Our twins turned 10 on the same day I had a book signing in Albuquerque. Our family decided this was the opportunity to try out RVing.
In June we travelled from Houston to New Mexico for a seven-day adventure in a Class C RV. Our coach had two bunk beds, a oversized King loft, a pullout double bed, and a queen bed in a separate little room. It slept eight total.
Since we’ve returned, so many people have told us how they want to try RVing. Here are some of the questions they’ve asked us the most.
And what our family thought about our adventure.
Would you do another RV trip?
Yes. Absolutely. Even though our generator conked out (no air conditioning in the middle of the desert) for the part of our trip that took us through 110-degree dusty roads. We still liked the convenience and adventure of staying in a new place every night and seeing so much countryside.
The RV served as the perfect vessel for family bonding. More on that later.
Best place to stay?
Over a week we stayed at five RV parks. Three of them were KOAs (Kerrville, Albuquerque, and White Sands) and two were independently owned. We liked the KOAs for their consistency and dependability and we liked the indie ones for their quirkiness.
Thanks to the AllStays App (and Yelp) we felt confident finding parks that met our needs (two big dogs, room for kids to ride their scooters, fire pit for s’mores, and clean(ish) bathrooms).
Overall, we liked the privately-owned places a little better than the KOAs. Although the KOAs consistently had kid-friendly amenities, but they were also usually far from the places we wanted to see.
Our favorite stay was Fredericksburg RV park, which was next door to a food truck court that served strong coffee and spicy breakfast burritos.
Best packing tips?
First, our dumbest mistake was lugging along the dog’s enormous beds. Ten minutes into the trip, it was clear they had taken over the couches and low-lying beds.
We used (removable!) Command hooks to hang up the dog leashes and (ever overflowing) trash bags.
Before we left, I cooked several pounds of ground beef and froze them. We used those for tacos, spaghetti sauce, over rice, and with (also premade and frozen) mashed potatoes. This prep work, combined with a startlingly number of paper plates and plastic forks, made meals easier.
We used all the extra entertainment stuff that we had stuffed in at the last minute, including Uno, books, drawing paper, and the kids’ scooters. If we brought it along, one of the kids put it to use.
What didn’t go so well?
RVs have lots of potential maintenance headaches. We kind of knew this–after all it is both a mobile home, and a vehicle, and a poor hybrid of both of these.
At the end of the day, it’s a lot of metal and plastic. This means a lot of noise and the general feeling of careening down the road in a tin can. Even though our RV had four DVD players, the RV/road noise was too loud to hear them.
And the generator issue is so common that at the RV park, everyone had a story about how their generator had also gone out and they were glad to help us troubleshoot. (For us, it was a loose air filter.)
What was most surprising about the whole experience?
An RV trip is totally a family camping trip, with a little bit more comfortable bed.
When we planned our trip, we thought a lot about all the perks of LIVING IN OUR VEHICLE. But really, when it came down to it, the RV quickly became too small. (I blame the fact we had two large and lazy Greyhounds who took up way more than their fair share of space.)
So, we did almost everything at the RV Parks where we stayed. It was just easier to use the toilets, showers, picnic tables than it was to do al that inside our little tin rectangle. This means our trip had all the elements of a family camping trip.
Showering (or not) in very public bathrooms, cooking over campfires, hanging out with our neighbors, using flashlights and lanterns, no wifi or devices.
Best Part of RVing?
We bonded like the sardines we were. Of all our family’s travels, nothing has melted us into each other of living and breathing the same air all.the.time.
Thanks to the shared adventure of true travel, the camaraderie that comes from trying to make dinner over a campfire, and the absence of our usual convinces (wifi, separate bathrooms, and phones, Kindles, DSs). SInce we’ve been back, our kids are closer. They blended their worlds on this trip and that blurring has stayed. They play together more, hang out in each other’s rooms, and laugh together like actual friends.
This has made everything (namely the time without air conditioning or showers) worth it.