Planning your Summer Road Trip Begins NOW

Mapping your route and stocking up on gear in advance will pay off when you hit the road

In February’s cold, dark days, a summer road trip might be the farthest thing from your mind. Without the need to book a flight or coordinate other transportation, it’s easy to rely on spontaneity for a last-minute escape once the weather warms up. The beauty of an RV road trip is its structured freedom: you can do anything you want just as long as you are willing and able to drive.

But pushing off your planning until sunnier days could affect your vacation down the road. Investing a little time now will go a long way toward making the most out of your summer.

If plotting a course feels daunting, start by clustering destinations that will you give you something concrete to plan around. Depending on the number of days you expect to travel, you can add or remove stops along the way.

White Sands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For example, a trip through three national parks in New Mexico and TexasWhite Sands, Carlsbad Caverns, and Guadalupe Mountains—could be knocked out in a long weekend. Tack on Big Bend National Park for an additional few days to account for the extra mileage and time to explore.

A classic way to plan a road trip is to follow one of America’s best-known vacation drives such as Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway, or the Lewis and Clark Expedition Trail. Though they may seem cliché these drives are still famous for a reason: They capture the history of America. You can use social media to find modern attractions along these well-tread routes.

Search for geotags along the route for crowdsourced advice on what to visit while you pass through. Use hiking apps like All Trails to explore what nature recommendations people have outside of national park suggestions. Start following accounts of bloggers or local experts who post about the areas you’re visiting. To keep yourself from overcommitting, keep a list of these potential food stops, campgrounds, roadside attractions, and nature areas along the way to reference when you need options.

Whether you’re planning to follow a well-known path or keep a looser schedule, become familiar with your major waypoints by April. This will give you time to research lesser-known sights and dig for local suggestions. By the time you hit the road, you’ll have the confidence to make quick (but informed) decisions.

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make reservations at national parks

While reserving a spot inside a national park isn’t the only way to camp near popular nature sites, it is well worth the foresight if you can book a few nights ahead of time.

Every park has its own schedule of openings, reservation requirements, and campsite availability so the best advice is to closely track a few parks for announcements. While some national parks save a portion of their campsite reservations to be released a week before booking, most park reservations open six months in advance.

Most National Parks reserve a few spots per campground as a first-come, first-serve option. They can be impossible to predict so do not rely on their availability if you are set on camping inside the park. Note that reservations often become available at 8 a.m. in the time zone of that park.

Permits for popular hikes and activities also become available at this time at Recreation.gov.

Timed entry reservations will still be required at a handful of popular parks during the peak summer months: Yosemite, Arches, Zion, Glacier, Rocky Mountain, and Haleakalā National Parks will all require some reservation to enter.

For complete details read 10 National Parks That Require Early Reservations for 2024 Visits

To the National Park Service’s credit, these required dates cluster around the most popular weeks and holidays and there are usually exceptions like entering a park before 5 a.m. that still allow for some flexibility if you can’t score a reservation in time.

Friday’s Fried Chicken, Shiner, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buy gear and supplies

A backpack, good walking shoes or hiking boots, wide-brimmed hat, and sun protection are all important regardless of how much outdoor activity you’re planning. It’s not just the outdoor gear to keep an eye out on—road trip essentials range from storage options to electronics to RV supplies.

Be sure to stock up on household and RV-related items: paper products, water filter, plastic bags, tissues, disinfecting wipes, and a fully stocked first aid kit.

That’s why I wrote this article: 35 Little Things to Remember to Pack for Your RV Road Trip

Bluegrass Country, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check your vehicle

Don’t forget about a checklist for your RV. A tire pressure gauge, jumper cables, and a roadside tool kit can all come in handy even if you’re renting an RV. And always keep a paper atlas on hand in case you’re out of cell service range.

