Ever think about taking an RV vacation? You aren't alone. According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, RV shipments for 2021 were the highest in history at 600,240. 2022 is expected to be around 600,000, a -1.5 percent decrease since 2021, but will still be the 2nd highest year on record. 11.2 million households in the US own an RV, 22 percent of those are between the ages of 19 and 34, and 31 percent are 1st time owners. If you're eager to give RV camping a try, renting/sharing is, of course, your best intro, and over the years Budget Travel editors have compiled a number of tips to ease newbies into the driver's seat: What to expect: The most popular RV rental is the class C "cabover" model, which starts at about 22 feet long and has a front that resembles a pickup truck and a double-bed loft over the driver's seat. Most RVs come with a small sink, refrigerator, stove, and microwave. Class C - Courtesy of RVshare How many people will fit? A 25-foot class C cabover model will sleep three adults and two young children. Larger classes (B and C) may hold up to seven people. How much does it cost? RV rental rates fluctuate the way conventional car rental rates do, depending on time of travel, rental model, and when you make your reservation. In general, the earlier you make the reservation the better the rate, but you should expect to pay at least $300 per day once you factor in the daily rate, taxes, fees, and mileage. License and insurance: You can rent an RV with your regular driver's license, and insurance will work the same as for rental cars, typically covered by your credit card or auto insurance. Where to park: RVs are welcomed at more than 16,000 campgrounds in the U.S., often in state and national parks. Fees typically start at $40 per night (where you'll get a parking spot and possibly a barbecue grill) and go up to about $100 (pricier campgrounds will generally offer more amenities, such as laundry facilities, hot showers, and playgrounds). RV parks should have water and electricity hookups and somewhere to empty your sewage. Class C at night - Courtesy of RVshare In a pinch: You can often park your RV in a Walmart parking lot; just check the signage to make sure it's cool with that particular store. Know before you go: Plan out an RV-friendly route using GPS so that you don't run into overhead clearance problems or routes that don't allow propane tanks. Consider bringing bicycles: Think about it. You don't want to have to pack up the RV every time you want to look for a trailhead or trout stream, right? But if you're going to park your RV for a few days, be sure to run the engine for a few minutes each day to keep the battery charged. Content Presented by RVshare, the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace with more than 100,000 RVs to rent nationwide. RVshare brings RV renters and RV owners together by providing the safest and most secure platform for booking an RV rental. Find the Perfect RV Rental at RVshare
"Mom, you can't trick us-we know you can't drive a house!" my children told me. The more I explained about our RV vacation, the less my kids believed me. They thought the part where the dinner table changed into a bed was either the biggest whopper of all or proof that Mommy had magical powers. In the parking lot at the start of our trip I felt no supernatural talents as I stared in fear at our home on wheels away from home: a rented Winnebago measuring 32 feet-much longer than my living room. But after an hour-long training session, we were on our own. The next day we negotiated the spectacular curves of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. The grown-ups sat in the Barcalounger-type reclinable front seats watching through the four-foot-tall windshield as turkey vultures circled above the tree-covered mountainsides. Sky, clouds, birds, blooming dogwood trees, green valleys, more mountains, large iced drinks in cup holders, two kids buckled in at their own table with toys and a view: "Mom," they announced, "this is the life." Our plan was to travel across Virginia comparing private, public, franchise, and nonfranchise types of campgrounds. Of course, our vehicle itself provided amenities and entertainment. We had a week's worth of groceries and our own electricity and water. We were protected from the bad weather that ruins many a camping vacation and shielded from the wild behavior of vehicle-bound children that ruins many a road trip. (When we reached orange alert levels we-gasp!-popped a movie in the DVD player.) These comforts gave us more time to experience the places we visited. And at all the campgrounds, whether rustic or developed, my kids did not want to leave. Not your average bear Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts. These popular campsites, the first type we visited, are filled with families seeking man-made, outdoor fun. RV site prices are usually on the higher end, at some 70 Jellystone Parks across the U.S. and Canada. All of them promise easy-to-RV level sites, where you can pull through to park and quickly hook up water/electric/sewage lines; clean rest rooms and laundry facilities; a pool; a video theater and game rooms; a well-stocked convenience store; and, most important, entertainment. Although the particulars vary, every Jellystone Park offers activities of some kind-theme weeks or weekends, hayrides, arts and crafts, ice cream socials-and equipment like fully loaded playgrounds, sports courts, and bounce houses. Schedules of events are listed on their site; some activities may cost extra. Jellystone park waterslide - Courtesy of Jellystone Park We stayed at a Jellystone Park in Luray, Virginia. The campground was as RV-friendly as expected. It took us about 10 minutes-in the dark, no less-to park, make the RV level, and connect to the hookups for our very first time. In the morning my kids took one look at the 400-foot water slide and the playground with eight slides and dressed themselves at warp speed. The camp-type activities, such as Yogi's birthday week, are in full swing in summer. In the spring and fall, theme weekends ("Junior Ranger: Bugs!") are scheduled. Parental advisory: If you go to the giftie-filled camp store with your kids, expect to endure a heavy round of begging. Uncle Sam, you, and a view National Park campgrounds (reserve by searching nps.gov). Outdoors enthusiasts can stay in the scenery at many National Park campgrounds. Recreation.gov handles some parks; private concessions manage reservations for others. Some parks only permit camping on a first come, first served basis-get there early! The National Park Web site gives reservations details and tells which parks offer full hookups and which offer no facilities and less-than-RV-friendly warnings, like "RV sites may not be level." On average camping usually costs less than $50, (not including park admission) but really varies by park and season. We left Yogi's Jellystone for Shenandoah, a real national park, where the amenities are mostly those provided by Mother Nature. The campsites at the edge of the quiet Big Meadows campground provide a high-altitude sleeping spot overlooking a beautiful series of valleys and mountains. RV sites (some pull-throughs) with picnic tables and fire grates cost $30. There are no hookups, but there are stations to fill up your water tank and dump that other tank. Generators can only be used until 8 p.m. After that, for hot running water you can use the bathhouse with its coin-operated showers. We headed out to the Appalachian Trail and ate ice cream, fresh pineapple, and strawberries-a picnic made possible with the help of an RV kitchen. Shenandoah National Park Follow the yellow-signed road KOA or Kampgrounds of America. Bright-yellow signs with a tent logo lead the way to more than 500 franchises of KOA in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Vacationing families come, snowbird retirees come, overnight visitors en route to other destinations come-millions of campers a year stay at a KOA. Most sites cost $40 to $80. Visitors know that certain facilities are standard: clean rest rooms and laundry rooms, full hookup pull-through sites, an inviting pool, playground, game room, and a fully stocked store. Entertainment, however, varies with the individual KOA's location. Some franchise owners offer pancake breakfasts, river tubing, 25-person hot tubs, rental cars, and wireless Internet connections; some offer quiet country settings. We stayed at the Charlottesville KOA, which has a peaceful, woodsy setting with hiking trails, a fishing pond, and all the KOA offerings. The friendly owners have preserved the traditional sleeping-in-the-woods experience. Many of the sites, including the one we stayed at, are shaded by trees. In the summer, family movies are shown nightly at a central pavilion, and Saturday night is ice cream social time. The Governors' own State park campgrounds. State parks offer all kinds of inexpensive, unspoiled opportunities that only the locals may know about. You have to research state by state because there are no complete clearinghouses for state parks. Search state park or campground and the name of the state you want to visit. You may even find reservation systems for some states. The site www.reserveamerica.com lists campgrounds in 44 states. There is a may be a charge for reserving through this site. State tourism offices and web sites also provide camping information. I was amazed to find that Virginia State Parks has 23 reservable RV campgrounds. Most offer electric and water hookups, usually $40 to $50 a site, including park admission. We stayed at Chippokes Plantation State Park in the peanut-farm country of Surry. This park was full of surprises-we could tour the plantation's mansion, formal gardens, and agricultural area complete with chickens, cows, and crops. Or we could swim (the pool was huge), hike, fish, or look for marine fossils on the beach. In the campground, the host helped us back into our site. We had hookups for water and 30-amp (one appliance at a time) electricity. We felt like we had the woods to ourselves. We roasted marshmallows way past bedtime and were able to wash off all the stickiness. For our next day's adventure, we drove onto the Pocahontas, a free ferry, to cross the river into Jamestown and Williamsburg. My husband and I argued over who could drive onto the ferry. (I won.) Chippokes Plantation State Park - Credit: IStock - Douglas Rissing Stop at Mom-and-Pop's Local, independent campgrounds. An independently owned campground might be located just where you want to stay. It might be cheaper than a franchised campground. It might have all the amenities you want-or, it might not. Sites like Hipcamp and RVshare have RV campground searched that you can use. Our final campground, Aquia Pines Camp Resort in Stafford, a privately owned, nonfranchise operation, was actually the most high tech of all. Free WiFi, there was a well-stocked store, pool, game room, and an elaborate playground. After we ate our Indian dinner, we sat outside, faintly hearing one neighbor's birthday party and another's reggae, and enjoyed the campfire we made in a big, old washtub. When we switched vehicles for the trip home, our car crammed with all the goods so neatly stowed in our RV, my kids started asking, "Are we there yet?" My husband and I laughed-we hadn't heard that once on our RV vacation. Content Presented by RVshare, the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace with more than 100,000 RVs to rent nationwide. RVshare brings RV renters and RV owners together by providing the safest and most secure platform for booking an RV rental. Find the Perfect RV Rental at RVshare
