Planning an RV trip can be a fun and exciting process, but it also requires some careful thought and preparation. One of the things we hear from many families just getting started is the trip-planning process feels daunting. So we wanted to give you not only some trip planning tips but PREMADE trip itineraries for families! We’ve been traveling the USA in our RV for 5 years now and have learned a thing or two along the way. Plus we’ve found some pretty amazing hidden gems.
How To Plan Your RV Trip
Determine your destination: The first step in planning your RV trip is to decide where you want to go. Consider factors like the weather, activities you want to do, and the time of year you want to travel. If you want to travel to the south, remember summertime will be hot and potentially humid depending on the region of the south.
If you want to visit places like Glacier National Park, the most popular route through the National Park can be closed due to snow as late as mid-May. So take into account the weather for the region you want to visit.
Research Campgrounds & RV Parks
Once you have a general idea of where you want to go, research campgrounds and RV parks in the area. One of our favorite tools for researching campgrounds is Arvie. You can also use tools like RV Parky, RV Trip Wizard, or Google. Look for amenities like hookups, showers, and laundry facilities. If you have a longer-length RV, make sure the sites can accommodate big rigs. Another thing to look for when traveling with children is to check whether or not the campground has kid-friendly activities like a playground or swimming pool. If you are traveling with pets, make sure to check the campground pet policy and amenities like a pet walking area or fenced-in dog park.
Plan Your Route
Based on your destination and campground reservations, plan your route (or use one of our pre-planned routes below). Be sure to take into account any road restrictions for RVs, such as low bridges or narrow roads. Also take into account how long you have for your trip, how many miles per day you feel comfortable driving, and if you want to be off the road by dark. Many RVers observe the 3-3-3 rule. Drive no more than 300 miles per day, arrive at the destination no later than 3 pm, and stay for at least 3 days.
Make Campground Reservations
Make reservations for campgrounds and RV parks well in advance. Many popular campgrounds fill up quickly during peak travel seasons. This is where using a booking service like Arvie can come in handy to pick up a cancelation for hard-to-book places (popular travel destinations). Some campgrounds will have the option to book online and others will need to make a phone call to make a reservation. Make sure to check the cancelation policies when booking so you know what your options are should plans change or in the event of trip interruption.
Prepare your RV
Before you hit the road, be sure to check your RV for any needed repairs or maintenance. Check tire pressures and fluids if you have a drivable RV. The best bet is to have your RV inspected by a repair facility if it’s drivable or a trailer shop if your RV is towable. Axles, wheel bearings, and brakes should be inspected and maintained regularly. We also HIGHLY recommend ensuring you have a Tire Pressure Monitoring System on your RV (and tow vehicle if applicable).
Be sure all your appliances and systems are in good working order. Test and clean the hot water heater (replace the anode rod if you have one) furnace, heat pumps, stove, microwave, fridge, etc. It’s amazing how taking a few moments to do some of these things before your trip can reduce stress while out on the road.
Pack RV Trip Essentials
Make a list of essential items you’ll need on your RV trip, such as food, clothing, and personal items. I actually keep duplicates of all toiletry items, dishes, and towels in our RV. This makes the packing process a little easier and faster. Be sure to pack enough bedding, pillows, and towels. Consider bringing items like a portable grill (the Blackstone is our favorite) or comfortable camping chairs.
- Make your outdoor adventures a delicious affair with Blackstone 22″ tabletop griddle. This portable griddle has everything you need to whip up a smorgasbord of eggs, crunchy hash browns, crispy bacon and fluffy pancakes all at the same time.
- Portable convenience: Whether you are cooking in your backyard or out in nature, make sure to take this lightweight, versatile flat top griddle with you. Thanks to the compact size, you can carry it for barbecue get-together, tailgating, fishing, pool parties, and more.
- Cook for one, cook for all: 339 Sq. Inch cooking surface and 24,000 BTUs of heat mean all your cooking challenges will be met quickly. The large space of our outdoor griddle is perfect for cooking eggs, hash browns, bacon, French toast and other things yum!
Have A Backup Plan
Have a backup plan in case of emergencies or unexpected changes in your itinerary. Contact information for emergency services and the nearest RV repair shop could come in handy. One thing we really like is this magnet from our friends over at Today Is Someday. You want to have this in a handy place. It’s important to have the address of the campground and your site # should you need to call emergency services for help.
