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RV Road Trip Planning: Tricks, Tips, and Things to Know

February 9, 2021

RVs look like the ideal pandemic vehicle, you can go on holiday and yet still maintain social distancing. Which may explain why, according to the RV Industry Association, based in Reston, Va., RV dealers around the country are seeing a substantial increase in revenue, some by as much as 170 percent from a comparable time last year.
Rentals are even hotter: RVshare, a peer-to-peer rental website, records a rise of 1,600 percent in rentals since April, the height of the pandemic, and bookings from the entire year of 2019 have already tripled.

“Since social distancing “is likely to be around for the near future in some form,” said Monika Geraci, senior association manager, it is reassuring that recreational vehicles “allow the freedom to go where you want, when you want, but also the opportunity to monitor your environment and how you communicate with other people.

But be warned if you buy one: you can’t just hop inside and enjoy the ride. “RVing is an entirely new experience,” RVshare spokeswoman Megan Buemi said.

Kelly Beasley, co-founder of Camp Addict, an RV education website, said the first move is stocking up on necessities. Surprisingly, new and used RVs do not come fitted with many required equipment, Beasley said (rental companies should supply everything, but check before you drive off the grounds). During a pandemic, what is it like to go on vacation? To find out, I went to a newly reopened resort.

Almost 90 percent of the RV sales last year were towable, rather than motorized. Beasley recommended that all new RV owners purchase a sewer hose, chocks (chocking means locking the wheels while you are at your destination so that the rig does not roll or move unexpectedly); a water hose (to attach your RV to a campsite water supply); a power cord (to connect your RV to a campsite power supply); refrigerator bars (to prevent your refrigerator contents from spilling out) Although motor homes have a parking brake, trailers don’t, and in case the parking brake fails, Beasley suggests putting chocks on a motor home anyway. You’ll need a hitch if you’re planning to attach a trailer to your car, but you won’t need one on a motor home unless you’re going to tow a vehicle behind it. If it’s not a new car, backup cameras would also be useful, said Beasley, recommending the Rear View Protection Wireless Backup Camera System, which usually costs between $200 and $600.

RV Maintenance

Maintaining your RV can at first feel like a second task, but once you find out what you’re doing, it should become less overwhelming.
Cindy Baker, a travel consultant with InteleTravel, part of Ensemble Travel Company, a consortium of more than 700 independent travel advisers, said, “Maintenance on your RV is much like maintenance on your personal vehicle, only supersized.” You’ll need to check your tires before you head out on any long trip to ensure they have the right amount of air to support the weight of your load, Baker said.
Since you can buy a tire pressure monitoring device, it’s simpler than it looks. To track their pressure and temperature as you drive, position the sensors on your tires. Julie Chickery, a Virginia-based RV enthusiast with a blog called Chickery’s Travels, said they alert you of changes that can lead to a dangerous blowout. She suggested joining a roadside auto service, as many offer plans that simultaneously cover your RV and your vehicle.

Practice Driving

You may think you’re all set once you’ve got everything you need, but first you need to practice driving, especially going backwards.
When backing up a trailer, there is a learning curve, Beasley said. Since the trailers have a hitch attachment point, as you back up, the back of the trailer will go in the opposite direction to the back of the car.
You will need to go back to almost every campsite, so find an empty parking lot to practice before you get on the road. Beasley said, “Also, if you’ve got a lot of RVs behind your rear wheels, you’ve got to watch out for the tail swing,” as your back end swings out as you turn. “A lot of newbies have damaged property and their own RV because when they make a turn, they didn’t know the mechanics of how their back end juts out,” she said.

You need to memorize the height and weight of your RV before you head onto the lane, which is vital information for going under bridges. For RVs, some roads are totally inaccessible, so it helps to use a special GPS navigator for RVs. You can customize it for your vehicle’s length, height and weight, said Jer Goss, chief executive of Goss RV, a luxury motor coach rental firm located in Atlanta.


You’ll need to decide where you’ll park your RV when you’re ready to venture out. Baker said that many RV explorers chose to join membership-based clubs in order to save money on nightly campground fees as well as other camping facilities. For instance, for $39.95 annually, Escapees RV Club provides between a 15 and 50 percent discount at more than 800 commercial parks throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. Seven of the club’s own parks in the United States often offer membership, where RVers can stay for the short term or even on deeded lots.

Alternatively, Passport America provides deals that are around 50 percent off for $44 annually, and within their network they have more than 1,800 participating campgrounds. There are also memberships that provide their members at locations around the United States with free boondocking (off-grid, sans utilities). Be mindful of the different choices, Chickery said, when you’re studying campgrounds and memberships. There are very simple campgrounds that have a safe place to park for the night, and there are events and swimming pools for destination RV resorts.

Once you’ve identified your needs, by using apps like AllStays and RV Life, you can search for the best match at your desired venue. Chickery likes them because they provide the campgrounds with user feedback.
Bear in mind, though, that a campsite discount is just as good as how much you use that discount (the more you use it, the more you save).


You’ll need to slow down when you reach the lane. An RV is a big, heavy piece of machinery that, if driven too quickly, can be dangerous, Chickery said. Towable tires, she said, are not designed to travel faster than 65 miles per hour. However, you might make a case for driving more slowly for safety reasons, including with a motor home.

She said, “The quicker you go, the longer the distance it takes to stop.” “When you add to the equation the weight of these motor homes and large towables, driving at slower speeds and enabling additional vehicle distances will improve safety.” Plus, driving is going to feel different from driving a 3,000-pound vehicle, since RVs weigh between five and seven tons. Diane Vukovic, author of the blog Mom Goes Camping, said that you can accelerate slowly and split even more slowly.
She said, “You have to plan well in advance: it takes a while to make a full stop in an RV, so you’re going to have to leave a lot of room to brake.”

Wind can make driving an RV difficult as well, so you can go slower if it’s windy. The “drive-off catastrophe,” said Paul Johnson of Minnesota-based North Outdoors, a website documenting outdoor activities, is a common error for rookie RV owners. This happens without absolutely unhooking anything as you drive away from the site. The utilities need to be absolutely unhooked, and it is important to safely stow anything that might come loose when driving, such as the sewer hose. They should close the windows and hatches. “The worst part about a drive-off disaster is that until you make your first stop, several hundred miles down the road, you often don’t know that you’ve done it,” Johnson said. But it’s going to make for some fun Instagram pics at least.

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