Go RVing: Fun family travel
One of the fastest growing markets for RV travel is families with children. If you have never gone on an RV trip, you might be surprised how affordable RV travel can be. Whether you are headed to a lake, to the beach or a cross-country trip, RV travel can be a lot of fun.
It's anywhere from 24-59 percent less expensive to travel by RV than traditional travel (including hotels, airfare and restaurants). It's also easier, healthier and more fun for the family. Recently, I had the opportunity to experience RV travel with my husband and kids for the first time.
I was approached by the people from Go RVing about taking an RV trip with my family. GoRVing.com is an informational website that encourages RV travel, providing information about RV dealers, manufacturers, rental facilities and campgrounds as well as RVing activities, images and videos.
When choosing an RV, you first need to decide if you want a towable vehicle or a motorized RV. For our trip, we decided that a towable RV was best for our family. Ken McConnell, owner of Sequin RV, was kind enough to generously loan us a Skyline Layton 310 trailer for our trip. Not only did he loan us the trailer, but he also brought it to the campsite for us and set it all up.
The RV was beautiful — totally equipped with a living/dining table, complete kitchen and bathroom, plus room to sleep eight. There was a queen size bed at one end of the trailer, and a bunk room with two sets of bunk beds at the other end. One thing that we really liked is that there was a door to the bunk room so it could be totally closed off. Though we didn't use them, the couch in the living area was a sofa bed and the dining area could be turned into a bed too.
The most convenient feature of the RV was definitely the outdoor shower to wash the sand off. When we got back from the beach each day, I could just hose the kids down. What I loved the most was all the storage space. I could have brought tons of the kids’ toys and enough clothes for a month, and still had room left over.
We live in San Antonio and decided to take our vacation to Port Aransas. If you aren't familiar, Port Aransas is located on Mustang Island and surrounded by Corpus Christi Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It's popular for college students to head to Port Aransas for spring break, however it's also a terrific travel destination for families (or just about anyone) year round.
My husband and I have four children — ages 2 to 4. This vacation was our first real trip as a family and it was the first time our kids would be seeing the beach. Traveling with toddlers is difficult, so we wanted to stay as close to the beach as possible and find a location with plenty of attractions and amenities nearby. We settled on Pioneer Beach Resort, and we couldn't be more thrilled with the decision.
At Pioneer Beach Resort, you take a very short walk over a boardwalk bridge (about a three-minute walk) and you are right on the sand. We were fortunate that Pioneer set us up in a premium spot, so we were very near the bridge. Every morning my kids would wake up and ask, "Ocean?" and we'd put on our suits and head to the beach. The beach was amazing — clean and definitely not crowded. There were some mornings that we were the only ones on the beach for the first couple hours. I'll never forget their faces when they saw the beach and ocean for the first time (or their sobs when they realized we were leaving at the end of the week).
Pioneer isn't just a place to park your RV. In addition to having roomy RV sites with full hook-ups, they also offer fully furnished one-bedroom cottages. Additionally, you'll find two beautiful pools on the property. The East pool is just a short walk from the beach and is perfect for kids as it's a walk-in pool and only 2-feet deep at one end. The West pool and the hot tub are conveniently located near the Rec Hall, which serves breakfast and lunch on the weekend (and dinner on Friday night) during the summer months. They have a laundry room, game room, bath houses with private showers, a beautiful pond with birding areas, and much more. The staff was extremely nice and the entire property was very well kept.
My RV travel musts
I'm not sure I can express how wonderful the trip was for our family. Though I'm not an RV expert, I can provide some tips and suggestions to make your RV travel experience the best it can be.
Bring your own vehicle - With a towable RV, of course, you'll be bringing your own vehicle. However even if with a motorized RV, I think it's your best bet to tow your car behind. Every time you leave your RV campsite, you don't want to have to unhook your RV — so having your own vehicle is extremely convenient. While on vacation, we were able to explore Port Aransas and its wonderful seafood restaurants and fun shopping destinations. We even took our kids miniature golfing and up to Corpus Christi to the Texas State Aquarium.
Pick the right time - With any vacation, you need to really plan out the best time to go. For us, we waited to go on vacation until the summer was over and kids were back in school. Since we were traveling with young kids, we wanted a less crowded, more relaxing vacation — so mid-September was the perfect time for us.
Get reliable Wi-Fi - My vacation was a working vacation, so having dependable internet access was a must. Fortunately, Pioneer offers free Wi-Fi and we didn't have any trouble connecting during our stay.
Take advantage of the amenities - Our RV had a beautiful TV and stereo — and I'm really glad. It was raining during a few hours of our trip and my kids really needed some entertainment. I was also thrilled that the RV had a complete kitchen, and I took advantage of it. You don't need to eat out at restaurants for every meal. It's more affordable, healthy and fun to cook your own meals together as a family — even when you are on vacation.
What I'd do differently next time
There's not much that I would change about our RV trip. As we were driving home, my husband and I were talking about how spoiled our kids are now and that it would be hard to top our vacation. However, next time we go away, I would do a couple things differently.
Apply more sunscreen - I'm not talking about for my kids — they are always protected. I mean for myself. One day, we spent three hours in the morning at the beach and four hours in the afternoon at the pool. I didn't re-apply often enough and came home with a painful sunburn.
Relax a little more - Since our kids are young and this was their first vacation, I was a little too worried on this trip — worried that they might break something in the RV or get hurt at the pool. Everything was fine though, and next time I want to relax a little more, enjoy the special moments and not be so concerned.
Stay a little longer - We stayed in Port Aransas for a week, and it was just the perfect amount of time for our kids' first vacation. Next time, I'd like to make it two weeks and really savor the trip.
For all things-RV, visit GoRVing.com to get information on everything from how to find a dealer to travel destinations and choosing the right RV to yummy family recipes.