Have you ever thought of taking a family vacation in an RV? Did you end up doing it? Last year we were coming off the “year of unemployment” and taking the idea of any spending very seriously. So when April vacation was being considered we tried to think of a fun and inexpensive way to see a lot of places in a week. We figured it would be wise to stay on the east coast so as to minimize the amount of miles logged and to maximize our destinations. The first task at hand was finding an RV. There are websites that exist for just that purpose. One of the biggest is: Cruise America. We ended up using Craigslist and found a local man who rents his RV by the week. Perfect.
The cost for a week using Cruise America for a large 7 person RV is roughly $1050 with mileage costs at about $.32 a mile. 700 miles is easy to do in a week, and that would run another $224. We paid the private owner from Craigslist $1000 and no mileage fee – just brought it back with a full tank of gas. One of the options our guy gave us was to rent his kitchen equipment for $150, the items of which he listed in detail. In an effort to be frugal we passed on the offer and used his list to create our own ‘kitchen to go’. Personally, I will always prefer my own utensils and pans to someone else’s unless maybe it’s Martha Stewart. Cruise America offers a Kitchen Kit for $100 and a Personal Kit (towels and a sleeping bag, etc.) for $50.
Our trip began to take shape. We decided to pick up the RV and leave our car at the owner’s house for the week. When we arrived to “move in” there was a binder of all kinds of information he’d compiled over the years of renting, and we referenced that often. At first the rig was very intimidating, especially in its width. It turned out that the RV was a little on the quirky side maybe due to its older age, and responded to its Master’s Voice better than ours, but we managed. There were a lot of gadgets and buttons to activate to get a shower, or to cook, so there was a steep learning curve in the beginning. There’s nothing like a cold shower to motivate one to figure out the system, though.
The fun part was narrowing down all the grand ideas we had for our destinations. The kids lobbied hard for a stop at Hershey Park, PA, so my husband and I wove that into a generally educational itinerary (sneaky, huh?) including Gettysburg, PA and Washington D.C. We eventually headed back to RI through NYC. The trick was to find decent RV parks near the cities, and public transportation into them. We tried RV parks with public bathrooms that had showers and pools, laundry and miniature golf, as well as ones in the dark woods with nothing but water and gas hookups and lots of crickets. AAA has excellent RV books that tell you just what to expect from each park. We played a lot of board games at night, and each of us probably read a book or two that week. All the parks have grills, so cooking was a breeze, and s’mores were the staple dessert.
If you ask the kids, this trip was epic, and if you ask my husband and me, this is one we would definitely do again. There’s a lot to be said for staying on terra firma, besides just the significant savings on airfare.
An interesting road sign could turn into an impromptu adventure, like the awe inspiring Echo Caverns we happened upon, or at least a good ice cream cone. We’re thinking of a summer RV trip through Canada next. Well, we’ll see you on the road, and happy trails!
Are there any of you RV adventurers out there with a good tale, tip, or destination to share? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below.