Guide to planning an RV road trip

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

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  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

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  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Are you looking for a unique and exciting way to explore the great outdoors? Consider planning an RV road trip! RV road trips offer flexibility, convenience and an opportunity to experience nature in a way that's not possible with traditional vacations.

However, planning for RV travel can be daunting, especially if you're a first-time RVer. In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential steps to planning the best RV road trip.

Choosing an RV

Before you hit the road, you need to choose an RV or camper that fits your needs and budget. There are three types of RVs: motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth-wheel trailers.

  • Motorhomes are vehicles that can be driven like cars and come in three classes: A, B and C. Class A are the biggest and most spacious, Class B are smaller with fewer amenities but more maneuverable and Class C are somewhere in between and usually have an overhang that rests over the cabin.

  • Travel trailers and fifth-wheel trailers are towed by a truck or SUV, so you will need to pay attention to the towing capacity of your vehicle.

Each type of RV has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to consider your needs and preferences when choosing an RV.

Factors to consider when choosing an RV include the number of people traveling with you (just you? the whole family?), the length of your trip, where you will be driving and staying (campsites, boondocking, off major roads), your budget and your driving experience.

Renting an RV can be a good option if you're not ready to commit to buying an RV. However, if you plan to take multiple trips or RVing across the USA, buying an RV may be more cost-effective in the long run.

Planning your route

Once you've chosen an RV, it's time to plan your route. The destination is the most critical aspect of your trip, and it should be chosen based on your interests and preferences. National parks and state parks, national monuments, historic sites, beaches and scenic routes are popular destinations for RV camping trips.

Determine the length of your trip and map out the route to ensure you have enough time to see the sights without feeling rushed. RV life is embracing the journey, not traveling at a punishing pace. Don’t plan an epic journey from Acadia National Park to the Grand Canyon if you only have a week. Rather you’re considering seeing the wineries of California or exploring the waterfalls along the Blue Ridge Parkway, there’s no end to the trip ideas to add to your RV bucket list.

When planning your RV route, consider:

  • Road conditions as some roads may be difficult to navigate with an RV

  • RV hookups, RV resorts or RV campgrounds that have parking options for your rig

  • Weather conditions that can affect your travel plans.

It's also a good idea to have a backup plan in case of unexpected closures or delays.

Budgeting for the trip

Budgeting is an important aspect of trip planning. The cost of an RV vacation can vary widely depending on factors such as the type of RV, the length of the trip and the destination. Some of the expenses to consider when budgeting for an RV trip include:

  • RV rental or purchase costs

  • Fuel expenses (Try our fuel cost calculator)

  • Campground fees

  • Food and supplies

  • Park fees and other entertainment costs

To save money on your RV trip, consider cooking your meals instead of eating out and shopping for groceries and supplies at stores along your route. Many RV parks and campgrounds offer amenities such as swimming pools and game rooms that can provide entertainment without breaking the bank. Sticking to a budget can help you avoid overspending and ensure that you have enough money for unexpected expenses.

Preparing and packing the RV

Before hitting the road, it's important to prepare your RV for the trip. This includes:

  • Maintenance and repairs

  • Cleaning and stocking

  • Checking tires and fluids

  • Testing appliances and systems.

A well-maintained RV can help prevent breakdowns and ensure a safe and comfortable trip.

Packing for an RV trip requires careful planning and organization. You'll need to bring essential items such as bedding, towels and toiletries, as well as kitchen supplies such as cookware, utensils and dishes. It's also important to pack clothing and personal items based on the weather and activities you plan to do.

Outdoor equipment such as chairs, tables and grills can enhance your RV experience and make your trip more comfortable. However, it's important to pack only what you need and avoid overloading your RV, so double check its capacity. Overloading your RV can affect its stability and make it difficult to drive.

Insurance for RVs

Another critical aspect of planning an RV road trip is insurance. RV insurance is essential to protect yourself and your RV in case of accidents or other unexpected incidents.

There are several types of RV insurance, similar to the options you’ll see with your car, including liability, collision and comprehensive insurance. When choosing RV insurance, consider factors such as the type of RV, your driving record, and the amount of coverage you need. It's also important to shop around and compare quotes from different insurance providers to find the best coverage at the best price.

On the road

Once you've hit the road, there are several tips and strategies to help you make the most of your RV road trip. Driving an RV can be challenging, especially in unfamiliar areas, so it's important to take your time and drive safely.

Staying organized and efficient can help you avoid clutter and make the most of the limited space in your RV.

Finding campgrounds and RV parks along your route is essential, and it's a good idea to make reservations in advance to ensure availability. There a number of resources for finding places to stay in different locations and for different budgets.

Finally, be prepared to deal with unexpected situations such as breakdowns or inclement weather.

RV road trips offer a unique and exciting way to explore the great outdoors. Planning an RV road trip requires careful planning, budgeting and preparation, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

By choosing the right RV, planning your route, budgeting for the trip, packing wisely, preparing your RV, and securing insurance, you can set yourself up for a successful and enjoyable road trip. Once on the road, staying organized, finding campgrounds and RV parks, and being prepared for unexpected situations can help you make the most of your trip and create memories that will last a lifetime. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your RV road trip today and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime!