Updated: Apr 23, 2019
Our adventures from the front seat of a 34 ft RV and some of my tips and tricks if you are thinking of making an RV trip.
This picture is one of my favorites - because it means the adventure has begun!
A little story to tell you where the RV adventures all began. So in 2011 Mike's parents wanted to go out to Seattle, Washington for an AIM Convention (AIM is a healthy living - natural product company and every year they host a convention for all the members.) So they were running out of options to make it out there on time and taking the whole family - which at that time included Mike and I, His parents and youngest sister, his oldest sister and husband and their two daughters, and his brother and his wife. So all together we had 8 adults and 3 kids. His parents had always thought they would love to have an RV for family vacations, they are Amish so then Mike and I would need to drive. They decided now is the time. So this all happened super fast. We went and picked up the RV a day before we planned to leave. Packed it up and got everything ready for a trip to Seattle.
Honestly I'll tell you this by far is my favorite way of driving for road trips! You can sleep, (well if you're not driving), you don't have to stop to eat or take bathroom breaks. You can just switch drivers and then your set. So like Mike would drive for a while - well to be honest all the roads that weren't straight for sure, haha, because first time driving this huge thing was a bit sketchy for me. But I got the hang of it pretty quick, so we would switch whenever the driver needed a break. We absolutely had a blast.
There is so much room, everyone could basically pack whatever they wanted and bring it along. We stocked all the pantry with snacks and planned meals for the fridge. The best part is, we stopped at campgrounds in the late afternoon for the evening. There we had electric hookups and water and sewer. There were basically always showers at the campground. Unless we stayed in a national park campground, then you were pretty limited to those things, but we planned along the way.
Before I get into the trip some more - here are some RV tips I have learned along the way:
1. Packing - Don't over pack - a lot of the campgrounds have laundry available for like next to no money to use them.
2. Bikes - Bring your own bikes if you always want one - some campgrounds and parks have rentals but if you don't get to them early you may be limited. And if you are traveling with a group you could be left with someone not having one.
3. KOA Campgrounds - they are seriously the majority that we stayed at. We loved all of them, you can actually get a catalog of where they are all located by state. What all each campground offers. AND (I like saving money so give me all the deals) they have a rewards card that you can get - so for every night you stay you get points and then they add up to free nights. Which is perfect when you are traveling for more than 1 week. Also these campgrounds usually have events that they plan for sure over weekends - so make sure you see what they have. We have had a lot of great ones to take part in.
4. Walmart - We always stopped at Walmart to refill our groceries and do some meal prep for the next week or 5 days. And if you need to, you are allowed to park in Walmart parking lots overnight. This happened occasionally - if we were to far away from our next stop to drive yet that night.
5. Gas/Diesel - Use a credit card with points on gas for refuel. It is amazing how many points you can get. But make sure you pay it off and be responsible about it. It is super nice traveling with others so you can split this cost.
6. High Tourist Spots - If you really wanna see a major tourist spot get there early (like 6-7am) and if you can't there are great places just away from the main areas that are equally as great if not better.
7. Firewood - if you plan on staying in parks and at campgrounds make sure to research if you can bring your own wood and burn it. Some states have laws against that and then you will need to buy local.
8. Portable/Foldable grill - we used one like this - they are super handy and sometimes the parks or campgrounds just don't have that great of grilling fire pits.
9. Coolers - Okay so a fridge inside of an RV is quite smallish and so what we came up with is to have two large coolers stowed away in the storage compartments underneath, that we just refilled with ice - every day or every other - just depends on the temp outside. Also we kept a small cooler inside filled with water bottles and ice, that way it didn't take up our fridge space.
10. Rain-X - yes you will thank me! So we always put rain-x on the windshield before we leave home (yes it takes a little bit but its worth it) it is gross how many bugs you will have on the windshield and then with rain-x on you can basically wash it off with the windshield wipers and it doesn't smear around.
11. Truck stops instead of gas stations - So when you are traveling on main roads search for truck stops instead of regular gas stations. There is so much more room to drive into especially when you have a large RV. Also they have the hand long ended windshield cleaners that you can use. (Pilot, Flying J, etc)
12. Tires - okay I don't know so much about the mechanical side of an RV but I will tell you this because of experience, make sure you have good tires. Because if you are driving a lot and its hot outside those things get hot. And yes we have had a tire blow on the rear axle (major panic the first time it happened) yes it happened again on a different trip. But another thing that helps is take breaks and if you can park the RV in shade to help cool the tires this could be completely avoided.
13. Little vacuum - so these are the things you don't think about, but when you are on the road for over 2 weeks with kiddos especially EVERYTHING gets dirty. From getting in and out of the RV. So we took along a little vacuum. Like this one. It fit perfectly into a tall closet or in the shower if you don't have the room.
14. Toilet Paper - no you cannot use just regular toilet paper - it needs to be RV paper, which no worries you can usually find in walmart. Looks like this.
15. No slip mats - for the counters if you are planning on leaving something on them. They look like this, so funny - we left the coffee pot on the counter and didn't have this under it and yeah the whole thing flew off the counter and the pot broke and we had to stop and clean up the glass. So make sure you get this.
That is honestly a good list of the main things to know. There is probably something I forgot but that's the bulk. But if you have questions - ask away - I'd be happy to help.
Make sure you are prepared for the unpredictable, do your research on places, parking, etc.
Yes, our first trip was Seattle, Washington. We had a blast. We took scenic routes and I got to see the Rocky Mountains for the first time EVER and guys I am completely hooked on them. I would literally go every.single.year and it would not get old.
Oh my goodness! Absolutely amazing! I love the city too but my pick is the mountains and the wilderness. We took hikes and made sure to stop at a lot of the lookouts on the roads that travel up through the mountains. There is something so peaceful about this place for me and I just can't get enough.
Okay Seattle: we went to the Pike Place Market which is an absolute must see. There you will find fresh seafood and fruit and veggies and so much more. There are lots of shops right there too, that are small businesses. Great restaurants, cafes and so much more. It is a great food scene. I want to go back - because at that time in my life I feel like my openness to new food was low. And I didn't drink coffee like I do now. So it's a must go again. But this trip was when I had sushi for the first time ever and well I'm a sushi lover - so thanks to Seattle for that.
Another great place we went - if you have kids along was the Seattle Aquarium. They will love this and honestly I loved it too! Lots of hands on things which is a kids dream and mine too (child at heart over here).
This is a touristy area but you have to do the Space Needle I mean it's iconic and you see it on like everything! So definitely make sure to do that.
Hiking - There are a lot of hikes to choose from - I use an app called All Trails that will tell you all the local hikes around you, including difficulty and length and most have pictures as well. So check that out if you are a hiker like me.
Mt. Hood is another place we went, where we did a variety of things. But you have to try the Alpine Slides - they are so much fun and great views.
I cannot for the life of me find my journal for this trip which makes me sad, but I remember a lot of the main things we did in Seattle. It was definitely a great city to visit. I would love to go back because there is so much I wan't to do and see now.
Guys this was so much fun - going through my past travels. I can't wait to share more of them from some amazing places we have been.
Let me know you thoughts about Seattle - somewhere you have been? Or want to go?
Also my goal is to post once a week, but seeing as though I have a lot of travel to share I will be posting those in between, so make sure to subscribe for updates!
Have a blessed and wonderful week everyone!!!