Traveling is always so much sweeter when it doesn’t break the bank. With higher than usual gas prices you might be wanting to drift away from road trip plans, but before you do, let’s explore a few different ways you can hit the road and keep your savings. Our best solution? RVing! With RVshare, you can rent an RV from a neighbor and head out to explore the open road. Having your accommodation and transportation covered in the same bill won’t only save you money, but also unlock all sorts of new adventures. On the RVshare platform there are 100,000 different vehicle options to choose from across the US, from luxury driveable Class As to towable trailers. Many owners even offer delivery and will bring your RV directly to your location. The savings and adventure doesn’t stop there, here are 5 of our favorite ways to take an affordable RV road trip! 1. Have your RV delivered or search for a stationary option Truth is we all want those unique accommodation experiences that make for an unforgettable trip. Renting an RV offers exactly that and a bit more. If you’ve been wanting to try out #rvlife, or simply want the comforts you are used to like a bathroom, TV and kitchen but don’t want to deal with logistics, have your RV delivered! Owners will deliver the RV straight to your destination, whether it’s a campground, RV resort, or even your own driveway! Another fun alternative is renting a stationary RV. Meaning you get to stay in an RV wherever it’s parked! Usually this is a cool piece of land or nearby a popular event, like a music festival or fair. A great way to ease your planning and give you more time to do what matters…enjoying! 2. Stay local: Don’t miss out on state parks RV Park - Courtesy of RVshare So many of us get caught up in dreaming of big travels in distant places that we sleep on local gems. Using an RV to explore your area is a great way to get in some adventure time without spending hours (or all of your budget) on the road. You’ll be surprised by how far it feels like you’ve traveled once you immerse yourself in a new place. Not sure where to go? Choose a landmark in your state you’ve never visited before! We bet your state has some pretty amazing places that you haven’t even heard of yet. There are some truly stunning state parks and campgrounds out there — some that even rival National Parks. And don’t even get us started on how much easier it is to plan a local trip, the additional conveniences of being close to home and the opportunity to save hundreds of dollars! 3. If you do decide to drive, use a gas app! When the road calls, don’t let the price of gas stop you! Check out mobile apps like GetUpside, that offer cashback on different gas stations across the country. Another great resource is GasBuddy, where you can search for the cheapest gas along your route. RVs are not the most fuel efficient vehicles, saving a few cents at the pump or going one block further for the best deal really adds up your savings! Afterall, an RV trip is not really complete without some driving. 4. Bring friends! Courtesy of RVshare Did you know some luxury driveable Class A RVs can sleep up to 10 people? There is really no better way to spend quality time with the ones we love than taking on adventures together. Cooking meals, sharing stories around a campfire, going on walks around camp or simply relaxing by the river together. These memories of quality time together will last a lifetime. Not only will the road trip be much more fun with friends, you also win on savings by splitting up the bill. A true win win for everyone! 5. It’s all about the campground It’s not every day you get the opportunity to bring along a home and all of its amenities with you on your travels. Make the most out of your time in an RV by picking the best campground for your budget and needs! If you are looking for the most cost effective adventure check out public lands near you in the Bureau of Land Management. Most of these campgrounds are off-grid sites immersed in nature and free! It’s the best way to get an adventure, spend some time unplugged and keep within a budget! Want a few more amenities? Book a campground or an RV resort! If your group or family enjoy having access to pools, hiking trails, lakes, community areas or restaurants, choosing to stay in an established campground is the smartest way to travel. You can even pick a resort that will make you think you’re on a luxury all inclusive vacation! You will save money and make everyone happy having access to all of these perks right from your doorstep! Renting an RV to visit places close to home is a great way to still capture the magic of an adventure without traveling far. While high gas prices may deter you from taking an extensive road trip, exploring your own backyard in an RV doesn’t have to break the bank. RVing offers a safe and secure way to travel, with all of the amenities you enjoy along for the ride, including a kitchen, bathroom and comfy bed to sleep in. Make an ordinary trip a little more special renting an RV with RVshare! Content by RVshare, the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace with more than 100,000 RVs to rent nationwide. RVshare brings RV renters and RV owners together by providing the safest and most secure platform for booking an RV rental. Find the Perfect RV Rental at RVshare
Summer is almost here, and if you’re anything like us, you are counting down the days. Living it up on warm afternoons spent swimming and hiking, then winding down with some good stories around the campfire. Summer is always filled with fun adventures.. that is until you pull up to your campground or hotel and find out you and hundreds of other people had the same idea and will now be fighting for space at the most popular attractions. The secret to an epic summer? Exploring hidden gems with an RV! Leave the crowds and expensive hotel rooms behind this season and try out renting an RV with RVshare! Not only is it the most budget friendly way to hit the road, but having all of the amenities you need along for the ride allows you to create a home just a few steps away from the water, the forest or the mountains. Once you pick up or get your RV delivered, hit the road to explore these hidden gems that offer all sorts of outdoor activities, are all RV friendly (most offer free camping sites!) and don’t include the crowds! Flaming Gorge, Utah / Wyoming Courtesy of RVshare In the southwestern corner of Wyoming or the northeastern corner of Utah, just 3 hours from Salt Lake City, you will find Flaming Gorge and the incredible green river. This is the ultimate summer spot, offering all your favorite water activities like swimming, fishing, boating, white water rafting, kayaking and more. Dreaming of a secluded waterfront spot? Well, you just found it! And if you enjoy being unplugged you can find lots of free RV sites just before the park campgrounds. To enjoy the option of renting boats, campgrounds with hookups and restaurants, we recommend staying in the Utah side of the park. If you are a fan of boondocking and prefer wide open spaces head to the Wyoming side and enjoy! Bighorn National Forest, WY Secluded lakes, flower fields, moose, waterfalls and your RV. Located in the northeastern part of Wyoming, Bighorn National Forest is a true hidden gem. With an abundance of free camping and RV sites you could spend all summer long moving around the many different parts of this forest and still not have enough time to enjoy it all. It offers all the summer outdoor activities you want, from hiking in the backcountry to kayaking in glacier lakes. Plus, with most of the forest being in high altitude you not only avoid crowds but also intense summer heat! Silverton, CO Alpine lakes, incredible hikes, a charming mountain town and a pine forest so special you will want to tell everyone about it. This beautiful slice of Colorado heaven doesn’t get the buzz it should. Located in the southwestern part of the state, Silverton is a place you want to take your RV this summer. On your way you can enjoy some of the most stunning views driving through the “Million Dollar Highway” just make sure to buckle your seatbelt as it can be a bit scary to drive parts of this narrow and curved road. Custer Gallatin National Forest - Beartooth Mountains, Montana If your vision for an epic summer adventure involves wildlife watching, the backcountry and truly being one with nature, then look no further. Montana is known for its incredible landscapes from glacier lakes, to rocky peaks and meadows, Custer National Forest offers all of that without the crowds of the other popular parks in the state. You can set up camp in one of the thousands of free forest sites and call it home for up to 14 days. The perfect paradise for rest, hikes and nature. Arcadia Dunes, Michigan Courtesy of RVshare Ready for an east coast adventure you didn’t even think was possible? Lakes with clear blue water, white sand beaches, cool forests and no crowds. The Arcadia Dunes are part of the Lake Michigan shoreline and promise a stunning location for your summer adventures. Because of how true of a hidden gem this location is, campground options are few, so make sure you book ahead! To make the most of the location check out Hopkins Park Campground. Sisters, Oregon This extremely RV friendly mountain town is a hidden gem waiting for you this summer. Not only do you have easy access to the Three Sisters mountains, but here you are surrounded by trails and forests to help you escape the city life. This spot is particularly great for all those who enjoy biking and mountain biking, there are simply too many good trails around that range, from easy flat loops to more high intensity downhills. Campsites also come in a wide variety, from free sites in the forest to some incredible luxury and themed RV campgrounds in town. All of these incredible hidden gems are waiting for you to make the most out of your summer. As always remember to practice “leave no trace” when camping in forest land, picking up behind you and practicing safe distance while watching wildlife. Now that you know you can rent an RV with RVshare and explore incredible locations without the crowds, all that is left is counting down the days until you leave!
