September 23, 2020 | 9 min read
The lure of the open road, the willingness to venture into the unknown — such concepts have been burned into the American psyche for several generations. In the modern era, nowhere is this more present than in the road trip. Whether you’re a fan of Thelma & Louise, Easy Rider, or Little Miss Sunshine, chances are that you’ve been exposed to the idealized road trip archetype at least once or twice.
For some, road trips are good excuses for family vacations or for an extended journey from point A to point B. For others, road trips are about the journey, rather than the destination. In the case of latter, you may find that your desire to be on the move is one that you wish becomes permanent. If this is the case, then it is likely that you’re in the market for a recreational vehicle, or RV.
Just in case you’re not in the know, a recreational vehicle is an umbrella term for a motorized vehicle or trailer that offers living quarters therein. Specifically, RV variants include trailers, motorhomes, and campervans, amongst others. While RVs may, of course, be used for long-term or permanent use, we’ve put together the following resource guide with temporary users in mind as well.
How can I find an RV Park?
1. Go Camping America (gocampingamerica.com
Go Camping America is a great way to find an RV park or campground anywhere in the United States and Canada, including Alaska and Hawaii. As it is operated by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, or ARVC, this website ties into their representation of all commercial parts across the United States.
With such a broad scope, ARVC created Go Camping America’s search engine with an eye towards connecting RVers and campers with the destination that perfectly suits their needs. In practice, you have the option to search by park name, by general search terms, by detail filtration, or by map view, if you’re keen on a specific region. Such filters include amenities, payment type, services, lifestyle parameters, club affiliations, and recreation options.
Go Camping America is by no means just a way to find an RV park, as it also offers tips and tricks for those eager to get their exploration underway. These include destination suggestions, fun culinary ideas, game concepts, and other sources of inspiration.
2. RV Park Reviews (rvparkreviews.com
RV Park Reviews is a comprehensive aggregator of RV park options from around Canada, Mexico, and the United States, including Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Alaska. With rankings based on user-submitted reviews, RV Park Reviews is essentially ensuring that users are assisting one another in planning their trips. This is in opposition to other park databases that proffer only facts provided by the parks themselves.
This website’s search function is also very transparent and easy-to-use. By providing a map of your chosen country, you must simply select the state you’re interested in and go from there. If, for example, you select Nevada, the map will zoom closer and show the locations of every park in their database. From there, the site is yours to explore, with the highest-listed options being the highest-rated and most-reviewed parks.
Outside of perusing park reviews, users may also take advantage of the site’s dedicated forums. As a hub for anything to do with RV life, threads run the gamut from questions regarding trip planning to RV maintenance or general discussion topics.
3. RVontheGo (rvonthego.com
Rather than be of general purpose for the RV community as a whole, RVontheGo is a booking resource for campgrounds and RV Resorts that count themselves a part of the Encore RV resorts and Thousand Trails RV campgrounds networks. As such, while their listed options are indeed lesser than their broader competitors, it is almost made up for by its breadth of service options.
Primarily, in terms of finding a campground or RV Resort, RVontheGO users have the option to search by a number of criteria, including state, region, camping type, and amenity. In the case of the latter, amenities may consist of, wifi, river access, pet allowance, a central clubhouse, or nearby hiking trails.
Beyond the search, RVontheGO also offers assistance in arranging group reservations, cabin rentals, and other potential special offers. Moreover, this site also offers a fair amount of interaction with its users by of the CampUSA Mobile App, a dedicated blog, and multi-lingual support.
How can I meet up with fellow RVers?
RVillage, which is owned and operated by RV Friend Network, is best summed up by its tagline — Travel. Park. Connect. If you’re feeling an itch to be social whilst on the road, RVillage is right up your alley. Through its functionality, RVillage aims to bring the RV community closer together and to facilitate meet-ups and connections across the country.
As an application for Androids and Apple products, RVillage takes advantage of the technology to its benefit. Through the map, GPS compatibility allows you to see if there’s anyone in your vicinity, going along the same route, or at your final destination. Essentially, no matter where you are, you can always travel, park, and connect with others.
