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As a full time RVer, RV trip planning is definitely recommended, at least to some extent. Yes, you could wander around without any plan whatsoever, but honestly, this often leads to extra stress and missing out on things.
Added stress is especially difficult when traveling with kids, so it’s even more important that traveling families have some sort of plan before they hit the road, even if that plan does evolve often.
For some, planning RV routes is a fun and exciting challenge. For others, it’s a tedious chore. However, most of us feel a bit of both things when creating our RV travel plans. Fortunately, there are ways to remove some of that tedium and add to the ease of travel planning.
Below are our top RV apps, tools, and tips for planning your RV travel routes. By using these suggestions, you should find that planning becomes more of a game than a chore, leaving you feeling excited to map out your next adventure.
RV Trip Planning Tools
First, let’s discuss some of the RV trip planner tools you can use to make the planning process a bit less stressful. Each of these tools plays an important role, and when used in tandem, they make the perfect team.
RV Trip Wizard
RV Trip Wizard is by far the best RV route planner we’ve found. It’s a web-based program that allows you to plan a route from point A to point B, add truck stops, campgrounds, and attractions in between, and even see the elevation at any given point, as well as low bridges.
We love that it’s possible to research campgrounds within the program, and that users can narrow their campground search based on campground type. For instance, those who wish to see only Passport America parks can check that box. Meanwhile, people who prefer state parks can ask to see only those.
The program also prompts you to create an RV road trip budget, allowing you to add campground costs and calculating gas costs for you based on information you provide.
While there is an option to search for dump stations in the RV Trip Wizard RV route planner, the results are unfortunately nowhere near complete. For this reason, we highly recommend using the SaniDumps website or app when planning an RV trip.
SaniDumps has the most complete list of dump stations in the US that we’ve been able to find, making it the perfect addition to your RV road trip planner kit. Because it’s crowdsourced, there are stations listed that may be impossible to find otherwise. We also like that there is important information provided about each dump.
Whether you want to do some boondocking or you’re looking to stay in a luxury RV resort, The Dyrt can help you out. This website + app allows users to search for a campsite in any given area and comes up with results of all kinds, including boondocking spots.
Information on each campground and boondocking spot is provided, and users are encouraged to leave reviews in order to give others a better sense of what to expect. We especially love this app for finding and learning about boondocking opportunities and the cell connection at any given camping spot, and the trip planning tool is pretty great as well.
The Mountain Directory
We mentioned before that RV Trip Wizard provides information on elevation and low-clearance bridges along a given route. One thing it doesn’t provide is information on steep grades.
For this reason, we highly recommend investing in a copy of each volume of Mountain Directory. This book (or ebook) provides information on mountain passes, so you’ll know exactly what to expect in terms of grades when venturing into unfamiliar mountainous territory.
Generally speaking, finding attractions in a given area is as simple as a Google search. That said, finding excellent hiking trails can be a bit trickier. Since RVing and hiking tend to go hand-in-hand, you might want a way to remedy this problem.
This is where AllTrails comes into play.
AllTrails is a well-put-together website that offers information on the walking, biking, and hiking trails in any given area. It rates them by level—meaning you can choose one that is right for you—and provides first-hand information on the trails through user reviews and photos.
Ultimate RV Logbook
Lastly, we highly recommend investing in the Ultimate RV Logbook. This awesome journal-style book allows you to keep track of each campground and location you visit. It prompts you to fill in important details about each place, providing you with an excellent reference for future travel planning purposes.
RV Trip Planning Tips
Even with the best RV route planner and the other RV trip planning tools we’ve listed, figuring out how to plan a trip can still be pretty overwhelming. This is especially true when you have a whole enormous country to explore and nothing in particular to guide you.
Luckily, there are ways to take away from this overwhelm, narrow down your list of potential destinations, save yourself some money, and help remove present and future stress from the equation.
Make People Part of Your Plans
The best RV trips involve people you love. For this reason, we highly recommend planning some of your travels around friends and family. Seeing these people along the way will help combat loneliness, and will help narrow down your options of places to go.
Don’t have any friends outside of your hometown? Consider joining Fulltime Families to make some road friends to either travel with or meet up with along the way. A rally or hangout is a great people-centered destination to start with.
Obviously, there are plenty of amazing attractions to check out across the country. That said, many RVers forget that events such as festivals and rallies can make great destinations as well. Not only that, finding big events you’d like to attend will also help give your trip a timeline, something some RVers struggle with during RV trip planning.
Travel with the Weather
While some people love super cold weather, the vast majority of RVers prefer to travel with the weather, heading north when the weather is warm and south during the winter months.
Not only will this keep you comfortable, it’ll also help protect the plumbing in your RV from extreme cold, and will ensure you’re always near other RVing families so you can have a community during your adventures.
Seeing new places and things everywhere you go can add up fast, especially if you travel quickly and want to see multiple attractions in any given week. In order to combat this, we highly recommend investing in reciprocal memberships for museums, zoos, and theme parks, as well as a national parks annual pass.
You can do your RV trip planning around the attractions included in your memberships, and save tons of money by taking advantage of those free and discounted admissions.
Read more about reciprocal memberships here.
Plan for Mishaps
Things are going to go wrong. For this reason, we highly recommend giving yourself plenty of wiggle room in any plans you make. Make travel days short and sweet, give yourself lots of time in each location, always have more money than you think you’ll need, and don’t try to squeeze everything into one short stay.
Planning for mishaps—by allowing plenty of room for added expenses, bad weather, sickness, and other problems—will ensure you have a relaxed and fun time.
In the same vein as preparing for mishaps, you will also want to be flexible with your RV trip planning. Yes, you might plan to see the zoo in a particular city, but if it rains the entire time you’re there, that may not be possible. On the other hand, you might really love a certain area, and allowing yourself the freedom to extend your stay is always lovely.
Creating loose plans that can be changed at the drop of a hat is part of the beauty of this lifestyle. Learn to go with the flow when doing RV trip planning, and everything will fall into place.
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