Since starting this incredible journey last fall, we’ve learned a whole lot, starting with cooking in a teeny kitchen and drilling down to the fundamentals of dumping gray and black water as quickly and gracefully as possible.
At the top of our list of most valuable lessons is refining our search for cool places to park our Class C RV.
You’d think this process would be a breeze, but it’s bit of a challenge. Here are a few tips for scoring a an excellent RV spot. You’ll see many of the best of these places on our Instagram feed: instagram.com/ourgrandtour.
Location, location, location
We often use Google Maps to hunt for “RV parks near me” because that function shows whether sites are centrally located. Because we don’t tow a vehicle, we’re reliant on public transportation -- or our two feet -- when it comes to getting around and exploring an area. John also travels around on a road bike, but uses it for longer rides. Some of our best experiences have been in parks that are within walking distance of the town center, but still feel like you’re getting quality time in natural surroundings.
It’s tempting to book online, but it’s essential to double-check a few key points before committing to someplace that has a slick website. Ask about the WiFi connectivity, the ease of a cable hookup, the cleaning schedule for the restrooms/bath house, how close you’ll be to your neighbor. Get the 411 on the hours of the laundromat, and ask whether the office is stocked with pantry items. If not, ask: Where’s the nearest store? And, most importantly, get an after-hours number to call if there are questions.
Yes, RVers are on Yelp and Trip Advisor, and while the reviews should be taken with a grain of coarse grind salt, if there are a whole bunch of thumbs down, then that’s probably a place best avoided. One terrific way to exchange info is to join a Facebook community group such as the RV Park Campground and Review. Good Sam offers its members discounts and an extensive online guide. Of course, word of mouth is best. Talk to your fellow travelers. We’ve also been writing reviews on the Going Mobile blog. You’ll find them here: spokesman.com/blogs/going-mobile.
Is the price right?
Again, when searching online, the fee might be on the high side. Another good reason to make that call is to ask if there’s any wiggle room. We’ve scored deep discounts when business is slow, and were given a price break when we stayed longer.
Have a Plan B
If there’s anything we’ve been repeatedly reminded of, it’s that you’ve got to be flexible when you’re on this kind of adventure. If you pull into a park and it looks like a dump, have an alternative in your back pocket. Sometimes, that might mean booking an affordable motel down the road or turning into the parking lot at Walmart.
This week’s Going Mobile question
What are the best RV parks you’ve discovered around the country? Why do you like them? Send responses to email@example.com. We’d love to share recommendations.