class golfing, sport fishing, and Spring Training stadiums are just minutes away.

RVshare.com

Towable: 2018 Airstream Bambi 22′

RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2021 Entegra Coach Esteem 31′

  • Sleeps: 8
  • Features: Lighted covered awning, outdoor fold-out grill, and fold-out table
RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2018 Coachmen Mirada 35BH 36′ 

  • Sleeps: 10
  • Features: Exterior TV and twin-size bunkhouse with private TVs 

Carolina Beach State Park, North Carolina

Stop and camp in Carolina Beach State Park on a road trip from Asheville to Myrtle Beach. Expanding across 761 acres on Pleasure Island, it’s one of the seven best state parks along North Carolina’s coast. See Venus flytraps in their only natural habitat in the U.S. on the Flytrap Trail, and take advantage of some of North Carolina’s best fishing spots. 

Towable: 2018 Coachmen Catalina Legacy 333BHTSCK 36′

RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2020 Entegra Coach Odyssey 31′

RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2021 Coachmen Mirada 36.8′

  • Sleeps: 8
  • Features: Backup camera and indoor and outdoor TVs

Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina

Halfway between Charleston and Savannah, you’ll find the most popular state park in South Carolina. Hunting Island State Park is located 15 miles outside the charming tropical paradise of Beaufort. Hike, bike, fish, and check out the 19th-century Hunting Island Lighthouse. According to HGTV, war scenes from Forrest Gump were filmed here.

RVshare.com

Towable: 2015 Airstream International 25′

RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2019 Thor Motor Coach Freedom Elite 25′

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Features: Backup camera
RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2019 Fleetwood RV Flair 32′

  • Sleeps: 6
  • Features: Brand-new motorhome, outside TV, and radio

Gulf Shores, Alabama 

In case you need reasons to visit Gulf Shores, the local food scene is to die for, and there are tons of outdoor activities (but there’s also lots to do if it’s rainy). Gulf Shores is home to several RV resorts, so you can take your pick.

RVshare.com

Towable: 2018 Riverside Retro 265RB 27′

  • Sleeps: 6
  • Features: Retro vibe
RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2013 Coachmen Prism 2150 LE 22′

RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2013 Thor Daybreak 28PD 28′

Jalama Beach County Park, California

Located in Santa Barbara County, Jalama Beach County Park is about an hour outside of scenic Santa Barbara. Home to California native plants, this seaside park offers activities such as surfing, whale-watching, bird-watching, and fishing. 

RVshare.com

Towable: 2017 Starcraft Autumn Ridge 28FBS 33′

  • Sleeps: 8
  • Features: 19-foot electric patio cover with LED lighting, two camping chairs, and two camping recliners
RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2017 Winnebago View 24J 26′

RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2020 Thor Motor Coach Windsport 34J 29′

  • Sleeps: 7
  • Features: Rear backup camera and outdoor kitchen and TV

Newport Beach, California

A fabulous weekend getaway, Newport Beach has a variety of things to see and do. Visit beautiful Balboa Island and camp at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina. We chose this Newport Beach RV resort because it features a spectacular panoramic view of the bay.

RVshare.com

Towable: 2020 Highland Ridge Open Range 30′

RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2021 Entegra Coach Odyssey 26D 29.5′

RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2015 Thor A.C.E. 30.2′

  • Sleeps: 8
  • Features: Rear/left/right cameras and Nespresso coffee machine

Ludington State Park, Michigan

You simply must visit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in an RV. Stay at Ludington State Park so you can check out the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Ludington-Pines Campground’s west side is located near Lake Michigan.

RVshare.com

Towable: 2012 Crossroads Sunset Trails 30′

RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2018 Coachmen Leprechaun 240FS Ford 450 26′

  • Sleeps: 6
  • Features: Fireplace, backup camera, and outdoor shower
RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2014 Itasca Reyo 25P 25′

Galveston, Texas

You can camp on much of the beach in Galveston, but at Jamaica Beach RV Resort, you won’t have to boondock. 

