How We Plan Our RV Trips

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We’ve always been trip planners; even before RVing. When we rode motorcycles, though our method was simple paper roadmap, we still routed our adventures. But once we hit the road with our former big rig fifth wheel, we really had to strategize the routes we’d take, stops and destinations with greater attention. We couldn’t have been successful without utilizing a few good RV trip planning tools.

Now that we are full-time traveling in a small motorhome where RV travel is essentially a bit more spontaneous, we still use most of the same trip planning strategies. We have our own multi-facet RV trip planning system that keeps us on course to cool destinations, fun and adventure.

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Typically, we talk about our plans over coffee in the morning when we’re fresh and clear-thinking. We convert our dinette into a trip planning command center. We set up all of our electronic devices and bring out our trucker atlas, notebook and pencils. We may throw in a few tourist pamphlets we picked up along the way of places that interest us. And so, our RV trip planning begins.

How Do We Decide Our Destination?

Destinations can range from our end destination to those short visits along the way. We map out our stops, typically about 300 miles apart. Depending on elevation, grade, traffic and what time we get on the road determines our mileage. Any given destination, whether our end goal or an interim visit, may cause us to deviate our course depending on what attractions or services may be in the area. Our rule is 300 miles or be parked by 3:00 p.m.

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Harvest Hosts Spot

For fun overnight stops, we try stay at Harvest Hosts or Boondockers Welcome because they are quiet and more personable.  Other times when we just want to pull over for a few hours, lot docking at Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops or Cracker Barrel are safe, free overnight parking options. We just remember to abide by the industry-sanctioned code of conduct, RVers Good Neighbor Policy, when it comes to parking lot etiquette.

Sometimes Escapees Co-Op Parks may be on our route and are a good option for an overnight. Many SKPs own property across the country where they welcome fellow members to stop for a night or two. These sites are often free, or available for a small fee, and the listings are only available to Escapees members.

Slow Down Enough To Enjoy The Destination

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Timing is crucial when planning our stops or destinations. If we’re wanting to visit a local attraction or sample local cuisine, we plan accordingly. Oftentimes, we will stay another day so we can thoroughly enjoy the venue and catch our breaths. And certainly, we’re not going to drive 300 plus miles and then go hit the tourist spots immediately after parking. We may not even get to our stop-over location or destination until later in the day and not make their hours of operation. Or, we may be too tired, so we plan our overnights (or two) accordingly.

Digital RV Trip Planning Tools We Use

As most who travel in their RVs these days, digital devices have become hubs for information. There is a plethora of apps and websites out there that are an incredible resource for RV parking, boondocking, finding dump stations and water, etc. Now, depending on whether you have an iOS or Android device will depend on how structurally sound the app is. We found some apps aren’t available on Androids but could be utilized on Apple products. So, all of our options are open. You may end up doing the same.

Websites and Apps

Some web-based resources that also lead to app downloads we use are:

    • Campendium – locate camping or parking options
    • Escapees Blog– RV travel and destination articles by RVers
    • Google Earth – aerial views to gauge parking
    • RVillage – find RV community get togethers
    • Speedtest– see real-time internet connection consistency
    • Waze– driving directions and traffic reports
    • Gas Buddy– locate fuel stations
    • MyRadar– provides up-to-day radar precipitation
    • Yelp– find local businesses, restaurants

But we don’t always rely strictly on digital or electronic information. There are other means of planning our routes and destinations.

Printed RV Trip Planning Tools We Use

Maps and Books

The first resource we acquired was a good old fashion paper atlas. However, it wasn’t until we had our first ‘oh crap moment’ that we ended up buying an atlas designed specifically for trucks and RV’s, also known as a Motor Carrier’s Atlas. Because of our RV’s height, we needed to pay more attention to bridge height restrictions.

Escapees Magazine

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One of our favorite resources for free or low-cost overnight parking found in each issue of the Escapees Magazine. But there is also an Escapees members-only access Day’s End Directory that has over 900 pages of listings in almost every US state and Canadian province. The $15 yearly membership directory features download in three eBook formats and online Directory Search function. Also, users can choose a route (or single point) and see Directory listing locations on a Route Planning Map. Both are useful tools to help save Escapees travelers money while finding safe, free or low-cost overnight parking.

Tourism and Travel Brochures

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We also pick up a map or two at state-line visitors’ centers. Sometimes, they will be more detailed as opposed to regular road maps. They may have landmarks and tourist spots labeled which makes navigation easier. At RV parks and resorts, we peruse the local travel brochures and pick out a few for points of interest.

Utilize Your Network To Find RV Destinations

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Social Media

Becoming members of various RV social media groups has landed us some great information. As well, we follow an array of amazing bloggers and vloggers who highlight destinations, campgrounds and RV parks. We often network with like-minded Escapees and Xscapers RV travelers through their social media group pages. And, there’s nothing better than sitting shoulder to shoulder at a campfire or an outing chatting about the cool places we’ve boondocked at or amazing destinations to explore.

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Meetups, Gatherings, and Convergences

We’ve found that roughly half of our travel destinations involve meetings with friends or family or getting together with other like-minded RV travelers. In the winter months, we tend to hang out with our fellow Escapees and Xscapers which will take us to meetups, Xscapers Convergences and Annual Bashes. Once we RSVP or score our tickets, we map out routes and look forward to our new destination.

Word of Mouth

But the best RV trip planning resource we have found is word-of-mouth. If we’re going to a location or destination where we know others of our same feathers have been, we’ll shoot them a text, email, private message asking for coordinates, details and opinions. Because, who better than our nomadic friends to get good solid RV trip planning information we trust?

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Author

Dan and Lisa Brown

There are no rocking chairs for Dan and Lisa Brown of Always On Liberty. A few years after Dan retired from the U.S. Coast Guard, they sold their five-bedroom Kentucky home with everything in it and set out for the open road to see America with their new fifth wheel. They and their two Maine Coon cats have been full-time, adventurous RV nomads since 2014 with no plans of stopping. Now, two RVs later, they are still searching for destinations unknown and forging their own paths. Their passions are motorcycle riding, hiking, kayaking and learning our country’s history. They also enjoy sharing their on-the-road experiences, RV tips and tricks, product reviews and how-to guides of RV life through their blog and writing.

One Response to “How We Plan Our RV Trips

  • Ty for your information. I love your cork USA map. Where did you find it? Just starting to plan a first time longer road trip and your information is very useful. It’s difficult to know exactly where and when we will be at a certain place. Ty. Tanya

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