To Buy or Rent an RV or just Hotel it.


The question that started this month was to buy or rent an RV or just hotel it?  I received some funding for a documentary that until this point was being funded out of my pocket.  I landed a couple of critical interviews so I would be on the road for six or seven days.  

Ducey's Bass Lake California
Ducey’s on The Lake – No Pets

At the same time I needed to visit my in-laws since my mother in law just had her second knee replaced and was immobile.  I also needed to visit the parents of my high school best friend who recently chose to leave us behind.  My trip just grew to 10 days.

Using a hotel website that allowed cancellations, I started booking hotels, but none of them were close to where I needed to be each day.  This meant unloaded and reloading all of my stuff, camera gear and reloading once or twice every day.

My neighbors had a very cool Class C RV for sale at a very good price.  For many years we rented a Class A for “roughing it” during 24 hours of LeMons races, and we kind of liked the idea of just loading up once for each big trip.  The Class C was just small enough to give me pause so I rented one.

Renting the RV was both a blessing and a curse.  We learned right away that if you get a small RV you really need to know exactly what you want.  The big Class A’s have way more than two people need and really don’t leave you wanting for much.  The Class C looks like all the same stuff in a smaller package.  It isn’t.

The single most important thing I can tell you about RV’s and hotels is that the bed is the thing.   The second most important thing is blocking the light and sound.  A cheap hotel and a cheap RV have bad beds and don’t block light or sound well.

To make matters worse the RV we rented had just returned from Burning Man.  If you have ever been you know the sand out there is like sheetrock dust and gets in everything.  The owners agent tried to clean it, but we still woke up the next morning looking like lightly tanned ghosts.  I stopped by a friends RV dealership and they removed four pounds of dust from the interior and washed a sea of tan from the AC unit on the roof.  

Class C RV At Bass Lake
Class C Sprinter Diesel at Bass Lake California

Day two was a little better but the bed just didn’t cut it.  After seven days I was in need a a good bed and sucked up the cost of a great hotel.

Day eight we were in a campground next to a nice couple that had a unit one smaller than ours.  He was well over six feet and she was looking me eye to eye in flip flops.  I am 5’11”.  I finally asked how they can sleep in that little RV.  They said they ordered it with a custom bed.  They agreed, if the bed is wrong the experience is terrible.

What I learned is that if you are going to buy an RV, rent the exact same model first and make sure it works for you.  Since I found small campsites and hotels are much easier to find than Class A sized campsites, it is between a nice Class C unit or a very nice GT car.  The CruToys Jeep is great for a few days but the roof whistle and road noise are fatiguing after about three days of road tripping  

The Jag F-Pace is a great road car but doesn’t carry enough luggage for long working trips like this one.  I just saw the new Land Rover Discovery, and it looks like a contender.  The Bentley GT does too, but the $250,000 price difference between the two makes me think I might try the Land Rover first.

Each of us travel differently, and I admit after 20 years on the road with the US military and another 15 on the road with the airline business, I am not a fan of any hotel that doesn’t start with Four or end with Carlton.  Clearly the same is true of my RV experience.  When I started pondering the question to buy or rent an RV or just hotel it, I didn’t expect to be promoting the hotel option.

The folks at AirStream tell me they have a Class C that will rock my socks off for my next photo-video adventure.  If they drop it at my door, I’ll let you know how it goes.  Until then, I am voting for a Class A motor coach or a first class SUV or GT car to hit the road.  For now, I’ll just take the CruToys Jeep JL and a surfboard around the corner to the beach.