10 Ways to Save Money on Your Next RV Road Trip

A helpful guide for planning an affordable RV trip including budgeting techniques, free places to camp, and useful travel discounts

Going on an RV trip doesn’t have to mean big spending or months of saving. With a little bit of research, careful planning, and some simple techniques, you’ll quickly realize just how affordable an RV trip can be.

Rental RVs at Jasper National Park, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Advice for non-RV owners

For many non-RV owners, the cost associated with renting an RV for a trip might seem sky high. And while it’s true that renting an RV can sometimes be more expensive than booking a hotel room, there are actually more opportunities to save with an RV.

You have the ability to cook all meals which greatly reduces the amount of money you have to spend on food. You can pack extra gear (bikes, kayaks, canoes, surfboards) and eliminate the need to rent these items elsewhere.

If you’re traveling with a family or large group, it might be tough to squeeze everyone into one hotel room (most standard hotel rooms can accommodate four people). And some hotels don’t even allow pets or charge an extra pet fee. But with a wide variety of RV sizes and layouts to choose from you’re likely to find one that fits your whole crew—dog included—without having to pay double.

Class A motorhome and toad at a rest area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Before you hit the road

While most people think of food, fuel, and campground costs when putting together a travel budget, one factor that is often forgotten—but is still extremely important—is maintenance. Taking good care of your RV goes a long way in preventing major, costly repairs.

Just like a car, your RV’s oil should be changed regularly and the tires inspected daily. If something in your rig needs fixing, do it sooner rather than later. Letting a problem sit for too long can end up costing you more in the long run.

Double-check that your insurance and roadside assistance plans cover not only your tow vehicle/toad but also your RV. There’s nothing worse than breaking down and finding out that your insurance won’t pay to tow your rig to a repair facility.

Fall colors along the Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Plan around peak travel times

When considering prospective destinations, take note of the peak travel seasons and accessibility—for example, fall foliage in New England or holiday weekends at national parks. Peak seasons will not only impact reservations and campgrounds rates but fuel and grocery prices as well which can vary based on demand and time of year. Tours and entry fees may also fluctuate by season, day of week, or even time of day.

To help save money, when possible travel during shoulder seasons (commonly early spring and late fall) and visit the most popular destinations on weekdays or during slower hours. If you’re thinking about taking a longer trip—a few weeks or even a few months—consider staying in one place for more than a few days. Most RV parks and campgrounds offer weekly and monthly rates which will reduce your per night cost. Minimizing your driving time and staying put can help keep the cost of fuel down as well.

Newfound Gap Road, an RV-friendly route through Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Be mindful of fuel prices

When deciding which route to take, try to use an online fuel calculator to help budget. 

Once your RV-friendly route is set, search for fuel stations along the way and compare prices. Even if the difference is only a few cents per gallon, the cost can add up quickly when you’re averaging 8 to 10 miles per gallon. Try to fill up well in advance of national parks and other popular tourist destinations, top off your tank before you hit a stretch of road with limited fuel stations (these have a tendency to be more expensive), and keep any border crossings in mind. Fuel prices vary by state based on taxes, types of fuel, and other variables like real estate.

Boondocking along Utah Scenic Byway 24 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Venture off the beaten path

Humans are programmed to do what is familiar and popular, including visiting well-known tourist destinations. However, with a little extra research you can often find a similar view, a little-visited roadside attraction, a self-guided tour, or an alternative hike without the added crowds or cost.

Also, keep in mind is that not every night has to be spent at a five-star luxury RV resort. While you may want to budget for one or two nights at a more upscale place, your other nights could be budget camping or boondocking on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. 

To prevent trespassing or illegal overnight stays, always read posted signs and generally don’t stay longer than 14 days. 

6. Pack for various situations

Always check the forecast before you leave including average temperatures and storm seasons. Being prepared for various weather conditions will prevent unnecessary shopping trips for warmer clothes, rain gear, or alternative footwear. Travel with an umbrella, a rain jacket, waterproof pants, and warm layers just in case. Other essentials include a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, bug spray, and extra batteries as these tend to be more expensive at travel plazas and RV parks.

Driving Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Plan inexpensive driving routes

You’re always going to spend money on a road trip but the route you take heavily influences how much you spend on things like fuel and overnight stays. For example, the highest fuel prices are in Washington and California. You still want to find pleasant campsites with electrical, sewage, and water access, if possible, but compare prices to locate the cheapest campsite in each area.

