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“How hard could it be?”
That was the thought that ran through my mind a few years ago as my family sat waiting for our rental recreational vehicle (RV) in Vancouver, British Columbia. My husband, Ish; sons, Ethan and Cameron — then tweens — and I all listened to the safety briefing, loaded up a 26-footer with snacks and games, then set out without any true understanding of the challenges that lay ahead.
About a week later, we returned the RV to the dealer. We had a parking ticket to fight, our hearts were forever traumatized from navigating Seattle’s one-way streets, and Ish had gripped the steering wheel so tight that we worried it might have to be surgically removed from his hands.
We survived that trip and still exited the experience with both an appreciation for the places we’d seen and the time we’d spent together — but we also left with the solemn recognition that RV life can break you if you aren’t prepared.
Fast-forward to this spring, when — older and wiser — we were ready to try it again.
This time, however, we opted to get some help.
It came in the form of Tracks & Trails, an RV adventure vacation specialist. Instead of stepping blindly into a vehicle three times the size of our normal car and hitting the open road with the hope that my Googlesearches were enough direction, we entered this trip with the full backing of a team that plans RV vacations for a living.
The program is a simple one. Would-be vacationers choose their destination route from a host of Western national park options across the U.S. and Canada. Then, the Tracks & Trails team does the rest.
Our family opted for a spring break getaway that would start in Las Vegas before heading out across Nevada and Arizona. The iconic loop offered opportunities to see the Hoover Dam, camp inside Grand Canyon National Park and explore the red rocks of Sedona, Ariz.
Not every client will want or need the extra help, but if you’re trying to make the decision between sending clients off on their own or booking them with an RV vacation-planning specialist, keeping our experiences in mind might help. Here are a few reasons to use an expert such as Tracks & Trails.
Having someone to call is a welcome relief.On our first night in the RV, things did not go according to plan. Sure, we’d had an introduction to all the switches, knobs and buttons in the vehicle, but who could pay attention when we were all thinking about s’mores? Knowing that we had someone we could contact beyond the RV rental company was a welcome relief. Just like at home, things will go off the rails from time to time. And whether it’s a flat tire or a shorted fuse, knowing that you aren’t alone is often all you need to muster the energy to get things back on the right foot.
It’s not just like driving a car.I love driving, and so does my husband, but that first time behind the wheel of an RV is daunting. You’re taller, longer and wider than usual, making some of those narrow mountain roads feel like a roller coaster. Before giving in to a client’s wish for the biggest RV on offer, suggest they sit behind the wheel of one at a local dealer. Getting a feel for it will go a long way toward making sure they’ve got a size they’ll be comfortable with.
Not all RV parks are created equal.No two RV parks are exactly alike, and chances are, you won’t figure out that you picked a bad one until you’re already there. I loved that Tracks & Trails was able to do the site bookings for us. Because of its relationships with various parks, the company can offer incredible locations for overnights thanks to lots secured months in advance. Case in point: Our drive-through site in Grand Canyon National Park had a fire pit, laundry facilities and great proximity to hiking options. Friends who tried to book a spot on their own weren’t so lucky.
Having a well-routed itinerary is a game-changer.Anyone who has tried to create a road-trip itinerary knows it can be daunting. Tracks & Trails takes that burden away from guests. Our “Adventure Kit” was waiting for us at our hotel in Las Vegas the night before we were scheduled to pick up the RV, and it became our bible throughout the trip. Holding everything from our scheduled itinerary and driving times to detailed instructions on how to build a fire, it answered all the little questions we had. A mobile app that works alongside it also meant that even when we were out touring on foot, I could quickly refer to a source for tips and information.
Your options for fun have been well-vetted. Having a great place to park and a tour or two booked is a great thing, but knowing what your best options are for the places you’re passing through is even better. The Tracks & Trail team provided family-friendly suggestions for things to do in Las Vegas ahead of our trip as well as great stop suggestions along the drive. We could decide — depending on our mood and budget — whether we wanted to add them in. Having someone else do the extra thinking meant we were free to sit back and enjoy the ride.
The DetailsTracks & Trailswww.tracks-trails.com