I’m sitting here really excited to write this post, simply because I’m writing about a travel experience during COVID-19.
I love to travel! I always have, it’s in my blood! Hence a whole category of my blog is dedicated to travel and adventure. One of the challenging things for me during the crazy era we are living in, is the fact that I’m grounded. We had a trip to Israel planned for March that was canceled, I travel a lot for speaking engagements, and so many planned events and travel opportunities (never mind the financial loss associated with it) became obsolete . Yes, in the big scheme of things, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s ok and healthy to acknowledge the disappointment and the grief of not being allowed to do the things you love and keep you sane.
Taking an RV trip has been on our bucket list for forever. It always felt out of reach for some reason, whether it was financially, logistically, or the fear of the unknown. My husband and I were talking, and we concluded that now might be the perfect time to try it out. Firstly, because there is less travel and less demand, so the prices dropped which made it a lot more affordable. Secondly, we are all looking for a change of scenery and some adventure. Thirdly, no schedule or any commitments tying us down, so what do we got to lose!?
For our first time we decided to dip our toes in slowly and planned a 5-day trip while staying in Montana. The RV we rented was from Cruise America, I knew beforehand what to expect, definitely not super high quality, but it totally worked for our first time. It was the most convenient and accessible for a last-minute trip. I would probably not use them again, but I love the fact that I now know what I want and what specific things to look for. We rented a 30-footer and it was a good size for 6 people. Remember I went on one RV trip for 5 days, I am by no means an expert, but I am so happy to share my experience.
We rented the RV Thursday afternoon, wasn’t sure how to pack it until I got a good look at the interior. Once I saw what I had to work with, I was able to make a plan. It’s really cool, not to have to pack suitcases; I literally filled up a laundry basket and emptied it into the cubbies. It wasn’t too stressful because we weren’t going for that long, but I think I would’ve had to be way more organized and thought-out if it was a longer trip. The one thing I wasn’t used to packing was bedding and towels. The fridge was small but decent. Took a couple hours to load up and we were off.
We drove for about 3 hours and stayed in Missoula at a KOA campground. It was really fun, we had a picnic dinner, kids got to ride their bikes and just enjoy. Bedtime with 4 kiddos is definitely where things get interesting. For one, it doesn’t get dark till about 10:00 PM (and gets light at about 5:00 so late to bed and early to rise) and Chana Laya my toddler really enjoyed her freedom out of a crib and took the longest time to settle down. No one really slept great the first night, but I did notice each night got better. So, you do need to account for time to acclimate and not expect smooth sailing right away.
Setting up the beds and folding them away in the morning takes some time and organization, I think it’s really helpful not to have a strict timetable, so you can take things slow and minimize stressful moments. Remember this is supposed to be an enjoyable experience.
I’m the type of person who needs space in general, so I would say the most challenging thing for me was the tight quarters. At one point I asked myself what I was thinking to take the same people I have been quarantined with and stick ourselves in an even smaller space, the irony did not go unnoticed . It was something to laugh at in good humor.
Shabbos was the one thing I did not feel ready to undertake. I am incredibly lucky that my sister lives 5 hour away in the gorgeous Flathead Valley. We used this opportunity to visit her and spend Shabbos with family. It was actually perfect, because we don’t fit in her house, so it was amazing to be there for Shabbos and have sleeping arrangements just outside her home. I think if you’re planning or thinking about an RV trip, I would highly recommend planning it around a place you can be for Shabbos. It will make it so much easier. If not, kudos to you and let me know how you do it, maybe I will be brave enough to try it next time!!
We enjoyed our last night in Helena, where we learned to empty the black and gray water for the first time, or I should say my husband learned, I wanted nothing to do with it!
So many people asked me, “how was it?”, “was it fun?”, “would you do it again?”… here is what I have to say: It is so much fun and also really hard, kinda like life 😉 We happen to love adventure and trying new things, fully aware that it comes with a lot of unique learning opportunities. Would I do it again? Absolutely! Here are some of the things I learned and would make sure to bring next time.
Gloves – For emptying the sewer tank (we didn’t have, so we used grocery bags and it worked)
Swiffer for the floor
Diffuser – Very small space for quite a few people, with the bathroom being right in the middle of things. Having something to spread a pleasant smell would be great.
Aluminum Foil – Really helped cover up the window and block some light that was right on top of the kids’ bed. (was able to get some at my sister’s house the second night and really made a difference)
Ponchos – In case of rain (See below), you will be able to maneuver without getting drenched.
If you’re planning a longer trip, making sure everything has a secure spot is super important, so things don’t fly around, and everything is contained.
We had a lot of rain which made it a little harder, you are meant to spend most of your time outdoors on an RV trip. The rain made that hard to do which made it a little more challenging in tight quarters. So next time I would plan a trip later in the season where dry weather is more reliable.
Part of the fun is figuring it out as you go along! Don’t expect perfection and be open to all experiences and you will not regret it 😊