RVshare.com

Towable: 2021 Forest River RV Salem FSX 170SS 23′

RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2016 Coachmen Leprechaun 32′

RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2010 Damon Daybreak 36′

  • Sleeps: 5
  • Features: Rear camera

Padre Island, Texas

Port Aransas Beach and scenic South Padre Island also offer camping along the coast. Set up camp and boondock on Padre Island National Seashore

RVShare.com

Towable: 2017 Gulf Stream Vintage Cruiser 22′

RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2017 Thor Motor Coach Freedom Elite 24′

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Features: Popup canopy 
RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2008 Holiday Rambler Ambassador 40SKQ 30′

Sandy Neck Beach Park, Massachusetts

One of the best beaches on Cape Cod, Sandy Neck Beach Park allows camping on the beach in a self-contained vehicle (no trailers). This is a conservation area with trails that cut through maritime dunes, forests, and marshes.

RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2012 Coachmen Freelander 30′

RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2012 Thor Vortex 36′

Kalaloch, Washington

Are you ready for some glamping? Nestled on the Olympic Peninsula, Kalaloch, Washington, has one of the six most incredible beaches located in a national park. Located in Kalaloch Campground, Kalaloch, Olympic National Park is situated on a high bluff in Olympic National Park. In addition to a peaceful coastal forest, the area is home to dolphins, sea otters, and whales as well as tidal pools. This popular spot is also great for birding.

RVshare.com

Towable: 2018 Jayco Jay Flight 20′

RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2019 Winnebago Outlook 28′

  • Sleeps: 6
  • Features: Large awning with LED lights
RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2013 Tiffin Motorhomes Allegro 36′

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Features: Fireplace

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Oregon was one of the eight states that topped our readers’ 2021 travel list. Locals from Washington and Oregon head to the charming small town of Cannon Beach. Our readers crowned it one of their favorite beach towns of 2020, and National Geographic named it one of the world’s 100 most beautiful places. 

Stay at the Cannon Beach RV Resort. The beach is known for the iconic Haystack Rock in Ecola State Park, which plays host to birds and all kinds of tide-pool marine life. 

RVShare.com

Towable: 2021 Keystone Hideout 26BHSWE 30′ 

  • Sleeps: 10
  • Features: Large awning, outdoor speakers, LED lights, four chairs, propane firepit, pop-up canopy, and folding table 
RVshare.com

Small And Drivable: 2018 Jayco Melbourne Prestige 24LP 25′

RVshare.com

Large Luxury: 2019 Jayco Alante 31R 34′



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Why You Need To Book Your Summer RV Trip Now Or Risk Missing Out


Last summer ushered in “the year of the RV,” when an unprecedented number of Americans opted to travel via motorhomes, campervans, and travel trailers as a way to socially distance and remain in a safer “bubble” while hitting the road and enjoying the great outdoors.

Now, with vaccinations on the upswing, travel restrictions loosening, COVID-19 cases decreasing across the United States, and a year’s worth of pent-up travel demand about to be unleashed, all signs point to summer 2021 being equally busy, if not busier, on America’s highways and byways.

Indeed, the RV camping trend isn’t going away, says Jon Gray, the CEO of RVShare, the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace.

“Our business tripled by the end of last summer as people hit the road in record numbers to visit family and friends, take a much-needed vacation to enjoy nature and new destinations, and go mobile taking advantage of ‘work from anywhere’ policies,” he said. “This year as vaccine distribution increases, even more people are ready to travel and continue to find RVs a comforting option.”

RVShare polled more than 400 of its current customers in its Travel Sentiment survey and found that 83 percent of them are ready to pack their bags and travel in the coming months. A full 54 percent said they are unlikely to consider flying, and 67 percent are likely to consider traveling by RV this summer.

