Starting off on any RV adventure can be somewhat daunting, especially if it’s your first time. There are a lot of ins and outs to be aware of, but once you get your first trip out of the way, you’ll be RVing like a pro in no time!
We put together this resource guide to get you rolling right with things like RVing basics, campground reservations, and more.
We have this whole section of our blog devoted to articles that feature tips and tricks for first-time RVers. Give that a gander to get you started.
From there, let’s unpack the top five questions to ask yourself before launching an RV adventure:
- What type of RV do you want? Whether you want a campervan, Airstream, small motorhome, large motorhome, travel trailer, fifth-wheel, or something in between, we’ve got it for rent at Outdoorsy.
We also put together this guide that breaks down all the different RV types.
- What type of RV is best for your trip and your experience level? While you might want to roll in a large motorhome, do you feel comfortable driving one?
Are you planning to camp at an RV park with hookups or do you need an RV that’s ready to boondock (i.e. camping without water, electric, and sewer hookups)?
Would you rather tow a small camper with a vehicle you already have? Here’s our list of micro campers that could do the job.
By doing advance planning regarding the type of outdoorsy adventure you want to have, your towing comfort level, and the RV that best fits that, you’ll set yourself up for a fun and safe adventure.
- Where do you plan to camp? RV parks feature amenities like hookups, dump stations, and clubhouses that can help ease you into RVing.
Public lands like national forests and national parks are epic but often don’t feature developed sites, hookups, or dump stations. Check out our national and state park guides for more info.
Think over where you want to camp ahead of your trip for smooth sailing.
- Who is coming with you? Couples RV travel is different from family RV travel both in terms of the type of RV you might take and the stuff you pack.
If you’re renting an RV, be sure to check that it has ample space for everyone to hang out and sleep. Ensure the RV also includes any amenities you don’t plan to pack (e.g. kitchen supplies).
- How far do you plan to travel? Cross-country RV trips are a blast, but they can feel rushed if you don’t have ample time to enjoy them.
If you only have a week, there’s nothing wrong with an RVing staycation or nearcation to help you spend less time traveling and more time adventuring.
RV Park Reviews – Before booking any campsite, always check RV Park Reviews to see what others had to say about their experience staying at the park you’re interested in. Their best feature is the ability to see all the parks in a region in a very convenient map. That way you can pick your ideal location and start looking at parks nearby. Be advised that people have differing opinions about what constitutes a “good” or “bad” experience. Someone might rate a campground lower just because of a rude person at the front desk, instead of the actual campground. People also want different things when it comes to a park, like lots of amenities or complete solitude. Do a little research and don’t be afraid to give the parks with lower ratings a shot. They might just be exactly what you’re looking for.
Campendium – One of our favorite features about this site is the additional information about the level of cell service for AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. It’s one of the first things we look for before booking a campground, since we cannot camp without cell service. Also, if you join their mailing list, every week they send a newsletter with 5 star reviews from the past week and many of the locations that are featured look like the most amazing campsites you could ever find, so get ready to start adding to your “must-visit” list!
AllStays — As the name implies, this app lets you interact with every sort of camping stay imaginable. The AllStays app has scads of filters so you can pick the exact type of RV stay you want — be it a private park, state campground, public lands, and much much more.
As a bonus, AllStays also maps out dump stations, RV-friendly fuel stops, and low clearance areas.
Reserve America — Reserve America was one of the first places out there to offer travelers the option to book RV spots online. They’ve kept on growing over the years and can help you reserve campgrounds in advance wherever you roll.
Campspot — This new kid on the block has grown fast and now features a large catalog of RV parks, cabins, and more that can be booked right online.
Freecampsites.net – Displays BLM (Bureau of Land Management), Forest Service lands, WMA’s (Wildlife Management Areas), and more. These are public lands that YOU, as a citizen, own. Take advantage of them by spending a week in the many gorgeous landscapes. Boondocking means you must be self-contained, so don’t expect to find any hookups out there.
