12 Tips for Making Travel Days Easier

It’s fun getting to explore new areas on a regular basis (and having your own bed with you while you do), but the actual process of moving from one location to the next with an RV can wear a person out. Here are some tips for new RVers on how to make travel days easier and more pleasant.

Tips 5 and 9: Parking lots like this Target in Flagstaff, AZ are good places to stop and stretch or make lunch – it’s level and out of the way.

  1. Have a storage place for everything inside your RV. This reduces the amount of time spent on camp set-up and take-down because stuff is already where it needs to be for traveling and for living. And yes, you’ll want to batten everything down. Loose items will get thrown around.
  2. Look at the weather before hitting the road. Bad weather conditions affect RVs more strongly than passenger vehicles. Don’t be afraid to stop early or delay leaving your current location on account of weather. Safety is more important than arriving on time.
  3. Tip 3: Storing everything on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator door during travel.

    Store refrigerator door items on the bottom shelf during travel to reduce wear and tear (move them back up to higher shelves once you’re stationary again). The plastic shelves in RV fridge doors are not very robust. If you’re full-timing, they’ll probably break before the fridge reaches the end of its life unless you treat them well.

  4. Keep liquids such as cleaning supplies in a plastic bins. Changing elevations will lead to leakage as the pressure inside increases and decreases, the bin contains any mess that might be made. And, turn all liquids with their lids upright before travel (for example, ketchup and shampoo bottles are sometimes designed to be stored with the lid down).
  5. Have an easy-to-make meal planned for travel days. Driving and setting up camp on an empty stomach isn’t fun, but neither is having to stop for over an hour for extensive cooking and dish clean-up.
  6. Don’t plan on having a travel day also be a work day. Travel takes more physical and mental energy than people expect.
  7. Allow more time for driving than you would with a car. You shouldn’t rely on the arrival times given by various GPS apps, everything takes longer with an RV. Usually about 30% longer in my case (this is just driving, not including stops), it’ll depend on how fast you drive, the terrain, and other factors.
  8. Try to avoid rush hour when driving through big cities. Lane changes and finding the right exit is a lot easier when you’re not caught in bumper to bumper traffic. If there are 3 lanes or less, I stay in the right lane when towing my camper. 4 lanes or more, I stay in the second to the right lane.
  9. Think about comfort. Driving 500 miles in a day to maximize time at a location does no good if it wears you out so much you need to rest the next day. Take breaks often on driving days to stretch and move around, and experiment to find your maximum ideal distance. Most people I’ve talked to put that at 150-300 miles which is a good place to start (mine is about 250).
  10. Make some wiggle room in your schedule in case you find someplace neat along the way you want to stop at. Unplanned adventures are one of my favorite things about RVing.
  11. Tip 4: Cooking and cleaning supplies placed in a plastic bin to contain messes.

    Don’t let your gas get as low as you would in a regular vehicle so you can afford to pick and choose gas stations that are more friendly for RVs. You might need to skip some because they’re too small, too busy, or too awkward for a longer rig (deep dips or tight turns). Many GPS apps and units have a button for finding gas stations along your route, apps like GasBuddy will let you calculate gas costs for a whole trip which makes cost planning easier.

  12. Plan to arrive before nightfall. It’s so much easier to get set up in an unfamiliar place when you can see what you’re doing.

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13. Do any of you current or past RVers out there have a tip you’d like to share with new RVers just starting out? You know the drill, leave it in the comments below!

  • For more informational articles on how to go RVing, visit the Resources page!

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39 Responses to 12 Tips for Making Travel Days Easier

  1. Andy May 5, 2017 at 11:15 am #

    Probably not an issue for full timers, but vacationers should check that their lug wrench actually fits the tires on their RV. What should have been a 10 minute repair turned into a 3 hour wait for AAA because I made that mistake.

    Luckily, I already follow your tip about allowing for plenty of time to arrive. We still had plenty of daylight to set up and do some exploring for the day. (Allowing plenty of time also kept the stress levels down).

    • Colleen C. Yarnell May 5, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

      We had a blowout on our 5th wheel. Dad is always prepared for everything but this was a new trailer and he needed a deep socket. It was Sunday and AAA left us hanging. We just needed someone to bring us a socket!. Dad had the drive on jack and we just needed to get the lugs off. We had just left the camp ground so after someone finally brought us the deep socket we went back to the campground for the night. Dad bought 2 sockets! And my second tip involves what we discovered when we got 4 new tires Monday. Turns out the tires that had come on this barely year old trailer were not the correct size (too small for the load) and had the wrong valve stems so check that too!

      • Becky May 6, 2017 at 4:35 pm #

        Sorry to hear about your flat tires Andy and Colleen, but I’m glad you got what you needed in the end! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Luna May 5, 2017 at 11:39 am #

    Great list! i’d add that having a pre-departure checklist (one that you can change and adapt as you go) can help smooth things out. Another idea for those with separate tow vehicles/trailers is to consider whether the tow vehicle could be fueled separately before leaving or after arriving (say on the last town trip before travel day). Towing with a gas vehicle (vs. diesel) often means trying to wiggle your way around “car pumps” vs. the big truck lanes (although some highway truck stops now have “RV lanes,” they are still the exception in my experience). I have a small, gas Class C so don’t have the luxury of filling up “detached,” but if I did I’d definitely consider it.

    • Becky May 6, 2017 at 4:36 pm #

      Good tips Luna, thanks for sharing!

      Yes, I try to fill up my truck before leaving when it’s convenient, although since my rig is smaller fueling up isn’t as challenging for me as for bigger rigs.

  3. Rick May 5, 2017 at 1:33 pm #

    I do as much as possible the night before in preparation for the next morning’s departure since I like to leave before sunrise sometimes. That sometimes means packing and hooking up to the tow leaving nothing left except the electric cord……

    • Becky May 6, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

      Good advice Rick, thanks for sharing!

      If you like to leave early in the morning it definitely pays to do the prep work the night before.

  4. Dale May 5, 2017 at 5:47 pm #

    Great list, Becky! I try not to leave too early in the morning. I want to let all the “working people” get to their jobs before I hit the road. I totally agree about the weather. I also try to stay put over the weekend when more families are traveling.
    Dale recently posted..Driving the Centerline!My Profile

    • Becky May 6, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

      Thanks for sharing Dale. Yeah, trying to find a spot in a busy place without a reservation on a Saturday can be a real challenge!

  5. Kim May 5, 2017 at 7:22 pm #

    Avoid traveling on the weekend when the wage slaves are trying to squeeze in a few hours of fun. I love Mondays!

    • Becky May 6, 2017 at 4:39 pm #

      Thanks for sharing Kim! It definitely pays to travel during week days.

  6. Rita May 5, 2017 at 8:46 pm #

    Thanks so much for the list. I’m about to start out on my adventure so I really appreciate all the tips!

    • Becky May 6, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

      You’re welcome Rita! Glad you found this helpful. Have fun out there!

  7. Rob May 6, 2017 at 7:07 am #

    #12 for sure, stopping in the daylight is the way to go.
    In a boondocking situation, I’ve stopped at a clear spot just to wait for daylight.

    As a plus traveling in the day let’s me see the country I’m passing through.

    • Becky May 6, 2017 at 4:42 pm #

      I’ve arrived after dark at a new boondock once. I did it, but it wasn’t very fun.

  8. Sunny Harvy May 6, 2017 at 8:31 am #

    Excellent advice. Good to share as your points are likely to help some newbies a lot, especially about the mileage you should expect to cover. We occasionally find that just 50 or 60 miles is enough when the area is particularly interesting. Most important advice is to NOT be in a hurry. Try to savor every moment on the road. It is all about the journey, not the destination. Don’t be too aggressive with your itinerary. Better to see a few places thoroughly than glances at many. Cheers, Sunny Harvy

    • Becky May 6, 2017 at 4:45 pm #

      Thanks for sharing Sunny, you’re definitely right that it’s more about the journey than the destination, especially as a full-timer!

  9. Alan Belisle May 6, 2017 at 8:32 am #

    Rely on your GPS for navigation, but verify the route with Google or Apple maps and follow highway signs to your destination. The GPS system in our 2012 Nissan holds the info from 2012. A lot of highways have been built since then. There have times when our GPS tries to direct us through the center of a big city, rather than take the new bypass freeway around it. Or we are stuck on a winding road through a series of little stop-and-go towns, when the new freeway is just a few miles away.
    Alan Belisle recently posted..Springfield, Illinois  4/21 – 4/28My Profile

    • Becky May 6, 2017 at 4:54 pm #

      Good tip Alan, thanks for sharing!

  10. Gloria May 6, 2017 at 10:16 am #

    Love your site Becky, you’re always very interesting and give great advice. One important thing that I always do is to bring plenty of water. I fill up my plastic gallon jugs for 25 cents at the water dispensaries that are in front of most grocery and convenient stores. Can’t beat 25 cents for a gallon of filtered, reverse osmosis water.
    Happy travels, Gloria

    • Becky May 6, 2017 at 4:55 pm #

      Yeah, campground water doesn’t always taste the best does it? Good tip Gloria, thanks for sharing!

  11. Reine May 6, 2017 at 10:27 am #

    Great suggestions Becky. Over the past 9 years we’ve found that with food, stretching and bio breaks we average 50 miles an hour unless we find something really interesting to investigate. Using this number makes planning travel times really easy.

    Since blowouts on trailers happen, be sure you have an appropriate jack to raise your trailer. Also for safety, leave it attached to your tow and when jacked up, lower the stabilizer jacks before removing the tire. And check the air pressure in your spare occasionally.

