How To Plan For Extended Travel In An RV

The Trusted Series with Ben and Christina McMillan
Ben and Christina McMillan lounging in front of their Jay Feather travel trailer

It’s no secret that camping and RVing are still on the rise. According to a 2022 report released by Kampgrounds of America (KOA), camping accounted for 40 percent of all leisure trips taken in 2021, with more than half of travelers (53 percent) including camping in some or all of their travels. And with flexible schedules and opportunities to work remotely, more and more RVers are considering extended travel.

As long-term RVers, we know how beneficial extended travel can be. But there are also some critical things to be aware of and plan for. Here are some common questions about extended travel in an RV, and our best pieces of advice for anyone considering RVing for a long period of time.

What Is Extended RV Travel And What Are The Benefits?

Extended travel in an RV can mean a few different things, and the definition can vary from person to person, but it is commonly defined as traveling in an RV for at least eight weeks. This can include seasonal travel, such as RVing during the peak summer months or snowbirding in the winter, as well as long-term RVing.

There are numerous benefits to long-time or extended travel in an RV but here are some of the most common.

  1. The freedom and flexibility to travel to different places. And since you have more time, you can stay in each location for longer and explore more.
  2. The ability to meet new people. The RV community is unlike any other—everyone is so willing to help, give and connect.
  3. If you plan and budget accordingly, extended travel in an RV can save you money. Especially if you’re planning to sell your sticks and bricks home or downsize significantly. We’ve been fortunate to travel across the country, work from the road and save on everyday things like energy bills and a mortgage.

What Are Some Of The Challenges Of Extended Travel In An RV?

If you’re thinking about doing extended travel in an RV, here are some things to be aware of and our recommendations for dealing with them:

You will spend more time away from your friends, family and community. And while you may not be able to see these people as much, you can always make a point to visit them or have regularly scheduled trips to go back to your homebase. When doing this, you can either temporarily put your RV in storage or take your RV and moochdock on their property. And if you’re unable to visit in person, technology like FaceTime and Zoom are great ways to stay connected virtually.

Compared to a short RV trip or a weekend camping trip, there is a lot more logistical planning required for extended travel. You’ll need to figure out where you’ll stay, for how long, and how to manage necessities like water and power. Our best piece of advice is to give yourself plenty of time to plan, and to have a few different back-up options in case one location doesn’t work out. Having a plan A, B and C is also important should your travels be altered by uncontrollable events like weather or an emergency.

Unexpected maintenance items may come up along the way, especially since you’ll be using your RV a lot more. To help, it’s important to always know where a local dealership or repair shop is located in every city or place that you visit. There are numerous online forums and groups that list where to find quality maintenance shops across the country. We’ve also found it really valuable to know how to do some basic repairs on your RV. This includes things like knowing how to change a tire, checking and replacing filters, knowing basic electrical fuses and what they power, knowing how to clear and fix a blocked hose, and being able to fix any seals or cracks. Being able to do these things yourself will save both time and money. 

If you choose to travel extensively in your RV, you will have to downsize and purge your things. This is surprising to many people but trust us when we say you won’t be able to put everything you want in your RV. The space is too small and your weight is too limited. Try to focus on just the daily necessities and then allow yourself two or three “personal” items. If you discover that you need something, you can always add it later on.

It will be hard to find consistent, reliable internet everywhere you go. This is especially critical if you plan to work remotely or want to stay connected to friends and family. To help, we recommend purchasing an MiFi device or hotspot. We also have two different cell phone providers, which helps cover us should one provider have better service in a certain area. You can also purchase a Starlink satellite or another RV-specific internet device to help expand your coverage on the road.

Ben and Christina McMillan working on their laptops inside their RV

What Should I Consider Before Doing Extended Travel In An RV?

  1. Determine where and how long you want to camp. Ask yourself if you want to move around a lot or stay in just a few places for longer periods of time. This also applies for regions of the country—do you want to stick to one part of the country or do you want to explore the entire United States? You’ll also need to consider your camping style—do you want to stay at RV resorts, established campgrounds, boondock, or do a mixture of all three?

  2. Figure out your finances and how you plan to fund your travels. Will you be saving in advance, selling items to help fund the cost of the trip or continuing to work? It helps to create both a long-term budget (how much you want to spend over the course of the entire trip) and a monthly budget (for things like food, gas and campgrounds). When creating a budget, don’t forget to factor in things like insurance and any emergency funds.

  3. Speaking of work, decide if you will work remotely from your RV or if you’ll try to find work along the way. If you choose to work remotely, make sure you have reliable internet and a good workspace inside your RV. We’ve done a mixture of both remote work and road work, and have found workamping to be a great way to make some extra money.

  4. Have a plan in place for all of your daily logistics. This includes things like how you will receive mail and packages, what you’ll do about health insurance and prescriptions, and what to do about banking and financial statements. An easy way to address some of these logistical items is to go paperless. Have any bills or statements emailed to you rather than mailed. And if you do need to receive physical mail, some campgrounds will allow you to receive packages but you can also have them sent to a trusted family member or friend. 

What Items Should I Bring With Me For Extended Travel In An RV?

  • Pressure valve for your hose(s)
  • Surge protector
  • Tire pressure monitor
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Chocks for wheels
  • Treatment for tanks
  • Basic tool kit
  • Hitch lock
  • Propane stove (especially for places with fire bans)
  • Extra gas

Travel Trailers

Travel trailers are the most popular type of non-motorized RV. No doubt you’ve seen one pulled down the highway hitched to a car or pickup. Travel trailers come in all sizes including tiny jellybean-shaped models with a chuckwagon kitchen in the rear to the massive house-on-wheels with picture windows and a sliding glass patio door.

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