Beyond the typical under-the-hood checks—engine oil, transmission fluid, hydraulic oil, coolant, and washer fluid—be sure to check your lightbulbs and brake reactivity, even in rentals. Spending hours on the road can decrease your focus and reaction time so ensure that the RV will be safe and comfortable. That’s why you should follow the 330 Rule.

The biggest investment to make in your pre-road trip vehicle is a new set of tires especially if you tend to only drive in the city. If you’re planning on driving or pulling a camper, van or RV and have been putting off upgrading your tires consider buying tires with a longer tread life or thicker tread for more diverse terrain.

Historic Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here are some helpful resources when it comes to tire safety:

Worth Pondering…

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

—Miyamoto Musashi

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

2023 RV Shows

Are you looking for an RV show?

RV shows are wonderful opportunities to discover the latest travel trailer and motorhome models. You can meet with dealers, tour various layouts, and maybe even score a great deal on your next camper. Whether you’re a newbie looking to buy your first travel trailer or a seasoned traveler with an upgrade on your mind, RV shows can be very enjoyable and beneficial. 

Don’t forget about all the cool camping gear and gadgets. Dozens of vendors are usually in attendance to promote their camping goods, services, and products.  

I’ve compiled a list of 10 RV shows across the U. S. that you’re sure to love. Take a look and see what’s coming up in your area. Please note that not all shows are included in the following list.

Here is my list, organized by date.

RV show vendor display © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Florida RV Supershow

Tampa. Florida

January 18-22

Description: This is a must-see show for all RV and travel enthusiasts. Whether you’re an experienced RVer or just getting started, the SuperShow is made for you. The RV show offers educational seminars, daily entertainment, and the latest innovative RV products and accessories. Two booth exhibit halls are full of parts and accessories, campgrounds and resorts, tourism information, towing supplies, and many other products. Plus you’ll find all types of RVs from small travel trailers to bus-conversion luxury motorhomes.

Location: Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 US Highway 301 North, Tampa

Show Hours: Wednesday, January 18–Saturday, January 21, 9:00 am– 6:00 pm; Sunday, January 22, 9:00 am–5:00 pm

Admission: Adults $15.00 (get 2nd day pass free); children under 16 free

Parking daily rate: $10/car, $16/RV; parking is handled by the Florida State Fairgrounds

Camping: Advanced reservation required; overnight camping is handled by the Florida State Fairgrounds; for questions or concerns please contact 813-621-7821

RV show vendor display © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tacoma RV Show

Tacoma, Washington

January 19-22

Description: No other show in the region delivers a more complete shopping experience with so many dealers, brands and RV’s under one-roof.

Location: Tacoma Dome, 2727 E. D Street, Tacoma

Show Hours: Thursday, January 19-Friday, January 20, 11 am–8 pm; Saturday, January 21, 10 am–8 pm; Sunday, January 22, 10 am–5 pm

Admission: Adults 13 and over $13; Military $7.50; children 12 and under free

Parking: Free

RV show vendor display © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Greater Chicago RV Show

Chicago, Illinois

January 20-22

Description: Featuring the latest makes and models of recreational vehicles from all of the nation’s top manufacturers.  Special factory rebates, financing, and on the spot loan approval makes this show can’t miss for the RV enthusiasts.

Location: Schaumburg Convention Center, 1551 N. Thoreau Dr, Schaumburg

Show Hours: Friday, January 20-Saturday, January 21, 9 am-8 pm; Sunday, January 22, 10 am-5 pm

Admission: Adults $15; children under 16 free; CASH ONLY

Parking: Onsite parking is free at the Schaumburg Convention Center and offers easy access to the show entrance

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show

Quartzsite, Arizona

January 21–29

Description: For nine days, RVers descend on the giant exhibit tent to see the latest gadgets, get work and upgrades done on their RVs, and learn more about the RV lifestyle with workshops and seminars where attendees can learn about topics from trip planning to safety upgrades, solar and batteries, boondocking, and how to shop for an RV.

