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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

10 RV Travel Tips & Tricks for Beginners

This year, we were able to take our very first RV road trip together as a family thanks to Access RV. As a beginner to RV traveling, I learned a lot and absolutely loved the experience. Vacations require a lot of planning (to say the least) and that can easily become overwhelming. My main goal in this post is to share resources and traveling tips to help make your vacation planning less stressful. I hope these 10 RV travel tips and tricks we learned from our experience help you plan a successful vacation for you and your family!

10 RV Travel Tips and Tricks for Beginners at

1. Know Your RV
Unless you own the RV you will be traveling in, it's likely you won't know everything there is to know about the vehicle. We rented a 2015 32' A.C.E. Class A Motorhome from Access RV Rental. We researched the RV online and watched videos before we left so we kind of knew what to expect. When we picked up the RV in Indiana, the staff was incredibly helpful in showing us around and sharing a few tips on using the vehicle on our trip.

10 RV Travel Tips & Tricks for Beginners at

However, even after all that research, there was a learning curve. A few things you need to research about the RV you plan on driving before starting your vacation:
  • GPS: when traveling the road, GPS is a must. We forgot to ask about GPS in our RV before hitting the road, and that was something we should have researched more before leaving. We ended up using our phones which was great - until we used up roaming data, and traveled into areas with little cell reception. 
  • How many it sleeps: with our little family of 3, we can all sleep in any size RV, but not every group can. Our specific RV could sleep 8-9 comfortably, so consider the amount of people in your travel group so that everyone has somewhere to sleep! 
  • What is included: Access RV had towels, linens, dishes, and cooking utensils all included in the RV at no extra cost. That saved us on packing those necessary items ourselves, and helped us be able to plan better for meals since we knew what we would have on hand. 

2. Gas
When your RV gets about 6-8 MPG, the price you pay for gas adds up quick. Using was a wallet saver and helped us to see what the best local gas price was and where to get it.

Don't always wait until you're on empty to fill up. Sometimes we would stop to stretch our legs and add a little gas as we went, and other times we would top it off depending on how long of a drive we had ahead of us. Some places we saved over a 40¢ a gallon, which means paying at least $28 more for the same amount of gas somewhere else. That more than pays for a meal for our family!!

3. Places to Stay
Traveling in an RV gives you the freedom to stay almost anywhere you want. No searching for hotels and hoping they have a room, or trying to find somewhere to put up a tent. Rest stops can be found all along the way, and are perfect for when you're feeling tired and need somewhere to stop for a break or for the night. Some even have WiFi!!

I didn't know this before our trip, but Walmart parking lots are also a great, FREE place to stay for the night! It also helps to have a store nearby when you need to get more food and supplies.

KOA Campgrounds are found nationwide, and are honestly worth the money. You get full RV hook ups, and all kinds of amenities including SHOWERS!! Stopping at a KOA or two along the way also meant that we packed half the clothes we normally would because we could do laundry!

KOA Campground Activities and more at

There are also fun playgrounds and activities for kids, so they get a break from the RV and can burn off some energy. You will need to call a KOA or campground and get a reservation before arriving, so keep that in mind and plan that into your trip. The KOA books (available for free at every campground) were a lifesaver. There is one for each state which includes maps and information for each site. Some books even include coupons to save you money!

Sites like Trip Advisor and Good Sam Club are also valuable tools that are chock-full of information about different campgrounds, including ratings.

4. Weather
Check the weather forecasts before you leave on your vacation. Research typical weather and past weather reports for the areas you plan on visiting. Then, plan your trip around the times of the year with the best weather and check forecasts often to give you an idea of what to expect on your trip. Even with the most planning, weather is always a little unpredictable. So, try to plan the best you can and prepare to make changes when necessary. Be sure to pack clothing for all kinds of weather just in case!

For example, at the beginning of our trip the weather was beautiful. The weather forecast looked a little rainy as we went on, but it wasn't supposed to be too bad. Unfortunately, we ran into severe thunderstorms and was looking at running into snow as we got closer to home. We had planned to go through Yellowstone, but because of the huge snowstorms coming in, we had to change our plans.

Which brings me to:

5. Back-Up Plans
Make a general plan as a guideline and do your research, but give some room to be spontaneous. You never know what you might end up seeing!! Things like the weather, travel time, and even by how tired you are can cause you to change your route or plans. One good thing about traveling in an RV is that it gives you the flexibility to change your trip in a moment's notice. There are usually multiple routes to the same place, and finding campgrounds or places to stay is not hard at all.

10 RV Travel Tips & Tricks for Beginners at

6. Things to See
Since you'll be traveling on the road, there will be much more that you'll get to see!! Start by listing all the places you'll be traveling through, and search the web for things to do in each location. Even searching Google for something like "kids activities in Illinois" brought up a lot of ideas that we didn't even think of originally. Asking friends (hellooo, Facebook) what there is to do in different states will also give you some new ideas! You never know which of your friends have visited or even lived in those areas before and can give you suggestions.

