Road Trip USA is finally underway and everyone’s super excited. Today we pick up our motorhome rental from Elmonte RV in Dublin, San Francisco.
Dealing With Jetlag
With a good case of jetlag, the first kid woke up 1 am. And so, day numero uno in America began with not a minute wasted. Literally.
We stalled as long as we could, but by 3 am the kids were bursting to get out and we were all hungry. It was about 8 am back home. So we set off to the nearest 24hr restaurant; only a fifteen-minute walk from the motel.
All was quiet in the streets outside the motel. The only people out and about in San Mateo at 3 am was us, walking to Denny’s 24hr Diner in the dark for breakfast.
After a hearty breakfast, we got back to the hotel at 4 am, slept a few more hours, checked out at 11 am, found lunch at the organic shopping center across the street and got an Uber to the Elmonte RV pick-up point at The Crown Plaza hotel.
The Uber got lost on his way to us, but we called to notify El Monte about the delay. Fifteen minutes late, we pulled in just as the El Monte van pulled out at the pickup point. Before I reached panic stations, we found out that the driver had to go back for another family who was also late so it wasn’t only us. Phew!
The logistics may sound straightforward and look easy on a to-do list: ‘Pick up the RV‘, but we have a truck load of luggage with us and don’t forget the three kids, one of which is a toddler. Different ballgame.
After ONLY an hour of waiting, El Monte picked us up and took us to their office in Dublin, San Francisco.
From what we learned, Elmonte RV runs one free shuttle a day, that leaves at about 11 am from their depot in Dublin, SFO to drop customers back at the airport who returned their RV’s on time. In the same shuttle-run, they pick up new arrivals at the Crowne Plaza hotel near the airport for the 45-minute return journey to the Depot to collect their RV’s. It’s not a lift you want to miss if you have as much luggage as us.
Elmonte RV’s website states that they charge a fee of $15 p/p for the shuttle transfers, but we were not charged and from what I understand, it’s free.
I’m just glad that the driver came back for us and that we didn’t have to take the BART or pay a fortune for a large Uber.
Yes, we traveled from Dublin to Dublin halfway across the globe!
More Like Us
The other family at the Elmonte pick up point was a young family from Germany. We got to know each other a bit on the way to El Monte where our RV’s were nicely parked next to each other, waiting for us to start our RV vacations.
More and more people are taking the big step to travel more. The couple we met in SFO, he quit a high profile business engineering job and she took extended leave from her job as a gynaecologist to travel with their toddler. It feels good to meet like-minded travellers along the way and to hear their story. We wish them all the best and safe travels for the future.
Collecting The Motorhome
It took almost two hours to pick up the RV from the El Monte depot. We had to fill out paperwork, decide about optional extras such as kitchen and convenience kits, have an orientation walk-through and then load our luggage and get settled in our temporary home on wheels.
We carefully pulled out from the El Monte RV parking lot and waved goodbye to an equally nervous-looking Ulrich and his family. Both of us ordered 25ft motorhomes but were “upgraded” to 28ft RV’s.
To quote Ulrich:
“This is the one time you do NOT want a free upgrade on your rental vehicle”.
Driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road
Slowly we drove to the nearest Walmart to shop and overnight for free in their parking lot (aka boondocking). It’s daunting to drive a left-hand drive on the right (or should I rather say ‘wrong’) side of the road. IN A 28ft RV. For the first time. In traffic.
At this early stage, I’m wondering if it’s wise to hand over the keys of such a large vehicle to ‘wrong’-side-of-the-road foreigner drivers, at the drop of a few pounds (ok, not so few, but still) to manoeuvre across the continent, up and down snow-covered mountain passes.
Not only jetlagged but a little shaken from our first white-knuckle drive in the US, we got our shopping done at Walmart in a slow daze, grabbed a quick meal at Big Mac’s and went to bed at 6 pm.
Update: After the first week, after navigating the mountainous roads to Yosemite National Park, we were comfortably driving the large motorhome in America. B was great and despite a few heartstopping moments when our satnav went haywire, it was really not difficult to drive on the other side of the road as long as you are a mindful driver.
The Friendly People We Meet
Hang on, I just want to back up a bit here before lights out.
At dinner, we met a retired army veteran, Irene Phillips. So friendly and chatty. We made such an impression on each other that she gave the kids each one of her volunteering pins to remember her by and she brought them colouring books and crayons to the RV before leaving. So much effort for strangers! She went out of her way to be kind and welcoming.
That is the great thing about travel; it breaks down common misconceptions about other people and cultures. You get to learn about them first hand.
Thank You Irene! We’ll never forget you. Know that you inspired us. We enjoyed listening to your stories about your passion for volunteering and your love for your beautiful country.
Travel Distance: 35mi
Travel Time: 2 hrs
Up Next: Day 3-4 Yosemite National Park
We just want to say, for the record, that while we believe that to travel while you can is one of the best things in life, especially as a family, we are not advocating that people give up everything just to travel.
We believe in financial planning for the future and we are passionate about the fact that everyone should start saving for their pension and contribute to it from an early age.
A minimalist lifestyle and mindset can be beneficial to both travel and sound financial planning.