If you’re dubious about being a part of yet another social network, we do understand. Luckily, so does RVillage. Not only is the application free to use, however, but the map function may be demoed on their website. Thusly, this should help you to see whether joining the app’s community of 95,000+ members is the right choice for you.
2. RV Happy Hour
As opposed to being a modern application, RV Happy Hour is a bit more old school in that it is a forum. Complete with groups, threads, and a photo gallery, RV Happy Hour is a great place to ask questions, make announcements, or simply engage in a light bit of digital interaction with folks who share a common interest.
In addition to the forums, RV Happy Hour offers a blog in which members can post travel pieces, how-to videos, and technical tips. Furthermore, the site links out to Amazon’s ‘RV Parts & Accessories’ store page. All in all, while RV Happy Hour is a great place to commune with fellow on-the-go RVers on a digital level, it does not appear to be efficient in facilitating such in the real world on a widespread basis.
3. Social Media
While it’s not our desire to promote the use of big-name social media offerings, connection in the RV community is a situation that puts the ‘social’ in social media. In this case, companies such as Facebook and Meetup are wonderful resources for bolstering your RV social life.
In the context of Facebook, there are RV group pages available for those of any interest. Such groups options comprise of those meant for families, full-timers, campers, workampers, and those on a low budget. There are also groups meant for broader interest, such as those involving general RV living, interior design, and possible decor.
Meetup, on the other hand, offers a more simplified experience. Essentially, you select your location and the date you’re looking for, and the site will tell if there are any upcoming events. It really is that simple. At present, for example, the Northern California Vehicle Campers group is planning a group trip for later this month.
What can I do to avoid mistakes?
1. Take it slow
There’s nothing more likely to cause mistakes than being in a rush. While this indeed goes for driving speed, it also goes for much more. When speeding out the door to get your RV trip on the road, chances are that you’ll forget something.
If you feel the need to pick up the pace, especially when first starting out, try to resist the impulse. Eventually, when you’ve got your routine down to a T, you can go at whatever speed you desire. Until then, the best way to avoid careless mistakes is to slow down and take your time.
Just as with most things in life, whether it be relationships, team projects, or RV trips, communication is key. This is particularly true when circumstances dictate that roles be delegates. If you’re traveling as a family or group, for instance, be sure to properly communicate each person’s responsibilities. It does no one any good if the navigator is suddenly on nap duty since he or she was never informed of their role.
The same goes for the dichotomy between positive and negative communication. If things start to go wrong, it’s important to avoid playing the blame game, or otherwise combative language. By and large, just as again in life, sincerity, clarity, and appreciation will do wonders in making your trip as enjoyable and smooth as possible.
3. Know your RV
In the same vein as owning a car or motorcycle, it would behoove you to either know the specifications of your RV or have them readily available. If you don’t know the height of your RV, you could find yourself heading towards a bridge or tunnel that’s too low. If you don’t know the length, then parking spots could be tricky. If you don’t know the type of wheel and axle your RV requires, it will be exponentially more difficult to get them serviced or replaced if you break down in the middle of nowhere.
Presumably, you’ll know these details, at least to a certain extent, from when you were originally shopping for RVs. However, even if you don’t, it’s never too late to brush up. It’s to your benefit anyhow, as knowing these basic details of your recreational vehicle will help to avoid mistakes and grief down the line.
4. Bring the right tools
A four-way wrench, a tire pressure gauge, starter cables, and some extra gas — it doesn’t take much in the way of tools to be prepared. In our modern era, fewer and fewer people know even the basics of vehicle maintenance. It’s understandable for most drivers, as AAA is always but a phone call away.
However, if you’re an RVer who spends hundreds of hours on the road, it’s always possible that you will break down in the middle of nowhere, or perhaps in a dead zone, where AAA can’t help you. As such, it would likely be to your benefit if your RV carried the most basic of supplies, as it will make a seemingly catastrophic mistake into just a minor setback.
That isn’t to say that you should immediately go to the store and buy every conceivable tool for every possible scenario. No, as that would be a waste of time and money for all involved. With a mind towards efficiency, the supplies to replace and refill a tire, jumpstart your battery, and enough gas to get you to the closest station will quite likely suffice.
