motor homes, caravans, and campers
In Canada and the United States
Pros & cons
Any discussion of buying or renting (hiring) vehicles
in North America should include motor homes (recreational vehicles
or RVs) and caravans (travel trailers).
A class of retired Americans
and Canadians no longer owns homes permanently attached to the
ground, but instead lives in large motor homes which are moved
from winter to summer rental spaces and back again. These often tow
smaller cars used at their two destinations.
Whereas the above group has found an enjoyable
lifestyle and new friends at their summer and winter homes, the
motor home and trailer experience may not be so pleasant for other
Pros of RV's
Let's start with the positive: A motor home
is much more comfortable than a tent, especially in heavy rain.
Little set up is needed upon arrival.
The kitchen of a motor
home allows the maintenance of special diets, such as Kosher or
Especially in popular areas money may be saved on accommodation,
in contrast to using motels.
Hanging out in recreational vehicle parks
is fun, too, as RV users tend to be a social group, who love to
travel and share experiences.
Cons of RV's
Let's move to the negative: Driving a large
motor home or towing a trailer may not be comfortable for many
of us who are used to smaller vehicles, especially in urban areas.
Be sure to drive an RV or to tow a trailer before committing to
a long rental.
Travelling in cities means finding suitable parking,
which can require careful planning in advance.
Have you ever noticed
the maximum vertical clearances posted at the entrances to covered
car parks? If you drive an RV, you must now!
Fuel costs, also, have become much more
expensive, and your home on wheels is thirsty.
In addition, you
cannot expect to arrive at recreational vehicle parks at popular
destinations during peak periods without advance booking, so you
are no better off than the car driver using motels.
Mini motor homes, the shorter "Class
C" ones, or vans outfitted for sleeping and cooking such
as Volkswagen's Eurovan,
may make an ideal compromise.
After all, unlike people who live
in their RVs year round, you just want to use your vehicle for a
few weeks while on holiday, not as your permanent home.
these smaller RVs (but not VW's) even have washroom facilities with showers.
You also can "expand" your otherwise small living area
at longer stops by setting up screened tents, which are tall enough
to stand in, for dining and outdoor sleeping.
Overall, the experience in any size RV can
be wonderful if the driver is comfortable.
The most well-known
makers of RVs are Fleetwood
Industries (as seen on MTV's Road Rules) and Winnebago
Another compromise is the camper ("cap")
placed on a pickup truck.
These trucks may a short as most
passenger cars, and thus easy to park and drive.
Many trucks with
campers are inexpensive to rent or buy compared to RVs.
other hand, the more deluxe models feature washrooms, kitchens,
and the other amenities of small RVs, and are consequently more
Some two-wheel drive pickups achieve the
same miles-per-gallon fuel efficiency of many lightweight automobiles.
Even modest campers offer more comfort and convenience than a
tent, but admittedly do not provide the home atmosphere of a larger
motor home or trailer.
Unlike the tent, no set up is needed upon
The main problems of campers are lack of space for larger
groups, the lack of full kitchens in most, the inability to stand
up inside many (but not all) of them, and the lack of interior
access between the camper unit and the driver and front seat passenger.
Obviously, too, you must camp directly adjacent to access roads,
instead of seeking more natural environments.
In addition, Dr.
Voyageur dislikes the loud sound of rain hitting the metal roofs
when trying to sleep, although some more expensive models feature
rubber roofs that mute this sound.
Travelling by car with an inexpensive tent is the most popular
However, if you choose this, make sure to buy a tent with extra
flaps (which function as an additional roof) to help keep out all
but the heaviest rain and zip up screens for the door and window
When picking a spot to set up your tent, try to gauge
where water would run deepest in a sudden storm.
Believe Dr. Voyageur
when he says that he has picked wrongly at times!
On Prince Edward Island once, a flood drove Dr. V out of his tent and into a motel at 2:00 in the morning. Other times, he just suffered.
Learn about the pros and cons of othe travel methods:
Go To >> Coach travel
Go To >> Rail travel
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