Tips for Planning the Ultimate RV Summer Vacation

After the whirlwind of a year that was 2020, many RVers (and some first-timers as well) are itching to hit the road in their RV. Traveling in an RV is one of the safest, most cost-effective, and most comfortable ways to travel, especially with children and/or pets. Not to mention, there is no hassle involved with unpacking into a hotel room, placating small children on an airplane, or hiring a pet sitter. Folks interested in dipping their toes into the world of RVing can even rent one to try it out. Because of these numerous benefits, the summer of 2021 may be an even busier RVing season than 2020. As the weather warms up, now is the best time to start planning for your future vacations.

Trips of any size require extensive preparation, especially with an RV. There are pre-trip inspections to consider, necessary maintenance to perform, and de-winterization (if applicable) to be done. Then there is the added process of actually planning your trip. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and know that Harvest Hosts has your back. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best tips for planning your RV summer vacation. 

Credit: Roadtrippers

Choose your Main Destination

When planning a road trip or vacation, the primary job is to select your main destination. Some families or couples choose to take the same, familiar vacations to the same beloved locations, while others prefer to mix it up with new places and new faces. This phase of planning is usually the most fun and can be imaginative. Consider asking your kids where they’d like to go. Their answers may surprise you.

Sometimes families will plan their trip together and even allow kids to choose sights along the way to visit. Other times, people enjoy surprising their children or spouse with the trip and pit stops. Either way, there is a neat (and free) app and website called Roadtrippers that allows you to plan your route to your destination and select fun stops along the way. Did you know that you’re able to find Harvest Hosts locations along your route as well? Between the two resources, you can have your entire destination and pit stops selected in a matter of minutes. 

Plan your Itinerary

Now that you know where you’re going, it’s time to plan your itinerary. Having a rough idea of things you’d like to do at your destination(s) and how long you’ll have at each place is essential. Take some time to explore TripAdvisor (or similar sites) to determine some fun things to do around your destination. Don’t forget to include your pit stops as well. There are several free websites and apps that can help you plan your itinerary, such as Pebblar or TripIt. Planning out an itinerary ahead of time will allow to spend more time relaxing and and less time stressing when you do finally reach your vacation destination.

Select your Dates and Book

After you know what will encompass your entire journey, it’s time to book your dates. Many travelers plan a buffer day or two when returning in the event of traffic or an accident. It’s also nice to have a day to rest before jumping back into work or school. 

Most seasoned RVers know that campgrounds and popular attractions or destinations can become booked up pretty far in advance. It’s best to plan ahead as much as possible to give yourself a better chance to score the campsite(s) you want. Some campgrounds in popular national parks can be booked up to six months in advance. For the most part, Harvest Hosts locations are rarely filled to capacity. Did you know that booking your Harvest Hosts stays just got easier? Check out our newest feature called Request a Stay

Credit: Travel + Leisure

Set a Budget

Once your reservations, bookings, and requests are all squared away, it’s time to set a budget. Everyone’s list can look a little different depending on the destination. However, it’s still important to set aside and agree upon the funds for your trip.

Gas

Calculating your gas budget can be tricky, especially for folks new to the RVing community. If your RV is towed, it can be a little easier to calculate if you already know about how much gas your truck or tow vehicle uses, with the added weight of the RV of course. Calculating the gas for a class A, B, or C can be even more difficult, especially if you don’t drive it often. KOA has a handy calculator that can assist you with budgeting for gas. If you don’t know your average mpg, try looking up your year, make, and model on the internet to see if any other RVers have been able to calculate an estimate. Of course, without exact calculations, this will only be an estimate. However, it can give you a bit oif an idea of how much gas money to set aside for your trip.

Souvenirs

Visiting new locations can be so exciting. National parks and other popular tourist destinations oftentimes have wonderful souvenirs that can help make your vacation even memorable. Children especially love purchasing souvenirs at the places they visit. Setting a reasonable budget for each location you plan to visit can help make your vacation more relaxed and controlled. 

Pro tip: All national parks participate in a passport program. The passport is a one-time purchase, and each national park has a corresponding stamp for their special park. When you visit a new park, you get a new stamp complete with the date so you never forget that special day. This can be an affordable, yet fun way to allow kids to get a souvenir at every national park in the United States. 

Food

Depending on the destinations that are planned, cooking in your RV can be a great way to stretch your budget further. Having a kitchen-on-wheels is just one of the many perks of RVing that can also make your trip more cost-effective. However, we understand that cooking on vacation can be a real damper. After all, trying foods in new locations is all part of the fun of traveling. For RV vacations, we suggest a mix of cooking and going out to eat in order to balance your budget a little more easily.