Harvest Hosts – Who wouldn’t want to camp overnight in a vineyard, brewery, pristine golf course, or at a local farm? For a small annual fee, you can spend the night for free in an amazing location that you would never expect to camp in. Mostly, that’s because the “sites” don’t have any hookups and you can only stay for one night. Make sure to stop in to buy a bottle of wine or something from the shop at the farm. Doing so helps support the host for letting you stay the night.
Harvest Hosts also recently purchased Boondockers Welcome which has expanded their network to thousands more camp sites around the country.
These are the sorts of places you can park your RV with Harvest Hosts
All Stays – We mentioned this app above, but it bears repeating here. Picture this: you have a long drive in between destinations and you simply cannot drive any further. You’re driving a large motorhome, so you can’t just pull over anywhere. The All Stays app is the best resource to help you find a place to pull over for the night, whether it’s in a Walmart parking lot, rest area, Cabela’s parking lot, etc. The best part about the app is that people add their reviews and let you know if you can or cannot stay, where the best place to park is, etc. Even though the app says you can stay there, make sure you call ahead and get permission from the manager on duty. Even though the app says it’s OK, sometimes there are signs that state no overnight parking. Some places, like casinos, ask you to come in and register with security and get a parking pass.
One of the most basic questions that comes from boondocking is “where do I dump my tanks?” The websites Sanidumps and RV dumps will give you a list of all the nearby dump stations and what kind of fee (if any) you’ll find at each.
RVing with pets
Bring Fido – This will help you find all the local dog-friendly locations like dog parks and beaches. You can also find out which restaurants are pet friendly and if there are any events in the nearby area.
If you’re RVing with your pets, make sure to check out our guide to camping with pets to get tips about how to keep your pets happy while on the road.
GasBuddy – This app will show you the least expensive gas along your route in both Canada and the USA, which will help you to save money while on the road. It will also locate diesel fuel and propane. It’s a great resource to see where the upcoming gas stations are and also how much they are charging.
For a small monthly fee, you can even get a gas buddy debit card that’ll pay for itself many times over via the additional savings you’ll get.
Gas Station apps — Apps like the Flying J/Pilot app will give you fuel rewards for a specific network of filling stations. Many chains such as 7/11, Caseys, and grocery store gas stations also offer similar apps.
GasBuddy is generally our preferred choice because it features discounts at many different stations in one app.
Technomadia – Their website is a treasure trove of information about all your RV tech needs, especially the highly coveted unlimited internet connection. Their best resources are behind a member’s only gateway, but even their free information is absolutely a must-read.
Mobile Internet Resource Center — The cats have been around for a long time and have the internet’s most exhaustive hub for connection-hungry RVers. They’ll help you figure out how to stay connected no matter where you find yourself.
Starlink for RVs — Starlink is SpaceX’s answer to the internet. Musk and crew have been rapidly growing this network of low-flying internet satellites for the past few years and it has paid off handsomely for RVing folk.
While it doesn’t yet cover everywhere, Starlink gets you a much better chance of coverage than cellular internet in many remote areas of the country and it’s growing fast.
Roadtrippers App — Billing themselves as the #1 road trip app, this tool will allow you to interactively plan a road trip with all the fun stops in between. Roadtrippers pride themselves on finding off-the-beaten path locations and feature fun-to-read guides about each destination.
Roadside America – This app will show you weird and fun attractions along your route. You might not know that you’re driving right by the largest ball of yarn in the country! Having these random stops helps to break up the monotony of driving long distances. It also adds some unique destinations and memories to your trip.
Know before you go
If you’re brand new to RVing, we highly recommend Alyssa Padgett’s book – A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV: Everything I Wish I Knew Before Full-Time RVing Across America. It is geared more towards the full-time RVer, but there are invaluable tips in there for everyone.
Now that you’re ready to RV like a pro, go find your dream RV today!