Some years ago — I think it was when Jason and I visited England in 1996, but it could have been when we went back there with the kids in 2006 — we were talking to a German tourist about how expensive everything was in England, especially restaurants.
“Ya!” said the middle-aged German man. “Very expensive. But ve haff our boose!”
It took us a second and some further context to realize that his family’s “boose” — i.e. “bus” was what we would call an RV, and the ridiculous restaurant prices didn’t bother them because they were able to cook their own meals in the RV. Expensive hotels also weren’t a worry for this man. In fact, at least three times during the conversation he reminded us that “Ve haff our boose!”
We, ve do not have a boose, but we rented one for this trip. The idea began because our whole group was going to be tenting at the Oshkosh Camporee, and we thought it would be nice if at least one family had an RV so we would have access to a convenient bathroom, indoor stove and sink, and some dry storage in case it rained. We held out for awhile, hoping someone else would decide to rent an RV, but when no-one did we took the plunge and decided to rent one not just for the Camporee week but for the subsequent two weeks of vacation while we explored the American midwest.
There are definitely nice things about having an RV. It’s great not to have to pack and unpack everything as you move from place to place. It’s more comfortable than tenting, and unlike staying in hotels it is nice to have your own little kitchen so you don’t have to eat out every meal.
There are downsides too. It’s definitely not a cheap option. The rental itself costs a lot, the thing is hard on gas, and then you’re paying for an RV site at campgrounds which is not cheap either. Yes, we’re saving on restaurant meals but I’m not sure it’s balancing out. Had we not rented the RV, we would have rented a car and done a combination of tent camping, and staying in motels or cabins, similar to what we did in Washington in 2007, and I think that would have been cheaper overall.
Another drawback to the RV is that I can’t, or won’t, drive it, so Jason has to do all the driving himself, which gets tiring for him. The combination of that fact, with the fact that the kids get just as bored by long driving days in “our boose” as they would in a car, led us to amend our travel plans a bit this week. We had originally planned to go all the way to Yellowstone National Park, but realized that it was just adding up to too many long days of driving and not enough relaxing time. So instead we made it as far as the Mount Rushmore area in South Dakota, and have settled down to spend the weekend here. It’ll be nice just to use our boose as a cabin for a few days and not be on the road while we explore the many things there are to see and do in a lovely KOA campsite in the beautiful Black Hills.
So far, there’s nothing about haffing our boose that would make me want to own an RV, but like all travel, it’s been an interesting experience so far!