Travel bug biting? Traveling by RV is an exciting way to see the world and create lasting memories with those you love. But no matter where the wind takes you, make sure you’re well-prepared for what lies ahead! Here’s our handy guide to help you plan an RV trip that you’ll never forget and can get off without a hitch (well…unless you’re towing something 😉).
Step 1: Choose your destination
Your destination determines some of the other choices you’ll make down the road (no pun intended). You’ll want to consider your and your party members’ interests, preferences, and how much time you have available. Are you interested in seeing all of the US national parks? Are you trying to stay close to home? Do you want to explore the northeast USA for the fall leaves? Or are you more of a West Coast person?
2. Set your travel itinerary
To ensure that your road trip is well-organized, you’ll want to create a flexible schedule with realistic routes and stops along the way. Keep in mind the distance between attractions and give yourself plenty of time to see the sights, make stops to use the restroom and sleep, grab a bite, and let little ones stretch their legs. You don’t want your RV travel to be so ambitious that it becomes hard to enjoy! Also, the journey is half the fun - make sure you carve out some space for spontaneous detours and let the magic happen.
(And don’t forget to request off from work ahead of time, if applicable!)
3. Plan your route
You can use navigation apps, maps, and travel guides to plan a detailed route that hits all of your chosen destinations and stops. Give yourself the freedom to explore scenic byways and roads less traveled to maximize the RV travel experience. Consider the season during which you’re traveling, and research road conditions, construction zones, weather, and RV-specific restrictions (like low-clearance tunnels!) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Depending on where you go, your cell phone service may be spotty. It’s worth the extra effort to map out your route using a paper map. Plus, it adds a little vintage charm to your trip that’s hard to come by these days.
4. Make sure your RV is ready to go
If you’re renting an RV for your trip, you can skip this step since it’s on the rental company. But if you’re taking this road trip in your own RV, there are a couple of things you’ll want to check beforehand. Make sure your maintenance, service, and registration are up-to-date and that you have a valid driver’s license. You’ll want to take some time to check the tire pressure and fluid levels and refamiliarize yourself with the owner’s manual to avoid any mishaps. If your RV has been in storage for a while, you may also want to check it for pests and let it air out for a day or two before your trip.
We also recommend taking your RV for a spin around the block, especially if it’s been a while, to reacquaint yourself with driving a larger vehicle before you take to the highways. Drivers everywhere will thank you for this!
5. Make reservations
Not every RV campground requires a reservation, but if you plan to visit popular destinations, like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park, you may need to make reservations well in advance. Consider the accommodations you want/need when you make your reservations. Although many RV campgrounds boast ample amenities including pools, free wifi, and community events, consider that not all of them have hookups, bathhouses, or dump stations. It’s wise to do your research ahead of time and weigh your requirements and preferences against what is available.
6. Pack smart
Smart packing ensures that you keep your RV organized but still manage to bring everything you need. Make a packing checklist including bedding, clothing, toiletries, first aid kit, kitchen supplies and snacks, entertainment, outdoor/camping gear, and any specific items you might need depending on where you’re going and what you plan to do there. Don’t forget your driver’s license, insurance, and reservation information, if applicable, and make sure to bring a way to play your rocking RV road trip playlist!
7. Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best
No one ever wants to be caught in an emergency situation on what’s supposed to be a fun and restful trip, but things happen sometimes! Make sure your first aid kit is well-stocked, your fire extinguisher is available and operable, and that you have emergency contact information. If you’re traveling somewhere that gets very hot or cold quickly (like a desert or tropical location), or somewhere that’s subject to extreme weather, you may consider things like insulated blankets, battery-operated fans, raingear, and more.
You’ll also want to share your itinerary with someone you trust back home. Secure your non-mobile home from intruders, and find someone to care for your pets and plants. Even if you don’t have pets or plants, it’s worth having someone pick up your mail and check on your house, especially if you plan to travel for a long time.
8. Make a budget you can stick to
It’s essential to budget your RV trip to avoid overspending. Eating out, campground fees, entertainment, and attractions can quickly add up! To avoid being surprised by how much you spend on your trip, make a daily or weekly budget that includes incidentals and planned expenses, and try to stick to it. One of the best ways to save money on an RV trip is to cook in your coach, which can also help you eat healthy food while you’re on the road.
9. Keep an open mind
Be flexible with schedules. While planning is crucial, don’t forget that some of the best experiences, both in an RV and out, are borne out of spontaneity. Be open to changing your plans based on recommendations from other travelers, locals, or your travel party members, and leave plenty of room in your calendar for unexpected roadside discoveries and or repairs to your RV. You just never know what hidden gems you might find along the way!
10. And finally, have FUN!
That’s it! Have a blast! That’s what it’s all about, right?
Wanna plan an adventure in your very own RV?
It’s a tough decision to find the right RV for where you want to go. That’s why our friendly and knowledgeable staff is always available to help you choose from the highest quality coaches (and more) from top manufacturers. Find a location near you today, or shop our online inventory and let our experts help you find the perfect RV to hit the road in.