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RV Trips - The Ultimate Guide
RVs are ideal for a range of different road trips — as you travel across the country (or even just a small section of the country), you can enjoy a personalized, targeted, and comfortable overnight experience, all while in the midst of the outdoors. Further, the portability of RVs provides users full access to places where an overnight stay would otherwise be too expensive or too complicated.
Suppose that you and your friends are interested in going on a trip to a large outdoor music festival, like Burning Man. If you embark on a road trip to Burning Man, you’ll find that there are few overnight options near the festival. You will likely have to camp out with a tent and some sleeping bags, and have to share public restroom and shower facilities with other festival goers. If you set off on your road trip in an RV, however, you can retreat from an exhausting day at the festival to climate-controlled, well-furnished living quarters — and depending on the model of the vehicle, you may have access to private toilet, kitchen, and shower facilities.
With an RV, you don’t have to worry about a poor-quality hotel room or suffer from lack of privacy at a hostel, and because you’re not altering your living quarters as you shift from location-to-location, the experience of traveling in an RV feels much more grounded and consistent. Plus there are so many great tools out there to make your trip as seamless as possible. Give the RV Life app a try to find a safe route to your destination, or Campground Reviews to find trusted reviews that will help you make the best choice for your stay.
Ready to go on an RV road trip? Let’s take a look at your options!
The Top 10 Best RV Road Trips
When planning a road trip, you don’t necessarily have to prepare a detailed route, nor do you have to follow it to the tee. If time (and budget!) allow, it can certainly be interesting to get sidetracked. Of course, you’ll likely want to have a rough idea of the road trip route before heading out on your journey. (Check out our guide for RV trip planning.)
The following are ten of the most popular road trip circuits among RVers in the USA.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is an immensely popular driving route that snakes through nearly 500 miles of mountainous Appalachia. The route features extensive RV support infrastructure as well, making it a great choice for new RVers. During summer months the route can get heavily trafficked in certain areas, but the impressive scenery is more than worth the trouble.
Big Sur Coastal Highway
The Big Sur Coastal Highway is a true gem for those looking to experience expansive ocean vistas. The route travels along the central coast of California, making it a great choice if you are interested in making a trip between tourist-friendly urban centers in Northern and Southern California.
Columbia River Highway
The Columbia River Highway makes for an excellent RV road trip in the Pacific Northwest region. The route begins near Portland, Oregon, and continues alongside the renowned Columbia River Gorge. Throughout the trip, you’ll find plenty of RV campgrounds and scenic points of interest, from dense forests to rocky waterfalls.
Route 66 is the penultimate cross-country road trip route, stretching all the way from Illinois to Southern California. In a way, Route 66 has become larger-than-life. It has featured heavily in popular Folk Americana fiction for over 60 years: movies, novels, and music. If you’re interested in tackling Route 66 in an RV, make sure to plan ahead somewhat — it’s a long trip!
Historic New England
An RV trip around New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, etc.) is a diverse experience that includes both natural wonders and historic sites. New England has a lot to offer RVers looking for something different. If you have extra time, consider driving north to Quebec so as to loop in Montreal and Quebec City, each of which features a spectacular culinary scene and distinctive old world architecture.
Yellowstone National Park and the Rockies
Yellowstone National Park in Montana is one of the world’s premier RVing destinations and is worth a trip on its own. When making your way to Yellowstone, however, try to plan a scenic route that passes through other interesting points of interest in the Rocky Mountain region (i.e., Rocky Mountain National Park and Grand Teton National Park).
The Great Lakes Region
Using Chicago as a base, consider a trip where you loop around the American side of the Great Lakes through the Upper Michigan peninsula. If you plan a Great Lakes road trip in an RV, do bring along some watersports equipment, such as surfboards or paddleboards — there are plenty of beaches in the region where you can make use of the equipment (some beaches in the Great Lakes region actually have great surf). Once you arrive at your destination, you may even want to consider renting a boat!
The American Southwest is an incredibly scenic landscape worth exploring in an RV. Though the region contains famous parks like the Grand Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, don’t forget to explore thriving urban centers of the Southwest, such as Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is renowned for its pueblo-style Native American architecture and vibrant creative arts scene.
The Southeastern Coast of the USA is in many ways the Southern analog of a New England RV trip — though perhaps not as popular among RVers as classic road trips to Yellowstone and along the Big Sur Highway, the diverse landscapes and cities of the Southeast certainly make it a memorable trip. For your route, hug the coast from Virginia down through the Carolinas (stopping at Virginia and Myrtle Beaches), then stop in Savannah to explore a city steeped in Southern history and culture.
