Are you dreaming of the wide-open road? Do you like having the freedom, flexibility, and control of planning each day of your vacation? An RV trip is a once in a lifetime experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
With over two decades of experience, we help clients plan their perfect RV vacation across eight states and 29 National Parks and Monuments. An RV vacation is the perfect family adventure that is not only fun, but also educational. You can dig for dinosaur bones one day, go rafting the next day, and hike through canyons on another.
Just like any new experience, there are a few things you should know before you start the engine on your RV. Since we’ve spent over 25 years traveling the American West by RV, we’re here to give you some tips from an insider.
1. Definitely Do: Leave Some Unplanned Time to Explore
With a limited amount of vacation time, it’s easy to want to pack a lot of things into a week or two. You probably have an itinerary that tells you where you’re staying each night and what you’re doing each day. Having an itinerary is good, but don’t plan every second of your day.
Leaving time to stop at an interesting roadside attractions or restaurants that catch your attention is a great way to create unique memories. You never know what you can find on your vacation! The World’s Largest Ball of Stamps, anyone?
Talk with the locals. They often know where the best food is served, secret off-the-beaten-path hiking trails or swimming holes, and much more.
Things that you don’t have control over, like the weather or traffic, can change with a drop of the hat. An RV vacation requires some flexibility and unplanned time. You never know, it could lead to incredible experiences and memories you didn’t even expect!
2. Do: Embrace Unexpected Detours
Getting lost on a road trip is inevitable, even with modern technology. It can also be extremely stressful, especially if you’re the one driving. Try not to stress. Think of it as an adventure.
Traffic is detoured often because of accidents and constructions. Just go with the flow. You know what they say, “it’s all about the journey, not the destination.” It’s the Universe’s way of telling you to stop and smell the roses. Enjoy the scenery and use the time to review your itinerary or consider some more adventures. Who knows, you could discover the best pancakes in the West.
3. Definitely Do: Choose the Right RV Comfort and Style
Your RV choice can make or break your vacation experience. Many people like to think bigger is better, but that’s not always the case with RVs. Do you really want to back that 55-foot luxury RV into a campsite in the middle of the night?
You need an RV that is the right size for your group. One with enough beds, elbow room, and the storage space for your luggage. RVs come in many different sizes. Class C motorhomes are one of the most popular RV rentals because they drive like a full-size SUV or truck. Many sleep between two to five people.
Class A motorhomes are much larger, usually sleeping up to eight people. These rigs feel a bit like home, have much more space, but take a little bit of time to get used to driving. Class A RVs are great if you plan to camp off-the-beaten-path as the holding tanks can hold a lot of water and the auxiliary battery bank to run lights, water pump, and more. If you’re not sure what RV rental is best for you, our Trip Consultants can help you choose.
4. Do: Remember to Buy Roadside Assistance Programs
Even the newest and most well-maintained RVs can break down on the side of the road. Or perhaps with the excitement of the vacation, you accidently ran out of fuel or locked your keys inside. You’re not the first.
You may already have roadside assistance through your car insurance or credit card, but most plans won’t cover an RV. Some liability coverage is included with your RV rental, but it doesn’t cover everything.
Several companies, like Good Sam and CoachNet, offer RV roadside assistance programs that will help you when you really need it. Plans vary so make sure it has the services that you need, like towing, minor repairs, and fuel if you run out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Even if you don’t end of using it, it’s a peace of mind during your trip.
5. Definitely Do: Try New Things
Renting an RV and driving the open roads of America is thrilling. It’s the perfect time to try something new, like hiking, whitewater rafting, or even skydiving. Utah is one of our favorite places. With five National Parks, there is something for everyone from hiking to rafting to historic sites. Hop on a horse and tour the majestic beauty of Bryce Canyon. Or go stargazing in the Canyonlands.
But you don’t have to jump out of an airplane to be adventurous on your RV vacation. You can discover new cultures and places through your stomach. Try the local cuisines or even different styles like Mexican or Tex-Mex. Cooking in an RV is always an adventure. Try grilling!
6. Do: Bring Your GPS and Paper Maps
GPS devices and mobile phone mapping apps are a great way to navigate the roads in your RV, but sometimes they fail. Make sure your GPS device is up-to-date before you embark on your vacation. Bring old school paper maps in case you lose GPS signal or cellular reception. Plus, it’s a great way to teach your kids about how to read a map!
Heading to some of America’s best National Parks on your RV vacation? Make sure you download one of the National Parks apps on your mobile device. Many can even be used offline making it a great resource to help plan your vacation.
7. Definitely Do: Get Outside!
An RV vacation is all about getting outside and enjoying the diverse beauty of North America. RVs are really cabins on wheels and should be used for sleeping and resting in the evenings. With so many National Parks in the United States, there is so much to explore, like our Yellowstone and Grand Teton Tour. Spot wildlife in Yellowstone, soak in the hot springs, and wake up to the incredible beauty of the Grand Tetons.
But, sometimes the weather doesn’t always work in your favor so don’t be afraid to spend some time in your RV or indoors in museums, art galleries, and restaurants. Bring cards or games to keep the kids busy while you relax with a good book and glass of wine.
8. Do: Familiarize Yourself with Your RV Before Driving It Off the Lot
Before leaving the rental lot with your new RV, make sure you familiarize yourself with the rig. Check its road-worthiness first. Test the brakes, make sure all the lights are working, and confirm that the refrigerator, stove, and water pump are functioning. Not sure how to turn the stove on? Just ask!
When staying at a campground you’ll want to hook your RV up to water, electricity, and sewer. Make sure you know where the connections are on the RV and how to connect them to their plugs at your campsite. For more remote camping, make sure you can properly “boondock.” This may sound silly, but make sure you know where the gas tank is located on your RV so you can fill it up.
Are You Ready for the RV Vacation of a Lifetime?
An RV vacation is a once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the open road. RV vacations provide the freedom and flexibility of exploring America at your own pace. After 25 years, it’s our favorite way to explore the National Parks. We’re experts on how to travel the American West in an RV and we love helping others plan the perfect family adventure.
Get in touch today to start planning the trip of your dreams! If you’re not quite ready to commit, sign up to our free email course to learn everything you need to know about planning the perfect RV adventure.