Further, RVShare’s survey revealed that nearly half of consumers (45 percent) want to travel somewhere in nature, which outpaced destinations like beaches (20 percent) or major cities (2 percent).

All this adds up to a lot of travelers clamoring to get to some of the country’s most popular national parks, state parks, and scenic campgrounds, which means that you’ll want to consider booking your camping reservations or camper rental sooner than later.

That all said, if you’re new to RV camping, don’t let its popularity — or the advice to plan ahead as much as possible (which can be overwhelming) — dissuade you from giving it a whirl this year! My husband and I jumped on the RVing bandwagon late last summer, and we haven’t looked back.

We completed a 7-week, round-trip adventure from Colorado to Maine in a new-to-us Class A motorhome, and another recent RV trip took us to five different states in the Southwest. Read on to learn why I think RVing is a great way to travel, along with some tips for planning an inaugural trip this summer.



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North Carolina Association of Educators’ RV tour at Biggs Park Mall on Tuesday




Business community takes pandemic hit, but learns how to survive

LUMBERTON — It was a year ago when businesses that were not considered essential closed their doors for weeks or even months on end because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effects can still be felt today.

On March 17, 2020, Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order forbidding in-door dining, closing many restaurants in the state, and days later closed business that were not considered essential. Of those businesses, the ones associated with the tourism industry in Lumberton felt the biggest effect early on, in part because a large portion of the city’s economy relies on traffic coming off Interstate 95.

“Spring and fall are when lots of travelers utilize the I-95 corridor,” said Angela Sumner, executive director of Lumberton’s Visitors Bureau. “Much of this traffic stopped or slowed down drastically.”

The 22 hotels and more than 100 restaurants in Lumberton employ more than 1,200 people in the area, Sumner said. The full effects of the pandemic came in April when the hotel occupancy dropped by almost 65% because of stay-at-home orders.

“All 22 hotels and 100-plus restaurants saw demand plummet, and they all had to follow the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines to operate, which has been very costly,” Sumner said. “When the shutdowns and restrictions began, many of these people were furloughed, had their hours cut, or were laid off, causing many to be without employment.”

Sumner said the months after April have gradually continued to get better, but tourism is still 10% below the previous year, causing even more of an effect to the industry hit hard by hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

“[T]his was a continued blow to our industry,” Sumner said.

The retail industry in Lumberton also saw a major economic hit.

“One of the most major impacts the pandemic had on Biggs Park Mall was when we had to shut our doors for the whole month of April 2020,” said Chelsea Biggs, mall manager. “All of our stores had an impact from having zero sales that month.”

The negative effects to major retail chains hit home when the JCPenny went bankrupt and announced the closing of 145 stores nationwide, five in North Carolina. One of those stores was the JCPenny that had anchored Biggs Park Mall for nearly 60 years.

“GNC also ended up filing for bankruptcy, but luckily decided to stay here at the Lumberton location,” Biggs said.

When the mall finally did open it was under a new set of guidelines, including stricter sanitation schedules.

“We were sanitizing door handles, bathrooms, etc. every hour before the pandemic, while now we are making sure they are clean and sanitized every 30 minutes,” Biggs said.

Retail stores also were required to limit capacity, meaning fewer customers at one time.

A positive that has come from the pandemic is that it has forced business owners to become resourceful and creative.

Arnold West, the owner of two Lumberton restaurants on Roberts Avenue, said the pandemic has tested many business owners, including himself, in a way that no one could prepare for, but the industry has boomeranged.

“2021 is showing us greater opportunity, greater growth, and under pressure is how we forge into the future,” West said. “This pandemic has helped us become creative in foregoing the progress of tourism in Lumberton and we embrace this opportunity to represent our city to display our community on the East Coast.”

During the pandemic, the Lumberton Visitors Bureau updated their website, written grants through the office of Visit NC and the NC Tourism Industry Association, which have given the Bureau a marketing credit to more positively promote Lumberton in various media, such as Southern Living, Our State magazine, the NC 2021 Travel Guide, I-Heart Radio spots in the Northeast, and a variety of digital advertising.

