Topic Wiki

Trip Reports featuring an RV/motorhome/camper
PBaruch - Iceland
PBaruch - Utah and Arizona
PBaruch - Washington State
PBaruch - Alaska
PBaruch - Death Valley NP
PBaruch - Denver to Seattle
Something Fishy - Alaska
Something Fishy - Iceland
AJK - New Zealand
LookBeforeYouLive - RVing across the country

Shabbos in an RV
There are many potential issues.

- For starters you'll have to be hooked up to power - the batteries won't last all Shabbos and you can't/wouldn't want to run the generator instead. You'll probably also need 220v for the AC, so make sure the campground could supply that (many do).

- The water hookup often leaks, which could be an issue of watering on shabbos; AYLOR.

- You can't put the cabin lights on a timer, so that may be an issue since some beds are in the main living area.

- Going in and out of the RV could be an issue of maaras ayin (even if no Jews are around), so you may have to cover up your wheels to indicate that you're staying put (obviously AYLOR).

-Make sure to empty the black water tank and treat the toilet before Shabbos; that's not something you want to get stuck with.

- Carrying anything outside is obviously an issue to discuss.

- The fridge runs on propane, so the compressor going on may be more serious than a regular fridge (is it considered a fire???).

- As far as I remember all living-area lights are manual (unlike the cab or a regular car). Opening the door doesn't turn on anything. This may obviously vary by model (I had a stock Winnebago).

Winter concerns
You need to choose if you want the amenities or if you want to risk it.

I did a lot of research before my last trip and decided to risk it, BH it worked out great.

- It could take many hours for the tanks to freeze up, and we were expecting above-freezing temps every day. Theoretically it wouldn't have frozen up just overnight. I also emptied a couple gallons of RV antifreeze into the gray and black tanks on the coldest nights. Keeping the tanks half full instead of draining them all the way also helps (more water = slower freezing).
- The bigger issue are the connections, which can freeze up in minutes. So we didn't connect to shore water and sewer on cold nights.
- You can also open the cabinets and drawers near the plumbing so the furnace can heat them a bit better.
- Another tip is to keep a constant drip going, keeps it from freezing a bit longer.

That being said, this all could work if you're expecting to be above freezing most of the time. The desert is cold at night, so moving a few miles away from the park won't do you a whole lot of good.

And remember that this is all at your own risk, freezing damages could get really expensive really fast.

Minor mentions
General RV rentals and discussions
General RV rentals and discussions, thread 2
Tri-state area RV rentals
RV in Banff?
@yehuda's Iceland campervan discussions - begins here and continues on and off for a while
Campers and CC insurance


Pros and cons, from one of @PBaruch's trip reports
Motorhome Pros

1. You have your home wherever you go - easy to cook, shower, and use the restroom;
2. Most of the time you will not need to rent a car - the motorhome is your home and car;
3. If your kid needs to use the bathroom, just find a place to pull over - no hunting for restrooms and no accidents waiting to happen;
4. When you get to a location that has kosher food, you can stock up and keep it in the fridge and freezer;
5. If anyone gets hungry, easy enough to pull over and make some food;
6. No need to hunt for decent hotels each night and no need to unpack for each night and repack the following morning;
7. You have the ability to stay very close to your intended destination for each day instead of sometimes driving for an hour or two from the nearest
    gateway city where your hotel is located;
8. Some campgrounds are lots of fun to stay at - and most have a BBQ pit and picnic table at your campsite.

Motorhome Cons

1. You have your home with you wherever you go - depending on the vehicle length, you cannot take it everywhere and you might have to rent a car, as
    we did, when we visited Sequoia National Park;
2. Can be difficult to drive in urban locations;
3. Have to find campgrounds to stay at each night for an added cost or find a free location (usually without hookups);
4. Have to deal with emptying your waste tanks;
5. They are gas guzzlers - even with relatively cheap gas, it is an added expense;
6. Travel times are longer in a motorhome - you will not be able to drive as fast to your intended destination as you would with a car.

