You seem excited. It must be because you just decided your next trip will be in an RV!
You’ve taken the first step, but now what do you do? You don’t even have an RV or campervan—where can you get one and how can you plan the RV road trip of a lifetime? How do you pack for an RV road trip? Who’s going to drive this thing?
When thoughts like these start to spin out of control, take a deep breath and read on…
Select an RV
The first thing to tackle is your mode of transportation. Do you have a truck or SUV that’s capable of pulling a trailer? Or would you prefer an all-in-one RV—something you can drive and camp in? Decide how you want to travel, then head to Outdoorsy to find the perfect ready-to-rent adventure vehicle.
Fill in the city where you would like to pick up the rental, then establish the dates you’d like to be traveling and hit Search. The page will populate with a variety of RVs, but on the top left of the page, you’ll see you now have more specific ways to filter your search.
You can choose from driveable or towable rigs. If you choose driveable, select the class of RV you’ve decided would make your trip perfect: Class A (drivable RV the size of a bus), Class B (drivable RV the size of a van), or Class C (drivable RV with a cab over the roof). You can also choose from other driveable types like truck campers if that’s how you want to roll.
If you select towables (like a pop-up camper, fifth wheel or toy hauler) you can sometimes rent a tow vehicle directly from the owner if you don’t have one yourself.
You can also select “More” to search by price, kitchen, entertainment options, amenities or by rating. Will the dog be coming with you? There’s a filter for “pet-friendly” under “More” Narrow down your choices, then peruse the various vehicles available to you.
Our RV owners are a friendly bunch – take advantage of the opportunity to message the owners and ask specific questions before you rent.
Once your camping vehicle is rented and departure day arrives, you’ll meet with the owners and go over how the systems work. You can even practice driving the RV! The storage space in your RV rental can be pretty small, so plan accordingly when packing clothing and food.
This is another reason to reach out to your owner in advance – they can tell you more about the storage options in your camper so you can pack accordingly.
If you know where you are heading on this getaway, you’ve won half the battle! We also put together this post that breaks down the best RV trip-planning apps.
Your next step is to plan stopping points along your route. These may be rest points or gas station stops, overnight camping areas or boondocking spots, or visits with friends along the way. An app like the RV Life Trip Wizard was made by RVers and for RVers so you can plan RV-friendly stops all along the way.
Be sure to write these stops down, because some RVs don’t have navigation systems and you might also wind up in areas of low service where smartphone navigation won’t work.
Next, look at your route from “satellite view” on the map and zoom in. Remember, on this trip you will either be (1) driving a truck while towing a trailer or (2) driving an RV. Many gas stations are not built with larger vehicles in mind, so be sure to take a look at the gas stations you can stop at along your journey.
Is there enough space to pull forward and turn without taking a gas pump with you? If you are hauling a trailer into a parking lot, is there enough space to turn around? (Note that with some vehicles, backing up is not an option.)
Also keep in mind that you may not want to drive daily as far as you would in a car, so plan accordingly.
A GPS app like Togo RV-friendly GPS is designed with RVers in mind to help you find routes that’ll avoid low clearances, help you find spacious gas stations, and discover more RV-friendly stuff along the way.
Use an app like AllStays If you plan to “parking lot surf” or “boondock” at places like Walmart or Cabela’s along your journey. Many of these stores (but not all) are open to overnight RV parking and AllStays will help you figure that out because it features user comments about each stop.
We also love Harvest Hosts – a network of thousands of wineries, breweries, golf courses, and more that offer free overnight camping with an affordable Harvest Hosts membership.
And when it comes to having fun along the way, check out the Roadtrippers app for some of the most unique road trip itineraries on the planet.
What to pack?
Most vehicles rented through Outdoorsy come loaded with the day-to-day needs for RVers, like dishes, pots and pans, towels and sheets. Be sure to touch base with your RV owner to get an understanding of what they’ll provide versus what you’ll need to bring.
And if you want to put this trip over the top, plan on adding a few fun items like lawn chairs, a tabletop grill, Bluetooth speaker, or a hammock. Some owners will include these sorts of things or offer them as add-ons to your rental.
Do you plan on sitting around a campfire every night? Pack some marshmallow/hot dog skewers and matches (pick up firewood at your nearest location, as most states will not allow you to transport wood).
If you love reading books whenever the opportunity lends itself, pack your favorite legal thriller, sci-fi classic, or love story. Better yet, pack your Kindle or iPad so you have thousands of books to choose from. Then pull out that hammock for an afternoon of escape at the campsite!
Speaking of the Kindle, don’t forget charging cords for your electronics. With electric hook-ups, you can get some work done on a laptop, charge your phone and use it as a hotspot, or charge that drone so you can document your campsite from the air! If, however, this is to be a “technology-free” trip, you’ll have a few less cords to pack.
Groceries should be planned in advance of your trip. Make a few meals that can be pulled out of the freezer at the campsite, so you won’t have to spend a good deal of time with food prep. If you will be camping with an electric hook-up, consider bringing a crockpot or InstaPot to cook during your daylight activities, so dinner will be ready when you get back to the campsite.
Dutch Oven cooking is an old-fashioned campfire cooking tradition that can be a fun and tasty experience for the kiddos.
Don’t forget coffee, sandwich ingredients, and a few condiments, if needed. And definitely pack marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars—after all, no one wants to miss out on S’mores!
Clothing and toiletries
Clothing can be rolled to save space and alleviate the need for ironing, but don’t forget the vacation essentials like bathing suits, beach towels, jackets, and shoes—depending upon the season and location.
You’ll also want to prepare a small toiletry kit, as well as an emergency first aid kit for bug bites, cuts, and scrapes. And don’t forget to pack any prescriptions or medications that might be necessary.
Enjoy your RV road trip
Now all there is left to do is to enjoy a well-earned getaway, and experience the RV lifestyle for yourself.