En español | Does embarking on an RV road trip sound appealing to you — until you actually think about getting behind the wheel and driving one of these big boys?
No problem, an easy solution exists.
RV owners who rent out their RVs for self-drive vacations through rental companies such as Outdoorsy and RVshare will also deliver their vehicles to campsites across the country so renters can enjoy a “stationary RV stay.” Think of it as the RV version of Airbnb. These accommodating owners handle all the setting up, too — meaning they back the RV into the site, connect the sewer hoses, hook up the electricity, make sure the cable TV works (where it's available) and, in most cases, make the beds. All you have to do is show up at your site for some socially distanced camping you'll surely find far more comfortable than overnighting in a tent.
Sixty percent of Outdoorsy's RV owners offer this delivery service to clients, according to Jen Young, the company's cofounder. Renters may be nervous about driving the vehicles, she says, “or just want to show up to their campsite without having to worry about anything."
This “stationary” trip can make for a very relaxing vacation, notes Jason Epperson, who lives in an RV with his family and hosts the RV Miles podcast. “You have the owners there to set things up for you, so they can walk you through the systems — like where to turn on the water heater and how to flush the toilet — so you don't have to think about those things during your vacation,” says Epperson.
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"It's almost like renting a cabin,” he adds. “You go to a campground and you can experience the national park or state park without the hassle of having to set anything up."
Owners’ policies vary when it comes to delivery fees and how far they'll drive to make a delivery. Some include delivery in the rental price, and some charge based on delivery distance, which often ranges from $50 to $250, according to Outdoorsy.
You're responsible for booking your RV campsites and will need your own vehicle to get between destinations if you plan to make multiple stops.
I recently road-tripped with my family from St. Augustine, Florida, south to the Florida Keys, staying in three different RVs that were already set up at our campsites when we arrived.
The owners and I agreed ahead of time on when to meet at the sites to do walk-throughs of the RVs. They explained such details as the size of the black water tank and how long it might last before needing to be emptied (longer than you'd think!), and how all the RV's switches and buttons for lighting and appliances worked. That left our family free to get down to the joys of camp life — fishing from campground docks and making s'mores around a campfire before going to sleep in the comfortable beds on wheels.
Below, I share my Florida itinerary for a stationary RV trip followed by a more urban Southern California RV itinerary and an RV state park adventure through central Arizona. All of the campgrounds are close to major cities with inventory for RV deliveries.
Grab your car keys and get ready for some RV fun that requires only that you show up and get comfortable.
Road Trip 1: Florida's East Coast and the Keys
Take an East Coast adventure down the Sunshine State's Atlantic flank, visiting the nation's oldest city, exploring the Treasure Coast, then winding things down in the Florida Keys. You'll stay in three different campgrounds.
Begin: Near St. Augustine
Getting there: Fly into Jacksonville International Airport, then drive 50 miles south on Interstate 95 to St. Augustine.
The campground: North Beach Camp Resort, a real find, is located on a barrier island between the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway in Vilano Beach, just a 10-minute drive northeast from downtown St. Augustine, the nation's oldest city.
At the camp: Beach fun awaits just across the street. If you're an angler, try your luck casting for spotted sea trout at the riverside dock. Or, on the nearby riverbank, catch the sunset and dine on fresh seafood at Aunt Kate's restaurant, taking a seat at one of its outdoor tables. Try the scallops — blackened, broiled, fried or grilled.
Away from camp: At the Guana Tolomato Mantanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, an incredible preservation area about 5 miles north of the campground, hunt for shark's teeth on a rugged stretch of empty beach backed by Florida's tallest sand dunes. The undeveloped beach looks just as it must have when Ponce de Leon (commemorated with a statue here) first sighted Florida's eastern shores more than 500 years ago.
Next stop: Stuart
Getting there: Drive another 215 miles south on I-95.
The campground: Get close to nature at Phipps Park Campground, on Florida's Treasure Coast, which takes in Martin County as well as St. Lucie and Indian River counties to the north. Perched on a levee, the campsites overlook a wild stretch of the Okeechobee Waterway, a true slice of undeveloped Florida lined with palm trees (and surely loaded with alligators, too).
At the camp: In this setting heavy on nature, just relax and take in a different, non-beach perspective on Florida. At the waterway's edge, stroll along boardwalks and pathways to spot alligators and wading birds such as great blue herons and egrets.
Away from camp: Visit the Florida Oceanographic Society Coastal Center, a 57-acre nature center on Hutchinson Island, 19 miles northeast of Phipps Park. Nature trails lead to the Indian River Lagoon and a boardwalk where you can spot rescued nurse sharks, rays and sea turtles.
Final stop: Florida Keys
Getting there: From Stuart, it's roughly 200 miles south along I-95 and the Florida Turnpike to reach the heart of the Florida Keys near Islamorada, 80 miles northeast of Key West.
The campground: At the hidden Fiesta Key RV Resort & Marina, just off the Overseas Highway about 12 miles south of Islamorada, you'll be within feet of the water's edge at your RV site.
At the camp: Enjoy hotel-style amenities, including an on-site marina, playground, tiki bar and outdoor swimming pool overlooking the ocean.
Away from camp: Get comfy in the outdoor beer garden at the Florida Keys Brewing Company on Islamorada and sample flights of tropical fruit-infused craft beers brewed on-site. If you're hungry, a food truck serves up tasty tacos. Flowering plants shade the picnic tables.
Road Trip 2: Arizona, from Phoenix to the Sedona area
The Grand Canyon typically takes the spotlight in Arizona, but an RV trip looping north from Phoenix showcases less-visited state parks that deliver plenty of fun. Get ready for glorious high-desert views and impossibly starry night skies, stopping at three different campgrounds.
Begin: Near Show Low
Getting there: Drive 170 miles from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport along State Route 87 North and State Road 260 East.
The campground: You'll be tucked between stands of pines alongside a quiet lake at the Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area, 5 miles northwest of Show Low.
At the camp: Stroll the 1.5-mile walking trail along the lake's south and west banks to watch great blue herons fishing in the shallows, or rent a canoe or kayak and paddle out for on-water explorations.
Away from camp: Eighteen miles northeast, play a round of golf at the Silver Creek Golf Club (open to the public), a championship 18-hole course with mountain and pond views. Or drive 14 miles south and go horseback riding with Porter Mountain Stables. You'll wander through groves of ponderosa pines with glimpses of the White Mountains at every turn.
Next stop: Near Winslow
Getting there: Drive 80 miles northwest of Show Low on State Road 77 and Interstate 40. You'll be 60 miles east of Flagstaff.
The campground: Homolovi State Park Campground, 6 miles northeast of Winslow, looks over a lush floodplain settled in the 14th century by the Hisat'sinom people. It's packed with sites of cultural interest.
At the camp: Explore the park's ancestral Hopi village sites, including ruins with large plazas and ancient underground burial chambers (kivas). Trails throughout the park lead to petroglyphs and sites where you might spot some of the interesting birds that live here, including burrowing owls, horned larks (they have stripes atop their heads that look like tiny horns) and roadrunners.
Away from camp: At the Meteor Crater National Landmark in Winslow, tackle easy observation trails along the rim to see the impact created by the meteor when it crashed into Earth roughly 50,000 years ago. The crater is nearly a mile across.
For the best dining option in the Four Corners region, take your appetite to the Turquoise Room at Winslow's La Posada Hotel. At lunch, you can't go wrong with the pork carnitas platters or the burger choices.
Final stop: Cottonwood
Getting there: From Winslow, take I-40 and Interstate 17 southwest 120 miles. You'll be 19 miles southwest of Sedona.
