RV Trip Planning: How to Find a Route You’ll Remember

Posted by Safeco July 30, 2015
Finding RV-Friendly Roads

Tools and Tips for RV Travelers

The sky is clear, the summer sun is bright and you’re itching to hit the road. You’ve got the RV prepared, you’re almost packed and you even have a pretty good idea of where you want to go. There’s just one thing left to figure out:

How do you get there?

Sure, you can take the interstates and major highways; they’re the fastest and most direct way to get to many destinations. But, if you’re like many RV owners, you don’t want to be on the beaten path — you want to explore the country, not the country’s freeways.

Today, you have more options than ever for planning your RV trip. Gone are the days of pulling out a road atlas or unfolding a map (never to get it folded perfectly again) to try to figure out the best route to your next stop.

Now you can just hop online, enter your starting point and destination, and receive all kinds of useful information: Alerts for low overpasses and bridges, the best campgrounds and RV parks along the way, data on steep road grades and more.

Online RV Route Planners

Two great sites for this are FreeTrip.com and the Good Sam Club (the latter requires a membership). On the former site, you can enter parameters to avoid (or favor) highways and interstates, bridges and tunnels or specific roads. You also can use the tool to steer clear of low clearances and tolls. They’re great resources to use, and many RVers swear by them.

RV Guidebooks and Atlases

Of course, keeping a road atlas or guidebook on hand is smart, too. After all, you never know when you’re going to need to change your plan on the fly (and whether you’ll have Internet access at the time). A particularly good one to have is The Mountain Book (East or West version), which details all of the steep grades and mountain passes you may encounter. It’s available at FreeTrip.com, or from other major online retailers. Motor carrier atlases, designed for commercial truck drivers, can be very useful as well, as they often highlight low clearances and other issues for large vehicles.

General Tips for Choosing Your RV Route

Even if you have a plan in place, it’s best to be prepared for unplanned events. You never know when construction, accidents or other issues will force you to change your route. Here are some things to keep in mind before you leave on your trip:

  • Know your RV’s height. Don’t simply rely on the height listed in the manual — do you really want to risk it when you get to that low overpass? Measure your RV yourself from the highest rooftop item all the way to the ground. Then, write that on a label and put it on the inside of your windshield. You’ll always have that info when you need it.
  • If your GPS has an RV or Truck Route option, use it. Some devices are able to factor in the vehicle size when determining appropriate routes.
  • If you’re going to go boondocking (dry camping), make sure your route is safe for RVs. In places that aren’t designed for RVs, you need to take greater caution. So, if you’re in a natural setting, ask the local forest ranger (or other locals) if the driving route is safe for RV travel. You also can search various online RV forums for information.
  • Don’t rely solely on any one thing. GPS is great, but it can become outdated. Same with road atlases and guidebooks. Keep in mind that you need to pay attention to clearance signs and other local information, no matter what.

Whether you’re on the highway or a designated scenic byway, RV travel can be rewarding and relaxing — as long as you’re on the right road for you. Stay safe out there this summer and fall!


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Topics: Travel

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