If you’re like most RVers, you use your small travel trailer, truck camper, etc for weekend jaunts. Maybe you take a week-long trip once a summer to your favorite beach or mountain lake, but when was the last time you took a real road trip? By “real” we mean a trip of more than 5 days that involves multiple destinations and a fair amount of driving on at least half of those days. A ROAD TRIP! Road trips are a great way to discover more about a part of your state or country. They offer a chance to really get out and explore, but they require a bit of planning, some flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, and some patience. Below are our Road Trip Preparation 101 tips and tricks to help you have a successful first journey.
- Plan a reasonable amount of time. If you have pets that will need to be left behind, or work, etc., don’t plan a month-long trip. Anywhere from 9-14 days is sufficient for a good road trip. By then you’ll be ready to get home and back to your routine. Well, maybe you will. Some people are born travelers and could go on forever!
- Determine your route and make reservations for more popular places ahead of time. For off-season trips you may be able to skip this step. If you’re traveling in the summer or early fall, however, it’s best to make at least some reservations ahead of time. On a recent trip to the Oregon coast, every state park campground was full, even on weeknights.
- Plan some layover days. You’ll get tired of traveling and will want a chance to explore the places you’re visiting! You don’t want every day to be a driving day. Take some time to explore the towns and the bike trails or play a round of golf.
- Try to limit the driving to 4 hours or less. This is often difficult. On our trips we try to load most of the driving into the first two and last two days and make all the days in between more manageable. But do the best you can to make sure you aren’t hating life in your car after 3 days.
- Think about some camp meals and utilize grocery stores. This is one of our biggest road trip preparation tips. On a trip this long you won’t be able to eat out for every meal. Choose maybe one meal a day, or not even that if you’re on a budget, and then shop for groceries along the way. We start off with some frozen leftover meals from home and some side dishes. Again, on our Oregon trip, we were able to buy fresh crab to add to pasta we already had for one meal, and fresh shrimp to add to a rice mix for another. We saved ourselves quite a bit of money this way and still got to enjoy local foods.
- Don’t forget the laundry! You’ll want to wash clothes at some point. Either plan a night at an RV park with laundry services, or plan a layover day. The RV park we stayed at in White Salmon, WA had great laundry services for guests. You’ll have a chance to go into town to wash clothes and take care of errands.
- Plan for inclement weather. What if it rains or suddenly gets super cold? Do you have appropriate gear and activities for days like this? Maybe use these for your layover days or for a chance to do something indoors, like take in a movie or visit an aquarium.
- Realize your storage is limited. You’ll need to think about this even more than you do on your weekend trips. You’ll be taking more clothes, more food, and more gear. Take time to figure out how and where to store everything before you hit the road.
- Be spontaneous! If you see a sign for a waterfall, pull over. If there is a great viewpoint of the Pacific ocean, hop out to see it. You’re on a road trip to explore, so take advantage of opportunities to see all there is along the way.
- Patience is a virtue. You’ll be around the same people day after day, hour after hour, for a while. Have patience with those around you and if you need to, take a walk by yourself each day for some alone time.
Finally, be flexible. Plans can change. If the weather where you’ve planned to spend 2 days is rainy and gross, get out your atlas (yes, those are still handy) and figure out a new place to go. There’s no harm in changing your mind at the last minute. Some of the best ideas happen that way! We hope our Road Trip Preparation tips will help you in planning your next journey! If you’d like to upgrade your camper before you set out on a road trip, check out our inventory here.