If there’s one thing that counts as the ultimate American dream, it has to be jumping in your RV and heading off across the country.
RVing across American is on the bucket list of so many and if you’re lucky enough to do it for real one day, there’s a whole lot of planning that has to happen first.
Can you RV across America? Many people have traveled in an RV across America, following popular routes that allow them to see all of the sights they want to along the way.
Careful planning is required though, including having your vehicle inspected and serviced, as well as booking accommodation at RV parks ahead of time.
Taking your recreational vehicle across the country is an experience like no other, and depending on the route you want to travel or what sights you plan on seeing along the way, there are plenty of ways to do it.
We’ve created this guide that covers the basics including popular routes, planning, accommodation, and money-saving tips, so you’ll be well on your way to the RV adventure of a lifetime.
The Best Routes for Traveling Across America
One of the best things about RVing across America is the freedom of it all, and we’re not just talking about being on the open road.
As such an expansive country that almost seems designed to cater to RVs, you can plan to travel just about any route you want to that will enable you to do it your way.
Before you can decide your route, make up a list of all of the sights and locations you want to visit. With an idea of where you want to go, you can then start plotting a route that allows you to do it all.
It’s best to have a rough idea of the journey first and then get into the finer details once you’ve compiled a list of must-see places.
Otherwise, you can follow some of the more popular routes that let you see lots of the country and take the path that millions of others have traveled before you.
The Interstate 95 spans from Florida to Maine and travels through 15 states, the goes from San Francisco to New Jersey and covers 11 states, or the Interstate 10 from California to Florida.
Those who want to do things with more freedom and time might plan their next destination while at the current one.
As long as you have a general idea of where you’re going and don’t mind being stung with higher rates at RV parks and resorts, this is a viable option for traveling across America as well.
Campgrounds and Accommodation
The beauty of traveling with an RV is that you have your accommodation with you and even in the worst-case scenario, it’ll be easy enough to find somewhere to pull up for the night.
However, as an RV driver, it’s your responsibility to understand the legalities of this type of camping, and rules and regulations are in place when you cross through a new state or city.
In your RV, you have a few options for accommodation, including RV Parks, RV resorts, campgrounds, public managed lands, and boondocking at sites without any facilities.
You’ll need to decide what you’re looking for out of an RV base, including whether you want water, waste, or electricity hook-ups, and how much you want to spend.
With these factors in mind, you’ll be able to plan where you’re staying based on the route you’re traveling.
Although it’s not necessary to book every single night of accommodation you plan on staying for, you will want to do the major ones.
If you’re planning to visit popular tourist destinations, especially during peak season, the major RV parks and resorts will sell out fast, so many a few bookings here and there to cover you for those.
Basic Vehicle Checks Before You Go
Any time you take a road trip it’s a wise idea to get your car serviced before you do, and this is doubly important when you’re driving an RV.
When you’re about three to six months away from leaving, have the vehicle undergo a roadworthy assessment to make sure you tackle any large issues ahead of time.
As it gets closer and you have one month until your journey begins, start to assess the big three: roof, tires, and hitch and tow.
Book the RV in for a complete mechanical assessment and servicing including engine, battery, generator, awnings, seals, tanks, AC system, propane system, and more.
Finally, in the week before you leave, give your RV a thorough cleaning inside and out and perform jobs like sanitizing the water tank and washing the bedding.
Make sure it’s fully stocked inside with all working accessories and there’s nothing left to do on the outside either.
With all of these ticked off, you’ll be able to drive out on the day your adventure starts without a care in the world, knowing that your RV is in top condition.
The Length of the Journey
The beauty of owning an RV is freedom, and this includes the freedom to take your sweet time if you want to.
When seeing a country as expansive and beautiful as the United States, it’s not something to rush, so the longer you can take completing the journey, the better.
Some people follow a route and aim to get there in a month or so, and others plan on taking the whole year.
There’s no right or wrong answer here, as it all depends on you, what sights you plan on seeing, the seasons you want to travel in, and how much money you have to live off while traveling the country in your RV.
Tips for Saving Money Along the Way
Traveling America in an RV doesn’t have to be expensive, contrary to what many people think, but the costs can add up if you’re not careful.
If you’re looking for ways to save some pennies on your journey, follow these clever tips:
Join an RV Club: There are countless RV clubs out there, each with unique benefits for their members. You can make some great savings on things like RV parts, accommodation options, campgrounds, and retailers, just by flashing your membership card. Spend some time before your trip to compare the most popular ones to see what suits your RV style.