5. Plan ahead
In the context of planning, there’s no real need to plan out every moment of every day of your ten-day road trip. That said, no one enjoys getting to their destination without even an idea of where they’d park their RV. This frustration can be easily avoided by simply researching online, even if it’s only a couple of hours ahead of time.
The same goes for your driving route. Sure, everyone has GPS these days, but barring that, having some idea of how you’re going to get from point A to point B will help to ensure that you don’t get lost. It’s simple plans such as these that not only ensure that mistakes will be avoided, but it will keep spirits and communication at a high point.
6. Go with the flow
Some say that only dead fish go with the flow. If you’re someone who disagrees, then you know that the journey’s much more fun than the destination. What’s more is that you can probably handle anything that fortune can throw at you.
Especially if you’re new to RVing, but even if you’re not, know that something will inevitably go wrong. Big or small, minor or major, be prepared, as it’s coming. The important thing is that, whatever it is, not to let it get you down or ruin your RV experience. If everything’s just part of the adventure, then there’s no reason to work yourself up over the flaws. In short, the best way to avoid mistakes is to not care about them at all.
How do I prepare for an emergency?
The fact of the matter is that things go wrong on RV trips, whether you like them to or not. Maybe someone will get sick or injured, maybe you’ll get lost, maybe you’ll be caught in inclement weather and cannot travel, or maybe your RV will simply break down. When it comes down to it, these are all resolvable issues.
The real question comes when a proper emergency takes places. The key, of course, is to be prepared. How that preparedness manifests will differ based on the circumstance, obviously, but it’s at least wise to always carry an emergency contact number with you.
If the emergency is medical in nature, be sure to bring plenty of extra prescription pills, if that’s what called for, or at least first-aid supplies. Otherwise, it could be prudent keep a copy of your personal and automotive insurance cars in your RV for safekeeping.
Moreover, other emergency preparedness solutions could take the form of itinerary sharing, so others know where you may be, or by attaching an emergency beacon to your RV. Regardless of which you choose, the key is to always stay safe whilst on the road, even when you’re having fun on what is undoubtedly a quintessential road trip.
How do I take care of my RV after my trip?
1. Clean your RV
After your trip, one of the first things that you must do is to clean your vehicle inside and out. First on your list should be to open the windows and doors to air out the RV.
Your cleaning checklist should include clearing out the sheets, towels, and curtains, taking out the trash, deep cleaning the bathroom and kitchen, and emptying the holding tanks, to name a few. For more detailed steps, check out this list
by Trip Savvy.
2. Go through your RV maintenance checklist
Just like with any vehicle, you likely follow a set schedule to check your RV and its parts. Perhaps changing the engine oil is still months away in your schedule. However, after your trip, we recommend going through your RV maintenance checklist once or twice before parking it for storage.
One critical item to check are leaks. After cleaning your RV, make sure to go around and check every nook and cranny for cracks. This is normally a task that you must do once a month, but should especially be given importance after your trip. This way, you can take care of leaks or cracks that could result in long-term damage to your RV.
3. Park or store your RV safely
Park your RV in your garage or any space that will protect it from the elements so that it remains in great shape until your next trip. The ideal parking spot is covered, is safe from flooding and snowdrifts and other extreme weather conditions. If you don’t have space, reach out to family and friends who may have garage space to spare.
However, if you, your family, or friends don’t have space to accommodate your RV, we recommend Neighbor.com
. Neighbor is an online platform for vehicle and self-storage. It connects people who need storage space to someone who is renting out some extra space. They’re like Airbnb, but for storage instead of accommodation.
Neighbor is a great resource if you need a place to park or store your RV in your neighborhood. On Neighbor, you can find a spot for your RV that is within your budget on a month-to-month basis. You can filter space by space size, price, and distance from you.
Preparedness will go a long way in making your RV trip memorable. Make sure to keep these tips and resources in mind for every step of your journey. They will make planning, connecting with other RVers, and ending your trip successfully much easier. They will help you when you find yourself in a bind, too.
See you on the road and have a safe trip!