If you’re anything like me you are thinking that we just had the longest winter season ever! I am not sure if that is based on any factual data, but when you are a lover of the RV lifestyle summer can’t come fast enough. It seems like only your fellow campers understand that “itch” to get back out on the road after having your rig winterized and sitting. So what do most of us do in the months leading up to RV travel season?
So how do we plan our RV summertime trips to ensure that we maximize on fun, while keeping our finances in check? We have a few tips that experienced RV’ers use to make summer trips memorable for every member of the family.
#1 Planning – Yes. I am more of a last minute type of girl, but thankfully my husband enjoys the planning process. Now planning does not stop at picking a destination. Once you have identified your destination, it is highly recommended that you map out the route that you will take. This step may not be as important if you are driving a Class B. However, if you drive a class A or pull a fifth wheel be very careful to map your route and even consult a Trucker’s Atlas if you are traveling on unfamiliar roads. Seasoned RV’ers will have at least one tale of that time the GPS led them down the wrong road and they wondered, “How are we going to get out of here?”
Planning your dates are just as important as picking the destination. When selecting travel dates and securing campground reservations, keep in mind school breaks and national holidays. It will be considerably more difficult to find available site reservations during major holidays and the prices will usually go up during peak times.
For example, if you would love to take your family to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground during the month of December, you had better book that reservation a full calendar year in advance.
(We highly recommend that you do this at least once in your life.)
One of the most magical things about traveling this way is the ability to sample local cuisines along the route. Planning ahead will help you to find some local culinary gems and possibly score some discounts in the process.
We are big fans of apps like Groupon and Living Social to access deals on meals and activities along the way.
#2 Pre-Trip Check – Another lesson that we had to learn the hard way was to do a test run of our RV prior to taking a big trip. We are fortunate enough to have a great campground within 30 minutes of our sticks and bricks home. The reasons for this is to make sure that all of your systems are functioning properly, especially if your rig has been sitting all winter.
If you do a short trip close to home for a few days, you will be able to identify most problems and get them addressed prior to venturing far away from home.
#3 Memberships – What?? Memberships have their advantages! We have saved so much money by just having a few key membership cards in our toolbox of savings. The best of which are our reciprocal museum memberships. Our little boys love to explore the campgrounds, go hiking, and tubing when the weather permits. However, what do we do when the weather is not cooperating with our plans for outdoor fun or we just need to break up the monotony? We hit the local museums, zoos, and science centers. This is where a family museum membership such as ASTC, AZA etc. comes in handy. Reciprocal membership programs will generally allow your family to visit these venues for free or discounted admission. It pays for itself after a couple of visits!
Depending on the amount of traveling your family will do it may also benefit you to research campground memberships such as Good Sam, Passport America, KOA, Thousand Trails, for discounts on campground stays.
#4 Input – It is usually a good idea to get input from your fellow travelers (yes even the kids) to ask what they would like to do or see along the route. This way everyone has a certain level of ownership in the course setting of the trip.
We have learned that it is a lot easier for our kids to patiently sit through some more adult stops when they know that shortly afterward they will be able to visit the local children’s museum.
#5 BE FLEXIBLE – Things happen! Despite all the planning, prepping, and what not things still happen. We try to always have a plan B in mind. We recently had a great trip planned to D.C. Reservations were made, activities were booked and RV was packed. Did I mention always check the weather? As you may have guessed the last snowstorm of the season (March) derailed our trip. No worries…Let’s go to Florida! This is one of the perks of RV travel. The plans can be easily changed if you are willing to be flexible.
We have so much planned for this upcoming RV travel season that it will be impossible to actually get to everything on the list. But one thing is for sure, we have a back-up destination in mind for every possible destination so we will not be grounded for long no matter what Mother Nature throws at us.
Soulful RV Family