RVing: Be safe and happy every day 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 easygoing 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.

First thing to take into consideration is speed. Yes, my Itasca would 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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1 year ago

Had I read this when I was employed, I might have had a scathing rebuttal! We traveled in a travel trailer and 500 and 600 mile days were quite “normal.” My poor wife’s back would get to bothering her. But we had a lot of things we were trying to cram into 2 or 3 weeks, and did. Our kids saw a lot of the country, even Alaska twice! Some, maybe a lot of those vacation were more stressful than working!

My wife isn’t an early riser and oft times we wouldn’t get on the road unit 10 or 11 o’clock and have 500 miles to make. That would mean getting off the road at 10, 11, or midnight sometimes! Yah, I was that guy! Sorry!

Now that I’m retired, I’ve slowed down my daily driving and R. V. trips and you are so right! I when to San Diego last year. I was dreading driving in the traffic out there (I’m from Small town, middle of no where Nebraska!) to my surprise, slowing down, taking my time, “right lane Driving” wasn’t that bad!

Now, most of the time, we drive 55 to 65 n.p.h. and try to stay out of other’s way. When driving the two lanes, which I prefer, if we’re not in a hurry, I’ll pull over in town to let other go around me, especially if there’s truck behind me. And , now we are off the road much earlier.

Thanks for your article,

1 year ago

I follow the 9-6-3 rule. Leave by 9 drive no more than 6 hours a try to have a beer in my hand by 3.

Tommy Molnar
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

Me too, jeff!

Rick Seely
1 year ago

If you are retired and have planned out your drive, I like 2/2/2/2. Two hundred miles max per day, be in your campsite by 2:00 pm, stay 2 days minimum and have at least two drinks after you are set up.

Michael McCracken
1 year ago

I have been RVing fulltime for the past 6 years. I have always limited my speed to 60-65 mph when possible. This usually takes me 250 plus miles down the road. Those who feel a need for speed not only danger themselves and their passengers, but also others on the road. There are so many unknown hazards that at any speed can cause a disaster. A tire can blow or obstacles in the road to mention a couple. Traveling at lower speeds, I believe, may aid in avoiding disaster. I prefer to take my time. I not only save gas but insure my safety. My fellow RV’ers, please slow down and rest in-between stops. Compromising your safety, to arrive at your destination, is just not worth it!

1 year ago

Five decades ago, without an RV, if I didn’t do a thousand miles I thought it was a wasted day. Now I try really hard to consider the 3/300. It usually ends up closer to 4 PM as when I stop and sit on my butt for an hour I think I could have been another 60 miles down the road (or in a ditch somewhere). We snowbird and want to get out of the cold coming south, and spend as little time in the cold going home, so we push it usually doing 450 to 500 miles a day. That is taxing. We’ve always found, in 40 years of RVing, once we’re headed for home we want to get there. I use http://www.furkot.com for trip planning. It’s free and very adjustable to my wants and needs. I set my cruise between 58 and 62 mph maximum. Less of course as weather and road conditions dictate. I always said “shiny side up and rubber side down” until my daughter pointed out my RV has a rubber roof. Now it’s “black rubber down, white rubber up”.

1 year ago

I am still a weekender. I have instituted a rule that for every hour of driving we must stay one night at the campground. So if the campground is 3 hours away we take a three day weekend.

It works pretty well to make sure that I as the driver get some enjoyment out of the weekend rather than spending the whole time driving.

Rick Sorreti
1 year ago

We use Trip Wizard and you set the # of miles you want to travel a day. It creates a circle around you and shows all parks inside that circle. Great app

1 year ago

I confess that I plan our trips by first finding towns that are about 300 (or close to) miles apart from each other. I then google rv parks in the vicinity and check out the different feedback for each and then choose one for our overnight stay. I will do this for the entire trip and then make reservations at each making sure that each park has a decent cancel program in case we have problems that may cause a delay. Spontaneous? Nope, not at all… but it does give us confidence that we will have a nice park to stay at each night. We typically leave around 9-10 am and get to our destination between 3-4 pm and usually keep the speedo set at 60 – 62 mph.

Bob p
1 year ago

We always travel 250-300 miles in a day unless we find a stop for something interesting first. I’m always amazed at the DPs that fly around us at 62mph that would blow our door off if it was on the drivers side. I figure they are on a destination vacation and don’t care to see anything between home and their destination. I have to plead guilty to being that way when I was putting my 30 years in at GM. Later I drove semis for 8 years, the first one was governed at 63mph and I suddenly realized what all I could see of this great country by slowing down 12 mph.

1 year ago

Basically I agree with you Greg, but, any rule kills spontaneous travelling.

Many is the time we’ve travelled less than 50 miles in one day when we’ve seen something we liked in a wee town along our travels. More likely with me I got talking to the lady at the ice cream store with she ending up suggesting a very nice place down by the creek running through her little town, which few use (maybe she just wanted us to linger and buy more ice cram – which is a very real possibility)

Some of the best times we’ve had was discovering those little gems folks on the Daytona RV circuit, racing from place to place – pass right on by, which is perfectly fine with me.

1 year ago
Reply to  Alvin

Mmmmmmm….. ice cream. 😋

John R Crawford
1 year ago

We use the 4/400 rule, loosely. We never make reservations ahead of time but start calling around when we get a couple of hours away. We like to travel spontaneously and have never, in 4 years had a problem. Now we have had to stay at Walmart or Crackerbarrel but that is a small price for being able to travel freely.

Thom Ritter
1 year ago

Last year I drove all the way across Montana in one day, due to 2-weeks vacation. 8:30 am to 10 pm. Retirement this year, so never again! 3/300 rule will be in place from now on!

1 year ago

The 3/300 theory sounds good but we have encountered campgrounds that won’t let you check in before 4 pm or want to charge you for either a half day or full day extra. Fortunately those have become less frequent. Now that we are retired another rule we like to apply is never move on a Friday or Saturday, and include a Sunday if it’s a holiday weekend.

Thomas Kemp
1 year ago

We, too, go for the 3/300. But, also follow Don’s (below) philosophy of layovers when a town looks interesting. That said, we are retired and can afford the time to travel this way. And always have reservations – a peace of mind thing for me.

1 year ago

1530 or 350 miles. Rest stops equal average speed of 55 mph.

Donald N Wright
1 year ago

3/300 makes sense. I sometimes regret that both my parents had pilots licenses, our trips were airport to airport. You do not stop along the way. The other problem is campground offices like to close at five or earlier.

1 year ago

Can’t disagree. But as many have noted, “finding” a place can be difficult if you don’t reserve ahead. We make sure we KNOW where we’re going to stay before we get underway in the AM. That has the extra benefit of letting you go maybe an extra hour before getting off the road, say NLT 4 PM. Getting underway around 9, stopping by 4 and taking an extra day to “layover” every 3-4 days is our rule, and makes for very comfortable travel.