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How to Plan an RV Trip (5 Easy Steps)

| Updated Nov 7, 2022

If you’re wondering how to plan an RV trip, I have 5 easy steps for you. These steps will provide the framework for you to build the best RV trip ever on…

Planning an RV trip can be overwhelming, especially when you’re first starting. You realize there are a lot of logistics to consider, like where to stop, how far to drive, and how to balance the budget.

Unlike other RV planning guides, I’m not going to list obvious steps, like “pick a destination” or “look for things to do nearby.” Rather, I’m going to address the logistics that will actually provide a framework for your entire trip. 

Before I get into those 5 easy steps, however, I want to offer you the easiest solution to your road trip planning needs…

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How to Plan an RV Trip (5 Easy Steps) 1

One Step to Rule Them All

In truth, you can completely forego the 5 steps I’m about to outline. Instead of creating your own RV itinerary, you can simply purchase one that is customized for your chosen destination.

I know this may sound self-serving since I sell ready-made itineraries for RVers, but this is the reason I write those RV travel guides. It’s to share my tried-and-proven road trips with fellow RVers so they don’t have to stress over planning or end up with a disappointing trip. 

So, self-serving or not, I recommend you consider buying an RV travel guide for wherever you want to travel. It doesn’t even have to be one of my travel guides! In fact, mine may not even go to where you want to travel.

If you would like to take a look, here is my selection of RV Adventure Guides with destinations ranging from Florida to the Great Lakes to the Southwest and plenty in between.

How to Plan an RV Trip Yourself

If you do want to plan an RV trip yourself, there are 5 easy steps you can follow. These following steps will give you a jumpstart in your planning efforts and form a framework to plan the details around.

They will help you determine how far you should travel, what routes you should take, and other logistical things to plan around.

Step 1: Use the 330 Rule to Outline Your Timeline

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Most experienced RVers have learned not to push themselves for too long or too far on the road. It’s a lesson Jennifer and I learned when we first hit the road over a decade ago.

I, especially, pushed us to drive farther and longer than we should have so “we could see as much as possible.” The problem is, we ended up not enjoying as much as possible.

After pulling up to too many campsites exhausted, frustrated, and bickering, we adopted the 330 Rule of RVing. The rules goes like this:

Don’t drive more than 330 miles a day or arrive at your destination later than 3:30 pm.

As a new RVer, you may be thinking, Psh, I can do more than that. That’s too limiting.

Well, you’d be right, at least on the first part. You can do more than that in a day, but most experienced RVers would say you shouldn’t. Because pushing yourself more than that is much more likely to limit your enjoyment.

Step 2: Choose Routes Using RV GPS

image of 2021 RV travel planning app
When you plan an RV trip with RV trip Wizard, it can be loaded on the RV GPS app

Don’t make the very common mistake of using standard GPS to route your RV trip. You’ll likely end up on roads that are not RV friendly! 

This means you could encounter low overpasses, tight corners, narrow roads, weight limits, and other “roadblocks” that will impede your journey. Or worse, threaten your safety.

You need to use RV GPS, which takes into account your RV size, weight, height, and more. It will filter routes based on these factors and other settings.

Jennifer and I use the RV LIFE App, which is an RV-safe GPS. You can get this GPS app by itself, but I recommend you buy the entire RV LIFE suite of tools. 

The bundle is a much better deal and the other tools will come to play in the following steps. In fact, you can use RV LIFE Trip Wizard and the other tools to plan your entire RV Trip (we do!). 

RV LIFE Pro gives you 4-memberships-in-1 to:

  • RV LIFE Trip Wizard
  • RV LIFE Campground Reviews
  • RV LIFE App (RV-Safe GPS)
  • RV LIFE Maintenance Tracker

Just to be clear, you get all four of these tools in one with an RV LIFE Pro membership. The annual membership is only $59 a year (less than $5 a month) and includes a 7-day free trial.

Since we’ve used their tools for years, we became partners with RV LIFE so our readers could get the best deal. You can use this discount link for extra savings and add this coupon code: RVLIFESTYLE to save 25% off! 