While not only has purchasing an RV greatly increased rentals and sharing has soared. But how did these rolling homes on wheels get their start? To answer that, you'll have to travel back to the wild west, and the rugged landscape of Wyoming. Duck into the Old West Museum in Cheyenne, Wyoming and you'll see so many chuck wagons, sleek phaetons, and sturdy stagecoaches you'll think you stumbled onto a Clint Eastwood film set. The museum, part of the broader Frontier Days rodeo complex, is home to the largest collection of of pre-automobile vehicles West of the Mississippi. It's also, somewhat unintentionally, a prologue to the sprawling RV/MH Hall of Fame in Ekhart, Indiana – the midwest manufacturing town that's turned out most of the motorhomes, travel trailers, toy haulers, and recreational vehicles you'll see on highways not only in the US, but around the world. That's because long before Winnebago was a household name, and even before companies like Ford made the automobile king of the road, the buggies, coaches, and wagons you'll see on exhibit in Cheyenne or the Plains Museum in Laramie were the original RVs that helped Americans get outside not for work, but for the sheer fun of it. Now a century later, RVs are having something of a renaissance. Not only have sales gone up in recent years, RV users are increasingly diverse. And as many in the industry predicted the COVID-19 pandemic created a major boom for motorhomes as many adopt RVing as a way to travel while practicing social distancing. But how did these rolling homes on wheels get their start? To answer that, you'll have to travel back to the wild west, and the rugged landscape of Wyoming. One of the original touring coaches used to guide visitors around Yellowstone National Park before the advent of the automobile © Meghan O'Dea The history of the first RVs One of the jewels of the Old West Museum is an original Yellowstone stagecoach in the signature bright yellow hue that's still standard for the park's current fleet of buses and snow coaches. The Tally-Ho Touring Coaches, as they were known, were manufactured by Abbot-Downing Company of Concord, New Hampshire especially for the Yellowstone Park Transportation Company. The century-old paint job is flaking off the museum's example, but it's still easy to get a sense of what it would be like to tour the United States' original national park behind a team of horses after making the long journey from cities back east via the Northern Pacific Railroad. Long before major thoroughfares like the Lincoln Highway or Route 66 linked states from coast to coast and made road trips to national parks possible, visitors arrived in train cars and stayed in grand hotels built by the railroad companies themselves, often with an architectural style that blended western rustic with Old World alpine motifs – a genre that came to be known as "parksitecture." Back then, a multi-day tour through the park cost about $50 a passenger (over a $1,000 today if you account for inflation), and took you from the North Pacific Railroad's station in Cinnabar, Montana, to the hotel at Mammoth Hot Springs, which you can still visit today. Little boy sitting on bumper of early RV circa 1915. © Vintage Images / Alamy Stock Photo Soon the well-to-do tourists who went to the trouble and expense of trips out west wanted their own recreational vehicles in which to tour national parks, or the countryside closer to their homes and summer retreats. Carriage companies began to add extra features like fold-out beds, sinks and "potted toilets" to the landaus they were already manufacturing – landaus being a kind of precursor to the modern convertible, with a broad passenger seat and a fold-down top. In 1910, Pierce-Arrow debuted its new Touring Landau at the Madison Square Garden auto show. It was a swift, sporty carriage equipped with many of the comforts of home, perfect for the leisure class's recent yen for escaping the polluted, crowded city in favor of outdoor adventures. The Pierce-Arrow was not only the first RV as we know them today, it was also the ancestor of today's Type B motorhomes – part car or truck, part home on wheels. A car pulls an early caravan with tent construction in the Kaibab National Forest on the northern edge of the Grand Canyon circa 1929 © Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo / Alamy Stock Photo RVs in the age of the automobile It didn't take long for other carriage makers to roll out their own versions of the Pierce-Arrow – or for the burgeoning auto industry to get in on the small but exciting RV trend. Some of the innovative wealthy converted Packard trucks into the first ever Class C motorhomes (the mid-size RV models built on truck chassis, often with a bed in a pop-out over the cab) and in 1910, a Michigan company called Auto Kamp started rolling out the first pop-up campers much like the ones you know today, with space for sleeping, cooking, and dining. What set the Auto Kamp apart was that it was designed not to be pulled by horses like the Touring Landau, but by the brand new Model T's that rolled off Ford's Detroit factory lines just two years before. The age of the automobile had arrived, giving a broader swath of Americans access not only to Yellowstone, but the six other national parks that had been established in the decades following the United States' first national park, including Sequoia, Yosemite, Mt. Rainier, Crater Lake, Wind Cave, and Mesa Verde. An exhibit at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart Indiana shows a number of RV styles from decades past © Vespasian / Alamy Stock Photo Just three years after Pierce-Arrow introduced the first RV and five years after the Model T debuted, an instructor at Cal State invented his own model of travel trailer to tow behind his own "Tin Lizzy," as the Model T had affectionately become known. It was called the Earl after its inventor, who hired a local carriage company to build out his design, which is still on display at the RV/MH Hall of Fame. Throughout the 1920s and 30s, as automobile ownership continued to increase and slews of new national parks were designated from Grand Canyon to the Everglades to Great Smoky Mountains, new types of RVs debuted, too. It was an era of "Tin Can Tourists" as one RV enthusiasts club called itself, a reference to the gleaming silver campers of the era – a style that lives on in the perennially popular Airstream, which debuted in the early 1930s. No longer were visitors to national parks limited to the railroad's massive lodges. Now they could camp throughout Yellowstone and its descendants – and at a variety of other outdoor destinations, too, including the first proper RV parks that cropped up across the country, along with filling stations and motels along brand-new "auto-trails" like the Dixie Highway, Egyptian Trail, Evergreen National Highway, and New Santa Fe Trail. Desi Arnaz and Lucile Ball appear in the film "Long, Long Trailer" © United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo How RVs became part of American culture Though the Great Depression slowed the sale of RVs along with everything else in America, the Civilian Conservation Corps was hard at work on numerous projects in national and state parks around the country, constructing campgrounds and other outdoor recreation facilities still in use today. By the time World War II was over, the economy was roaring again and Americans were eager to explore. The age of nuclear family road trips and summer vacations had arrived, and so had a new generation of RVs that were bigger and more luxurious than ever, packed with new technology and ready to run on plenty of cheap gasoline. Sprawling Class A models (the largest size of RVs, which often resemble tour busses) rolled onto dealers' lots, along with the first RVs known as "motor homes." RVs had started to make their way into pop culture through films like 1943's What's Buzzin' Cousin? and 1953's Long Long Trailer. A decade later, a VW microbus appeared on the cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, just a year after Donna Reed took her fictional TV family on western vacation in a Dodge Travco RV. Also in 1962, an aging John Steinbeck hit the road in a camper named for Don Quixote's horse, in search of the American essence and whatever the country was becoming, perhaps unaware that his journey itself, and the means by which he traveled, typified the very questions he was trying to answer. Steinbeck's experience, recorded in the great travelogue Travels with Charlie, later inspired CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt to start filming America's back highways for a segment called On the Road, a project that ultimately lasted twenty years and six motorhomes. By the end of the 1960s there was no denying that RVs were firmly cemented in both mainstream family life and counterculture, as American as apple pie. A family packs up for a summer vacation in their travel trailer sometime in the 1960s © ClassicStock / Alamy Stock Photo Motorhomes from the midcentury to today Many of the carriage manufacturers who started the RV travel trend had been put out of business by big auto decades earlier, but a new generation of RV-builders were about to become household names. Small buses and conversion vans like the VW Type 2, Westfalia Vanagon, and conversions of Dodge and Ram commercial vehicles came to the fore in the 1950s and 60s and have stayed popular to this day. Meanwhile, Winnebago released its first model in 1966, and thanks to its iconic design and affordability, the brand quickly became genericized, the company's name synonymous with RVs in general. Competitor Jayco was founded two years later, and in 1972, a small family-run building supply company in Red Bay, Alabama, purchased an ailing RV manufacturer and turned it into Tiffin Motorhomes. That was the same year the RV/MV Hall of Fame Heritage Foundation was started in Elkhart, which later developed the Hall of Fame. Barbie got her first RV in 1970, the same year the Partridge Family hit the road in a brightly painted Chevy school bus to make their first gig at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. It was just a few years before the oil crisis put a dent in the RV industry juggernaut, slowing sales. But by the 1980s, America was still in love with RVs, giving them pride of place in popular films like Space Balls, The Blues Brothers