RV Living 101: Our Complete Guide to the Most Helpful RV Resources

 RV Living 101: Our Complete Guide to the Most Helpful RV Resources

RV Living 101 and RV Resources tip image

Keeping the RV Lifestyle carefree means having easy access to helpful RV resources. That’s why we’re publishing this RV Living 101 master list. Be sure to bookmark and share it!

Jennifer and I have spent years collecting them. So bookmark this post. We know it will come in handy sometime.

Picture of the road for the RV Living 101 article
We have lots of RV Living 101 RV resources for you as you take to the open road

RV Living 101: Road and Weather RV Resources:

Nothing can worry an Rv trip faster than getting stuck in traffic. Or being detoured because of construction or road delay. These RV resources will help you choose your best route to avoid such hassles.

Waze – This app is at the top of our favorite RV resources these days. It’s an app and website offers detailed turn-by-turn route guidance and directions, plus constantly updated group-sourced alerts to traffic James, police and speed traps debris n the road and hazardous conditions

National Traffic and Road Closure Information – Kept by the US. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Administration, it searches state by state and has updates on construction zones, live freeway traffic conditions and much more

iExit – This app is a great RV 101 resource for finding out what’s at the next exit from the interstate, or exit miles down the way. It locates fuel stops, tells you the average cost per gallon, notes what restaurants and businesses are at that exit. They call it your Roadtrip pit stop finder and it helps save time and figure out where to pull off and find the services you need.

Road and traffic conditions across the nation – Looking for a weather report for the route you plan to drive? Check this before heading out and on route. It also has links to live traffic webcams in many spots. We really like the map it displays showing wind speeds in each state.

Weather alerts from the National Weather Service –  From weather forecasts, flood warnings to rainfall alerts, this has state by state information for every region of the nation.

Current Wildfire alerts – Wildfires are frequent problems RV drivers need to know about. This updated wildfire incident website shows current wildfires being fought across the nation.

Yelp – We love Yelp and use it all the time to find great restaurants. Pick a location and see what’s near you. Here’s a hint: We always look for places with the best reviews, four or five stars and we’ve never been disappointed and, in fact have found some awesome local restaurants that we would have passed right by.

Roadtrippers – This app helps you find fun and interesting things to see along your travel route. You can filter it however you want but the app covers just about every region in the country and makes some great suggestions for off the beaten path exploration. Read the reviews from others who have been there and we guarantee you’ll find some fun places to stop.

We have on the RV Lifestyle blog an article that will help avoid getting stuck in traffic.

RV Living 101: Safety RV Resources

Latest RV Recalls – No one keeps better track of Rv models being recalled for various safety issues than our friends at RV Travel.  Usually, your manufacturer will alert you to issues. But sometimes, those notification letters slip through the system, Get in the habit of checking these notices at least monthly to see if your RV has an issue that should be resolved. 

RV parks that have shelters – When bad weather hits an area, you want to have a safer place to retreat to than your RV. Here’s a list maintained by RV Travel of parks and campground with shelters you can take refuge in.

Seatbelt laws in every state – Some states only require those in the front seat of a motorhome to wear seatbelts, while others may require all passengers to be buckled up. To avoid getting issues with the law and a costly tcket, check out tthe motorhome seatbelt laws for every state you’ll be traveling in.

RV Service Reviews – This very helpful RV resource rates and reviews RV repair facilities across the country. This site is particularly helpful when you are in a new area and don’t know what best place to call for help.The site contains actual reviews of RV service facilities made by RV owners themselves. You can research where to take your RV for service and what establishments you may want to avoid.

Speaking on avoidance, here’s an article we did on the RV Lifestyle travel blog about highways you may want to route around.

RV Living 101: RV Resources on where to overnight for free

Rest areas where you can overnight – Camping is not allowed in any interstate highway rest area. But some do allow. This link lists the rules for each state. Check the states you’ll be traveling through but, to make it easier, let me just list the states that do allow you to stop and rest, ranging from a couple of hours to overnight. 

