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How to Plan an RV Road Trip

Updated on April 24, 2017
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I have traveled extensively throughout the US for many years and enjoy helping people to enjoy their own vacations.

If you want to take an RV road Trip that will be as worry and trouble free as possible, you need to plan early and well.

To do this you need to decide how much time you have available, when you wish to travel,where you want to go, what you want to do and how much you can spend for your vacation.

Making these decisions should include the thoughts and desires of every person who will be traveling with you because if you don't address everybody's needs, someone will be unhappy and will likely put a damper on any trip you decide to take.

In addition, you will need to

  1. be realistic,
  2. make sure your vehicles match the trip you wish to take
  3. create check lists,
  4. plan your route,
  5. decide where you want to stay along the way,
  6. prepare your vehicles and
  7. load your coach correctly.

The best way to deal with these tasks is to start early and do them a bit at a time, rather than trying to take care of them all at once just before you leave home.

Doing this will also give you time to think things through and spot problems that you can correct ahead of time.

Learn the best methods for planning an RV road trip that will be enjoyable and relaxing.
Learn the best methods for planning an RV road trip that will be enjoyable and relaxing. | Source

Be Realistic About Your Trip Plan

As you move forward with your planning, you need to make sure that you are being realistic about what you want to accomplish.

  • If you only have a few weeks, you won't have time to take a cross country trip.
  • If you will be traveling with several people, you need to make sure that your coach is big enough to meet their needs.
  • If one of your travelers has health problems, you'll need to visit areas that have adequate medical facilities available.
  • If you plan to visit a major tourist area, you will need to reserve campsites there early.

Using such strategies will save a great deal of frustration and will make your vacation a safe, pleasant experience for everybody.

Always Travel In an RV That Matches the Type of Trip You Wish to Take

Match Your Vehicle to Your Trip

Always make sure that the vehicle you plan to use is the right one for the vacation you wish to take.

For example,

  1. if you want to visit Yellowstone National Park and know that soft sided travel units are not permitted in its campgrounds, a fold out camper would be the wrong unit to use for such a vacation or
  2. if you want to travel to Montana in the winter, you will need a coach that is suited for all season travel.

Recreational Vehicles are constructed for specific uses. If you try to use one that isn't suited for the type of trip you plan to take, you will be very uncomfortable.

Simply put, if you find that your travel unit will not work for the trip you want to take, you will either have to change your plans or buy (or rent) a different RV.

Make sure the RV you use is a good match for the trip you wish to take.
Make sure the RV you use is a good match for the trip you wish to take. | Source

Create and Use Check Lists

If you create and use a series of check lists to help you plan, pack and organize, you will eliminate a great deal of confusion and chaos.

Here are some lists you may want to incorporate into your planning:

  • things to keep on board to prevent or deal with problems such as medicines and tools,
  • general use items, such as linens and cleaners,
  • food and beverages,
  • personal care items,
  • hobby and sports items and
  • set up/break down campsite lists.

You don't want to be caught miles from home only to realize that you forgot your cash or your makeup!

Plan Your Route

Use a route planner that can help you decide how far you want to drive each day. AAA has a free one you can find online, but some camping clubs also provide them.

If you don't belong to a club, you can use your GPS to check mileage and a Good Sam Camping Guide to find out about campground locations and pricing.

This book an excellent resource that you can use in a number of ways to help you create the type of trip you really want to have. We have used one for years and have always considered it to be a great investment.

Put this information on a spreadsheet so that you can see how far you will need to drive to get from one facility to the next and how much your camping costs will be.

Doing this is tedious and takes some time, but is well worth the effort because it will eliminate many problems.

How to Estimate the Cost of Your Next RV Trip explains how to do this.

2017 Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide (Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide: The Must-Have RV Travel)
2017 Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide (Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide: The Must-Have RV Travel)

A must have resource for all who RV and want to have the most complete information they need at the most reasonable price.

 

Decide Where You Want to Stay

It is just as important to plan your stopping points along the way as it is to choose your destination camping spots.

This is because having reasonably priced facilities along the way adds pleasure to your vacation.

If you learn to travel shorter distances per day so that you can enjoy such places, you eliminate travel fatigue and make each day a part of your trip.

If you rush from one spot to another without knowing where you'll end up on a daily basis, you could find yourself without a site or being stuck with one that is substandard or over priced.

Choosing good camping spots ahead of time is an important part of route planning and should be taken care of before ever leaving home.

When my husband and I travel, I always take time (with the help of my Good Sam Travel Guide and my Passport America Camping Book) to choose sites that are between 250 and 300 miles apart, are reasonably priced, are in safe areas and have decent facilities.

I put this information on a spreadsheet, make a hard copy, and use it as a guide for our RV trips. This way we avoid ugly surprises and also keep our costs down.

Make needed repairs before you ever leave home.
Make needed repairs before you ever leave home. | Source

Prepare Your Vehicles

Make sure far in advance of your leave date that your vehicles are in good condition so that you can avoid as many mechanical issues as possible.

A road ready RV or tow vehicle should be able to hold up to the rigors of vibrations, dangerous weather and poor conditions of all types.

Vehicles are much safer if they have sound structural issues such as

  • good quality, correctly rated tires,
  • brakes, turn signals and lights that work and
  • chassis that are properly rated for the loads they carry.

Before leaving home, be sure to do a thorough inspection to check for

  • cracks and leaks in belts and hoses,
  • tire damage,
  • water and propane leaks,
  • non functioning or broken brakes, turn signals and lights,

and also make sure that

  • hitch attachments are functional,
  • emergency equipment such as road flares and jumper cables are working,
  • air pressure in tires is correct,
  • rear camera monitors are in good condition,
  • gas and smoke detectors are updated,
  • propane tanks are full and functional,
  • tires are properly aligned,
  • remote mirrors, work,
  • fire extinguishers are up to date and working,
  • the refrigerator is working,
  • windshield wipers are working,
  • entry stairs are doing their jobs,
  • air conditioning filters are cleaned and units are working OK and
  • batteries are working correctly.

so that you can repair any problems you find ahead of time.

Doing these things will help you avoid problems during your vacation.

Make sure your vehicles are road ready before you leave home.
Make sure your vehicles are road ready before you leave home. | Source

Pack Light and Load Carefully

There are Laundromats, groceries ad other types of stores everywhere, so there is no need to overdo when it comes to packing.

How to Load and Pack Your RV for Safety and Comfort gives good guidelines for this issue and will also explain the importance of balancing your load correctly and show you how to do so.

Other Helpful Tips

In addition to the items I just mentioned, you should also

  • gas up before heading out,
  • make sure your coach is well stocked so that you have what you need,
  • spend your first night in a local campground so that you can return home quickly if necessary and
  • divide chores among travelers so that no one person ends up doing all the work.

Planning an RV Road Trip Takes Effort

As you can see, planning an RV road trip requires a good deal of work.

However, taking your time and making as many plans in advance as you can will make the job easier. RV to 8 of the Best Destinations This Summer shows you what a well planned vacation looks like.

This is what you should shoot for.

If you use the information provided in this article, you can plan a great RV road trip like this one that will create many happy memories for you and your fellow travelers.

Have fun!

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© 2016 TIMETRAVELER2

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  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image
    Author

    TIMETRAVELER2 10 months ago

    Karen Hellier: Glad you liked it. Most people don't realize all the things that need to be done to get ready for a trip, so this article gives them a "heads up". Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  • Karen Hellier profile image

    Karen Hellier 10 months ago from Georgia

    Great article with some very thorough RV trip prepping trips. Thanks so much for this. Hopefully I can use these tips someday and do an RV trip.

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