For spontaneity, nothing beats RV travel. It gives you the freedom to turn off the road to soak under a cascading waterfall, to picnic in front of a mesmerizing sunset, to relax with family or newfound friends, or do whatever else your heart desires.
My wife and I recently drove a campervan to an alpine region in Japan during a busy national holiday. Wanting to avoid the crowds, we found an area with a lake, streams, and hiking trails, and views of the Japanese Alps. We bathed at a rustic hot spring. Afterward, the songs of crickets and a stream lulled us to sleep. Our only expenses for the day were gas, groceries, and the $5 admission fee to the hot spring.
Japan aside, my wife and I have explored Mexico and the U.S. by RV. We’ve slept in RVs ranging from basic vans with mattresses thrown in the back, to well-appointed camper homes with spacious beds and high-quality kitchens.
RVing can be a very cost-effective way to see the world. Renting and traveling in deluxe motorhomes is often cheaper than staying at luxurious hotels of similar class and paying for transportation between your destinations. In addition, top-notch RV parks are often as well-equipped as five-star hotels, with facilities like golf courses, swimming pools, stores, gyms, and cafés.
However, the biggest appeal of RVing is not its price point, but the freedom it gives you to choose your own path. Those who seek relaxed journeys without surprises can roam at their pace and stay in comfortable, safe RV parks. The adventurous, meanwhile, can sojourn with the winds of opportunity.
When we travel around Japan by RV, we rarely bother making reservations. Although Japan has well-kept RV parks and camping sites, we usually seek out roadside rest stops or natural sites like mountain plateaus and sandy beaches. Many Japanese residents and visitors do the same.
The freedom you get from RVing brings with it unexpected joys and adventures. Years ago, three impulsive friends and I traveled from San Francisco, California, to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and back in an RV.
In Mexico, we stupidly drove onto a beach and became stuck in soft sand. My Spanish-speaking friends walked to the main road to find help. Soon afterward, two large Mexican military trucks appeared. Soldiers attached cables to our vehicle and pulled us to stable ground. Afterward, we shared beer and laughter, and they gave us advice on where to go next. It’s just one of the great memories from that trip.
On another occasion, my wife and I rented a first-class RV near Anza Borrego State Park, California. The RV park staff invited all the guests to join a dinner party with live music beneath glittering stars. Within an hour, we were laughing, sharing wine, and line dancing with retired Canadians and Europeans, who spend every winter in warm Southern California.
On our travels, we’ve found that RV travelers enjoy a special fraternity, something that you never find when you check into a hotel. We can’t wait for retirement in a few years so we can spend more time exploring the great North American parks.
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