Trip Coach: May 2, 2006

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Richard Coon, president of RVIA (Recreation Vehicle Industry Association), answered your RV-related questions.

Richard Coon, President of RVIA: Hi, Richard Coon here. Thanks very much for joining me today. I'm ready for your questions.

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Harrisburg, PA: We are a retired couple invited to a favorite niece's mid-August wedding in Oregon. We have plenty of time to get there, see the sights along the way and make a leisurely return trip to Pennsylvania by a different route. Any suggestions for a 30 or more day itinerary as we travel in our 38 foot diesel pusher?

Richard Coon, President of RVIA: Having such an open itinerary gives you the luxury of getting off the beaten path. Use non-superhighways and take advantage of scenic national and state parks. The Internet is a valuable research resource.
Award wining travel expert Brad Herzog has been traveling the country for the past several years and has written about many destinations in Go RVing's e-newsletter. Click here for the most current issue 
In addition, author Harry Basch has written a very good Frommer's travel guide called "Exploring America by RV," which is available in bookstores throughout the country.
You can find great tips on planning your itinerary here. Included are tips on "Green RVing," what to pack before a trip, a safety guide and basic maintenance suggestions.

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Lansing, Michigan: I will be driving from Lansing, Michigan to San Diego, California with a final destination of Sacramento (my hometown). I am moving back and my roommate wants to come along for the road trip. We will be leaving in July and plan to be on the road for about a week. We are both young students and wonder if it would be wise to rent an RV. It would be used to transport all of my belongings, tow my car, and as an alternative to paying for a hotel room. We don't have a lot of money. Is the cost of renting an RV going to outweigh the cost of shipping my belongings, and paying for nightly accomodations?
-Skyler

Richard Coon, President of RVIA: Affordability is one of the big advantages of renting an RV for a trip, which is generally less expensive than staying in hotels and eating out for a week, especially if you take into account the cost of shipping your belongings back home. RV rental rates vary by season, region and unit size. Motorhomes, the most common rental model, are typically $90 to $200 per day; folding camping trailers and travel trailers run $28 to $85 per day. Package deals of three to seven days often include mileage and reduce the per-day rate.
Because of the heightened demand for RV rentals, I advise making reservations well in advance. Special tour packages offer such benefits as one-way rentals; off-season rates; guided escorts; campground discounts; and airline and railway connections.
Those interested in renting an RV should check their Yellow Pages under "Recreation Vehicles--Renting and Leasing." Or visit GoRVing.com for a searchable online directory of more than 340 rental companies.

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Columbus, IN 47201: Family reunion trip Ft. Wayne, IN - Buffalo, NY -July 15-20 large group. Suggestion for best/honest/least expensive place to rent largest RV near Ft. Wayne - be returning. AARP or Auto Club or any other discounts/deals there? Don't want to have a bad 1'st experience or get ripped off. Thanks! I'll log on May 2. Maureen

Richard Coon, President of RVIA: RVs are extremely popular for family reunions as they provide families with the conveniences of home on the road. The drive to the destination becomes part of the fun, especially with young children. Sleeping quarters, kitchens, dining areas and bathrooms are readily accessible, eliminating the need to look for rest areas and restaurants and making the trip more relaxing.
Check out the online search directory at GoRVing.com for dealers in your area. 

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Tampa, Florida: We are considering purchasing a small travel trailer and camp for the first time. We also want to take our two German Shepherd Dogs. What advice can you share about camping with dogs and/or any advice for first-time RV'ers?


  Richard Coon, President of RVIA: According to a survey conducted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, 48% of the nation's eight million RV owners travel with their pets, with dogs topping the list. Here are just a few of the advantages that RVs offer pets and their owners: 

  • Ensures that pets get the same level of care, nutrition and exercise that they enjoy at home.
  • Does away with the inconvenience of crating and shipping your pet. Instead, the pet rides first class in an RV complete with windows for a breath-taking view, enough room for walking around and a soft place to nap. Most importantly, the pet is with its family.
  • Eliminates the expense, hassle and worry of pet-sitters.
  • Prevents the possibility of pets contracting illnesses associated with staying in a kennel.  

