Planning Your First RV Road Trip: 6 Tips for a Successful Journey
As a newcomer to recreational vehicle (RV) traveling, you can hear the call of the open road, but you may not know exactly how to navigate it just yet. What you do know is that you want to see the country on your own time, without spending every dime you’ve ever earned or sleeping in sketchy motel rooms. With an RV, you can hold onto the comforts of home, like sleeping on your favorite pillow and cooking your own breakfast each morning after waking up in a new beautiful location. Whether you plan to be on the road for the weekend, several weeks at a time or permanently, here are six basic tips for getting started on your personal RV journey.
- Find Places To Camp
Whether you prefer to plan out and reserve each night’s stay ahead of your trip or you like to go with the flow and see where the road takes you, there are plenty of options for your trip. An RV park offers sewer, water, power and amenities for less than $100 per night. If that’s beyond your budget for this particular voyage, you can generally find campgrounds with parking, bathrooms and picnic areas for less than $40 per night. However, if you’re more of the adventurously frugal type, you can take advantage of the millions of acres of national forests and conservation land operated by the federal government and accessible to the public, many of which are free of cost.
- Use Solar Power When Boondocking
Generally, free campsites don’t offer water or electric hookups, so you must rely on your vehicle for power. If you’re able to drive several hours each day, you can maintain enough battery charge to keep the lights on, run electronics and pump water for an overnight stay, but occasionally you may need an additional energy source. While many RVers opt to carry a generator, they produce quite a bit of exhaust, heat and noise. Installing a solar power system allows you to extend your wilderness adventure while reducing your carbon footprint and saving some cash in the process.
- Connect to the Internet
A cross-country road trip with your RV doesn’t mean you have to disconnect completely. Especially if you’re a digital nomad, internet access is a must during your great RV adventure. If your cell service provider has an expansive network and you have a substantial data plan, then you can use your phone as the router to a laptop or tablet. Otherwise, you may have to rely on cafés with free Wi-Fi and public libraries for work, which cuts into your one-on-one time with nature.
- Be Careful When Dumping the Black Water
If your RV has a toilet, you’ll have to dump the waste from time to time. This involves connecting the sewer hose to the cap inside the storage compartment. You must make sure the dump valve is closed before removing the cap, however, or you’ll have a huge mess on your hands, and feet, and everywhere else. If you’re unfamiliar with the process, watch a few YouTube videos ahead of your trip, consult your motorhome manual and learn how to close those latches. Additionally, make sure you pack some essentials for your bathroom like RV toilet chemicals and dissolvable toilet paper to prevent odor and buildup.
- Protect Your Recreational Vehicle and Yourself While Traveling
Achieve peace-of-mind during your epic road trip by ensuring you, your family and your vehicle are protected as you conquer rough roads and peruse remote wilderness. No one sets out on a vacation anticipating danger and inconvenience, but because life happens when you least expect it, it’s important to be prepared. The following forms of protection will have you covered no matter what you get into.
- RV insurance: Contact your car insurance provider to have a plan added to your policy that covers recreational vehicles.
- Roadside assistance: Your insurance plan may include an RV roadside plan, but if not, plenty of membership services exist to assist you when you run out of gas or blow a tire on the side of the highway.
- Travel insurance: Even on a domestic trip, travel insurance exists to cover medical emergencies, canceled reservations or delays.
- Be Flexible
Occasionally, things go wrong. That's just how it happens sometimes. However, when you're traveling, plans going south only amplifies your stress levels. If you're adaptable and able to maintain a sense of humor, then you're probably also a creative problem solver who can survive just about anything. If you're the rigid type, an RV lifestyle may not be for you.
Whether you’re planning to loop around the Great Lakes, take a scenic trip to Yellowstone National Park or cruise iconic Route 66 all the way from Illinois to California, these basics will help you get where you’re going with minimal interruptions. Take advantage of the many online resources, apps and tools to make your trip planning as simple as possible.