Why You Should Follow the 330 Rule

The 330 Rule will save you from RV burnout and enable you to have a more enjoyable experience overall

If you haven’t heard of the 330 Rule, get ready for it will change how you travel!

The idea is to get somewhere while it is still early enough to explore, chill-out, and enjoy the place when you’re not exhausted from driving mega miles. Is there anything worse than pulling into a campsite after dark? Less mileage and stopping early should be your travel style of choice.

On the road to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The 330 Rule is a rule I (try to) live by when on the road. I learned the hard way that traveling without it leads to exhaustion and frustration. Here’s what it is and why you should (try to) follow it, too.

The 330 Rule goes like this: Don’t drive more than 330 miles in a day and arrive at your destination no later than 3:30 pm.

When we first started, I would hit the road and keep hitting the road until we crammed as much into one day as possible. In my mind, the more we drove, the more we would see, and the more fun we’d have. I recall a 2,000-mile trip we made in three and one-half days. And yes, it was tiring and exhausting! And, I vowed never again!

Driving Newfound Gap Road through Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Well, we quickly learned that long days of RV travel don’t work out well. Sure, we covered a whole lot of the map in a matter of days but it sure wasn’t as fun as it could have been.

That’s why we adopted the 330 rule and have tried to live, or rather, traveled by it ever since. I’m going to explain what it is and why every RVer needs to know it.

Driving Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is the 330 Rule?

I had a fulltimer explain this to me early on. The 330 rule is you “stop when you have driven 330 miles or its 3:30 in the afternoon.”

The idea is to get somewhere while it is still early enough to explore, chill out, and enjoy the place when you’re not exhausted from driving miles upon miles. 

In our early days, I looked at the daily driving mileage as a challenge—the more the better. 

Driving Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I kept trying to set another personal best. Its 650 miles, by the way! Silly! Stupid! Really stupid!

There’s really nothing worse than pulling into a campsite after dark. It can even stray into bad camping etiquette. 

>> Read Next: 30 RV Hacks and Tips for a Successful Road Trip

You might think that if you leave at 10 a.m., you’ll have plenty of time to get to your campground by 3:30. But we all know that life on the road is almost always more unpredictable than that. You could have a tire blow out. Or you might want to stop at a roadside attraction or historic site along your way. Before you know it, the sun is setting, and you’re now pulling into an unfamiliar place in the dark.

Arriving before 3:30 gives you ample time to pull in safely and get level. It gives you time to properly set up and hook up, minimizing chances of human errors and extra stress. You can relax and explore the neighborhood.  

Driving Newfound Gap Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why should you follow the 330 Rule?

There are two main reasons every RVer should try to adhere to the 330 Rule. The first is health and safety-relate. The second is sanity-related. 

It’s safer and better for your health

Pushing yourself too hard when driving isn’t great for your health and can even be downright dangerous. I certainly crossed the safety line when I pushed myself to drive those 650 miles in one day and 2,000 miles in three and one-half days. 

Drive alert—protect yourself and others on the road. Drowsy driving significantly increases the risk of accidents leading to a troubling number of injuries and deaths every year.

Driving Organ Pipe National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Drowiness affects your ability to drive safely:

  • Makes you less able to pay attention to the road
  • Slows your reaction time if you must brake or steer suddenly
  • Affects your ability to make good decisions

According to the Sleep Foundation, drowsy driving is most likely to occur in the late afternoon when most people are naturally sleepier and between midnight and 6 am.

That’s why stopping by 3:30 pm (before late afternoon) is the safest!

>> Read Next: 7 Driving Tips You Should Know

Driving long hours can also lead to multiple health concerns including Sitting Disease. And yes, that is a real disease and a real health risk for RVers. Blame it on our sedentary lifestyle, our desk-bound working days, our computer and smartphone use, TV watching, and yes, driving long days.

The fact is, the average person these days sits—at a desk, in the car or RV, or on a couch—nearly eight hours every day, sitting, planted, not moving.

Driving Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It will keep you sane (and married)

The second big problem of pushing yourself beyond 3:30 and 330 miles is you’re almost guaranteed to end up frustrated and grumpy—and fighting with your spouse or travel companions. 

If you arrive at camp late or after extensive driving, you’re exhausted and still have to set up camp. This often leads to touchy nerves, bickering, and downright fights between travel companions. That’s NOT a great way to start your camping trip. 

Adopting the 330 rule will keep you sane and it will also keep you happily married!

>> Read Next: Raise Your RV IQ with These Tips

Our road trips have been far more enjoyable ever since.

Driving Newfound Gap Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Alternative Guidelines

3-3-3 Rule

You may have heard of another RV rule of thumb called the 3-3-3 Rule. This rule is similar to the 330 Rule.

The 3-3-3 Rule is as follows:

  • Don’t drive more than 300 miles in a day
  • Stop by 3 pm (or stop every 3 hours, depending on who you ask)
  • Stay at a campground for a minimum of 3 days
Camping at Harvest Moon RV Park in Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2-2-2 Rule

The 2-2-2 Rule is similar to the 3-3-3 rule. The 2-2-2 rule is driving fewer than 200 miles, arriving at your campsite no later than 2 pm., and staying for two nights. This gives you time to drive less during the day while still allowing time to relax without having to pack up immediately the next day. If you want to stop at more places along your route, this guideline might be better for you.

4-4-4 Rule

The 4-4-4 rule is a bit different from the others in that the first three is for driving less than four hours. The rest follows suit: Arrive no later than 4 pm. and stay four nights or less. By driving less and staying in one spot longer, you may not get to all the places you want to see, but you can make the most of the destinations you do reach.

Camping in Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you follow a version of the 330 Rule? 

Whatever RV rules you choose to follow, keep in mind that they’re guidelines meant to keep RVers safe and happy. You don’t have to go everywhere and see everything. It can be tempting to try to do it all but by trimming down your expectations you might have more worthwhile experiences on the road.

Have you ever tried the 330 Rule? How did it work out for you?

Driving Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To Each His Own

I won’t go as far as saying every RVer needs to abide by the 330 Rule. However, I will say that I do highly recommend it. 

>> Read Next: 10 RV Driving Tips

I know that from my own experiences (and mistakes) and from countless RVers who say the same, the 330 Rule makes traveling more enjoyable—and safer.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign