16 RV Travel Tips from a Seasoned RVer
Mel and I have been traveling in our 5th wheel trailer for the past four years, covering nearly 30,000 miles (so far!) all the way from Washington to Florida and everywhere in between. We’ve loved every minute. Both of us have camped and RV'd over the years, both separately and together. Although we are not full timers, we have made a commitment and investment to travel the country and enjoy the lifestyle to the utmost.
Here are a few of my personal discoveries both about RVing and myself that I’ve learned over the past few years:
1. Containers Are a Lifesaver
RV cabinets can be cavernous and items can shift while moving. Inexpensive plastic bins or baskets placed in them labeled with items they contain save time and frustration.
2. Get a Routine
Get a routine for breaking camp, and don’t get distracted! We split the duties – I do the inside and Mel does the outside. I start in the bedroom area at the front of the rig, move to the bathroom, then to the galley and living area. If I’m moving slowly, Mel will occasionally help with these tasks….which throws off my little routine completely.
3. Research Campgrounds
Be careful what you choose when it comes to campgrounds. There’s nothing worse than pulling into a park after a long day’s drive, only to find it is just not what you expected. Occasionally, we’ve wound up in parks where I just wasn’t comfortable stepping outside the rig. Rather than rely on company’s campground rating systems, I find I get much more reliable information by checking out Google and websites which offer guest reviews and of course word of mouth recommendations from fellow campers and friends.
4. Know How Tall You Are
When driving, sometimes it’s easy to forget just how large your motorhome or trailer really is. Particularly how tall it is when you’re in gas stations, drive-ins, etc. with low overhangs. Enough said – we have a couple of war wounds!
5. Remember Your Awnings
Remember to put in the awning before you pull out of a campsite. Enough said again.
6. Double Check Everything
And just so # 5 doesn’t happen, after we’re all packed and hooked up, Mel always walks around the trailer and tow vehicle, looking up and down, just to double check everything is in its proper place.
7. Check Everything AGAIN
Walk around one more time. We left our power adapter plugged in at a campsite in Indio, California. Luckily for us, the campground found it and mailed it to us. Yes, there are such nice people in the RV world.
8. Don't Dismiss Laundromats
One of my requirements before buying this RV was that I wanted a washer and dryer, as I despised laundromats. I didn’t get them. And it’s OK….depending on the campground, some are quite nice and you do get to meet people there.
9. Use Ceramic Tiles Under Your Tabletop Barbecue Grill
We like to barbecue and have a small portable tabletop grill. More and more campgrounds seem to be replacing their wooden picnic tables with new plastic topped ones, and ask that barbecues not be placed on them. Rather than buy an expensive barbecue stand, we purchased two large ceramic floor tiles from a home improvement store. We set our barbecue on them – and they take up virtually no room in the trailer.
10. Replace the Mattress That Came with Your RV
RV mattresses are often not the best quality (-- ours wasn’t!) Consider replacing the one which comes with your rig for a better night’s sleep.
11. Consider a MiFi Antenna
We were aware that wifi connections at campgrounds are scarce and not reliable. They aren’t as bad as I was led to believe, but at peak times (early evening and mornings) when multiple guests are online, they can be very slow. We purchased our own Mifi antenna – well worth the investment.
12. Try New Things to Help Your Pet Adjust
We lost our dog Harley earlier this year, and have just started traveling with a new boxer puppy. Harley was a great traveler, but he did get a bit anxious when we start packing up the rig to leave camp. We found that if we let him wait in the truck rather than the trailer, he would realize he gets to go with us.
13. Consider Traveling with a Crate for Your Pet
The new puppy is learning. Her crate is her safe place, and it’s traveling with us.
14. Try to Plan Ahead and Make Reservations
I like to know that we have a place lined up to stay each night, so I do make campground reservations – depending on the time of year and often only a few days ahead. Some parks make it easy by allowing you to book online – others still require that you call them. Hopefully, this is evolving.
15. Less Is More
Stuff. It’s really not all it’s cracked up to be. I tend to overpack. I’m learning that I don’t need eight pairs of shoes on an RV trip – I really only wear two. If I don’t have the appropriate clothes or items for an event on the road, I can usually put something together. And there’s an excuse – after all, we’re camping!
16. Pack Your Sense of Humor
Most important of all (and I’m so fortunate here!) – any type of traveling can be stressful and RVing is no exception. If you have a travel partner, you are both going to be confined to a small space much of the time. There’s a lot of togetherness. You need to get along in all kinds of situations, so work out a division of responsibilities that you can each live with; respect each other’s abilities; take your own time/space if you need it and above all keep your sense of humor.
Enjoy the ride – it’s a beautiful journey!