Your campground: Dead Horse Ranch State Park, just 2 miles north of Cottonwood, is home to a fascinating array of wildlife (gray foxes, white-tailed deer, Gambel's quail and more) you might spot along the park's more than 20 miles of trails.
At the camp: Access the high desert of the Coconino National Forest from four different trailheads within the park. Head down to the Verde River to fish for largemouth bass and rainbow trout. Also, keep your eye out for some of the 240 birds species — flycatchers, hawks, loons, wrens and more — the Northern Arizona Audubon Society says live in the area. From the park's equestrian concession, head out on a wrangler-guided trail ride.
Away from camp: As you make your way back to Phoenix along I-17, stop at the Montezuma Castle National Monument, 19 miles south of Cottonwood, to view some of North America's best-preserved cliff dwellings along an easy one-third-mile-long walking trail.
Road Trip 3: Southern California
This region's stunning nature stars during a coastal RV camping trip between San Diego and Los Angeles. Waterfront campsites abound, putting city attractions at your doorstep in beachy surrounds. Your best days are spent anywhere along the Pacific Coast Highway, feasting on seafood and taking in the grand views before returning to your RV and settling in for sunset.
Begin: San Diego
Getting there: Major U.S. commercial airlines offer frequent flights to San Diego International Airport.
The campground: At the Mission Bay RV Resort, sites overlook De Anza Cove, within 20 minutes of La Jolla and other San Diego attractions.
At the camp: For water fun, rent kayaks, WaveRunners, Hobie Cats and pedal boats during the summer months and year-round at Campland on the Bay, Mission Bay's sister resort, just 2 miles away. The latter also rents beach cruisers and electric bikes; kids give its playground a thumbs-up.
Away from camp: Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, a delightful coastal park 12 miles north of Mission Bay, beckons with miles of unspoiled beaches. Both easy walking trails (a favorite: the Guy Fleming Trail) and challenging ones take you through native pine trees and fields of wildflowers as they lead to spectacular coastal overlooks.
Next stop: Near Huntington Beach
Getting there: From Mission Bay, drive 95 miles north on Interstate 5.
The campground: All 50 RV campsites at Bolsa Chica State Beach RV Camping, 4 miles north of the Huntington Beach Pier, come with fire rings and picnic tables, and some put you right on the beachfront.
At the camp: Go for a stroll along the paved beachside trail that leads 8.5 miles from Bolsa Chica to Huntington State Beach, south of the pier. Or do some surf casting for perch or corbina. Come evening, build a bonfire in one of the rings on the beach.
Away from camp: Take in the roughly 3 miles of rugged Orange County coastline at Crystal Cove State Park, 17 miles south of Bolsa Chica. Explore the tidal pools at low tide and visit the park's federally listed Historic District, with 46 vintage coastal cottages.
Final stop: Malibu
Getting there: Drive 64 miles from Huntington Beach northwest along Interstate 405 and State Route 1.
The campground: At Malibu Beach RV Park, the only RV park in the chic beachfront community of Malibu, 34 miles west of Los Angeles, soak in both ocean and mountain views. All 142 of its sites come with picnic tables. Head to the horseshoe pit if you fancy a game.
At the camp: Shoot some pool or play tables tennis at the outdoor game room. Just across the street, you can do some beachcombing or take a refreshing dip in the ocean.
Away from camp: For some easy exercise and fresh sea breezes, set out on the 1.4-mile out-and-back Point Dume Cove Trail, 5 miles southwest of Malibu Beach. From the trail's overlooks, you might spot sea lions or, from December to mid-April, migrating gray whales.
Hungry from the hike? Drive 10 miles northwest on State Route 1 to Neptune's Net, a waterfront Malibu dining institution since 1956, even if just to visit the drive-through for fish tacos, fish-and-chips, clam chowder and more to take back to your oceanfront RV site for a tasty seafood feast.
Terry Ward is a Florida-based travel writer who has lived in Australia, New Zealand and France. Her work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, USA TODAY, Lonely Planet and more.