    And especially for newbies, accept that you WILL make mistakes or something will occasionally not go according to plan. It’s happened to all of us since we were ALL newbies at some time. Don’t let it unexpected stuff ruin your trip. We’ve found when we look back on our years of RVing and camping that the challenges and things that didn’t go “right” are some of our fondest memories.

    • Becky May 6, 2017 at 4:58 pm #

      Yep, I have my spare tires checked every time I need to go to a shop. Thanks for sharing Reine, good advice!

  12. Chey (WA coast) May 6, 2017 at 10:36 am #

    What do y’all think of Benchmark maps?

    I don’t have a cell phone and frankly prefer to save the expense, but I want WiFi when I boondock with solar, so does that mean I need to get a smart phone? Or how can I make my Kindle Fire work?

    Thanks for any thoughts.

    • Becky May 6, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

      I know RVers who navigate using Benchmark maps Chey, they’re reliable and good for finding public lands for camping on. Everyone I’ve spoken to about them have given them a thumbs up.

      I’m not as knowledgeable about Kindle Fire, I have a paperwhite which works a bit differently. But if you want to be able to create a WiFi connection to get online with your Kindle when you’re in the middle of nowhere then yes, you’ll need some device like a smartphone or hotspot that runs on a phone signal. If you’re new to the whole mobile internet scene, this is a good website that explains things, it was written by RVers for RVers: https://www.rvmobileinternet.com/

  13. Norm H. May 6, 2017 at 11:08 am #

    Very good tips, Becky. Based on past experience, I especially recommend your daily mileage comments. I also highly recommend a “living” checklist, adjust it as you learn, but having one will save one from missing something important. Happy trails to all.

    • Becky May 6, 2017 at 5:07 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed this Norm and thanks for sharing!

  14. JR Thornton May 6, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

    When traveling we use the Dr Pepper guideline (10*2*4*) We leave by 10am, drive no more than around 200 miles and arrive no later that 4pm. It works for us even when we are not in the South.

    • Becky May 6, 2017 at 5:09 pm #

      I’ve heard variations on that guideline before, it’s a good way to plan a travel day. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Virginia May 6, 2017 at 10:36 pm #

    I like and appreciate all the tips I am reading. I do have a question. How important is a wireless rear camera ? Do you have one Becky? Also the hardest thing I am finding is backing up my travel trailer. I just bought my first traveler trailer, it took me almost an hour backing into my drive way !! Any tips?

    • Becky May 7, 2017 at 9:35 am #

      I don’t have a backup camera.

      The best thing to do is practice, practice, practice. I have a recent article about this, you can find it here: http://www.interstellarorchard.com/2017/04/14/hitching-up-backing-up-and-dumping/

      Take your trailer to a big open lot, and spend an hour or two practicing backing it up. Don’t rush and be patient with yourself. The more you do it, the easier it’ll get!

  16. Joan May 8, 2017 at 6:23 am #

    Love all the map and travel apps and do use them, but sorry you still need a good old PAPER map. Been in to many spots with no hot spots/wifi. Always have a backup. Carry SOME cash-not necessarily in your wallet-as I have had to get gas and the gas station credit system was down, so the station would only take cash. Traveling solo you do have to double think-double check alot, but it is worth it all to be able to travel! Safe continued travels Becky!

    • Becky May 9, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

      Thanks for sharing Joan. I’ve managed four years without any paper backup but there are some places it would be easier with. Take care!

  17. Maria S May 8, 2017 at 1:07 pm #

    I have followed you on and off for a while and really appreciate the helpful information in your blog. Although I have full timed in 2004 and just started full timing again this year, you have provided tips I never thought about such as:
    1) Move items lower on the refrig shelves- great idea.
    2) Boon-docking -Watch what you put in the grey thank regarding dirty dishes to avoid grey tank smells.. Again, I am much more careful now because of one of your posts.
    There have been many other helpful tips but wanted to point out the ones that I currently remember.
    Safe and happy travels and thanks again for sharing.

    • Becky May 9, 2017 at 1:42 pm #

      Glad you’re enjoying IO Maria! You’re welcome and have fun out there!

  18. Linda Sand May 9, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

    Have a plan B in case your preferred campsite is not available.

    • Becky May 10, 2017 at 2:49 pm #

      Thanks for sharing Linda!

  19. Kent May 12, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

    Great advice.
    My comment is water.
    Where to get fresh water and where to dump black and grey tanks.
    I don’t want the extra load of either fresh or waste when I travel so I get fresh as close to where I may be boondocking and dumping as close as possible when I leave
    There are quite a few resources for this info. Campendeum, Allstays, Freecampsites, sanidumps just to mention a few.
    It also may be worthy to note that at least some RV parks won’t allow dumping unless you want to pay to stay even with a dump charge.
    To me it’s worth coming up with a plan A and also a plan B should one not work.

    • Becky May 13, 2017 at 8:21 am #

      Good tip Kent, thanks for sharing.

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