Guide to Planning an RV Trip on One Tank of Gas

Published on July 26th, 2022

Believe it or not, you can do a lot of traveling on one tank of gas. It might seem like a challenge, but you would be amazed at what you can discover if you prepare and plan your next trip accordingly. In this article, I want to give you my guide on how to plan a one-tank trip without breaking the bank!

Young woman leans against the front of her Class C RV

Pick a Theme

Before planning a one-tank trip, it’s important to narrow down what you would like to do. Are you in the mood to go out in nature, do you want to explore a new town or city, or maybe a little bit of both? Picking a theme for your trip will help you narrow down your options and make it easy to find a trip close to you.

You can find what you are looking for on Google maps by typing “(Your theme, i.e camping spots) near me” in the search bar and see what pops up. You can also zoom in on Google maps to see a more detailed map and what else is going on in the area. You might find a cool town or something interesting and add it to your trip list! 

Plenty of Nature to Explore!

One reason the United States is a unique place to travel is our abundance of protected land. Every State has protected land you can explore. The United States has over 6,600 state parks that cover over 14 million acres of land. No matter what part of the country you are in, you can plan a perfect one-tank trip by discovering our unique and abundant protected land. What makes discovering our parks so wonderful, is no two parks are the same, you can spend a lifetime discovering all the beautiful land our country has to offer. 

Food prep at an RV kitchen

Prep Food Ahead of Time

The best way to save on a one-tank trip is to bring your meals with you to avoid deviating from your route. Plan it out and make sure to pack what you love to eat. For me, when I’m doing a one-tank trip, I like to make my food the night before. It’s also good to have plenty of snacks on board!

One meal I love making is Chicken Salad Sandwiches from scratch. It’s simply made with chicken (you can substitute this with chickpeas for a delicious vegetarian version), avocado mayo, diced onions, celery, cilantro, herbs (I love adding thyme to this meal), and lemon juice. Mix it all together and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, I’ll make my sandwich with whatever bread or bagels I have, and add lettuce, tomato, and cracked pepper! Pair with some fresh seasonal fruit, chips, and ice-cold water. I usually pack several sandwiches that I can eat throughout the day.

Watch, maps, and tablet with google map to plan trip

Don’t forget to pack this!

Now that you have your trip mapped out, it’s important to do a checklist and make sure your rig is ready to hit the open road! I always make a checklist so I don’t have to buy something I forgot while traveling (saves time, money, and gas!).

Before you pack, do a quick maintenance check. Make sure your tires are fully inflated, and everything is clean and good to go. (Check out my RV maintenance checklist here.)

Extra Water: Investing in a couple of extra 1-gallon water jugs can be handy, especially on a hot day. You can even find places on your one-tank trip to refill your water jugs just in case you need more.

Phone Battery Chargers: Make sure you have an extra phone charger or two with you just in case. It’s not fun forgetting to pack it and running out of battery juice! Believe me, I’ve been there.

Snacks: One can never have too many snacks! Make a list of your favorite snacks and make sure to bring plenty with you. While driving, I like to have my lunch box full of my favorite handheld snacks close by. 

Class C RV parked in the desert

From City to Nature: My Favorite One-Tank Trip Memory!

One of my favorite one-tank trips was from Santa Fe, New Mexico to the Valles Caldera National Preserve, a total of 50 miles.

During the first part of my trip, I took the day to explore the beautiful artistic city of Santa Fe. In Santa Fe, I knew I’d want to find a place to grab a coffee, explore galleries within walking distance, and find a safe spot to park my RV.

Searching on Google maps, I discovered a worldly coffee shop called: “The Travel Bug Book Store, a Coffee Shop and Taproom.” This unique coffee shop was full of travel books and delicious coffee. It was also within walking distance to the famous Canyon Road Arts District, home to so many unique art galleries and craft shops. With plenty of safe street parking around the district.

Inside of a book store/coffee shop

After my exploration of the city, I made my way up to the Valles Caldera National Preserve. My heart was set on this spot, and it checked all my boxes of what I wanted to do in nature. It was only 50 miles from the city of Santa Fe, and after reading reviews on the Free Roam app, I discovered a breathtaking Boondocking spot in the preserve. It was an area tucked away in the forest, with gorgeous mountain views and perfect cell phone service. 

This was just one of many one-tank trip areas that checked all my boxes. There are so many places to discover all across the country and you don’t have to go very far to discover them. I hope this article gives you the inspiration to create the perfect one-tank trip for yourself!

Till next time,
Vanna Mae 

About the author: Vanna Mae is a visual artist and influencer, traveling around the country in her 19ft Class C RV with her cat Indigo. Keep up with their adventures on Instagram @artistontheroam and on YouTube.

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