“An RV trip with the family can be one of the most rewarding and memorable vacations,” notes Grainne Kelly, a family travel expert and founder of BubbleBum car travel innovations.
Whether you are planning the trip of a lifetime or just want to get away for a week on the road, use these guidelines to prepare everyone for an RV adventure.
Do Plan a Route.
Before you hit the open road, have an outline of what you want to see and the most efficient ways to get there, advises Kelly.
Be aware that RV travel tends to be slower in certain areas and conditions. If you’ll be traveling through a mountainous area, such as Yosemite, take the initial travel time and double it. During winter months, add a “floating” day to your vacation to account for weather or other unexpected issues.
Also make a note of key stopping points, such as rest areas, campgrounds with hook-ups, and grocery stores.
Don’t Rush Through.
“Build in time to stop and explore,” advises Ron Whittington, who has taken several RV trips with his family, including one that spanned from Atlanta to Utah.
In addition to visiting national parks, consider taking breaks at local historical sites and attractions.
If your schedule allows, don’t put in long miles every day. Kids will appreciate the extra down time and you’ll avoid having to gather everyone up for (yet another) lengthy drive.
Do Bring the Right Food.
To maintain variety in your meals, pack a mixture of fresh, frozen and canned food, suggests Kelly.
For shorter trips, think about what you’ll want to eat for each meal. Then pack the non-perishable ingredients in the RV, such as pasta, rice, dry cereal, spices, canned tuna, and s’mores supplies.
Chop up veggies and place them in resealable bags, and bring the portions you’ll need of meat such as sausages and hamburgers. Place them in a cooler packed with bags of ice or frozen water bottles. You can also freeze goods that will be accessed later in the trip, such as packaged pieces of chicken, precooked meals, or homemade spaghetti sauce. Fresh goods will keep for several days in the cooler; after you use them, the frozen goods will have thawed and be ready to eat.
Don’t Depend on Technology.
Campgrounds and nature destinations don’t always have wi-fi available.
And while electronics can help pass the time during long hours on the road, consider setting different rules when you reach your destination.
“Take the opportunity to ban television and electronics and bring board games the family can do together,” suggests Dave Simmons, chief operating officer at Mighway. “It’s amazing how the kids quickly get over the withdrawal symptoms and then start to really enjoy the RVing lifestyle, the great outdoors and the camping ground.”
Do Pack the Essentials.
If possible, start setting out what you’ll need for the trip several days before you leave. This serves two purposes: it gives you time to remember items you might overlook at first; it also allows you to step away and then reevaluate if some supplies can stay behind. Ideally, you’ll want to pack light and use soft bags, which are easier to store than hard suitcases.
Remember to bring a clothesline and clothes pins, matches, hot dog or marshmallow skewers, a few jugs of clean water, a tablecloth, bug spray, a first aid kit, and flashlights with extra batteries.
Don’t Forget the Tools.
“From fixing a cabinet drawer to chopping some wood, you never know what you’ll encounter on a long trip,” explains Whittington.
To be prepared, bring the basics: a hammer, both Phillips head and flat head screwdrivers, a socket set, pliers, channellocks and a hand axe.
Along with the tools, always pack duct tape, adds Whittington.
Do Look Over the Vehicle Before Going.
Review the dimensions of the RV before you take off, as some campgrounds have size limitations and won’t permit vehicles that exceed a certain length, such as 30 feet, to enter.
If young travelers will need a child seat, check that the seat you have will work in the RV.
Also set each tire’s pressure and make sure the spare tire is in good condition. If your RV has been off the road in storage for an extended period of time, you might need to do some additional maintenance to make sure its in tip top shape.
Don’t Forget to Look at the Forecast.
Avoid areas where it is extremely cold, as the water system can’t be used during freezing temperatures.
In very hot climates, the air conditioning in an RV will only be able to bring down the temperature to a certain point, adds Simmons. If it’s 110 degrees Fahrenheit inside the RV when you get back to it after a day out, the air won’t cool down to 75 degrees when you turn on the air conditioning.