As I was writing this post, it dawned on me that it was getting unbelievably long… *grin* So I have decided to split this subject in two parts. Consequently, this is part 1 of the suggested post.
We are an homeschooling family of 6 who loves to discover new places and experience new things. We live in the national capital of Canada. The family is composed of mom, dad and four kids ages 9 1/2, 6 3/4, 5 and 3.
Our camping adventures started before we had kids… We had a tent back then. But the tent adventure didn’t last long for a variety of reasons. When we started having kids, we purchase a second-hand pop-up trailer which we used quite often. Then 4 years ago, we decided to purchase (or should I say invest) in a travel trailer which has been our house on the road since three years (before that we didn’t have the vehicle to pull it!).
We have learned a lot in the past three years about travelling with children and how to have fun as a family. We have done it with babies in tow (including playpen and exersaucer packed) so we know a bit about camping/rving with little ones.
HOW TO CHOOSE AN RV
When you start looking at RVs you can easily feel overwhelmed by all the many choices out there. I am not an expert whatsoever in how to pick an RV. However, I have some interesting links that you might want to check out before continuing reading what we think is essential while making a decision to purchase one.
Now that you have taken the time to read what more experienced RVers have written on the subject of buying an RV, let me highlight what we have found important while going through the process ourselves over four years ago.
1) Before starting to look at RVs, I would like to suggest that you consider your current vehicle and determine if it can pull an RV or not. If this is the case, bring the information with you while shopping. If not, you will have to investigate which vehicle to can purchase to pull an RV. Even if you buy an RV and get it delivered to a camp site while waiting for a good time to change your vehicle, make sure that the vehicle you are considering will pull the RV you have purchased. Keep in mind that different model of a vehicle exist. For example, our Suburban is not the top of the line model but it is able to pull our RV. Always verify the tow package as well as keep in mind your travel and your luggage's weight.
2) Second, get educated. There are many websites on RVing as well as places where you can get books on the subject. We discovered a RV Bookstore on the internet while searching lists to update for all the various things that needs to be done on an RV. Visit http://rvbookstore.com/index.aspx for more details. Also, talk to your friends and/or family who owns an RV. Don’t know anyone, go camping and talk to family who owns one. People at the campground are usually very friendly and won’t mind chatting with you.
3) Third, make sure that the RV you are planning to pull is not too heavy. Ours is a feather light type of RV which allows us to be able to pull it without problem with our Suburban.
4) Consider the floor plan. For us our intimacy was important and we picked a floor plan which will protect this. On one end of the RV, you will find 2 bunk beds and at the other end of the RV you will find our bedroom. Both “rooms” have an accordion door that permits more quiet time for everyone.
5) Pull-outs are a must. It will transform your living area into a more comfortable place. We would definitively not buy an RV without it. Our RV has only one pull-out while give our kitchen/living area a bigger space. This area is located between the two bedrooms.
6) The important thing to keep in mind when you shop for an RV is to consider your family. Will you have more kids in the future? Where would you like to go? How often do you plant to go on the road? But most of all remember that you are investing for family time and good memories to build together.
7) On the negative side for us, we find our bathroom a big small. Consider the space allocated for the bathroom when shopping for an RV. We also find that there isn’t enough storage areas. But we have been creative in trying to organize our RV to the best option possible.
8) Check out the types of clubs available for RVing. We personally like Good Sam Club which also gives us rebates at some campsites. Check http://www.goodsamclub.com/ for more details.
One the major advantage of RVing is that it will be cheaper to travel with a family. Consider our experience two summers ago while discovering Niagara Falls. One month in the area (and contrary to the popular belief, there is a tons of things to discover and do in Niagara Falls on both side of the border!), cost us 500$ Canadian for the stay only! If you calculate an hotel room at 93$ per nights for a week, you can see the difference… Do the math you will see how advantageous it is to take a site for an extended period of time. We have determined that staying for at least a week you would save about 2 days than paying a daily amount. On the other hand, if you decide to stay for a whole month, you will save a week worth.
Finally, to discover camping spots to stay at, I would like to suggest to you to invest in a Woodall’s Campground Directories. Their books are packed with detailed information for campground. We usually purchase the Eastern America edition which also contains eastern Canada. Also include in these books are the best RV trips to take on one tank of gas. Check out the different directories they have at their store.
In Part 2 I will tell you more about RVing Young Children.