  • Please call ahead to the campgrounds where you intend to stay to ensure that they are pet friendly. Most campgrounds welcome pets on a leash.
    First-time RVers will find a wealth of information about RVing at GoRVing.com

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    I never driven an RV before, do you think that it will be difficult to learn on a trip? Thinking about driving from Chicago through the upper half ending up in San Francisco. Thanks

    Richard Coon, President of RVIA: Driving or towing a recreation vehicle (RV) is easier than many newcomers think and is different, not difficult.
    Experienced automobile drivers already possess the necessary skills. Motorized RVs typically come equipped with automatic transmissions, power brakes and power steering. With proper attention to the differences in vehicle size, turning radius, height and weight, you'll find it fun and easy to take the wheel. Towing skills are also readily acquired for the various types of towable RVs.
    Recreation vehicles do not require a commercial driver's license for personal use. In some states, the very largest RVs may require a special test for a different class of driver's license.
    Whether you will be driving a motorized RV or towing an RV, you should:

  • Adjust and use all rear view mirrors. Before leaving on a trip, sit in the driver's seat and adjust all mirrors for optimal road views.
  • Account for your vehicle size when turning. The front and rear wheels will track paths much farther apart than those of a car.
  • Allow more time to brake, change lanes and enter a busy highway, since bigger vehicles take more time to accelerate and slow down.
  • Back up with care. It is a good idea to have someone outside the vehicle assist the driver in backing up to avoid any obstacles not seen in the mirrors. If another person is not available, the driver should inspect the area behind the vehicle. By evaluating the situation before backing, drivers can avoid surprises and accidents.

  • Drivers towing a folding camping trailer or travel trailers also should:

  • Match the proper tow vehicle to your RV. Most full and mid-size family cars can pull a trailer; so can today's popular vans, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and light-duty trucks. Check the owner's manual to find the trailer types that your vehicle can haul and the maximum load weight it can pull.
  • Use the right trailer hitch and make sure it is hitched correctly.
  • Connect brakes and signal lights. Always check that the trailer's brakes, turn signals and tail lights are synchronized with the towing vehicle's.

  • Whether you're driving a motorhome, conversion vehicle or other tow vehicle, make every trip a safer one by buckling up your safety belt and making sure passengers are secured too. Wearing a safety belt is the single most effective thing you can do to prevent serious injury and death in a traffic accident, according to the National Safety Belt Coalition.

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    Bainbridge, GA: Going to Long Island this summer in NY out near Smith Point beach, etc. but having very hard time finding camping for our RV. Any suggestions?

    Richard Coon, President of RVIA: I recommend consulting the leading association for the private campground industy, which has a very thorough web site: www.gocampingamerica.com
    In addition, you can also search the campground locater at GoRVing.com for locations that have pledged to extend a particularly warm welcome to newcomers.

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    Grand Junction, CO: We will be traveling from here through Yellowstone and onto Glacier. What is the most scenic route? Will be driving a 40' MH and towing a car. Do the campgrounds in Yellowstone fill the end of June? Any crystal ball guesses on fuel prices? Will be staying around Kelispell, Montana for 6-8 weeks. What is the lond term camping stitution there?

    Richard Coon, President of RVIA: We can't specify an exact route, but do recommend you seek out roads designated as U.S. scenic byways. Please click here for more information.

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    Welches, OR: We are finding that RV parks are now restricting the size of the dog you have. We travel with a 35 lb Wheaten Terrier and a 125 lb. Kuvasz. He is large, but he is also the quietest and most serious dog of any in the park (he was a working guardian dog on our farm). Since we have to clean up after both of them, why should they care if we choose to share our limited space with a human size dog? The RV campgrounds books do not list this fact, making it quite a problem when we travel as he is definitly too large to sneak in. Meanwhile the high strung yippers seem to be acceptable...

