So, what else can I do with this thing?
The most common reasons people buy a motorhome are to travel the country, to go camping and to view nature in all its splendor. But when you’re not out on the road, you have a very expensive vehicle sitting unused somewhere in a parking spot. But what if you didn’t have to leave the motorhome stranded for weeks or months at a time? What if there were everyday uses for a motorhome that would make it less of a mobile vacation home and more of a utility vehicle? Think about your daily activities and ask yourself, “Could I be using the motorhome for this?”
I have a 37-foot Jayco Seneca Super C, so I need to pay close attention to the parking situations wherever I go. Always check on parking availability before heading out on your urban adventures.
As a child, decades before I was even close to purchasing an RV, I often thought about how much better Christmas shopping would be if I only had a place to relax for awhile. My mother would take the family to the mall where everyone would be set free for the entire day to do their gift shopping. After an hour or so I was done (How much could a child really buy?), but the rest of the crew was still going strong. With an RV I could have gone to the parking lot, kicked off my shoes and made lunch instead of sitting on those hard plastic mall chairs by the fountain or in a freezing car. I purchased my motorhome after my kids were older so I have never done a mall trip with my family. But when I am making modifications to the motorhome that I know will require several trips to the hardware store, I will occasionally drive it over and work on it in the store’s parking lot, if it’s OK with the store and if it’s not too big of a project.
When I bought my motorhome, one of the first things I wanted to do – apart from camping – was to tailgate at a Green Bay Packers game. I had been to Lambeau Field before in a car or van, and parking was easy. If the lots were full, we’d pull into someone’s yard, as everyone with an open square of land was charging for parking. On our rookie season with the motorhome, we didn’t have a plan for RV parking, and there wasn’t a lot of information available online. We took our chances and set out for Lambeau the morning of the game. We came into town heading northeast on Oneida Street, but when we arrived at the stadium lot we found that a prepurchased pass was required. We weren’t going to put a 37-foot motorhome in any of the front or backyard parking spots we passed along the way, so we turned left on Lombardi Avenue and, after passing the stadium, found a sea of RVers. The Kmart parking lot was opened up on game day to the local D.A.R.E program, and they were charging for parking to fund the organization. Once we set up, we asked around and learned from seasoned tailgaters that we could arrive at least a day before and leave the day after a game. We saw what we could bring, from tents and tables to fire pits and grills. We also found the person who could reserve a spot for us. Things have changed over the years, and with the new Titletown complex going in, the RV parking is in limbo. I’ll have to make another trip up there this year to see what happens. Since that first experience, we have tailgated in San Diego, Dallas, Houston and Nashville. Eventually we would like to hit every football stadium, then maybe move on to baseball.
Supporting School Athletics
For a smaller, yet equally important sporting event, think locally. My two sons played lacrosse for several years from high school to college, and we would often attend tournaments that would last for an entire day or weekend, so on a few occasions we drove the motorhome. These were mostly local tournaments, but having a place to sit and relax between games was great for my boys and the rest of the team. Especially when we could have air conditioning on a hot day or a place to get out of the rain between games. Plus, having all of the equipment along to cook and serve lunch kept the team well-fed and ready to play.
I am a member of the Bike Haven Race Team in McHenry, Illinois. There are several races each season where nearly the entire team participates, and many of these races have dry camping available on-site. For the larger races I occasionally bring the motorhome as our team bus. Having a place to get dressed, to work on the bikes and to prepare a proper meal before – and enjoy a hot shower after – a race is extremely helpful. Recently, the team attended the Wisconsin Off Road Series at Cascade Mountain Ski Resort in Portage, Wisconsin. To make sure we found sites together, a teammate and I drove up on Thursday night. He towed his trailer and I towed another teammate’s pop-up trailer behind my motorhome. We spent the night in the main parking lot, and the next morning they moved us up to the top of the ski hill where we “circled the wagons.” The rest of the team arrived later that day with various tents and trailers. Having the RVs there for the weekend was extremely helpful; we hosted several riders, saving money on hotel rooms. Temperatures on Friday and Sunday climbed above 100 degrees, while on Saturday it poured rain the entire day. Our team members won several medals and the team is in first place overall. I’d like to think it’s because of the relaxed atmosphere we created with the RVs.
