— National Lampoon’s ‘Christmas Vacation’
Clark: So, when did you get the tenement on wheels?
Eddie: Oh, that uh, that there’s an RV. Yeah, yeah, I borrowed it off a buddy of mine. He took my house, I took the RV. It’s a good looking vehicle, ain’t it?
Clark: Yeah, it looks so nice parked in the driveway.
Eddie: Yeah it sure does. But, don’t you go falling in love with it now, because we’re taking it with us when we leave here next month.
Ok, maybe you’re not planning on crashing your relatives’ home on Christmas like Cousin Eddie, but perhaps the thought of piling the kids into a RV during the holidays is still an exciting prospect. It could even end up being an adventure no one in the family will ever forget!
You don’t want it to end up being a hassle, so before heading out over the river and through the woods, consider these helpful tips as you plan your family road trip in your mini house on wheels:
Choose Your RV Wisely
Bigger isn’t always better. Your first instinct might be to rent the largest vehicle you can find for your family, because there’s more storage space, living area, and beds. But those RVs can be tough to pilot and park, especially in the winter and depending on where you are going.
Generally speaking, a Class C motorhome is popular for its versatility. Class Cs are often built on a Ford E-Series chassis, which is the type of foundation found on vehicles like delivery trucks, ambulances, small moving vans, and airport shuttles. If you’re leaning towards a Class C, go for the smallest one that can comfortably accommodate the number of people in your group.
A small Class C (21-to-25 feet long) typically sleeps two to five people in three beds. They are maneuverable and compact enough to pull into smaller campgrounds. Make sure the taller people can stand up inside, however. A large Class C is a longer motorhome that sleeps four-to-seven people in three or four beds. These units are nice and roomy, but you’ll need to consider where you’ll park a bigger rig when you go into a grocery store, for example.
After giving a rental a shot, you may find that vacationing by RV is the way to go and may even decide to buy! In 2016, RV sales hit an all-time high since 2008, and families in particular are choosing RVing as a main form of vacationing because of lower interest rates, cheaper fuel, and tax-deductible interest.
Study Websites for RV Enthusiasts & Talk to People LIVE
You probably don’t want to ‘wing it’ when it comes to RV travel unless you want to be filled with fear-induced anxiety and stress. In the weeks leading up to your trip, study campground review sites, online RV forums, and watch videos either on your RV rental website or on YouTube.
Talk to the people at the RV rental company. They are the experts with pro tips. RV rookie Valerie Rains wrote an article for Budget Travel and found a lot of valuable information just by chatting with the folks at Cruise America, including:
- Pull far into intersections before making a turn
- Leave plenty of room for braking
- Always use a spotter when you back up
- Drive-through restaurants are just not worth the risk
- When to use battery power, propane, shoreline electricity and the generator
- How to restart a dead battery
- Why the propane tank should be turned off before refueling
- How to heat water for showers
- How to level out the rig with a pair of two-by-four boards if the campsite is on a slant
- How to empty the holding tank (a polite way of saying draining the toilet)
If you do your homework and ask questions you’ll be able to spend quality time with family instead of trying to figure out everything the hard way. Get all hands on deck!
Know What to Leave Behind
It’s a good idea to see what the storage space is like in the RV before going grocery shopping so you can determine what’s important and what’s not going to make the cut. Maybe you don’t need a full-sized Christmas turkey this year, because where you gonna put it, anyway? Determine what’s on the menu, what snacks to bring, and how many times you plan on going out during your trip.
Because cargo space is precious, you may want to consider going Christmas present shopping closer to your destination instead of hauling wrapped presents around the entire trip. Try going to a locally-owned outdoor recreation store to buy RV-appropriate gifts for everyone, like camping supplies, games, and winter gear. Or better yet, get gift cards to be used at a later date.
Taking a road trip may turn out to be more affordable than a standard airfare and hotel vacation, especially if you cook your own meals. But the one thing you can’t put a price on is creating memories and stronger family bonds. No matter where the road — snowy or not — takes you, have a very merry Christmas and enjoy your RV adventure.