Yay! After a considerable delay of a total of 24 days (!) we are finally reunited with our camper. Due to extreme crowds in the ports and through a giant blooper from the company that ships our motorhome (they forgot to load it and then they couldn't find the motorhome…), we had a total delay of 24 days. That didn't make us very happy since we had to stay in expensive hotels all these days. Fortunately, we were able to fill in this time well New York City, Annapolis en Washington DC – click the links for the extensive travel guides!
After these great cities we finally landed in Baltimore where we had to wait another 5 days in hotels until our camper could be picked up. In this article I tell you about Baltimore, the clumsy process in the harbor and where we stayed in the meantime. I will also tell you why we switched hotels and how we experienced the first day with our camper in America. The roadtrip through America has now really started!
Table of contents
The ultimate tour of North America
This article is part of a large one-year tour the United States en Canada in 2022, 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.
We wrote almost 100 articles about this ultimate tour. Below is a handy overview in 5 expandable categories.
2. Highlights & Itineraries
3. Cities & places of interest (AZ)
- Tour America | Amelia City
- Tour America | Amelia Island
- Tour America | Annapolis
- Tour America | Ice Lake Trail
- Tour America | Kennedy Space Centre
- Tour America | KeyWest
- Tour America | Miami
- Tour America | New York City
- Tour America | Ouray
- Tour America | Salt Lake City
- Tour America | Savannah
- Tour America | Seattle
- Tour America | Silverton
- Tour America | St Augustine
- Tour America | Starbase SpaceX complex in Texas
- Tour America | Washington DC
- Tour America | Wynwood
4. National Parks & Monuments (AZ)
- Tour America | All National Parks (list)
- Tour America | Black Canyon of the Gunnison
- Tour America | Death Valley
- Tour America | Dinosaur
- Tour America | Everglades
- Tour America | Glacier
- Tour America | Grand Canyon (helicopter tour)
- Tour America | Grand Teton
- Tour America | Great Sand Dunes
- Tour America | Mesa Verde
- Tour America | Rock Mountain
- Tour America | Yellowstone
- Tour America | Yosemite
5. Plan your vacation to America here
- Itineraries compare | TUI, Americaplus, sawadee en Djoser.
- Motorhome rental companies compare | WorldWideCampers.com
- Fly & drives compare | Americaplus.
- Cruises and city trips compare | Travel deal.
- Flight tickets compare | Skyscanner, TUI, KLM. as KAYAK.
- Rental cars compare | Sunnycars, Alamo en rental cars.
- Tours and Activities compare | GetYourGuide.
- Campsites reservation| RECREATION.gov
- Hotels & Resorts reservation | Booking.com.
- SIM cards order | USAsim en International sim.
- Parking at airport | Parkos, Central parking of park care.
- travel items (suitcases, world plugs, etc.) | Bol.com.
Baltimore, with a population of 600.000, is the largest city in the US state of Maryland on the US east coast, located on the Patapsco River and on the Chesapeake Bay. In principle, Washington DC with 700.000 inhabitants is slightly larger, but this city does not officially belong to the state of Maryland. you can read exactly how that works this article.
Baltimore is especially important because of its large port. This port is the most chosen destination from The Netherlands, Belgium en Germany when it comes to it shipping vehicles to the United States. Every week gigantic ships depart from Hamburg (Germany), Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Antwerp (Belgium) via Halifax (Canada) to Baltimore (USA† Everyone who has Baltimore as the final destination of his or her vehicle, will have to deal with this city.
Unfortunately, Baltimore is not exactly known for its beautiful attractions or nice, safe environment. On the contrary, Baltimore is a city that ranks high when it comes to crime and homicides. In 2021 Baltimore held the 5th most dangerous city in the US by as much 337 murders in one year, that's almost one murder a day in a city of only 600.000 inhabitants!
Don't be put off
But because we have to stay here for 5 days, we try to make the best of it. Because of course Baltimore also has good sides. The inner harbor in particular is seen as beautiful and safe. In addition, we are not simply put off by a few numbers. I mean, we've been to much more dangerous places in the world and we just survived that. So we just went out as usual, off to Baltimore!
