My wife has periodically brought up the idea of vacationing in an RV. Advantages over camping: You can watch TV, and you don’t have to find the bathroom in the dark. Advantages over a hotel: You can bring more stuff, and you don’t have to eat meals out.
A recent promotion by El Monte RV Rentals for $9 a night caught my eye but entailed a plane ride to Chicago and driving the vehicle back to California. For our first RV experience, visits to nearby national parks seemed more appropriate. El Monte RV has a location at motorhome mecca Newport Dunes. All vehicles come with a kitchen and bathroom and range from $75 to $200 per night plus mileage. CruiseAmerica in Costa Mesa is another local option.
Class-A RVs resemble buses. Class-C vehicles have a sleeping space over the cab. Determine how many people are traveling, then ask lots of questions. And keep asking: There’s a learning curve and it’s steep. Watch the instructional video—twice.
Among other Central Coast stops, our itinerary included visits to Pinnacles and the Channel Islands. Sites at Pinnacles Campground are $36 per night. No RVs on the Channel Islands, so we stayed at Ventura Beach RV Resort for $120 per night.
There are downsides: water and waste tanks to fill and empty, street parking isn’t easy, and there’s a heap of do’s and don’ts—like don’t back up without somebody getting out to guide you. Yes, our trip had its ups and downs, but now we’re considering that $9-a-night, Chicago-to-California voyage.