Other considerations you should have when planning an RV route include:

  • Points of interest along the route
  • Cheap gas station/truck stops availability
  • Avoiding areas of congestion and toll roads

When researching your route and destinations, look into various pass options for state and national parks. Figure out how often you will visit to determine whether paying for each entry is cheaper or purchasing a multi-visit pass, such as America the Beautiful.

8. Cook in the RV

An RV is a home on wheels which means you can limit the cost associated with restaurants by cooking your own food. However, if you do want to eat at a local restaurant, consider eating there for lunch instead of dinner—lunch menus allow you to experience the regional food without paying the premium pricing.

Include some healthy road trip snacks and beverages. This will prevent you from pulling over to buy higher-priced, less-nutritious gas station treats. Additionally, food prices will vary by location. Produce, meat, and dairy are almost always more expensive in remote areas and can be harder to find, so stock up before you go.

Make use of campground grills and enjoy the ever-changing scenery with home-cooked meals. A small crockpot or slow cooker can be another great time and money saver when it comes to food on the go.

Not a good way to care for your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Keep your tires properly inflated

It may not be something that you associate with saving money but keeping the tires on your RV properly inflated will not only make it easier to drive and handle but it will save you money over the cost of the trip on fuel, as well. The U.S. Department of Energy states that for every 1-psi drop in tire pressure, you can expect your gas mileage to lower by 0.4 percent. This can certainly add up over a lengthy trip, so take the extra time to make sure your tires are properly inflated.

RVers should give a visual inspection of their tires before every travel day and at each stop along the way. But that’s not all! It may seem tedious but you should also check your RV tire pressure before you hit the road—every time!

Tucson/Lazydays KOA © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Consider a membership

There are many different RV clubs and other types of travel memberships including Good Sam and Passport America. One of the biggest benefits of joining is the discounted camping rates. Some other cost-saving perks include promotions at RV retail stores, fuel savings, propane discounts, and free dump station privileges. Other memberships to consider include Thousand Trails, Escapees, Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, and KOA (Kampgrounds of America).

If you and your family enjoy visiting museums, botanical gardens, plantariums, and science centers, consider a membership. Reciprocal museum memberships allow you to visit other participating museums which grant free or heavily discounted entry to members.

Worth Pondering…

Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will—whatever we may think.

—Lawrence Durrell

35 Little Things to Remember to Pack for Your RV Road Trip

Here’s a list of little things to remember that make a big difference on the road…

Packing for an RV road trip can be both exciting and overwhelming. With limited space, it’s important to prioritize what items to bring along. And while it’s easy to focus on the big-ticket items, it’s the small things that can often make the biggest difference.

One such example is a tool kit. It may not be a glamorous item but having the right tools on board can make all the difference in a pinch. Whether it’s a loose screw or a minor repair having a tool kit can save you time and money by allowing you to quickly fix the issue without needing to visit a repair shop.

Another important item to consider is a water filter. While most RVs come equipped with a water filtration system, it’s always a good idea to have a spare water filter or even a backup. A portable water filter can ensure that you have access to clean, safe drinking water no matter where you are on your journey.

In summary, it’s important not to overlook the small things when packing for an RV road trip. A tool kit, water filter, and first aid kit can make all the difference in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey.

There are at least 35 little things that can make a big difference in your next RV trip!

Water system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

35 Little Things to Remember Before You Hit the Road

I have written in the past about 16 must-have RV trip accessories. However, I am expanding on that post to include other small things.

Just because something is small does not mean it is not important. In order to remember all the things you need for your next camping excursion, you may want to keep a checklist. 

The following are important items that you can add to your list!

1. Basic tool box

It is always a good idea to have a tool kit on hand in your RV. You never know when you might need a screwdriver or wrench or to hit something with a hammer! Just about anything in your RV that can snap, crack, rip loose, tear, bend, leak, spark, or fall off will do exactly that at the most inconvenient time. Something will need to be tightened, loosened, pounded flat, pried, or cut. To help you deal with everyday problems and annoyances, maintain a well-equipped tool box in the RV (always store on curb side). This is definitely one of those things you’ll kick yourself for not having if you end up needing it. 

