Living and traveling in four wheels has become a new way of exploring for many. In this article, Kat from Wandering Bird shares how to plan the perfect RV trip.
Planning an RV trip can seem terrifying at first. There are so many things that could go wrong and so many confusing terms. Where do you even start?
Don’t worry – we’re here to help by answering the most common questions about RV travel and life on the road.
What is an RV?
RV stands for Recreational Vehicle in the United Stated or can also be called a Motorhome in the UK. Basically is a motor vehicle or trailer which typically includes a kitchen, a bathroom, and one (or more) beds. More luxurious motorhomes can even come with air-conditioning, satellite TV, water heaters, etc.
What do I need to know before planning an RV trip?
This one is tough, as obviously it will change depending on the type of trip you’re hoping to have.
But, as a brief outline, you need to know:
- WHERE you’re going
- How long you’re going for
- The best route for RV travel
- Where you will be staying
- The weather/season (and how to pack appropriately!)
- The length, width, and height of your RV.
Before leaving, you also need to know how to use your RV. If you’re renting an RV, listen closely during the handover and ask as many questions as you need to. If it’s your vehicle, test it for a night before leaving on your trip.
Make sure you understand electrical loads and restrictions in an RV. You can’t just turn on everything when you get to a campsite and expect it all to work – you’ll blow a lot of fuses.
Using a printable PDF road trip planner can really help when you’re starting to organize your trip. It helps keeps everything together and helps you visualize your journey.
What does it cost to live in an RV?
RV travel can be cheap, but it can also be expensive, so make sure you think about your budget before you go. We live and travel quite cheaply on the road as we spend a lot of time wild camping/ boondocking, which keeps costs down. We also mostly cook onboard.
However, big campsites with facilities such as swimming pools and restaurants can add a lot to the running costs of a trip, as can visiting attractions such as National Parks. Tickets for festivals, amusement parks, or events you want to attend can add to the costs substantially, especially if you have a large family. But they add to the overall experience of travel and make great memories.
If you’re going on a long RV trip, remember to budget for fuel, campsites, activities, tolls, souvenirs, food, electricity. If you’re traveling with other friends or family, make sure you have a conversation in advance about budget and sharing costs, so everyone knows what to expect. Nothing can ruin a holiday faster than an argument about money. It can help to schedule who pays for things like meals out or shopping.
Can I work from an RV?
Absolutely! My husband and I both work on the road and have very few problems. As long as you have internet/wifi access and power, it shouldn’t be a problem.
We have had to learn how to manage power when staying off-grid, especially for laptops/ phones, etc. I highly recommend adding some power packs and portable chargers to your kit, especially if you’re planning to work from the road.
Will I need access to powered sites?
Even if you’re planning to boondock, you might want or need to stay at a campsite occasionally. We book into one every few nights to top up on electricity, empty our waste and fill up with fresh water. Make sure you pick a site that has these facilities so you don’t waste your time!
Also, remember that, if you’re boondocking, you won’t be able to use your normal plugs inside the RV unless you have some form of a generator.
Is it better to rent or buy?
If you have never, ever been in an RV before, we recommend renting one first. This way, you can try out the lifestyle, see if your kids/partner/dog enjoys it before you commit. It would be horrible to spend a lot of money and then realize you hate it and everyone wants to kill each other!
Having said that, we didn’t hire at all before we bought, but we had lived on boats for 15 years, so we (mostly) knew how not to go crazy in a small space together.
If you’re hiring your RV, be sure to account for the cost of the hire, plus any other expenses, such as an extra mileage charge, the equipment you might need to hire, or cleaning charges. It can all add up quickly and be a shock at the end.
What do I pack for an RV trip?
You don’t want to go on an RV trip without all the proper kit – it can be difficult to find things on the road, not to mention expensive! Some of the most commonly forgotten things include:
- Contacts and/or spare glasses
- Medication – make sure you have enough (plus a little spare), but not too much unless you have a note to explain why you’re carrying so much!
- Food – especially if you have dietary restrictions or fussy kids. Remember, what you might be used to buying might not be available in another area.
- Chargers for electrical items.
- Extra batteries for your camera or drone
It can be useful to make or download an RV packing checklist so that you can keep track of what you already have on board and what you still need. It also helps to have one for setting off and getting to the campsites, so you don’t forget anything!
RV travel is one of the best ways to explore any country and I promise, it’s not as daunting as it sounds. Be kind to yourself and your partner as you figure things out and take notes so you remember things for next time.
Let me know where you end up!
BTB guest writer – Kathryn Bird
Kathryn Bird travels the world alongside her husband and their ridiculously cute puppy.
You can find more of their tips, advice, and free guides for traveling by RV, motorhome, or camper on their award-winning travel blog Wandering Bird.
All photos in this article are the property of BTB guest writer, Kathryn Bird.
Have you travel or are you traveling in an RV? Tell us about it below!
And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.