Full-timing gives you the freedom to roam anywhere your heart desires. With so much open road to choose from, it doesn’t take long to experience the dramatic differences between city RVing and country camping. Do you know what you prefer? Discovering your likes and dislikes about locations is the foundation of a stress-free life on wheels.
My husband and I don’t enjoy RVing in cities. Close calls in city traffic, stressed out residents, and lack of nighttime sky just wears on us. For our own sanity we’ve made it a habit of going around urban areas. Yes, there’s a lot to be said for the culture and arts that cities at warp speed can offer, but rural camping has its perks too. Clearly, both have trade offs. Here are some you can expect:
We spent last winter in the solitude of southwest BLM land, where roads are wide, quiet and relatively uneventful. Drivers usually practice common sense around RVers on the highway and nobody gets hurt.
However, in April we had to drive to Austin, TX for business. We timed our arrival for a Saturday morning but traffic was maddening (even though locals probably considered it light).
A tire blowout on the fringes of town didn’t help. It’s not fun to drive in urban congestion alongside drivers who have no idea what it’s like to commandeer a large vehicle. RVers get cut off, flipped off, and sworn at every other mile. Welcome to the big city.
Cities are exciting places, which is why we loved living in the heart of San Francisco in the ’90s. Back then we had a sweet little apartment by the bay.
Today, when we go to the city, our RV home is restricted to parks that are generally in questionable neighborhoods, on the ‘wrong’ side of railroad tracks or under flight paths. We’ve learned that the key to finding the rare exceptions is to scour Campground Reviews long before we arrive.
We love boondocking in beautiful places with few neighbors and lots of space between RVs. Sure, there’s a learning curve with living off-grid and campsites are rarely level, but we don’t mind because we have all the time in the world and a good set of leveling blocks.
Urban RVing with full hookups is an entirely different experience. Setting up our rig on paved, level campsites, taking longer showers, and consuming electricity however we want is sweet. But there’s also often a lack of tall trees, lush grass, and adequate space in-between campsites. A good set of earplugs comes in handy because you never know when you’ll be parked next to the airport or a noisy neighbor.
Rural RVing is more pleasant and I accept that it comes with a price, like the amenities. Many small town parks don’t have more than one washer and one dryer for guests and if we want propane we have to go to town and get it ourselves.
As always there are exceptions, but the vast majority don’t measure up to the “resort” status that many urban RV parks justifiably live up to.
RVing in the country puts you on a DIY activity plan. Go find your fun because most mom and pop RV park owners aren’t going to have it waiting there for you (they’re too busy just running the park!). Don’t look for it in town either: usually the biggest thing happening is the 1pm mail call.
Urban RV resorts bring the activities to you. From pickle ball to concerts, if your goal is to fill up your day with things to do, then you’ll love RV resorts like The Great Outdoors RV and Golf Resort in Titusville Florida and Fountain of Youth Spa in Southern California.
As a bonus, parks like Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego often put you within easy proximity to the city’s best activities. That’s one reason we’ll put our preferences aside to stay at Sentinel Peak RV Park during the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.
When it comes to city RVing and country camping, it’s hard to make a blanket statement because exceptions always exist. These are my own generalizations but I’m sure you have great experiences and awesome discoveries that are different from mine. If so, I want to hear about them, so that some day I can add them to my RVing itineraries.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.