There are a lot of ways you can travel in the US from hitchhiking to riding the train to dealing with the hellish security of airline travel. But the best way to see America is by RV. Period. Why, you ask? Simple.
Your own bed
Having come out of the lodging business (I used to own a resort) I know what happens in some of the rooms. Well, I can only imagine. I know what we had to clean up. With an RV your bed, your bathroom, your kitchen and your couch are always yours. You know where they’ve been and what’s happened on them. Or hasn’t happened on them.
If you like squishy, comfy mattresses or thick comforters then bring that with you. If you like sleeping on the rock of Gibraltar, that can be your mattress.
Find Family or Friends
You know that bed at grandma’s that has that weird lump in the worst spot? You won’t ever have to sleep in that bed again. When you visit family or friends you have your own bed set up to your liking. You know what it feels like.
Taking your own RV to visit friends and family is the best way to visit friends and family. You get to visit as much as you’d like but when you’ve had your fill, you can go back to your own space. It’s the best of all worlds. And you don’t have to sleep on their sofa bed that was never meant for a real human to sleep on in the first place.
Travel for activities
I love trains. I love vintage cars. I love small towns. And with an RV I can go to destinations with any or all of these things. Seeing America doesn’t mean staying in a Holiday Inn and seeing how bland America can be - it means getting into the small towns and shaking hands with fellow Americans and seeing what makes their places special.
We’ve traveled for crab fishing, car shows, steam festivals, renaissance faires, pirate festivals, car shows, vintage RV shows, plant sales, beer festivals and more. And this has just been in the past year!
We still have to start hitting the national parks and other destinations that make this country so great.
There are Facebook groups for all sorts of special interests including RVing so check those out as a great place to start.
Our 14-year-old McNab Zora loves traveling in the RV. She has her own bed and there are new smells at every stop. Often times in RV parks there are other dogs to sniff as well and, since an RV park is neutral territory, everybody gets along famously. If you have a pet take them with you traveling. If Zora is any indication, pets love travel and there are few restrictions on pet-friendly travel in RVs for responsible pet owners.
I have a friend who’s got a serious peanut allergy. I have another who is developing serious allergies to wheat. Both of those people can eat what they want prepared the way they want while seeing the USA if they travel in their own RV. Since you’re dragging your own food and your own kitchen around with you, you’re in control.
We’ve also pulled over in some seriously beautiful spots along the road (safely, of course) and had lunch with incredible views. We have folding lawn chairs that we keep with us and, of course, we always have the fridge and the pantry so it’s easy to just stop and have a wonderful meal in the shadow of some of America’s wonderful scenery.
Furthermore, I’ve been disappointed with the gravy served on biscuits at restaurants. Maybe because I make my own sausage for sausage gravy. You can have whatever food you want. It’s your kitchen. But don’t forget to try the local flavors.
Many towns and regions have their own local flavor and you can experience this. The Southern California region of Julian has an annual apple festival with apple pies and such. There’s a pear festival in my own home town. If you like seafood there are towns for that. Love gourmet grub? Go to places where that exists.
Or find farm-to-table places or just go to places where farmers have markets and make your own grub. It’s fun to travel on your stomach and an RV lets you do just that. Here’s a thought - pick a few spots on the map and then find out what eateries are great there on Yelp. You might find a new favorite just 100 miles from home.
Where the weather suits your clothes
Jimmy Buffet sings a song about going places where the weather suits his clothes. I don’t know if he has an RV or not, but this is a good idea. When it’s hot where I live we head to the coast where a two hour drive results in a change of temperature of some 25-30 degrees. Forget the heat of summer, we go where nature’s air conditioner is running at full blast.
When it’s freezing here in the winter (to me anyway; it’s still Northern California!) I can go to Southern California where shorts are still in style. A change of scenery to include the weather that I like is just another reason to go RVing.
Until recently where we traveled for business (to Fresno) I hadn’t even tried out the air conditioner in our RV because, frankly, we don’t want to travel to places with temperature extremes. Our recent fall trip to Sedona was a beautiful change of scenery and, again, you go when the weather suits your clothes. The temps were perfect for shorts and flip flops.
RV people are more fun
If you haven’t experienced RVing first hand, you have no idea just how cool RVers are. Stop in an RV park and get a cup of coffee and some lawn chairs and it won’t be long before you make friends. RVers love to compare notes, talk shop and tell tales of travels.
There are groups who travel as well. For example, woman-friendly travel groups like Sisters on the Fly and Tow Girlz to start. There are groups who like hiking, adventure, vintage cars. There are so many options that the amount of time you can allocate is really the challenge, not finding great people.
Or you can also go boondocking and see nobody.
Your own dose of humanity
We’ve been boondocking where there were literally no people around. Sometimes getting away from it all truly means getting away from it all.
But we’ve also camped in crowded RV parks like KOAs where there were people everywhere you looked. And we’ve camped at festivals and such where there were like-minded folks around us.
With your own RV you set the tone and adjust the location to suit what you’re looking for. The middle of nowhere or right in the heart of the action. Your RV - your choice! And if you change your mind mid-trip, it’s no problem!
RV travel is inexpensive
I’ve stayed at mid-level hotels that were about $200/night. Then I have to eat in restaurants because I have no kitchen so there’s another $75-100/person unless you’re eating fast food.
Conversely my RV payment is $200/month. I can camp where it’s free or camp in the fanciest of RV parks with pools and hot tubs and such for around $50/night. I still have my own kitchen and pantry with me so food costs are low and I don’t have to wonder who did what in the bed, couch and bath tub where I’m staying.
For about the cost of a night’s getaway I have a vehicle that’s ready to go when and where I am and includes all the comforts of home.
Multiply this savings by the number of people who travel with you (it you’ve got a family, for example) and you’ll see what a gigantic savings traveling in an RV can be. Plus no TSA screenings, no waiting in line to sit in the worst seat your butt has ever felt and no having to tip some guy whose life achievement is pushing your luggage on a cart - or testing the limits of your car.
So it's a panacea?
Nothing’s perfect, but I’ve never enjoyed vacations as much as I’ve enjoyed vacations and getaways in our travel trailer. There are a few challenges but they’re so minor when compared to any other form of travel that RVing wins.
And you can RV in whatever style you like. Big and luxurious. Small and maneuverable. New. Vintage. New vintage. So it’s no wonder the RV industry is seeing a record boom right now. RVing is just the best way to go.
Written by Anthony B. Barthel