One of the main aims of Grown-up Travel Guide is to inspire you to do something different for your next holiday. We try to find new places we know you’ll also enjoy discovering but also original angles on familiar destinations; unusual attractions, ‘hidden’ restaurants and wonderful hotels that you may otherwise miss.
But it doesn’t stop there – rather than only focusing on the ‘where’, we want to give the ‘how’ a little love too.
In this series of articles we’ll take a look at some alternative types of travel and accommodation – starting with this very American take on the humble road trip…
Get your RV running…head out on the highway
It’s the dream of many a potential visitor to the USA – hitting the open road, clocking up the miles while taking in the spectacular views and feeling the freedom to go where you choose. While plenty of us dream of riding coast to coast on a Harley Davidson, a dream is what it usually remains. Those lucky enough to actually take a road trip in the States are somewhat more likely to experience Route 66 from behind the wheel of a soulless Japanese rental car than atop a roaring motorcycle.
In any case being the lonesome biker only really works if you are travelling alone – but there is an alternative to that compact car.
It’s an RV – short for Recreational Vehicle and a.k.a. a motorhome. Only a Harley is more American than an RV for a road trip – and yes, you can rent them.
Combining the freedom to go where you want (within reason – low bridges are something you’ll learn to avoid) with the security of having a roof over your head each night, renting an RV is a fantastic way to see more of America. And it’s not just an option for America either – Canada is arguably even more scenic and perhaps better suited to the more adventurous RV-er.
Here’s 12 reasons why you should consider hitting the road in an RV in the USA or Canada:
- The freedom to plan your own route and see what you want to see
- No need to worry about finding somewhere to stay the night
- Costs are comparable to or lower than renting a car and paying for accommodation each day
- Campsites in the US generally have all amenities and often social events and activities if that’s your bag
- If the wilderness is more your thing renting an RV in Canada is probably a better choice – but stock up on food and supplies
- The journey becomes part of the holiday rather than a drag
- Few things beat relaxing round a campfire in the evening before bunking down for the night
- You get to spend time together – this is a good thing
- The RV can be your base from which to cycle, kayak, hike, swim, fish…you name it
- Staying overnight in a national park is an incredible experience
- Each time you hit the road you’ll be looking forward to discovering the next place on your route
- You can play at being Walter White in your underpants when the kids aren’t around.
Sounds good, right? Okay the last one was a joke, but still…
The idea may seem a little daunting but you can find a wealth of information online and dozens of RV forums with enthusiasts keen to help newbies.
During research for this post we compiled a list of tips to help if we’ve sparked your interest:
- It makes sense to use a SatNav and many rental RVs have this equipment as standard. When planning your route you can use RV mode which will steer you away from low bridges, narrow tunnels and other restricted areas
- Keep your distance from vehicles in front and remember that braking distances are longer than you’re used to
- Be careful when turning corners too – swing out before swinging in
- Work as a team – two sets of eyes are better than one and always have your ‘assistant’ help you when reversing
- Establish routines for setting off, parking up and when camped
- Get used to emptying the ‘holding tanks’ (yes, they are what you think they are)
- Rent bicycles as well as the RV so you don’t have to drive it everywhere and can explore the area
- Make sure the RV has enough sleeping space for your group
- If you can’t make it to a campsite you may be able to park overnight in a supermarket lot – but ask first and check for signs to the contrary
- When staying put for a few days, run the engine a few minutes each day to keep the battery charged
- If you have a long flight before your RV trip stay in a hotel the first night – this is often insisted upon by the RV company and you will be too tired to drive anyway
- Make sure your rental agreement has unlimited mileage to avoid nasty surprises when you get back
- Don’t forget to budget for fuel, camping fees and national park charges depending on your plans
- Request a “three-way pitch” when booking a campsite – meaning mains water, electricity and drains
- And don’t forget to book in advance where you can – especially in high season