Five years ago, we rented an RV for a “mini-moon” to Tobermory, Ont. – and we’ve been talking about doing it again ever since. So when my husband’s brother invited us to stay with him in Creemore, Ont., for a weekend earlier this month, we jumped at the chance. The only difference? This time around, we’d be making the trip with our three-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter in tow.
For anyone considering a similar trip, renting an RV is a straightforward and reasonably affordable option, depending on the time of year you travel. The Coachmen Leprechaun 260DS Class C Motorhome that my husband and I rented for the weekend costs about $139 a day in the low season (May 15 to June 14 and Sept. 21 to Oct. 15). In high season (July 8 to Aug. 24), they ratchet the daily rate to $269. In the shoulder season from June 15 to July 7 and Aug. 25 to Sept. 20, the rates fall somewhere in between.
But one of the main reasons we were excited to take our kids along for the ride is that RVs offer a number of advantages for families. Most motorhomes now come standard with a fridge, freezer and three-stove burner cooktop. This rolling kitchen means you can cook your own meals, which saves you time, money and headaches down the road.
Because storage is plentiful in motorhomes, you don’t have to unpack and repack your bags at every stop. Everything you need – all the parental survival gear, from diapers to blankets to coffee for the adults – is close at hand.
Of course, for all their convenience, RVs are daunting to drive. It’s one thing to learn about operating a 28-foot-long, 8.5-foot-wide RV, and another to put these lessons into practice. Even with motorized side mirrors, visibility is significantly reduced on both sides.
With our two young children strapped in their car seats and our dog Lola snug in her bed, we gingerly eased out of the dealership and up Highway 50 north of Bolton, Ont.
It’s the noises that capture our attention in the first leg of the journey: squeaks from the overhang as it bobs above the windshield; howling winds pushing up the exterior fiberglass walls; the groan of a 6.8-litre V-10 E-450 engine as it heaves 5.5 tonnes of aluminum and its contents up the hills of Dufferin County.
After about an hour, the ironically named Leprechaun feels Herculean to us as we roll into town. Fortunately, apart from having to avoid a few low-hanging branches, we have no trouble parking the RV in our relativeʼs oversized driveway.
Upon arrival, we plug into our hostʼs electricity and turn our attention to one of the star features of the Leprechaun: Slide-outs in the main area and back bedroom. With the push of two buttons, the interior space doubles before our eyes. We sleep in the back room with the queen-sized bed. Our girl, not to be trusted in a bed without guardrails, sleeps in a portable crib in the kitchen area while our boy happily sleeps in the bunk bed over the front cab. A built-in safety net fastened to two sturdy seat belts creates a barrier that prevents him from rolling off the bed and crashing to the ground.
We did experience a few minor setbacks. No matter how efficiently you plan your RV adventure, you can’t control the weather. Our children are too young to play board games or multiplayer consoles, but I did purchase some board books and DVDs before the trip. I also brought along their tablets and downloaded a few new games. And as soon as the weather co-operated, we bundled up the kids and made our way to Creemore Springs Brewery, just 10 minutes away.
At night, temperatures hovered a few degrees above zero, so we had to turn on the furnace. Unfortunately, the heat wasnʼt distributed across the entire RV, even with the sliding door wide open. Even as warm air blasted into our room, the kids’ area remained quite frigid. It took my husband quite a bit of tinkering with the vents to figure out how to distribute the heat more evenly.
But over all, the RV experience is magical, especially now that we have kids. One of the best parts about staying in an RV is that the outdoors is literally outside the door. Our children loved the fact that they could toggle from the yard (bubble blowing, jumping on the trampoline) to the RV (watching Peppa Pig and eating snacks).
Indeed, the novelty of a home on wheels is half the fun, but the other half is quality time with the family. What I’ll remember most about our trip is the early mornings, the four of us crowded around the dinette over toast and juice and coffee. Exhausted and bleary-eyed, yet thrilled to be together, that’s what the RV lifestyle is all about.
- Daily rental rates: $139 (low season); $269 (high season)
- Year: 2015
- Manufacturer: Coachmen
- Type: Class C
- Chassis: Ford E450
- Engine: V-10 6.8-litre, 305 hp
- Purchase price: A used 2015 model such as ours, in relatively good condition with few miles would cost approximately $65,000 to $80,000.
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