They are:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois (only on Illinois Toll Road)
  • Indiana (only on Indiana Toll Road)
  • Kansas
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • New York (emergencies only)
  • Ohio (only on Ohio Turnpike)
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon (14-hour limit)
  • Texas
  • Virginia
In all other states, violators technically risk receiving a fine if caught. But, unofficially, I would not hesitate to overnight at a rest area in our RV. State police and highway officials do not want sleepy drivers on the road. And if you are only staying overnight  (no more than 6 or 7 hours) and haven’t set up camp chairs and grills or created a safety issue with your RV,  I don’t think you will have a problem.
 
Want to see what rest stop overnight in an RV is like? Here’s an RV Living 101 video that shows what we encountered at a rest area in Alabama:
 

 
 
Cracker Barrel – Unless prohibited by local ordinances or other regulations, most Cracker Barrels welcome RVers to overnight in their parking lots. Again, don’t set up camp. But overnighting is usually fine. Always ask the manager first. 
RV Living 101 suggestion: Overnight stays at Cracker Barrel are a great RV resource to remember
RV Living 101 RV resource suggestion: Overnight stays at Cracker Barrel
 
Cabelas – Cabela’s is a sporting and hunting store with locations across the U.S. and Canada. If the store so permits, you can park your RV there overnight at no cost to you. Some Cabela’s even have dumping stations and water stations. Call ahead and get management permission. 
 
Walmart – Walmart is very welcoming to RVers. Permission to park is extended by individual store managers, based on the availability of parking space and local laws. Please contact management in each store to ensure accommodations before parking your RV.
 
Pilot and Flying J Travel Plazas – Flying J locations in Noth America cater primarily to long haul truckers but they are also, generally, very welcoming to RVers and usually have dedicated parking spots where RVers can overnight for free. Again, it’s best to always check with management. Many Flying Js also have dump stations that Rvers can use. There may be a small fee fr dumping.
 
Loves Travel Stops – Like Pilot and Flying J, most (not all) Loves allow overnight RV parking when permitted by local laws. Ask for permission. In addition, many Loves have fenced-in Dogg rest areas, too.
 
Costco – Most Costco locations allow for overnight RV parking. They usually close around 8:30 PM  so their parking lots are empty overnight. The manager or security guard will usually have an area for overnight RV parking and it’s typically in a well-lit area in the parking lot.
 
Home DepotWith 1,900 locations in North America, Home Depot doesn’t have a corporate policy to allow RVs to park overnight in their parking lots. That’s a decision left to each store manager. Historically, store managers have allowed RVs to park overnight, assuming they leave the following morning. Always ask first.
 
Casinos – Across the country, many casinos offer free overnight RV parking. Others have leveled full-fledged commercial campgrounds. This list from Casino Camper will help you see what’s available near you.
 

Want more RV resources and information on free camping, boondocking on federal and state land?

 

There are lots more RV resources we want to share. Here’s a video we did on the topic:

RV Living 101: Membership sites where RVers can stay for free

Harvest Hosts – A network of 1m400 farms, wineries, breweries, tourist attractions and golf clubs where RVers can stay free overnight. Here’s a video of  how Jenifer and I use it:

Here’s another:

Boondockers Welcome – This site connects RVers to more than 2,000 private property owners from all over North America who make overnight camping spots available for RVers who are passing through their area. Some spots are in their driveway, some out back. Some are small businesses. Your RV must be self-contained. Hosts charge nothing. Membership fee is $50 a year.

CLICK HERE to listen to our podcast interview with the founder of Boondockers Welcome!

Overnight RV Parking – Overnight RV Parking is a subscription service, providing details for over 14,000 FREE or nearly free parking locations that can be searched by location, listing places that allow and prohibit overnight RV parking. Plug in a city and you’ll get a map listing where you can or where you can’t overnight free or for a very low fee. It costs $29 a year. 

We did a video on the various places where RVers can stay for free or at low costs. 

