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A Cruise America RV Trip for Beginners

A Cruise America RV Trip for Beginners

Picture this: the freedom of the open road, breathtaking landscapes, and the comfort of having everything you need right there with you. My friend Sara and I experienced that when we embarked on a Cruise America RV trip for beginners.

Whether you’re an RV enthusiast or someone curious about this mode of travel, stick around. I’m here to share our journey, offering insights and practical advice for anyone considering their own RV adventure.


Why Choose an RV Vacation?

Embarking on an RV vacation offers a unique blend of independence and convenience. You can set your own pace, change your plans on a whim, and immerse yourself in nature without sacrificing comfort. It’s like a cozy home on wheels, enabling you to explore regions, especially scenic ones, easily and joyfully.


Our Journey Begins in Mesa, Arizona

Sara and I started our adventure by flying into Mesa, Arizona. The city’s warm climate and proximity to iconic sites made it the perfect launching point for our trip. Upon arrival, we headed straight to the Cruise America facility to pick up our 36-foot RV, our home-away-from-home for the next week.


The Cruise America Experience

Cruise America made our transition from regular travelers to RV adventurers seamless. After completing some paperwork, we were ready to hit the road within 30 minutes.

As fly-in customers, we made the wise choice of purchasing the comprehensive personal and vehicle provisions kits. These kits, thoughtfully prepared by Cruise America, included everything from sheets and towels to pots and pans. This thoughtful provision allowed us to travel light and yet feel fully prepared for our adventure.

You can also rent lawn chairs if you’d like to sit outside of your RV.


Prepping for the Road

Before setting off, we had a brief lesson on hooking up the RV to campsite facilities and operating the vehicle controls. My first tip here is to record these instructions on your phone. Trust me, having a video reference is invaluable.

Additionally, ensure you have an electric voltage adapter, typically included in your rental package. The hook-up process is remarkably straightforward, taking us a mere two minutes at each stop. This simplicity should reassure you and make you feel at ease.

Stocking Up on Essentials

We made our first pit stop at Walmart to stock up on essentials because that’s what everyone does, right? Our shopping list included bottled drinks, breakfast items, chicken and vegetables for dinner, snacks, and toiletries.

Here’s a valuable tip: consider buying extra RV-grade toilet paper, which you can conveniently find at Cruise America. We even treated ourselves to two $10 pillows, a small luxury that added a lot of comfort to our trip.


On the Road: Navigating and Driving Tips

Driving the RV felt akin to driving a large truck. You must be mindful of its size, especially when turning and parking. This was my second time driving an RV, and while it seemed daunting at first, I quickly got the hang of it.

There’s a certain thrill to maneuvering such a large vehicle, and yes, I did feel like a total badass!


Bonus: After a year of full-time RVing, these Tennessee RV parks were our faves for this part of the country.

Amenities and Comfort

Cruise America RVs are primarily made by Winnebago and are designed to offer essential comforts rather than luxury. We didn’t have features like a TV or backup cameras, but we had everything we needed, including heating and AC.

Sara slept in the large bed at the back while I opted for the bunk above the driver’s cabin. It was a bit of a climb, but once I settled in, it was cozy and comfortable.

Regarding storage, we had room for our toiletries and cosmetics above the bathroom sink. We could unpack our clothes and accessories in the decent-sized closet and drawers. There were even extra storage compartments above the bed and dining table set. 


Once the suitcases were emptied, they went into the RV outdoor storage, which also held our fold-out chairs and broom. 

Right in front of the cabin, we found a functional space that was perfect for storing our smaller items. It easily held our drinks, my purse, National Park passports, travel brochures, phones, and all of the travel literature we collected along the way, making it a convenient spot for quick access to our essentials.

Cooking and Dining in an RV

Cooking in the RV was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I whipped up cheesy scrambled eggs, Canadian bacon, and English muffins each morning on the gas-top stove. We kept cheese, yogurt, snack meats, fruit, and hummus with veggies in the fridge for snacks.

Our dinners consisted of simple yet delicious meals, such as chicken with peppers and onions and a side of green beans.


Exploring Mesa and Beyond

We spent the first few days in Mesa, soaking in the local culture and enjoying the warm weather. From there, we ventured to Sedona, Flagstaff, Winslow, and Williams. Each town offered its own unique charm and attractions, making every stop a new adventure.


National Parks: A Highlight of Our Trip

Our visit to the Grand Canyon was a highlight, deserving its own separate post. The sheer scale and beauty of this natural wonder left us in awe. We also explored several other National Parks, ticking them off our bucket list individually.

Practical Tips for Novice RV Travelers

  • Documentation: Keep all your rental paperwork handy, including instructional videos and maps.
  • Vehicle Provisions: Opt for the housewares kit if you’re flying in; it’s worth every penny.
  • Campsite Hook-ups: Practice makes perfect. Don’t be intimidated; it’s easier than it looks.
  • Stock Up: Make a comprehensive shopping list before you hit the road.
  • Comfort Items: Small investments, like extra pillows, can make a big difference.

Learn which side your gas tank is on before pulling into your first gas station to avoid confusion at the pumps. Our tank held around $99 of gas with each fill-up and got decent mileage, even traveling many steep hills.


The Joys of Off-the-Beaten-Path Exploration

What stood out for me most during this trip was the joy of discovery. Traveling by RV allowed us to explore hidden corners and less-visited spots, offering a richer, more immersive experience. Whether it was a secluded hiking trail or a charming local diner, every day brought new surprises and delights.


Were there failures? Yes, like driving into Sedona, which has very little RV parking and tight streets. Or when we let the black water get too full, it backed up in the shower. Live and learn, right?

Conclusion: Ready for Your Own RV Adventure?

Our Cruise America RV vacation was more than just a trip; it was an experience filled with learning, discovery, and countless memories. If you’re an RV novice like we were, I hope our journey inspires you to take the plunge and explore the open road. With a bit of planning and a sense of adventure, anyone can do it.


For those considering their own RV adventure, the unparalleled freedom and flexibility it offers make it an irresistible choice. So why wait? Start planning, pack your bags, and set off on your own extraordinary journey, where you’re the master of your own itinerary.


Ready to hit the road? Stay tuned for our follow-up post, where we dive into our Route 66 and Northern Arizona National Parks adventure. Happy travels!

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