Renting an RV – Insights from a Novice Camper

Hubby turned 60 this year. So, for his birthday I thought it would be super fun to rent a recreational vehicle aka – RV- and hit the freeways to explore the “trailer camp life”. After much research we opted for a national RV rental company that had many options. We decided on a 25 foot Class C.

The Class C means you drive your “house” around wherever you go. There is a full queen size bed, bathroom, dinette and galley type kitchen with a stove top and microwave. Plenty of storage below the main living unit and air conditioning.

Finally, the day arrived. I was envisioning myself being nominated as “Wife of the Year” for organizing this experience – 72 hours of “camping” RV style. Not to mention that until this day- I had never gone camping. Nope. I had resisted this kind of vacation for a very long time. Basically, I hate bugs. But, I was willing to be brave and “rough it”.

Hubby and I ventured out to get the RV only to discover that the rental company’s definition of being cleaned and made Covid safe and ours were VERY different. Also, we discovered minutes into the drive for our three days of vacation that something was amiss when the engine light illuminated followed by the driver’s side mirror nearly falling off. After an hour wasted for repairs, we were “back in the RV mode” – at least until the next set of “woes” happened.

While driving there were unexplained rattles and clangs that meant we couldn’t carry on a conversation without shouting. By the time we arrive at Santee Lakes Recreation Park (near San Diego) – we both were up to our eyeballs with aggravation and headaches.

But, we remained optimistic. That is until the toilet overflowed. (See below about my recommendation for Clorox and plenty of towels.) When we went to open a window to “air out” the unit – part of a window fell off in Hubby’s hand.

I don’t want you to think that our vacation with this RV was a completely awful experience. To the contrary – as we were able to stay near a beautiful lake, see the stars, Venus, and Mars at night, and listen to ducks and birds chirp most of the day. We met some charming campers, spent time poolside, and had clean showers and toilets. (Trust me- I am simply not tall enough to have used the RV toilet comfortably and was too scared to turn on the shower after the toilet fiasco.)

Since, we were in San Diego county we took advantage of going to Trevi Hills Winery (beautiful location), stopped at a brewery located in Little Italy, and walk historic Old Towne. All very charming and places I had never visited before. Highly recommend San Diego visitors to spend at least one day exploring the downtown area.

Sometimes surprises happen while on vacation. In fact, if you were to survey hubby, our friends who joined us, and me – I bet we would unanimously say that Jons Kebab House in Lakeside, California was the VERY best place we stopped along our travels. While I cannot pronounce what we ate, I can say that it was simply DELICIOUS!

Now this eatery is the epitome of NO FRILLS. You either get take-out or sit on picnic benches in a covered patio to eat. We did the latter. The owner came out several times to see how we liked the food. He even offered to recook anything we didn’t find suitable or bring us a new dish! Our wonderful host treated us to lentil soup, cups of tea, and for Hubby a surprise rice pudding to celebrate his birthday!

If you are in the San Diego area – go off the beaten path and eat at JONS KEBAB HOUSE!!

Tips from my 72 hour RV education

There are a few lessons I learned in a very short amount of time during our RV adventure. Especially the must haves to bring along. Here they are in random order:

  1. Pack only food that you know you will eat. We brought bags full. We took bags home.
  2. Pack plastic or recyclable everything. No real dishes. No real silverware. Tupperware and plastic baggies, however came in very handy.
  3. Bring clothes for cold and hot weather.
  4. Clorox (Liquid and wipes) plus lots of towels.
  5. Sunscreen, bug spray, and lots of bottled water are MUSTS.
  6. RV with people who are compatible with your vacation style. Or at least your compliment. We were lucky to travel with good friends who are experienced campers. They also were very patient teaching this rookie about RV life.
  7. Do a cost analysis. The rental of this RV for three nights was not cheap. Plus, we negotiated monies back for all the mishaps we had. Consider it an experience or lifestyle. But, don’t fool yourself – RV life is not about saving money. (Example: Our RV gas tank held 50 gallons. Gasoline cost $4 a gallon. Do the math!)
  8. Get the RV “oops you dinged our very large and expensive vehicle” insurance plan. Just in case –
  9. Of all things you pack – make sure to bring your sense of humor.

Now the million dollar question…

Would I vacation by RV again? Yes, I would – but very differently. I would not rent from the same place, nor the same kind of vehicle. I would consider renting or finding a used MEERKAT TRAILER to tow on the back of my car. It is lightweight and compact . Once you arrive at your destination you have your car to explore the area without bringing along your bedroom. You also are forced to only pack essentials as it is a mere 13 feet from end to end (including the hitch).

As I end this article I invite you to share your insights and wisdom about RV life. Respectful comments always welcome below.

Happy. Summer!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.