When life gives you lemons, rent an RV.
After nine weeks of coronavirus quarantine, 325 Zoom calls, 52 Amazon deliveries and countless days of failed homeschooling attempts, hitting the open road in a recreational vehicle began to seem like a dream.
I hadn’t considered RV travel in all my 29 (okay, fine, 41) years on this planet. There are just too many other exciting transportation options for globetrotting.
Understand that this was going to be my ‘it’ year for travel. I was scheduled for an entrepreneurial conference in Sydney. Family vacations in Grand Cayman and Maui. A women’s leadership retreat in Bali. My bags were poised to be packed for glorious business and personal adventures.
The pandemic, and subsequent stay-at-home order, arrived one week shy of that planned Australia trip. Then all the dominoes began to fall.
With exotic destinations now out of reach, by early May I saw that beaches and state parks were starting to open, albeit with heavy restrictions. But the world was still broken. While airplanes were out of the question, renting an RV became a promising and viable alternative.
Renting an RV
After securing my family’s buy-in, I made plans for a highway adventure getaway.
Since we live in San Diego, a California coastal road trip was a no-brainer. A Google search led me to a plethora of RV apps and resort options. They helped me chart a course—San Diego, Malibu, Paso Robles, Carmel-by-the-Sea and back.
It would be nearly 900 miles, three days and a lifetime of memories. I promised myself I wouldn’t give a second thought to missing Maui’s famous Mai Tais.
I priced out a few options and locations for my family crew—including 7- and 9-year-old boys and two Labrador retrievers. We got set up with a 24-foot Mercedes Benz motorhome, a Forest River Sunseeker from Outdoorsy. I also booked space at a pair of RV resorts.
With my husband behind the wheel, dogs up front, and the boys and me in the back, we set off on our first RV road trip—stocked, of course, with an ample supply of masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant.
I doubted Google Maps when it showed the drive to Malibu would take just two hours and 15 minutes. Pre-quarantine, that’s a four-hour slog through gridlock. Maps was spot on. And our first night at Malibu Beach RV Park was as smooth as the drive.
Rules at the RV park are simple. No open flames. Per current California mandate, masks are required when exploring the area.
Since this was our first time hooking up a motorhome, we relied on our temporary neighbors for help. A minor inconvenience.
We spent our evening on the beach, chatting with passers-by, and playing soccer and charades. Simple and beautiful. Nighttime under the stars with ocean waves crashing outside our RV, especially after weeks of stay-at-home orders, provided a good night’s sleep I’ll never forget.
Back on the road
We racked up more miles on Day Two, driving north to Paso Robles. After a quick drive through the picturesque Danish town of Solvang, we settled into our spot at the gorgeous Cava Robles RV Resort, nestled inside the Paso Robles wine region.
While we weren’t coastal for this stop, our RV space connected us to a lush green area, with hiking trails and scenery provided by Mother Nature.
We took notice of the resort’s two-story cottages, which could be mistaken for luxury social distancing pods. Note to self: These would be perfect for a getaway when you’re driving by car and not in a 24-foot motorhome.
We spent the day hiking. Many of the amenities here were closed, but we were still able to get take-out from the onsite restaurant. We binged on pizza and chicken wings, making memories around our personal firepit.
The RV life
The last stop on our adventure was Carmel-by-the-Sea. We drove there via the scenic route, going through Big Sur.
The weather and backdrop changed every 10 miles or so as we journeyed from the Central Coast’s sprawling vineyards and desert-like air to jaw-dropping cliffs and misty forests.
The ever-changing scenery along Highway 1 is reason enough to do a road vacation. I was happy being an “RV person.” Simultaneously, I was grateful for not renting a bigger motorhome. The winding roads are unforgiving. While my husband was an excellent chauffeur, he did grip the wheel tighter going around the bends.
We spent an afternoon at the Carmel Beach. The boys and dogs ran around like loons. You could see the joy on their faces (and muzzles). We took in the salty air, and grabbed grub from a local restaurant. Yes, that was me wearing two masks and gloves while picking up our food. Safety first.
After a recharging night’s sleep back at Cava Robles (just a 2-hour drive from Carmel) we got on the road and drove back to what coronavirus has made our new reality.
Looking back, I realized that you don’t have to travel far, or bring much, to have an outstanding adventure. As long you are with the right people, have a place to rest your head, and feel safe (I’m a mom, I have to say that), you can make any trip memorable.
People have asked me if I would do it again. Absolutely. Even after hotels reopen. I see more RV trips in our future. Willie Nelson may have a new album coming out, but it’s his classic song that puts it best. Like Willie, I just can’t wait to get on the road, again. J&J
(Anna Crowe is founder and CEO of Crowe PR, an Amazon best-selling author and speaker.)