A few summers ago, my cousin drove all the way from Philadelphia to Alaska and back, always taking the scenic route. His vehicle of choice — a 40ft luxury RV (Recreational Vehicle) — came with six beds, a functional bathroom and a big screen TV. It was as big and well-equipped as some modern-day studio apartments. Him and his company of four wandered through the many states of the US and some provinces of Canada; and made it to Alaska just before the sunset. They took pictures of bears fishing for salmon in the streams and even drove by a town named Chicken, which interestingly has a population of only 10 people — some Middle Eastern households are larger! On their way, they ate like how they would back home. They did not just slap some peanut butter on slices of bread, but the RV’s full-fledged kitchen allowed them to cook South Indian delicacies like ‘parampozhi’. By the end of it, they had covered 20,000 km and, as you may have guessed, it was a trip of a lifetime. They are planning to do it again, for a third time, sometime this year.
Now, for some, this may be a little outside their comfort zone, but for those enthralled by such experiences, you should know that there is a growing culture for RV living and trailering in the UAE. You can join the bandwagon too.
A case for staycations
If it is just about being around caravans or eating out of a truck, you have the Last Exit and its many branches to visit. If you want more, you can reserve a slot with the Hatta Sedr trailers, which, when first-opened in 2018, was the “first-of-its-kind” trailer-style hotel. It allows travellers to camp along the banks of the Hatta dams, in trailers that can accommodate up to two adults and two children. They come with conveniences like a kitchenette, a communal fire-pit, a mini-fridge, ironing board and Wi-Fi.
Other options for staycations in these trailers include the Caravana Alzorah, Ajman. Here, kith and kin can spend the night in furnished caravans equipped with air-conditioning, bathrooms and a variety of sleeping arrangements. It also comes with its own private beach and barbeque area, and there are fishing and cycling spots too, not too far-off the camp site.
BYOC (Bring You Own Caravan)
Perhaps, if you are a ‘DIY’ kind of person and would rather have your own temporary home, you have the option of exploring Al Sufouh beach (Palace Beach). Keep in mind that you will need to obtain a permit to stay over, which you can easily apply for online, on the Dubai Municipality website.
Choosing the right RV
When it comes to picking the right RV, there are quite a few options out there. The largest, most luxurious of them all, are the motorhomes. These are basically buses that have every amenity necessary to make long journeys comfortable. Then you have the travel trailers that can’t be driven but need to be hauled using a pick-up truck or SUV and then the fifth wheel types, which have an overhang that goes above the pick-up truck bed.
If you think these vehicles require a level of commitment that you’re not ready for, you can also opt for mini trailers that have smaller living quarters. Then there are those that are used only to transport motorcycles, your car, your jet ski, etc. Some of them can even carry boats up to 50 ft in length, which is something the seafaring types would be interested in. And don’t let the hefty asking price on any of these deter you, as there are some good deals on used trailers that can be found online.
Like most other road vehicles, you need to obtain a permit for your trailer, for which you are required to present documents, including the vehicle clearance certificate or transfer certificate, insurance, technical inspection certificate, receipt of purchase and a snap of the trailer’s engraved Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
And since these trailers are to take on the populated roads of the UAE, each of them must comply with safety standards like having rear and side light and reflectors, working brake-lamps, spare tyre, etc. Also, once you have the trailer attached, you are expected to drive on the right lane, except when overtaking.
Choosing the right vehicle
Surely enough, many cars and MPVs with a trailer hitch, are up for the job. But we suggest buying or renting an SUV or pick-up truck with 4x4 capabilities. And let’s not forget the rated towing capacity of these vehicles, especially when such weight is involved. Typically, these capacities range from 1,500 to around 5,000 kg. All you need to do is calculate your trailer load and ensure your vehicle’s capability matches that number.