Categories: Guides & hacks

How to Plan an RV Camping Trip Like a Pro

The following is a guest post by our friends at RVshare. Check out RVshare.com to find your summer adventure vehicle.

Hipcampers are all about discovering fun, new experiences across the country. And if you’ve never tried it before, RV camping is one of the very best ways to facilitate that spirit of adventure. When you’re road tripping in a travel trailer, mini-Winnie (aka small Winnebego), or a luxury motorhome the size of a school bus, you have all the freedom and flexibility of the wide-open highway with the comfort, privacy, and security that comes when you take your lodging with you. It’s a unique way to see the world, and we highly recommend it giving it a go.

Whether you are a newbie or an RV veteran, trip planning comes with its share of challenges. After all, you’re basically going to be traveling in a moving apartment! You can’t plan the same way that you would for a road trip in your car or SUV.

Below are some simple tips to help you plan your upcoming RV adventure like a total pro — even if it’s the very first time you’ve ever done it. Here’s how to become an RV travel expert, which will come in handy when you inevitably fall totally in love with RVing.

Bring the right camping gear.

What’s the biggest difference between a traditional road trip and RV travel? Figuring out what to pack. Think about it: When you’re traveling in an apartment on wheels, you can ditch the sleeping bag… but you do want to ensure you’ve got sheets and towels!

Although the most basic necessities, like clothes, shoes, toiletries, and adventure gear remain the same, RVing means adding household basics like bedding and cookware to your travel packing list. That way, you can take full advantage of the onboard kitchen and other amenities… which is the whole point of upgrading from a pack-in-pack-out tent situation in the first place!

Motorhomes and travel trailers also require a certain number of technical, RV-specific accessories. For example, if you’re going to be on the road for a long time, you’ll need a sewer hose to dump your RV’s holding tanks. (We promise it’s not as gross as it sounds!) If you’re traveling in a trailer, specifically, you’ll also need equipment and tools to level the rig out once you arrive at your campsite.

Of course, depending on who you rent or borrow an RV from, your packing list needs will vary. For instance, the private owners who list their rigs on peer-to-peer markets like RVshare often include basic necessities like bedsheets. In many cases, they’ll even deliver the rig to your destination for you and set it up. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

For a detailed list of what to pack for your RV trip, check out this pre-travel checklist!

Avoid stress: leave room on your itinerary for spontaneity

Here’s the thing about camping – the whole point is to leave your regular life behind, and that includes the everyday tasks of schedule-shuffling and keeping up with to-do lists. If you book out every last hour of your camping trip, sure, you won’t miss anything… but you’ll also likely be exhausted and totally over it by the time your vacation is over, which is exactly the opposite of the effect a vacation should have.

That’s why, when it comes to planning your RV trip, we suggest you tread lightly. It’s definitely a good idea to have some sense of where you’re going and to look into the fun it has to offer, but don’t discount the magic of a totally-last-minute, just-pick-a-direction-and-go road trip. (Those were a lot easier to come by back before we could research every last square inch of our destinations on the internet!)

When you’re in an RV, you always know you have a roof over your head and a bed to curl up in, so it’s not so critical that you plan out every last stop. That gives you the freedom to explore that interesting-looking back road or to make an unplanned stop at an en route destination.  You can always make a last-minute, instant book reservation on Hipcamp 😉

Research rental options to save money on your RV (and everything else, too)

One thing that gives many would-be RV adventurers pause, or even stops them in their tracks entirely, is the rental costs. Even modest camper vans and trailers can cost more than $200 per night, especially if you go with one of the big, nationwide rental franchises.

A couple hundred bucks a night is not small change, especially when you consider that there are still plenty of other expenses to account for. Unless you’re going off-grid, your campsite is unlikely to be free, and besides, you’ve also got to put gas in the thing — and feed yourself.

That’s another way in which renting off the peer-to-peer market can give you an advantage. Just like using Airbnb rather than shelling out for expensive (and characterless) hotel rooms, when you rent an RV on RVshare, your money is going directly to a regular person, just like you. And because ordinary people don’t have to worry about footing expensive costs of business, they can pass on those savings directly in the form of lower per-night prices. (Plus, the rigs themselves come in every shape, size, and style, and are often pet-friendly — none of which you can say about most of the big box guys.)

When you find an affordable RV rental, you’ll see that it’s simple to use RVing to save money on the road. You’ll be able to cook your own meals as opposed to paying inflated restaurant prices three times a day, and few campsites cost anything close to hotel rates.

RVing is such a unique way to explore and enjoy the American countryside, allowing you to take everything in at your own pace. No matter where you go, you can relax in peace and privacy, which is why seasoned RVers have that saying: “Home is where you park it!”

Hipcamp Staff

Hipcamp is an online marketplace where you can list, discover, and book campsites and accommodations on private and public land. Hipcamp is your go-to guide to getting outside. If you’re a landowner, Hipcamp creates new revenue streams for your business, which can help conserve your land and keep it wild. #FindYourselfOutside #LeaveItBetter

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