Lessons from a Long RV Trip

Our trip to Far West Texas taught us quite a bit.  We are also planning another trip this year based on what we learned!

Camping and RV travel are both a lot of fun and a lot of work.  There is a narrow window for making reservations at those campgrounds that are crazy popular.  And every RV traveler has their limits and comfort zones.  We bought our travel trailer specifically so we could take longer and more adventurous trips.  Last year, we did it.  We learned a lot, and I want to share some of those lessons with you.!

These two buddies are good travelers!

Lessons from the Long RV Trip

First, if you are dreaming of that grand adventure, do it.  Make it happen.  Don't listen to the negative Nancy's out there that will tell you it is too far or all of the reasons why you shouldn't take that trip.  It is your journey - not theirs!  And I mean that!  Read it again and make it your mantra!  We made a bucket list trip happen for us last year.  We are doing another one this year.  Bucket list adventures don't have to be as expensive or as far as you think either.  But, I do advise you to plan wisely so that you will enjoy the dream as it unfolds for you.

Break up that drive time to keep your eyes fresh and mind clear.

Driving Time

Well, driving time is a relative thing.  You would think a frequent car traveler like myself would get it, know it and be well versed in it.  But in reality, it's hard to envision RV drive times until you do it!

We travel with our son and two dogs.  4 to 6 hours of driving time is our limit!  If we have a 6 hour driving day planned, that is really about 8 hours.  You can add two hours for stops for fuel, meals, bathroom breaks for us, and the dogs for any driving day.  Plus, you have to account for traffic delays and other things that slow down your travel.

I know lots of people think they can drive longer, harder and faster.  It's just not safe or worth it.  If you are in that big of a hurry, rethink your trip.  It's just too much to drive when you are tired, frustrated, and pushing everyone's limits.  Give yourself the time to get to where you are going safely and with everyone's basic needs in mind.  

No one wants to do all of the driving.   Switching drivers gives you both a chance to enjoy the scenery.

Switch Driver's Regularly

My husband and I switch drivers every time we get gas.  This makes the driving time more equal.  One person can rest a bit while the other one drives.  It just makes more sense and is less stressful all the way around.

Plus the passenger can help with navigation, fuel stops, and more.  If you feel less comfortable towing than your partner, practice on small trips to boost your confidence.  Solo travelers should also plan stops every couple of hours to walk around, and give their body and mind a break from the road.  No matter how you travel break up the drive! 

Don't let fuel stops scare you!

Plan Your Fuel Stops

We use apps like the Loves and Pilot Apps to help us find gas stations.  Pilot has RV lanes at some locations.  Plus we can use our Good Sam Membership to save on fuel and propane at stations where we stop.  While we don't exclusively stop at Pilot and Loves, these are two that we use a lot for several reasons.  

Both gas stations tend to have good amenities and food selections if we need a quick meal or snack.  They offer designated areas for dogs.  And we can get propane if needed.  The apps for both Loves and Pilot will tell you what amenities they have.  My husband and I both keep a watch on the fuel gauge and plan accordingly to our stops.

The passenger can always help scope out fuel stops if there isn't a large name brand station near by.  You mainly want somewhere that has enough room to get in and out with your RV.  Having an extra set of eyes can really help.

One final tip about planning your fuel stops is using Gas Buddy.  This app will help you to locate the best fuel prices.  It can save you money at home and on the road.  They offer features to help you find the best price as well as plan your trip and more.  

Some down days are perfect for movies.

We have even enjoyed a snow day on the road! 

Allow Yourself Some Down Time

Don't over plan every second of your journey.  It is okay to have some downtime while you travel.  Nothing says that every second has to be booked into an itinerary.  Downtime is okay!  We have a big trip planned for the end of the year.  Part of this travel will be over New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  I have done some preliminary planning to determine what is available on each of those days.  New Year's Day is going to be a down day.  We have one little thing planned for that day around lunch.  Otherwise, I may do a little laundry.  We may watch a movie, cook a nice meal, and take some walks.  But, it's a day to catch our breath before we go home.

Embrace those moments on your trip.  Being too scheduled can make some travelers frustrated or too tired to enjoy it all.  Give yourself a break.  You are in the captain's seat!

Call Ahead for RV Parking

We used to eat at Cracker Barrell almost every time we traveled and needed a restaurant.  We were too scared to figure out RV Parking.  And, Cracker Barrell had RV Parking.  We still like Cracker Barrell by the way.  But, we have branched out too.

If you are coming near a town and are looking for somewhere to eat, the passenger can explore dining options.  Call ahead and ask if the restaurant has a place where you can park your RV while you eat.  You would be surprised at how helpful many restaurants are with this.  We have parked across the street at a small engine repair place or the restaurant has helped us park in an adjacent lot that they have designated for large vehicles.  There are more RV travelers than you think, and many places are willing to help you out!

Our tire trouble delayed our trip home early this year!
We also found a great park on the way home to spend an extra night.

Give Yourself Some Cushion

Don't plan your trip in a way that you are stretched so thin for the time that you can't adjust your plans if needed.  Last year, we were stuck in some ice and snow in West Texas.  We had some cushion in our travel plans and were able to take a couple of extra days to get home.  I know that this might not work for everyone,  but it is something to consider.  Weather is unpredictable.  And, our only option was to cut our trip short or embrace it and make it work.  We opted for the latter.

Doing laundry on the road makes life easier when you get home!

Do a Little Laundry

If you have time, do a little laundry.  I feel like I might have a little problem here, but I'll go ahead and talk about it.  We always keep laundry supplies in our RV.  And last year, we used them.  If you are on a long trip, it's nice not to return home with a hundred loads to work through at the end.  Do a little laundry here and there as you if you have time.  I don't spend my entire trip doing laundry.  But if there are facilities where I can do a load or two at night while we are hanging out, I do it.  It keeps me from bringing so much stuff home.  And, dirty laundry is smelly!  I don't want to fill up our small RV with the funky BO of our clothes from a week-long trip.  It's an easy thing to do and will make like easier when you get home.  After all, you are going to be washing those clothes one way or the other.  So, what difference does it make if you are doing them on your trip!?

We love our RV and that we can take our dogs with us when we travel.  One reason why I extended our end-of-the-year trip this year by a couple of days is the sheer fact that we aren't having to board animals!  That is expensive and inconvenient.  We don't have any reason to rush home to anything other than work and school.  So, pack up and get ready to enjoy a grand adventure on the road.  There are so many great things to discover and explore out there.  And once you do it and experience that first taste of road trip success, you will be hooked!

Until next time...

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