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RV shipping and pickup in Baltimore | How does that work?

We shipped our camper from Antwerp to Baltimore in 2022 to travel through the US and Canada for a year. You can read how that works and what it costs in the article: Overlander or camper shipping | How much does that cost?. In this article I will tell you more about our experience of shipping the camper to Baltimore and mainly about the customs clearance and awkward camper pick-up process at the port. It wasn't all that easy...

Our advice for camper rental:
Camper trips through America (USA) from Travelhome

Are you thinking of following our footsteps and renting a camper with friends, your partner or with your whole family? Then be sure to take a look Travelhome Van in ANWB.

Choose from curated package tours or have a tailor-made trip put together. In any case, one thing is certain: it will happen bucket list-worthy trip will never be forgotten.

Pros:
  • Large selection, low prices
  • Custom Made
  • Expert advice from specialists
  • Affiliated with ANVR / SGR / Calamity Fund
  • Full quote with no hidden costs
View offer
Want to support us? We earn a small commission if you make a purchase via our link(s), at no additional cost to you. Win win!

The ultimate tour of North America

This article is part of a large one-year tour the United States en Canada, with a Dutch 4×4 camper that we shipped ourselves… It is a bucket list worthy and an once in a lifetime experience that will never be forgotten.

The ultimate roadtrip route through America and Canada | Wereldreizigers.nl
The ultimate roadtrip route through America and Canada | Wereldreizigers.nl

We wrote almost 100 articles about this ultimate tour. Visit our North America page for more information.


Our bad experience with SeaBridge

Before we move on to the process itself, I just wanted to share this with you. By a huge blooper from SeaBridge, the company that shipped our camper, it took a very long time before we could pick up our camper in Baltimore. SeaBridge had initially 'forgotten to load the camper' in Antwerp, causing him to miss the sailing. The boat left without our camper. Then they could no longer find the camper in the harbor (even though I had sent the GPS location several times via email!). As a result, another sailing was missed!

That didn't make us very happy since, despite the 7 days' leeway that we had already factored in for possible delays, we had already been in America for a long time. We were delayed by no less than 24 days due to SeaBridge's bungling.

Of course, we don't want to claim that this is always the case, but our experience was certainly very unpleasant. The enormous delay meant that we had to wait all these days by staying in expensive hotels (there were no cheaper ones). Just a quick calculation: 24 x $120 per night = $2800 in damage, and the trip had actually yet to start.

Fortunately, we were able to fill in these extra days well New York City, Annapolis en Washington D.C.. We just made the best of it at the time.

Pick up camper in Baltimore | How does that work?

After a 24-day delay, the camper was finally ready at the port to be picked up. And because the entire process in the port took quite a while, I will try to describe the process as clearly as possible below so that it will hopefully be useful to you.

In short, you have to arrange these three things before you can go to the port.

  1. Pay customs clearance: Pay the port charges / customs charges.
  2. Delivery order form: Make sure you have received the 'delivery order' form from Pride International.
  3. Escort: Arranging an 'escort'. You are not allowed to enter the port without an escort.

This order is important because SeaBridge was not clear about this. That cost me an unnecessary amount of extra time and effort, which I want to save you.

1. Pay customs clearance (port costs / customs costs)

The first step is to pay the port and customs costs for transporting and importing the camper, the so-called customs clearance. You must first receive notice of this from your carrier - in principle they will inform you by email or telephone when customs clearance has been completed. Only then can you go to the office for the paperwork.

Pride International is the only party in Baltimore where this is possible. The company is involved together with many other logistics companies this building. The annoying thing is that Google Maps doesn't know which side to enter the building from. According to Google Maps, the entrance was on the north side (see screenshot below). After walking in and out of many doors and making a complete circuit around the building, it turned out that the entrance was on the east side. This is a huge building and this just took me 20 minutes.

Pride International office in Baltimore
Pride International office in Baltimore

Walk into the building and follow the signs to room 230, where Pride is located. Once inside, simply show your freight form that you have already received from SeaBridge or another shipper. Showing the freight form and the email confirmation on the telephone, in combination with my identification, was enough. You may then pay $300 in port and administration costs before you receive the papers (Delivery Order).

