Since international travel has been on a hiatus, people have turned to exploring their own backyards. From the United States to Canada to England, Europe and New Zealand, people get into cars, RVs and RVs and set off on the road. After all, it allows you to socially distance yourself while going out! There is no doubt that RVing is one of the easiest and safest ways to travel right now. No crowded planes or questionable hotel rooms required — an RV gives you the freedom to explore and the peace of mind of having your own space. Below I’ve covered some pros and cons I learned on our first RV trip so you can be better prepared when you embark on your own trip in a home on wheels.
1. Sleep anywhere
When driving on long, dusty roads there are times when you just want to stop and sleep. In an RV, you can stop at Walmart, some casinos, and campsites. The seats are also much more comfortable than a regular car, and children can easily sleep with their seat belts firmly tightened. As an added bonus, use your pillow and blankets so you don’t get used to a new hotel bed every night.
2. Give it a try Book
a dry run at a nearby campsite, preferably with direct access campsites. Drive the vehicle through the area and eventually make your way to the nearest campsite. Take your time, breathe and slowly familiarize yourself with the connections. The good thing is that many of the campsite neighbors in the surrounding area will usually be happy to answer any questions or offer advice they have learned along the way. At home, practice backing up in and out of the aisle, to prepare when the time comes you will need to come back to an actual site.
3. More spontaneity
There is so much freedom with an RV. Campgrounds are generally more accommodating with extended stays at the last minute. You might fall in love with a national park and decide to stay there in the middle of nowhere. Or maybe you make new friends while dining together. I loved the spontaneity of VR life.
4. Use time more wisely
With integrated seat belts, our dining table has been transformed into a workstation. This meant that my husband Josh was able to process photos and write articles while I was driving the motorhome. It also meant that kids could finish schoolwork, paint, draw, play UNO and more with much more space and comfort than the usual car trip.
5. Avoid the Highways
Set your GPS to “avoid the highways” and you will discover how beautiful this country can be. Highways have drawn straight lines across the country, but the old network of roads, working with the contours of the land and connecting historic towns, still exists. The best routes are America’s Byways, a set of 150 distinct and diverse routes protected by the Department of Transportation for their natural or cultural value. Even better than this website (because you can’t rely on cell phone reception from back roads) is a hard copy of the National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways. It maps out the most beautiful records of any state, with something to admire even in the “hover states”. We refer to it every time we start a great ride and find interesting sites, quirky museums, scenic viewpoints, quintessential restaurants and short hikes, which always make the ride better.
6. Leaves no trace
The motorhome is not considered environmentally friendly compared to camping on foot. But we can certainly do our part to take away whatever we bring. Sort the waste and take it to a recycling center rather than filling the garbage cans in parks. Opt for reusable food storage bags and items with compostable packaging. Leave a campsite better than you have found it and do not hesitate to thank the earth for a wonderful stay.
7. prepare trip carefully
Unless you plan to stay in one place, an RV trip is not something you improvise at the last minute. You have to be well prepared and pay attention to driving distances, stopovers… .. Here is what I did to prepare for my trip: I used Roadtrippers.com which is a godsend to help you put things in order . Finding places to visit, stopovers, and an RV park (the place where you park the RV to connect to water, electricity, and sewage) is incredibly ingenious. Everything is well designed, very visual with excellent mapping, documented and has a handy mobile app to use on the go.
8. Protect yourself and your vehicle
You’ll explore remote areas, take rough roads, and go on some crazy adventures (get excited!) Consider these three forms of protection and you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way:
- RV insurance – While this is specialty car insurance, the good news is it can be cheaper than insuring a sedan.
- Travel insurance – While most people think of travel insurance for big international trips, it usually kicks in 100 miles from your house, covering health emergencies, trip delays, canceled reservations (from campgrounds to river rafting excursions), and a variety of other snafus.
- Roadside assistance – We like that Good Sam is designed specifically for RVers and doesn’t charge a premium for it. An annual membership covers towing RVs of all sizes, tire blowouts, running out of gas, locking your keys in your vehicle, plus lots of other benefits and travel discounts.
9. Cook Anywhere
There are several advantages to having a kitchen. First, it’s cheaper. Grocery shopping is much more profitable than eating out. Second, it’s healthier. You can control what goes into your food and how much you eat. The temptation is lower when you have only the options in the refrigerator that you want. Third, you don’t have to wait. When my children are hungry, they are hungry now. We made a brief stop in Page, Arizona while a small issue in the RV was being fixed and my kids complained of hunger. So we prepared a healthy meal right away.
10. Train a co-pilot
More than one person must be able to operate the RV safely. Everyone needs an opportunity to rest, whether for a long or a short trip. Be patient with your co-pilot and allow him plenty of time to familiarize himself with freeways and back roads. This investment of time will prove invaluable in the long run.
11. Where should park?
Parking options are more limited for an RV. You probably won’t be parallel parking in front of quaint little cafes or driving through restaurants. Large parking lots (such as Walmart) are fairly easy to navigate, and as a courtesy you should park further from the building entrance to avoid traffic jams and tiny parking spots. It is also useful to memorize the height of the roof. Then you can determine if stepping into a covered parking lot is a good idea, or if a Starbucks drive-through sparkling latte is within the realm of possibility. Usually the answer to both points will be no.
Where’s the water?
Getting used to the ins and outs of an RV can be time consuming and a bit… well, disgusting. Luckily I have a man to flush the sewers for me and he rarely complained about the smells. Remember to fill the fresh water supply (for dry camping or game) can get used to. The moment the shower starts to spit out is usually the moment I remembered oh, this is a good time to check the water levels.
As full time workers, we are incredibly passionate about the RV and a lot to share on travel itineraries, tips on buying a vintage RV and the lessons learned from three years on the road. While there is a lot to know about RV travel, renting an RV is a safe and easy way to get started. And there is a wonderful VR and #vanlife community online that will be happy to help you too.