How To Plan An RV Trip (5 Easy Steps)

If you’re wondering how to plan an RV trip, I have 5 easy steps for you. These steps will provide the framework for you to build the best RV trip ever on…

Planning an RV trip can be overwhelming, especially when you’re first starting. You realize there are a lot of logistics to consider, like where to stop, how far to drive, and how to balance the budget.

Unlike other RV planning guides, I’m not going to list obvious steps, like “pick a destination” or “look for things to do nearby.” Rather, I’m going to address the logistics that will actually provide a framework for your entire trip. 

Before I get into those 5 easy steps, however, I want to offer you the easiest solution to your road trip planning needs…

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One Step to Rule Them All

In truth, you can completely forego the 5 steps I’m about to outline. Instead of creating your own RV itinerary, you can simply purchase one that is customized for your chosen destination.

I know this may sound self-serving since I sell ready-made itineraries for RVers, but this is the reason I write those RV travel guides. It’s to share my tried-and-proven road trips with fellow RVers so they don’t have to stress over planning or end up with a disappointing trip. 

So, self-serving or not, I recommend you consider buying an RV travel guide for wherever you want to travel. It doesn’t even have to be one of my travel guides! In fact, mine may not even go to where you want to travel.

If you would like to take a look, here is my selection of RV Adventure Guides with destinations ranging from Florida to the Great Lakes to the Southwest and plenty in between.

How to Plan an RV Trip Yourself

If you do want to plan an RV trip yourself, there are 5 easy steps you can follow. These following steps will give you a jumpstart in your planning efforts and form a framework to plan the details around.

They will help you determine how far you should travel, what routes you should take, and other logistical things to plan around.

Step 1: Use the 330 Rule to Outline Your Timeline

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Most experienced RVers have learned not to push themselves for too long or too far on the road. It’s a lesson Jennifer and I learned when we first hit the road over a decade ago.

I, especially, pushed us to drive farther and longer than we should have so “we could see as much as possible.” The problem is, we ended up not enjoying as much as possible.

After pulling up to too many campsites exhausted, frustrated, and bickering, we adopted the 330 Rule of RVing. The rules goes like this:

Don’t drive more than 330 miles a day or arrive at your destination later than 3:30 pm.

As a new RVer, you may be thinking, Psh, I can do more than that. That’s too limiting.

Well, you’d be right, at least on the first part. You can do more than that in a day, but most experienced RVers would say you shouldn’t. Because pushing yourself more than that is much more likely to limit your enjoyment.

Step 2: Choose Routes Using RV GPS

image of 2021 RV travel planning app
When you plan an RV trip with RV trip Wizard, it can be loaded on the RV GPS app

Don’t make the very common mistake of using standard GPS to route your RV trip. You’ll likely end up on roads that are not RV friendly! 

This means you could encounter low overpasses, tight corners, narrow roads, weight limits, and other “roadblocks” that will impede your journey. Or worse, threaten your safety.

You need to use RV GPS, which takes into account your RV size, weight, height, and more. It will filter routes based on these factors and other settings.

Jennifer and I use the RV LIFE App, which is an RV-safe GPS. You can get this GPS app by itself, but I recommend you buy the entire RV LIFE suite of tools. 

The bundle is a much better deal and the other tools will come to play in the following steps. In fact, you can use RV LIFE Trip Wizard and the other tools to plan your entire RV Trip (we do!). 

RV LIFE Pro gives you 4-memberships-in-1 to:

  • RV LIFE Trip Wizard
  • RV LIFE Campground Reviews
  • RV LIFE App (RV-Safe GPS)
  • RV LIFE Maintenance Tracker

Just to be clear, you get all four of these tools in one with an RV LIFE Pro membership. The annual membership is only $59 a year (less than $5 a month) and includes a 7-day free trial.

Since we’ve used their tools for years, we became partners with RV LIFE so our readers could get the best deal. You can use this discount link for extra savings and add this coupon code: RVLIFESTYLE to save 25{e9f0aada585b9d73d0d08d3c277fd760092386ec23cac37d50f4b8cd792b062a} off! 

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Step 3: Check Campground Reviews from REAL RVers

Unfortunately, many seedy campgrounds have figured out how to “cheat” mainstream review platforms. They pay people to write positive reviews, add false reviews, and more.

It’s best to refer to review platforms that specialize in camping and RV travel. You’re much more likely to find honest reviews.

If you decide to get the RV LIFE Pro suite of tools, it includes RV LIFE Campground Reviews. As you can guess, these are campground reviews but, more importantly, they are submitted by REAL RVers from the RV LIFE community. 

Best of all, you can see up-to-date pictures of the campgrounds taken by the reviewers. Those will save you from learning the hard way that some campgrounds don’t live up to their old or staged website photos. 

And don’t forget to ask in our Facebook Group! Or better yet, do a Search inside the Group for your destinations and see what previous threads say and then ask questions. There are currently over 147,000 RVers in there to help you out.

STEP 4: Leave Room for Serendipity

Photo of a summer RV trip

Another vital step to planning an RV trip is to not over-plan! When you’re making your itinerary, be sure to leave room for serendipity. In this context, “serendipity” is any “happy surprise you want to explore more.”

That can mean leaving room to make an unexpected stop in a charming town or go off-route to check out a roadside attraction you saw on a billboard. Or, it can mean diverting your plans to try that restaurant the local at the gas station recommended.

Whatever the case, you want to buffer your carefully planned RV itinerary with unplanned room for diversions. You’ll learn that Serendipity will lead you to some of the best places and experiences you could’ve never planned!

STEP 5: Track Your Budget 

I’m going to assume that you already have a budget for your road trip. So, instead of telling you to create a budget, I’m going to offer another piece of advice. Track your budget!

As with anything in life, surprises and unexpected expenses often crop up on a road trip that affects your budget. It’s a good idea to keep track of things on the go so you can adjust as needed.

Plus, tracking your budget on this trip will help you better plan for the next trip. You’ll have better and more realistic expectations for each line item. 

The RV LIFE Trip Wizard app has a budget-estimating feature that you can update as you go. But if you’d like another option, I also recommend Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar budgeting app. They have a free option you can use.

Remember, if you do decide to get the RV LIFE Pro suite of tools, you can save 25{e9f0aada585b9d73d0d08d3c277fd760092386ec23cac37d50f4b8cd792b062a} by using this link and coupon code: RVLIFESTYLE.

Looking for exciting RV trip ideas and travel suggestions?

all ebook travel guides from RV Lifestyle

We’ve written a library of RV Travel books that lay out guided RV explorations of scenic areas of the US that we’’ve explored and think would make an excellent RV trip for you.

In each location, we provide a suggested route and itinerary (7 stops in each guide, one for each day of a week trip!) as well as links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, local tips, and interesting things to do at each location.

You can hit everything in seven days, do a whirlwind weekend tour, or you can take your time and explore the area over a 2+ week period.

Planning an RV trip can be very time-consuming so that’s why we’ve done the research for you! Just take our guides and use them. We’re sure you’ll have an RV trip for the ages! Instant download. CLICK HERE for information on our RV Travel Guides

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