2. Delivery Order Form

Now that you have paid, you should receive your customs clearance/delivery form from Pride International. You can now put away all other papers you have. You only need this Delivery Order form + your driver's license to pick up your vehicle at the port of Baltimore. Now it's important that you get one escort arranges so that you can enter the port under supervision.

3. Arrange an escort service in Baltimore

I received a number of contacts from SeaBridge where I could arrange my escort for the port. Please note that you will need to call these people. It is therefore wise to arrange a SIM card immediately as soon as you arrive in America. Of course, you can also arrange this in advance – here en here you can order SIM cards for America.

To be honest: after the dramatic turn of events with SeaBridge, I actually didn't trust them anymore. That's why I went to see which escorts were available and which ones had good reviews. A good thing too, because Seabridge's first two suggestions were rated very poorly online with many dramatic reviews. So I'm not even going to mention them here.

The escort service stood out in a positive way A-1 Escort service (Google Location here). A-1 is the only escort service in Baltimore with a rating higher than 2 stars! This escort is rated 4.1 stars on Google Maps and the service, like all others in the region, costs $75 per hour you need the escort. More than enough reason for me to choose A-1.

I went to the counter with my papers and was greeted kindly by a lady who explained to me clearly what the intention was. Nice! I then had to wait fifteen minutes for my escort and went into the harbor with him and an Austrian, who was also picking up his camper. Below you can see us in the harbour.

Pick up our camper at the port of Baltimore
Pick up our camper at the port of Baltimore

Pick up camper in Baltimore | Our experience

After about 5 checks and barriers, we were finally in the harbour. The escort pointed us to a small building (again belonging to the logistics company Pride International), where we had to report with the papers. I saw my camper for the first time and I actually got excited! I had to wait fifteen minutes until it was my turn…

Once it was my turn, they typed the number on the form into the computer and I received a short but powerful message: “uuhm sorry your ship is due for next week. Come back next week. Bye.” Followed by a loud 'NEXT!'.

rude

The Austrian I was with was told the same thing at the same time in the counter next to me. I immediately told the best man behind the counter that my camper was literally behind their booth, but he didn't want to know anything about this. He wouldn't even listen to my explanation that SeaBridge might have sent the wrong forms because the ship had changed several times. He asked me to leave and just shouted again, NEXT!

Uuh, sorry?! I really had to restrain myself after all the misery, mistakes and the 24-day delay that followed. Determined as I was, I told myself that I would not be sent away – no matter what.

I persisted and then received a short answer that my camper would not be on the program until next week - that's what it said on the piece of paper. They couldn't find the number in their system either... Computer says no.

Aah! That of course had to do with the mess that SeaBridge and/or Pride International had previously made in Antwerp... Because my camper had been damaged there twice. missed the boat because they 'lost' my camper at the time. I tried to explain that and they just laughed in my face. They apparently thought it was funny and I got another one-liner; 'it's not ready, come back next week'.

I ain't going anywhere

I immediately let the best man know with a firm'don't be rude' and a 'I'm not going anywhere until you fix this mess', that I really didn't intend to leave it at that. The Austrian next to me, who also had enormous delays and problems with SeaBridge, immediately decided to do the same.

I thought by myself; If necessary, I walk outside, grab my camper and park it in front of the barrier until someone decides to do something! Fortunately it didn't get that far. After some bad, rude jokes from the people behind the counter, something suddenly started to move and my papers went to the back room. Suddenly something happened and 5 minutes later I had a 'Okay, you're good. Go get your camper'.

Too bad it had to be this way, but I was happy! Finally to my camper!

Checking the motorhome

I arrived at my camper that was parked between some other cars and immediately took a photo from every angle, because you never know... I did this of course before I left it in Antwerp.

