Harvey the RV

🚐 going down in history as the greatest vehicle we never owned 🚐

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Because I get asked so very often to explain our recent camping trip to Texas, here is everything you need to know about taking a cross-country trip in a rented class C motorhome with small children in one blog post. How about that. 😁

The Top 10 Things You Need to Know:

1. We definitely plan to rent one again because it was that amazing. My husband came home from the trip saying, “We are totally going to buy one of these!”  He wanted to rent it out for free to all our friends and while I think many of you would be on board with that, I personally view it as an administrative nightmare and major thorn in my side. Given that an older (2007) version such as the one we rented sells for about $30,000, I talked him down pretty quickly. We will rent. We will not buy (unless we strike gold, in which case we just might buy). 💁

2. Renting an RV is so affordable. Everyone who finds out we rented an RV for 8 days and drove almost 1500 miles in it says in disbelief, “Yeah, but how much did it cost?” I tell them that with EVERYTHING included:
rental fee
+insurance
+gas
+food
+propane
+camp sites
+my bridesmaids dress for the wedding I was in while we were in Texas
+our entertainment
+extra 4GLTE since we weren’t on WiFi that often
(I’m talking EVERYTHING)
= less than $1500.
6 people. 8 days. $1500. Boom goes the dynamite.
Just to put this into perspective, after flights, rental car, hotel room, meals, and my bridesmaid dress, I would have spent $1,124 if I flew down alone (and left my husband at home with all 4 kids) for 3 days.
1 person. 3 days. Over $1,100. Annnnnnnd boom goes the dynamite again. 😅

3. You have to pack everything but the kitchen sink, and this time that is not hyperbole. Each of the rentals I found required you to pack everything from bed sheets and bath towels to pots n pans to toilet paper and paper plates. I even packed extra blankets to hang on the windows at night so the kids would sleep in later than the sun. We brought books, crayons, the tablet, movies, and toys. I brought my yoga mat and dumbbells.💪

4. Besides all the aforementioned things, the RV has everything you could need. (I know it sounds rather contradictory but just hear me out.) The RV we rented has a full kitchen (oven, stove, fridge, freezer, sink), a 3/4 bath with standing shower, 4 beds (2 queen-sized and 2 full), a dining table and couch, a TV, ample storage (I mean like PLENTY of room to spare). Our family of 6 was very comfortable all week. When you rent a campsite at an RV park, you get running water, sewage service, and electricity as part of your package. This makes the RV a full fledged house on wheels. (You can choose to stay at a Wal Mart parking lot but in doing so you forfeit those  amenities. Even still, if your water tank is full and your propane tank is full, you can use the running water and electricity in the Wal Mart parking lot, just on your own dime.)

5. You don’t need to STOP and take bathroom breaks like you do during traditional road trips. My kids do not tend to time their bowel movements according to our gas fill-ups, so the fact that I could just walk them back to our bathroom while my husband kept driving was simply blissful. It made the actual driving time so much more efficient. Harvey rode like a dream, but walking around the cabin while it was going 70mph was a bit bumpy so we had to hold on to the counter and doors on our way to the restroom. We did not allow the kids to feel free to move about the cabin unless they were en route to the bathroom with an escort. (Note that if you rent a camper that you tow behind a truck, it is illegal for passengers to ride in the camper while it’s moving. They must be in the truck, making this point null and void. I would not rent one that I needed to tow for that reason.)

6. Not all RV rentals are as affordable as ours was. I did lots of hunting and searching and settled on a private owner in the Kansas City (KC) area rather than going through a commercial RV rental company mostly because he gave us UNLIMITED MILES. Most companies allot you 150 miles/day and anything over that is $.40 per mile. Now, in order to get this deal we had to drive 3 hours in the way of our route to Texas to pick up our RV. (Now, think about this in terms of #3 for a moment. I had to pack EVERYTHING into our van and topper, then unload it into the RV in KC, and then a week later do the reverse. It was crazy.  I spent AT LEAST 40 hours packing for this trip and even still, I would do it again. So worth it.) If you think a KC area RV is right for you please ask me for the contact info of our guy. You’ll be very pleased!!

7. Cooking is a breeze. Due to our daughter’s gluten sensitivity, it was very important to us that our Texas plan allowed me to prepare all our food. Couple that with a large family on a limited budget and we knew we couldn’t afford to eat out more than a couple times, regardless of gluten intolerances. With the full kitchen at my disposal, it was just like being at home. I went grocery shopping outside of KC right after we picked Harvey up. It rained the entire time we were gone (our campground in Texas flooded the last day were there) so we weren’t able to grill at all, but it was fine. We ate out once, and it was Chipotle (obviously) in KC after we dropped Harvey the RV off on Day 8. Mission accomplished.

8. Naaaaaaaps. Because the three big kids were not required to be in car seats (and in fact the RV couch did not support car seats at all- they just tipped over when we tried) and the baby was the only one in a car seat during the trip, they were insanely comfortable lounging on the couch and beds– which translates to very little complaining and are we there yets. They would all fall asleep for like 3 hours at a time while we were on the road. That does not happen in our van anymore! The traveling time was so pleasant. So so pleasant.

9. The RV crowd is generally very friendly and helpful so you get to meet people from all over the country. We really like that. And of course we could keep to ourselves when we wanted. At times I felt anxious about being attacked in the RV parks but the doors lock and our neighbors would wake up very quickly if they heard someone trying to kill us, so I eventually got over that. We survived!

10. No, you do not need a special license to drive the Class C motorhome, such as Harvey the RV shown above. Just a valid driver’s license, insurance (our auto insurance covered the insurance for the RV rental), and confidence to maneuver the rig. Since I was missing the latter, I was the designated navigator and bathroom escort. 😋

All in all, a class C motorhome is the best way to travel cross country with small children in my opinion. Can’t wait to do it again!

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