    Richard Coon, President of RVIA: As stated previously, we recommend calling your campground in advance to check on their pet policy.

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    Houston, TX: We are thinking of renting before we buy. What are the best sources for rentals, and what do we need to look for/look out for?

    Richard Coon, President of RVIA: Those interested in renting an RV should check their Yellow Pages under "Recreation Vehicles--Renting and Leasing." Or visit GoRVing.com for a searchable online directory of more than 340 rental companies.
    RV rental rates vary by season, region and unit size. Motorhomes, the most common rental model, are typically $90 to $200 per day; folding camping trailers and travel trailers run $28 to $85 per day. Package deals of three to seven days often include mileage and reduce the per-day rate.
    Because of the heightened demand for RV rentals, I advise making reservations well in advance. Special tour packages offer such benefits as one-way rentals; off-season rates; guided escorts; campground discounts; and airline and railway connections.
    A valid driver's license and proof of age are required by all rental agencies. Rental companies provide inexperienced RV drivers with handling tips and accompany them on test drives before letting them head out into the open road.
    Most companies provide housekeeping packages (dishes/pots/pans/linens) at nominal fees.

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    Kennesaw, Georgia: My family is taking a two week trip to New Zealand, arriving in Auckland on July 4, 2006. We leave out of Auckland on on July 16, 2006. We would like to rent an RV and travel from Auckland and drive to the South Isand, leaving the RV in either Queenstown or Dunedin, then fly back to Auckland for departure. Our family consists of myself and my wife (ages 40) two boys (ages 8 and 6) and my mother-in-law (age 70).

    We would like your advice on the best itenerary and any other helpful information you could provide. We are most interested in seeing Queenstown for couple of days and Milford Sound.

    I am unsure if we should drop off the RV in Dunedin, then take a train to Queenstown, or drive all the way to Queenstown.

    We are open to almost anything, thanks for your consideration.

    Doug
    subscriber for many years

    Richard Coon, President of RVIA: A quick search on the internet came up with several options for RV rentals in New Zealand, the most prominant of which was: britz.com. RVIA does not have any jurisdiction there, so we suggest you do a little research on your own.

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    Albuquerque, NM: I am considering renting an RV so that my sister and I can travel and sightsee throughout New Mexico, and take my dog with us. Are dogs welcome in rented RVs? And can you recommend stopping sites where they are welcome (and safe)?

    Richard Coon, President of RVIA: A quick check on the FAQ section of one of the larger RV rental companies has the following statement:
    "Pets are welcomed. Customer agrees to clean up after their pet and return unit in same condition as received, or be subject to a cleaning fee up to $250."
    Be sure to check in advance with your local rental company options. Go to GoRVing.com to search for rental companies in your area.
    Further, its always a good idea to call ahead to campgrounds where you intend to stay to chack on their specific pet policies. Most campgrounds do welcome dogs on a leash.

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    Annapolis, MD: My friend and I are college students and we are going to be spending 12 days in the italy, france region. We are starting out in venice and would like to see paris, what small/inexpensive towns could we see between the two places? Are there some good places for biking? Do you recommend some cheap hotels or hostels for paris?

    Richard Coon, President of RVIA: Sorry. RVIA represents the American recreation vehicle industry. We can't help you with this one.

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    El Monte, California: My family is planning a trip this July to Santa Fe New Mexico to visit family and we would like to visit Carlsbad Caverns, Roswell, the Cumbres Toltec railroad, possibly even try to find Area 51! Can you recomend anything else? My sons are 12 and 16 and into aliens and other strange phenomenoms. We are planning to be gone for 2 weeks. Thanks

    Richard Coon, President of RVIA: The December 2005 issue of the Go RVing newsletter focuses on travel in New Mexico. Please see this link for more information.

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    Richard Coon, President of RVIA: Thanks very much for your interesting questions. It was a pleasure being here today. The best advice I can give in closing is to visit our web site Gorving.com and order a free DVD on getting started as an RV traveler. The DVD covers everything we chatted about today and more.

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