Our First Time Renting an RV

Two weekends ago we road tripped down to Tennessee for the Battle at Bristol - "College Football's Biggest Ever" - to see my boyfriend's Alma Mater, Virginia Tech, take on the University of Tennessee. To make our lives easier, instead of booking a hotel, we decided to rent an RV and camp right outside of the "stadium" (aka Bristol Speedway). That way, we could easily enjoy the festivities without worrying about having a designated driver or dealing with traffic.

The game we RVed to was the largest attended college football game in history - over 150,000 attendees!

The game we RVed to was the largest attended college football game in history - over 150,000 attendees!

Including ourselves, there were 8 people who would be in the RV and not one of us had any experience in the rental process. We all arrived bright and early at Beckley's RV Rental in Fredrick, Maryland and the process was beyond easy from pick-up to drop-off.

Our RV lot was so close to the stadium. It really made things SO easy that weekend.

Our RV lot was so close to the stadium. It really made things SO easy that weekend.

Here are my tips for anyone renting an RV for the first time:

Book in Advance - Since we knew the event we were going to was going to be huge, we booked a year in advance. That might seem excessive, but it's better to be safe than sorry. We had mutual friends look for an RV 3 months before their trip and everything was booked. Of course there are busy seasons and not-so-busy seasons, but I wouldn't take any chances. As soon as you know you want to take the trip for sure, book!

Everyone Should Pay Attention to the RV Walk-Through (or have everyone read the manual): When you first pick up the RV, especially if you're a first-time renter, you'll be given a walk-through of the RV to make sure you know how to use everything. You'll also be given tips and tricks on how to make your trip seamless. Make sure everyone is paying attention! We only had about 4 people there for the walk-through, so those 4 other people were clueless when we hit the road. If they miss the walk-through, have them flip through the manual. It's way better for everyone to know what's going on than just a select few.

Do secure EVERYTHING, even inside the cabinets - We thought we did a great job securing everything in cabinets and on the tables, but as soon as we started driving - it seemed like everything was flying all over the place. Make sure you secure EVERYTHING. If you have items in cabinets that are standing up, lay them down because they are going to tip over anyway - especially if its glass. We found out the hard way when we put a box of beers on the floor that tipped over - glass and beer went everywhere! 

Bring Cleaning Supplies - We only brought a few paper towels, wet wipes and some dish soap, but by the end of the trip we had stopped at Walmart to buy a broom and three packs of Lysol wipes. Even though we spent most of our time outside, the RV got REALLY messy inside between food prep, late night shenanigans, and just the general dirt that seemed to sneak in.

Prepare to be Smelly - Any small enclosed space shared between 8 people is going to get a bit stuffy, but once you throw in being pretty inebriated all day and night, it's bound to get smelly inside. So, remember to keep the windows open every now and then to air out the space and bring some Febreeze! And as much as you probably don't want to, cleaning as you go always helps.

(Depending on your RV) There's More Room than You Think - I was pleasantly surprised at how much storage space we had in our RV. Between the outside compartments and the indoor organization, it was really a breeze to fit 8 people's food and personal items. I'm not saying to over pack, but just don't worry too much about the space, RV's are typically built to hold a lot. 

So overall, I would definitely recommend renting an RV at some point for either a big event like a music festival or just a quiet camping trip. I think we'll definitely be renting one again!

Exploring San Francisco's Mission District

I'm back from two crazy weekends of traveling! The first weekend of traveling was during Labor Day weekend when I ventured out to San Francisco to visit my best friend from college. 

Since this was my second time in San Francisco, we pretty much skipped the major San Francisco tourist sites and just hung out in the Mission District which is where she lives. The Mission is a colorful (in every way possible hah) and unique area of San Francisco filled with delicious eateries, gorgeous street art, and one of the best views of the city.

Here are some of the great places I got to visit during my 3 days there:


Craftsman and Wolves

746 Valencia St.

When I first arrived, after a long flight delay, I was actually on my own since my friend was working. So once I dropped my stuff off at her apartment, I went to wander the neighborhood in search of lunch. I previously found Craftsman and Wolves through the Blonde Abroad's post and desperately wanted to try their "The Rebel Within" muffin - a savory breakfast muffin with a soft boiled egg in the center. Unfortunately, since my flight was delayed, they only had lunch options available. So, I ended up getting their BLT which featured candied bacon, little gem lettuce, early girl tomatoes, and tomato jam on a flaky croissant. YUM! It was a little pricey for just the sandwich and drink ($13), but I'm typically okay with splurging a bit when I'm on vacation.

