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My husband is an avid race car driver and over the past several years, we realized the amount of money we were putting into hotels. Couple that with an newborn baby, we realized getting an RV would be a wise decision. Furthermore, we wanted our son to grow up exploring and learning about the U.S.
We ended up finding the perfect RV not in Washington where we live, but in Dallas, Texas at Motor Home Specialist. This is a large volume dealer, so they are able to purchase in bulk and pass on the savings to its customers. The RV cost much less than anything in our vicinity, so we decided to jump on plane and head down to Texas to pick up our RV and drive it back, nearly 2,100 miles.
Getting to Dallas
The flight, given this wasn’t our first rodeo, was quite easy. In fact, this was our shortest trip with Charlie. He’d already been to Europe twice and he was nearly three months old. Since he was still so little and we figured he’d want to be in one of our laps, we opted to have him sit on one of us for the flight. In addition, he was still breastfeeding and it was just easier (and cheaper). It felt so funny not packing as many diapers, but I still followed my rule of thumb of 1-2 diapers per hour and bringing a spare outfit for the plane. Feel free to read my FAA and Getting to Europe post, for a more comprehensive packing list.
After landing, we were met by a driver to take us to a little town just outside Dallas where Motor Home Specialist is located. The drive was nice and we were filled with excitement to finally see our RV. Charlie was in his UPPAbaby MESA, which we actually ended up gate checking. I hadn’t been alerted to the Brica Roll N Go, yet; and it was definitely annoying waiting at the gate for them to bring it up from under the plane.
Once we wrapped up the purchase of our RV, we were quickly on our way. If we were to go non-stop, the 2,100-mile journey would have taken us nearly 32 hours. So having a plan for stops was critical. That said, my husband was back at work from paternity leave and we needed to get back as quickly as possible. So no dilly-dallying!
Starting from Dallas, we went to Oklahoma City and up through Wichita and across over to Denver. From Denver we drove up through Cheyenne and over to Salt Lake City. After Utah, we drove up into Boise Idaho, cutting across through La Grande, Oregon and finally up into Yakima, ending up in the Seattle area. The 32 hours turned into about four, almost five, days.
For this trip, we ended up dry camping the whole way. And, in most cases when we travel with our RV, we end up doing this vs. using hookups. As mentioned above, we tend to spend most of our time (when RVing) at the race track. This means, no hookups. We’ve yet to find a race paddock with little more than electrical plug-ins, let alone water. There is a great blog by Gone with the Wynns that covers a lot of what you need to know about Dry Camping (aka boondocking). If you plan on dry camping, it’s a great read with helpful tips on dumping your grey water and water conversation, etc.
But for this trip, Motor Home Specialist filled us up with a full tank of water and (in a good way) we were forced into dry camping. We stopped in Oklahoma City for our first night, mostly due to the torrential down pour and tornado warnings. Yes Dorthy, get your ruby slippers, we were in full blown tornado lock down. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, so we watched the radar an praise God nothing happened.
That said, we had already stocked up at a Walmart on all our essentials and it really couldn’t have gone easier. Dry camping is completely doable, especially for such a short period (~4 days).
TIP: When dry camping, look for a Walmart. They allow you to dry camp one night. Frankly, it’s a good business plan. I can’t think of one night we spent in a Walmart parking lot and didn’t find the ‘need’ to go in and get something.
I know most of you probably don’t got to the race track when camping or RVing, but I still know that being comfortable with dry camping can help expand the places you can visit. Not all destinations, of course, have the comforts of a Good Sam or KOA resort.
Road Trip Tips
- The Road Less Traveled has a great article (near the end) about finding dry camping locations. Places like Walmart, Cracker Barrel and Camping World all allow over night camping. But be sure to read the blog, though, because there are restrictions.
- I don’t find it as critical to bring your stash of diapers. Diapers in Europe, I found, were much more expensive, so I bring them from home. But across the U.S., just buy them along the way.
- My husband and I love a good fast food treat, so we often go to Taco Bell when in our RV. That said, we always seem to hit the restaurant right after they close the dining room. So, be sure to plan in advance as your RV won’t make it through the drive through. Special shout out to the Oklahoma City Taco Bell who let us walk through the drive thru!
- With an infant, you’re going to need to stop A LOT. Make sure you plan your route for safe stops along the way, vs. being stuck along the road. This will most likely happen anyway, because how do you tell a 3-month old they need to wait for you to pull over in a safe place to feed or change a messy diaper?
- Fueling stations can be more tricky than you think. With a big RV, you can’t just pop in and out of any Chevron. In fact, we became big fans of truck stops, like Loves or Flying J. We found truckstopguide.com came in really handy.
- If you need a place to dump your grey and black water, use Sanidumps to find dump stations near you.
If you’re interested in trying an RV, I highly recommend RVshare. It’s like Airbnb, but for motor homes. You can find RVs for as little as $10/day. It’s a great way to see if you even like RVing, before committing to (almost) a second mortgage.