How to Plan the Perfect RV Trip: 5 Essential Tips

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How to Plan the Perfect RV Trip: 5 Essential Tips

RV Camping at Grand Canyon National Park
Photo via Grand Canyon National Parks/Flickr

While vandwelling might not be for everyone, the ability to travel the country is an absolute dream for millions.

Even if you aren’t planning to live on the road, though, you might still be interested in planning the perfect RV trip.

But what factors need to be considered? How can you make sure your trip goes as smoothly as possible?

Below, we are going to look at five important tips to consider five essential tips for making your RV camping experience as awesome as possible.

Establish Your Trip Goals: Why Do You Want to Take an RV Trip?

RV Camping Trip
Photo via hijjanisch/Flickr

First things first: You need to understand the WHY of your RV trip.

Are you planning a summer road trip to bond with your kids? Maybe you’re looking to experience some new outdoor recreation activities. Are you aiming to finally visit that one special destination that’s been burning a whole in your bucket list?

Setting an intention for your trip is a great way to help guide your research and decision making process by keeping you focused on what you really want to get out of your RV trip.

Take a minute and grab a Post-it (or open a notepad app on your phone) and write down the things you want to do, what you hope to feel, and the things you want to see while on your trip. Not only will this help your organize your trip, but it reinforces your chances of actually going.

If you’re traveling with family, make one big master list and see how many things you can check off! This is a great way to unify everyone and work towards a common goal of an awesome trip.

Set a Realistic Budget

Camping in an RV at Hungerford Lake

A dollar can only stretch so far.

While camping can certainly be done on a tight budget, there are a lot of expenses to consider when planning an RV trip.

For example:

  • Gas
  • Food and Meals
  • Recreational Activity Cost
  • RV Rental/ Maintenance
  • Campground Costs
  • Supplies

The good news is all of these expenses can be scaled to fit any budget. If you’re working within a tighter budget, planning a short trip closer to home will save on gas, food, campground costs and hopefully free up a little cash if you want to add  in a special activity like a boat or UTV rental.

Fishing and hiking are always great budget friendly activities so look for a campground that offers those on site or nearby. If you’re an experienced RVer, consider boondocking (dry camping with no hook ups) for a few days (if not your entire trip).

Most states have excellent options for free (or cheap) dry camping. Not only will this save some money, but you can also be one step closer to actually “roughing” it.

However, if you have a little more to spend and can afford some luxuries while traveling, go for it! There are some really amazing RV resorts that sit on golf courses, have full size water parks, and some that offer boat rentals and full service restaurants on site.

While not as rustic as a state or national park, they are pretty cool and very comfortable.

Of course you can always mix-and-match a little of both experiences if you’re wanting to rough it in nature for a bit and then get your glamp on.

Do Your Research

The backbone of any vacation, RV-related or otherwise, is research.

With trip goals in mind, take to the internet and search away! Google reviews tend to be pretty accurate, but keep in mind personal preferences and experiences differ. Be mindful of what amenities you are looking for.

Do you want to disconnect and go off grid, or do you need full hook ups, 50 amp power, scheduled activities, WiFi and laundry facilities?

Personally, I like a little bit of both. Keep in mind, though, that the campgrounds with a lot of amenities usually cost more.

Also, don’t forget to make your reservation early, especially in the summer! Carefully review the campgrounds cancellation policy and make sure it works for you. I would suggest calling to speak to an employee if you have any questions before booking.

Some RV parks will only require a deposit, but most places nowadays require payment in full with varying cancellation policies. Very few will reimburse you if you need to leave early after checking in.

Once you have found a place or two to camp, consider how long will it take you to get there. Are there any low clearances you need to avoid with your RV?

Be sure to search for RV-friendly resources along the way such as dump stations, propane stations, and water refills if you need them.

Stock Up on Supplies

Fall Camping in an RV
Photo via Shelby L. Bell/Flickr

When it comes to supplies, most decisions making comes to personal preference. Still, there are some things to consider regardless of who is coming.

If you’re traveling without a car and/or to a secluded location, you will need to stock up on food for the length of your trip. Consider preparing all or some of your meals ahead of time so they only need to be reheated. 

Cooking full meals in an RV requires resources like electric or propane. The process can also make it uncomfortably hot inside your RV. Smells linger (and not always the good ones). Any prep and cooking that can be completed outside of the RV is usually a plus.

Also, bring supplies specific to your stay.

If you are planning to go boating or fishing, you’ll want to pack life vests, sunscreen, bug sprays, etc.

Be sure to throw in your grill, fishing poles, bikes, Uno and regular playing cards, corn hole boards, a football, and whatever else you may want for entertainment. I have seen some RVers with screen and projector setups for movies under the stars that were really cool.

It’s also important to remember essential RV supplies. You may need leveling blocks, an outdoor mat, sewer and water hoses, tire pressure gauge, tools and caulking in case of a leak or broken part, heavy duty jump start cables, and a spare tire – just to name a few.

RVs also aren’t necessarily known for their copious amounts of storage. Depending on your rig, weight can be an issue. Reassess your trip goals and plan accordingly.

Make Sure to Have Fun on Your Trip!

As you can see, planning an RV trip can seem stressful. This is especially if you are new to RVing, but may hold true even if you’re an experienced pro.

You want your trip to be perfect and finding the right place to stay, in the right location with the right amenities can be a task but don’t forget to have FUN! Don’t  let the stress of planning the trip take over the joy of enjoying the trip. If you find you are feeling overwhelmed in your planning process, just take a break and revisit it another day. Taking an RV trip is magical! Hopefully by using these tips you will nail your Travel Goals and make lasting memories for the years to come.

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