Have you been RV camping yet? According to a recent study by KOA, fully 40 million Americans have tried it — many during the pandemic when interest surged as camping emerged as one of the safest forms of family vacationing. And the fastest growing segments of RVers are families: millennials and Gen X parents hitting the open road with their kids. Think you might like to get behind the wheel? Here’s why it’s one the best family vacations out there.
Like Camping, But Cushier
Maybe camping in a tent is…not your thing? Sure, glamping is a little more comfy, but it’s still basically camping (mosquitos, no bathroom, spotty wifi). RVing, on the other hand, is the perfect level up — all the nature, all the s’mores, none of the flip flops in a communal campground shower.
Renting Is the Move
You do not need to own or buy a $200k camper to try RV camping. Over the last few years the RV rental industry has exploded with companies like RV Share, Outdoorsy and Cruise America all offering access to their fleet (or the fleet of their members) for nightly rates. It’s like VRBO or Touro for RVs.
The other great feature with these agencies is that many offer drop-off services. If you’re just looking to spend a family weekend in a gorgeous state park nearby, there’s no need to visit a dealership to pick up your RV and drive it to the campground yourself. Many of these services will bring your chosen vehicle to the campground in advance and hook it all up for you. All you do is arrive and start your vacation.
So Much Easier (and Cheaper!) Than Flying
If you do the travel math, even for short flights, airports are enormous time sucks: you’ve got the Uber to the terminal, the two-plus-hour wait to board, the inevitable flight delay, the flight itself, the wait for the bags…even small domestic trips somehow turn into an all-day affair. If you add up all that time and consider that with RVing you can leave when you want to, rather than when United tells you to, it becomes a really efficient way to get where you’re going.
What’s more, RV vacations can save travelers serious money. A recent study calculated that these vacations are about 60 percent cheaper than the same itinerary when you add up all the flights, hotels and car rentals.
Pack as Much as You Want
You know the flying drill these days — literally wearing everything you own on the plane and racing to the overhead compartment to get your carry on wedged in there before anyone else. Add kids and all their kid gear? Forget about it. You’ll pay almost as much in luggage fees as you will for the tickets themselves. RVing on the other hand is leisurely and maximalist. Bring whatever you want. Put it in a suitcase, or don’t. Pack the jogging stroller and the umbrella stroller. Exceed 50 pounds 10 times over. This truck is huge, and your over-packing, catering-to-your-kids’-picky-preferences are welcome here.
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Travel Like a (Fancy) Turtle — Bring Your Home With You
Unlike a regular road trip where you stay in different hotels every night, here your bed travels with you. This creates all kinds of advantages and efficiencies, including unpacking once, sleeping in your own comfortable bedding every night and settling the kids once. Plus, access to a kitchen means you can cook your own meals (when you want to) keeping fussy eaters and their accommodating parents calm and happy.
Bring The Pooch, Too
One of the best differentiators of an RV vacation, though, is the ability to bring the whole family — including all the fur-covered members. You’ll want to check the rules of your specific rental, but most have a very liberal pet policy, as do the campgrounds themselves. This means you’ll save on a ton on boarding costs but also get to, say, hike in the Colorado mountains with the one member of your family who will appreciate it most.
There are some destinations, like the National Parks, where staying in a hotel just doesn’t provide the same access that camping or RVing does. In most National Parks you’ll be able to sleep inside the borders of the park itself, waking up with the sights and sounds of your spectacular surrounds right outside your door. Yellowstone National Park for instance, is home to 12 campgrounds alone, all of which cost less than $40 a night (most are half that). Redwoods National Park has four on-site campgrounds and Yosemite has 10. Just make sure you reserve a spot during peak times (like summer and school vacations) and check all the regulations before you go, including RV length, as some of the campgrounds have very specific size limits.
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