Well, what are you going to do or see in Baltimore? In good spirits, Malou and I opened our phones and started Googling. What should we absolutely not miss in Baltimore? Less than 10 minutes and 20 searches later, we both quickly came to the conclusion that there really isn't much to do in Baltimore… At least, not for tourists.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is promoted on every website and travel guide, but to be honest we just really don't like that. We prefer to see these beautiful animals in the sea, where we believe they belong. We will skip this activity…
It also came up a lot during our Google searches. Here it is all to do according to the internet. And this is also where the hotels in Baltimore always provide shuttles to. We dropped off and went for a nice walk. It was sunny but with only 5 to 6 degrees and a strong wind very cold. We walked along the boulevard along the Hard Rock Cafe which is located in the beautiful old power plant. I must honestly say I was impressed.
Because it was very cold, we decided after half an hour of walking to visit the large mall (the shopping center) at the inner harbour. We walked in and unfortunately had to find that it was almost completely empty. Signs and murals from well-known chains such as H&M, Bubba Shrimp and Starbucks were still there, but the mall was cluttered and deserted. Only one shop and restaurant or 5 were still open, while there is room for as many as 50 shops.
It was strange to see these abandoned stores in the place where it was all supposed to happen in Baltimore. We don't know what this is about, but it may have something to do with covid? Anyway, the whole area felt deserted. After a walk through the Inner Harbor we decided to return to the Hotel.
Stay in Baltimore near the harbor
Since we had to pick up the camper at the port, it was convenient to choose a hotel that is close to the port. We could then, after collecting the camper, park in front of the door and check the camper in peace, load the stuff and prepare the car for the first kilometers. No sooner said than done.
Best Western Plus Hotel & Conference Center
The hotel of choice by most people picking up an RV or vehicle in Baltimore is the Best Western Plus Hotel & Conference Center† This is in fact a 25 to 30 minute walk from the harbour. We decided to book here for that reason, despite the fact that the reviews were not great… A 3,9 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 dollars per night.
Creaking elevator and weed smell
We checked in and immediately regretted it. The creaking and wobbly elevator had seen better days and when we arrived at the 10th floor we were immediately treated to a huge smell of weed. We hoped it would be a one-off, but in the two days we stayed here, some rooms just smoked and smoked non-stop. We were not bothered by that and no problems with it, but it immediately sets an atmosphere and a certain expectation of the hotel. And indeed, unfortunately it did not stop there…
Thin walls and leaking taps
Fortunately, the bed was good, we slept wonderfully on it. But an air conditioner that can't 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. Also, after a few hours, the leaking taps in the shower drove us crazy, which, given the thick yellow deposits on the drip spots, had been doing it for quite some time. Everything in the hotel room was actually worn and/or very dated, even 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…
We decided to look further, because we really had to wait a few more days for the camper. Fortunately, we soon found a hotel that was a bit further from the harbor, but that was rated much better. So pack up and go!
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.
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.
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
A few minutes' walk from the Hampton Inn Baltimore hotel is Broadway Diner (location here), a very well-reviewed restaurant! It's a real old-skool American diner with a mini-radio/record player at every table that you can throw coins into, but unfortunately they had the ones taped up, too bad!
After looking at the mega-sized menu, Malou opted for the Tacos and I went for the Baby Back Spare Ribs and wow, they were truly divine.
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!
Pick up the camper at the port
The next morning we received good news via email. Finally, the time has come! I received the liberating message that our camper was ready to be picked up after a 24 day delay in the port. And because the entire process in the port was all quite a bit of a search, I will try to formulate the process below as clearly as possible so that hopefully it will be of some use to you in the future.
In short, you have to arrange these three things before you can go to the port.
- Pay the port costs / customs costs at Pride International.
- Make sure you have received the 'delivery order' form from Pride International
- Arrange an 'escort'. You are not allowed to enter the harbor without an escort.
This order is important, because SeaBridge, the company I worked with, was not clear about this and that cost me an unnecessary amount of extra time and effort which I want to save you.
1. Pay the port/customs fees
Pride International is together with many other logistics companies in this building, click link for Google Maps location. The bad thing is that Google Maps doesn't know which side to enter the building on. According to Google Maps, the entrance was on the north side (see screenshot below). After going in and out of many doors and making a complete circle around the building, the entrance turned out to be on the east side. This is a huge building and this just took me 20 minutes, a shame.
Walk into the building and follow the signs to room 230, Pride is there. Once inside, it is simply a matter of showing your freight form that you have received from SeaBridge or another shipper and tapping a few hundred dollars in costs. hoppakee. In addition to paying, I could just say hello, but nothing more than that.
2. Delivery Order Form
Now that you have paid, you should receive your delivery form from Pride International. You can hide all other papers you have from now on. You only need this Delivery Order form + your driver's license to be able to pick up your vehicle at the port. Now it is still important that you arrange your escort, so that you can enter the harbor.