When traveling, try to think about your typical weekly grocery budget and cut that in half (don’t forget to budget in snacks for travel days!). Then you can begin to determine the needed funds for your restaurant and take-out budget.

Harvest Hosts

Per our Code of Conduct, it’s recommended to spend at least $20 at each Harvest Hosts location as a thank-you for the  accommodations. This allows each small business to receive your support in exchange for the overnight stay. Almost every Harvest Hosts location offers some sort of goods or products for purchase, so making a selection should be easy and enjoyable. Don’t forget to add this into your budget when planning your trip. 

Proper Packing

It’s essential to pack ahead of time. This reduces stress and means you are less likely to forget anything important. Thankfully, Harvest Hosts has already put together some blog posts outlining most of what would be needed to pack for your trip. We have a blog post that outlines the basics and also emergency supplies. If you click on the link to each blog post, additional details can be found and the lists can even be printed out for easy planning. Let’s dive in and summarize some of that information. 

Basics

The basics will look a little different to everyone. Some of these items may be deemed essential, but could be considered as “extras” in your book. This is just a rough idea of items commonly packed in RVs. 

Kitchen Items

  • cups and mugs
  • plates
  • bowls
  • utensils (forks/knives/spoons)
  • napkins
  • paper towels
  • cooking utensils (tongs, big spoons, ladles, etc.)
  • can opener
  • frying pan
  • large pot
  • sheet pan
  • potholders
  • dish towels
  • sponge
  • dish soap
  • plastic wrap
  • aluminum foil
  • ziploc bags (sandwich, quart, & gallon)
  • cleaning wipes
  • tupperware containers
  • matches and/or lighter

Toiletries

  • first-aid kit
  • peroxide, rubbing alcohol
  • pain relief medications (acetaminophen, naproxen, aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.)
  • dramamine for motion sickness
  • any other medications you may need
  • hand soap
  • face wash
  • body wash
  • loofah and/or washcloths
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • razors
  • shaving cream
  • hairbrush / comb
  • hairdryer
  • hair gel /styling products
  • moisturizer
  • lotion
  • toothpaste
  • tooth brushes
  • floss
  • mouthwash
  • nail clippers
  • tweezers
  • hair ties / clips
  • makeup
  • cotton balls / q-tips
  • sunscreen
  • bug spray

Clothing

  • long sleeve shirts
  • short sleeve shirts
  • jackets / sweatshirts
  • pants
  • shorts
  • bathing suit
  • socks & underwear
  • shoes (sneakers, sandals, hiking boots, etc.)
  • rain gear
  • hats

Outdoor Gear

  • wood for fires (please note that most states do not allow firewood to be transported across state lines)
  • hammock
  • camp chairs / table
  • binoculars
  • backpack
  • fishing rod(s) & tackle
  • sports equipment (football, baseball & bat, etc.)
  • water bottle
  • bikes
  • canoe or kayaks, paddles, life jackets
  • inner tubes
  • hiking poles

Miscellaneous

  • pillows & pillow cases
  • sheets
  • bedding
  • towels
  • alarm clock
  • extra blankets
  • pet supplies (food, bowls, toys, treats, leash & collar, bed, vaccination records)
  • sewing kit
  • phone chargers
  • laptop & laptop charger
  • DVDs
  • watch
  • cleaning supplies (all-purpose cleaner, bathroom/tub cleaner, wipes, windex)
  • laundry detergent & dryer sheets
  • broom/dustpan, vacuum, mop
  • cash
  • reservation confirmations
  • playing cards
  • board games
  • books
  • puzzles
  • speaker / radio

Emergency Kit Supplies

Every RV should have an emergency kit. After all, when the worst happens, you want to be prepared. An emergency could happen during inclement weather, a car accident, a fire, etc and these supplies will really come in handy and can be lifesaving. It’s nearly impossible to grab all of the essentials while an emergency is happening. For this reason, an emergency kit should already be assembled and set aside near the front door of your RV or in an outside storage bay. 