Additional Q&A by @PBaruch
Even though we've been to most of the places in this TR, we've always wanted to try an RV but have found the logistics daunting (it also helps that we have tons of hotel points so almost never pay for lodging), so I'd love some pointers about how to feel secure enough to go ahead with it. Specifically:

Are there any websites or generally good strategies to use to find good deals on RVs, whether 1-way or just cheap rates?
Are there specific RV rental companies that are more reliable, and any to avoid?
Are there any that include unlimited miles as is standard with car rentals?
In hindsight, were there any red flags you missed or questions you wish you had asked to avoid getting an RV Poopypants? :)
Any tips about how to find good places to stay each night?
Did you have prior RV experience, and any advice about how to handle unique RV issues like emptying tanks, leveling, etc., to ensure a successful first experience?
1. I would check with each RV rental company to see if they have any specials.  Here is a partial list:

El Monte 1-way specials
https://www.elmonterv.com/rv-rental/cool-deal-detail/ONE-WAY-SPECIAL/

Great Alaskan Holidays
https://www.greatalaskanholidays.com/alaska-rv-rentals/specials/

Cruise America
https://www.cruiseamerica.com/

Apollo RV
https://www.apollorv.com/reloc.aspx

Road Bear RV
http://www.roadbearrv.com/en/rental-deals
http://www.roadbearrv.com/en/rental-deals/one-way-specials

https://www.imoova.com/

https://www.transfercarus.com/

2.  We have rented from El Monte, Apollo and Great Alaskan, as best as I can recall.  I do not know if there are any to avoid.  We have always had some issues with the rentals but I wouldn't characterize the issues we had as a reason to avoid that company in the future.  @Something Fishy once mentioned reading negative things about Apollo but we did not have any issues when renting from them and, at the time, they were one of the cheapest.

3. I think there are some that do include unlimited miles for an added fee, but you would have to check with each rental company.  Generally, it is not an option.

4. No red flags that I can specifically point out.  All I can say is that I have learned to check all of the major systems of the RV before you take off.  Make sure the AC, generator and refrigerator work.  Check to see that the outlets work.  Make sure the shower and sink work.  Turn on the stove and ovens.  It pays to spend a few extra minutes before you leave to make sure everything works rather than realizing later on and having to call the RV company and try to diagnose the problem.  With this particular 1 way rental, the RV was definitely beat up a lot more than any other rental we had in the past - but then again it was $75 a night.  Other 1-way rentals can be brand spanking new RVs that need to be relocated from the factory to the rental company - so you can really luck out there.

5. We like KOA campgrounds as they are a chain and are fairly consistent throughout.  We have also found other non chain campgrounds that we liked very much.  I'd suggest doing some research about the locations you want to visit.  National parks have some really nice campgrounds but those are often without any hookups.  You can also camp on BLM land for free but again, no hookups.  Info can be found here:  https://www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/camping.  Another option is to camp at farms, vineyards and breweries by purchasing a membership here:  https://harvesthosts.com/.  The cost is $79 or $119 per year.  Finally, if you are on the road and want a free place to stay for the night, most Walmarts allow you to stay overnight in the parking lot.  This list is by no means exhaustive. 

6.  We started renting RVs without any prior experience - just jumped right in.  The rental company will show you a video before you take off, which will contain a number of useful tips.  There are also many videos on YouTube that you can watch, to learn the basics.  Emptying tanks is not hard at all.  It's not a pleasant job but I don't understand why people make such a big fuss about it.  Likewise, leveling isn't a big deal.  Most RVs you rent do not have auto leveling.  The rental company provides you with one of those bubble levels.  Once you know which side needs to be adjusted, you drive the RV onto one of those small ramps that you are provided with.  I am sure it will be a little daunting your first time out, but once you get the hang of it everything will be fine and you will have a great time.

I hope I answered all of your questions.  If I missed anything, please let me know.

« Last edited by whYME on March 15, 2021, 11:30:31 PM »

Author Topic: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread  (Read 29950 times)

Offline Galitzyaner

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #40 on: August 12, 2016, 02:57:50 PM »
1. If your motorhome has slides, it is possible that you can put up a pack n play with a slide open.  Otherwise, I am not sure if there is enough room. 
Highly highly doubt a standard size has slides.
Thanks!

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #41 on: August 14, 2016, 12:27:33 PM »
Highly highly doubt a standard size has slides.
Thanks!

Why do you say that?  Of course 25' RVs can have slides.  Call up the rental company and ask.

As far as I can tell the word "standard size" is not a standard term.  I.e., it seems to be used only by Cruise America to refer to a non-slide 25' RV.  Either way, call the rental company and ask if your PnP will fit.
44/50, 46/63

Offline whYME

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #42 on: August 14, 2016, 05:38:08 PM »
IINM Cruise America doesn't have any slides.

Offline Galitzyaner

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #43 on: August 14, 2016, 05:42:42 PM »
Why do you say that?  Of course 25' RVs can have slides.  Call up the rental company and ask.

As far as I can tell the word "standard size" is not a standard term.  I.e., it seems to be used only by Cruise America to refer to a non-slide 25' RV.  Either way, call the rental company and ask if your PnP will fit.


IINM Cruise America doesn't have any slides.
That answers my question!

