We have now entered the summer vacation season and with that a load of RV’s and camping trailers are hitting the road. I don’t get it. Traveling as a family is already a world of fun and frustration without bringing the whole house with you, just read my daughters recent guest post: 15 Things You Learn On A Road Trip With Your Parents.
I don’t get camping. Not the pitch a tent next to a beautiful stream away from people kind of camping. But the load up your RV full of food and blankets and towels and dishes and toilet paper kind of camping. The kind of camping where you drive your super large extravaganza of a trailer hitched by a fifth wheel to the back of a dualie or drive the full motorized behemoth.
This type of supposed vacation has always been a mystery to me. I have had friends who do this and think it is the greatest thing in the world. So much so they have driven only ten miles away from their house and invited me to join them for campfires and s’mores.
I have arrived to a crowded, often muddy campsite, situated within feet of the next campsite. I’ve watched my friends make dinner, gather laundry, shower in a concrete locker style bath house or a shower the size of a coffin in their camper. I’ve seen them pretty much do all the things they do at home, just next to obnoxious drunken people doing the same thing and in a teeny tiny living area. These are the same people who have homes with lovely patios, decks, fire pits, and even pools. Why would you do this and think it is somehow better? Help me understand.
I Need My Space
Peeing with my knees smashed against the wall and barely being able to twist enough to wipe my bits is not what I call a good time. Let’s not even talk about the fact that sometimes the shitter and the shower are in the same place, just fold up one, and you have the other. This just really seems like not a whole helluva lot of fun, but work. That is not a vacation.
Or you can take your shampoo, soap, and shower shoes to a questionable bath house to shower. Not me. Sorry, not sorry. Using a public restroom as my bathroom or sending the kids out to find their way in the dark with a flashlight ain’t happening. Not vacation, feels more like an episode of ‘Naked and Afraid’.
When The Ass and I began seeing each other again after thirty years we certainly had a lot to talk about. The nature of vacations came up and I told him I have one very simple rule. If you bring the toilet with you, it is not a vacation.
Same chores, different locale.
It is ten times more work than just having a staycation at home. Primarily because you have to pack almost the equivalent of a whole house and then unpack it when you get home. You have to buy groceries, cook, and wash dishes. You do all the same things you do at home. Only you are doing it in a much smaller space. I have also witnessed that the men seem to have all the fun. Mom is making sandwiches and monitoring where the kids are. The guys tend to be sitting around comparing the size of their hitches and drinking beer. I can do that at home. Vacation shouldn’t be a smaller scale reenactment of everyday life.
Then add to it if it rains. You are all trapped in a trailer/RV. Sure you may have games and such to pass the time, but I can only play so many games of Yahtzee! with wet, dirty kids before I am ready to scream. I want to relax, not do laundry. I want to be pampered, not prepare meals. I want to get away from my daily chores, not clean a bathroom and kitchen. This only causes more stress, exactly what I want to get away from on vacation.
Let’s add that if you are in a large RV with no alternate form of transportation, you are staying in the campground. No visiting the sights. No museums, beaches, miniature golf, hiking. No real new experiences.
What good is it to travel hundreds of miles and then go nowhere? Now mind you, there is public transportation, or if you have a trailer, you can unhitch. However, I have known families that go somewhere and not move from that spot for a week. Sure there are activities at the campground, but I can play corn hole in my own back yard. BORING!
Call Me Spoiled, I Call It Civilized.
I love going to a hotel where someone else gets paid to take care of towels and sheets. I get to walk away. We stay in places that provide breakfast, so that’s taken care of. Lunch is usually a grab and go option and dinners are up to anyone but me. The most I may do is pull my credit card from my wallet. That is vacation. The toilet stays put and I don’t have to clean it. The towels are picked up and washed by someone else. The bed is even made when I return from a day out exploring the place I am visiting. The dishes are cleared from the table without me saying a word. Ahh, peace. I don’t have to lift a finger unless it is to call the front desk to ask for more towels.
Removing myself from the everyday is exactly why I am on vacation. Doing and being and experiencing something other than our same old same old is the whole point. That is a vacation.
Cheaper? Really, no.
I have heard people mention cost being so much cheaper when going the RV route. They claim it is less expensive than traditional vacation. Food may be a bit cheaper than going out all the time, but really? How much are you really saving in food?
Food is always an expense and not one you leave behind no matter where you go. You still have to buy food at home AND prepare the meals. There are some great money saving tips on eating while on vacation. You can always purchase snacks at the grocery store and pack maybe some PBJ’s for lunch to keep cost down. If I am heating anything up for any reason, even hot dogs, I am not on vacation.
Based on the campground site costs, yes it can seem a lot cheaper if that is all you look at. However, the costs go way beyond the campsite. When I add up the cost of the trailer or RV if financed, plus gas, insurance, registration, personal property taxes,the vehicle to tow a trailer, you are talking an average of 5-8 thousand dollars a year. I can take a mighty nice vacation for that much and not do any work at all. Maybe even two.
I am a firm believer in “to each his own” and if you love this style of traveling, more power to ya. Have at it. Have fun. Enjoy. Just don’t ever try to convince me that it is a VACATION.
If you can explain this too me I would love to understand. I really want to know the allure of this type of a vacation. I would like to write a follow-up with your ideas, pros, cons and thoughts on the matter from both the ‘for’ and ‘against’ camps. pun intended. Please leave a comment or contact me in email space and leave a message.