New Orleans and the Gulf Coast
New Orleans has experienced a stunning revival over the latter half of the past decade. Though it is not commonly seen as an RV destination, a route through the Gulf Coast region makes for an excellent RV road trip. The Gulf Coast itself — and its beach tourism infrastructure — has seen a substantial and sustained tourism drop-off in recent years due to media coverage of oil spills, so it’s a good choice for RVers on a strict budget.
If you're looking for spectacularly scenic views on your drive, you'll want to peruse these 17 road trips we've put together.
Unique & Out of the Box RV Road Trip Ideas
Not all RV road trips have to be focused on camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. More than ever before, RVers are making use of their vehicles to go on nontraditional road trips. Consider the following out-of-the-box road trip ideas:
Plan a trip to different historical battlefields across the country.
Plan a trip to a multi-day festival.
Plan an “urban exploration” RV trip - just park in a campground outside the city and commute in! (Check out our guides on urban camping in each state when planning this trip.)
Plan a culinary road trip. Make a list of the best restaurants across the country (or in certain regions of the country), and travel to each restaurant on the list.
The RVing community has become increasingly diverse in terms of its interests. The next time you’re at an RV campground or convention, ask around and see what unique trips others have taken!
RV Vacations For The Whole Family
In popular culture, RVs have frequently been associated with family trips, and for good reason. An RV trip is a great way to bring the whole family together for a memorable trip while enjoying a living space that is reminiscent of the comforts of home. As you plan your next family RV trip, consider the following vacation ideas:
Plan a trip to an amusement park, water park, or zoo.
Plan a trip to the beach and rent out watersports equipment.
Plan a trip to a national park in a region of the country that your family is relatively unfamiliar with.
If your children have a particular interest they’re very passionate about, plan a trip to a convention relating to that interest.
RV Vacation Packages
RV vacation packages are combined RV rental and campground stay packages that may save you a bit of money over the course of a long trip. It can be difficult to find a package that suits your particular preferences, however. Some RV rental companies and dealerships will offer vacation packages at network campgrounds, and if you’re a member of an RV association, then vacation packages may be offered at various times throughout the year — keep your eyes peeled!
These Are The Best RV Road Trip Tips
As you prepare for your next RV road trip, try to keep the following tips in mind:
Make sure to stock up on first aid and medical supplies, as well as any prescription medicines you may need over the course of the trip. You don’t want to run out of such supplies in a location where you do not have the ability to replenish your missing stores.
Bring some entertainment along for the ride. There will likely be some downtime when you and your passengers are bored and too tired to engage in physical activities. Pack some board games, playing cards, favorite CDs, and DVDs for entertainment in those “lazy” periods when you may not have good wifi.
Consider storing some refrigerated and frozen food in the RV to save money. It can be quite expensive to eat out at restaurants every single day of your trip. Cooking and storing food beforehand can help make your next trip much more affordable.
Consider purchasing disposable dishware for the trip. There’ll be times when you may have to boondock your RV, or where you simply don’t have access to a clean water hookup, and you still need to be able to cook and serve food. Bring along some disposable dishwater to serve as a backup in such circumstances.
Top Rated RV Trips Planner
One of the most popular and highest-rated RV Trip Planning software for enthusiast RVers is the RV Trip Wizard, available as an annual subscription. Though this initial cost might put off some RVers, it’s worth keeping in mind that the software can save you quite a bit of money in the long run.
RV Trip Wizard is a one-stop app for planning your next RV trip. It is overlaid on the Google Maps API, making it top class for trip routing generally, but is also customized to filter out routes where certain barriers and low clearances would otherwise prevent passage. The interface is also designed for ease-of-use. You can simply drag points of interest on the map to reroute your trip or select a campground/park for your itinerary.
As you plan your trip on the RV Trip Wizard, the software will calculate your trip costs based on fuel estimates, campground stay expenses, and food and other expenses (such as the cost of a visitor pass to a park). Further, the Trip Wizard lets you input multiple RV Club memberships so that you can compare discounts at various campgrounds and make the selection that suits your budget best.
The RV Trip Wizard has multiple access points — it can be used in your browser, or can be downloaded onto either your iOS or Android-based smartphone.
Looking For a Rental For Your RV Road Trip
If you’re looking to rent an RV for your next road trip, consider a peer-to-peer rental marketplace like RVshare instead of a traditional rental dealership. At RVshare, we directly connect RV owners with potential renters on our online platform and app. Renters can use the platform to explore owner listings, filter according to their preferences, and compare.
Thousands of owners post new RV rental listings every day, so as a renter, you’re almost certain to find an RV configuration that suits your needs. Further, because owners are forced to compete on the open marketplace, the rental rates tend to be much lower than the rates offered at a traditional rental dealership.