Stress-free camping should be the norm, not the exception. Whether you’re a newbie or veteran camper, the following tips can help you minimize stress on your next road trip…
Isn’t it funny how vacations are meant to be relaxing getaways yet often morph into stressful endeavors? Well, perhaps that’s more sad than funny, but it’s the truth for many, especially newbie campers.
As a longtime RVer, there are some tips I can offer you to help make stress-free camping a reality for you. From the planning stage to dealing with figurative bumps on the road, I hope the following advice will serve you well.
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7 Tips for Stress-Free Camping and Road Trips
Planning and packing is probably the most stressful part of camping. It’s a challenge, particularly for newbie campers that are trying to figure out what they need and can live (and travel) without.
So, I’m going to start off with planning, move into the trip, and then circle back around to the easiest “planning” resource you can use.
1. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
Like nearly every other new camper, Jennifer and I overpacked our first, second, and even third trips out in our RV. It’s bound to happen and it’s really not a bad thing.
After all, some things you have to learn through trial and error to discover what works best for you.
So, my advice is to simplify your packing list as much as possible for your first trip, but don’t stop there. Keep editing down after your first several trips out in your RV.
With every minimizing “cleaning,” stress-free camping will be more within your reach. Your stress level will go down until you’re confident that you have the staple elements you need to happily and comfortably travel.
Pro Tip: Keep an ongoing list on your RV’s fridge of things you needed but didn’t have on your trip. Not having it once is annoying, but forgetting it a second time is very frustrating!
2. Embrace Serendipity Travel
Jennifer and I consider ourselves serendipitous travelers. We have no problem hitting the road with nothing more than a general direction to head.
You don’t have to go to that extreme, but we strongly recommend you leave plenty of wiggle room in your travel plans for Serendipity to work her magic.
When you have hard-set travel plans with a packed itinerary, stress-free camping can quickly go out the window as little things start to go wrong. One mishap can cause a domino effect that then turns into a snowball effect on your nerves.
So, always leave wiggle room! Plan the minimum that you feel comfortable with, and go with the flow from there.
(Psst… Here’s some help on How to Plan the Perfect RV Trip.)
3. Push the Reset Button
Some mornings, some days, some entire road trips don’t go as planned. At some point on every trip, frustration and worry are likely to rear their ugly heads.
Whether you start bickering with your spouse, get angry at other drivers or campers, or your kids’ attitudes are less-than-ideal, it really helps to have an imaginary reset button.
This reset button is a guilt-free, let-it-go, short-term memory eraser that every RVer should have within their reach. Shoot, it probably wouldn’t even hurt to have a physical reset button to push. But, a mental button can do the trick, too.
If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed (from packing to traveling), stop, take a deep breath and push your reset button. Exhale slowly as you remind yourself that it’s not worth the trouble and it’ll all work out in the end if you keep peacefully moving forward.
4. Follow the 330 Rule
If you’ve followed us for any amount of time, you’re likely already familiar with this rule. Jennifer and I recommend it every chance we get and will continue to, and for good reason.
The 330 Rule states you shouldn’t drive more than 330 miles in a day or past 3:30 p.m. (whichever comes first).
From our extensive experience on the road, we’ve learned there’s nothing more stressful than wearing yourself out from driving and arriving too late at a campsite to easily set up.
After a few exhaustive and stressful trips, we adopted this rule and still live by it today. And boy, has it helped not only with our individual stress levels but also with relieving stress in our relationship on the road.
Mike and Jennifer's Summer T-Shirts for your next adventure
5. Stock a Guilty Pleasure
Now, this tip comes with a quick disclaimer: Enjoy all good things in moderation!
But we’ve learned that having a guilty pleasure in stock in our RV at all times can help quickly relieve stress. Maybe for you, it’s chocolate or a glass of wine. Heck, maybe it’s even adorable cat videos on YouTube.
Whatever your guilty pleasure is, try to keep it accessible. This is especially true for the most stress-inducing parts of RVing.
For instance, while you’re packing (and repacking and repacking), make time to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine halfway through or when you’re finished. If your travel partner is driving you nuts, sneak away to a secluded place and savor a piece of chocolate.
It's a small trick but can make a big difference in achieving stress-free camping.
6. Laugh at the Small Things
People always say, “Don’t sweat the small things” and they’re absolutely right. But I challenge you to take it one step further. I challenge you to laugh at the small things so you can really enjoy stress-free camping.
We’ve found that it tends to be the small things that lead to the most stress. For whatever reason, people seem to shake off the big things easier than a lot of small things building up.
It’s easier to laugh at being stuck on the side of the road than it is to laugh at realizing you forgot the can opener while the kids whine about what’s for dinner and your spouse obliviously tracks mud through the RV.
With big situations, it’s easier to accept that “it is what it is” and laugh at the hopelessness of the situation. Try to adopt this same mentality with the little things.
Draft an ongoing tale of woes in your mind that starts to just sound silly when you put it all together. The neighbor’s dog barked all night, then I stepped out of the RV right into its poo, and then I tripped over its stupidly long and ineffective leash!
Before long, you’ll find yourself laughing.
7. Buy a Pre-Made Itinerary
Remember how I said planning a trip is often the most stressful part? Well, what if you can skip that planning part entirely by buying a ready-made itinerary written by very well-traveled RVers? Because that is an option.
Jennifer and I have written a suite of RV travel guides that outline day-by-day adventures. This recommendation may sound self-serving, but, in truth, we made these RV travel guides with the goal of making travel more enjoyable and less stressful for our fellow RVers.
These are all road trips we’ve experienced firsthand (usually several times) and we want you to be able to enjoy them as much as we have. We spell out where to stay, places to eat, the best things to do, and so much more.
You can literally download the guide as you’re pulling out of your driveway for it to lead you on a week-long adventure.
Looking for exciting RV trip ideas and travel suggestions?
We've written a library of RV Travel books that lay out guided RV explorations of scenic areas of the US that we'’ve explored and think would make an excellent RV trip for you.
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.
You can hit everything in seven days, do a whirlwind weekend tour, or you can take your time and explore the area over a 2+ week period.
Planning an RV trip can be very time-consuming so that’s why we’ve done the research for you! Just take our guides and use them. We’re sure you’ll have an RV trip for the ages! Instant download. CLICK HERE for information on our RV Travel Guides