3 Tips for an RV without a Toad in the City

Winnie the View takes in the skyline of the Big Apple on a recent visit to Liberty Park in Jersey City, NJ.

When we first got our RV, we avoided metroplexes like the plague. But after 50,000 miles behind the wheel, we are certainly more seasoned at congested turnpikes and bumper to bumper traffic jams than we ever dreamed possible. While we still are learning, a year of experience of full time RV living without a toad, has taught us a few things that make our urban excursions more manageable and fun. Here are a few tips to consider before your next visit to the big city.

1. Research public transportation options. On our recent tour through the Northeast we were fortunate enough to spend time in both New York City and Boston. While the thought of driving our View into either city left me dry mouthed at the wheel, they both have safe dependable subway systems. With a few clicks of the keyboard, we discovered several oversized parking options that were within striking distance of where we wanted to be. While in Boston, we parked at the Riverside subway station for $13/day ($26 overnight) and rode the train straight to the heart of the city. The train ride took about 45 minutes (with some great people watching along the way) and deposited us right at the start of the Freedom Trail downtown. Even returning late at night, we were pleasantly surprised by how safe and clean the train was.

Peter, Kathy, and Abby taking selfie in downtown Boston.Famagogo swings by Paul Revere's house along the Freedom Tail in Boston, MA.

We have been to NYC twice now in our View and have used two different strategies depending on what we had planned during our stay. On our first visit, we parked at Liberty Park in Jersey City, NJ and rode the ferry across the harbor straight to the financial district. It cost us about $8 each and was really a fun experience in it's own right. BEWARE! The ferry does not run late at night, so it is not a great option if you are planning on a late evening in the City. On our second visit, we had tickets to a Broadway show, so we knew the ferry was not an option. Instead, we parked at the Tarrytown train station just north of the city and took a commuter train to Grand Central Station - the transportation hub of the Big Apple. It was $20.50 each for a round trip ticket and the last returning train left Grand Central at 11:20 PM - perfect timing for a late evening on the town.

Kathy and Abby on the ferry pointing across the bay towards NYC.Riding the ferry from Jersey City to Manhattan was a great adventure in it's own right.

2. Bike tours of the city are a great way to see a lot in a short amount of time. When we visited Washington DC last fall, we only had a couple of days and a long list of things we wanted to see and do. We parked our RV at the Greenbelt Metro Station and took our bikes with us on the subway. Each train can accommodate three bikes inside the doors at either end of each car. We then took the Green Line straight to L'Enfant Plaza and explored the National Mall by bike - a great way to cover a lot of ground quickly. If you don't have your own bikes with you, there are stands everywhere downtown that allow you to rent a bike by the hour or for the whole day.

Abby pointing to location on a train map.Exploring Washington DC by bike allows you to cover more ground in a short amount of time allowing you to maximize your time in the city.

3. When all else fails, rent a car. Let's face it, sometimes you just want to have your own wheels (the easy to park anywhere kind of wheels). LA is a perfect example of a city built for cars. On a recent visit to LA, we parked the View for the duration of our trip and enjoyed the freedom that a rental car afforded to explore the city. It gave us the stress free flexibility we needed for a day at the beach, a trip to Disneyland and a drive up the coast.

Kathy and Abby screaming while riding a roller coaster. Abby and Kathy brave (or not so brave) on a coaster at Disney (which happens to be a very RV friendly place).

So there you have it - no need to skip the wonderful opportunities that metropolitan areas afford just because you don't have a toad. Do your research ahead of time, come up with a game plan that works for where you are and what you want to do, and enjoy your time in the city - without driving your rig a single mile into the belly of the beast.

Winnebago View with trailer attached parked on the side of a highway among canyon lands. As much fun as it is to spend time in an urban environment, we always breath a deep sigh of relief as we leave the city and head back to the land of big skies and wide open places. Winnie the View stretches her wheels on the open road on the Hogback near Escalante, UT.