Progressive Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Electric Management System

Protect your RV from electrical threats with an electric management system sometimes referred to as a surge protector. That way a power surge or low and high voltage issues will not cause harm to your rig’s electrical system. 

There are four electrical issues an RVer can encounter while traveling: surges, miswired pedestals, high/low voltage, and wiring issues inside the RV. We’ve had a power surge, situations where pedestals were miswired, and both high and low voltage situations. Fortunately, our Progressive Electric Management System has protected us from all of these situations.

Check out the units available from Progressive Electric Management Systems or Surge Guard. Both portable units and hardwired units are available.

Water pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Water pressure regulator

You do not want your RV’s water system to get damaged or spring a leak! That is why you need a quality water pressure regulator for your RV. It’s an $8 part that will save your plumbing system.

Water filter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Water filter

Having an RV water filter ensures that you have clean, safe drinking water. A water filtration system cleans out the gross gunk in many campground water hookup systems. 

5. Foldable rake

This little item can be very useful. You never know what the ground cover will be like when camping. Use a rake to even it out. You can also use a foldable rake to put out a fire, clear out a sitting area, or make your RV more level. A foldable shovel is also useful to carry onboard.

6. Portable air compressor

Be prepared. The last thing you want is to be stranded somewhere with low air or a flat tire especially if you are far away from services! A portable air compressor can pump up your tires if needed to get you out of a jam. It can also help keep your tires properly inflated to ensure they have a longer life. 

A nifty trick is to use your air compressor to dust off picnic tables, BBQs, and other campground fixtures.

7. First aid kit

A first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RVer. A well-stocked first-aid kit and manual can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. You can purchase first aid kits and refills at the Red Cross store, most drugstores, online, or assemble your own.

Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.

8. Road atlas: Digital and non-digital

I always recommend keeping a hardcopy road atlas in your RV in case your GPS fails. However, most GPS systems and apps allow you to look up routes ahead of time and download them to your phone. That way, you can still access them even when you do not have cell service. 

9. LED flashlights

Flashlights are a must-have on any road trip. 

10. Long jumper cables

Do not risk being stranded with a dead battery and no jumper cables. Or ones that are too short to reach your RV’s engine. 

Another thing to consider is a jumper starter that can jump-start a rig without needing another vehicle. This may be a good idea for you boondockers out there!

So, make sure to include jumper cables in your Emergency Roadside Kit.

11. Emergency radio

An emergency radio can help you stay in touch with the NOAA Emergency Radio Station in the event of a natural disaster or emergency. They can help you identify fire danger or recovery information for other natural disasters. All in all, it can help keep you and your family safe. 

12. Folding step stool

Whether you need to fix your awning or clean up a spill in a high cabinet, a step stool saves the day. The best part about this stool is that it folds up flat for easy storage. It can easily be stored in an outdoor storage hatch or utility closet inside. It can even be tucked away under a couch or bed if they are elevated above the floor.

Disposable vinyl gloves © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Disposable vinyl gloves

Emptying the RV black water tank is probably the most common reason to have disposable vinyl gloves around. But, they can also be used for a variety of other things like cleaning and handling food. Yes, you should absolutely use disposable gloves for sewer tasks.

14. Assorted fuses

Vehicle fuses can blow at any time so it’s a good idea to keep extras around. We like to travel in a variety of sizes. But remember—something caused it to blow in the first place. Address the original issue as soon as you can. 

15. Duct tape

You probably already know that duct tape can come in very handy around the home. It is no different when you are in your RV! As one person said, “If it moves and it shouldn’t, use duct tape.” 

Use it to temporarily repair frayed wires, holes or leaks, or hang up holiday decorations. The uses are endless with good ol’ duct tape!

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

16. Space heater

Space heaters are great for warming up an RV. Even though they are small, they are mighty. 

A small electric space heater can quickly warm your RV, keeping you toasty in chilly camping conditions. They are simple to use since all you need is a plug. 

17. Fan

Just like a heater, having a camping fan to keep cool can be make camping that much more enjoyable. Fans are great for cooling you when it is not hot enough to warrant using the air conditioner. 

18. Heavy duty RV dogbone electrical adapters

Every RVer needs to carry a few power adapters often referred to as dogbones to make sure that they can connect to whatever power is available to them. These power adapters will have a smaller, lower amperage plug (male blades) on one end and a larger/higher-amperage receptacle (female terminals). Look for UL-listed versions of these adapters preferably with rigid grab handles. They do not change the power output.