Look at long-term rentals: If you’re not lucky enough to own an RV, you can rent one, and save some cash by booking a long-term lease instead. Many of the RV rental and dealerships will give a sizeable discount to drivers who want an RV for longer than a month, and if you’re planning a trip across the country, this would apply to you.
Plan the route: Getting lost can chalk up a lot of extra miles and so can accidentally get onto a roundabout route. Be diligent about where you’re traveling next and know the exact path you’re taking to save time, money spent on gas, and overnight stays when you could have avoided them.
Find free camping spots: While you probably don’t want to spend every night at a free camping spot, it’s a good way to save money while you’re midway to a destination. Do your research before heading off and make a note of the various free spots that allow for boondocking and other free forms of RV parking.
Planning to Make the Trip More Comfortable
Traveling in an RV is a much more comfortable way to see the country, but it doesn’t just happen that way without some thoughtful planning.
There are lots of things you can do to equip yourself and your RV for the journey, so follow these tips for doing it right.
Get an RV-friendly GPS: Bring along a GPS device that’s designed for RVs and put it to use finding things like roads with height restrictions or unnecessary tolls. It can also help you find the cheapest and shortest route to your next destination by following RV-friendly paths, so the device pays for itself.
Make a meal plan: Have a week-ahead meal plan that details the lunches and dinners you’ll be munching on, as breakfasts are fairly easy to prepare. Think about your intended location and what facilities will be on hand, then plan around that to minimize cooking efforts.
Weekly laundromat stops: When you have the luxury of traveling with your own bed, that also means you have the downside of keeping it clean. Choose a day of the week and make that the dedicated laundry day where you strip the beds, wash all the sheets, and clean your clothes as well. Do nothing else on that day except tidy the RV and you’ll be grateful for it.
Practice with the RV: Whether you own the RV yourself or are renting one, it pays to spend some time practicing how to drive it. These bulky vehicles are different from regular cars and require a lot of effort to park, reverse, and turn, so you’ll want to feel proficient before you hit the road.
Read reviews: One of the better things to come out of the internet is the ability to read real-life reviews of travelers who have stayed at RV parks before you, whether they’re good or bad. Before booking anywhere, take some time reading these reviews to see what the park offers so you can see if it’s a good fit.
Adjust your ETA: Traveling with an RV means running into a lot of unforeseen problems so you have to be flexible and ready to roll with the punches. Most RV travelers aim to travel no more than 300 miles a day and arrive at their destination after 3 pm, so follow this rough guide for a more realistic estimated time of arrival.
Living the American Dream
There’s nothing like the sense of adventure and freedom that you’ll gain from RVing across America, and this is true no matter which path you take.
As long as you’ve been carefully planning and know the spots you want to hit along the way, you can take your time and enjoy the ride on some of the world’s most iconic routes.
Driving an RV across America is on the bucket list of so many people, so it pays to do it right the first time. If you still have questions about long-distance traveling with a recreational vehicle, read on for a few FAQs that might be able to help you answer them.
How Far Can You Drive an RV?
Driving a recreational vehicle is not the same as driving a car, and they’re not designed to travel distances as long as a standard car does.
Experts recommend driving no more than 500 miles in a single day in an RV, so make sure you’re planning for regular breaks and never exceeding this amount.
Can You Drive an RV Anywhere?
Recreational vehicles are suitable for driving on paved roads and should not be taken off-road at any time as they’re not built for this type of rugged terrain.
There are lots of options for parking an RV overnight though, including campgrounds, RV parks, state parks, and on private land.
Can You Pull a Car With an RV?
Some RVs have the capability to tow a car behind them, but only when done correctly and safely.
This is sometimes referred to as ‘flat towing’ or ‘four down towing’ and it requires the attachment of a tow bar that connects the car and the RV, allowing the car to use its four tires to pull along.
George Cummings enjoys connecting with nature, meeting new people, and making friends from all over the world. RVing and camping create the perfect opportunity for [him/her] to take part in these activities. After spending several years on the road and exploring the great outdoors, George Cummings shares some of his best pieces of advice on how to make the most of your time while camping. TourTheOutdoors is his way of helping outdoorsy individuals like [him/her] start on a right footing with amazing recommendations and buying guides.