Our First Family RV Trip: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

by sofestivemel

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Planning an RV trip? Here’s all you need to know about renting an RV for your next family vacation. 


Our family has always wanted to rent an RV and we finally did it! We learned so much from our first trip. 

If you are planning on renting an RV, here’s the good, bad, and ugly so you can know what to expect. By the way, this is not a sponsored post, although it would be really amazing to get paid to take another one. 




We rented through Cruise America and were really pleased with the process. 

There are a lot of different sizes you can rent. We rented the 7 person RV and were happy we did. It was large, yes! But it was nice to have a little extra space. 

Our children were 7, 5, 3, and 1 at the time. The older 3 slept on the upper bed and the baby in a porta-crib. There was still extra sleeping room on the table bed and couch bed that we didn’t use. 


  • Unlike staying in a hotel where you have to carry all your stuff in and out, everything is in your RV all the time. So that means if you are moving from place to place, there is no packing up required because it’s all with you. We loved how easy it was to get moving. 
  • Since you have all your amenities with you, you can sleep anywhere that’s allowed. That means you don’t have to stay in a designated campground unless you want hook-ups and facilities. 
  • The kitchen kit including pots, pans, utensils, plates, and basic cooking gear is supposed to be an extra fee.  But our RV was stocked with all that basic stuff and we didn’t have to pay for it. 
  • There is a ton of storage room! Granted we went on a short trip, but there was lots of cupboard space we didn’t even use. Plus there are huge lockable storage areas that you can access from outside in case you want to take bikes, hiking gear, or store your bulky items you don’t want inside. 
  • You’ll find plenty of storage space for games, bathroom supplies, and food. 
  • There are seat belts around the table so you can play games and eat while you are moving. There are also seat belts on the couch bed for carseats. 



  • You are pretty much driving a bus, so don’t expect good gas mileage. Luckily the RV has a big tank so you can go a long ways before filling up again, but it will cost you a lot to fill up. 
  • There’s lots of little things to remember. Gas/propane has to be turned off before you drive.
  • Getting into the gas station can be an event and there are certain things you have to do before you can fill up. (My husband did this, so unfortunately I don’t remember what he had to do.)  You’ll get the hang of it, but it’s not as easy as filling up your regular vehicle. 
  • There isn’t a lot of room for a pack n’play if you are traveling with a baby. It is possible, but it will take up most of the kitchen/walkway space. 
  • There is not a lot of storage room for clothing. We kept our clothes in travel bags and stored them on the upper bed while we were driving. 
  • You will not find a TV in the RV. For us, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you want to watch movies, bring along your own laptop or Ipads. 
  • There is a shower, but the heated water supply is limited. Don’t expect to be able all shower at once with hot water. 
  • If you are going to National parks or other touristy areas, you will have to park farther away. 



  • Our first night was rough, rough rough. We found a place to stop on the side of the road. Therefore, we had no electrical hookups. When we went to bed, we were toasty and warm. But around 2 am our baby woke up and we were all freezing.  Trying to figure out how to use the generator for the first time in the middle of the night is not something I’d recommend. My husband eventually got it figured out, but by that point we could never get our little guy to go back to sleep. So we woke up pretty ornery that first morning. We were able to use the generator 
  • There is a cleaning fee if you do no return the RV clean.  So after spending a few days living in it, the RV can get pretty messy. Be prepared to spend some time cleaning it out before you return it to avoid the cleaning fee. 
  • You are required to dump all your waste before returning it.  To avoid this stinky job, plan to pre-pay for the dump fee so you don’t have to do it. 



Renting an RV on the off season seems to be a lot cheaper than during the peak summer time. You’ll be able to save a lot of money if you can choose a time that isn’t prime travel time. This is what we spent (prices October 2019):

  • 3 nights with the zero deductible insurance plan, plus the propane and dump charge = $511.99
  • Gas – $219 (around 609 miles)
  • Ruby’s Inn Campground= $58.06 
  • Camping on side of road= free 

Keep in mind that if you exceed your estimated mileage you will be charged for extra miles. I can’t remember how much you can go over without avoiding an extra fee, so be sure to estimate your miles as close as you can when you are booking. 

You can rent sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, and kitchen gear for an extra cost if you don’t want to bring your own. However, we saved hundreds of dollars packing our own. 


Are you convinced to take an RV trip yet? If so, here’s what you should plan to pack: 

  • Sleeping bags
  • Pillows
  • Clothing
  • Bathroom supplies (they will charge you for TP), soap, toiletries
  • Cleaning wipes and dish soap, wash cloths, paper towels
  • Food
  • Basic cooking gear, paper plates 
  • Hand towels and shower towels
  • Baby porta-crib and portable high chair to eat in



Yes, definitely! Now that we know what we are doing, our next RV trip will go much smoother. 


If you have never gone on an RV trip before, I would just suggest that you have low expectations. Don’t go into thinking it will be perfect or you will be frustrated. Having the mindset that “this is an adventure” will make your experience better. 

You can park your car at the rental pick-up location while you are gone. This just means that you have to pack everything twice essentially since you will put it into your car and then into the RV. 

On our way back, we actually had an extra night before returning it in the morning. So we drove home and parked it in our driveway. It was so much easier to empty the camper out and clean it out while it was at home. Next time, we will plan to have enough time to pick it up and bring it home to pack it before we leave instead of loading into our car and then packing it onsite. 


I hope this was helpful and I hope you will take an RV trip! Let me know where you end up going! And feel free to leave a comment with any questions you have and I will answer them. 


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