Recommended electric adapters include:

  • 50-amp RV plugged into 30-amp source
  • 30-amp RV plugged into 15-amp source

19. Gorilla tape 

Gorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue and available in several sizes and colors including camouflage, white, and clear. Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel.

20. Rain gear

Another small thing to keep on hand is rain gear. That way, you can be prepared for any unforeseen downfalls. 

Keep a poncho and rain boots in a closet for rainy days. Here me out on this one… Another great tip is to purchase plastic disposable shower caps to wear over your socks inside your shoes. They can help keep your feet from getting soaked!

Comfortable pillow and bedding © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

21. Comfortable pillow and bedding

Comfort is key to a successful camping trip and that includes a super comfortable pillow. Instead of just grabbing a spare pillow from your house, invest in a good one specifically for your RV.

22. Fly swatter

A fly swatter makes a great addition to your RV. You can quickly rid your space of annoying flying insects. 

23. Mosquito and bug repellent

One downside of being in nature is being around unwanted bugs. While many folks love all of nature’s creatures, most do not want mosquitos and flies bugging them. There are products on the market that will combat pesky bug on your next road trip. You’ll be ready to battle the little buggers on your next camping trip with one of the following deterrants: Thermacell Patio Shield, Yaya Tick Ban, Buzz Away, OFF! Deep Woods Bug Spray, and Citronella candels.

24. Silverware

This one might seem funny to some folks! It certainly won’t be amusing if you forget to pack silverware on your next RV trip.

Stabilizer jack pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

25. Stabilizers

One small item you do not want to go without is stabilizers for your rig! These small pads can help keep your rig level, making your camping experience much more enjoyable. 

Prevent hydraulic or electric jacks from sinking into the ground by using RV stabilizer jack pads. Available in sets of four they are solidly constructed of durable polypropylene with UV inhibitors.

26. Chairs

Sitting back and relaxing on a trip is one of the main reasons I travel! Camping chairs are an absolute must.

27. Spare keys/hidden keys

It’s a VERY GOOD IDEA to make an extra copy of your key and hide it on the outside of your rig using a magnetic hide-a-key. Of course, make sure you hide it in a clever place that won’t easily be discovered by no-do-gooders. I also recommend leaving a spare with a family member that can ship it to you, just in case.

28. Zip ties

Zip ties are convenient, especially while camping. Zip ties are handy to tie up a cord or attach something inside your rig. 

29. Matches or lighter

Nothing is worse than trying to light your stove only to realize you do not have matches or a lighter. Even if you just want some ambiance by lighting a candle, you do not want to learn too late that you cannot burn it. 

30. Paper towels

Camping is messy, and paper towels can help keep you and your rig tidier. Paper towels help clean up spills at home and in your RV. They also make great napkins for those messy BBQ nights when camping. 

31. Can opener

You’d be surprised by how many people forget to pack a can opener! It’s not something you really think about until you stare dumbly at a can and wonder how the heck you will open it.

32. Pot holders

Same as can openers, people often overlook packing pot holders. And, trust me, a double-upped towel doesn’t work as well. Especially if you’re using cast iron! Do your hands a favor, and don’t forget pot holders!

33. Large trash bags

Inside our rig, we use small trash bags or grocery store bags to line trash cans. The 13-gallon trash bags do not always cut it, so we also pick up the large black trash bags from Costco and bring a handful along. And having large trash bags for all the outside debris is really useful. 

You’ll need a corkscrew for most wines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

34. Corkscrew

We all know how catastrophic forgetting a corkscrew can be to some people’s camping trip. Settling in for the evening with a nice glass of wine is a common RVer indulgence. But what do you do if you forget a corkscrew?

35. Dog poop bags

Last, but not least, bring along some dog poop bags. That is, if you travel with a dog, of course.

In addition, these little bags can be handy for other items too. Put raw meat or strong-smelling foods in them before throwing the food in your trash. It can help keep your trash fresher for longer!

Worth Pondering…

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

—Benjamin Franklin

RV Weight Distribution Tips for Packing your RV

Effective RV weight distribution strategies

If you just toss a bunch of random items into your recreational vehicle with no organization and then head down the road, you are bound to have problems during your trip.