and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, proving that travel – even in far-flung galaxies – was still very much synonymous with the all-American motorhome. RVs are gaining popularity with Latinx and African American outdoor enthusiasts in recent years © Wendy Ashton / Getty Images In recent years, new demographics have been getting in on RVs. As the outdoor industry diversifies, so have rentals and purchase of the recreational vehicles people use to access their favorite destinations. The popularity of the vanlife movement and a proliferation of RV influencers on YouTube and social media have contributed to RV's shedding their retirees-only image, as new generations of "schoolies" and "dirtbags" adopt vintage school busses and new models like the Dodge Ram ProMaster and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans as permanent rolling homes. Meanwhile, Volkswagen is putting the finishing touches on an all-electric version of its classic surfer van, ushering in a new, more sustainable era of RVing. Many of those now-classic brands like Coachmen and Fleetwood that became synonymous with motorhomes over fifty years ago are putting out new models with a host of features modern travelers demand, like USB chargers and faux-marble countertops. And there's been a crop of glampgrounds mushrooming around the world where guests can savor the style of vintage Airstreams and Shastas, from Hotel Caravana in the Hudson Valley to The Vintages Trailer Resort in Oregon wine country. The first century of RVing has been a long, strange trip. Fortunately, if you're still curious to learn more about how your contemporary adventure rig evolved, you can gas up your current model and head to the Old West Museum, Plains Museum, the RV/MH Hall of Fame, John Sisemore Traveland RV Museum, Steven Katkowsky Vintage Trailer Museum and beyond to see the original recreational vehicles for yourself, not to mention those gleaming space-age Tin Cans, canned hams, Winnies, toy-haulers, and everything in between. You might just run into a national park or two on the way, and see some of the places that inspired your favorite motorhomes all those years ago. Content Presented by RVShare, the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace with more than 100,000 RVs to rent nationwide. RVshare brings RV renters and RV owners together by providing the safest and most secure platform for booking an RV rental. Find the Perfect RV Rental at RVshare
A few things might wake you up in the middle of the night the first time you climb under the covers inside an RV. Fearing that you forgot to engage the parking brake and are in danger of rolling down the hill to your death, for one. (You did, and you are.) Thinking someone left the light on in the bathroom and wondering whether that will drain the RV's battery by morning. (They did, but it didn't.) Hearing campers breaking the sacred "quiet after 9 p.m." rule and imagining they'll get busted. (They did.) Wondering if the bacon and eggs you bought for tomorrow morning's breakfast are now, effectively, toast, because you'd been told that the fridge will mysteriously stop working if the RV is parked on even the slightest incline. (They are.) Funny, I'd spent half my life dreaming about setting off in an RV for parts unknown and maintaining perfectly level appliances never once figured into the fantasy. To me, RVing was simply the ultimate escape route. Maybe that's because my early family vacations revolved around campgrounds and car trips. Or maybe because buying an RV is the landlocked states' version of saving up for a sailboat. It's a vacation home wherever you want it, whenever you want it. It's freedom and security in equal measure. It's Lewis and Clark with a V-8 engine. "I studied online forums for RV enthusiasts, campground-review sites, and the orientation video on the RV-rental website." Still, in the weeks leading to my maiden RV voyage, my anxiety was rising almost as fast as gasoline prices. The sheer size of the vehicle—and the fact that it would be filled with cutlery and combustible fuels—grew scarier by the minute. To quell the panic, I studied online forums for RV enthusiasts, campground-review sites, and the orientation video on the RV-rental website (twice). And I brought backup: Lindsay and Lola, a couple of friends I've known since college who have a generous way of seeing disasters as adventures. They tried to distract me by focusing on our packing priorities: hiking gear vs. lawn games, SPF 15 or 30. Not that it helped. ROAD-TESTED TIP #1: "Use an RV-specific route planner on a GPS. It'll factor in overhead clearance and other restrictions, such as which roads, bridges, and tunnels won't allow propane tanks through." —Richard Coon, former President, Recreational Vehicle Industry Association And yet, when we arrived at the rental lot in Durham, N.C., I started to calm down, in part because a petite 20-something gal handed me the keys, and I figured that if she could pilot a big rig, then maybe I could, too. We got a few simple pointers from the RV folks: Pull far into intersections before making a turn. Leave lots of room for braking. Always use a spotter when you back up. Drive-through restaurants are just not worth the risk. We learned when to use battery power, propane, shoreline electricity, and our generator; how to restart a dead battery; the necessity of turning off the propane tank before refueling; how to heat water for showers and how to tell when the water supply is nearly depleted; and how to level out the rig with a pair of two-by-four boards if our campsite is on a slant. And we learned the finer points of emptying the holding tanks—a polite way of saying draining the toilet—a task that quickly supplanted merging onto the highway as my most dreaded challenge. "Once you get the hose screwed on—and make sure you screw it on really tight—then open the valves and walk away," said Tommy, our orientation instructor. "Or run. I've gotten wet feet more times than I like to recall." The girls and I made a pact to use the campgrounds' rest areas whenever possible and added latex gloves to the top of our shopping list. Then we took a few trial spins around the parking lot, and with Lindsay in the navigator's seat and Lola on loose-objects duty in the back, we headed into the great wide open. "We quickly learned that RV trips are all-hands-on-deck endeavors." First came the rattle. With every bump in the road, each cup, dish, and saucepan in our kitchen cabinets shuddered like a beat-up shopping cart being pushed down a gravel road. (I learned later that putting paper towels between the plates helps immensely.) Then came the thuds. Turn left, and one set of drawers would slide open with a thwak. Turn right, and another drawer would do the same. We were already learning that RV trips are all-hands-on-deck endeavors. In addition to navigating, Lindsay was my second set of eyes for lane changes and would become my second-in-command for ticking off setup and breakdown duties. Lola wrangled drawers and cabinets, stood lookout at the rear window for minor back-up missions, and became galley chef for the length of the trip. "This is like a ropes course," Lindsay said after our first refueling stop, with its propane-off, propane-on, secure-all-items drill. "Maybe we should do some trust falls at the beach." Six hours, three pit stops, and one possible bird collision (none of us wanted to check the grille for confirmation) later, we arrived at Frisco Campground, one of four in the area run by the National Park Service. We had just enough time to practice back-in parking before nightfall. That's when I realized my first RV mistake: Anywhere we wanted to go, we'd have to take the RV, repositioning it each time we returned. (The pros either bring bikes or tow a regular car—often referred to as a dinghy—behind the RV.) So we strapped ourselves back in to fetch dinner in Hatteras Village, five miles away, and performed the parking routine again an hour later—this time in the dark, with the girls wielding flashlights like traffic batons. ROAD-TESTED TIP #2: "We try to bring or rent bicycles to visit nearby areas while camping. It beats packing up the RV to move it to a trailhead for hiking, only to find out there is no room to park a larger vehicle! Many times, you can access a 'bikes only' trail or (at the Grand Canyon, for example) trails for shuttle buses and bikes only." —Debby Schlesinger, BT reader, Grenada Hills, Calif. To celebrate—not just the parking but surviving the first day—we split a bottle of convenience-store wine around the RV's dinette, the only spot where all three of us could sit facing each other. "I've had worse apartments than this," I said, looking around. "Definitely worse kitchens." The furnishings were surprisingly modern—navy fabric upholstery and matching window coverings, new-looking appliances and cabinets. And even though I assumed we'd overpacked, there was plenty of unused storage space in the RV's dozen cabinets. More impressive to me was the fact that I could walk around the whole cabin standing at full height, without crouching or hitting my head on anything. That was, until bedtime. I called the bunk over the cab—possibly an unconscious compulsion to stay near the driver's seat. Maneuvering my limbs into the crawl-space-size cubby guaranteed a bumped elbow, knee, or forehead with every entrance and exit. The girls shared the double bed in back, since converting the dinette to a third bed would have required clearing the piles of maps, snack-food containers, and bug repellent cans that had already accumulated on the tabletop. Calling out our good nights and cracking jokes in the dark, it was the closest thing to an adult sleepover I could imagine—more intimate than sharing a hotel room, and sillier, too. "Orchestrating our morning routines was easier than I'd thought." Seeing the Frisco campground in daylight—just after sunrise, in fact, thanks to the chatter of the campground's early risers—provided a fresh perspective after that fitful first night's sleep. Orchestrating our morning routines was easier than I'd thought. The toilet and the shower—one of those flimsy jobs with a handheld sprayer that tumbles readily from its mount—were bundled in one closet-size room, about four feet by four feet, tops. (Its door was inches away from where Lindsay and Lola slept, another reason to make sparing