Jonathan Sloan, Interim Chair of Visit USA (UK), shares his top tips for RV first timers
A long story short - about four years ago, we somehow found ourselves sitting on the outskirts of Salt Lake City, Utah having just taken the wheel of a 30ft long Cruise America (www.cruiseamerica.com/) RV. To add to the challenge, my wife and I had also brought along our three boys aged seven, three and our youngest had just turned one.
You might think we were mad to fly for 10 hours from the UK to Salt Lake City to then spend seven nights on the road with three small kids, but it ended up being a trip and experience that is right up there with the best family holidays of all time.
We had booked into a hotel in Salt Lake City for the first night which is advisable as opposed to getting behind the wheel of a RV straight after a long haul flight. Jet lag woke us up early the next morning and we were down at the Cruise America depot early morning. The team at Cruise America were amazing and efficient and gave us the full tour and background to our imminent RV adventure. Within the hour, we were pulling out of the depot to begin our first RV trip. A quick stop at Walmart to stock on supplies and we were on the open road to our first campsite.
Being novice RV’ers we didn’t really have a plan, except that we knew we wanted to get to Las Vegas and back in our seven day trip, as while most think Vegas is a playground for adults we wanted to boys to see the city and experience the many things that there are for kids to do.
Our route on the way to Las Vegas took us to two campsites that we had pre-booked close to National Parks and allowed us to get used to the camping experience with a RV. It does take a bit of practice getting used to rigging up your electricity and waste pipes once you have checked into the site, but our boys loved getting involved with this bit before we had dinner and toasted marshmallows on the open fire - a ritual for any camping trip.
Driving into Las Vegas with a cheeky RV was a little daunting and I have to admit we did cheat for the night we had in Las Vegas and checked into a hotel as nothing beats a long hot shower and a king size bed. We had tactically booked The Tropicana at the end of The Strip as it has a large car park, as opposed to the multi-storey car parks that many of The Strip hotels have.
Our trip back to Salt Lake City spanned three nights and took in some incredible sites and stops, the highlight certainly being our stay by the Zion National Park. A stunning part of the US and the only downside of traveling with such small children, was we weren’t able to do any of the hikes, trails or more strenuous activities around the National Park. A final night in Salt Lake City, including the obligatory Outlet Shopping Centre visit and an overnight flight and we were back in London - driving our seven seater back from London Heathrow was a breeze!
A few top tips for first time RV’ers:
Don’t be put off by the size of the RV’s - they are easy to drive and the US is so geared up for the RV traveller from wide roads, dedicated parking spaces (even in the National Parks) and there are plenty of others on the roads.
Book your RV sites in advance, particularly those in the main national parks as they get booked up weeks or months in advance during peak periods.
The bigger the camp site isn’t necessarily better – we thought staying at bigger sites would be better for the kids, with more to do on site during the day or evening but we found the smaller, middle of nowhere sites were as much fun, much quieter and normally with stunning views and scenery.
Don’t overload your schedule – take your time on the open road and leave some time to be spontaneous, go off route or stay longer somewhere if you are having a good time.