I love my little 21’ RV, and I’ve gone on many exciting adventures with Beastie in the last five years since I’ve hat it. Beastie is from 1998 but I intend to keep going on road trips, and not car camping sleeping in a tent like I used to. Once you’ve gone to an RV you never go back. Well almost never. I did sleep in a tent last summer by a fast moving river.
So what are the disadvantages of an RV?
1. The expense
The expense is not so much gas but the never ending repairs that accompany any old vehicle.
2. Driving Difficulty
I had been looking forward to exploring Sedona but the streets were just too small and windy so I headed to the highway. Thanks to Google maps on my iPhone (they were in cahoots) I ended up on Caliente – Bodfish Road going through Dead Horse Canyon to reach Lake Isabella. It was a tense hour of switchbacks, narrow roads, and steep inclines. Too bad I didn’t have a dashcam for that nightmare. The final descent to the tiny town of Bodfish by the lake is a scary stretch. Good thing my brakes worked.
3. Dead in the Driveway
Needs new tires: I was told to avoid driving on slippery roads. But mostly it’s sitting because it needs a new starter battery. I got the Automobile Association to give it a boost in the early fall so that I could drive it to get it winterized. They were grumpy because I still had most of a tank of fresh water. They took it out on me with their hourly rate.
It needs something done to the engine too that’s expensive. I complained about a funny noise and they countered with a $1500 estimate. I can’t even remember what it was called. While it was still working I should have driven it closer to the garage so that I could plug in the electrical cord. Then I could have put in the small RV heater that keeps mold from forming inside from our wet winters. It’s been cold with snow this year. We haven’t had nearly as much rain as usual for the Wet Coast.
4. Backing Up Blindly
I’d like to get a backup camera so that I stop ramming my big bicycle rack into things.
5. Parking Difficulty
In Banff, Alberta cars have more options for where they can park. But the RV Parking location wasn’t too bad because there was RV parking along the street across from the railway station.
6. Dumping the Grey and Black Tanks
Just watch Robin Williams in the movie “RV” to know the horror of having to do this. I think I need to get a valve changed because when you take the cap off to connect the hose, the fluid bursts out. Nothing should come out until you’ve made the connections, and then go around and pull out the release handles.
7. Heat and Full Holding Tanks Mean Stench
Just sit the RV in the hot sun for a few hours when it’s almost time to empty the tanks. The convenience of having an onboard toilet have to be balanced against this chore. So what happens is that at festivals you use the portapotties unless they’re too disgusting. Try to only pee inside because that’s not as bad for smells.
8. You may have to pay at an RV Park to dump your tanks, and take on fresh water.
Avoid drinking water from the tanks unless you’ve boiled it first. Even a month of sitting can lead to amoebas and bacteria growing. I bring big bottles of drinking water. Ten bucks or so should be enough to be allowed to use their services. Some rest stops along the interstate highways have RV dumping stations.
9. Entry Cost
The initial cost of acquiring an RV can be greater than what you would drop on a car. Or in the case of an older RV it’ll be the combined acquisition price plus early repairs to make it road worthy. After you’ve had it for awhile though it will pay for itself in what you save on hotels and restaurants. I’ve made a few great American road trips that would have been prohibitvly expensive had I not had an RV.
Because the RV is longer than a car, you’ll have to pay extra on ferries. Mine isn’t much longer than the regular length so I don’t pay much more. At festivals you get to pay extra for the ability to sleep in your vehicle even though it’s usually dry camping (i.e. No services).
Would I willingly go back to car camping?
No way. I love my little Beastie. I feel safe and secure inside reading a book in bed before I snuggle down to sleep. It insulates me from the weather, and offers protection. It’s the way to go if you can swing it.