Taking a trip in your RV can be an incredible adventure. However, ensuring that you have the best time and create the most phenomenal memories includes exceptional planning and preparation; and some of this must be done far in advance. Your personal list will depend on whether you are taking a vacation, an extended vacation or traveling on the road with an unknown return time.
Keeping the Homefront Secure
We decided to begin with this topic due to the extensive amount of planning that accompanies it when you take an extended time away. Many people forget about this subject until the last minute and then begin scrambling at the end. No matter how long of a trip, always make sure that your close relatives and friends are aware as well as any neighbors that may look out for your property or apartment. Make sure that they have your contact information. For longer trips away you can either arrange for neighbors/friends to pick up your mail or have the Post Office hold your mail until you return. If your trip will involve an unknown return time, you will have to decide on where you will have your mail forwarded to or set up a Postal box and have a relative or friend mail it to you. Your property may have a security system and most of these are now controlled via a mobile app.
Check to make sure that all of your home and RV insurance information is paid and up-to-date. You will also need to double check to make sure all other bills are paid and possibly arrange pre-payment for some of your utilities. Many of us don’t pay attention to the expiration dates on our credit cards until they send us our new ones. Since you will be away, take a quick look at your cards to see if any are coming up for renewal. The last thing that you want is to be on the road with an expired credit card and the new one sitting at the Post Office.
Begin Preparing 6 Months Ahead of Time
This may sound like a terribly long time to prepare, but it’s very important to start well ahead of time. Many of the parks and campgrounds require reservations, with a 6-month window to begin. They are often first come first serve, and you don’t want to wait until the last minute only to find that you must rearrange all of your plans.
If you have a larger RV and have selected the location(s) that you want to travel to, confirm that the campground or park will have access for your motorhome size. Many of the websites give detailed information for size limitations, but a phone call to them will let you know what kind of access roads are available. If your RV is heavier and the weather is bad, dirt roads turn to mud and you could get stuck.
Pricing for some of the parks/campgrounds is also based on season and some are open at only particular times of the year. To ensure that you stick with your budget and arrive and enjoy when you want to, review the information available online for any campgrounds or parks where you will be staying. Some campgrounds charge more for weekends but have significantly reduced rates for stays during the week. This information can help you when you are making your plans.
Get a Folder/Binder and Create a Check List
Being organized is one of the keys to success in RV traveling. Get one of those binder/folders that wrap with an elastic band for all of the important travel info. Label each section so that you will have easy access for prepaid receipts, entertainment park tickets, gas receipts, emergency contact information, insurance info, etc. You can even put smaller envelopes within the binder section to keep the little receipts from turning into chaos.
Using the information that you will be reading in this guide, create a complete check list for everything that needs to be done along with timelines so that nothing is left to the last minute. As time goes by, you will think of additional things and you will be adding to this check list.
Really Plan Your Trip
Some people make a decision to go somewhere in the RV but then they let the ball drop when it comes to the details of the trip. This is crucial information, especially if you are planning stops along the way for sightseeing, entertainment, or anything else that you want to enjoy. Today’s GPS systems makes getting from point-A to point-B fairly easy, but you will also want to sit down and map out the trip. If you will be traveling in metropolitan areas, keep in mind that there are heavy traffic times. You don’t want to miss an opportunity because you were stuck in gridlock.
If you are more of a free-spirited traveler, jumping onto the open road and camping under the stars, you will still want to have some definition of where you will be going and how long it will take you. This is more of a budgetary priority and will help to keep your finances in line.
It’s a good idea for all RV travelers to estimate what your costs are going to be. This should include gas, road tolls, campground or park site and additional hookup fees, food, and even additional road stop entertainment or sightseeing.
One of the most important parts of planning your trip will be to review the types of roads that you will be traveling on. This is incredibly important for steep declines or inclines, low bridges and even narrow or difficult to navigate roads. The second most important segment will be to locate RV-friendly gas/fueling stations. For those with larger RVs, you need to remember that not all gas stations are capable of handling the height of your vehicle. If you are traveling on the main highways and freeways, you can always plan to get gas at the truck stops.
If you have the option of unhitching a towable or are in a smaller motorhome and want to take advantage of treating yourself to dining out, make use of some of today’s mobile apps such as OpenTable that can give you a list of local restaurants based on your location, types of foods, average waiting time if you walk in and for some of the locations, you can even set a reservation.
We depend on our technologies for everything and you should have Wi-Fi set up so that you can access your GPS. However, be prepared if you hit places that don’t have service. If you will be traveling on a lot of back roads that may not be net capable, print out your driving directions. This may be a good idea for your overall trip, as it can save you time and money to avoid getting lost or taking a wrong turn.
Make Sure Your RV/Motorhome/Towable is In Top Shape
This may sound like a no-brainer, but in the excitement of getting ready to go on the road, some leave this part of the plan to the last minute. It’s suggested that you make an appointment with your maintenance mechanic a minimum of one month before your trip begins. Two months ahead of time will allow sufficient timing for the ordering of any special parts that may be needed for your vehicle.
There is a list of what you/your family should be responsible for and this should be done at least 4 weeks prior to departure:
- Check to make sure the air conditioning system is working properly
- the hitch attachments and lights are functioning well
- all filters should be clean, emergency equipment is working
- all tires are in good shape, aligned and have the proper air pressure
- rear camera monitors are functioning and in good condition
- remote mirrors are working
- all fire extinguishers are up to date
- smoke and gas detectors are updated
- you have full and functioning propane tanks
- any/all of the appliances are working
- oil levels are good, batteries are functioning
- windshield wipers are working and entry stairs work well
- for those with pop-outs, check to make sure that there are no leaks or problems.
Going to Entertainment Parks?
The popularity of RVing has become so hot that many of the entertainment parks around the nation specialize in RV and motorhome travelers. This is especially true of some of the locations such as Disney, where they have an RV World Park just for you. Check out the various places that you will be going for rates, reservations, limitations in size, special offers, etc. Make your reservations well ahead of time and look for off-season discounts. Many of the RV clubs offer reduced membership pricing as well as such organizations as AAA and AARP.
This same rule-of-thumb should be used with some of the other fun places that you plan on visiting. Check out every detail that you can so that you know pricing, availability and any restrictions.
The goal for your road trip is to have fun, enjoy and create some of the best memories that you can have. Reducing stress and anxiety will give you these opportunities and with a little planning, you can have the best trip of a lifetime.