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #44 on: August 15, 2016, 11:23:11 PM »
Bringing baby along on road trip and trying to decide if to take a mini travel stroller (MB nano), or a hefty one with jumbo wheels (BJ City Select).

On the one hand the hefty stroller would be great for hikes etc, plus if the baby doesn't like the beds (or we don't find a safe method of keeping her on one) baby can always sleep in the lie- flat stroller, and there's definitely room in an RV for that. On the other hand, the mini stroller can fold up and come with us on the plane in the overhead bins (thus minimizing any damage), and more importantly I'm switching half way through the road trip from an RV to a car, and the hefty stroller takes up a ton of room so if I'm stuck with a compact car I may be in trouble fitting everything in.

Any thoughts?  What would you recommend I bring?

As this is very time sensitive I'd appreciate any feedback asap!

TIA!

Offline whYME

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #45 on: August 15, 2016, 11:58:15 PM »
Bringing baby along on road trip and trying to decide if to take a mini travel stroller (MB nano), or a hefty one with jumbo wheels (BJ City Select).

On the one hand the hefty stroller would be great for hikes etc, plus if the baby doesn't like the beds (or we don't find a safe method of keeping her on one) baby can always sleep in the lie- flat stroller, and there's definitely room in an RV for that. On the other hand, the mini stroller can fold up and come with us on the plane in the overhead bins (thus minimizing any damage), and more importantly I'm switching half way through the road trip from an RV to a car, and the hefty stroller takes up a ton of room so if I'm stuck with a compact car I may be in trouble fitting everything in.

Any thoughts?  What would you recommend I bring?

As this is very time sensitive I'd appreciate any feedback asap!

TIA!
If it was me I'd most likely take the bigger stroller.
But OTOH I also wouldn't risk getting stuck with a compact car...

Offline David61

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #46 on: August 17, 2016, 02:23:00 AM »
Can't seem to find RV with seat-belts for 8. (other than the huge-city-bus, sized RVs).
Any tips?

Offline whYME

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #47 on: August 17, 2016, 02:48:11 AM »
Can't seem to find RV with seat-belts for 8. (other than the huge-city-bus, sized RVs).
Any tips?
That doesn't sound right.

I assume if you're trying to fit 8 people you're talking about a bigger one (e.g. 30' cabover.)
Something like that should typically have a couch with 3 seat belts and 4 seat belts at the table. together with the 2 up front you have 9.

ETA: So maybe I shouldn't say "typically," but that is a common configuration. You shouldn't have too much trouble finding one like that.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2016, 04:03:46 AM by whYME »

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #48 on: August 17, 2016, 07:20:00 AM »
Can't seem to find RV with seat-belts for 8. (other than the huge-city-bus, sized RVs).
Any tips?
seems like cruise America large rv's have 9 belts . 4 by the dinette , 3 on the sofa, and 2 upfront.

Offline PBaruch

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #49 on: August 17, 2016, 08:02:19 AM »
Can't seem to find RV with seat-belts for 8. (other than the huge-city-bus, sized RVs).
Any tips?

The RV we recently rented had seating for 8.
What do you do after your dreams come true?

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #50 on: September 15, 2016, 02:09:22 PM »
Monsey-area RV show, Feb. 17-20 2017

http://showoffice.com/northeast-rv-show-exposition.htm
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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #51 on: February 12, 2017, 08:54:05 AM »
44/50, 46/63

Offline nirc

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #52 on: June 10, 2018, 10:36:48 PM »
Have an opportunity to drive an rv from Midwest to California on Wednesday with family for free.

Is 2 days enough prep time?

Which route is suggested? I am totally overwhelmed with all the different possibilities.

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #53 on: June 11, 2018, 11:23:04 AM »
Have an opportunity to drive an rv from Midwest to California on Wednesday with family for free.

Is 2 days enough prep time?

Which route is suggested? I am totally overwhelmed with all the different possibilities.
Definitely doable.  Look at a map and figure out what interests you the most, plan around that.  Problem might be some campgrounds are fully booked, but there's usually more than one campground in any given place, and if you absolutely can't find something, most Walmarts allow you to spend the night in their parking lot.

In my mind, the most important thing for you to do first is get enough meat for the trip.  Most everything else you can get in Walmarts along the way.  It is my understanding that Trader Joes, particularly in the western states, have kosher meat (and chicken) with a good hechsher, so even if you run out, you may be able to get more.

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #54 on: June 11, 2018, 12:08:33 PM »
Definitely doable.  Look at a map and figure out what interests you the most, plan around that.  Problem might be some campgrounds are fully booked, but there's usually more than one campground in any given place, and if you absolutely can't find something, most Walmarts allow you to spend the night in their parking lot.