It is vital to know how to properly load your RV safely based on its weight ratings. You need a strategy that will reduce swaying, bouncing, tire blowouts, and a host of other problems. 

RV weight distribution is something not a lot of RV owners think about. This is unfortunate because ensuring that the weight in your RV is evenly distributed is incredibly important for safety reasons. 

Balance the weight when packing your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Trailers with cargo that haven’t been distributed across the rig evenly are more likely to sway. Additionally, all RVs that are loaded unevenly (or overloaded) can suffer from suspension issues, problems with tires, and in some cases, issues with steering.

Clearly, these are not things you want to have trouble with while driving down the road. Fortunately, this is a problem that can be easy to avoid. The solution lies in the way you load RV. 

Here are my tips for packing your motorhome or trailer with RV weight distribution in mind. 

Balance the weight when packing your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why can’t you just throw everything in?

It is extremely important to learn how to load and pack your recreational vehicle both from comfort and safety standpoints.

People often forget that an RV is basically just a vehicle and as such it needs to be well balanced if it is to move safely along roads and highways. Lopsided coaches don’t hold up well to slippery roads nor do they do well in areas where there is road construction. Furthermore, a poorly packed coach makes finding things difficult and leaves travelers doing without items they couldn’t readily locate.

>> Related article: Are You Ready to Live the RV Lifestyle? 11 Tips for Getting Started

This is why you must pack and load your camper, travel trailer, or motorhome carefully. Comfort and safety are everything when you are on the road and only you can take steps to make sure things are set up and done right.

Balance the weight when packing your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why proper loading and packing matters

When coaches are not balanced, they are dangerous and difficult to drive safely.

When they are not properly packed, they also can make travelers miserable.

You do not want to find yourself standing on the side of the road beside your overturned coach and you certainly do not want to use your commode only to find you have forgotten your toilet paper!

If you learn the correct method to prepare your motorhome or camper for travel, these types of situations become non issues. With careful organization and planning, you should never have to worry.

Balance the weight when packing your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to balance your RV load

The keys to good loading are to keep your unit bottom-heavy and make sure that the items you pack are distributed over your coach’s axles. Here are the most important basics:

  • Check your manuals to find out the maximum weight each axle can carry
  • Weigh the empty coach on a certified scale at a truck stop
  • Pack it, making sure that the heavier items are low and are spread out evenly along its entire length
  • Weigh it again
  • Make adjustments as needed

The heaviest weight in a travel unit is in the appliances, slide rooms, engine, generator, and fuel and water tanks so weighing lets you know which axles are carrying the most weight.

Once you have this information you can pack light where the weight is heaviest and pack heavy where the weight is lightest. You should also pack light items high and heavy items low.

When you do this, your unit will be less likely to sway out of control or to flip over since you will be able to maintain better control.

Balance the weight when packing your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Know your limits

First and foremost, you need to know the limits of your rig. This includes the cargo-carrying capacity of your RV and the towing capacity of your truck (if applicable) as well as the gross axle weight rating (the amount that can be put on any given axle).

>> Related article: Safety Dance

Knowing these numbers and ensuring you stay within the given boundaries is the first step in properly loading your RV and staying safe on the road. 

Balance the weight when packing your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pick and choose

Once you know the limits of your RV you can decide what you will take and what you’ll have to leave behind in order to stay within those limits. Packing light is the name of the game! Versatile items that can serve multiple purposes and small lightweight options are ideal.

Obviously, you will only want to take the essentials. Leave unnecessary items at home. But taking some toys or outdoor gear is probably fine. Just do so in moderation and keep those weight limits in mind. 

Balance the weight when packing your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep things balanced

Once you know the basic parameters you are working with and what you can pack, the next thing to do is actually move the items into your RV. Remember to keep things as balanced as possible—both side-to-side and front-to-back.

Take note of where appliances and slides are. They are heavy and should be taken into consideration as you decide where items should be stored. Use all storage bays and spread things out evenly between them. If most of your cabinets are on one side of the RV, try to put heavy items on the opposite side to balance out what you store in the cabinets. 

Balance the weight when packing your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Heavy items low and centered

Have some especially heavy items you need to pack? Those should be kept on the floor and on top of an axle. This will help prevent the heavy item from putting too much weight on the front or back. Storing on the floor also ensures the item doesn’t fall, break things, and/or hurt people while the RV is in transit.

