Common RV Trip Planning Mistakes

Whether you are an experienced cross-country RVer or a beginner, proper RV trip planning is essential. However, there are precautions and tasks that are often overlooked in the planning process. Of course, before any big trip you should make sure your RV is properly serviced and maintained. In addition to RV service, here are the most common RV trip planning mistakes that can ruin your vacation.

Not Planning Your Route

Not all roads, bridges and tunnels are RV friendly. Low overhead clearance or narrow lanes can be a limitation to large motorhomes and RVs. Consequently, you need to know the height of your RV. For larger towable RVs, like fifth wheels, the height can change when hitched to your tow vehicle.

A couple avoids an RV trip planning mistake as they check the map on their phone while driving.

After noting your RV height, add a few inches to that number to give a buffer for clearance. Make sure you download your maps as well so if you’re at a remote location, your app will still be able to navigate the roads without a cell signal. Apps like RV Trip Wizard from RV Life can allow you to enter the length, width and height of your RV so that your trip is routed by the size of your RV.

Not Considering Weather

Peak RV season overlaps with hurricane season. As a result, RV trip planning to the East Coast or Gulf Coast beaches can be tricky. Make reservations with campgrounds or resorts that have free cancelation policies given extreme weather.

However, bad weather can happen anywhere at any time. That is why it’s important to frequently check the weather for events like tornadoes, high winds, snow and floods. Thanks to smartphones, weather apps are just a tap away! You should never push yourself to drive through dangerous weather conditions. Either wait them out or change your route if possible.

Not Making Reservations

Just because there are plenty of RV campgrounds and resorts along your route, doesn’t mean they will always have available space. Open lots are not a guarantee, especially during the main RV season between May and October. Call ahead or make reservations in advance to be sure that you’ve secured your spot. Don’t make the RV trip planning mistake of not booking ahead.

Not Planning Rest Stops

This is especially true with restroom breaks. Even though you may have a bathroom on board, you may not be able to stop driving the moment you need to go. You should to consider your fuel supply as well. Gas Stations may be few and far between on some stretches of road. Make sure you don’t make the RV trip planning mistake of passing the last gas station in 100 miles with a near empty tank.

A family avoids an RV planning mistake by taking a roadside snack break.

Going Too Fast

Driving your RV too fast not only ruins your fuel economy, but could also put you in danger of a tire blowout. Additionally, taking turns too fast can potentially flip or damage your RV.

When you arrive at your destination, slowly navigate the campground. Especially in densely wooded areas or in dim light. Your RV or tow vehicle could be damaged if you are not careful over uneven terrain or near low-hanging tree branches.

Traveling Too Long

When RV trip planning, you need to think cautious and careful. You also need to accommodate passengers like kids and pets who may require frequent stops.  That means you should avoid driving too long, and don’t try to push yourself to make up for lost time. Additionally, don’t wait until you are tired to stop, as you may not have a safe place to park or camp.

An RV and car parked next to a campfire at night.

To avoid over exhaustion on the road, many adopt either the 2-2-2 rule or 3-3-3 rule for RVing. For example, the 2-2-2 rule for RVing means you limit your travel to 200 miles a day, check in to your campground at 2 pm, and camp for no less than 2 days. The 3-3-3 rule ups everything to 300 miles, 3 pm check-in time, and a 3-day stay. This breaks your trip into more predictable pieces, and gives you a few days to recharge, which can make all the difference.  

Driving at Night

Nighttime drives may be tempting because there’s less traffic on the road. However, you lose critical visibility and certain rest stops may be closed. Not to mention, checking into and parking at the campground may be impossible if gates are locked or staff is off duty. Even if your destination has great lighting, settling in can be a pain if you are tired and fighting extra bugs outside while hooking up your RV. Simply put, try not to make night driving part of your RV trip planning.

Planning Too Many Activities

Scheduling your activities is a key factor in RV trip planning. However, try not to overload your day. Allow yourself to enjoy your destination, take in the new sights and not stress over checking everything off your list. Prioritize the must-do experiences each day, then do everything else if you can. There’s not always enough time to try everything in one trip. That’s okay, just plan a return trip. Some places are worth coming back to again and again.

Not Checking the Campsite Before Setup

Don’t spend time and effort parking and then unpacking your RV until you see that your spot is clear and in working order. Sometimes other guests may accidentally set up in your lot, or the campsite may have faulty wiring or disconnected water. Checking to make sure your assigned lot is clear and functioning will save you grief. Once you have any potential issues worked out with the staff, you can pull into your spot with complete peace of mind.

A fifth wheel sits set up at a campsite.

Packing Too Much Food

When it’s time to plan meals, figure out which stores are available around your campground and buy what you can there. This will open kitchen space and lighten your load, which could be a huge gain in small RVs. Even if you have a large RV, you still may find it easier to pack light and just buy extra propane, charcoal, and certain food items when you arrive at your destination.

Overloading Your RV 

Packing too many clothes, too much food, or unnecessary travel items can put your RV over its weight limit (GVWR) and can clutter your RV. An overweight RV reduces fuel efficiency and could potentially damage your rig or your tow vehicle.

Pack clothes that are appropriate for the weather and the length of stay. And, as mentioned already, check your destination beforehand to see if you can purchase food and other items once you’re there.  

Materials for an emergency first aid kit are laid out so an RV planning mistake can be avoided.

Forgetting a First Aid Kit & Tools

This may be less to do with the actual trip plan, but missing these items could be detrimental. Unexpected things can happen when on the road or at the campground; from injuries while exploring great outdoors to everyday small accidents in your RV.

That is why a fully stocked first aid kit should always come with you. Additionally, having basic tools and RV supplies will keep you rolling on the road. You never know when you’ll have to put on a spare tire or fix little issues that occur during your trip. Be ready to patch up both you and your rig if things don’t go as planned.

Not Testing Out Your RV

This is especially important when the RV is brand new, or new to you. Although you can test many of the features and components when parked in your driveway, you won’t know for sure if everything is working as expected until you take your first vacation.

So, before your big RV trip, camp somewhere nearby. This test run will get you acquainted with your RV naturally. As a result, you will have time to learn all your RV controls and features without pressure. Additionally, you’ll know what RV repairs are required. Test driving your RV will give you practice driving, turning and backing up your camper as well.

As a top RV dealer in New Jersey, we know how exciting RV life can be. Nothing is better than camping in your home away from home. Since 1988, Crossroads Trailers has helped customers make this dream a reality. Whether you are looking for new or used RVs, or need RV repair or maintenance, let our team of experts serve you at our RV dealership in Newfield, New Jersey.

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