3. Arrange escort service
SeaBridge sent me a number of contacts where I could arrange my escort for the port. But after the dramatic turn of events with them, I also went to see for myself which ones were available and which ones were well reviewed. Seabridge's first two suggestions were rated really poorly with many dramatic reviews. That's why I won't even mention them!
The escort service that stood out was A-1 Escort service (Google Location here † This escort service, like all others in the region, costs 75 dollars per hour that you need the escort.
I went to the desk with my papers and was kindly greeted by a lady who explained to me clearly and 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 going to pick up his camper.
In Baltimore Harbor
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!'.
The Austrian I was with was told the same thing in the counter next to me at the same time. I immediately told the best man behind the counter that my camper was literally behind their booth, but he didn't want to hear about this. He immediately begged me to leave and just yelled again, NEXT!
Uh excuse me?! I really had to hold myself back after all the misery, mistakes and the 24 day delay that followed. Determined as I was, I told myself I wouldn't let myself be sent away!
I persisted and then got a short answer that my camper would not be on the program until next week. They could not find the number in their system yet… Computer says no.
ah! Of course that had to do with the mess that SeaBridge and/or Pride International had already made of it in Antwerp… Because my camper had there missed the boat because they lost my camper then† Such a beautiful story too… I tried to explain that and then I just got laughed in my face. They 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 wasn't going to stop there. The Austrian next to me immediately decided to do the same.
I thought to myself if necessary I'll walk outside, grab my camper and stop 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…; †hey man we need some security over here', suddenly something started to move and my papers went to the back room. Suddenly something happened and 5 minutes later I still had an 'Ok, 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 which was standing between some other cars and immediately took a picture from every angle, because you never know… I did this of course before I left it in Antwerp.
The doors were (sort of) sealed with some stickers, but these were already peeling off on all sides. I didn't think too much at that time and checked the camper for damage and that all 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 in the front seat. Okay, that plastic action box of 8 euros can take little, so I didn't think about it further. That 12v pump? They must have 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 almost 5 weeks, because of the mess they had made of it at SeaBridge and/or Pride.
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.
Only when after an hour I needed the battery drill to unscrew the legs of the camper unit, the penny dropped. Damn, they just stole my cordless drill! I had a nice case with a Black & Decker screw machine, with all the trimmings, lying in that box and it was now gone.
That could also be added! Anyway, I didn't want to take it too seriously 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!
The first kilometers
Malou and I quickly agreed on one thing. After the cold weeks in New York, Washington, Annapolis and 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.
Because we had already seen Baltimore and Washington and thought it a shame to drive through or around those big cities, we decided to drive south via the state of Delaware. In the meantime, we went looking for an adapter to connect the American gas cylinders. I had bought an adapter through SeaBridge (for which they charged 35 euros), which did not even fit on the American gas bottles. The umpteenth blunder of the company… After visiting several stores and gas experts in Delaware, I didn't really get any further. Nobody could help us. For the time being I decided to do it only with our electricity in the camper, with which we can also boil water and grill. We'll be fine.
But before I left the last store, the lady behind the counter said very calmly: 'did you hear about the tornado warning, sun?'† uhm, no?
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.
Luckily it didn't come from a tornado, so after about 3-4 hours when the wind dropped 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, a nice spot on the water.
Ultimately, this is the route we drove on the first day.
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.
The next morning we woke up early when the sun came up. We opened the window and looked out. Wow! It was so wonderful to wake up the first night in our trusted camper. Seeing the sunrise from your bed, this is what we do it all for!
We have forgotten all the setbacks of the past few weeks in one fell swoop. From here we can look forward again and enjoy. Enjoying the freedom and all the beautiful things that await us in the coming time.
Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!
Plan your vacation to America here
- Itineraries : TUI, Americaplus, sawadee en Djoser.
- Motorhome rental companies : WorldWideCampers.com
- Fly & drives : Americaplus en Travelworld.
- Cruises and city trips for America you book with Travel deal.
- Flight tickets for America you book with TUI, KLM, KAYAK en Skyscanner.
- Rental cars : Sunnycars, Alamo en rental cars.
- Tours and Activities in America you book via GetYourGuide.
- Campsites in National Parks you book on RECREATION.gov
- Hotels & Resorts in America you book with Booking.com.
- SIM cards : USAsim en International sim.
- Parking at the airport you can arrange via Parkos, park care of iParking.
- travel items (suitcases, bags, world plugs, etc. can be ordered at Bol.com.