One can expect to see the “who’s who” of the RV industry but the stars of the show are the over 400 exhibitors (set up in and around the Big Tent—a 70,000-square-foot fully carpeted structure) selling everything from the latest and greatest RV gadgets to fashion jewelry to local honey. Some big tent vendors also have a cellphone and electronic gadgets, glass fingernail files, dip mixes, and other vendors with non-RV junk.

Location: Central Blvd., Quartzsite

Show Hours: 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. (3 p.m. closing day)

Admission and parking: Free

At an RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Louisville Boat, RV & Sportshow

Louisville, Kentucky

January 25-29

Description: The annual boat and RV show offers outdoors enthusiasts and newcomers alike the chance to prepare for their next adventure and beat cabin fever. 

Location: Kentucky Exposition Center, 937 Phillips Ln, Louisville

Show Hours: Wednesday, January 25, 5 pm-9 pm; Thursday, January 26-Friday, January 27, 12 pm-9 pm; Saturday, January 28, 10 am-9 pm; Sunday, January 29, 10 am-5 pm

Admission: $14.00 Adults (13 and up); children 12 and younger free (when accompanied by a paid adult); Thursday, January 26, $5 after 5 pm; all ticket sales are now online

Parking: Kentucky Exposition Center has more than 19,000 parking spaces; parking is $12 for cars and $20 for buses; handicap parking is also available

RV show vendor display © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Atlanta Camping and RV Show

Atlanta, Georgia

January 26-29

Description: The Atlanta Camping and RV Show began in 1975 and has grown to one of the biggest combined RV dealers show in the Southeast with nine of Atlanta’s largest RV dealers on-site featuring all makes and models for outdoor travel and camping.

Location: Atlanta Exposition Center South, 3850 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta (I-285, Exit 55)

Show Hours: Thursday, January 26, 11 am-6 pm; Friday, January 27-Saturday, January 28, 9 am-7 pm; Sunday, January 29, 9 am-5 pm

Admission: Thursday or Friday adult $10.00; children 18 and under free; Saturday or Sunday adult $12.00; children 6-18 $5.00; under 6 Free (on-line pricing for single day eEntry $2.00 discount applied)

RV show product display © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Minneapolis/St. Paul RV, Vacation & Camping Show

Minneapolis, Minnesota

February 2-5

Description: The show features the latest makes and models of RVs from the nation’s top manufacturers. Take advantage of special show-only pricing and incentives. Units are available for immediate delivery at the show. The show will also feature a huge selection of outdoor accessories and daily seminars.

Location: Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Ave S, Minneapolis

Show Hours: Thursday, February 2-Saturday, February 4, 10 am-7 pm; Sunday, February 5, 10 am-4 pm

Admission: Free

Parking: Visit the official Minneapolis/St. Paul RV Vacation & Camping Show Parking Page to find and reserve convenient parking with rates up to 50 percent off drive-up

RV show entertainment © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Houston RV Show

Houston, Texas

February 8-11

Description: Texas’ largest RV Expo with thousands of recreational vehicles including motorhomes, travel trailers, tent campers, fifth wheels, and van conversions. RV-related venders onsite representing campgrounds, resorts, parks, and RV supplies.

Location: NRG Center (Halls C, D, E); NRG Center events utilize Gate 10 on the corner of Kirby and McNee. Type in the address: 8600 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX 77054 for specific driving directions

Show Hours: Wednesday-Friday, February 8-10, Noon–8 pm; Saturday, September 11, 10 am–8 pm

Admission: $15.00 adults; $5.00 children (6-12 years); under 6 Free

Parking: 26,283 parking spots available at NRG Center

RV show vendor display © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dallas RV Supersale

Dallas, Texas

February 23-26

Description: Dallas RV Supersale features hundreds of RVs from North Texas RV dealers in more than 350,000 square feet of exhibit space. Major national manufacturers and top dealers will display motorhomes, fifth-wheels, travel trailers, toy haulers, tent trailers, RV accessories and more. Booth vendors will showcase related products as well as a wide assortment of other products and services. Also take advantage of the free seminars throughout the day.