Jimmy Buffett concerts have always been some of my favorite tailgating events. It’s a group of 30,000-plus fans having a good time in a field outside of a show, before having a good time in a field inside the show. Before I had a motorhome, I would organize bus trips to Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wisconsin, for the annual Buffett show, and it was always a chore bringing up the people, food, drinks and decorations. Once I had the motorhome, it was a lot easier and more comfortable, and other friends could drive up separately and meet us at the motorhome. I no longer needed to load coolers and grills in the back of a bus. We just showed up to the parking lot and set it up like a normal campsite, except with hundreds of other like-minded partiers. Plus, the benefit of not having to wait in the portable-toilet line is worth the extra cost of parking the motorhome. Once the concert was over we could relax and unwind, maybe cook a little food and wait out the two hours it took for the parking lot to empty.
Just Going Out
For a time, my son was in a band playing clubs throughout our local area, and we would often have groups of friends who wanted to see them. For many of those shows we would load up the motorhome with snacks and drinks for the ride to whichever venue he was playing. There were usually several bands playing, and when one would end it could be an hour before the other started. If it was crowded, we would go back to the motorhome to rest comfortably while waiting for the next band to start. The motorhome was a great way to extend the night for the group beyond the show.
Happy New Year!
On New Year’s Eve 2015, a group of us wanted to see a band in a bar about 90 minutes from home. The event included dinner, drinks and a midnight champagne toast. Knowing it would be a late night and that there would be drinking involved, we decided to bring the motorhome. I located a lot across the street from the venue that would allow us to park the coach, and we got up there early to make sure we had a space. We started the fun in the motorhome in the parking lot before the doors opened. The band was great, the food was good and, after ringing in the new year, we walked back across the street to our own warm bed. As we watched the parking lot clear out, we toasted to the new year before turning in. In the morning we enjoyed a nice homemade breakfast as we readied for the drive home on the relatively empty roads.
My most recent non-camping-related trip was a bachelor party last June for my oldest son. We live in a northwest suburb of Chicago without a lot of options for the gaming-themed party the best man had set up. Long drives between stops were a concern for getting people safely between venues while still being able to keep up the festive atmosphere. I volunteered to chauffeur the party in the motorhome. Everyone was picked up in the motorhome and the fun started as we drove nearly an hour to play laser tag. We arrived safely and parked, leaving the generator running and the air conditioning on, knowing this was going to be a hot and sweaty event. Once the group burned off a bunch of calories and the first round of drinks, it was back to the cool motorhome for a 45-minute drive to Gameworks for food, more drinks and video games. More people met us at the second stop, so we had a group of about a dozen people in the parking lot before we went in for dinner. As the night was winding down and knowing we had a long drive home, we added a stop for pizza in the middle. At the end of the night, all of the guests were dropped off safely at their homes.
Temporary Rock Stars
My wife is a big fan of 1980s hair metal, so when the promoter of the Farm Rock festival in Wauconda, Illinois, asked if our motorhome could be used as a green room for some of the acts, she was very excited. In exchange for VIP backstage passes and access to my motorhome during the show, the promoter had us park on the grounds of the venue behind the stage. While we were enjoying the concert, Don Dokken and Kip Winger used our motorhome as their dressing room, waiting for their turn on stage. Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, Lita Ford and about 20 other acts had RVs around us for their use as well. My wife had a great time meeting the musicians to whom she had listened for years, but the high point was when we were in our own motorhome with Dokken and his band, and Winger discussing touring and music. It was surreal meeting the artists, and having them stand there in our motorhome was a delight.
A large motorhome may not be the best vehicle for everyday use, but there are other ways to use your motorhome beyond the RV park. Before embarking on these types of adventures, make sure you are prepared. Will there be parking for a big rig? Are there any impediments along the way, such as low bridges or tight entrances? My rule is that if it’s a place where buses normally take tour groups or trucks make frequent deliveries, you’ll probably be fine. You can also purchase an RV GPS that details drivability along your intended routes. Call your destinations ahead to make sure parking is available, especially if you plan on staying overnight.
If you’re going in the winter in a cold climate, make sure you have plenty of LP-gas, and that your plumbing system can handle the cold; otherwise, go dry. If you have a generator, that makes things even better since you will most likely have no power to connect to. Just make sure you have enough fuel, and the facility permits use of a generator.
Your motorhome is a recreational vehicle, so feel free to use it for all types of recreation. If you’re doing something that requires extra time or driving, or even a large group of people, ask yourself if it would be more fun to take the motorhome. You’ll find the answer is almost always in the affirmative.