use of its facilities.) Still, the teensy bathroom sink was just outside the shower/toilet stall; at the slightly larger kitchen sink a few feet away, two people could brush their teeth simultaneously. Lindsay was the first one out, conferring with the park ranger and plotting the day's activities (hit the beach, visit a lighthouse, find lunch). The ocean's proximity redeemed the transportation issue. After all, who needs a car when you can walk to the beach? The geography of the Outer Banks—a 130-mile stretch of narrow barrier islands, less than a mile wide for much if its length—was the primary reason I'd chosen this spot for my trial run. There are 20-plus campgrounds along the strip, none much more than a mile away from the Atlantic Ocean or Pamlico Sound. At Frisco, $28 a night buys you peace, quiet, and your own little slice of unlandscaped beachfront real estate. What that $28 doesn't buy you: heated campground showers or any way to charge a cell phone. Hence, one night would be our limit. ROAD-TESTED TIP #3: "If you're exhausted and not near a campground, Walmart stores sometimes allow campers to use their parking lots. Just check to make sure there's not a no overnight parking sign, and choose a spot near one of the lot's outer edges." —Kevin Broom, former Director of Media Relations, Recreational Vehicle Industry Association Courtesy RVshare The 30 miles of road between Frisco and Rodanthe, where we'd camp next, passes through a series of near-identical hamlets with dreamy names: Avon, Salvo, Waves. The longer we drove, the less I worried about all the folks in my rearview mirror who clearly wanted to pass me on the two-lane highway. Rolling down the windows and turning on the radio helped distract me. So did focusing on our next stop, an oasis where water and electricity flow freely and quiet hours don't start until a wild-and-crazy 10 p.m. As much as I'd been obsessing about life inside an RV, pulling into the Cape Hatteras KOA was a revelation. Here, everyone was living outside their vehicles. All around us, colorful awnings, canvas camp chairs, outdoor carpets, wind chimes, string lights shaped like Airstream trailers, plastic gingham tablecloths, tiki torches, and dream catchers marked off each site's would-be front lawn. We envied our neighbors, a retired duo from Farmville, N.C., for their old-school, beige-striped Winnebago (our RV was plastered with rental ads) and simple setup: an AstroTurf swatch just big enough for their two folding chairs and a small table. ROAD-TESTED TIP #4: "If you're staying parked in one spot for a while, run the RV engine for a few minutes each day to recharge the battery." —Tommy Summey, Cruise America rental agent, Hillsborough, N.C. We'd brought nothing—and I mean nothing—to make the outside of our RV feel like home. Alas, the homiest thing we could muster was to try out the RV kitchen. "Grilled cheese sandwiches, everybody?" Lola asked. With no real counter space, she spread plates across the stovetop to prep the ingredients, then shifted the plates to a little sliver of awkward space behind the sink. As the stove (and, soon after, the RV) heated up, she had a change of heart. "Cold cheese sandwiches, everybody?" she asked. The plan abandoned, we carried our sandwiches out to the nearest picnic table. And never turned on the stove again. "Having a place to spread out is crucial." Having a place to spread out is crucial—especially when you've crammed a family of four or five into a usable living space the size of a large toolshed. But it would also be a shame to stay inside; an RV park is a voyeur's paradise—people watching at its most reciprocal. Several times, I passed a man with a white ponytail sitting shirtless outside his RV, shelling peas. He asked how I was doing, and when I replied in kind, he said, "I'm just making do, trying to enjoy myself...it's not too difficult." He didn't need to wink—but I think he did anyway. Our favorite acquaintance at the camp was Kilo, a nervous but friendly tan-and-white Chihuahua that accompanied John, a KOA staffer, on all his rounds—showing new arrivals to their sites and helping campers set up. (The explanation for his name? "He's from Mexico." Roger that.) Judging from all the group activities at the campground, it's safe to say that RVers are very social. Even those campers who'd rather spend their afternoons at the beach—as we did, most days—have ample opportunity for mingling after sundown. One evening, we caught the opening number at karaoke night—Cee Lo Green's expletive-free radio hit "Forget You," performed by a teenage staffer; the next, we watched an outdoor screening of Kung Fu Panda. We even organized some social events of our own, enlisting a couple of 30-something Texan guys to help us start a fire to make s'mores. Another snafu: not knowing the proper way to extinguish a fire when you're done with dessert. We poured panfuls of water from our kitchen onto the flames, sending out smoke signals to the whole campground that we were clueless. "Just as we were leaving, I was getting the hang of it." The author with her Class C RV. Credit: Brent Humphreys By the last day, we'd had more than our share of screwups, most easy enough to laugh off. But there was one RV task I really couldn't afford to botch. It was time for the Holding Tank. Lindsay followed me outside to offer moral support—and to remind me to run. Fortunately, I didn't get my feet wet, though I did leave a small trail of blue chemicals between our site's dump station and the RV (and hoped no one would notice). ROAD-TESTED TIP #5: "Be sure to get a tutorial on how to empty the holding tanks. One time, we forgot to add chemicals to the black-water tank after emptying it—the smell was terrible, and we quickly learned our lesson." —Laurie Huhndorf, BT reader, San Antonio The payoff for that 5 a.m. waste disposal came when we finally hit the empty road pointing north toward Nags Head, the sky slowly brightening with each mile. The only other travelers out were sea birds and jackrabbits, and I'd long since stopped fretting over every lane change, left turn, or loose kitchen drawer rattling with dishes. Even shutting off the propane at our last gas-station stop was second nature. Finally, just as we were leaving, I was getting the hang of it. Next time, I may even get up the nerve to grill a cheese sandwich or two. Content Presented by RVshare, the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace with more than 100,000 RVs to rent nationwide. RVshare brings RV renters and RV owners together by providing the safest and most secure platform for booking an RV rental. 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Just in time for National Waterpark Day (July 28), vacation rental marketplace HomeToGo is making a splash by releasing its 2022 Water Park Index to help travelers identify the top water parks to visit this year. From Florida to California, from pulse-pounding to placid, they’ve done a deep dive into the best water parks that America has to offer. Most Affordable States to Make a Splash: Water parks in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, California and Illinois climb to the affordable peak of this year’s ranking.Best States for Water Park Enthusiasts: California reigns supreme with the most water parks on this year's ranking (11), followed by Texas (10) and Florida (9). The average total cost per day among the featured water parks in California is $138.06, compared to $132.96 in Texas and $139.16 in Florida.Average Entry Prices: This year’s average entry cost is $39.82. The water parks with the cheapest entry costs are Buccaneer Bay and Sun-N-Fun Lagoon both in Florida, which both cost $13 per adult.The tallest waterside in the country is Thrillagascar at DreamWorks Water Park in New Jersey (Ranked #32), which stands at 142 feet tall and reaches free-fall speeds of +60 mph and features the world's biggest indoor wave poolThe largest water park in the U.S. is Noah’s Ark Water Park in Wisconsin Dells (#44), with a total of 51 waterslides, 2 wave pools, 2 lazy rivers, and 6 additional attractions. Rankings are based on cost of parking, entry, locker and nightly accommodations. 3. Buccaneer Bay - $91.02Weeki Wachee, Florida Buccaneer Bay - Courtesy of floridastateparks.org Buccaneer Bay, located within Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, is the perfect place for families to spend a hot summer day. This water park is Florida’s only spring-fed water park and is home to a variety of different attractions including waterslides, sandy beach area, lazy river float ride, beach volleyball court and legendary mermaid shows in a submerged theater. On top of this, the water park is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery due to its unique location. This water park offers food and beverage options for guests who need to refuel and hydrate, as well as covered picnic pavilions for those who would like to bring their own snacks. 2. Splash Kingdom Oasis - $90.46Shreveport, Louisiana Splash Kingdom Oasis - Courtesy of hometogo Splash Kingdom Waterpark in Shreveport, Louisiana is a water park for the entire family to enjoy and embrace the family tradition of taking trips together. With more than 15 rides and attractions to choose from, people of all ages can come to this fun oasis and never worry about running out of things to do. On top of this, guests can enjoy food and drinks for whenever they get hungry or need to quench their thirst after a long day. Guests can also expect a multitude of different aspects of entertainment, with events being held that showcase music, movies and more. 1. NRH2O Family Water Park - $87.99North Richland Hills, Texas Thunder - Courtesy of NRH2O Family Water Park NRH20 is a 17-acre water park filled with plenty of fun and excitement for guests to enjoy. This water park is home to 14 attractions along with food and beverage amenities. With a great balance between thrilling waterslides and kid-friendly attractions, this water park is welcome to all ages looking to let off some steam and just have fun. NRH20 is known for its friendly environment, relaxing atmosphere, and reasonable prices. Located in North Richland Hills, Texas, the water park’s popularity has flourished within the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Click here to see the complete list of top affordable water parks and the methodology for the rankings.
