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My First RV Trip

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

I decided to write about my first-time experience taking a trip in an RV, especially during a pandemic. Because of the pandemic, there are many restrictions on where we can go and whether we can keep our families safe. So after almost six months of isolation, we decided to take an RV and go up the coast of California for seven days with a three-year-old. Mind you, both my husband and I have NEVER driven or taken a trip in an RV, so this was uncharted territory. So sit back and enjoy the read of our RV adventure and learn from our best practices and mistakes along the way. I have also uploaded our itinerary with check-in and check-out times and all the information to use as a template for your trip. Bon Voyage!

Pre-Trip Planning

First of all, we spent about three months going back and forth, deciding if we were even going to do this. We decided to book the RV rental one month before our actual departure date. We researched three different websites for RV rental. We didn’t want to do an RV share and decided to go with a chain RV rental company. Because of our full-time jobs, it was challenging to plan out the itinerary and where we were going to stop. The pandemic didn’t allow us to pick campgrounds or other recreational parks. There were also state-wide fires that we had to maneuver around as well. My husband decided to pick RV parks that were open and open to people out of the county. A lot of campgrounds didn’t let visitors from outside their county. He gave me his ideas about the journey we were going to be on, and then I took over and booked the locations. It was a team effort to be able just to plan the trip, so I highly recommend having the team support to get you through this.

A couple of things to consider when renting an RV:

1. How big do you want the RV?

We rented a 28 ft; we both thought it was too big when we picked it up. You may need something smaller or bigger, depending on how big your family is. I would recommend going to see the RV in person if possible to see which one suits you and your family the best.

2. To Dump or Not to Dump?

You should also decide if you will dump the sewer line or pay extra for the rental company to do it at the end of your trip. We decided to have the rental company dump when we got back from our trip, but halfway through the trip, we had to dump the gray water. Gray water is all the water from the shower and sinks. Blackwater is toilet water. So while we were at it, we dumped both gray and black water tanks. It wasn’t that bad; the RV rental comes with the hose and disposable gloves. I would bring extra gloves just in case.


We did lose the keys on the trip. We spent half of a day looking for them! It wasn’t too bad, though. Luckily, the rental company was able to make an extra set of keys for a fee and overnight them to us at the RV park. We missed one of our nights at a Pismo Beach RV park. We stayed in a different RV park every night. Except for the two nights, we stayed at one RV park because we were stranded. Lesson learned!

4. Amenities

Decide what type of amenities you would like to have at the parks. Water, Sewer, and Electric, which is considered a full hook up, or just water and electric can be enough. It will save you money in the long run. You can get by with just water and electricity if you like. Most RV parks have dumping stations, and you can use them for free.

5. Insurance, Insurance, Insurance

I highly recommend getting insurance through your own insurance company or the RV rental company. You never know what can happen on the road, and if you are a newbie to RV'ing, anything can happen. TRUST ME!

Day 1: RV Pick Up Day

We couldn’t pick up the RV until the afternoon, and there was no option for an early pickup. We picked up the RV after work; make sure you see some YouTube videos or ask questions when you pick up the RV if you don’t understand something. The great thing about a national RV rental company is that they have a 1-800 support line where an RV advisor can walk you through any issues or questions you may have. We called about a hand full of times for various things. Try to pack up the RV this day and go to the supermarket before and stock up with all of the things you will need for your trip. The refrigerator and freezer are smaller, so keep that in mind and pack those items that need refrigeration the morning you leave. Also, the fridge runs warmer than your refrigerator at home. The RV has a lot of storage to keep the nonperishable stored. It was also beneficial to put them all in boxes to prevent everything from rolling around in the storage spaces while driving.

We had to install a car seat for our three-year-old which was a little cumbersome as they tend to be. Just make sure you feel good about your installation practices before you go. The RV is very noisy while driving, so before departing, ensure everything is secure and in its place, or you will definitely hear things moving around.

Day 2: Departure and First RV Stop Los Angeles To Morro Bay, CA

We packed up the RV and our son, and we were on our way. Our first stop was to the Morro Bay; it took about 3 hours to get there from our house, and that was the right amount of time for a 3-year-old to be strapped in a car seat. Of course, he was super excited because this was a new adventure. A little trick that I would recommend is that I bought a surprise grab bag from a dollar bin filled with stickers, a coloring book, and other crafty items, and it kept him busy the whole 3 hours coloring looking out the window listening to music. I gave him a new activity every day to keep him busy on the trip. The RV park was literally across the street from the beach and the Morro Rock. It was also about an 8 minute walk to main the part of town. It was a very convenient location. Remember, if you are not towing a car, you are staying put once you arrive at the RV park and set up the water and electricity lines. So everything should be within walking distance or if you want to take a ride-share. The weather was beautiful but a little cold, so my son could play in the water knee-deep only, and we found sand dollars and enjoyed the sunshine. After the beach, we went into town, and because it was during the weekend, there were a lot of people. Thankfully enough, everyone was wearing their masks and keeping to the social distancing rules. We brought our wagon for my son to ride in so he didn’t get tired. We ended up at a little restaurant for outdoor dining, of course, right in the bay looking a the Morro Rock. We walked back to the RV park, got our son ready for bed, and then my husband and I spent some alone time outside the RV enjoying our evening. I will say that the week in the RV disrupted our son’s sleeping routine, but that was part of the fun. They have quiet hours at all the parks, and they vary, so usually the hours were 10 pm-8 am, it was quiet and peaceful.

