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RV FAQs

The wide-open spaces that make the West so attractive can also make for a long drive to the next restaurant, hotel or bathroom. So, why not just take it all with you? If you're traveling with the kids, you'll never go back once you rent an RV!

Not only is an RV the ideal way to explore the West, it's the perfect base camp for pursuing all sorts of outdoor activities. Mountain biking, river rafting, rock climbing and hiking are all just a little more enjoyable when you know you have a comfortable, familiar home waiting for you at the end.

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What's a Recreational Vehicle anyway?

If you haven't been inside an RV lately, then take a look at what has happened to them in the last decade. Long gone are the days of lighting propane refrigerators and water heaters manually and then praying that they keep working. Today, an RV's mechanical systems (water, heating and air conditioning and refrigeration) all have residential-style controls and are as reliable and intuitive to operate as their counterparts in your home.

Can anybody drive an RV?

Smaller RVs are only a few feet longer than a Chevy Suburban or Ford Excursion. Class C models - the most popular - are built on a full-sized Ford or GMC van chassis. These same truck bodies are the foundation for ambulances, delivery vans and airport shuttle buses. The driving position and controls are very similar to a passenger car and the vehicle handles very predictably. Even the big Class A models (they're the ones that look like a bus) are easy to drive once you get used to them. What requires extra attention from the driver is the additional length and height. In no time you'll get used to taking turns a little wider than usual and watching your overhead clearance.

Why choose an RV vacation?

We use only the best recreational vehicles (priced from $70,000 to $125,000), the most experienced outfitters and the most appealing campgrounds available. This vacation experience rivals anything else you have ever done. Our clients have told us that their camping trips won hands-down over Disney, all-inclusive island resorts and escorted tours of every kind.

Can I tow a car?

It's not necessary. Backing up or turning around in a tight spot is impossible, and it slows you down. Just unhook the RV and go.  Also, most RV rental companies do not allow towing another vehicle.

Are there seatbelts in these vehicles, and should the kids use them?

Yes and yes. Larger Class C models have seatbelts for up to seven passengers. This is a motor vehicle. The same seatbelt laws (and common sense) apply.

How do we get around once we've set up camp?

You just pull the power cord, unscrew the water hose, and go. Some national parks have shuttles that serve the campgrounds. Your Tracks & Trails Adventure Kit will have all the details.

Do I need hookups?

The RV is completely self-contained. Hookups to electric and water utilities just give you unlimited supplies vs. having to ration your use. You can usually be quite comfortable without hookups for a day or two. However, your air conditioner and microwave oven will not operate without either running the generator (not allowed in many campgrounds due to the noise) or external electricity.

What is a slide-out?

This is a section of the side-wall of the RV that automatically slides the sofa and dinette out of the way, creating a 5-foot wide living room floor where only a 2-foot aisle had been. Great for a larger group where you need the elbow room.

Me?  Camping?

Why not? You have all the comforts of home: food, drinks, a clean bathroom, a place to rest or nap, heat when its cold, and A/C when its hot. And you only unpack once!

What's the difference between Public and Private Campgrounds?

Campgrounds run the gamut from expensive "RV Resorts" with hot tubs and scheduled activities (usually with a distinctly senior orientation), to rustic, no-frills campgrounds in a forest at the end of a long gravel road. Each has advantages under certain conditions. In the middle is a vast assortment of options - some heavenly, some horrific. We'll help you choose safe, attractive campgrounds that suit your style whether you're in San Francisco or the San Rafael Swell (look it up!). Campgrounds fall into two categories - Public and Private.

Do we need reservations at a campground for every night of our trip?

Yes, especially if you're visiting major national parks in mid-summer. All of our trips include campground reservations. (If you've ever tried to book a national park campsite, you know the value of this service!) We choose the best campgrounds in each area and the best sites in each campground when possible.

How much ground can I cover in a day?

You may think you should be covering more ground. But many of these roads are steep and winding, so you won't be cruising along at 70 mph. We've driven these roads, and know how far you can really drive in a day, including stops for the great views. Trust us! Less is more.

Will traveling by RV be difficult with a baby?

Infants are wonderfully portable. The trick is to take it easy. We'll help you plan a route that meanders through some awesomely beautiful places at a very leisurely pace, maybe only moving the RV every two or three days.

Is it hard to travel with little children?

Renting an RV is ALL ABOUT traveling with kids. Dig for dinosaur bones. Ride on steam trains. Wade in streams. Peer into huge canyons. Drive a Jeep along a rough road. Build campfires and roast marshmallows. Even jaded teenagers will be telling their friends about this cool summer family vacation.

If your children are very young, a compact, lightweight stroller is a good idea. Strollers are usually only allowed on well-beaten, paved trails, so you'll want a high quality backpack carrier for your smaller children.

Won't my kids get bored?

They might surprise you (and themselves) once you get out here. Digging for dinosaur bones, riding on steam trains, wading in streams, peering into huge canyons, driving a Jeep along a rough road, building campfires, roasting marshmallows...It's a rare child (of any age) that doesn't think that's pretty cool.

Our family has both teens and little ones. Can we all raft?

We can often split your group up so that the older kids have fun on the whitewater while a parent and the smaller one(s) proceed to the take-out by land. Young ones need to weigh at least 40 lbs.

Can I bring my dog along?

We're animal-lovers, ourselves, but over the years we've had to accept (reluctantly) that they're sometimes happier at home. Unfortunately, the National Parks and many other destinations are not dog-friendly, so you have little choice but to leave them in your vehicle. Any vehicle can become very hot inside when parked in the sun. If you're determined to bring a pet, it will severely limit your choices of where to go and what to do.

Can I charge my camera or laptop batteries in the RV?

Yes, and you don't have to be connected to "shore power" or start the generator to do it. Just buy an inverter for under $50 at Big-Box-Mart. It converts 12V cigarette lighter current into 110V juice.

Do RVs have TVs?

Some do and some don't. It depends on the size of the RV and the supplier. But please allow us to make a radical suggestion. Even if you can't imagine a week or two without a TV, give it a try. Almost without exception, families tell us that their kids seldom, if ever, watched TV and that this accounted for much of the family "magic" that took place during their trip.

Can I use my cell phone during my vacation?

By all means, bring your cell phone. Phones from most of the major companies will work along much of your route, but there will be places where you will not have service. A prepaid long distance calling card makes payphone calls affordable. If being in touch at all times is essential (is it really?), then you might consider renting a satellite telephone.