RV Living 101: RV Clubs worth joining 

These are great RV communities. They offer rallies, special member perks, road service and insurance deals, mail forwarding services, and much more. Here are the top three clubs we recommend as RV resources:

Escapees – This just might be the most active RV club out there today. If you are looking for community, help with RV issues, Rv product discounts and more, check out these guys

FMCA – This is the granddaddy of RV clubs. Originally the group was only for motor coach owners (the MC in the name) but for the last could of years they have opened to all RVers. They have lots of rallies and lots of members-only RV discounts.

Good Sam – A part of Camping World, the Good Sam Club is an international organization of recreational vehicle owners and the largest organization of RV owners in the world. It is focused upon making RVing safer and more enjoyable, and to save members money through club-endorsed benefits and services. It states that it has over 2.185 million members.

RV Living 101: RV Resources for planning an RV trip

RV Trip Wizard – This is a very handy tool for planning your RV routes.  You can use the wizard to map out a trip, find campgrounds along the way (and their review/ratings), track your fuel and travel costs, and locate points of interest in the area you’re visiting.

Mile By Mile Road Trip – This site has been around a long time It’s not fancy but it is helpful. Click on a state and you get a map of the major roads in the state and links to route suggestions you can use to plan your trip.

Travellers Point – This site lets you plan a route, free, online, and draw your route out on your own customized map.  You can also start your own travel blog.

We wrote on the RV Lifestyle travel blog a very helpful article and video on the exact tools Jennifer and I use when we plan our travel.

Here’s the accompanying video:

RV Living 101: RV resources for finding private and government campgrounds

Dyrt  – This is a fast-growing campground directory app that boasts over 500,000 listings, with honest, crowd-sourced reviews, tips and contact information that makes it very easy to book a campsite. They also publish a great camping magazine and they run frequent contests. The basic site is free, but the $29 a year pro version has even more info. We use this on our tablets and smartphone. They have iOS and Android apps available

Campendium  – Campendium has done the best job of any app we’ve found on reporting what is open and what is closed during the COVID-19 shutdown. They have state-by-state listings, directories of commercial campgrounds, national forest camping areas, state parks, National Parks and free campsites. The app is a very fast and helpful RV respource. To get the list of updated open and closed campgrounds,  go to https://www.campendium.com/camping/covid-19-state-by-state-campground-closures-responses/

Campground Reviews – There are listings and reviews here on over 20,000 campgrounds. The reviews are usually spot on, submitted by real campers. Very helpful site.

Campground Views – It sounds similar to the above RV Living 101 resource but Campground Views is very different. It offers actual views, photos, and videos – often 360-degree videos –  of RV parks and campgrounds across the U.S.  It has 3,130 videos, 37.475 photos, and info on over 16,000 parks.

Allstays  -This has been our main go-to app for years. It lists campgrounds, boondocking spots, BLM land, parks, attractions and more, and it shows them all on a map. You can search near you or along a route or by state and you can have the map show you everything from campgrounds to interstate rest areas to Walmarts, rv dump sites, pretty much anything an RVer needs to find. It’s only for iOS devices.

The KOA App – KOA is our go-to campground of choice when it’s time to overnight on the road when we need a commercial campground to get some laundry done and empty the tanks. The app lets you see photos of the campground, get an idea of what amenities are available, and read reviews from other RVers who have stayed there. You can also reserve a spot from the app.

RV Living 101: More RV resources you’ll need 

Dump Stations – This is a very helpful crowd-sourced RV resource list that lets you see RV sanitation surrounding the area of your choice. Click in the state you are in and it opens up a map that will quickly let you see what is near you. with just the click of a mouse.

Go Pet Friendly – We travel with Bo, a 65-pound Norwegian Elkhound. And this app is the main RV resource we use to make sure we give him a good time, too. It helps us find pet-friendly hotels and campgrounds, beaches, off-leash parks where Bo can run, veterinarians, pet supply stores and even restaurants and wineries where pets are welcome to join you.

