How We Plan And Book RV Travel: Tips & Advice

Kaylee and Steve Techau in front of their Keystone Cougar

As a planner at heart, researching and scouring the internet for the best places to go and stay in our fifth wheel is one of my favorite activities. When we first started RVing, it definitely took some trial and error to figure out the best way to book our trips. And once we hit the road full-time, it took even more time and effort to plan everything out. We’ve learned a lot over the course of our RV journey, and I’m here to spill the tea on how I find and book campsites, plan trips around big activities, and how long we spend at each location.

How We Find Campsites

Finding and booking campsites is like a big treasure hunt. The goal is to find spots that meet your expectations and needs. To start, you need to decide what type of amenities and hookups you want. Are you an all-inclusive RV resort kind of person? Maybe basic amenities are all you need? Or perhaps you want to be totally secluded in nature?

My favorite website for finding any type of campsite is Campendium. We have the paid subscription, which is great because it can show us cellular coverage in a particular area and you can filter by service provider. In addition to Campendium, we are also Thousand Trails and Passport America members. However, I still like to check Campenium first so I can read location reviews before booking anything.

Utilizing platforms like Google and Pinterest is also helpful for finding campsites based on location. And many RV social media accounts—both people and brands—will share about campgrounds and camping locations as well.

If we’re looking to boondock, or dry camp without any hookups, then we’ll search on Campendium, iOverlander and Free Campsites. We always read the reviews on these websites, as they often provide great tips and share special notes about the best way to get to the campsite or area. Since we have a 40-foot fifth wheel, we have to be extra careful when selecting a more remote boondocking location.

Occasionally, we need to stay overnight in-between destinations. For stays like this, I recommend Harvest Hosts. They offer such unique experiences and locations, including wineries, breweries, museums, even golf courses. Most Harvest Hosts locations are near a main highway, but you still need to provide some advanced notice to stay (ideally, a few days notice).

How We Plan Our Driving Route

Now that you know where to find campsites, let’s dig into how to plan an RV trip around holidays, events and big activities. 

When we first started RVing around our home in Colorado, we learned that it’s best to plan six months in advance, especially if we wanted to book during the busy summer months or around a major holiday. There are a few states where the campsite booking window opens a year in advance. The key is to know when the booking window opens for a specific location and then set a calendar reminder for yourself. This will give you a much better chance of securing a spot.

Now that we RV full-time, I like to plan our travels four months in advance and base them on the seasons. However, if I know we want to visit somewhere during a popular time, I will try to book as far in advance as possible. Once our family has decided where in the country we want to travel to next, I spend some time researching places and activities in that area. This includes state and national parks, events, concerts, historical sites, and big activities, like festivals or foliage changes. It can be easy to find these things by simply searching “Things to do in…” and the floodgates will open. We then pick two or three big things that we want to do and make those the cornerstones for our trip.

Once we have our cornerstone activities and places, I’ll map where they are to start to get a general idea of what the route could look like. I break down the number of weeks we have to get to our first location and how long we’d like to be there. From there, I start to research smaller activities and locations along the route to see what sounds like a great place to stop. This whole mapping and planning process takes me a few days, and the route usually encompasses about two weeks of travel.

To give you a better idea of the process, here’s an example of our four-month route for summer 2023:

  • Starting in Maine, we will spend two weeks in Acadia National Park
  • We will then drive down to Boston and spend 4th of July with some friends
  • From there, we will head to New Jersey and take a long, scenic route down to Indiana for a Keystone RV rally
  • After the rally, we will head back north again to catch the fall foliage colors

I utilize a Google calendar to keep track of our route and the dates we will spend at each place. Sending my husband meeting invites with the location, campsite number and any special notes about the stay helps keep us on the same page about when and where we are going.

How Often We Move From Place To Place

Before we went full-time, we would try to take small trips every weekend and then do a longer week-long trip during the summer. Now, we prefer to move every two weeks during the winter and every week during the rest of the year. Slowing down during the winter is important for us, as it allows us more time to reset, relax and work on projects. And, let’s be honest, finding spots in the south during the winter can be a challenge if you move around too much. 

Moving weekly for the rest of the year gives us the freedom to see so much of this beautiful country. With our big cornerstone places picked out, we spend more time in those locations and don’t fret over trying to see it all. That is one of the biggest lessons we learned when we first started RVing full-time: If you try to do everything and see it all, you won’t have time to do anything else and you’ll quickly become exhausted. Removing that pressure has made traveling more fun and sustainable for our family. 

Everyone’s situation and travel style is different, and while this works great for our family, you may take a different approach to trip planning. Regardless, we hope this helps you find a great campsite, establish a fun route between locations and enjoy your time at each destination. Happy traveling!

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