Successful RV trip planning involves more than printing some Google maps or breaking out your dog-eared US road atlas.
These six Do’s and Don’ts for planning your next RV adventure will help you minimize worry and maximize fun.
DO: Verify road-worthiness
An RV is a home on wheels that shakes, rattles, and rolls whenever you’re on the move. Inevitably things come loose, and if you don’t perform regular inspections of your rig when it’s parked, critical components could fail in the field.
Before you head out, allow yourself enough time to inspect your RVs most important systems.
Curtis Carper outlined his quick and practical pre-trip checklist here.
You’ll want to:
- Test your brakes
- Verify exterior running, signal and brake lights are operational
- Visually inspect tires (check for wear and tear and proper inflation)
- Confirm refrigerator, stove and water pump are all working
- Run heating and cooling systems
- Ensure batteries and generator are operational (you might want to check the voltage on your house batteries too)
The Family Motor Coach Association “Motorhome Checklist” has more ideas for what to check and inspect before you travel by RV.
DON’T: Pass up roadside assistance plans
Even the most well-maintained RV will need some type of help on the side of the road at some point – if only because you locked your keys in the camper!
Many roadside assistance plans exist for cars but only a few will cover the unique needs of an RV.
Those that do, such as Good Sam and CoachNet, offer varying levels of coverage that you may or may not need. For example:
- If you’re handy with RV repairs, skip the bells and whistles policies that cover things like appliance breakdowns and enroll in a basic plan.
- If you enjoy traveling off the beaten path to remote backcountry locations, make sure your provider will tow your RV out of these situations (some will not tow if a rig is parked off pavement).
- If you drive an oversized RV, such as a fifth wheel towed by a heavy duty commercial truck, ensure that adequate towing capabilities will be provided and if so, at what additional cost to you, if any.
The article “Choosing an RV Roadside Assistance Plan” is also another valuable resource.
DO: Carry Paper Maps
How many news stories have you heard about a traveler who causes an accident because they had their eyes locked to their GPS unit?
Electronic road trip planning devices have a purpose and there are some great GPS units just for RVers. But like all electrical devices there’s always a chance of failure when you least expect it.
Brush up on your map reading skills and verify the route your GPS directs you to take.
DON’T: Try to plan every detail
The availability of online RV trip planning tools can make a getaway fun – or boring and predicable.
While it’s nice to know all of your options for parking, eating and exploring, these itinerary planners make it far too easy to rely on other peoples’ opinions.
Maybe the reviewer doesn’t like the same things you do?
In the end, your point of view is the only one that matters. Use online trip planning tools to get an idea of what’s possible but don’t rely on them to design your entire itinerary.
Leave time open for exploring off-the-beaten-path places that you might find more exciting than the next traveler. If you’re driving along and see something that looks interesting, stop and check it out even if it’s lacking an online description.
There’s a good chance that if you find it interesting enough to put on the brakes, you’ll like what you see when you stop.
DO: Embrace unexpected detours
When your RV wheels hit the highway, you’re breaking ties with routines that make your life ordinary.
If you enjoy RVing (or think you might) chances are good that you’re yearning for more adventure in your life.
So when unforeseen events interfere with reaching your destination, that temporary detour could be the Universe’s way of telling you that “it’s all about the journey, not the destination.”
Never forget that whatever situation you’re faced with isn’t nearly as bad as you think it.
If you’re still worried ask yourself, “will this matter a year from now – or 10 years from now?”
When the chips are down, moping and crying isn’t going to make the situation any better. It will only make everyone feel worse.
Try to maintain a good sense of humor and relax. What could be better than being stuck somewhere with all the comforts of home by your side?
DON’T: Look for that perfect campsite
When making a campsite reservation, repeat this mantra: “The perfect campsite does not exist!”
The location, scenery and amenities of an RV campsite isn’t a make or break factor in your camping trip.
While it’s important to look for the features you need, such as the right parking apron size, proximity to hookups and whether you want a shaded or unshaded camp, the heart of your adventure lies in what happens beyond the walls of your RV.
Why waste precious time trying to find the “best” campsite? Most RVers travel in order to explore the great outdoors – and there’s a lot more of it beyond your parking space. Even the most well-planned of RV trips will throw surprises your way.
The more you travel, the more you’re likely to encounter a few glitches along the way.
Hopefully these tips will give you a little reassurance in the event the unexpected happens. But even if you hit a road bump, remember your campfire tales will be more interesting because of it!