When you travel with an RV, the places you can go are ‘technically’ limitless. That’s one of the best aspects of having your own home on wheels.
But with so many options, it’s easy to succumb to ‘paralysis by analysis.’ Not only are there simply too many places to visit and things to do, but there’s also too much information out there vying for your attention. Blogs, vlogs, travel apps, online groups, and books; it can be confusing and frustrating to know where to start!
So we are writing this post to show you our top 7 resources we use to plan our road trips. This includes deciding:
- Places to visit
- What to eat
- Where to sleep
What To See
Even though it’s the 21st century and we have all this technology around us, we still love thumbing through a good old fashioned guide book! We’ve been using Lonely Planet guidebooks since our Europe backpacking days and continue to use their books as we travel throughout the US.
Though it’s a tad thick, we travel with Lonely Planet’s USA guidebook. We love how each geographical section of the US has its own chapter, making it easy to discover places to visit in your region of interest.
Lonely Planet Tip: In the beginning of the book, you can find great recommended itineraries. Whether you’re looking for a short 1-2 week trip or something that encompasses the entire USA, you can find great inspiration from these itineraries.
If you’re looking for more, Lonely Planet’s USA road trip guide is also an incredible resource for information and inspiration.
Google Search + Blogs
Once we have a basic itinerary set, we usually search for blog articles to give us more detailed information on what to see and do at each specific location.
For example, if we’re planning to visit a city like Chicago, we might do a Google search for “the best things to do in Chicago”. And within 15-20 minutes of researching, we’ll have created a solid list of things to do and sights to see in the Windy City.
The same is true if we’re planning to visit a National Park or Forest. We’ll do a quick Google search for “what to do in Yosemite National park,” for example. And within minutes, we’ll have an idea for which hikes we want to do, which campsites we want to stay at, and which scenic viewpoints we want to visit.
Thinking of a Mexico Roadtrip? We drove our RV for over a year throughout Mexico and we detailed some great itineraries and travel info in our Mexico road trip guide.
Where To Eat
Though we love to cook in our own camper, we’re always on the lookout for good local eats.
When in Maine, you’ve got to get the steamed lobster with a side of melted butter.
Chicago? That would be the deep dish pizza.
And Texas? That’s easy, BBQ!
It might come as a surprise to some, but we like to use the Google Maps app to locate the best local restaurants. Yes, Google Maps does so much more than simply help you navigate from point A to B.
For example, if you happen to be in Austin, TX and you do a simple search in Google Maps for “BBQ in Austin Texas,” you’re instantly flooded with dozens of top-rated BBQ restaurants in the city.
From the search results, you can read customer reviews, view food pictures, and even see the street view to see if the restaurant’s parking is big enough to fit your rig.
I don’t know about you, but the BBQ burger at Austin’s Slab BBQ & Beer looks delicious!
Where We Do Our Grocery Shopping
But we use Google Maps for more than just eating out. We love shopping at farmer’s markets all across the US and use Google Maps to locate the closest farmer’s market to us and to know which days they operate.
For example, a quick Google Maps search for “Farmers market in Portland Maine” tells us that the primary market is just beside Deering Oaks Pond and operates every Saturday and Wednesday.
As you can see, Google Maps is an incredibly powerful online information tool that provides so much more than just navigation services.
Where To Sleep
Being able to locate places to sleep (whether it’s a beautiful campsite or just a highway rest stop) is an important part of RV life. And the bigger your rig, the more critical it becomes to research possible camping spots in advance.
Below are the 4 main apps that we use to plan in advance where we want to sleep.
This is a fantastic app for viewing and reserving campsites within the US National Park and Forest network. It’s incredibly easy to select a national park (or forest) you want to visit, pick your dates, choose your campground, and pay online.
Top Tip: Be sure to pick up your ‘America The Beautiful’ park pass. For $80 you get unlimited access to any of America’s national parks and forests for 12 months.
We love the iOverlander app because it is a fantastic resource for boondocking and finding other free camping locations. And because the information is user generated, you can easily verify if a certain location allows overnight parking. This usually includes finding out if a certain Walmart Supercenter, highway truck stop, or rest area is open for overnight camping.
Good Sam App
To find high-quality, reputable campgrounds, we use the Good Sam App. Through the app, we first locate a campground at our destination, then call ahead to make a reservation.
- Bonus: For $29/year, you can purchase a ‘Good Sam’ membership, which gives you a 10% discount at all RV parks affiliated with the program.
Check out our other post if you’re interested to learn how to camp for free with your RV.
Conclusion: Planning An RV Road Trip Takes Practice!
If you are new to RV life, learning how to effectively and efficiently plan your road trip itinerary takes time and practice. You may not prefer to use some of the resources we recommend above and instead might choose to use other resources, like Facebook Groups and YouTube videos, to help you plan ahead.
But after a while, you’ll find out what works for you and what doesn’t. And soon you’ll be planning your future road trips and destinations with ease.
How To Contact Us
For more campervan living & building tips, check out our blog: www.asobolife.com.We also love getting mail! For any questions or comments, please send us an email at [email protected]. Or for more on our current Pan-American road trip to Argentina visit us on Instagram: @asobolife.