With the ongoing influx of thousands of new RVers, you do not want to put off planning your 2023 RV group camping trips. Whether it’s a single reunion weekend, a few weekends in the summer, or a longer regional tour that takes weeks, the time to plan is now. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Who goes? When planning your first RV trip, consider how many people your rig can comfortably accommodate. Yes, sleeping space is important, but so is thinking about all of those bodies inside your rig if it rains for three days straight. Remember! You can take another trip, another time, with other people if you choose.
Consider alternative sleeping arrangements. Would kids or adults feel comfortable sleeping in nearby tents or bunks inside the campground’s rental cabins? (Be sure to include these spaces when making reservations.) If friends have an RV, they’d probably appreciate their own space – at least part of the time. Invite them to come along in their RV if you like.
Work schedules. If you or your travel buddies are working, you’ll want to pinpoint potential camping dates ASAP. Many small- to medium-sized companies currently struggle with a worker shortage. This may mean that a different kind of vacation will need to be considered this year. For example, you may need to opt for a few long weekends (of three or four days) rather than take all of your vacation time at once.
Children’s vacation days. Check out your children’s (or grandchildren’s) school schedule for 2023. Is it possible to perhaps schedule a camping trip in the “off-season” like spring or fall rather than in the summertime? You might find greater success in securing an RV site by doing so.
Medical appointments. If any of your travel buddies have “must keep” doctor visits, surgical procedures, or other medical appointments, take that into consideration as you plan your vacation dates.
RV availability. If you’re waiting for your newly ordered RV to arrive, you may want to plan your trips for later in the year. Sure, the RV dealer says your rig should arrive by February, but that’s not a guarantee. Allow plenty of time after delivery for a “shakedown” trip, where you’ll learn how to operate your RV’s many systems and identify any potential problems. If you plan your trip for later in the year, there will be time (hopefully) for your dealer to fix any issues before your first big excursion.
Plan your route
Gather input. Once dates are set, talk to everyone who will go along on your trip. What does each person want to do? What activities will ensure that everyone has an enjoyable time? If a few folks want to golf, what will others do in the meantime? Will the kids be satisfied with daily fishing and bike riding? What about the history buff in your group? Is it possible to schedule a museum tour? You get the idea. Once everyone has voiced an opinion on potential activities, do your best to plan at least part of the time accommodating each individual, if possible. Note: Not everyone needs to do everything together. I’ve chosen to stay back at “home base” and enjoy a relaxing day of reading while others hit the theme park.
Look at a map. You can use an atlas, app (like RV Trip Wizard or the Dyrt), or online map source. Think about the area you’d like to explore. Also, consider the terrain you’ll cross to get there. If you’re an experienced RVer, steep inclines or narrow roadways may not bother you. If you are new to driving a big rig, you’ll want to take that into account as you plan your route.
Identify a central location. We’ve found that moving daily from one RV site to the next gets really old, really quickly. It’s better for us to find a central location and plan to use it as our “home base.” We can travel from our RV site to different activities and back again if we plan carefully. Note: We use a one-hour radius as a guide. By leaving early, we can drive one hour to the day’s destination and arrive when that activity opens for the day. A one-hour drive at the end of the day is usually doable, though sometimes Hubby and I trade off driving back to “home base.” One hour may be too long/short for you. If you have several capable drivers to share the transportation responsibilities, extend your radius accordingly.
When choosing a camping location, remember national and state parks, Bureau of Land Management lands, local small-town RV parks, as well as privately owned parks. Check on the amenities offered at each campground so you’ll be prepared. For example, many state parks do not offer full hookups. Will you need to carry potable water onboard? What about a generator for power? Plan so that you’re prepared.
Be reasonable. There are so many different places to go and things to see in this great country! Remember that with your RV, you can plan many, many trips! Don’t try to cram too much into this trip (or any trip thereafter.) Overscheduling will make everyone tense and unhappy.
Pinpoint activities. Once you’ve made reservations for your central home base, begin to plan activities within your daily driving radius. Purchase advance tickets online and you just might save some money. You’ll also know for sure that you’ll be able to access the activity. It helps to also plan some downtime – days just for rest and hanging out together. Also, plan activities for rainy days. Take along a deck of cards, board games, crafts for the kids, and other indoor activities of interest. (Hint: Check out these 15 camping games and puzzles!)
Personal necessities. These include toiletries, clothing, and shoes. Because space and weight are definitely considerations, see if you can share some toiletries (shampoos, conditioners, body wash). If your rig or the campground has laundry facilities, keep that in mind as you decide on the number of clothes to take. Consider the activities you’ve planned (e.g., if hiking, you’ll need your hiking boots) and pack accordingly.
Kitchen items. If you pre-plan your meals, packing the kitchen is a snap. We all love to BBQ, but keep in mind that rain or storms may influence that choice. For every item you pack, keep in mind your RV’s overall weight. Only pack what you’ll actually use.
Linens. Sleeping bags are a great choice for kids or others who may be sleeping in a tent or on the floor. When not in use, a sleeping bag takes up less room than sheets and blankets. When considering towels, try to pack only those that can dry quickly. I usually pack a beach towel for each person. That way, the towel serves as both a bath towel and a towel for the beach.
Don’t forget: sunscreen, bug spray, flashlights/headlamps, first aid kit, refillable water containers, and RV staples (hoses, electrical cord/surge protector, toilet paper).
Check online for detailed lists and when you finally hit the road, keep track of items you’d like to bring along or leave at home next time. You’ve got this! Now get out there and travel!