Food and Water

  • Canned food or military meals
  • Meal bars with high caloric counts
  • Pouches, boxes, or bottles of water
  • Water purification tablets, systems, or Life Straws

Medical Supplies

  • Bandages
  • Velcro elastic bandage
  • Gauze
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Burn cream
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Medical tape
  • Splint
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Safety pins
  • Nitrile or vinyl loves
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Face mask
  • Thermometer
  • CPR shield
  • First aid pocket guide
  • Sunscreen
  • Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, benadryl, etc.
  • A few days worth of prescription medications, if applicable

Roadside Equipment

  • Hazard triangles
  • Neon vest
  • Jumper cables
  • Flares (also available in LED)
  • Tow straps 
  • Traction mats
  • Tire chains
  • Tire plug kit
  • Jump starter
  • Air compressor
  • A spare tire

Weather Gear

  • Hand Warmers/body warmers
  • Poncho
  • Thermal survival blanket
  • Fire starter
  • Waterproof matches
  • Small tent

Hygiene Items

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Facial Tissues
  • Moist towelettes
  • Sanitary products
  • Contact solution and case

Miscellaneous

  • Extra clothing
  • Safety glasses
  • Heavy-duty gloves
  • Heavy-duty, waterproof flashlight with additional batteries or LED flashlight
  • Whistle
  • Multi-tool
  • Heavy-duty pocket knife
  • Compass
  • Window breaker/seatbelt cutter tool (this should be kept outside of the kit near where you’re driving)
  • Survival pocket guide
  • Solar radio
  • Variety battery pack with waterproof battery organizer
  • Spare phone chargers and power bank
  • List of emergency contacts with phone numbers and addresses, and medical information
  • Copies of important documents (passports, insurance, etc.) 
  • Extra pet food, a few days of pet medications, copies of vet records, etc.

Meal Planning

As stated above, mixing cooking and going out to eat can help stretch your budget. It’s best to plan ahead with the meals you intend to cook. Running low on ideas? Harvest Hosts has a handy blog post outlining some of our favorite easy meals for inspiration. We’ve also included a list of some of the basics that most RVers would want to pack, depending on the length of the trip.

Food

  • cereal
  • milk
  • salt, pepper, spices
  • condiments (mustard, mayo, ketchup, relish, BBQ sauce, salad dressing)
  • cooking oils
  • meats (chicken, hot dogs, brats, burgers, etc.)
  • fruits & vegetables
  • pancake mix
  • peanut butter & jelly
  • lunchmeat & cheese
  • bread
  • canned foods
  • s’mores ingredients
  • eggs 
  • oatmeal 
  • coffee & tea
  • baking essentials (flour, sugar, baking soda, etc.)
  • snacks (chips, cookies, trail mix, granola bars, beef jerky, popcorn, etc.)

When you break down planning into steps, it’s not so bad. You can even choose one of these things to do per week until it’s all completed. We hope that these tips help when planning an unforgettable vacation for this upcoming summer! We also hope that you’ll be visiting some of our many Harvest Hosts locations across North America. 

Credit: RV Wholesale Superstore

Where are you headed this summer? What is your dream summer vacation? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Comments

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  1. Carla Paulsen
    10th April, 2021

    Don’t forget a wine bottle opener! We did once, now it’s a fixture!

    1. Sam Leash
      4th May, 2021

      Yes that’s very important!! Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. JAMIE KUSMAN
    8th April, 2021

    Would really like to see you team up with RV Parky. This is a trip planner that is extremely easy to use, and it would be really great to be able to add you to their data base for searches. And it is a free app.

  3. gretchen powers
    6th April, 2021

    Be advised that Hiway 1 south of Monterrey is/was washed out. Be sure to check to see if it is open.

    1. Sam Leash
      4th May, 2021

      Thanks for the tip! I visited in 2018, b it haven’t been back since then.

  4. Debbie Spivey
    22nd March, 2021

    Recently retired and planning to travel across the country one day. Just purchased a Sol Dawn Rover, so excited to start my new journey. I am a newby to the rv world, but can’t wait to jump in.

    1. Sam Leash
      24th March, 2021

      That sounds so exciting! Happy camping to you!

      1. Rose Kanoldt
        9th May, 2021

        A friend gave us a wonderful tip. this will work for motorhomes very well. Put a high mounted rod..above and behind pilot and copilot seats. Run energy saving drapes..Walmart fine..with large grommets and run on rod. We used elec conduit..2.00 for that and hubby made wall fasteners to take drapes and rod down or up when desired.
        By doing this you can close these drapes going down the road in hot weather and keep your dash air there and keeping you comfy. It is nice if you want to take a nap after lunch and generator is on, keeps your area cool. I just folded up bottom and ran a hem to shorten. no need to cut. gives more weight at bottom. have any paper face rear of coach.
        Total cost maybe 45. I just ordered a long tension road from Amazon for new RV. Buying drapes this week. Left drapes in old rv.

        1. Sam Leash
          15th June, 2021

          Hey Rose, this sounds like a wonderful and very efficient idea. I’ll have to try it. Thanks for the tip!