When possible, pack an item of similar weight on the opposite side. Or pack the heavy item opposite your main kitchen appliances in order to even things out from side to side.

Balance the weight when packing your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to load drawers and cabinets

Another thing to keep in mind as you’re loading up the RV is how to load the drawers and cabinets.

>> Related article: 30 RV Hacks and Tips for a Successful Road Trip

You want to make sure only lightweight things are in the overhead cabinets in order to help keep things balanced and keep your passengers safe if you’re in a motorhome. Meanwhile, the drawers should not be overloaded as this can break them—and if all of your drawers are on one side of the RV (as is often the case) you’ll be putting a lot of weight in one area and throwing off the balance of the rig. 

Balance the weight when packing your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep tank locations in mind

Water is heavy. It weighs in at 8.34 pounds per gallon meaning a 40-gallon tank weighs over 333 pounds when full. That’s a lot of weight and it can easily put you over your cargo-carrying capacity and out of balance.

If you plan to drive with a full fresh or waste water tank make sure you know where that particular tank is located and try to pack everything in such a way that the extra weight is balanced out and you aren’t over your RV’s weight limit. 

Balance the weight when packing your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Observe before you drive

Once everything is loaded into the RV, it’s time for a visual inspection. Head outside and look at the rig. Make sure it isn’t obviously leaning to one side or the other. If you pull a trailer, make sure the trailer isn’t weighing down the truck and make sure the bottom of the trailer is parallel with the ground.

Essentially, you are looking for any signs that you’ve overloaded the RV or that the weight inside isn’t balanced. You will want to add this visual inspection to your pre-trip walk-around every time you drive. 

Balance the weight when packing your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Get weighed

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to know whether you’re overloaded and almost impossible to know whether one axle is taking the brunt of the work without getting properly weighed. Even if everything looks good from the outside you could still be totally out of balance. For this reason, it’s best to head to a nearby truck scale to be weighed after you’ve loaded the RV.

>> Related article: Everything You Need to Know to Plan a Safe (and Fun) RV Road Trip

RV weight distribution is incredibly important. With this knowledge you can take the needed steps to avoid dangerous situations caused by uneven weight distribution from becoming an issue dring your RV travels.

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey

The Best Road Trip Songs

These road trip songs will make your next excursion a memorable one whether you’re driving a roadster or an RV

Don’t get me wrong—I love urban life. But sometimes a visit to a local park or neighborhood walk doesn’t quite satisfy your need for an escape to the open road. Time to hit the highway for that classic American tradition: the road trip.

White Sands National Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of course, you can’t drive in complete silence—well, you can, and we sometimes do, but the very thought may give you a flat tire—so here’s my list of the best road trip songs to get your motors running and kick your highway journey into high gear. Whether you’re off to a state or national park or an extended cross-country road trip, here are the 13 best sounds to keep your engines purring. Crank up classics from the Eagles, the U2, Ray Charles, the Man in Black, John Denver, and even some Willie (and there’s plenty more where that came from). So grab your keys, pack up the RV, and crank up the volume. It is road trip time!

Driving Roaring Fork Nature Motor Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson

Nothing beats hitting the open road where you can escape the stress of work, bills, city life, and just be free, man. Just ask tireless road dog Willie Nelson. The Red Headed Stranger penned this 1980 country hit—the ultimate get-the-hell-out-of-town anthem—where else, but the back of his tour bus.

Corpus Christi, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash

Music has always had the power to educate. Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” taught us more 20th-century American history than a year’s worth of eighth-grade social-studies classes. And when it comes to geography, there is no better musical resource than this name-dropping country ditty, first released with North American locales in 1962 by Canadian crooner Hank Snow.

Helena, Montana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In four verses, 91 places are rattled off in rapid-fire succession—destinations both big (Chicago and Nashville) and small (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and Haverstraw, New York). The song has been covered many times and adapted for different regions of the globe, but we’re partial to the Man in Black’s 1996 rendition simply because his weathered, gravelly bass-baritone suggests a man who has indeed been everywhere.

