What You Need To Know If You're Planning Your First RV Trip

A road trip is the perfect way to travel, especially if you feel like going on a getaway vacation. You just grab some food and water, fill up the tank, and hop in the car. Considering how cheap gas is these days, there is nothing stopping you from cranking up the music and hitting the open road. Be an intrepid wanderer and discover the country in an RV. Planning can be a lot of fun, considering how many sources you have – planning websites, apps, and other campers. It can also get overwhelming. That's why – for your first trip – consider the basics.

Go in the spring or summer

Spring and summer trips are a lot more flexible than winter ones – when you can pretty much only travel in southern part of the country – because you have many options. Aim for a period between May and October as a lot of tourist attractions and campgrounds may be closed the rest of the year. Peak times are usually in July and early August. Keep that in mind if you want to avoid crowds and if you have to reserve an RV in advance.  

Know if electricity and water are available

Are you going glamping or do you prefer a primitive camping experience? There is a huge difference and you will not be pleasantly surprised if you ended up at the wrong campsite. Many campgrounds don't offer water and/or electricity. Make sure you know what you're getting in order to plan accordingly. If you don't want to miss the amenities of a nice vacation, consider glamping, which is a new word for a new kind of camping – "glamorous camping."  

Gas or diesel

You are going to hear arguments supporting both. The answer may depend on how long you'll be on the road. Diesel is about 20 percent more expensive, but diesel engines are rated as more efficient than gas. They typically deliver 25 to 30 percent better fuel economy. If you're considering buying a Recreational Vehicle, the cost of some gasoline powered motorhomes nowadays is about the same as many of the entry level diesel motorhomes available on the market due to technology advancements, according to RV Tip Wizard.

Point-to-point planning

Traveling with an RV is not that different than going on a road trip. But you can't just start the car and hit the road. You need to know your final destination so you can plan the best wat to get there, because you'll probably need to stop along the way for gas or food, to get some rest, or to spend the night at a campground near a beach. Some may require a permit, which you'll need to get in advance. And most importantly, you'll want to take a scenic route so you can get to know "America the Beautiful."

Know where the tolls are

You can calculate tolls for RVs or cars with trailers, which can be very helpful when you're going over your vacation budget. You can also check the website of the Department of Transportation of each state you'll be passing thought. Also, with a little more time to research alternative routes, you can avoid toll roads in most places.

How long is the trip going to be?

RV trips shouldn't really be a day or two. Take your time to relax and soak in the gorgeous scenery Mother Nature has to offer along the way. Also, once you know how long you'll be away for, you can plan how far you'll drive each day, giving you enough time to see roadside attractions. Leave some room for fun stops so you can at least stretch your legs.

Where can you save money?

If money is an issue, you may want to compromise some comforts. For example, stock up on canned and dried foods when you see them on sale; use an antenna to pick up a TV signal instead of paying for internet coverage; check at a local visitors center for free activities and places to explore; lighten your load to save on gas by packing just the essentials.

Always have a paper map

This may be so 1985, but it can save your life. You can't access Google Maps to see where you have to go if your phone is dead or has no service. You don't want to take a chance because you may end up making the wrong turn and encountering a bear. You can also use the printed road maps as a heat source if you stuff them under your jacket or blanket.

Don’t make changes along the road

This is similar to hiking. It's a good idea to always tell someone where you're going before getting in the RV. Anything can happen. Someone should have a detailed copy of your itinerary. They should know how to reach you, and where to find you in case they don't answer the phone for hours. If you've watched the movie 127 Hours with James Franco, then you get the picture.

Know basic survival skills

Your RV died, you're stranded in the woods, your phone is dead, your GPS is not working and your compass is broken. There is much to do – find shelter to stay dry, start a fire to keep warm, and hide food so bears won't come. But you don't have time for all of that because the sun is setting and soon you won't be able to see anything. How can you be safe? Be aware of methods and tricks you can apply to stay out of danger in a dire situation.

Some mobile apps can be helpful

RV trip planning apps can be a useful tool to have on hand before and during a trip. They can lead you to an interesting sightseeing destination you may have missed before. Many apps now show fuel prices, prioritize camping club stops that are most important to you, look for campsites based on your preferences, and feature other useful links to overnight parking locations, RV park reviews, hospitals, bike trails, and even golf courses. Some apps even have a low clearance alert system.

Power usage

You don't want to run a TV, a charging laptop, a coffee machine, a cooker, and an air conditioner all at the same time – unless you think power outages are thrilling. This is a motorhome, not your house or apartment. All appliances are not meant to be turned on at the same time. It may be a good idea to mark them with the number of amps they draw.

RV insurance

Whether in a car or in an RV, the longer you are on the road the higher the chance of an incident occurring. Don't chance it. Also, you may be legally required to carry insurance; however, laws can vary based on what type of vehicle you own. Motor homes are required to have liability insurance. You may be able to add the RV to your regular auto insurance – some companies don't offer such coverage – or opt out for a comprehensive RV insurance designed specifically for your vehicle.