Location: Dallas Market Hall, 2200 N Stemmons Freeway, Dallas

Show Hours: Thursday, February 23, 10 am–6 pm; Friday, February 24-Saturday, February 25, 10 am–8 pm; Sunday, February 26, 10 am–6 pm

Admission: Adults $15.00; youth (6-12) $7.00; children (5 & under) free; cash only (ATM onsite)

Parking: Free

RV show product display © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hershey America’s Largest RV Show

Hershey, Pennsylvania

September 13-17

Description: With more than 1,400 RVs on display from the smallest travel trailer to the largest motorhome, this show is the place to shop and compare RVs, the latest camping accessories and gear, upgrades, campgrounds, vacation destinations, and related products. Explore the 33 football fields of RVs available from over 30 manufacturers, talk to knowledgeable dealers, and attend seminars presented by industry experts. 

Location: Giant Center, 550 W. Hersheypark Drive, Hershey

Show Hours: Wednesday, September 13–Saturday, September 16, 9 am–8 pm; Sunday, September 17, 9 am–5 pm

Admission: Adult (13 and up) Wednesday-Friday $12 in advance, $14 day-of; Saturday $17 in advance, $19 day-of; Sunday $8 in advance, $10 day-of

Parking: Free daily parking in designated lots

Worth Pondering…

The RV lifestyle is like nothing else.

It’s leaving home, exploring America, and yet bringing your home along with you!

Stopping at a wayside picnic area, preparing lunch in your kitchen.

It’s sleeping in your own bed every night, yet waking up to a new vista each morning!

The sounds of a crackling campfire; of a mountain stream, of frogs, and crickets.

It’s families drawn closer; it’s retirees being rewarded for many years of labor.

—Loren Eyrich, Two-Lane Roads

Best Preparations for an RV Road Trip

When preparing for an RV road trip there are important things to do before hitting the open road

When it comes to planning an affordable vacation or a weekend retreat, there’s nothing that compares to an RV road trip. Whether you’re an experienced camper, simple novice, or admitted first-timer, the basic preparations are similar. This process can be simplified by dividing your trip planning into these three phases:

  • Pre-trip (what is required prior to the trip?)
  • On the Road (what is needed while traveling?)
  • Final Destination (you’ve arrived—now what?)

Regardless of your destination, it all starts with the RV.

Visually check the RV exterior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pre-trip

Prior to setting out, RV owners need to perform some basic and routine maintenance to ensure their RV trip goes smoothly. Regardless if you’re an RV owner or renter, your RV requires a full safety inspection prior to travel.

Check the water and sewer systems for any potential issues © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The first thing to do is a visual inspection of your RV exterior. Check to see if any damage was sustained over time, looking especially for evidence of water leaks. In particular, focus on the roof and caulking around windows, vents, air-conditioning unit, and doors. Look for cracks, holes, stains, separations, and leaks. Also, check for nests and evidence of chewing activity.

Check to ensure sewer hose and connection are in good working condition © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Roll out the awning and inspect it for tears. Check the fluid levels and top them up as necessary. Inspect hoses for any tears or holes, and valves for leaks.

If you’re renting, your vehicle should be prepared by the rental company beforehand, but still, it never hurts to be aware of what general safety issues to look out for.

Rest areas and roadside attractions make great stops along your route © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Once your RV is ready for travel, now comes the fun part: planning your trip! Three important things to consider when organizing an RV trip: Where are we going? How long are we going? What do we do once we get there?

By asking these questions, you’ll need to consider what clothes, gear, and supplies you’ll need to pack for your trip. Maybe it’s taking extra coats and hiking gear for the mountains? Perhaps packing some additional food and water for a lengthy stay? What activities are available where you’re staying and what else might they require?