In my mind, the most important thing for you to do first is get enough meat for the trip.  Most everything else you can get in Walmarts along the way.  It is my understanding that Trader Joes, particularly in the western states, have kosher meat (and chicken) with a good hechsher, so even if you run out, you may be able to get more.

Looking at a map, there appears to be three main ways to go from Chicago to San Francisco, with not much driving time difference:

1) go little north thru Minn, north/south Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho
2) go straight west thru Iowa, Nebraska, Utah, Nevada
3) go little South thru Missouri, Oklahoma, new Mexico, Arizona

Couldn't even make it out of IL before couldn't figure out which direction. As u say, campgrounds are aplenty whichever route u drive. However, I am clueless what there is to do/ see in these States.

Thoughts?


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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #55 on: June 11, 2018, 12:24:34 PM »
How much time do you have for the actual trip?

Offline nirc

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #56 on: June 11, 2018, 12:37:27 PM »
How much time do you have for the actual trip?

Figured to leave Chicago thurs early morning 6/14 and land in San Fran fri 6/22, giving me 7 full days of driving. Then fly back on 6/25.

Of course to complicate things will have to find place to stay over two shabbosim, one with rv and one without.

Thinking about doing Route 66 just to make my life easier as not have much time to prep for this trip.

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #57 on: June 11, 2018, 01:39:50 PM »
First of all,
...The one time I did it all in one week I left NY Motzei Shabbos and didn't stop until late Sun night in SD, then spent the rest of the week getting to CA. My cheshbon was that anything between NY and ORD that I cared for I'd already seen. From ORD until western SD is empty farmland that I didn't want to waste time on.

IIRC it's something like 48 hours driving time from NYC to LAX if you drive direct. If you leave motzei shabbos and arrive Fri, that means on average 8 hours of driving per night/day. that doesn't leave much time for sightseeing.

3. IMO you want to get through the eastern half of the country as quickly as possible and spend your time out west.
(I'm working with the assumption that the primary goal/attraction is National Parks etc and smaller off-the-beaten-track type attractions. If you're looking for fancy hotels in big cities I can't really help you.)

The exception to this is if you take a southern route and go through AL, MS, TX etc but you might not have enough time for that.

4. I think what you need to do is figure out the main things you want to see and work around that. Of course if there's a specific city you want to end up in that'll effect it as well.
For example if you want to go to Mt Rushmore and Yellowstone you'll probably want to end in SFO or PDX or SEA. If you want to go Bryce Canyon and Zion you probably want to end in LAX. If you need to end in SAN you won't be going to Glacier National Park.
(of course this is all assuming a ~week time frame)


As for your suggested routes
1) go little north thru Minn, north/south Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho
If you went this way the main highlight is Yellowstone. If I was going this way I'd skip ND and go straight to Mt Rushmore/Black hills area then from there t Yellowstone/Grand Teton. Anything else you want to do pretty much depends on how much time you want to spend around Yellowstone.

2) go straight west thru Iowa, Nebraska, Utah, Nevada
You missed CO.
I'd do something like Rocky Mountains National Park > Moab, UT (Arches, Canyonlands) > [Possibly detour down to Bryce/Zion depending on time/cost ] > SFO

3) go little South thru Missouri, Oklahoma, new Mexico, Arizona
Hmmm, I'm not sure exactly what I would do if I wanted to go this way. Maybe Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands in NM, I'd personally try to swing through Roswell as well but that might not be your thing. I'd probably like to go to Monument Valley but it's probably too far out of the way. Petrified Forest might work. Sedona is awesome but if you can't do rt 89a in an RV might not be worth it. And of course there's the (overrated ) Grand Canyon...


Don't forget, gas is gonna be a huge expense and the more you go out of the way the miles will add up quickly. Even if you take the most direct route you'll be using all your free miles +.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 01:44:45 PM by whYME »

Offline Zevi16

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #58 on: July 29, 2018, 06:56:17 PM »
Iím thinking of taking an RV for a week with wife and 2kids (2 year old and 9month) from NJ. Does anyone have ideas where to go? Also would need a place to be for Shabbos. (I would leave on a Thursday noon)
The week would be a round trip.

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #59 on: July 31, 2018, 02:04:48 AM »
Iím thinking of taking an RV for a week with wife and 2kids (2 year old and 9month) from NJ. Does anyone have ideas where to go? Also would need a place to be for Shabbos. (I would leave on a Thursday noon)
The week would be a round trip.
Much better idea would be to fly west (e.g. LA, Vegas, Phoenix, Denver), rent an RV there, and go see the National Parks ;) :D .
Infinitely better than renting from NJ.