We are back in Missouri just in time for a winter storm with all kinds of guarantees relative to ice, sleet and snow. A tactical error? Yes, if weather alone drives your RV interest, no if your motivations lean more to seeing and experiencing the country with little concern for time. Our very first extended trip, nearly two months, has further increased our knowledge base about the RV phenomenon. As my old Sergeant used to say, “bought’n learning is the best learning”. Here is my take.
First, the obvious. It will be expensive to travel about in or pulling a RV today. Fuel costs are through the overhead with food costs close behind. Be ready for routine 40 buck meals for two, if you are careful, and much higher if you seek a “dining experience”. Restaurant costs, on the road, are shocking, period. Weather permitting, the little Webber grills are your best friend when you settle in for a stay while on the road. Diesel costs average close to $4.00 with the better prices at stations you cannot get your RV in. Be ready to trade the inconvenience of shorter fueling intervals for the convenience of locations you can easily get in and out of.
We comprised a list of things that folks need to be aware of. In no particular order, these are the things that range from merely vexing to full on infuriating. Water spigots at ground level make hose attachment an adventure. WiFi is an absolute bait and switch proposition at most parks, not enough band width. Parking sites that are simply not level, some a lot, are aggravating. RVing is highly weather dependent. Cancellation fees have become obnoxious and site guarantees are expensive. You forfeit your pre-paid fees these days with some parks allowing a credit for a return trip, and all your hard work selecting a site within a park is for naught as most parks reserve the right to move you to another site at their discretion unless you pay a “lock in” fee on top of the site rental. Be ready, site fees clearly mirror the inflationary cycle we are in. It is wise to avoid older parks that allow “full timers”, as many of these units become cluttered and unkempt. Larger parks will fill your propane tanks for you with a healthy up charge for the convenience, but be careful here, as many of the employees handling this duty are not trained and will overfill your tank. While we do not desire a Nazi experience (we have stayed in such parks and it is not fun) many parks do not enforce their own rules. Dogs run loose, elaborate dog pens are constructed at various sites, dogs are left out to raise hell and a picnic table is a luxury item requiring extra fees. You will soon learn to despise folks who cannot bend at the waist and pick up after their dogs. Laundry facilities range from very nice credit card machines to a couple of nasty and expensive older machines that are in short supply. Off site laundry facilities can be hard to find and the clean, modern ones are very rare.
Roads. Soon we will be traveling on wagon trails. The road systems in and around most metropolitan areas are horrendous, especially when pulling a big trailer. If your preferences run much above 60-65 MPH when towing, after a season or two you will need duct-tape by the case. Try to avoid metro areas where the population is much above 20,000 as their roads will be highly suspect. We keep a very specific road diary and will likely never again travel some of the roads we have seen. No state has the market cornered on overall road quality and every state has some great roads…….big cities are the most devastating. It is amazing that folks will oppose a fuel tax for road maintenance yet gladly pay the costs associating with the destruction of their vehicles on roads with holes in them you can fish out of.
The RV industry has been on a boom cycle for the past two years and there are more of them out there than ever before. Make your reservations early and put your deposits at risk if you cancel. There are a number of really great parks out there, but many are accepting reservations for 2023! Missouri’s best parks are pretty well blacked out on all weekends this year and many are already fully booked, period. It will not take many experiences stopping in a substandard locations to make you wish you had planned ahead. Size matters when fueling and in parks when setting up. God bless the folks who left plenty of maneuvering room in their parks for longer rigs and fuel stops with expansive space to get to a pump. (A shout out to Buc-ee’s, the ultimate RV stops while on the road….soon coming to Springfield.) My totally unscientific analysis of the length issue can be summed up by suggesting that for every foot of RV length you add over 30’, you trade a year of your life as a result of maneuvering the unit! Our trailer is 38’ long……..you do the math.
Would we do it again? Absolutely. You meet neat people, see incredible things and sharpen your ability to focus when on the road. It is heaven for Tazzy who has become very comfortable in his “Dog House”. The idea of having your mobile condo with you can be enchanting…..but only if you are trained and experienced. My final thought is simple. Do not take this pastime for granted…..learn from those who have been there, and be extra careful. It can be a mine field to the uninitiated.
Have a great week!