Ruby shares some sage RV travel tips learnt while travelling North America for 8 months in her RV.
Do you remember those books from your childhood? The ones where every few pages, you’re forced, as the protagonist of the story, to make a choice? Only once you had made your decision could you skip to a page in the book where your chosen plot line continued. Each book had a multitude of possible endings, even though they only had one beginning.
Well, RV adventures are much like those books: it’s so overwhelming at times that you’ll hardly know which road to take, but if you have the time, you’ll go back and see how every path unfolds.
Planning your route
Starting to plan your RV adventure can feel overwhelming because there’s so much to see and never enough time or money to do absolutely everything you would like to.
Start with the few places you feel truly passionate about and then take it from there. Don’t worry about which road you’ll take; a basic outline will emerge around your top few destinations. And as you look more closely on a map, you’ll see national parks and places you’ve never heard of with intriguing names and feel an inexplicable desire to go.
All you really need is a basic outline of a few places, a general timeline to follow, and everything else will fall into place. There's no need to coordinate every day’s drive unless you’re working with a week or less of travel. Some days will be mostly driving and some days you won’t drive at all; you’ll find a balance that works best for your schedule and personality.
The drive is the destination
If you’re entering the world of RV / caravanning only to get from one place to another, don’t. Rent a car and stay in hotels or camp instead. Part of the beauty that is RV travel is enjoying the road.
If you’ve got some collapsible chairs, you can have an impromptu meal al fresco anywhere you like. Finding quiet, secluded places to park for the night in nature is easier than you’d expect. Thanks to the internet and social networking sites like Facebook, scores of people that have travelled the land before you in an RV and are eager to share their favourite free places to spend the night.
Check out the Free Camping Australia Facebook page and connect with a vibrant online community of enthusiastic caravanners and campers to get ideas for places to stay.
Oftentimes you may travel a bit out of your way for these spots, but they are usually the most memorable ones you’ll visit on your RV adventure.
Along the way, you’ll find beautiful waterfalls, quaint villages, and quirky road signs. Always make time for a quick stop, whether it’s just a photo op or a leisurely afternoon drink. Some of the greatest experiences are never planned at all.
Allow your instincts to guide you as you discover more about the land, the people in it, and yourself. If you’re lucky and open to it, you’ll meet people who will share their experiences with you. From rangers to wanderers, everyone knows of a great “secret” hike or camping spot and would love to share it with like-minded individuals. You’ll be surprised by the dirt paths you take and breathtaking views you’d never have seen if you hadn’t met John and Jane Doe.
As you gain experience, hopefully, you’ll find your own favourite spots and share them with some lucky people down the track.
Don’t be afraid to change course
One of the great benefits of travelling by RV is that you go when you want, where you want.
Backpacking or travelling as part of a tour, you’re often constrained by time schedules, drop off locations, or any other number of restrictions the modern world places upon us. When you’re behind the wheel, however, you really can leave exactly when you want and pullover whenever you please.
Is that a replica of Stonehenge made out of cars? Pull over!
Did that dive bar with the sign out front of a dog with a curly moustache drinking a mojito appeal to you? Go quench your thirst! (And get a photo with that sign)…
Is that shack on the side of the road selling ‘Indian Tacos’ catching your eye? Find out what (and how delicious) they are!
Sure there will always be factors you must take into account – overall personal schedule, weather conditions, operating hours – and (of course) laws to obey. But the freedom and flexibility RV travel affords you is almost limitless.
Who knows what you'll find?
You’re (mostly) in control
Unfortunately, you’re not always in control of everything that happens on your RV adventure. There will be unforeseen events caused by weather, roadworks, and seasonal changes. If you have time, wait out the storm: if it’s something you can’t change, know that not every day will be a lucky one in life, either on the road or at home.
Be prepared for your RV to break down, to run out of gas, or for any other number of frustrating issues to pop up. What matters is that you look at each situation as an adventure: an opportunity to learn something new, or simply a test of your patience. Try not panic (trust me, I know how hard this can be), but accepting challenges as learning experiences is the best way to enjoy your trip and avoid negative emotions. With very few exceptions, nothing can ruin your trip other than your attitude. Take a new path, adjust your schedule, and get back to that beautiful road.
It's probably not as bad as these guys had it...
What’s stopping you?
The world is now covered in roads, beaten dirt paths, and mapped so precisely that it’s pretty hard to lose your way.
If you can’t be an explorer you can still explore a world of outdoors in your RV enjoying every creature comfort, from a shower to a comfortable bed, and never having to look far for a decent view (hint: it’s just outside your window). There is nothing quite like the combination of a modern RV and the open road. The freedom to choose your own RV adventure, whatever that may be, lies just before you. Heed the advice of other travellers or use the internet to pick destinations and plan your route, but ultimately, the paths you choose to blaze are yours and yours alone.