This post is coming to you from somewhere in California while my husband drives our family from Yosemite National Park to our next RV Trip destination (Big Sur)! A trip out west in an RV with the kids has been on our bucket list for quite some time now, and we are finally carrying out our dream (yay!). But as many times as we’ve enjoyed tent camping together as a family, we’d never even stepped foot into an RV prior to this trip, and I was honestly not exactly sure what to expect!
What I was expecting and looking forward to was being able to hop from place to place without the pain of unpacking and repacking over and over again (that can get old pretty quickly if you want to visit more than one destination). And let me tell you what – that part is totally awesome. We decided to get an early start this morning, and from the time we all four woke up until we left the campground was 30 minutes flat – a Leake record for sure!
But what I didn’t expect that’s equally awesome is literally bringing your very own personal kitchen and bathroom wherever you go! As in, my husband took a quick shower in the Walmart parking lot earlier today while we ran in for a few things, and I made lunch in the Home Depot parking lot (using the stove) while he took his turn to grab a few items we needed. How weird (yet strangely convenient) is that?!?
Logistics and The RV Kitchen
While planning this trip we went back and forth on towing a car behind the RV or stopping to rent them along the way to use at the National Parks. But, since we went with an RV that is really no bigger than what our family needed (28-foot C-Class) we ended up deciding that driving it around to sightsee really isn’t so bad after all. And remember that means we are also driving around our own personal kitchen and bathroom, too! Which has meant I haven’t had to pack a single meal for a daily outing or really put much thought into what we’ll need to bring along (i.e. sunscreen, water, hiking boots, etc.) each time we head out. Now THAT sounds like a vacation. :)
Plus when it comes to people like us who are rather specific about the food they eat – what better way to do it than bringing along your very own portable kitchen? Albeit a tiny “1-person at a time” kitchen! But with a fridge, freezer, 3-burner stove, microwave, (small) oven, sink, drawers, cabinets, and a kitchen “kit” (that included pots, pans, plates, utensils, etc.) – what more could you need on the go? I will say though as tight as the living space is compared to what we are used to at home there is a surprising amount of storage in this thing. We brought along quite a lot of clothes and supplies (packed into 12 bags total, which doesn’t even include the 3 super handy folded up bags I got from My Eco Bags – I can hear the light packers out there gasping for air!), and I am shocked that I still have a couple fairly empty cabinets we haven’t even used for storage.
RV Living and Our Route
So for 4 weeks our RV rental, which we rented from our sponsor El Monte RV, is going to be our home. It took us a couple days to really get settled and unpacked and also to acquire enough food and supplies (i.e. toilet paper, ziplock bags, etc.) to get this party started, BUT with all of that behind us now I must say we could get used to this!! Now that all our things are put away and somewhat organized and I have a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter just like at home (albeit resting in the sink while we’re driving), it’s a surprisingly comfy home away from home. And this probably goes without saying – the kids LOOOVE traveling and sleeping in the RV. :)
I spent months planning our route for this trip that includes both places my husband and I have been before (we drove cross country when we briefly moved to Portland, OR in ’99) and also places we’ve always wanted to visit (specifically, Yosemite and Banff). The total trip is 5 weeks long including the first week, which was just in a rental car (and hotels and apartment rentals) and included both Portland and San Francisco. So, without further ado…here is our trip map!
The Food (so far)
We lucked out by finding a shopping center with a Whole Foods (and a Target) right after we first picked up the RV – so we stocked up! I must admit though after a long day of traveling and unpacking and getting organized I was not feeling very creative and just quickly made a list that included lots of our old stand-bys. So far we’ve had eggs (cooked in bacon grease), organic bacon, fruit, nuts, cheese, bread (we purchased a good 5-ingredient 100% whole grain bread), hummus sandwiches, BLTs, kale and mushroom pasta, and grill packets. I also bought (and froze) some sausage to grill and ground pork along with a pack of whole grain corn tortillas (for tacos). For snacks we have been taking serious advantage of our sponsors Lara Bar and also Organic Valley (in the form of cheese sticks). Sooo…so far so good! I honestly can’t imagine any better way to attempt to eat real food on the road than in an RV.
When I shared our RV picture on Facebook the other day there were so many questions about the cost – and rightfully so! Now, one might think RV living from campground to campground is the ultra “budget” way to travel, but I do believe that “you get what you pay for” – and you really are getting a lot in my opinion. Think about it – you are getting both a rental car and apartment-type accommodations (in the sense of more than one sleeping area and a kitchen) all in one. Our rate for the RV we chose from El Monte RV is $241/night + $0.27 / mile, plus you have to remember the campground fees (usually between $20 – $40/night) and GAS of course – this thing has a big tank!
So it’s definitely a trip to save up for, but I can’t tell you how many people (strangers and friends alike) have told me they went on an RV cross-country trip when they were little and it ended up being some of their best childhood memories. Please excuse me while I grab a tissue – it just warms my heart more than words can describe to be able to provide this kind of experience to my girls, and for my husband and I to be able to share it with them. So, I must say – so far this has truly been the trip of a lifetime for us! I can’t wait to experience the rest of this adventure. :)