Family Vacation in an RV

Last month, I saw the list of my journalistic assignments lengthen by a distance. But there was no exotic destination or even air travel on the horizon. Rather, a getaway aboard a motor home courtesy of Go RVing. Where to? The splendid Charlevoix region. Below, the story of a journey where the excitement begins on the road.

One sexy RV?
Winnebago, tent trailers and co.: while these words conjure up joyful family memories, they may sound completely outdated to so. Or so my partner and I thought. We discovered that the avid travelers we know have always dreamt of an RV getaway. Can you imagine traveling across California, or Canada aboard one? This giant thing that always seemed cumbersome to us is actually a tool for—and symbol of—freedom.

Unaware that you could rent this type of vehicle, let alone drive it with a regular driver’s license, we took in all that information bit by bit. But we still wondered: How will it feel to drive this caravan all the way to the shores of the St. Lawrence River, or to swap our camping tent for a house with air conditioning and electricity on wheels? Speaking of which, how do these things work on an RV? Will it be the zenith of vacations, or a betrayal of the great outdoors?

All aboard
We made our way to VR St-Cyr near Beloeil, Quebec—the dealer who would rent us the recreational vehicle. In the parking lot, we saw the specimen roll towards us before getting the low-down on it. Ultimately, there really is nothing to it. Connecting electricity, water and sewer system is simple as can be. As for the rest, the vehicle is completely autonomous. That’s right! Off site, we’ll be able to use the refrigerator and toilets, and even have access to water like we do at home.

The monster vehicle is 31 (!) feet long. The driver’s cabin is right inside the mobile home. It’s precisely once inside that we really felt adventure calling. After a few oohs and aahs, we—a young couple in our thirties that, unlike many other Montrealers, don’t own a car—hit the road with our two-year old son in tow, his car seat attached to one of the banquettes inside the massive vehicle. (Did we mention we weren’t the only ones saying ooh and aah?)

We then got on the highway. My significant other got used to driving such a monster vehicle surprisingly quick. We simply drove out quietly and as soon as we were out of the city, perched high up in the cabin, enjoyed the view. We had a few hours to go. While there were only three of us on board, we could very well see ourselves bringing our friends along next time around, stacked inside the recreational machine.

Welcome to mobile heaven
We arrived at Le Genévrier campsite in Baie-Saint-Paul relatively late in the day. And by late, I mean after sundown. Plus, it was raining. Despite all this, we had to park an RV for the first time. Thankfully, a charming and easygoing man helped us out as we were backing up. As luck would have it, we got it right on the first try. As for the rest, we decided we would hook everything up the next day. No worries: we’ve got this!

Since we had packed groceries and the vehicle was already stocked with all the essentials (dishes, linens, towels, etc.), all that was left for us to do was uncork a bottle of wine and enjoy the rest of our vacation. We’d had an exciting trip thus far and here, the air was pure.

We woke up the next day surrounded by the neighbours we were about to meet. We could see them socialize, share meals, engage in conversation, hang clothes out to dry, and go about their day. However cliché, life on a camping site is fascinating and anything but boring. We cheerfully got into the mix and it was a pleasant experience.

We also took in the sites to, among other things, enjoy the beach and the mountainous roads in all of their splendour. We then made a stop at award-winning Hôtel La Ferme, to get our fill of gastronomy and design. We discovered it was surprisingly simple to sneak in places and even park despite the size of our vehicle!

And what an exciting stay not far from home it was!

Technically speaking
Of course, the freedom afforded by RVing doesn’t come cheap. For a 31 ft. long Class C motor home that can take up to eight people, such as the one we had, expect to pay anywhere between $1,500 (off-season, which is now!) and $2,000 per week.  You must also cover the cost of gas. We’re talking $300 for the trip from Beloeil to Baie-Saint-Paul. The campground can cost up to $40 per night, depending on the amenities. You must also fill the RV with propane before returning the vehicle, but since we were “connected” for the most part, we’re talking just a few dollars.

We will definitely relive the experience without hesitation and will surely go even further. Imagine taking off for weeks, no hotel room to book or the logistics around luggage and meals to deal with? That’s what I call peace of mind.

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