Tips for Traveling Long Distances in your RV

Any seasoned RVer will probably tell you that it is typically best to avoid long driving days in the RV. They will instead often advise you to break up long drives into smaller chunks and drive a shorter distance each day. However, for most RV owners, there is going to come a time where a long driving day is unavoidable. Perhaps you have a week-long trip planned, and your destination is twelve hours away. Or perhaps you are just in a rush to get where you’re going, whether that be the California coast, the Florida Keys, or home for the holidays. Any of these scenarios could have you driving long distances in your RV in a short period of time.

No matter your reason for planning a long driving day, you can expect this day to be rather tiring. However, there are some tips gathered by those with a few tricks up their sleeve that can certainly make long driving days much easier. To make the experience much more pleasant and doable, consider the following tips the next time you must make it from one place to another in a short period of time.

1. Set realistic goals/expectations

We already established that this guide would help you to travel long distances in a short period of time. However, it is important to still be realistic. Driving twelve hours in a single day can be difficult, but it is not impossible. However, a sixteen or twenty-four hour drive is just not something that you typically can or should attempt in a single stretch. It is often neither smart nor wise. Consider breaking up a drive that is longer than twelve hours into at least two days worth of driving. You’ll be grateful that you did.

2. Look over your route ahead of time

Knowing the approximate route ahead of time scan be helpful for several reasons. Perhaps you will be passing through several big cities, where traffic is expected. Knowing this before you begin your drive is helpful because it will allow you to plan and miss the peak rush hours, instead opting to drive through high-traffic areas at slower times of day. In addition, checking out your route the night before can allow you to plan to briefly stop if there is anything interesting along your route that you or the family would like to see. Short and fun little stops can certainly break up the drive and allow it to be much more pleasant overall.

3. Plan your stops (bathroom breaks, food, dog walks, etc.)

Speaking of stops, long travel days can be much easier when you plan your stops out ahead of time. While not all bathroom breaks are plannable, especially with children, having an idea of where and when to stop for gas and meals can allow for a much more organized travel day. Instead of furiously searching for nearby gas when you are suddenly low, you can plan realistic stops every few hundred miles or so. Likewise, instead of waiting until you are hungry and irritated to remember that you need dinner, you can have your meals planned out as an enjoyable stop along your driving route. 

Consider stopping at travel centers, as these can be a great place to use the bathroom (whether in your RV or in the center), grab food or coffee reinforcements, and walk pets as needed. Sometimes even just a quick moment to stretch your legs and allow children a break from being seated can make the day much more manageable.

4. Make a playlist (consider podcasts and audiobooks)

Being bored while driving can make the drive seem so much longer and more tedious. A great playlist, an interesting podcast, or a new audiobook can make the drive more enjoyable for both the driver and the passenger(s). Plan these playlists/podcasts out ahead of time to avoid touching your phone while driving, especially if you are traveling solo. This will make the time go by much faster.

5. Have meals/snacks ready to go

While stopping for meals was mentioned above, one of the best parts of traveling with an RV is that you have access to a refrigerator and a full kitchen. While you cannot safely prepare a meal while driving, you can prepare food ahead of time and grab it from the refrigerator while you are stopped. Likewise, you can keep snacks and drinks on hand in the cab to avoid having to stop every time you or the family are hungry. This can often be more convenient, healthy, and budget-friendly than relying on takeout and travel center food.

6. Bring games/books/toys for kids

Long travel days can be difficult for children, and this can lead to overall frustration for all parties involved. Plan a variety of activities for children to enjoy during a long drive. These exact activities will depend on the child and their preferences, but games, books, toys, and handheld video game devices are popular options for entertaining children in the car. Likewise, remember to pack plenty of snacks and a few blankets or pillows for kids who may want to take a nap.

7. Switch off drivers as needed

As frequently mentioned, driving long stretches can be monotonous and tiring. Having a second capable driver to switch off with during the drive can be so helpful. Suddenly an eight or twelve-hour long drive is cut in half, with the option to spontaneously trade places whenever the main driver needs a break. In addition, this will allow the driver(s) to rest both mentally and physically between long, continuous bursts of driving, allowing you to arrive quicker and more safely than if one person did all of the driving.

8. Take breaks when needed

This is especially important for those who are traveling solo, but it can be equally important for anyone driving long distances. Breaks are essential to ensure that you arrive quickly and safely. They are also helpful for your overall sanity, as very few people can travel as quickly as possible without an occasional stroll or some fresh air. This will also allow the overall experience to be much more enjoyable.

9. Relax when you arrive!

Finally, when you arrive at your destination, take a few minutes to relax before fully setting up the rig and the campsite. Or quickly set up the site and have a celebratory beer or snack when you have finally made it. If your final destination is a Harvest Hosts location, perhaps your celebration will become a well-deserved wine or beer tasting, or even an excellent meal. Either way, be sure to do something that you enjoy, as this can be an excellent way to wind down after travelling long distances.

Long travel days can be both tiring and stressful. However, with the right planning and tips, they can be so much more enjoyable and successful for all parties involved. Most people do not tend to enjoy being cooped up in a vehicle or small space for long periods of time, but these tips can make the experience of driving long distances much more pleasant. Be sure to consider these next time you must make a long drive over a short period of time.

Do you often drive long distances at a time? Do you follow any of these tips to make it easier on yourself? Are there any additional helpful tips you would offer to those driving long distances? What has worked for you in the past? Feel free to share and discuss in the comments below!

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