Day 3: Morro Bay to Moss Landing

We went to Moss Landing from Morro Bay, but we went to pick up some necessities before we started our trip. Warmer clothes for me. I packed for summer but forgot that it gets cold by the beach even at the end of summer. I was so happy to get some warmer clothes because it made the trip a little more doable. The drive up the central coast was breathtaking.

When we arrived in Moss Landing, the staff was friendly and helpful; right away we plugged in and made lunch for my son and headed to the beach in our little red wagon so my son could play in the water. We spent time at the beach, then went back to the RV, and I ventured out and picked up some seafood from Phil’s Fish Market. It is a tourist attraction so we would also call ahead and pre-ordered. We ordered Phil’s Stir-Fried Calamari, Cioppino, and some chicken fingers for my son. Everything was so fresh and delicious. Absolutely loved it! I took a walk and picked up the food, it was about a 5 min journey, and it was nice to have some time away from the fam to regroup.

Day 4: Moss Landing to Bodega Bay, CA

The trip from Moss Landing to Half Moon day was fantastic, driving up the 101 FWY, and the ocean had spectacular views. On the one side, you have beautiful forest landscapes and hills. On the other side, you have the ocean with stunning cliffs and rockscapes. This, by far, was the best drive for landscapes and, by far, was the most beautiful RV park with nature trails. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the Bodega Bay RV Park. It was so clean, so beautiful, so organized- it was my favorite trip to an RV park out of the whole trip. I highly recommend going to that particular RV Park; it was spectacular!

Day 4-5: Bodega Bay to Half Moon Bay

Once we got to the RV park in Half Moon Bay, we unloaded and hooked up the RV. One of the great things about the park is an English restaurant pub called Cameron English Pub, Inn and Restaurant. I highly recommend getting takeout or dining outside. Go early to beat the crowds. The food was amazing. We ordered the roasted garlic and brie for an appetizer, artichoke soup in a bread bowl, English pastie, and Shepard’s Pie. Everything tasted authentic and flavorful. We tried to do the two-mile hike to the beach that day, but by the time we started to make it down there, we were exhausted and decided to go back to the RV and do a fire pit and make some s’mores. After the campfire good-ness, we called it a night.

The next morning, we lost the keys! We spent most of the morning searching for them. We eventually called the rental company, and they overnighted another set of keys. We ended up missing our reservation in Pismo Beach. We made the trek to the beach and made it; my son loved playing in the water. It was so refreshing to be out on the beach, feeling the air on your face. The next morning we got the keys from the RV park office, and we headed on our way to Malibu, which was our last stop.

Day 6: Half Moon Bay to Malibu

Of course, the drive was beautiful, and it was about 6 hours to get down to Malibu. Unfortunately, on our way down, we were in a 2-hour traffic jam in Paso Robles. To make matters worse, my son got car sick, and he threw up in the RV. I immediately went into mommy mode and cleaned him up and changed him into new clothes. There were detours and gridlock; it was a little bit of a nightmare. We ended up finding a detour, and we made it out of there. Phew! At this point, we were debating on just going home, but we were determined to finish the trip, and my son was feeling better. The RV park in Malibu was beautiful, overlooking the ocean. I wish we had more time there, but we had to return the RV by 11 am the next morning. We just slept there.

Day 7: Malibu to Home and Return the RV

We made it home in less than 45 mins. It was wonderful to get home. The trip was incredible; it was a memorable experience, and I'm happy that we did it! Once we got home, we had to unload and clean the RV. That only took about an hour and a half. A bit of advice; you need to make sure you check everything in the RV; of course, we ended up leaving a couple of things behind. We eventually found the keys tucked in some sheets. We had no idea how they got there—still a mystery. When we returned the rental, it was relatively easy. They wanted to charge us a significant amount for the keys’ copies, but we gave them the originals too, so they worked with us. We got our deposit back, thankfully.

All in all, the trip was an amazing experience. However, if you are looking to relax, do not go on an RV trip, especially if it is your first time. There are a lot of unknowns, and there were some anxious times. I think we decided we would probably get something smaller and not go during a pandemic for a future trip. We would also probably book more campgrounds instead of RV parks. It depends on your preferences. I hope this article will help you plan out your first RV trip with your family. I have also included a downloadable itinerary, which is handy. Have a place to keep all your documents and reservations. Enjoy your trip, happy travels.

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