Wall Drug makes a great stop when traveling across South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s ideal to map out your trip in advance and check for stopping points along the way, in case you need to take breaks for rest, fuel, food, etc. The more you plan ahead, the better you’re prepared for any potential issues or needs that may arise.

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

On the Road

Now your RV is packed and ready for travel. What concerns are there once you are out on the highway? Hopefully, you’ve tackled most potential concerns with some proper pre-trip logistics, but there are always things you simply can’t prepare for. Be aware of the height restriction of your RV. Watch out for clearance signs when approaching underpasses and tunnels.

Beware of height restrictions © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Destination

Information on national and state parks, campsites, and weather conditions can go a long way for helping you to make the most of your adventure. By doing a little research in advance, you can prepare for most situations and elements.

Worth Pondering…

Make your choice, adventurous stranger.
Strike the bell and bide the danger.
Or wonder ’til it drives you mad,
What would have followed, if you had.

— C.S. Lewis, The Magicians Nephew

The 9 Things You Should Never Travel Without

Things you should never set off in your RV without

Every RV traveler has their go-to gadgets and comforts. These are the nine items that should always go with you when you travel.

Needed RV supplies include water and sewer hoses. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

First aid kit

You can buy a first aid kit at your local pharmacy before setting off or you can make your own if your family has special medical needs that are not accommodated by the store-bought ones. Be sure to pack ample allergy medications in case you find that the local plant life triggers your allergies wherever you go.

Sewer hose and connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV essentials

These are the things your systems need like oil, coolant, windshield washer fluid, and spare batteries. Think outside of the RV as well such as road flares in case you break down, raincoats, rags, and anything else you may need to get back on the road again.

Water hose and city water connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camera

In reality, if you have a smartphone you probably have a camera capable of capturing amazing memories wherever you go. In fact, I agree with professional photographer Chase Jarvis, who says that “the best camera is the one you have with you.” 

Be prepared for varied weather conditions © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Notebook and pen

Sometimes the best gadget is low-tech and simple. Always travel with a notebook and pen. Actually, for a guy who writes an RV blog my brain thinks surprisingly in analog, and pen on paper helps me organize my thoughts. And the best part is notebooks never run out of batteries.

Don’t forget supplies to ensure the safety and comfort of your pet. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Electrical Protection System

When looking at an electrical protection system for your RV, you want to make sure it is more than a surge protector and monitors high and low voltage. This is what the Progressive Emergency Management System does and what models like Surge Guard and other brands do as well. When looking at an electrical protection system, be certain to consider the protection levels. Here is what you need out of a great electrical protection system:

  • Surge Protection
  • High and Low Voltage
  • Pedestal Analysis
  • Load side protection
Progressive Energy Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While there are different electrical protection brands on the market and the Progressive EMS is the unit that we trust with our RV. Others prefer Surge Guard brand. If you do not already have an electrical protection system for your RV, take it from me and other seasoned RVers—get an electrical protection system for your RV. You can’t go wrong with a model from Progressive or Surge Guard.

Enjoy camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pack Tools and Spare Parts

Pack a well-stocked tool kit and store on the curb side of your RV. Include basic tools and items that may need to be replaced including LCD flashlights, spare fuses, LCD lights, jumper cables, nuts and bolts, WD-40, silicon spray, duct and gorilla tape, and cleaning supplies. Be sure to bring spare parts that are unique to your rig.

Creek Fire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

High-quality sewer hose

Some things you definitely don’t want to skimp on and your sewer hose is one of them. No one wants to be dealing with a ruptured sewer hose while on vacation. Invest in a high-end hose—your peace of mind and nasal passages will thank you.

Elephant Butte State Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sunglasses Are a Must

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.

The Peachoid, Gaffney, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Last But Not Least, Know where you’re going

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!

Corpus Chrisiti, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

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