There is no doubt in my mind that travelling across the USA in a comfortable and well-equipped RV is one of the best ways to see the country for visitors from overseas. I am also sure that some people are discouraged from trying this type of holiday by the horror stories that they encounter online, written by other intrepid travellers who ran into serious difficulties when attempting to do so for the first time.
However, with a few precautions you can easily ensure that you avoid making the same mistakes as these unfortunate tourists. Below, I take a look at some of the worst stories I have heard and how the people involved could have done things differently.
1. Stranded in the desert – this has to be everybody’s worst nightmare when travelling through hot, arid parts of the country such as Nevada and Arizona. Whilst North American deserts may be tiny when compared to the 3.6 million square miles that the Sahara covers, at 190,000 square miles the Great Basin Desert could still present some serious problems to anybody that is unlucky enough to break down in the middle of it without having made any contingency plans for just such an eventuality. Buying nationwide breakdown cover, ensuring that you have a mobile phone with a strong signal in every area you wish to visit, always carrying plenty of water and learning basic vehicle maintenance tasks are all measures that you can take to avoid becoming the central character in your very own holiday horror story.
2. Held up at gunpoint – this is a scary proposition for even the most seasoned of travellers and fortunately still a very rare occurrence in the USA and other developed countries around the world. However, it is a good idea to take some basic precautions to minimise the chances of being robbed at gunpoint during your holiday. Keep any valuables that you are taking with you well out of sight so that casual thieves are not tempted to break into your van while you are elsewhere or, even worse, take violent action to gain entry when you are in residence. Better still, don’t take anything particularly valuable with you in the first place.
3. Attacked by hitchhikers – there is an obvious and very simple way to avoid problems with hitchhikers on your holiday: don’t ever stop to offer them a lift! It might feel mean to drive past somebody that is walking along the side of a small road in a remote part of the country, especially if you have found an excellent motorhome to rent, or Wohnmobil mieten for the German readers out there, and are enjoying a luxurious ride yourself. However, it is much better to take a cautious approach when in a strange country rather than let your kind-hearted nature get you into trouble. Anybody that is walking in the countryside alone is probably more than capable of taking good care of themselves so you should not spend too much time worrying about what will happen to them after you have driven past.
4. Imprisoned by the local police – another nightmare scenario that you will want to avoid at all costs and one that in reality is quite easy to avoid with a modicum of common sense. Research the rules of the road before you depart, always cooperate with officers of the law when you have occasion to speak to them and never behave in an aggressive manner if stopped for questioning at any point during your holiday. Whilst you should of course be aware of your rights and be ready to mention them if you are stopped by a policeman who does not follow proper procedure, behaving in a reasonable manner is of vital importance at all times and will help to ensure that a minor misunderstanding does not blow up into a full scale holiday disaster.
Having read my words of wisdom, I hope that you feel more confident and prepared for what lies ahead. I have travelled through many parts of the USA in rented motorhomes and can thoroughly recommend this mode of transport to adventurous holidaymakers who wish to explore this vast country at their own pace.