Stay at a Motel – What a Concept!

As I plan our fifth Airstream trip to the Southwest, I again have been fretting about the first three legs, when the trailer is winterized and when few RV parks or state parks are open. The first leg usually involves a very early launch from an icy driveway, a very long drive into Pennsylvania, and a cold night in a Walmart parking lot.


Here we are at the Walmart in Hazleton, PA after a surprise snowstorm a few years ago.

You can imagine an aluminum trailer hauled through below-freezing temperatures at highway speeds, is a bit cold when we stop. Sure, we have heat but it is a labor just to get the interior comfortable and there’s little insulation – it’s an ice box. I installed a propane heater in the front – and the dog loves that, but the rear of the rig is igloo-cozy.

The next night, usually in Virginia, is a little better but with no water in the trailer, it’s a little more “roughing it” than we need at age 74. The third night, often in Tennessee, is borderline but doable in the Airstream.

The other night I had what is really an obvious idea:  “Why don’t we see about staying a few nights in motels?”   So I’ve been spending a lot of time looking a motel web sites, finding out that “pet friendly” usually means dogs no bigger than 25 pounds (Penny is more like 60), and that there’s always an extra charge.

Now, we have some options for places to stay, where there might even be warm rooms and showers, and likely will be adjusting our plans accordingly. Once we get into Mississippi, we can find parks with power and water and get into our regular routine.

Already, the apprehension that I always have for weeks before departure has dissipated and I think we’ll wonder why we never considered “abandoning ship” on chilly nights before. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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3 Responses to Stay at a Motel – What a Concept!

  1. Back in the day, driving trucks without sleepers, I had to use motels, and the sort of motel that has truck parking is usually grubby, noisy, and cursed with non-working A/C, drapes that don’t fully close, and stained bedspreads, and overpriced to boot. Motels are the main reason I have the campervan, and I’ll be happy if I never see the inside of another one.

    That said, when I am faced with a night of freezing temps, nothing but an electric heater in the van, and no campground open, it’s a tough call to face sleeping in a WalMart lot. On the first leg of my trip down here, it was very cold in Harrisonburg, VA, the night of Nov 1. I slept under down but I was still well-wrapped in extra clothing, a woolen watch cap, and heavy socks. It’s amazing how warm it can be once the bed gets warm.

    I can see that a trailer would have additional problems with no big engine running inside it. Good luck finding a nice motel, and may there be no four-year-olds in the room over your heads!

  2. Carol Warren says:

    Lived in VT, NH & MA a good part of my life and understand the weather. We do a lot of camping but try to stay out of the north during the winter..You are more adventure some than we.

  3. Ghislain says:

    When we travelled with our 1999 European (Westfalia), we use to connect with other owners of that vehicle and comfortably sleep in their house (guest parking plus).

    We have used the same a couple of times with our Airstream and found that Airstream owners are also a welcoming and generous crowd. We never stay for more than one night and always bring a can of Maple sirup. I also try to cook for them in the mornings. It sure beats crummy motels.

    We have also used and found an equaly welcoming group .

    Travel safe.

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