Have Fun & Be Safe On Your RV Trip
Once you hit the road, be sure to take your time and enjoy the journey! Be aware of safety guidelines and keep an eye out for potential hazards on the road. We now use a dash cam for an extra layer of protection in case of an accident. The camera automatically saves video when it detects an incident. With built-in GPS to stamp recorded video with location details, you’ll have proof of when and where events occurred.
We also use the free Garmin Smart Link app on our phone that connects to our Garmin RV GPS via Bluetooth and gives you live services available from Garmin, including live traffic (where it will detect if there is a slow down ahead and offer alternative reroute options), weather forecast, parking info and information of any hazards ahead.
- Large 8″ RV navigator with high-resolution touch display and options for portrait and landscape mode.Control Method:Touch,Application,Voice.Special Feature:Custom Routing; Driver Alerts; RV Parks and Services Info; Easy Trip Planning.
- Custom routing considers the size and weight of your RV then finds the best route (not available in all areas)
- Provides road warnings to keep you aware of steep grades, sharp curves, weight limits and more
5 RV Trip Itineraries
We’ve taken the guesswork out of trip planning! In the itineraries below you might find some stops where we suggest “lot docking” for a night at a place that allows overnight parking. This is to break up a trip from point A to point B to avoid driving fatigue. This is where we also use and recommend a Harvest Host membership for 1 night or overnight stops.
Note: Click the links below to view our trip routes in RV Parky including campground recommendations, RV length details, fun things to do, and more. You can either print the itinerary or export it. If you create a free account with RVParky.com before clicking on the itinerary links below, you can copy our itineraries directly into your account.
RV Trip To The Pacific Northwest
This PNW itinerary takes you through the beautiful Pacific Northwest and the Oregon Coast. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to explore vibrant cities like Seattle and Portland. And explore both Olympic & Mt. Rainier National Parks! Enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and fishing.
Please note that for all of the itineraries we have put together, we look for the LOW-cost campgrounds. There are other campgrounds in these areas available including a Thousand Trails Campground in Chehalis, WA.
Places to explore include:
- Cannon Beach in Seaside, OR. This is a great place to explore the tide pools! Check times to visit during low tide to see all the wonderful sea life!
- Tour the Tillamook Creamery in Tillamook, OR
- The Goonies House in Astoria
- Olympic National Park
- Mt. Rainer National Park
- Take a Whale Watching Tour in the San Juans!
RV Trip To The Grand Canyon
This itinerary takes you through the American Southwest, with a focus on the Grand Canyon. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to visit other national parks like Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Arches. As well as historic sites like Monument Valley. It’s very easy to add on a trip to see Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell with this itinerary as well.
RV Trip New England (including NYC & Washington DC)
This itinerary takes you through the picturesque New England region, with stops in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Boston, and Acadia National Park. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to explore charming coastal towns, enjoy lobster dinners, and take in the autumn foliage (if you visit in the fall). This is one of our favorite routes to explore US History and take in the Smithsonian Museums in DC. We have a ton of tips for visiting the NYC and DC areas in this video playlist.
RV Trip To California
This itinerary takes you through the Golden State, covering 4 National Parks including Yosemite and Death Valley. Explore Big Sur and Monterey plus enjoy fresh produce including amazing strawberries! Climb the dunes at Pismo and catch some waves on the beach. End your trip with a visit to the fantastic glass beach in Fort Bragg, CA where nature has turned a trash dump into something beautiful.
RV Trip Florida
This itinerary takes you through the Sunshine State, with stops in Miami, the Florida Keys, and Disney World. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the beaches, swimming with dolphins, and theme parks. Make sure to take a walking tour through Little Havana in Miami, take in a Marlins game, and try some authentic Cuban food. Book a snorkeling tour at Biscayne National park while you are here (since Biscayne is mostly underwater).
While in the keys, take a snorkel trip, visit Key West, and check out Dry Tortuga National park. You can find more tips for making the most of a visit to the Florida Keys or the Clearwater Marine Aquarium where Winter the dolphin lived out her last days with her specially made prosthetic tail.