The RV in Baltimore
The RV in Baltimore

The doors were (sort of) sealed with some stickers, but they were literally coming off on all sides. I didn't think too much of it at that moment and checked the camper for damage and everything looked good, nothing to see. When I opened the door of the car I noticed something, the large storage bin behind the seat was broken, and my 12v tire pump was on the front seat. Okay, that plastic action box for 8 euros can't hold much, so I didn't think anything about it. That 12v pump? They probably needed it to inflate the tires or the air suspension. That seemed plausible to me because the camper was in the harbor and on the boat for a total of 5 weeks.

I threw the 12v pump back in the plastic container, started the camper and after a few checks and barriers finally drove out of the harbor. Once back at the hotel I went to check if the tire pressure and the like was still in order.

Cordless drill stolen

When I opened the plastic container at the hotel to take the 12v pump, I suddenly noticed that the container was very empty. It had been over a month since I had that box in my hands, but that box was full, wasn't it? I didn't understand and still didn't know what was going on.

It was only when I needed the cordless drill to unscrew the legs of the camper unit after an hour that the penny dropped. Damn, they just stole my cordless drill! I had a nice suitcase with a Black & Decker screwdriver, which was now useless.

Not a nice start to the trip. Anyway, I didn't want to push it too hard and just start enjoying it. That 150 euro cordless drill is easily replaceable. We got into the camper and started our adventure, looking forward to the first kilometers! (more about that at the bottom of the article).

Stay in Baltimore near the harbor

First I would like to inform you about your stay. Since we had to pick up the camper at the port, it was useful to choose a hotel that was close by. You can then act quickly because you are close to the port. After picking up the camper, you can park in front of the hotel and check the camper in peace, load the belongings and prepare the car for the first kilometers. Two hotels are within walking distance of the harbour.

1. Best Western Plus Hotel & Conference Center

The first hotel by most overlanders who picks up an RV or vehicle in Baltimore is chosen, it is Best Western Plus Hotel & Conference Center. This is a 25-minute walk from the port. For that reason we decided to book here, even though the reviews were not great... A 3,6 out of 5 stars on Google Maps and only a 7 on booking.com. Still, we wanted to give the hotel a chance. The price? $110 to $130 per night.

Creaking elevator and weed smell

We checked in and actually immediately regretted it. The creaking and wobbly elevator had had its day and when we arrived on the 10th floor we were immediately treated to a huge smell of marijuana. We hoped it would be a one-off, but in the two days we stayed here there was non-stop smoking and smoking in some rooms. We did not experience any problems with this or any problems with it, but it immediately sets an atmosphere and a certain expectation of the hotel. And indeed, unfortunately it didn't stop there...

Thin walls and leaking taps

Fortunately the bed was good, we slept wonderfully. But a vibrating air conditioning that could not be turned off and the paper-thin walls and doors were less pleasant. We literally heard every word from the neighbors and people walking in the hallway. We also went crazy after a few hours because of the leaking taps in the shower, which, given the thick yellow deposits on the drip spots, had been doing so for quite some time. Everything in the hotel room was actually worn and/or very dated, including the carpet.

Still toast for breakfast

The breakfast was nothing to write home about either. The plastic plates plus cutlery and the brown bananas that everyone walked around for two days didn't help much either. After a miss with the watery scrambled eggs on the first day, we decided to stick with some toast, jelly and peanut butter on the second day.

Not worth the money

We really thought: are we really paying $120 a night for this? Is there really nothing better for this money? The only positive thing about this hotel that we could think of is that we could see the boat that our camper was on from the hotel…

The Atlantic Star - The ACL RoRo Ship in Baltimore Harbor
The Atlantic Star – The ACL RoRo Ship in Baltimore Harbor

We decided to look further, because we still had to wait a few days for the camper. Fortunately, we quickly found a hotel that was a bit further away from the port, but with a much better rating. So pack up and go!

2. Hampton Inn Baltimore Bayview Campus

After packing up, we went with an Uber Taxi from one hotel to another in 5 minutes. We could have easily walked this, at least, if we hadn't had so much luggage with us.