Once upon a time, whiskey was the currency of cowboys and grandfathers. Then the story changed. Over the past two decades, Scotch, bourbon and Irish whiskey have become some of the fastest growing spirits in the world. In the United States, it has become increasingly easy to find bars specializing in uisce beatha. (That’s Gaelic for “water of life” and the source of the word “whiskey”). Most feature bartenders who work in a sommelier-like capacity to answer questions and offer suggestions that best suit your preferences. Here are some of the best spots to slake your whiskey thirst. And curiosity. Brandy Library: New York, New York There’s a casual elegance that pervades the Brandy Library, which opened in 2004, earning it the badge of first whiskey bar in New York. (As legend has it, owner Flavien Desoblin christened it “Brandy Library” instead of “Whiskey Library” because when he opened the place, whiskey wasn’t a fraction as cool as it is now and he worried it might turn people away.) Brandy Library, in the posh Tribeca neighborhood, is a full-immersion experience. Shelves line several walls in the sepia-toned, living-room-like bar. Add to that copper lighting fixtures inspired by liquor stills and a gorgeous leather-bound menu arranged by region, and you have a Mecca-level destination worth a pilgrimage. Silver Dollar: Louisville, Kentucky The Silver Dollar is located in the heart of Bourbon Country © Liza Weisstuch There are many reasons to visit the Silver Dollar. Architecture junkies will be intrigued by how this 1890 fire house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was transformed into one of Louisville’s hippest hangouts. (Yes, the fire pole is still standing.) Music-lovers will appreciate how it stands as a tribute the Bakersfield Sound, the classic country music style credited to Buck Owens, who, in the 1950s, infused Nashville’s popular swinging country with the strumming Mexican conjunto music he discovered in his local California bars. The fact that bartenders play country music on vinyl only elevates the vintage vibe. Similarly, the southern regional cuisine on the menu has a spicy Mexican accent. And then, of course, there is the American whiskey, which is in no shortage here in the bourbon capital of the world. Jack Rose Dining Saloon: Washington, DC Inside the Jack Rose © Greg Powers The Jack Rose is less whisky bar and more whisky kingdom, of sorts, offering a range of environments for imbibing in Washington, DC’s, vibrant Adam’s Morgan neighborhood. The main bar and dining room is a handsome dark-wood-and-leather affair lightened with soaring ceilings, tall windows, and a marble bar. Those high ceilings are necessary to house the nearly 2700 brands of whiskey, many of which are accessible to the bartenders only by ladder. Not sure what you like? No pressure, you can buy anything as a half-ounce pour here so go on and experiment. Upstairs is a seasonal tiki bar as well as an open-air terrace with a bar of its own featuring a barbecue pit area equipped with heat lamps so you can chill out in the winter. Speaking of barbecue, food here leans southern and hearty, with fried green tomatoes and cornmeal fried oysters playing leading roles on the menu. Julep Cocktail Club: Kansas City, Missouri Courtesy of Julep Art Deco glamour meets mid-century modern simplicity at this classy yet laid-back whiskey bar in Kansas City’s increasingly hip Westport neighborhood. Outside of Chicago, Julep Cocktail Club has the biggest whiskey selection in the region, clocking in at about 500 bottles. The drink list skews American, but Scotch, Irish, Japanese and Canadian are all accounted for, too. Bartenders are knowledgeable and ready to reply to any of your brown-water questions. Flights, which change regularly to showcase a region or a theme, are a popular choice here, as are their outstanding mint juleps, which come in three varieties: vintage, traditional and modern. The food menu is an appealing assortment of pub grub elevated with an Asian twist. Seven Grand: Los Angeles, California The hunting-lodge stylings of Seven Grand in LA © Liza Weisstuch If there’s one thing you should know about Seven Grand, it’s that its whiskey menu is 44 pages long. Yes, 44 pages. You could say that this antique-y, dimly lit hunting-lodge-chic bar, which opened in 2007, is the antithesis of Los Angeles, where so many bars and restaurants are airy and light. Or you could argue that Seven Grand is quintessentially LA, what with its transportive movie-set-like ambiance, complete with details like mounted deer heads and vintage furniture. Regardless, it claims the biggest whiskey collection in the West, making it an attraction for aficionados and the whisky-curious. The whiskey list does soar to super-premium heights, but the vibe here is very down-to-earth. (See: pool tables, live music.) And for those in-the-know, there’s Jackelope, an intimate Japanese-style whiskey bar tucked away in the back. Fiori D’Italia: Anchorage, Alaska When an earthquake struck Anchorage, Alaska, in 2018, many of whiskey bottles from the collection of more than 400 at Fiori d’Italia hit the ground and shattered. Building the collection had been an ongoing pursuit for the young bar manager Ylli Ferati, whose family owns and runs the discreetly tucked-away Italian restaurant. But thanks to his perseverance and vast industry connections, he was able to rebuild the biggest whiskey selection in Alaska. The restaurant, which is owned and run by Ylli’s parents, immigrants from Macedonia, is decidedly old-school Italian, and while they do indeed have a wine list, Ylli encourages exploring whiskey pairings with the food, a fine way to understand the spirit’s universal appeal. Multnomah Whiskey Library: Portland, Oregon The massive collection in the Multnomah Whiskey Library lines the shelves on the wall © Dina Avila There is a good chance that you’ll stop in your tracks the first time you walk into the Multnomah Whiskey Library in downtown Portland, Oregon, and behold its grandeur. True to its name, it’s set up as like a library reading room, complete with long tables and desktop-style lamps. But don’t expect quiet contemplation here. After all, its shelves are not packed with books, but with about 2,000 bottles of whiskey, plus a healthy assortment of rum, tequila and cognac. If cocktails are your preference, you’re in for a treat: the service here involves a dedicated bartender who takes the order at your table and makes the cocktail tableside. While not a speakeasy, its entrance is a tad discreet, so stay on the lookout for the “Whisky Library” sign. And pro tip: It’s a spacious place and very popular, so arrive early to get your name on the list. Delilah’s: Chicago, Illinois For many years, the term “whiskey bar” conjured up images of high-end fusty affairs. The recent bourbon boom has made brown water a more democratic drink, but before bourbon became a hipster spirit, there was Delilah’s, which stood out – and continues to gather fans – for the way it uniquely captures whiskey’s freewheeling, rock’n’roll soul. This Chicago hangout has a dive-y vibe, complete with weathered banquettes, Christmas lights, and live rock bands. You’ll find as much pretension here as you might in your local CVS. Yet the global whiskey selection is world-class and the bartenders can each provide a thorough whiskey education.
From north to south and from coast to coast, America is packed with diverse landscapes that are worth exploring for every type of traveler. Each state has its own culture and landmarks that make them unique. Courtesy of musement Outdoor enthusiasts have a plethora of places to choose from. National parks and outdoor attractions make up almost one third of the most popular attractions in the United States. From the greats like The Grand Canyon (Arizona) and the urban oasis Central Park (New York) to lesser-known gems like Blackwater Falls State Park (West Virginia) or the Gulf Islands National Seashore (Mississippi) and its beaches, you can get a taste of cultural activities while enjoying Mother Nature. Hersheypark: Hershey, Pennsylvania - Istock/ gsheldon Thrill seekers and families with young ones will be glad to see that ten states across the country have amusement/theme parks as their number one attraction. Snap pictures with Mickey and your favorite Disney characters at Walt Disney World (Florida) or Disneyland Park (California). Otherwise, you can escape to the east to Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Virginia). Got a craving for chocolate? Head to Hersheypark (Pennsylvania) and see what the hype is all about. The Alamo - San Antonio, Texas History buffs will be able to turn the clocks back at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation (Michigan) where they can witness some of America’s most historical items, discover what life was like in the 1830s at The Alamo (Texas), or jump on board the World War II battleship turned museum at the USS Alabama (Alabama). Jellyfish at the Georgia Aquarium: Atlanta,Georgia - Istock/Gau Souza Animal lovers across the states have the opportunity to visit some of the world’s best zoos and aquariums. From Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (Nebraska) and its one-of-a-kind exhibits to the world-renowned Georgia Aquarium (Georgia), one of the largest in the world, to the west coast’s Oregon Zoo, the United States offers plenty to admire. Research done by Musement, the digital discovery and booking platform for travel activities and experiences around the world. To see the full list of all 50 attractions click here.
Fido is not just a pet––he’s family. Of course, we want our canine companions to join the fam on every vacation, but more often than not, there are cases where our furry family member(s) simply can’t come. Alas, not every trip is pet-friendly. As a result, one of the most common questions for vacation-bound pet parents remains: who on earth is going to watch my dog? We know how stressful it can be to leave your pup behind. We also know that it’s no easy feat, finding the best possible care for them without breaking the bank. Many turn to platforms like Rover.com in order to book trusted, vetted pet sitters, but these costs can vary quite a bit depending on your location. CertaPet dove into the costs of boarding your dog at a sitter’s home vs. hiring a dog sitter to come to your own home in the 50 most populous cities around the U.S.Courtesy of CertaPet Out of 50 of the largest cities, 10 came out on top for saving the most annually from boarding vs. sitting, based on a two-week vacation. Two cities claimed the top two spots by having an annual savings of over $300 each! Philadelphia landed the number one spot for saving $336.70 per year by boarding vs. sitting, and Los Angeles came in second place for saving $335.30 per year. Atlanta, San Francisco, Tampa, and St. Louis are all in the $200 club, and Denver, Detroit, Houston, and Providence all have annual savings between $180-$200. Overall, every city shows some amount of savings for boarding over sitting except for one, Minneapolis. In Minneapolis, the average cost to board your furry friend in a sitter’s home matches the cost of a pet sitter watching your pup at your house; so, Minneapolis folks should take advantage of Rover’s “sitting” option, where your dog can be cared for in a familiar environment. Averaging $30.45 per night, Oklahoma City has the cheapest rate for boarding your pooch at a sitter’s house. St. Louis, Jacksonville, and Memphis also offer low rates, all under $32 per night. New York has the highest cost per night for boarding your canine pal at $61 per night. Averaging $59.25 per night, boarding is pretty steep in both San Jose and San Francisco as well. Courtesy of CertaPet Let’s face it though, sometimes comfort is worth paying a little extra. If you would prefer that your dog stays in the comfort of your own home with a sitter, there are a few cities where your pup can do so cost-efficiently. Indianapolis is the cheapest city in the U.S. for hiring a pet sitter at $36.45 per night on average. There are also several cities where the cost difference for in home sitting vs boarding is under $3 extra a night - San Antonio ($2.75), Chicago ($2.55), Nashville ($2.50), Salt Lake City ($2.35), San Diego ($1.50) and Indianapolis ($.30). Whatever way you decide be sure to go with the option that is best for your pet's comfort and yours! You can view the full study here from CertaPet. CertaPet specializes in US and Canada with a focus on providing clinical services to individuals who are seeking animal-assisted interventions as part of their treatment planning.
There are a limited number of flights available for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it is important to book as early as possible for the best prices (ideally you have already booked your holiday travel). Additionally, some days are much better than others to fly when it comes to crowds and cost. How Far in Advance to Book Holiday Travel Ideally, you should book your Thanksgiving and Christmas flights many months in advance. As a rule, we suggest booking domestic flights at least one to three months in advance. For international flights, you should book at least two to eight months in advance, but the earlier the better. For the holidays, you should book even earlier if possible to guarantee a desirable route, time, seat, and price. Both domestic and international flights open for bookings around 11 months in advance (for revenue and award tickets), but be careful booking domestic too early. International flights tend to be cheaper closer to the opening of the booking window. Domestic flights are more expensive when released and tend to drop in price after a few months. For that reason, you should aim to book international flights earlier than domestic, and that is especially true for the holidays. Here are our recommended cutoff dates for booking Thanksgiving and December flights. Thanksgiving (book before Halloween) I recommend booking your Thanksgiving flight by late August or early September for the best price. If possible, book in June or July. Book international flights even earlier. If you wait too long, you should aim to book by Halloween at the latest. While it is possible to get a decent deal after Halloween, your chances dramatically decrease. Your odds of finding a desirable flight time also go down when booking after Halloween. Christmas (book before Thanksgiving) The best deals on Christmas flights are usually available through late August and early September. If possible, book even earlier in June or July. At the latest, you should book by Thanksgiving, but the earlier the better. If it is December and you still do not have a flight, you should expect to pay a premium. Additionally, you will likely only have undesirable flight times to choose from with the potential for one or more connections. Best & Worst Days to Fly for the Holidays Being on a Thursday every year, the best and worst days to fly for Thanksgiving are predictable. Christmas is a little more difficult since it does not fall on the same day of the week every year. Here are the days you should target and the days you should avoid this holiday season. Thanksgiving (best departure and return dates) For Thanksgiving last year 10.52% of American adults intended to fly to attend a gathering on Turkey Day. That means tens of millions of people fought over seats for a very limited number of flights. For 2022, we expect that number to be even higher. Best Thanksgiving Travel Dates for 2022 BEST DEPARTURE DATESBEST RETURN DATESMonday, November 21Friday, November 25 (Black Friday)Tuesday, November 22Monday, November 28Thursday, November 24 (Thanksgiving Day)Tuesday, November 29 As the table shows, you want to depart early during the week. If possible, Sunday is even better than Monday. While not ideal, Thanksgiving Day is a great day to fly. Black Friday is also a good day to fly if you can swing a shorter trip. Most people return home the Sunday after Thanksgiving, so aim to fly back on the Friday or Monday after Turkey Day. If you can wait another day, Tuesday is even better than Monday. Worst Thanksgiving Travel Dates for 2021 WORST DEPARTURE DATESWORST RETURN DATESWednesday, November 23Sunday, November 27 Avoid the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at all costs. It is one of the most popular days of the year to fly, and it is expensive. Additionally, airports are always packed, so it is an extra stressful experience. Avoid the Sunday after Thanksgiving for your return flight. Most people fly that day to get home before the workweek. I recommend flying home on Friday or Monday or Tuesday. Christmas (best departure and return dates) Our Christmas Travel Survey last year showed 12.72% of American adults intended to fly to attend a gathering. Since Christmas falls on a different day every year, the best days to fly change. Other things such as school and business closures affect the dates too. Christmas can fall on a weekend (as it will in 2022), which further complicates things. Generally, the worst day to fly for Christmas is December 23, but that is not a hard rule. Best Christmas Travel Dates for 2022 BEST DEPARTURE DATESBEST RETURN DATESSunday, December 18Wednesday, December 28Monday, December 19Thursday, December 29Tuesday, December 20Friday, December 30Christmas Eve or Christmas Day The earlier you depart during Christmas week the better. Americans will look to get a few days of work in early during the week before flying out. If possible, fly on Monday, December 19, or Tuesday, December 20. Sunday, December 18 is even better if you can swing it. Flying on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is ideal for cheaper prices and fewer crowds too, but you may not want to travel on a holiday. Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, so many people will fly home the day after. Monday, December 26 and Tuesday, December 27 will be popular travel days, so try and wait until Wednesday or Thursday. Worst Christmas Travel Dates for 2022 WORST DEPARTURE DATESWORST RETURN DATESThursday, December 22Monday, December 26Friday, December 23Tuesday, December 27 The two days before Christmas Eve, the 22nd and 23rd, are going to be busy travel days. I recommend avoiding them and departing earlier in the week if you can. Avoid the Monday and Tuesday after Christmas for your return flight. Despite being the day after Christmas, many people will fly home on Monday or Tuesday so they can return to work on Tuesday or Wednesday.Additional Tips: Use Google Flights and Consider Multiple Nearby Airports for The Cheapest PriceI recommend Google Flights to find the cheapest holiday flight deals. It offers powerful filtering options to find the cheapest prices from a variety of airlines and airports. Consider flying from a nearby airport if it is cheaper than your home airport. Also, consider flying into an airport a little further from your destination that may be within driving distance. Flexibility is the key to finding a great flight deal, and that is especially true for holiday travel. Book Direct to Avoid Hassle if Your Flight is Canceled or DelayedOnline Travel Agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia and Priceline sometimes have better flight prices than booking directly with the airline, but there is a drawback. When you book with an OTA, you contact them in the event you need to change or cancel your itinerary. While that is not usually a problem, it is if your flight is delayed or canceled. Every second counts, so I recommend booking directly so you can avoid the middleman and talk directly to the airline to inquire about rebooking a new flight or canceling your existing itinerary. Good luck and safe travels! Phil Dengler, is a co-owner of The Vacationer, which is a resource for all things travel. Click here to read the full post.
Hiking the pristine trails of the Olympic National Park is just what the doctor ordered to relieve the stress of the urban crowds. Rain forest, old growth forest, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, and a stunningly beautiful coastline offers plenty of options from easy to vigorous hikes. Three full days will yield a lot of spectacularly stunning nature, but five or more days will provide you with a fully immersive and very memorable experience. Getting there Sea-Tac, Seattle’s main airport, is the closest commercial airport to Olympic National Park. There are daily non-stop flights from most major airport hubs throughout the US. My wife and I flew Alaska Airlines outbound and Delta Air Lines for the return out of San Diego. Because the Seattle area is so popular fares for economy and business seats are more reasonable than you might think and for miles travelers the amount of miles needed seemed to be pretty low. Rental cars are easy enough to reserve in advance, and it’s always good to shop around for the best deal. A mid-size Avis fit our budget just fine. And no need for old time paper maps; Google will show you how to get to exactly where you want to go. Lodging One thing that makes Olympic National Park so great is that there isn’t much in the way of places to stay, which keeps the crowd sizes down. Camping is available in several places, but that’s limited also. There’s both RV and tent camping available throughout the park as well as wilderness camping. The Willaby Campground right on the shore of Lake Quinault in the south part of the park looked really nice as did the Sol Duc Campground right on the Sol Duc River more in the north of the park. All of the campgrounds appeared to be very well kept with fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms, and showers. Lake Quinault Lodge - Courtesy of Jerry Olivas Camping looked great but we chose to stay in two different park Lodges, the Lake Quinault Lodge in the south and the Lake Crescent Lodge in the north. These are not upscale accommodation so don’t get fooled by the term Lodge. Both places offer a variety of types of accommodations including staying in the main lodge itself with wide-ranging prices. Note that these lodges, cabins, and motel style rooms are a bit old so bring your ear plugs. WiFi is good around the Lodges and voice and cellular data works well in most places throughout the park. Positively don’t miss out on that heated pool at the The Lake Quinault Lodge. Dining Oyster Saloon - Courtesy of hamahamaoysters.com For food, like lodging there are not too many choices but the Lodges themselves offer a variety of food options including formal sit-down, bar service, and take away. Nothing seemed too pricy except alcohol. However, it’s easy enough to stock up with supplies before entering the park. The town of Forks on Hwy 101 about halfway between the Quinault and Crescent Lodges has a large supermarket called Thriftyway. One tasty restaurant just a couple of miles from The Quinault Lodge is the The Salmon House Restaurant. It’s all about salmon here and a takeaway picnic is a good way to go because lake Quinault is just a few steps away. Don’t miss that yummy marionberry, or any berry, pie or cobbler, which are popular in the spring, summer, and fall. Another couple of dining experiences worth mentioning, but not actually in the park, are Hama Hama Oyster Saloon on Hwy 101 on the east side of the park. It’s all about oysters here; I mean the freshest and tastiest you have ever had. Another restaurant with both fabulous food and a view is Ocean Crest Restaurant on Hwy 109 on the coast about 30 minutes from The Lake Quinault Lodge. This is one of those places where you wonder who the heck is in that kitchen, because they definitely know what they are doing. Hiking Sol Duc River Valley, Olympic National Park - Istock/Bkamprath Hanging around the lodges, particularly sitting in the lobby near one of those nice big open fireplaces, can be intoxicating, but it’s the trails that offer the biggest rewards. All of the trails in the park have good signage and are well maintained and many have parking lots and restrooms. And no need for a map or GPS system because the trails are easy to navigate. However, there are plenty of trail maps to view and purchase online, but it’s easy enough to just pick up a free map at any of the lodges or park ranger stations. The trails run the gambit of difficulty with many flat broad paths and others that are more narrow and steep. As with any hike it’s best to have a partner, water, and comfortable walking shoes. Good to have waterproof shoes with good gripping soles because it can be a bit wet. And don’t forget that umbrella. There are signs warnings about wildlife including Roosevelt elk, black bears, and mountain lions but we didn’t see any. However, we did see several black-tail deer. But luckily no Sasquatch sighting. Our four favorite hikes were the Rain Forest Nature Trail and Gatton Creek Trail both near The Quinault Lodge, the North Fork Sol Duc Trail on the road to Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, and Barnes Creek Trail near The Crescent Lodge. These trails offer lush rain forest, old growth forest, streams, and falls. It’s certainly fine to back track and redo a section of a trail and it’s okay to just stop, close your eyes, listen, smell, and let your body feel the air. Don’t miss The Giant Sitka Spruce Tree near The Quinault Lodge is a 1,000-year-old, 190 feet tall, and 17 feet in diameter tree that is quite simply amazing. The Salmon Cascades is about halfway up the road to the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. In the late summer and fall this is where you will see coho salmon leaping up the treacherous falls attempting to return to their spawning pools. The small town of La Push on the Pacific coast is a good place to take in some of the Olympic National Park coastal beauty. There’s plenty of trail hikes and on-the-beach sand walks to do. Lake Crescent - Istock/YinYang Lake Quinault or Lake Crescent sunrises and sunsets will positively set the tone for a great day on the trails or a relaxing evening planning your next day’s adventures. There are a variety of fees and passes for visiting The Olympic National Park. We used our lifetime National Park and Recreational Area Senior Passes. No matter what the costs the pay back you get from experiencing nature up close and personal on the trails of The Olympic National Park is well worth it. This is one of those trips you will remember for a long time to come. Jerry Olivas - is a travel writer and photographer specializing in "do-it-yourself" adventures worldwide. Some of his work can be found at European Travel Magazine. He has lived and worked in England, Italy, and Israel and is based in Carlsbad, Carlsbad, California, USA