RV road trip planner. Many of RV Adventure-USA’s customers are new to the RV lifestyle. They have gone out and purchased their dream RV – it’s the perfect color, size and floor plan. The RV is now sitting on the street next to their home and they are so excited…but then the question comes….where to go? (If you are new to RVing and will be renting your RV, check out our Blog – Renting an RV for the First Time)
You took the advice from your rv road trip planner, and you have stocked your RV with items that will stay in the RV and be available each time you hit the road. Flashlight, toilet chemicals, RV toilet paper or one-ply is best, a plunger for the toilet (you know your kids will try to flush something that they just shouldn’t), electrical adaptor that allows you to plug into a 30amp or 50amp plug, toolkit – just in case something needs a quick fix, rubber gloves for playing with the sewer hose, kitchen tools, pans, cutting boards, silverware, dishes, mop/broom, cleaning items, leveling blocks (very important).
New RVers should also get to know how their RV drives on the streets and on the freeway, maneuvering through some campgrounds can be a challenge with the road being narrow or having sharp turns or even the layout of the campsites. It’s good to know how the RV handles and if you have had enough time behind the wheel to handle these types of situations. Back-up cameras are a blessing these days. When we first started out, mom and dad used hand signals but found walkie talkies worked better to help line up the RV to the campground post.
It’s never a bad idea to practice hooking up your electrical, water and sewer lines. Ever watch the movie “RV” with Robin Williams? There’s a scene where they are dumping the sewer and it blows like a geyser. You will laugh at this scene in the movie and think “not me, not ever” but it could happen.
It is probably a great idea to take the RV out a few times to a nearby campground (2-3 hours from home). We often use a campground for a night or two that is about 20 minutes from the house when we head out on a long trip. You’d be amazed how often we had to go back home to get something we forgot. OR maybe something isn’t working right and off to Camping World or Home Depot we go!!
So you’ve been out several times, you are confident in your ability to drive the RV and your family is excited to take that 2-3 week trip (or longer!!). Where to go on that first RV trip…
Advice from a rv road trip planner: first consider what time of year you want to go on vacation – summer, winter, fall, spring.
- Summer: Memorial Day to Labor Day is the busiest season for camping and all campgrounds have opened for the season. Kids are out of school, the weather is nice, outdoor and guided activities are open for business. Some parts of the country experience over 100 degree days, you will be using your air conditioner quite a bit during hot weather.
- Winter: Cold weather to freezing weather is important to know when traveling during the Winter season. If the temperature gets below freezing, you need to take the appropriate steps to keep your pipes from freezing. While we don’t winterize our RVs, at night we do empty the water out of the hose and place it on the steps and open the lower cupboards a bit so that the heat can get into the area to prevent freezing. If traveling during this season, the southern states are better as they usually don’t have freezing weather.
- Fall: This is a good time to camp but we do recommend you check to make sure the campground is still open. Many campgrounds in the northern and eastern states start closing in late September/early October. The daily temperature is pleasant, in some areas you would need a light sweater/jacket during the day, nights are a bit cooler and a fire pit is truly enjoyable while sitting outdoors. You will find the areas you are visiting usually aren’t as crowded as during the busy summer season.
- Spring: Snow is melting, the days are getting warmer, you have Spring Break where you will find areas a bit more crowded. The weather during the day is nice but may still be a bit cool, nights are still chilly and you will certainly enjoy a fire in the fire pit. You will want to check to make sure the campground you are considering has opened for the season. You will also want to check the website of where you wish to visit (for example, national parks), find out what is open, what isn’t open yet and when is it anticipated to open.
Now consider, where do you want to go? Most new RVers start with the obvious – National Parks. Others are deep into history and want to discover the best historic sites that helped define the U.S. Families with kids are more apt to want a trip that keeps their kids engaged and having fun. And still others are looking for privacy and quiet or want to go visit family. No matter your RV adventure, you will have fun.
We recommend keeping your travel days (when you move from one location to another) under 350 miles. Most campgrounds have a check-in time after 1pm, so arriving around 3pm is great. It’s still light out, the campground office is open, and you can find your campsite without a flashlight. It can be difficult to find your campsite in the dark – some site numbers are hard to find, parking straight and leveling in the dark can also be a challenge if you have had a long driving day. Getting to the campground early also gives you a chance to check out your site so the next morning when you wake up and stumble for your coffee, you know what to expect when you get outside.
Campgrounds are so important to having a great trip. When should you make a reservation and when can you just book as you go along? We highly recommend making reservations especially at popular locations or areas where there aren’t many campgrounds. It isn’t any fun arriving after a long day’s travel and there is no campground with availability. Options for campgrounds include private campgrounds, public campgrounds, state parks, Harvest Host, recreation areas to name a few. We prefer private and public campgrounds as we want a guaranteed reservation, a site that fits our RV and hook-ups.
When making reservations at a campground, be sure to know the size of your RV (length, number of slide-outs, towing) and whether you need 30 or 50 amp hook-up. When talking to the campground, if they don’t ask you these questions, be sure to let them know. Again it is not fun to show up at a campground and find out your reservation is for a site that is too small in length and width, and they have no other sites available because you “assumed” if they didn’t ask you for the RV information that all their sites would fit your RV. You also want a site that is wide enough to open your slide outs. For seasoned RVers, at least once you found yourself in a too small site that was barely wide enough for you to use your slide outs and then you were so close to your neighbor you could have handed them coffee through the window. While you may chuckle after reading that sentence, there are campgrounds with sites that are very narrow.
Try to stay at least 2 nights at most stops – if there’s somewhere you are stopping just to break up the mileage, 1 night works great. It is work setting up & breaking down your campsite every day. When we arrive at the campground around 3-4pm, that’s it, we’re done for the day. Set up camp, walk around the campground to get a feel for the Park, then fix dinner, enjoy a fire and a glass of wine.
Next day – we call this “adventure” day. We get up, have breakfast, get in the RV or your tow vehicle, and head out to check out the area. You most likely will have checked out the area for scenic drives, outdoor activities, beautiful views, etc. so you have an idea of where you want to start your day. If there’s a guided activity that interests us, we normally just walk in and see if they have an opening. If you are a large group or have kids, a reservation probably works better for you. Since we are out sightseeing, we usually each lunch at a restaurant or in the RV. We try to plan our day to end around 4pm and then head back to camp for dinner.
At the end of the day, as you sit at the campground relaxing after a day of exploring, remember how much fun you and your family had and start making plans for your next RV adventure.
For those who are still unsure of where to go and how to plan the trip, what activities are available and which one to choose, not sure if you can pick the right campground and ensure it is safe, are overwhelmed with the amount of work it takes to plan this trip, then reach out to RV Adventure-USA. We will assist you in planning that perfect 1st big RV trip. We are just an email or phone call away!!