Modern and clean hotel

When we checked in, we immediately noticed how modern and clean the hotel was. What a relief! I therefore wholeheartedly recommend anyone who ever has to pick up a camper in Baltimore to cannot stay at the Best Western Hotel, but in this beautiful, clean and well-maintained hotel 5 minutes away.

Hampton Inn Baltimore Bayview Campus
Hampton Inn Baltimore Bayview Campus
Hampton Inn Baltimore Bayview Campus
Hampton Inn Baltimore Bayview Campus
Hampton Inn Baltimore Bayview Campus
Hampton Inn Baltimore Bayview Campus

For the price you really can't beat it! You might pay $10 to $20 more per night, but trust me, it's 100% worth it. Especially when you consider that you have to pay a minimum of 110 dollars per night for the gare Best Western hotel…

Tip:: reservations at the Hampton Inn Baltimore Bayview Campus hotel can be made via this link.

Broadway Diner, for divine spareribs

Located a few minutes' walk from both hotels Broadway Dinner (location here), a very well-reviewed restaurant. It is a real old-school American diner with a mini radio/record player at each table where you can throw coins.

Mini Turntable - Broadway Diner, Baltimore
Mini Record Player – Broadway Diner, Baltimore

After looking at the enormous menu for a long time, Malou chose the Tacos and I went for the Baby-back spare ribs and wow, they were truly divine.

Baby Back Ribs - Broadway Diner, Baltimore
Baby Back Ribs – Broadway Diner, Baltimore

When will you know if spare ribs or in this case baby back ribs are cooked to perfection? When the meat just falls off the bone as soon as you grab it! And that was certainly the case here, yum!

Also read: Things to do in Baltimore | Tips and sights

The first kilometers from Baltimore

After picking up the camper, Malou and I quickly agreed. After the cold weeks (read the blogs from, among others, New York City, Washington D.C., Annapolis en Baltimore), we were really ready for sun and especially warmth. We therefore decided to drive at least south enough in a few days so that we could enjoy 20 degrees or more. No sooner said than done.

Delaware

Because we had already seen Baltimore and Washington and thought it would be a shame to drive through or around big cities, we decided to go via the state of Delaware to drive south. We did some shopping in a shop and started talking - our camper was immediately very interesting to them with that Dutch license plate.

After some small talk I wanted to leave the store. As I walked away the dear lady would:'did you hear about the tornado warning, sun?'† uhm, no?

Tornado alert

Apparently a storm was coming and almost the entire state of Delaware had been issued a code red because there was a "significant chance" of tornadoes. The woman urged me not to leave the town and to 'seek shelter' with the camper, as far as possible, behind large buildings.

We were driving past a major Walmart and several other chains about 5 minutes away, so we decided to go there and park the RV as close to the building as possible. It was already quite windy, but behind this wall we stood well out of the wind. We decided to sit out the tornado warning, which would last about 5 hours.

It really raged in the hours that followed, but fortunately it was not a tornado. After about 3-4 hours when the wind died down again, we were able to look for a place to spend the night. We saw on the iOverlander app about half an hour from us, in a beautiful spot on the water Vienna Waterfront Park. Ultimately, this is the route we drove on the first day.

Route first day - roadtrip USA
Route first day – roadtrip USA

Vienna Waterfront Park

Once there we were treated to a beautiful sunset. What a lovely spot right on the water! We were tired from the day and went to sleep just after sunset, tomorrow is another day.

Vienna Waterfront Park - Our first overnight stop in America with our motorhome
Vienna Waterfront Park – Our first overnight stay in America with our motorhome

The next morning we woke up early as the sun rose. We opened the window and looked outside. Wow! How wonderful it was to wake up like that. The first night in our familiar camper immediately felt good. Seeing the sunrise from your bed, this is what we do it all for!

Enjoying the sunrise from your bed - Vienna Waterfront Park
Enjoying the sunrise from your bed – Vienna Waterfront Park

We have forgotten all the setbacks of the past few weeks in one fell swoop. From here we can look ahead and enjoy again. Enjoying the freedom and all the wonderful things that await us in America in the coming year.

