If your spring has been anything like ours, you’ve spent it feverishly planning a whole heap of exciting summer travels. Be it a quick weekend trip to some refreshing central Florida springs or an epic, two-month circuit of the National Parks system, there’s really no denying it: summertime is the right time for taking an RV road trip.
But if you want to make the most of your time, there are a few tips and tricks that can really help ensure everything runs smoothly. Nobody wants to get caught short without the right tools or the pre-existing plan that would have made for a fun, easy vacation day.
So we compiled some simple road trip tips that are super-easy to follow, and might mean the difference between an annoyance and an amazing day.
Here are five of our favorite road trip ideas to help you save time and experience less stress during your upcoming RV travels.
1. Have a plan — at least to some extent.
We’re not saying you should never take the opportunity to be spontaneous. After all, taking that unplanned left turn or deciding to stay an extra night is part of the appeal of RV living. Your itinerary, route, and timeframe are all entirely in your hands!
But if you set out on the open road without any kind of schedule or idea of where you’re headed, you may find yourself stressing out as the sun begins to set. Plus, there’s no worse feeling than discovering later on that you drove right by an awesome destination or event, but simply hadn’t researched enough to know about it ahead of time.
Don’t go Type-A crazy, but do have some idea of what you want to do and where you’re headed. You’ll thank yourself when you’re reminiscing on that incredible weekend music festival later — or simply when you have a place to pull off and set up camp in time for supper.
2. Take your time.
Yes, the freedom of the open road is intoxicating. And yes, your RV can take you just about anywhere you want to go.
But that doesn’t mean you should try to see everything right this second, as tempting as it might be to do so. If you spend all of your time in motion, camping in each location for only a night or so, you’re bound to be exhausted and disappointed by your trip.
A better approach is to pick a few destinations you’re really interested in and spend at least two full days exploring each one. It’s also helpful to try to limit your driving time between each stop — a 400 mile road trip is exhausting in a car, let alone a bulky recreational vehicle. There will be other trips on which you can go see that far-off attraction, so don’t wear yourself out trying to cross the whole country in one go!
3. Need a quick nap? Try Walmart or a casino.
If you simply must reach a destination that’s further than one day’s drive away, but you don’t see a spot along the way where you’re aching to set up camp, consider taking a quick overnight in a Walmart or casino parking lot. Many expressly allow RVs to camp in their lots for a single night or even two, although it’s worth checking with management if you’re in any doubt.
While it certainly won’t be glamorous, you’ll avoid campground fees — and if it’s a Walmart, you can use the opportunity to stock up on groceries and other goods. Then, come morning, you can simply crank up your rig and get going, without any camp tear-down necessary.
4. Use the right navigation system.
In the era of smartphones, everyone’s got a GPS in their pocket.
But Google Maps and other popular mobile apps don’t necessarily take an RV’s particularities into consideration. No matter the speed limit, you likely aren’t driving 85 miles per hour, and steep grades or low-hanging branches have entirely different levels of importance for you.
So it’s a good idea to consider an RV-specific navigation app, such as CoPilot, or even investing in an entire freestanding RV navigation system like a Garmin. Sure, it’s an investment upfront… but not getting caught on a road where you can’t make clearance may definitely be worth some money.
5. Consider bringing your bike along.
Whether or not you have a towed or towing vehicle, a bicycle allows for a whole new level of flexibility and freedom in your travels. It can help you circumvent crowded city parking or even let you explore a narrow road before you commit to traveling down it with your bulky rig. (Trust us, this is a big deal: You don’t want to get stuck far from the main highway, outside of the range of most towing companies!)
Plus, if you don’t have an “escape pod,” “toad,” or auxiliary vehicle, bicycling will keep you from having to pick up camp every time you want to go somewhere that falls outside of walking distance. It’s also a great way to get in some exercise while you’re on the road.
RV bike racks are fairly affordable and some are quite easy to install, but if you don’t want to go through the upfront expense — or if you don’t have your own bike to take along — you can also consider renting a bike at your destination.
This is just a bit of what we’ve learned in our travels, but we want to hear from you, too!
What tips and tricks have you learned in your RV adventures? Let us know in the comments! We’re always learning more about the best ways to make RVing as easy-breezy as possible.