As I mentioned in yesterday's post , this year marks the official centennial of RV travel. But, of course, the practice of living on the road, with all of one's worldly possessions along for the ride, from clothing to cookware, goes back even longer than that. Still, a modern-day Airstream travel trailer, affectionately termed the Silver Bullet, has way more amenities and conveniences than the covered wagons of old. Today's recreational vehicles are incredibly self-contained, with stoves, toilets, various foldout beds, and usually enough storage bins to make airline baggage fees seem like an even bigger waste of money.
Given the current economic downturn that's negatively affected most Americans' wallets, it's good to know that RV travel doesn't have to break the bank. By traveling across the United States via RV, a typical family of four will save a considerable amount of money, not just on hotel rooms and airfare, but also on restaurant bills. After all, most modern RVs feature all the appliances necessary to cook from home. So, in lieu of skipping this year's family vacation due to budgetary concerns, consider planning an RV trip instead, even if you have to rent one from a company like Cruise America  (480/464-7300 or 800/671-8042, rates vary). As a bonus, you're bound to see more of the country this way – and perhaps even enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
Another great aspect of RVing in America is the sheer variety of campgrounds available, many of which are close to major cities, unique towns, and national and state parks. As I shared with you yesterday, I even discovered several ideal spots during my last research trip for the Moon Florida Keys guide, from the campgrounds in Everglades National Park to the one at the Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge (pictured above). Besides Bahia Honda State Park  (36850 Overseas Hwy., 305/872-2353 or 305/872-3210, $36 daily), which I described yesterday, consider the following three locales on your next trip to southern Florida:
Big Cypress RV Resort : If you want to stay in the Everglades, you'll find a variety of primitive campgrounds and fancier parks, including the year-round Big Cypress RV Resort (34950 Hall's Rd., Clewiston, 800/437-4102, $30 daily, $200 weekly, $545 monthly), which lies 19 miles north of the interstate on S.R. 833. Situated on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, this campground provides easy access to the fascinating Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum  and Billie Swamp Safari , which features airboat tours and alligator shows. Tent sites ($26 daily) and air-conditioned cabins ($65-75 daily) are also available. All RV sites offer electricity, water service, and sewer access. Other amenities include a heated pool and hot tub, a general store, a clubhouse, an exercise room, a playground, a miniature golf course, basketball courts, a propane/dump station, and laundry facilities. Reservations are recommended.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park : Near the northern end of Key Largo, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (102601 Overseas Hwy., 305/451-1202, $36 daily) offers a pet-friendly, 47-site campground for RVs and tents, with water service, 30/50-amp electric hookups, picnic tables, barbecue grills, a dump station, plus access to modern restrooms, hot showers, and coin-operated laundry facilities. While the campground might not be as stunning as other state park campgrounds in the Florida Keys, it's a terrific home base for park features and activities, including two beaches, a marina, canoe and kayak rentals, snorkeling and scuba-diving excursions, and glass-bottom boat tours. For reservations, contact ReserveAmerica  (800/326-3521) up to 11 months in advance. Just be advised that the campground will be closed between August 2, 2010, and March 30, 2011, while it undergoes renovations.
Boyd's Key West Campground : Although most people visiting Key West choose to stay in one of the city's varied inns, hotels, or resorts, RV campers will also find a few options on nearby Stock Island, including Boyd's Key West Campground (6401 Maloney Ave., 305/294-1465, $55-120 daily). South of the Key West Golf Club, this campground offers tent sites as well as RV spaces, many of which are equipped with water service, 30/50-amp electricity, sewer access, and cable television. Both inland and waterfront spots are available. In addition, the property features a heated swimming pool, a lounging beach, free wireless Internet access, and numerous planned activities, including craft and yoga classes, pot luck dinners, movie nights, line dancing, and casino cruises.
For more RV camping suggestions, consult the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (FARVC)  (1340 Vickers Rd., Tallahassee, FL 32303, 850/562-7151), the Florida Division of Recreation and Parks  (3900 Commonwealth Blvd., Tallahassee, FL 32399, 850/245-2157), or the National Park Service  – and tell me all about your next RV experience!
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Photo © 2010 Daniel Martone / Text © 2010 Laura Martone