Planning an RV Trip? Do These 5 Things First
One of the first things many new RVers discover is that planning an RV trip requires a lot of forethought. You can’t just hitch up your RV and head out for an adventure. A successful RV trip requires weeks and possibly months’ worth of planning.
Today, we’ll share some helpful tips to make planning your next RV trip easier. We’ll even share some mistakes that you’ll want to avoid. Let’s get started!
Is planning an RV trip hard?
Planning an RV trip can be extremely overwhelming when you’re first getting started. This is often because you’re still familiarizing yourself with your RV, learning what to look for in a campsite, how to plan your route, gathering all the gear and equipment to make RVing easier, and figuring out what to do in each destination.
The good news is that planning an RV trip gets easier with practice.
The more you can use your RV and take it out on short trips, the better. Through multiple shorter trips, you’ll quickly get more comfortable with the essential tasks like hitching and unhitching your RV, setting up your campsite, and learning to navigate a big rig through a tight campground.
With enough practice, you’ll be a pro in no time! Once you’re more comfortable, you’ll be able to challenge yourself and your rig to see how long you can extend your trips. However, we want to warn you that RVing can quickly become addicting, and you may feel the temptation to jump into RVing full-time.
Do these 5 things before planning an RV road trip
If you want to increase your chances of having a smooth and successful trip, there are a handful of essential things you should do before planning an RV road trip. Let’s dive in and see what important steps you won’t want to skip!
1. Determine where you’re camping (and book your spot if necessary)
You will need a place to park your rig during your trip, typically a campground or RV park. Depending on where you want to go or stay, you might need to secure your campsite reservations months ahead. If you plan to camp over a holiday weekend or during the peak camping season, you’ll need to plan as far in advance as possible.
State parks will typically be the most affordable option, but that’s not always the case. RV parks, private campgrounds, and resorts often come with premium price tags as they’ll often offer premium amenities. However, these can often be less centered around nature and more about having a luxurious experience.
Campendium is a fantastic free tool that allows you to search tens of thousands of different camping options across the country from free camping on public lands, RV resorts, state parks, and national parks. The Dyrt is another user-submitted app that can be helpful in finding places to camp. Their pro features also unlock loads of other tools including a route planning feature that factors driving distances and stops from campground to campground.
Some campgrounds will allow reservations 6 months to 12 months in advance. If you’re heading to a hot destination in the peak season (like the Florida Keys in winter), make sure you’re reserving your spot the day reservations open.
If you’re unable to secure your camping spot at your desired campground use Arvie. This online booking platform allows you to conduct up to 5 searches at sold-out campgrounds for your desired dates and rig’s needs. If a spot opens up, the website books it for you automatically. It can be a lifesaver for planning an RV trip and has gotten us into some really hard-to-book campgrounds.
Score camping spots with Arvie
Arvie helps you secure hard-to-book campgrounds with their sold-out search. Create up to 5 searches at a time and if a spot becomes available Arvie will book it instantly.
2. Get the basic RV gear
It’s never too early to buy the basic gear you’ll need for your RV road trip. You can even buy items like sewer and drinking hoses, wheel chocks, and leveling blocks before purchasing your RV. These are all items you’ll need no matter what RV you select.
Having the basic gear that you’ll need to enjoy using your RV is important and can help ensure you are able to enjoy your first trip or two in your rig. You’re most likely not going to have everything you need for your first few RV trips. We recommend creating a running list of items you need for your RV as you realize you need them.
3. Research your route
You’ll quickly realize you can’t just hitch up your RV, punch in the address into your phone, and head out for an adventure. This is especially true if you’re towing a fifth wheel or driving a taller motorhome. Not every road is RV-friendly and you could come across a low clearance that could cause serious damage to your RV.
You should make sure you have a GPS that’s rated for RVs. These units allow you to input your RV’s weight and dimensions and can help quickly create a route that will keep you and your RV safe. Many of these devices will also help you avoid tunnels, which typically have propane restrictions.
Driving an RV often means you’re going at slower speeds than a normal car and you’ll find it just takes longer to get from place to place. Find your sweet spot for driving distances which can be as little as 200 miles in a day to 400 miles in a day. Our sweet spot is between 250 miles with a maximum of 350 miles. Don’t forget to account for fuel stops, bathroom breaks, and snack or lunch stops which will add to your total driving time.
There are loads of different apps and tools that can help make planning a route easier.
Road Trippers is a popular resource that highlights loads of different destinations throughout the United States from National Parks to roadside tourist attractions. Road Trippers ensures you’re not missing any must-see destinations and are taking the most efficient route possible for your RV trip.
4. Create your RV packing list
It can be very easy to get caught up in the excitement of your RV trip plans. However, if you’re not careful, you could leave behind some important items. This is why we recommend that you keep a detailed packing list for your RV of any essential items that you don’t want to forget.
Many RVers find it very helpful to list out the days and plan out their outfits and meals. This can help ensure they have enough clothes and food for the RV road trip. You don’t want to hit the road and discover that you only have two pairs of socks or underwear for a week-long RV trip. If you do, your first stop will likely be a local Walmart.
Just like Santa, it can be helpful to check your list twice before you and your RV pull out of the driveway. You want to make sure you catch anything on the checklist that you may have missed.
5. Get to know your RV
Just like you probably didn’t become best friends with your BFF overnight, getting to know your RV takes time. The more time you spend in it and with it, the more you’ll get to know how to use the various features and how to enjoy it fully.
There’s no better way to get to know your RV than to take it out on a trip or two to a local campground. Look for campgrounds with large RV sites that have plenty of room. This can help you gain confidence with backing in your rig and setting it up without worrying about bumping into obstacles that could damage your rig.
Avoid these rookie camping mistakes
There are several common rookie mistakes that new RVers often make. Here are a few mistakes we want to help you avoid during your RV trip.
Have snacks or meals on hand
On long drive days, the last thing you’ll want to do is stop to make an elaborate lunch to satiate your hunger. Always have a few road trip healthy snacks or meals prepared to make your breaks easier and make sure you’re not stuck eating greasy or highly processed fast foods on your route.
We love having leftovers from dinner the night before, salads that are pre-made and just in need of dressing, or sandwiches. Nuts, hummus, veggies, or fruit can be another great snack.
Don’t over plan
It’s really easy to over plan your trip packing as many destinations and miles as possible into a week or two vacations. Be realistic about what you can do and see while still having time to enjoy the places you’re visiting. No one wants to drive 10+ hours a day to only get 2 hours to enjoy at the destination.
Research RV parking beforehand
You’ll eventually have to stop to fill up gas, take a bathroom break, or top off on groceries. It’s always a good idea to make sure your RV can fit into the parking lot of these destinations before arriving.
Make Some Priceless Memories on an RV Trip
Hopefully, these tips will ease a bit of the stress and headaches of planning an RV trip. Just remember, things can still go wrong even with the best of planning. It’s easy to get frustrated and stressed if that happens, but don’t fret. It’s all a part of the experience. We can assure you that years from now, you’re going to look back and cherish the memories you’ll create while on RV trips with your friends and family.
No matter who you’re RVing with, we hope you’ll take advantage of every opportunity to go on an RV trip. Where are you planning your next RV trip?
Liz & Dennis
We’re two travel-loving, real estate investing, foodies exploring North America as full-time RV’ers. This blog is where we share our lessons learned, tips and tricks, and favorite places to eat, see, and RV across North America! We hope it helps you find your wanderlust, plan and prepare for RV life, and get out on the road!
New Blog Posts
Get our 70-page digital guide to RVing Mexico!
Get a quote for Mexican liability insurance, which is required to drive your vehicle in Mexico!