Joshua Tree National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2

This opening track from U2’s landmark 1987 LP, The Joshua Tree, is an ideal kick starter for any road trip especially if you’re wandering about the California desert where this classic yucca plant is commonly found. From a whisper, the sound of an organ builds up like the start to a gospel hymn. It’s over a minute before the Edge’s guitar and Adam Clayton’s bass kicks in. More time passes before Bono’s vocals touch-down. By then, you’re ready to hit overdrive and wail along: “I want to run/I want to hide/I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside.” Though the song is about Bono’s vision of an Ireland free from class boundaries, it has inspired countless highway warriors to venture out to those places where the streets truly have no name. Or where they at least have weird names!

Driving Utah Scenic Byway 24 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Road to Nowhere” by Talking Heads

The gospel-choir intro to this upbeat single, off 1985’s Little Creatures, makes for a great start to any road-trip mix. The song celebrates the journey over the destination. Not every end point is a good one, but we’ll be damned if this march doesn’t have us enjoying the ride.

Driving the country roads in Bluegrass Country, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Take It Easy” by the Eagles

The Eagles took flight in 1972 with their debut single: a quick but mellow song of praise to the romance of the road where a world of troubles can be shucked at the mere sight of a girl (my lord!) in a flatbed Ford. Cowritten by frontman Glenn Frey and his friend Jackson Browne, the song’s rejection of worry and release into a relaxed and happy adventure are perfect for relieving tension on a long drive. And as the lyrics gently urge: “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.”

Driving Route 66 somewhere in Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Route 66” by Chuck Berry

This R&B standard, written in 1946 by Bobby Troup, has been covered by everyone from Nat King Cole to the Rolling Stones to John Mayer, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bing Crosby, Asleep at the Wheel, and Depeche Mode. The song uses a twelve-bar blues arrangement and the lyrics follow the path of Route 66 which traversed the western two-thirds of the U.S. from Chicago, Illinois to Malibu, California. We’re partial to Chuck Berry’s 1961 rendition which matches the 2,400-mile pilgrimage on the connecting iconic highway to a T. Who better than the father of rock & roll to accompany a trip past greasy-spoon diners, tiny towns frozen in time and striking Americana landscapes?

Driving Creole Nature Trail, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles

Fiendishly simple with its descending piano chords, “Hit the Road Jack” is sung from the perspective of a philanderer being rejected by his lady. By all rights this 1961 R&B classic should win a prize for being impossible not to sing along to: “What you say???” screams soul hero Charles to his velvet-voiced Raelettes. The track’s most memorable use in a road trip appears in the 1989 comedy movie The Dream Team.

Driving Alabama Gulf Coast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Because of college pigskin rivalries, this song could not be made today! College football is a matter of life and death down there. Skynyrd was born deep in SEC country: The boogie-rock brothers were from Jacksonville, not Alabama, and cut the track in Georgia. Could you imagine a bunch of Gators fans cutting a tune that could in any way be construed as “Roll Tide”? Yankees and rivals love to mock and loathe the Crimson Tide, but when this ditty plays, every human in the room, no matter the allegiance, becomes a temporary, gen-u-wine southern country folk.

Driving Bush Highway, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Truckin’” by Grateful Dead

Let us pause, and acknowledge the fact that this song has been recognized by the U.S. Library of Congress as a national treasure. Mmmm. Written and performed by Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and lyricist Robert Hunter, the catchy, bluesy tune—off 1970’s American Beauty—turns the band’s misfortunes on the road into a metaphor for getting through life’s constant changes. And really, what’s a good road trip—or a good life—if you can’t exclaim at the end, “What a long, strange trip it’s been”?

Driving the country roads in Parke County, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Life Is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane

Okay. We know how heavy-handed these metaphors are and how forced the rhymes are. We never said every song on this list was a masterpiece. But we dare you not to sing along with the chorus of this 1991 tune—especially on a highway. Maybe no one ever listens to the song in its entirety, but one or two “life is a highway”s are pretty much mandatory.

Driving the winding roads of Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Everyday Is a Winding Road” by Sheryl Crow

The little sister to Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is a Highway,” Sheryl Crow’s 1996 hit unabashedly co-opts the use of automotive byways as metaphors for life’s ups and downs. The “wacky” characters in Crow’s songs are often a bit much for my liking—in this case, a vending-machine repairman with a daughter he calls “Easter” (what?)—but the chorus gets us fired up for some hairpin turns even when we’re cruising down a seemingly endless straightaway. The song takes us back to San Francisco’s Lombard Street whose residents probably have this tune swirling in their heads 24/7.

