Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Roadtrek Can Go Anywhere - Almost...

To be fair this is not just about Roadtreks but motorhomes in general. One of the things that is attractive about a Roadtrek is that it can be parked in any surface parking lot. It drives the same as any van so it can go on almost any road. You can go anywhere in a Roadtrek. This is true - but what happens when you get there?

That is what I have been encountering planning trips now that we are comfortable enough in our Roadtrek to head off to more of the places that we have always liked to go and new places as well. Here are some examples.

In the city of Richmond, Virginia there is a museum called the Museum of the Confederacy and next door to that museum is a building named, "The White House of the Confederacy" which was the home and office of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy. Parking for this museum is either on a busy Richmond street or in a tiered parking lot at the hospital next door. When we had visited these museums years ago, we parked our car on an upper floor of the hospital parking lot. I have been thinking that these museums would be nice to return to. Exhibits have changed and we enjoyed these sites when we were there years back. I contacted the Museum of the Confederacy to ask about parking a vehicle that required a height clearance of 8 feet 9 inches. I got a prompt response back that it would not be possible to park in the hospital garage because of the height of the vehicle. I was told that there is valet parking at the hospital and they could possibly park the van outside. I thought to myself when I read this that there was no way that I would have a valet come into the Roadtrek to take it somewhere to park it and hand over the keys with all of our belongings and valuables inside. So this was out of the question. There was still street parking but it was unlikely that spaces would be available. So, there was no way to visit these museums with the Roadtrek.

I encountered this even greater in a more significant destination - Washington, D.C., our nation's capital and one of the most visited destinations in the United States. There are few campgrounds around Washington, D.C.. The most popular one is some distance outside of Washington in College Point, Maryland. If you ask on the RV forums where to stay if you go to Washington, D.C. with your RV, the just about everyone will tell you Cherry Hill Campground. Now, for most people this campground is ideal as it has a metro bus stop on site at which a bus comes hourly and will take you to the nearest metro train station to travel into Washington, D.C. The bus ride is about a half hour. The metro ride is also about a half hour. But it is possible to leave your RV safely at the campground and go to see D.C. About a year ago, we saw representatives from Cherry Hill Campground at the Hershey, PA big RV show. Meryl went over to talk to them about alternatives to the bus. I have a problem. Since I was very young, I experience motion sickness. If I am driving I am fine. If Meryl is driving, I can - sometimes - tolerate the trip. But more often than not, I cannot. I have to drive - and there is no way, of course, that I can drive the bus. So, I have a problem. This is my problem and has nothing to do with the Roadtrek - but I know I am not the only one with this problem. Meryl asked what can be done to avoid the bus. She was told by the people from the campground that on weekends the metro parking lot was free and would have many spaces available. All that would be necessary would be to take the train - which I can manage, though a half hour ride is about my limit. Fine. We could go to Washington, D.C. and I very much would like to go back to Washington, D.C.. It is my most favorite city for things to see and do. I actually made reservations for three days in Washington at Cherry Hill Campground for this summer.

Waiting for the trip, I started to check out the metro parking lot and getting information necessary to take the train. I stumbled upon a reference to the safety of parking in this parking lot. There were many comments about how it was not a good place to leave a vehicle especially on a weekend and that there was no security. Vehicles were broken into and stolen. Oh boy!. I contacted Cherry Hill Campground and asked them directly if it was safe to park in that lot for the day with the Roadtrek. I got back an answer that said, "No, do not park there due to security issues." That was that. I could not risk losing the Roadtrek. No trip was worth that. I cancelled my reservations at the campground the next day. Again, this is my problem and not due to the Roadtrek - but it is another place I am not going with the Roadtrek. Looking at other campgrounds which are further away in Virginia, the metro parking lots were all garage parking with the exception of one that again, posed security risk.

It is not just these places. I looked North to visit Boston. I have not been to Boston for many, many years - it got too expensive to stay in hotels there. The nearest campground is miles away up to the northwest of the city near Lexington and Concord. To get to Boston from the campground you can either find a commuter train and take that to the city or you can drive into the city but as far as I was able to find there is only one outdoor parking lot in the city and that is at the expo center which has parking available only when there is no events taking place. For the time being, we have crossed Boston off the list.

Then there is the lack of campgrounds in areas that one would figure are prime places for campgrounds. I am continually surprised to look at a site that I would like to visit and then look for a campground to stay in to go there - and find nothing at all. Evidently, camping and campgrounds are few and far between in some areas - and plentiful in others.

So, not to be discouraging, there are plenty of places to go and see in your Roadtrek - but don't be surprised that if you look to visit an attraction, you may not find a way to do so with your RV.

Of course, there is a solution. It is possible to tow a small car behind the Roadtrek and this resolves all of these problems. Maybe, someday, we will.


  1. Another possible solution for visiting places like Washington and Boston is to rent a car. Some car rental companies will deliver the car to you, and pick-it up when you are done. Even if the company does not offer this service, it might if you just ask. I realize renting a car defeats the purpose of buying an RV, but I think it would be worth the expense to be able to visit Boston and Washington. I have been to both and really enjoyed the time I spent. Just a thought.


  2. It is a great suggestion for most but there are personal reasons why we don't rent cars which go along with the reason we got an RV in the first place.

  3. Robert,

    Here is an idea. You stated that you have physical problems that retard you from riding on public transportation for a long period of time. Just maybe, a letter from your Doctor to the RMV will get you a Handicap Pass, the type you can hang on your rear view mirror. In Massachusetts they are easy to come by. This will open up access to areas you could not go to in the past. Just an idea.


    1. Good idea, but motion sickness is not something that a handicap parking permit will be issued for - at least not in NYS. In my profession I have worked with people to get them handicap passes. Here is NY it is very strict - and the pass must match the state on the license plate. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Every time I pass a smart car now, I wonder how hard or easy it would be to tow. Couldn't afford it anyway.

    2. Have you thought about using a car sharing service? These services rent cars by the hour andare completely self-service. You use a smartphone app or the website to schedule time for the vehicle and when it's your turn to use the car, just go to where it's parked, use your app to remotely unlock it, get the keys out the glovebox and go. Gas and insurance are included in hour hourly fee.

      I use all the time, since I live overseas but when I'm home I have limited access to cars. Whenever I need a car and my parents are using theirs, I just take public transit to the big mall 15 minutes away and use one of 4 zipcars there.

      Since all major cities including DC and Boston have them, maybe you can find a secure parking lot for the roadtrek that also has a zipcar in or nearby. Then go visit your destination without fuss.

  4. Next time you want to visit DC there is a KOA in Millersville Maryland. THen 5 miles down the road in Odenton Maryland you can catch the MARC train to DC or Baltimore (30 mins to union station). The parking lot there is a lot better than METRO. and the parking is free there as well.

    Tim Bucher

    1. Thanks Tim for that information. As long as the parking lot is safe to leave the Roadtrek in all day, we are set!