Traveling in an RV with Pets – We have a free RV Living 101 guide to traveling with your dog. Jennifer and I wrote this free, downloadable eBook from our own experience and lots of interviews with experts over the years, 

Buying an RVWe created a 70+-page downloadable digital guide that serves as a very helpful RV Living 101 RV resource tat will help you understand the nuances that come with purchasing an RV, where you can save thousands of dollars in the buying process, what the right questions are to ask dealers, what things to look out for, how to select the right unit, amenities, warranties, and so much more. 

Financing an RV – This links to Jeff McLeod of Newcoast Financial Services who specializes in RV loans and the refinancing of existing loans. He’ll offer up free quotes that let you find the best places to finance that purchase.

Insurance for an RV – We recommend RIS (Recreation Insurance Specialists), formerly Blue Sky RV Insurance. They have many years of experience with RV specialty coverage. They’ll give you a free quote on insurance solutions to meet your specific needs. 

Extended Warranties – Recreational vehicles are complex machines with many parts, and you owe it to your rig and your wallet to keep those parts covered.  An extended warranty is a wise decision. Wholesale Warranties is the company we recommend to find the right RV Extended Warranty coverage for your vehicle. Simply fill out their online quote form below with your rig’s information, and one of their knowledgeable Warranty Specialists will reach out to you in no time with your extended warranty quote

Getting an RV inspected – Next to our house, buying an RV is probably the most expensive purchase you will make in a lifetime. When buying a house, it’s normal to have it checked out by a home inspector. Do you realize you can do the same thing with an RV? In this week’s RV interview of the week, we’ll introduce you to the National RV Inspectors Association of America and tell you what needs to be checked out by a pro before you sign on the dotted line.

CLICK HERE to listen to our RV Podcast for detailed information on how important these RV inspections are

 

RV Travel Guides –  We have written a series of regional RV travel guides covering the most popular destinations for RVers. Each guide is just $7 and in each location, we provide a suggested route and itinerary (7 stops in each guide, one for each day of a week trip!) as well as links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, local tips, and interesting things to do at each location.

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rv living 101

RV Living 101: Our Complete Guide to the Most Helpful RV Resources

Mike Wendland

Mike is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road. He enjoys camping (obviously), hiking, biking, fitness, photography, kayaking, video editing, and all things dealing with technology and the outdoors. See and subscribe to his RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube, where he has hundreds of RV and travel related videos. His PC MIke TV reports, on personal technology are distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations.

4 Comments

  • Mike, please check your resources re use of Rest Areas. It seems incorrect on many states. WA (where I live) DOES permit parking (not camping) for up to 8 hours, as do many/most other states apparently.

  • Wow! Thank you for this extensive list. I’ve been Rv’ing for more then a decade and thought I knew about all the available RV related resources but there were a couple on your list that were new to me.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Thank you for the variety of information. HEre are a few more sites to check.
    I use this site more than the Campground views. This has more campgrounds covered.
    https://www.campsitephotos.com

    Storm Radar App also gives you alerts. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.twc.radar&hl=en_US

    This app has few ads and articles so it downloads quickly. The map provides a variety of views from storm to temps, etc. Dark Sky

    Of course for the most accurate local weather is NOAA.

    On Facebook this former weatherman posts RV WEather info.
    https://www.facebook.com/RVWeather

    For folks traveling in maritime Canada during hurricane season, there is a Canadian Hurricane center that we used to keep track of Dorian when we were in that area last fall. Not sure what link I used. https://www.facebook.com/RVWeather

    A website I use a lot is 511 for road conditions. Unfortunately not all states have this. I live in Vermont, so in the winter I refer to this if I have to travel https://www.weather.gov/cys/unitedstatesroadconditions
    http://newengland511.org

    For folks traveling in mountainous areas this app provides good information about the roads in these areas.
    Mountain Directory East and West.

  • please ad chocking your wheels to your list-on 2
    occasions our trailer rolled a couple of feet.So before we disconnect truck,we ALWAYS chock our wheels.
    It is a very bad sight and feeling to see your home on wheels roll away from you!

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