Adventures of Renting an RV from a True (and Scared) Novice

By Erica I. Pena-Vest, Founder & Editor of

I can’t begin to tell you how nervous I was. As a professional travel writer, I get to go beyond my scope of comfort from time to time, but anyone who knows me, knows that my idea of “roughing it” is very different than most. I’m a high maintenance girl who doesn’t camp, so wouldn’t renting an RV be the same thing? I truly didn’t have an answer to that.

I write a syndicated column for military families throughout the country, called Guide to Military Travel, recommending what to do for fun. On any given day, I get over 600 emails a day – asking questions, requesting information or just merely wanting my advice on how to find the best deal. I knew a large majority of my audience loved Rving so eventually as their appointed travel expert, I would need to venture into the unknown and try something outside my comfort zone.

The idea was pitched to me as a weekend stay in Anaheim, California a.k.a Mickey’s backyard. I have to admit that was part of the draw. Anaheim is a second home to me so if I hated my experience, I could sneak out in the middle of the night and head for my favorite hotel. I would be renting an RV (as many American’s do) from El Monte RV Rentals and staying at the Anaheim Resort RV Park – literally across the street from Disneyland. The Anaheim RV Resort is part of the Best Parks of America association. They make it easy for you to find the best RV parks throughout the country by listing them by state and only associating with the parks offering the best amenities for travelers.

The rental process was explained to me as it would be to any other. Choosing to bring my own linens or renting them, how many people in my party (to make sure that the RV was the right size to accommodate us all), they explained the amenities of the vehicle and that I was welcomed to bring food to refrigerate, they asked if I needed pans, plates and kitchen supplies – the whole process was similar to renting a hotel room but much more detailed. It was almost like having a personal concierge. One thing that did stand out to me was how personal the experience was. Everyone made sure that my family had everything we needed to make this weekend memorable. That made me feel much more comfortable, but it didn’t keep me from worrying if I would enjoy this adventure.

It occurred to me that I might not be the only one that felt this way. There has to be other wives (or husbands) out there that try the RV experience to appease a loved one. “My husband has always wanted to try it, but I’m unsure….,” wrote one of my readers. “I’d prefer to camp in an RV than in a tent but is it safe?” asked another reader. “Will it be too small for my family of five and more importantly will I fit in the bathroom?” …honestly that question was mine. We seem to outgrow hotel rooms with each passing year that my children get older. A standard size room doesn’t hold us anymore, will an “overgrown van” (which is what I imagined an RV to be) hold all of us, and if it does, will it be comfortable? What about the toilet? I’m not a skinny girl by any means. What if I don’t fit?

I could not have been more wrong in worrying. Checking in to the Anaheim Resort RV Park was more than simple; it was friendly, homey, and familiar in a way I can’t explain. Everyone seemed to be family, to understand my nerves and they put me at ease. Then we were introduced to our rental RV from El Monte. It was clean, well kept, spacious, equipped with everything you would find at a hotel and even better – it fit my family perfectly. And much to my 3 year olds enjoyment, it was equipped with a TV and DVD player so that he could see Toy Story for the 198th time.

Most importantly to me, it was spacious enough to fit us all very comfortably AND small enough to keep us together as a family unit, enjoying each other’s company. That was priceless to me as a mom. My boys were excited and happy, my husband was sizing up the RV for traits he’d be looking for when he “buys his own RV”, and I loved the whole experience more than I can express (I’m secretly excited that my husband wants to buy one). Since we can’t afford that on a military salary and that dream might be far off, it brings me joy to know that El Monte RV has the perfect one waiting for us any time we are looking for an adventure. And you know what, the bathroom was plenty big and I fit just fine!

Before this trip, my husband used to call me his “Ritz girl” because honestly, that’s always been my mother ship. Well, maybe I’m growing up, growing old or have been domesticated beyond recognition but I stayed at a Ritz a few weeks later and found myself wishing I was back in that RV watching my family have the ultimate American experience. Americans used to take time to get to where they were going back in the day. Part of the adventure was the journey. Now a days, the destination takes away from that valuable bonding time on the road, but honestly with rising airline fuel costs and fees, maybe it’s time for us to get back to the road and start seeing our country as the destination…and who knows maybe we’ll get to know more about our own family on the way.

If you have any doubts about renting an RV for your family, you can always find me online at I’d be glad to share more of my experience with you. See you on the road!

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