RVing “On The Road Again”

April 27, 2016

in Travel Essays

  • SumoMe

Now, a month into Spring, maybe, just maybe your mind is beginning to focus on where to go on a summer vacation and how to get there.

Flying? Oh, that’s so expensive, and the airlines squish you into a narrow seat with little legroom, and then there’s the TSA torture gauntlet to get through!

(Christopher Doyle Flicker Photo)

(Christopher Doyle Flicker Photo)

So why not drive?

And if you’ve come to believe that’s the way to get from “Point A” to “Point B,” perhaps it’s because these lyrics from a well-known Willie Nelson song have been playing endlessly inside of your head:

“On the road again
“Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
“We’re the best of friends
“Insisting that the world be runnin’ our way”

But what kind of vehicle should you drive down that nomadic route to vacation Nirvana?

What about an RV?

Some years back, when the price of gasoline had hit a peak as high as Mount Everest, my wive and I did a mid-summer loop trip from our home in the San Francisco Bay Area up to Ashland, Oregon, home of the famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival, then over to Ferndale, on the California coast, before heading back home.

(Clyde Adams III Flickr Photo)

(Clyde Adams III Flickr Photo)

We saw few RVs, big pickups with “Fifth Wheels” following along behind, or even passenger cars towing small trailers or boats. A bartender at our Ferndale hotel said those road warriors just weren’t hitting the road that year.

Was it just the sky-high cost of refueling their homes-away-from-home-on wheels that was keeping those rolling residences off the highways, or had life on “the open road” simply lost its allure for those who once found it irresistible?

Well as they say, “That was then, and this is now,” and today, as this report from NPR says, RV sales are strong and so is the siren song that beckons Americans to hit the road in tin boxes on wheels, small and large.

If you’ve been so busy shoveling snow this winter that you haven’t gotten around to planning that long-desired journey to one of the national’s national parks, especially those whose names begin with the letter “Y” (Yellowstone, Yosemite), you may have also overlooked the fact that visits to those American natural treasures is likely to be even higher this year during the centennial celebration of the establishment of the National Park Service.

Since finding a lodge room, or even a campsite, in one of those parks could be problematic, why not head west young (or old) person in an RV? After all, if there’s no room at the inn or campground, surely you’ll find someplace to park your rig and commune with nature, or at least, with your fellow RVers.

(Linus Henning Flickr Photo)

(Linus Henning Flickr Photo)

If raiding the piggy bank to buy an RV might seem a bit rash, especially if you’ve never spent a single minute behind the wheel, let alone days or weeks seeing the world in an RV, you might consider renting one just for your trip.

Every summer, I see fleets of RVs which tourists have rented from outfits like Cruise America tooling down the highways and byways of California or other Western states.

Buying an RV could easily cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

But renting isn’t that cheap, either. A quick calculation I did showed that renting a fairly small RV from a San Francisco location this coming July and returning it to the same place would cost me at least $2,500 for one week, or about $350/night, and probably more, once RV park or campground fees were added.

I could stay in a pretty nice hotel for that amount of dough, and save even some money if I was willing to bunk in more modest digs.

(Andrew Moore Flickr Photo)

(Andrew Moore Flickr Photo)

So maybe RVing isn’t that way to go on your vacation. Maybe a beach resort holds more appeal for you than being “on the road again” like a gypsy, even if it means being crammed like a sardine into a not-so-spacious airliner seat for a few hours.

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