Renting an RV
Courtesy of Gretchen Breuner
An RV, I figured, was the best way for the kids and me to get around. (Mike couldn't come along because of his job.) We'd always have a place to sleep and a fridge at the ready -- we wouldn't even have to make bathroom stops. The catch? We didn't own an RV and I had never driven one. I called local rental shops, learned about the three basic models, and took a few out for a spin. They weren't as unwieldy as I had feared, and a small Class C seemed to be the best fit for us. It turned out to be cheaper for us to buy a used model than to rent one. So two months before we took off, we plunked down $16,000 for a gently used 1996 Ford Tioga.
The kids and I took a test run to Santee Lakes, a local campground, about 15 minutes from our home in San Diego. Even if you're only going to camp for a week, I'd recommend that you do an overnighter first to work out the kinks, like practicing how to hook up the amp box (so you'll have power), the water hose (so you can brush your teeth and do dishes), and the septic tank (for the bathroom). All three jobs proved to be easier than I'd thought, and I came home confident that I could handle these essentials on our long trek.