Try a ride on the wild side

Hitting the road on a camping trip has always been high on my list of priorities.

Growing up, my family spent plenty of vacation time holing up in a tent swatting mosquitoes, chasing Daddy Long-Legs spiders and wringing out wet sleeping bags.

Back then I’d see folks pulling travel trailers, tent trailers and propelling the coveted motor homes and would ask Dad why we couldn’t go on vacation in one of those instead of wrestling the Sowerby’s monstrous canvas shack.

“Who wants to drag one of those around when we can camp in a tent?” Dad rationalized with little impression on us kids.

When the kids grew up, of course my father went out and bought a camper unit for his pickup truck and then even traded the family ½-ton workhorse for a ¾-ton Ford

Camper Special to better handle the load. He and mum would escape just about every summer and fall weekend to points unknown in their Love Nest.

But even with plenty of campsites under my belt, I never got a chance to experience a real RV until I had children of my own.

So what is an RV? A recreational vehicle is really a home on wheels, a contraption you tow or drive that allows you to bring the amenities of home along with plenty of personal things that would never fit into your car. Pack up the RV in the morning, hit the road and that night, everything is still there. Socks in the drawer you left them in.

Fridge full of food and your own bed, made up or not, waiting to be crawled into at night. No packing and unpacking or dragging yourself into another new “home” every time the sun heads for the horizon.

Although I haven’t had an RV experience in a few years, I recently got a chance to dabble in RV fever for a couple of hours when I was invited to a “ride and drive” event hosted by Go RVing Canada, a national coalition that consists of RV manufacturers, component suppliers, dealers and campgrounds.

I was surprised to learn that there are more than 1 million RVs on the road in Canada and, starting at $6,000, there is an RV for everyone. From $250,000 Class A diesel pushers to lightweight camper folding trailers, there is something for every outdoor appetite.

Even in these times of economic challenge, RVs offer economy not found in other vacation options. According to Go RVing Canada, depending on the RV model you choose, an RV holiday can save a family of four anywhere between 50 per cent and 70 per cent over the cost of other forms of travel.

If you purchase, even taking costs such as leasing, insurance, maintenance and fuel into consideration, RV vacations still work out to be much cheaper. No flights, car rentals, hotels and expensive restaurant meals to raid your vacation budget.

RVs are not fuel misers but you don’t necessarily have to drive across the country every time you go RVing. People who fly all over the place looking for an escape oftentimes don’t know much about what’s within a few hundred kilometres of their own home.

I learned that when I rented a Class C motor home in Nova Scotia a few summers ago. Full service campsites along the Bay of Fundy, the Cabot Trail, the pristine beaches of P.E.I. and New Brunswick’s Saint John River Valley were prime locales from which to discover the awesome diversity of landscape and activities available in Atlantic Canada.

Or you can set out on a major expedition. I’ve done an across-Canada drive hauling a 29-foot airstream trailer, a 31-day, 31-state junket through the U.S. hooked up to a 23-foot Starcraft and even a wacky ’92 European attractions over 31 days in an all-season travel trailer.

It gets under your skin. The fresh air, a different view out your front window every night and then the call of the open road with those socks in the proper drawer and the mayonnaise just where it should be at the end of another day.

So if you are a busy career couple, a budding family who wants to instil a sense of adventure and respect for the great outdoors into your children or retired with time on your hands, checking out the world of RVing is well worth consideration.

If you aren’t sure, rent an RV for a week and see out what it’s all about. You’ll probably have an adventure that will stay with you for years, possibly not as far away as you think. It will also give you the experience and confidence to take on the lifestyle in far-flung places down the road.

And you’ll know where to find those socks and the mayonnaise when you set up camp at the end of the day, whether it’s in Musquodoboit Harbour or Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.

Follow Garry on Twitter: @DrivenMind99

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