Traveling in an RV can be a remarkable experience. But, unlike getting a room for rent in a hotel or AirBnB, it requires a little more planning. With RV travel, you’ll need to plan for several details from preparing meals to making sleeping arrangements and planning your destination and navigation. The responsibility of creating an enjoyable trip rests squarely on your shoulders.
If you want an RV trip that is memorable for all the right reasons, you need to avoid some common mistakes. Here are some suggestions to make your next trip a success.
Choosing the Wrong RV
Any veteran RV traveler will quickly tell you to take your time when picking the RV. They know that selecting the wrong one can ruin an otherwise perfect trip. Unless you want to suffer this fate, be sure to choose an RV carefully.
One of your most significant considerations when choosing an RV should be the vehicle size. Obviously you need to consider how many people will be accompanying you in the RV, but if you are purchasing one, ask yourself how many people will be traveling with me REGULARLY. This is a lesson we learned the hard way. We got a much too large RV that limited our ability to camp in National Parks thinking our young adult sons would be joining us on our adventures. It happened so rarely, we could have saved money by purchasing a small RV and just renting a cabin on those occasions.
We created an 8-page guide on RV purchasing tips that discusses the different types of RVs and their pros and cons. This guide is helpful whether you are looking to buy or even rent an RV.
You’ll also want to consider specific amenities that vary by RVs. For instance, do you need a full-sized refrigerator and television in your vehicle, or are you satisfied with any vehicle that has sleeping space for your crew? Thinking about how you will use your RV will make it easier for you to make your final selection.
Before you settle on a specific vehicle, it helps to conduct thorough research of your options. Visit your local RV shop, or attend several RV shows to get some insight into the kind of RV that will best suit your needs. Join online RV forums to expand your knowledge of these vehicles. Consider renting an RV or two to get a feel of what’s best for you.
Failing to Secure Reservations
So you might be asking yourself how spontaneous can your RV travels be? Can you just hop in your RV and go wherever the mood takes you? Maybe, but be aware that more people are traveling by RV now than ever. This means that you will be competing for space in campgrounds and even boondocking spots.
We have a simple 3-step process for finding the best campgrounds. It includes considering the time of year you want to visit. If it’s high season you may need reservations, if it’s off season you may not. If you’re thinking of a state park in Florida, any time of year is high season.
While you can’t make reservations for boondocking sites, you can get a feel for availability by reading review on sites like Campendium. It’s also a good idea to have 2-3 sites pre-selected in case there is no room (or you just don’t get a good vibe) at your first choice.
Overlooking RV Navigation Limitations
When planning an RV road trip, you will save yourself a lot of unnecessary stress by planning an appropriate route. RVs are bigger and heavier than standard vehicles. Due to this, you may need to take alternate routes to get to your preferred destination.
For instance, your RV may be too high to fit under low bridges. You may also need guidance to pass through narrow tunnels, or your vehicle may be too big to pass through such tunnels. Rather than find out about such limitations when you meet them, it is better to plan your route ahead of time. That way, you can pick a path that will not pose a problem when traveling with your RV. An RV GPS can really help with navigating you away from hazards. They even work offline so you can still navigate without service.
And remember, even when using a GPS or map app, things happen. Roads are closed or detours are enacted. Make sure you have a general idea of the area in which you are traveling. Better yet, always have a backup plan like a good, old-fashioned paper atlas, of how you will find your bearings if you get lost. This could save you a lot of anguish and worry during your trip.
Traveling Too Far, Too Fast
If there is one thing that can ruin an RV trip, it is spending too many hours behind the steering wheel trying to reach your preferred destination. You and your family will likely get tired and cranky.
All in all, you are unlikely to enjoy your trip if you are haggard and distressed. To avoid this, pick a reasonably close destination. That way, you will spend more time enjoying your destination than worrying about driving.
If you are traveling far from home, consider taking a longer amount of time to get there and breaking up your trip with a destination along the way. So many times we have our eyes on the bucket list destinations like Yellowstone or Yosemite, and fail to appreciate all the other fabulous locales around this beautiful country. Some of our favorite places have been this hidden gems.
Over or Under Packing
If you’re not a full-time RVer, then packing for an RV trip can be understandably tricky. You may be tempted to bring too much along for the ride since you have so much room. Alternatively, you may decide under-pack in a bid to travel light. Both over and under packing can ruin your trip.
If you bring too much stuff along for the ride, you will likely surpass your vehicle’s weight limit. This makes driving a bit more challenging, and you may struggle to find balance or brake in good time. This is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
Under-packing, on the other hand, poses the risk of suffering discomfort or having to spend more money during your trip. Failure to bring appropriate clothing for changing weather will take the joy out of any trip. Forgetting the camping chairs may make your time by the campfire less comfortable.
When packing for your RV vacation, the rule of thumb is to pack the essentials and leave everything else. Be sure to write a list of the things you intend to carry and cross them off as you pack them. Better yet, use our free fillable packing worksheets to create your list. That way, you will not forget a critical item only to remember it when you are hundreds of miles away from home.
Failure to Follow Campground Etiquette
One of the worst mistakes you can make as an RV traveler is failing to follow camping etiquette. It makes you a bad neighbor, and you make other people uncomfortable.
Much of campground etiquette is common courtesy. Avoid blaring out loud music at night during your stay at an RV campground, even if there is no designated quiet hours, and your neighbors will appreciate you for it. Don’t leave food lying around to avoid attracting wild animals to the site. Failure to pick up after yourself and your dog is the most common complaint we hear from other campers. Another one is failing to control your dogs or leaving them chained up outside without supervision. By doing these simple things, you will have made life easier for yourself and those around you.
Traveling in an RV can be fun, but only if you plan appropriately for it. Fortunately, this doesn’t demand a lot of effort on your part. Start by choosing the right vehicle for the trip. Please do thorough research before you settle on a vehicle to ensure that it’s the right option for you.
Start by picking a good destination and planning a route before setting out. Pack the essentials and leave everything else at home. During your stay at the camping site, try your best to be a good neighbor. If you do all this, you are bound to enjoy your RV trip tremendously.
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