Driving the roads of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“King of the Road” by Roger Miller

The tale of the hobo, the migrant farm worker, and the dust bowl refugee are as pure 66 as the image of the Corvette and soda shop. This 1965 Roger Miller classic has got to be one of the most lighthearted hobo songs making it perfect driving or even wishing you were driving. Regardless, it’s a timeless everyman’s anthem and darn if it isn’t catchy.

Driving the roads of West Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver

John Denver’s signature song is the official state anthem for West Virginia. It has been played at every West Virginia University Football game since 1972 as their theme song. But did you know that the song was actually inspired by another state? Bill Danoff and his wife, Taffy Nivert, wrote the classic song with help from Denver. Nivert grew up in the Washington D.C. area and one day she and Danoff were driving down an old road in Montgomery County, Maryland called Clopper Roads. Danoff started singing about the winding roads they were driving down and it had a ring to it.

Worth Pondering…

You’ve heard the old Willie Nelson country music song with the lyrics, “On the road again. Just can’t wait to get on the road again…” We’ll be singing this song for sure.

Road Trip Ahead! What Do I Pack?

You’ve scheduled your next adventure and couldn’t be more excited. And then it hits you—what do I pack?

If you’re hitting the road for several weeks or months, it’s important to pack smart…or suffer the consequences. Prepping for a long trip is truly an art—one that you’ll need to learn if you want to avoid hauling around unnecessary items, or forgetting truly important belongings.

In this post, we’ll cover both what to pack, and how to pack for a long trip. Get ready. Now is the time to start preparing for your next road trip!

Step 1: Plan Your Clothing Options

Walterboro, South Carolina, small-town America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When packing for a long trip, it can be overwhelming to think about the different outfits you’ll need on your adventure. By following a few of these tips you’ll feel better about packing light and packing smart.

Opt for Neutral Colors

Rent an e-bike © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The key to packing light is to create a variety of outfits with the clothes you choose to bring. You’d be surprised at how many different combinations a few pairs of pants, several shirts, and a jacket can yield!

Try and stick to more neutral colors. That way, everything should match and you’ll cut down on the amount of clothes you’re hauling along.

Do Some Research

Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The type of trip you’re taking will impact what type of clothing you bring. About a week before you leave, check the weather to see what type of temperatures you can expect. Packing layers is almost always a safe bet, especially if you plan on visiting a variety of climates or the Sunbelt during winter months.

Shoes Should Be Comfortable

Hiking Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We’re big believers in packing shoes that are comfortable.

When it comes to shoes, plan for the three W’s: walking, working, and weather. Walking shoes should be supportive, and could include anything from tennis shoes to hiking boots. Work shoes are a tad nicer, and could be worn for special occasions. And finally, weather refers to the type of climate you’ll be visiting—so think snow boots versus rain boots.

Step 2: Remember All Your Accessories

Horseback riding at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While you definitely don’t want to pack too many accessories, there’s no doubt that a few key items should make the packing list. Here are a few things you can’t forget.

Sunglasses Are a Must

Dauphin Island, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When hitting the road in your RV, you’ll a good pair of sunglasses, regardless of whether you’re heading to the beaches or to the mountains. No one wants to stare into the sun for hours on end, not to mention that driving without sunglasses can be dangerous. Do yourself (and your eyes!) a favor and remember your shades.

Bring a Backpack

Hiking to Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Planning on hiking? Checking out some local shops? Grab your backpack—it will definitely come in handy!

Hiking the Appalachian Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When taking a long trip, you might not have every day planned to a tee. That is why backpacks are great—they can accommodate any last minute excursions. We recommend water resistant, so you can take it anywhere and everywhere.

Step 3: Don’t Forget the Entertainment

Hiking Thumb Butte Trail, Prescott, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Long trips mean a lot of time spent in your RV. And while conversation and the open road are great, it’s helpful to have some sort of entertainment for when things get a little slow.

Podcast and Audio Books

Canoeing near Orlando, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To pass the time, make sure to pile a few books on your phone or e-reader, along with some podcasts. Audiobooks are great too, especially if you tend to get motion sick reading in a moving vehicle.

Last But Not Least, Know Where You’re Going

Quail Gate State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Okay, okay. You likely have a destination in mind. But if you’re heading out for months on end, you might want to bring along a few suggestions.

Now hit the road already!

Worth Pondering…

When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.