Trip Advisor was also great tool we used to get an idea of what there is to see. You can search by cities for the favorite things to do and get prices. When visiting National parks, be sure to get the kids involved with the Junior Rangers Program to earn patches and certificates!

7. Is It Open?
Making plans to see all the sites along the way is great, but nothing is sadder than finally arriving at your destination to find that it's closed. Some sites are open seasonally, where some are open year-round, and/or only certain days of the week.

Make a list of all the places you want to visit, then research their opening and closing dates, hours of business, and look into any possible road closures due to weather. All of that information can usually be found on their websites, along with contact numbers if you have questions.

8. Age-Appropriate Activities
There are many great sites in the United States to see, but not everything is exciting to younger children. We were traveling with a five year old, so we needed to find things that were both interesting and kid-friendly. This can be challenging, but it's totally doable. Once you make your list of things to do in the areas you plan on visiting, you can go through the list with your group and decide which ones (if any) you need to cross off your list.

Old MacDonald's Petting Farm and more at

For example, my daughter LOVED visiting Old MacDonald's Petting Farm in South Dakota. If it were just adults, we probably wouldn't have stopped. But it was a really fun and inexpensive place to visit that kids of all ages would love and you'll have a great afternoon petting and feeding all the animals.

9. Food
Unlike traveling traditionally, your food choices are MUCH better when traveling in a RV. You have the freedom to go out and enjoy the local restaurants when you want, or you can cook in your kitchen's oven, stove and microwave. There's lots of kitchen storage to hold groceries, including a fridge and freezer. So, whether you're cooking a full meal or whipping up some cereal or sandwiches when you need to get back on the road, your food options are really totally up to you and your family!

10. Are we there yet?!
Ugh, the dreaded road trip question. Depending on the age of your kids, keeping them entertained along the long drives is important for your sanity. Bringing different activities like my Road Trip Binder, small toys, and card games for our daughter to play with were a life and sanity saver for everyone. It was nice to be able to seat belt her in at the table so she had lots of space to play, color, and create. Just keep in mind that sometimes a turn or bumps in the road can make the items on the table slide onto the floor, so using nearby cupholders for colored pencils and laying down something like non-slip shelf liners are my best advice!!

Road Trip Binder with Free Printables at

Keeping small surprises for kids along the way was also a great way to keep my daughter's attitude in check, as well as giving her something to look forward to. I found small, inexpensive toys, snacks, and games to play to reward for good behavior and to keep things interesting. We currently use a reward system at home, so I implemented that on our trip so that things still stayed familiar for her even though we were miles away from home.

Needless to say, we had a great time seeing the United States a whole different way as we traveled from Indiana to Utah in an RV. Thanks to Access RV, we got to see a lot of things we otherwise would have missed if we traveled any other way.

10 RV Travel Tips & Tricks for Beginners at

Now YOU have a chance to win an RV vacation for YOUR family!! USA 5 Star RV Rental Network is giving away a free 5 night RV Vacation!! (A $2150 Value!)

If you are ready for a fabulous RV vacation, Access RV is providing a 5 night RV vacation in one of their current year model motor homes to friends of the USA 5 Star RV Rental Network. Access RV is located in both Salt Lake City, Utah and Jackson, Wyoming.

Take the family to the scenic wonders of Yellowstone and the Tetons. See elk, moose, bison, bear and other wildlife that wanders freely through the park among the natural geysers, paint pots and steam springs. See the jagged Rocky peaks of the Tetons towering over the beautiful Jackson Lake below, or visit the uniquely beautiful rock formations of South Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks of Zions, Arches, Bryce, Canyonland and Capital Reef. Traveling in an RV is the best, most affordable way to experience the National Parks up close!

The lucky winner will get 5 nights with 800 miles in a 2015 31′ C-Class motor home with double slides. This 4.5 star motor home comes with HD TV/DVD player, 5.1 surround sound, GPS navigation, iPod dock, back up camera, Serta pillow-top mattress, power awning, air conditioning, unlimited generator, final cleaning and dumping, and much more!!

The winner will have until June 1, 2016 to take their incredible vacation.

Enter to win via the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!!

Fine print details: The vacation giveaway does not include insurance which can be provided by your auto insurance company or by purchasing optional protection through Access RV. Drivers must be at least 25 years old with a valid drivers license, proof of insurance and VISA, MasterCard or Discover. Additional miles over the 800 free miles can be purchased at $1.55 per mile. A refundable deposit is required at the time of reservation. Sales tax of $156.47 is the responsibility of the winner. For additional information, floor plans, etc. visit our members website at

Would you like to comment?

  1. Thanks for the giveaway and pointers!!

  2. Great tips. Perfect timing. Heading for our first RV vacation in a few weeks to Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone. Can't wait!

  3. Great tips, thanks for sharing. We are also traveling in the summer. :)

  4. These are all great tips! I am super OCD when it comes to planning everything and having back up plans too. It would be so much fun to do a cross country road trip!

  5. These are great tips! I just wish I had an RV! :D

  6. This is awesome! My grandparents had an RV, so I spent much of my childhood vacation doing this same thing.


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