My delicious sandwich

My delicious sandwich


Taquerias El Farolito

2779 Mission St.

Mexican food in San Francisco is in its own ballpark compared to anywhere else in the United States and the Mission District is quite famous for its high concentration of taquerias. I swear, the best burrito's I've ever had were in San Francisco and this trip continued to prove that.

We went to get burritos at Taquerias El Farolito - which looks like a very modest eatery when you first enter. Don't let that fool you though, their burritos are huge and flavorful. I got a "Super Burrito" with steak and I'm still dreaming about it! Don't forget to grab salsa's from the salsa bar too. 

 

KenKen Ramen

3378 18th St

We stopped at KenKen Ramen for a late dinner after exploring Lands End and before enjoying the Mission District nightlife. What made this place great was the atmosphere - dark and divey and yet upbeat. The bar is covered in groups and groups of beautiful lanterns - combined with the low lights, they really created a cozy and intimate mood. Oh yeah, and their ramen was pretty delicious (edamame was too salty though!). 

So pretty!

So pretty!

 

Project Juice

790 Valencia St,

There are a few Project Juice locations in California, but I was so happy that my friend had one basically right next to her house. You can probably tell from the name, but Project Juice serves up delicious and healthy smoothies, juices, and smoothie bowls. This place was seriously a lifesaver after a hangover. 

If you want to download their Thanx app, you get $5 off your first order. Definitely worth it since most of the items are $10+. Use this link to download the app: https://signup.thanx.com/projectjuice/Grace-51371951

 

Bi-Rite Market

3639 18th St

Bi-Rite Market is a small, local grocery store that features organic and locally produced goods. Since it's so popular among locals, it may seem a little overwhelming to traverse the small aisles and long lines. But its so worth it! We picked up sandwiches and pasta salad here to bring to the park and they were PERFECT. I got the Fried Chicken sandwich which had buttermilk Fried Chicken with Green, Red & Savoy Cabbage Slaw, Pickled Carrots, Cilantro & Sweet Chili Sauce on Dutch Crunch Roll. Plus, there was a small stand next to the store where I picked up mochi for dessert. 

The perfect picnic

The perfect picnic

 

Mission Dolores Park

19th Street & Dolores Street

So after picking up yum yums from Bi-Rite, we headed to Mission Dolores Park which is basically how I would sum San Francisco up in a nutshell if someone ever asked. Seemingly always packed - Dolores Park is an amazing green space (I'm a sucker for parks in cities) in the middle of the city where locals and tourists alike can hang out, enjoy a picnic, and gaze at a beautiful view of San Francisco. Oh, and serious people watching. Really, there are SO many interesting people (and puppies!) here from the hippies making floral headbands to the pineapple bartender to the various people selling every type of substance out there. You could easily spend hours in this park.

I could people watch here forever.

I could people watch here forever.

Lenient rules on alcohol and substances allowed me to enjoy this delicious California beer

Lenient rules on alcohol and substances allowed me to enjoy this delicious California beer

 

Clarion Alley

Between 17th and 18th Street

One of the last places we stopped during the weekend was Clarion Alley which is where the majority of the Mission District's street art is located. I'll just let the photos speak for themselves:

 
 

 

Other places of note:

Elbo Room - 647 Valencia St, - Great late-night place for cheap drinks and dancing to live music. Note that there's a cover charge to get upstairs.

Lolo - 974 Valencia St, - If you're looking for something fancier than your typical taquerias, check out Lolo which is a tapas restaurant with delicious small plates. The quesadillas were filled with roasted corn and carmelized onions - one of the most delicious plates I've ever had.

Uptown - 200 Capp St, Stopped here for just one beer, but if you love divey places - this is where you should go. A unique atmosphere with a great selection of craft beers.

Southpaw - 2170 Mission St,  - I'm a bit partial because my friend worked here, but this BBQ joint is seriously great. Sunday they have $1 ribs which paired with a variety of amazing sides (bacon and cheddar grit cake, mac & cheese, sweet potato tots, etc) makes a perfect and cheap dinner. They also have delicious cocktails with names worth a chuckle (i.e. the "Safeword").

 

Check out the Map of all of the places Discussed in this post: