When my husband and I plan a trip, we don’t think about it months in advance. We get the impulse to plan it in a month and just go. We wing it most of the time. This was one of these times. We rented an RV for a family weekend trip.
It all started when my husband was looking up RVs online and their price range. He was very much interested in buying one and taking family road trips in the future. I loved the idea but we have never own anything like that. It was technically a mini house on wheels. So we decided to rent one and see if we liked the experience so much enough to buy one in the future. We checked out 3 different RV rental companies and went with the best value which was Cruise America. We rented this thing for 3 nights and took off for a fun family weekend away from the city.
We booked the RV on Wednesday night online and we were picking it up on Friday at 1pm and return it on Monday before 11am. Two days before leaving on our trip, we looked up for camping grounds. I didn’t know I had to have booked the first night 2 days in advance. I couldn’t reserve anything at all because it was too late. So we technically had to drive to the campground hoping there was something available. So on our first night, we had no clue where we were staying. Off to a great start lol
Friday- Got up around 8am, started packing things we needed in the RV. At 11:45am, we dropped off Zelda to preschool and by 12:30pm, we went to go pick up the RV. Pick up was easy. We just sign a bunch of papers and we had to watch the intro video of renting the RV and showing us the basics. I downloaded the app the night before and watched all the videos but we still had to watch the video again since we were first time RV renters. After about an hour, we drove back home, (my husband drove the RV), and we made it in time to pick up Zelda from school. Took us about 45mins to load everything we needed on the RV.
After that, we took off, we weren’t sure where though. We headed towards PCH, Pacific Coast Highway, and drove North. We wanted to get away from the city which on a Friday afternoon was horrid;traffic!!! We just had to bare it for a while and after we pass Malibu. After that, the drive was pretty chill. The ocean view to our left while the sun was setting was lovely.
Once we reached Oxnard, we wanted to stop by Walmart to pick up some stuff I forgot to grab on Thursday (we always forget something). I read that most Walmarts allow overnight parking but it’s best to ask the manager on duty if it’s okay. We were thinking about it since it was dark already but in the end we continued to drive north. It was my turn to drive and I was a little nervous because I have never driven anything that big ever. It was dark so there wasn’t much traffic and I took my time. The first campsite we arrived was closed. We drove to the second campsite and it was closed as well. So after about 2 hours of driving, I was getting frustrated and was regretting leaving the Walmart parking lot. We’re back in PCH and I noticed to my left Emma Wood State Beach. I can see parked RVs and some empty spots. I remember this was one of the campgrounds I wanted to reserve but it was too late. We decided to check it out. I pulled up to the pay booth which was empty, it was already 8:30pm. We saw a list of numbered campgrounds with X marked on some numbers (we assume spots that were already taken) outside the pay booth and a set of instructions and a box outside. In order to stay for the night, we grabbed an envelope, write the type of RV, how many nights staying, the number of the spot we are occupying and put $40 (which is the fee for 1 night) inside the envelope. We dropped the envelope in the box and we drove to the spot. I parked the RV and I was relieved and calm that we made it safe. We lit up a bonfire and we made s’mores and enjoyed the sound of the ocean. I was so frustrated driving around but it was so worth it because I ended up loving this place. After 2 drinks, hot dogs, and snacks, we called it a night. The kids slept on the top bed and us adults in the actual bed. I wanted the kids in the bed but they loved the top bed. I was just worried they’ll fall. Triforce got comfy with the kids. That was the end of night one.
Saturday- Check out was at noon. I got up at 8:30am, took a walk outside to enjoy the scenery and started breakfast an hour later. We went for a small walk on the shore and then we were off to the next campground, where ever that may be. Got back on PCH and while on the road, looked up on campgrounds. We found one called Paradise Campground, an hour away from where we were at. I was a little scared driving towards the campground because the road was so narrow and all the turns and uphill downhills, but we made it to our destinations and it was wack. The main reason we choose this place was to go fishing but the river was dry and it smelled funky. Its a dry campgrounds, no RV hook ups but I have a feeling that people would dump their gray water outside which is why it smelled bad. We didn’t stay. We looked at another spot and not far from there we found our next campground for the night called Lake Cachuma. We did have the option of full or partial hookup but we choose a dry camp spot again and I think it was a good choice, plus it was cheaper, only $25 for the night. We had no neighbors close by and we had a lovely view of the lake. My husband tried his luck on catching fish but nothing was biting. We lit up the outside grill and made burgers, hotdogs, and ribs. At night we did another round of smores and we called it a night. Sunday- Woke up first, turned on the generator to warm up the water for a quick shower. Made breakfast while my husband took Zelda for a spin in the bicycle. After eating, we cleaned up and were ready to go. Before we left Lake Cachuma, we used their dump station and emptied the black and gray water. I honestly was a little nervous doing this but it was fairly simple. Gloves were provided inside the RV but I still bought a pack of disposable gloves just in case. Once we emptied all the black water, we hit the road. We started heading south so we can be closer to home. It was a little scary since it was windy that day and you can just feel the RV being pushed either left or right while driving. We drove to Pyramid Lake off the 5 freeway which is another camping ground but it was closed. We were a little bummed out but we got to check out the Vista Del Lago Visitor Center which is a mini-museum about the importance of water and California’s water system. We mainly stopped because we had no idea where else to go and I really had to use the restroom but I really enjoyed it.
I wanted to stick around longer but I didn’t want to drive at night. It was getting dark so we settled for the closest thing which was an RV resort just 3 miles north from the 5 freeway. This place was full hookups and it’s the most we paid for the night which was $55. This resort looked run down and deserted in a way. There were other RVs there but I didn’t see anyone besides a woman walking her dog and a little kid that scared me out of no where when he said hi to me while I was trying to plug the water hose to the RV. That day was windy and it did get windier and colder at night. We would have liked to check out what the resort had to offer but it was just too cold. We stayed inside, ate, and watched a movie. We enjoyed our last night.
Monday- We got up at 7am and we unhooked everything, dumping the gray and black water. We left the resort at 8am. It was time to go back home and drop off the RV before 11am. We did get a little bit of LA traffic but we made it home. We unloaded the RV, cleaned it, filled the water tank, stopped by the gas station to fill the tank, and stop by U-haul to fill up the propane tank before dropping it off. We could have turned in the RV “as is” but we would have been charged and not receive our full deposit. We got there 20 mins late but luckily we didn’t get charged a late fee. We did go over 30 miles which we were only charged 8 dollars so that wasn’t bad. We went back home and still manage to drop off Zelda to school. What a crazy morning so for the rest of the day we took it easy and just relaxed.
This was our first time experiencing an RV and driving one. It was scary at times but I took my time. Safety first! I loved dry camping. Feels like you’re more in the wilderness. Winding it is nerve wrecking but we were in luck. Since it’s off peak season, there were a lot of empty spots and there weren’t many people around. We saved money since we didn’t have to pay online reservation fees. The RV rental was also cheap since again, it’s not the time for people to be taking trips. The kids very much enjoyed it and so did us adults. We definitely want to do this again. Maybe we’ll invest on a small one in the future. It was a great mini-getaway from the city.