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Get ready for an RV Summer  

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The first time my family set out in an RV in 2018, our nerves rattled more than the dishes in the cupboard as we drove. By the end of the trip, we were hooked. During the pandemic, Canadians fell in love too.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in RV travel over the past year, and all signs point to a continued surge in interest this summer,” said Chris Mahony, president of Go RVing Canada. He noted there’s a 100 per cent year-over-year increase in searches for motorhomes on its website.

A recent survey commissioned for peer-to-peer RV sharing website found that Canadians felt RVing and camping were as much as three times safer than other accommodation options.

“When the pandemic hit in 2020, Canadians turned to road trips, camping and RVing as a safe alternative to the traditional flights and hotels. When families discovered how safe and convenient it was to explore the great outdoors in an RV, word got around,” said co-founder Michael McNaught.

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But just because its popular doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. “It’s important to note that driving an RV is different than your everyday car,” said Ryan Peterson, manager of auto advice for CAA South Central Ontario. “Braking distances are longer. Acceleration is slower. And your blind spots are much bigger. As a new RV driver, plan your routes, practice your turns and make sure you take it easy.”

If you’re contemplating hitting the open road this summer, you should put this article down and immediately secure your dates – it is that popular. Then, come on back for the answers to your most pressing questions.

Which RV should I rent?

How you intend to use the vehicle (just for sleeping?), the type of trip you are taking (multiple stops?), your destination activities (will you need a car?) and how many people you’re travelling with are a few of the things to think about before making your choice. Sites like the RV renter CanaDream’s Trip Planner tool can help you narrow it down. A Class G licence (the one you use to drive your car) will allow you to tow and operate motor homes for personal use up to a certain weight (no more than a combined weight of 11,000 kg). Bigger than that and you’ll require a Class D licence.

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How can I be COVID-aware?

Organize a meal plan before leaving home and bring along the things you need. Run out of milk on the road? Having a grocery delivery app at the ready can save the day. Also, bring your own cleaning supplies and be sure to disinfect the vehicle once you take possession. Skip campground group activities and opt for options like hiking and biking instead.

Where should we go?

For now, stay fairly close to home. Interprovincial travel is frowned upon right now, so you’ll want to keep your eye on the evolving regulations and approved travel corridors. There is no shortage of options for an incredible Canadian escape, but planning is key. Check provincial tourism websites and RV rental sites for itinerary suggestions. Prefer to leave the planning to someone else? Consider outfitters like Tracks and Trails RV Adventures. For a fee, they’ll tailor an itinerary including a driving route and suggested stops.

Where can we sleep?

Provincial and national parks, along with private campgrounds, offer RV sites. Be realistic to avoid paying for on-site amenities you won’t likely use. Companies like Harvest Hosts offers RV sites on family farms and wineries, and many Walmart stores will allow you to park in their lot if you ask. Wherever you choose, understanding the types of “hook-up” the site offers are important. Full hook-up sites give you access to water, electricity and sewer. Other options include partial hook-ups or none. Reserve your site as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. (Campsite fees typically are less than $40 per night but a remote or popular location can see that amount triple.)

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How much is this going to cost me?

It depends. Length of trip, mileage and insurance can all factor into your costs. Use of the generator and propane tank will add to that. CanaDream estimates a trip from April 9 through 16 in their Maxi Motorhome (which sleeps four adults and two children) is approximately $150 per night. If your timing is flexible, consider their relocation service rentals that offer the use of the RV at a reduced rate. While your projected bill might not be exact, with the right planning surprises will be less painful.

Heather Greenwood Davis Special to Wheels

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