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10 RED FLAGS to Avoid When Planning an RV Route

| Updated Sep 16, 2023

When planning an RV route, you’ll want to avoid these red flags that can leave you stranded, in an accident, or breaking the law…

Planning an RV route is NOT the same as planning a road trip in your car. There are several things you must be aware of to keep yourself out of trouble (both figuratively and with the law.)

If you don’t avoid these red flags, you can end up stranded on the side of the road, lost, or (worst of all) in an accident. Or, you can find yourself with expensive fines! 

We will outline these red flags and include helpful resources to avoid them. We'll also discuss RV-friendly GPS and route planners that will make RV trip planning much easier!

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10 Red Flags When Planning an RV Route

The following red flags apply to all RVs, but are especially important for larger RVs.

However, regardless of your RV type, you should be aware of all of these red flags. Make sure you consider them when planning your RV route!

1- Lack of RV-Friendly Fuel Stations

10 RED FLAGS to Avoid When Planning an RV Route -- gas stations

One of the first red flags to look out for when planning an RV route is the lack of RV-friendly fuel stations along the way. Regular gas stations may not have the necessary space or accommodations for larger RVs, making it difficult for you to refuel.

It's important to map out your route ahead of time and ensure that there are sufficient RV-friendly fuel stations available along your journey. This way, you won't find yourself in a panic, running on empty with no suitable fuel station in sight.

Resources:

2- Lack of Dump Stations & Water Fill Stations

How to Easily Find RV Dump Stations - 10 RED FLAGS to Avoid When Planning an RV Route

Lack of access to dump stations can quickly become a significant inconvenience and create unpleasant situations during your trip. RVs have holding tanks for wastewater, including blackwater from toilets and gray water from sinks and showers. 

These tanks need to be emptied regularly to maintain a sanitary and functional RV. Without access to dump stations, you may find yourself running out of space in your holding tanks, leading to foul odors, clogged plumbing, and potential health hazards.

The same goes for freshwater fill stations!

Helpful Resources:

3- Low Bridges & Overhangs

**WARNING: THIS VIDEO'S CONTENT MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME VIEWERS**

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The above video is scary to watch, but the first clip will drills into you the importance of height clearance. 

It’s crucial to know the height of your RV and the clearance required for safe passage under bridges and other overhangs. Failing to consider this could result in a disastrous collision with a bridge or overhang, causing substantial damage to your vehicle and serious risk to you and others.

Always check the height restrictions of bridges along your route and choose alternative paths if needed. RV GPS helps with this, as well.

4- Excessively Curvy or Steep Roads

While a winding road may add some excitement to a regular road trip, it can be a nightmare for those traveling in larger RVs. Excessively curvy roads can present challenges when it comes to maneuvering your RV safely.

Sharp turns, narrow lanes, and steep inclines can make navigation difficult and potentially lead to accidents. If possible and practical, opt for routes with wider and straighter roads more suitable for RVs.

See our harrowing journey up to Pikes Peak in an RV.

5- Remote Country Roads

We love going “off the beaten path,” but it's important to exercise caution when planning your RV route through remote country roads. These roads might not be well-maintained, lack proper signage, or have limited services available.

If you encounter any mechanical issues or need assistance, it could take a significant amount of time for help to arrive. It also often leads to the next red flag…

Helpful Resources:

6- Lack of Cell Service

10 Best Wilderness Survival Books for RVers & Campers
along with an Atlas – some of these might be helpful.

In today's interconnected world, losing cell service can be a major inconvenience, especially when you're relying on GPS navigation or need to communicate in case of emergencies.

Consider if any region you go through will likely have bad cell service, such as heavily wooded and remote areas. We highly recommend keeping a road atlas in your RV in case your GPS fails, and you can also consider investing in a cell phone booster.

Helpful Resources:

7- Crossing Bridges (with Propane On)

Many RVs use propane for cooking, heating, and other essential functions. It's crucial to be aware of specific regulations when crossing bridges with propane tanks turned on. 

Some local and state regulations prohibit the transportation of flammable materials, including propane, due to safety concerns. Make sure to familiarize yourself with these regulations and turn off your propane tanks when crossing such bridges.

Helpful Resources:

8- Crossing Borders

Crossing into Canada or Mexico requires certain documentation and customs procedures. These procedures are different than what they were pre-pandemic and can change at any time.

So, you should always check border crossing requirements and processes before your trip. Verify you have the right documentation and know what you can and can’t take over the border. 

For instance, if you are taking your grandchildren, you may need special parent release forms. And did you know that it’s currently illegal to take CBD products when crossing the Canadian border? These are the things you need to know when planning your route.

9- Crossing State Lines

10 RED FLAGS to Avoid When Planning an RV Route

Some state lines have restrictions, too, and may stop you at the state line for inspections. California, for instance, might stop you at state lines to check your wheel wells or fridge for potential parasites that could damage California’s agricultural industry (which provides nearly half of the US fruit & nut production). 

So, you need to know California Crossing Restrictions and other states’ potential restrictions, too.

10- Toll Roads

10 RED FLAGS to Avoid When Planning an RV Route 1

While toll roads can provide a quicker and more efficient route for regular vehicles, they can pose challenges and additional costs when traveling with an RV. Toll roads can impact your budget, route planning, and overall RV experience.

Moreover, many toll roads no longer have manned toll booths. Sometimes you have to register online to use the toll road. And sometimes, you have to pay for it electronically &/or pay a fine or bill you receive in the mail. 

You can read more about tolls and a universal toll pass for RVers.

RV-Friendly GPS & Route Planners

10 RED FLAGS to Avoid When Planning an RV Route 2

One practical change EVERY RVer should make is switching from general GPS to RV-specific GPS apps. RV GPS will automatically avoid most of these red flags. 

However, you should NEVER trust GPS completely! Do not follow it blindly, or you may end up with a tragic story of your own. 

Here are helpful resources to help with planning an RV route:

Mike and Jennifer's Great Lakes Shoreline Tour (U.S. Side)

10 RED FLAGS to Avoid When Planning an RV Route 3

Instead of the usual 7 Days that some of our other guides can be done in, with this one, we’re suggesting that you budget more time. This is why we are calling it a “Tour” instead of a 7-Day Guide! There are 86 pages in this new ebook.

In this new Great Lakes Shoreline Tour we cover in detail:

  • Notable U.S. Cities/Towns along each Great Lake (US side) like Watertown, Grand Island, Geneva-on-the-Lake, Vermillion, Mackinaw City, and so many more!
  • What to See/Do Around EACH Lake: Ocqueoc Falls Scenic Site, Les Cheneaux Islands, Antique Boat Museum, and many, many more places, including BONUS side trips!
  • And good Campgrounds for each Lake (US side) – at least 4 or 5 for EACH Lake! With all the info you need to set up reservations.

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-09-16

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.

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