“The Lumberton Visitors Bureau is currently working on nine video clips that will encourage travelers to ‘Linger Longer In Lumberton, NC!,’” Sumner said.

Some of them debuted during the recent virtual Book ‘Em 2021 event, Sumner said.

“These clips will be placed on our website, our YouTube Channel, and used in a variety of advertising opportunities,” Sumner said. “The clips showcase areas of Lumberton such as Historic Downtown Lumberton; outdoor adventure including canoeing the Lumber River; accommodations and dining; shopping; meeting in Lumberton featuring RCC (Robeson Community College), Southeastern Agricultural Center, and Pennington Sports Complex; and other sports events.”

The Lumberton Visitors Bureau list all of the restaurants in the Lumberton area on its website. During COVID, the Lumberton Visitors Bureau developed a special landing page on the website to identify which restaurants were open, providing carryout, and/or offered delivery service.

“Over the past month, many restaurants are moving back toward normal but still have some capacity restrictions,” Sumner said. “We have also seen the start-up of several small businesses in Lumberton, some being new restaurants.”

Biggs Park Mall also has new businesses.

“We have opened two new businesses within the year, Top That Donut Bar and Gold Star Event Center, and we are awaiting the completion of the Jersey Mike’s location,” Biggs said. “We hope that we will be able to announce soon a new tenant for the JCPenney’s location, very soon.”

The stores housed there have been “satisfied with business,” the mall manager said.

“Business here at Biggs Park Mall is going well after a few slow months last year due to shutdowns, etc.,” Biggs said. “We are so grateful for all of our loyal customers that come to shop with us.”

Issues remain. Among them are the Canadian border and the two I-95 welcome centers remaining closed and/or limited in services offered, starving Lumberton of that segment of the market and the opportunity to share with travelers information about the community.

The Bureau stays in close contact with Visit NC, which has provided research for the three segments of the state: the mountains, Piedmont, and coastal regions,” Sumner said.

“Lumberton is considered in the Coastal Plains and our region and the mountains have maintained better travel occupancy. The Piedmont region depends highly on sporting events, conventions, and conferences, and all of those segments have taken a huge blow,” she said.

But the vaccines being readily available has given business leaders hope.

“Since the vaccines are readily available, especially to the tourism employees, confidence in travel seems to be going up,” Sumner said.

“If businesses will continue to take advantage of the resources made available to them through our city, county, state and nation, Robeson Community College, Small Business Center, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, then other opportunities in Lumberton and Robeson County will continue to grow and thrive,” she added.

Lumberton Chamber of Commerce Board Chairperson Maureen Metzger also sees a light at the end of the tunnel for business with the vaccine.

“This past year has been hard for so many businesses in Robeson County. But now, hopefully, with the hospital doing an outstanding job getting the vaccines distributed, people will begin to feel more confidant to go out shopping and eating at local restaurants” Metzger said.



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New National Park Service App Makes RV Travel Easy




 Kurt Verlin

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The National Park Service has launched a new mobile app that makes planning visits to any of its 423 parks a lot more convenient. Instead of having to download individual apps for each park, campers and RV travelers can now use a single app to get all the info they need.


RV Camping: What are the benefits?


The app is so far only in its beta version, but anyone using an Android or Apple device can download it and make use of its staggering number of features. It can be used to find general information about each park, including accessibility, restaurant hours, and even hike suggestions. It can also be used to view stunning photos, make lodging reservations, and perhaps most importantly for visitors, download park maps that can be viewed offline.

And the features don’t stop there. You can create and send custom virtual postcards, go on guided audio tours, and learn about the history of some of your favorite park locations. You can bookmark your favorite parks, set up the app to give you news alerts, and even use it to get detailed photos of national park passport stamps — as well as information on where to get them, making the app invaluable if you’re a collector.


Get Started: What are the different types of RVs?






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