Our advice for camper rental:
Camper trips through America (USA) from Travelhome

Are you thinking of following our footsteps and renting a camper with friends, your partner or with your whole family? Then be sure to take a look Travelhome Van in ANWB.

Choose from curated package tours or have a tailor-made trip put together. In any case, one thing is certain: it will happen bucket list-worthy trip will never be forgotten.

Pros:
  • Large selection, low prices
  • Custom Made
  • Expert advice from specialists
  • Affiliated with ANVR / SGR / Calamity Fund
  • Full quote with no hidden costs
View offer
Want to support us? We earn a small commission if you make a purchase via our link(s), at no additional cost to you. Win win!

Plan your vacation to America here


Avatar picture

Chris

Owner of Wereldreizigers.nl † Discover the world!
- Full-time blogging world traveler.
- Writes about travel, photography, sustainability and gadgets.
- Likes to discover extreme and unknown places.

0 comments

  • Hi,

    We will be shipping our camper soon. How did you solve the gas problem?

    Regards,

    gash

    • Hey Jaap,

      Ultimately just not. We've traveled without gas all year round - except that we bought a 1-burner stove at Walmart in one of those suitcases, with those mini gas bottles. They only cost 2 bucks. That was enough for us in the end. I must add that we have done a lot of electric grilling and cooking on our batteries and power station. In the end we didn't really need gas, because of the power station and solar panels.

  • Hi Chris,

    I don't know if I'm duplicating my comment now. Yesterday I also clicked on 'Submit', but don't see my comment with question coming back now… Feel free to remove it if it is now double.

    We will leave (if the work permit is completed in time) on 1 June for the US for 2,5 years. 1,5 years working, and 1 year traveling. We also want to take our Camper with us, via RoRo, where I will have to have it registered on a US registration. That should work because it is older than 25 years, and still has the original engine and drivetrain… The question that still concerns me is how things go in the port afterwards -> Do you always have to do the final import via a customs broker ? And is that always Pride International in Baltimore? Or are there others?

    • hey doekele,

      Thank you! We do our best

      That has to do with moderating, the first comment from someone I always have to approve first, that's just done 🙂 The next one will be right below it now that your first one has been approved.

      But what a plan! 2,5 years that's fantastic. I would indeed register the car here, I think that is a lot easier under the line and otherwise your vehicle can only be here for a maximum of one year.

      I don't know who to contact for this but I do know that there are a number of people in the Facebook group: PanAmerican Travelers Association (https://www.facebook.com/groups/572928176079352) that can help you with this. Have often seen similar questions there and so there are some Americans in the group who do that as a job. I'd say start there!

      The customs broker goes ok through Pride I believe and no, there are several. We have done everything through SeaBridge and they ultimately choose the parties they work with. If you choose a different party (found in the shipping blog: https://www.wereldreizigers.nl/wereldreis/voertuig-verschepen-kosten-overlander-camper-buscamper/), then other brokers will probably come forward.

      It's nice that you are following in any case and nice to hear that it is of use to you! After all, that's what we do it for.

      Anyway, good luck with your plans. By the way, we also recently decided that we're going to skip the region where you're going to work because we've experienced quite a bit of delay. Unfortunately…

      Best regards,

      Chris

  • Hi Chris,

    Your blog is very helpful! Thank you for taking us along on the entire adventure. If all goes well, we will go to the US in June for 2,5 years, of which 1,5 will be working. My boss has asked me to work from the office in Madison WI during that period (if you are in the area in the coming year, you are most welcome! Please get in touch, I would say). We are still waiting for the work permit, but that should be arranged in the coming weeks….

    We plan to take our 4*4 campervan based on a 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser. Will also be a RoRo, with final destination Baltimore. I'm already figuring out if we can get our RV registered for US registration, and it looks positive, as it's over 25 years old, and the engine and drivetrain are original. But it's still exciting to arrange it all. Any tips? People in US who could help us?

    I was also wondering.. haven't you used a customs broker within the port of Baltimore? And is Pride International always the party where you have to arrange customs clearance? We follow you closely! Our one year travel plan will become a lot easier to plan with your blog! So thanks for that!

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