My grandparents were part of an RV club for many years. I remember going on a trip with them when I was young – probably less than 10. Sadly, as they grew older, they simply didn’t have the energy to take trips, and driving proved harder and harder.  

I last saw my grandmother at my grandfather’s funeral, where I, along with my cousin Tyler, made a promise to visit her in San Diego. That was before my cousin’s wife found out she was pregnant. Now that they have a newborn daughter, it’s just about time we all make good on that promise. There are a few other complications, but here’s how I’m going to make an RV road trip on a shoestring budget, dragging my cousin, his wife, and their daughter along for the ride.


This journey starts at a funeral, with my grandmother. Last year, she was diagnosed with moderate Alzheimer’s. She has trouble remembering major events, though usually remembers that my grandfather died. This is a good sign, as it’s something that is uncommon among Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. It was worrying that she showed little emotion just after his death. To make matters worse, she couldn’t remember that I moved out of state two years ago, nor that my cousin married his wife three years ago. One thing she consistently remembers is that we promised to visit her.

My cousin, his wife, and their daughter

As I write this, my cousin’s daughter is about two weeks old. We planned the trip for early November, so she will only be a few months old. Luckily, with three adults on the trip, one of us can always take care of a screaming baby.

Renting a trailer

We want to make this a road trip, something my cousin and I have been planning since college, but neither of us are  really into camping. That leaves an RV trip. We don’t have the money to buy an RV, but renting an RV is in the cards. For those who aren’t sure if they will like the partly nomadic lifestyle (or, like us, those that haven’t been active in a long time), renting is perfect. Plus it won’t break our bank accounts. We’re planning to use my cousin’s truck and get a trailer RV instead of the classic motorhome, like our grandparents used.

On newborns and sanity

Not only are we driving across multiple states, and staying at a campground meant for trailers, we are doing it all with a screaming, crying infant. I probably am insane already, but I’d love for my grandma to meet Tyler’s daughter while she still has a chance to remember her, let alone while my grandma is still alive.

To stay sane, I’ve stocked up on aptly named quiet books, which are ideal for Tyler’s daughter for traveling. These books will be a great substitute for an average toy that’s bound to repeat the same phrase 50 times in a 10-minute span. The books are, for the most part, handmade from felt, meant specifically for newborns and toddlers to play with. Some, meant for a slightly older child, can incorporate games like checkers, or even teach skills like how to zip up a zipper or how to work a button on clothes. Since they are fairly small, they are also perfect to use in the trailer.

Hopefully, the trailer won’t put too much pressure on my grandma compared to staying at their houses, particularly with my cousin’s newborn. Chances are, she won’t notice too much. Still, we will make a few stops along the way when needed, utilizing campgrounds, on our way to visit grandma.