Step 3: Check Campground Reviews from REAL RVers

Unfortunately, many seedy campgrounds have figured out how to “cheat” mainstream review platforms. They pay people to write positive reviews, add false reviews, and more.

It’s best to refer to review platforms that specialize in camping and RV travel. You’re much more likely to find honest reviews.

If you decide to get the RV LIFE Pro suite of tools, it includes RV LIFE Campground Reviews. As you can guess, these are campground reviews but, more importantly, they are submitted by REAL RVers from the RV LIFE community. 

Best of all, you can see up-to-date pictures of the campgrounds taken by the reviewers. Those will save you from learning the hard way that some campgrounds don’t live up to their old or staged website photos. 

And don't forget to ask in our Facebook Group! Or better yet, do a Search inside the Group for your destinations and see what previous threads say and then ask questions. There are currently over 147,000 RVers in there to help you out.

STEP 4: Leave Room for Serendipity

Photo of a summer RV trip

Another vital step to planning an RV trip is to not over-plan! When you’re making your itinerary, be sure to leave room for serendipity. In this context, “serendipity” is any “happy surprise you want to explore more.”

That can mean leaving room to make an unexpected stop in a charming town or go off-route to check out a roadside attraction you saw on a billboard. Or, it can mean diverting your plans to try that restaurant the local at the gas station recommended.

Whatever the case, you want to buffer your carefully planned RV itinerary with unplanned room for diversions. You’ll learn that Serendipity will lead you to some of the best places and experiences you could’ve never planned!

STEP 5: Track Your Budget 

I’m going to assume that you already have a budget for your road trip. So, instead of telling you to create a budget, I’m going to offer another piece of advice. Track your budget!

As with anything in life, surprises and unexpected expenses often crop up on a road trip that affects your budget. It’s a good idea to keep track of things on the go so you can adjust as needed.

Plus, tracking your budget on this trip will help you better plan for the next trip. You’ll have better and more realistic expectations for each line item. 

The RV LIFE Trip Wizard app has a budget-estimating feature that you can update as you go. But if you’d like another option, I also recommend Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar budgeting app. They have a free option you can use.

Remember, if you do decide to get the RV LIFE Pro suite of tools, you can save 25% by using this link and coupon code: RVLIFESTYLE.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2022-11-07

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

6 Responses to “How to Plan an RV Trip (5 Easy Steps)”

November 14, 2022at2:25 pm, Eli Richardson said:

We just bought an RV last month, and we’d like to use it for our holiday trip, so we’re curious about how to find a quality campground to stay in. That’s why we believe your article will help us learn how to prepare for our next RV trip and what to consider when choosing a campsite. We’re grateful for your insight on how to detect real RV campground reviews. [Link deleted]


November 16, 2022at2:36 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thank you for the encouraging feedback, Eli! Team RV Lifestyle


November 10, 2022at11:38 pm, Bev Parkison said:

Thank you for coming up with the 330 rule. It is of prime importance when I plan our RV trips! We prioritize a list of major stops and then decide how much time for each area. A route is planned depending on other sights along the way. Then I thoroughly review campgrounds in the area using AllStays and Google Maps before making reservations at major stops, leaving some open time for flexibility. I like to have an itinerary because it eliminates stress trying to find a place to camp. I even print out details of each campground and write down things I want to do or see on the back. Planning three long seven and eight month and one four month RV tour has really been fun!


November 11, 2022at9:34 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thank you, Bev, for the feedback on how you use the 330 rule. It is so encouraging to hear! Team RV Lifestyle


November 07, 2022at11:38 am, Curtis Anderson said:

Why am I getting political ads in the middle of your Posts?
Does this indicate you support these candidates?


November 07, 2022at3:17 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

We do not place any political ads on our page – rather we use a ad-generating program that is based on your past clicks. So if you have been on your computer and clicked anything political, unfortunately you will get political ads from many sites (including ours) that run a similar ad-generating program. The ads are based on your previous clicks. Team RV Lifestyle


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