Full-time RVing: Safe and happy with the 3/300 rule


By Greg Illes

Before I bought my RV, I thought I knew a lot about driving around the country. With almost 50 years of driving experience and several cross-the-U.S. trips, I didn’t think I had much left to learn. Wrong!

RVs are different vehicles. Not only do they proceed — shall we say — more sedately, but they coax us all into a more easy-going attitude. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. So my 500-mile-per-day automobile jaunts were not so easy to achieve in my RV.

Firstly, speed. Yes, my Itasca will go 75 mph down the Arizona highways. But I’m much more relaxed at 60, and I’ll get 9 mpg instead of 6 mpg. I’m going slower, and I’m stopping for a scenic look here and there. Furthermore, there are gas stops, bathroom breaks, meal stops, and shopping stops. Clearly I can’t average that 60 mph speed. To really make time, I increase speed and decrease stops.

So I have two point-to-point speeds. Easygoing: 50 mph. Racing: 60 mph. These numbers have been verified over 35,000 miles of RV travel in the last three years.

Three o’clock or 300 miles, whichever comes first. This is a simple rule, taught me by my older/wiser brother-in-law and verified through many trips. Individual needs and numbers might change a bit, but the rationale is indisputable. If you’re still traveling by 3 o’clock, you are going to need some daylight time to find a camp spot, get settled, have dinner, maybe take an evening walk. It makes no sense to start this process too late in the day.

Alternatively, if you’ve already gone 300 miles, there’s always something new and interesting to investigate; stop and check it out.

Correlation: At a 50-mph pace, 300 miles takes six hours. When you start traveling at a humane 9 a.m., that six hours expires at 3 p.m. Simple.

Sure, if I need to get a long ways, I abandon the 3/300 rule for a day, maybe two. But when I want to travel in comfort and leisure, appreciating where I’m going and how I’m getting there — well, the 3/300 works very, very well. And remember, the 3/300 numbers are maximum — if you find something interesting before the time or distance expires, stop and have fun with it. Isn’t that what we travel for?

Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. You can follow his blog at www.divver-city.com/blog.


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Bob Godfrey

Usually we plan a 250 mile day beginning @ around 10AM and ending somewhere between 2 or 3 cruising @ 60 mph. We usually plan the day’s stop for the night the night before or in the morning before we leave. Occasionally we will do 300 or so miles but for the most part it’s 250 and it works for us. There is so much to see in this great big beautiful country that one should not hurry.

John Springer

I tend to stop a lot. There’s always something interesting to look at. My golden rule is stop by 4PM. There is nothing worse than trying to find a park or a place to pull off when it’s starting to get dark. I average about 50mph, so 4-5 hours is about 200 miles and that’s what I plan on.


I’m getting old and slowing down. I used to travel just by car and if I didn’t make 1,000 miles I thought the day was wasted. After I started RVing I tried to say 550 was maxing out, but tried to stay around 450 miles. In this newsletter I read about the 3&3 and I really try and stick close to that now. There’s a psychological barrier to cross when you stop at 5 PM and then at 6PM you think you could have been another 60 miles down the road. You also need to think that you could have been in the ditch somewhere too. When we travel long distances we usually get under way around 8 AM. Stop for gas a few times, have lunch, do your regular circle checks and by 3 or 4 PM you’ve covered 300 to 350 miles. 300 is really an arbitrary number as you don’t want to stop just anywhere so plan ahead. If I can find a place on the map that’s 280 to 330 miles distant that’s likely where I’ll shoot for. If in planning your route you see a place that interests you, stop and smell the roses. As my neighbor always says, “Nobody’s chasing you?”