HOW TO PLAN A SOLO RV TRIP
PLANNING A SOLO NOMADIC LIFE DEMANDS A LOT OF RESEARCH
Going on a Solo RV Trip can be frightening. Especially when it’s your first time. But if you are here, it means you have a wild spirit that just loves adventures, and you are more than capable of doing this. Just trust yourself. And plan thoroughly. You are not the only one doing this.
In fact, the RV market size exceeded USD 70 billion in 2021 and is anticipated to grow by 10% between 2022 and 2028. After Covid-19 there is a rising trend toward outdoor recreation and solo travel. People need more and more freedom and mobility. So what better way of having those two than by hitting the road and taking your home with you?
Leaving your old life behind and embarking on a new adventure is not an easy thing to do. There are so many things to take into consideration, but no worries, I thought of all that and in this article, you can find everything you need to help you make a decision.
Just imagine waking up and being within a striking distance of your favorite beach, or opening the door of your RV and having Lake Como in front of you. Just enjoying the view while you seep your coffee. If this sounds like your unfulfilled dream, then you are meant for a nomadic life.
The advantage of an RV is that you can stay longer wherever you want. No more planning your transportation and accommodation at the last minute with extra costs, no more issues with what to pack and carrying your luggage through the airport and public transportation.
If you are ready to go further with your nomadic life, here are some tips and tricks for planning your first Solo RV Trip.
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT FOR YOUR FIRST RV
First, let’s see what RV stands for. RV is the abbreviation of Recreational Vehicle, which is a motor vehicle or trailer that includes living quarters designed for accommodation. Types of RV include motorhomes, campervans, coaches, caravans or travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers, popup campers, and truck campers.
1. TYPE OF RV
CAMPER OR TRAVEL TRAILER
– Trailer 13 to 35 ft (4.0 to 10.7 m)
This is the cheapest option, especially if you go on a Solo Camp Trip. Offers a good amount of space with plenty of beds in case you want to invite someone over to your trailer. Uses a tow hitch attached to the rear frame of the towing vehicle, so you will need a vehicle and the setup to tow it.
– Trailer 17 to 40 ft (5.2 to 12.2 m)
The fifth-wheel caravan is similar to a trailer, plus all the advantages of a home on wheels. This is perfect to store at the back of the caravan a motorcycle or bicycle. Uses a fifth-wheel coupling centered above the rear axle of the towing vehicle, therefore you will need a truck and the setup to tow it.
FOLDING / POP-UP
– Trailer 8 to 16 ft (2.4 to 4.9 m)
This is a type of towed recreational vehicle that can be collapsed for easy storage and transportation.
The advantage of this type of trailer is that it provides a large amount of interior space. It is a popular choice due to its affordable price and its small size. It comes with collapsable sides that are stowed during towing.
Class A (Integrated)
– Motorhome 26 to 45 ft (7.9 to 13.7 m)
If you don’t want to complicate your life with towing your trailer to a vehicle, but just drive your motorhome, this type could be a great fit for you. They are great for Solo Travel days, even though they don’t offer that much space as a trailer or a fifth wheel. But when you are traveling solo, how much space do you need, right? These types of motorhomes are typically built on a heavy-duty truck or bus chassis.
Class B (Semi-integrated)
– Recreational Vehicle 17 to 23 ft (5.2 to 7.0 m)
Typically, these are vans with elevated rooflines. Great for getting around if you are planning to do a Europe trip or a US trip.
Class C (Alcove)
– Motorhome 20 to 30 ft (6.1 to 9.1 m)
This is also a motorhome type built on a cutaway pickup or van chassis with a bunk over the cab area. Is bigger than a Class B but smaller than a class A. You have a lot of sleeping options for such a small space. For a Solo Female Traveler, this could be the right fit because it’s easier to drive since it’s on a truck frame.
– Insert type 8 ft (2.4 m) or more
This is an insert type of RV, similar to the Class B – could work well if you just have a couple of people or a small family/young kids. Carried in the bed area of a pickup truck.
2. RENTING YOUR RV
- Outdoorsy – they offer a large variety of vehicles from private owners
- RVShare – they claim to have the largest amount of RVs from private owners
- Escape Campervans – this is a great fit if you look for small RVs and campervans
- Cruise America – one of the most notorious companies in the USA
- RVnGo – this is a more unusual type of rental, ideal for a one-way rental
- Unlimited mileage
- Cancellation policy, security deposit & down payments
- Towing restrictions
- Roadside assistance
- Generator time
- Border crossings
3. BUYING YOUR RV
- Insurance and registration
- Maintenance and repair costs
- Daily necessities: water tank, power, internet, preparing food
4. KNOW THE LIMITATIONS OF YOUR RV
SET YOUR SOLO RV TRIP BUDGET
First, you need to know the budget you can afford to put on this trip, and all costs involved. Therefore, start by setting up a goat. For instance, I have a 5K budget and I want to spend 3 weeks on an RV trip.
Now that you have your goal, start by listing all the costs such a trip may involve. Note that there will always be unplanned expenses, so leave a 500€ aside, just in case.
- RV costs: renting/buying, insurance, security deposit, generator, gas, internet, water tank, food, and beverages
- Parking and camping – for this you should establish the itinerary – see next chapter
- Admission fees for all the activities you want to see
- Restaurants you want to try on your itinerary and the budget allocated for this
- Small shopping
It is more than obvious that you will not be able to stick to this budget because there is always something that comes up, but at least it will give you an idea if you can afford to spend two weeks or three weeks on your trip. If you establish how much money you want to spend daily on food, activities, and beverages, it will help you stick to your budget. On vacation, we tend to spend money on things we do not need, just because we are on a trip. And this could be catastrophic for your budget.
PLAN YOUR FIRST SOLO RV ITINERARY
This step goes hand in hand with planning your budget. You might be limited on your itinerary because of the fixed expenses like RV-cost related, parking and camping, and gas. So make sure you advance with these two steps at the same time. Depending on the budget, you might need to cancel some itineraries you wanted to do in the first place and pick some closer routes to gain on the budget.
I am very fond of planning my trips on Google Maps, but in this situation, it is not recommended. It is better to have an RV-friendly GPS to know what roads are safe to travel on with your RV. Google maps will not be able to provide you with that information.
If you have a large RV, you’ll need to pay attention to bridge heights, narrow roads, and bridge weights. An RV-friendly route might take two hours longer than a normal route, but at least you won’t have surprises.
There is a very important rule you might consider following: RVing 3/3/3 Rule
This rule is very common among nomads and it works like this: drive no more than three hours at a time, no more than 300 km/miles a day, and arrive at the compound no later than 3 p.m.
Best Navigation Apps for RVing
It’s specifically designed for RVs.
Fill in the information about your rig, so that the CoPilot App can find an appropriate route for your weight and height.
You have 2D and 3D maps with detailed information about road signs and turn lanes.
You can download offline maps on your device, in case you go out internet.
A 14-day free trial is available, followed by an annual subscription cost of $29.99.
RV Trip Wizard
You can customize your route based on your RV’s features.
You don’t have full audio navigation. You can download maps to use in Google Maps.
Includes some trip-planning features like campground searches and trip budgeting.
A 7-day free trial is available, followed by an annual subscription cost of $49.99.
You can search for a route based on various options, including curviness and elevation. A very useful feature for travelers to mountainous regions.
Additionally, you can check the weather directly on the app.
A 7-day free trial is available, followed by an annual subscription cost of $29.99.
This app focuses more on campgrounds.
In addition to more than 30 000 campgrounds, the app lets users search for big box stores, parking, truck stops (with fuel prices listed), rest areas, RV stores, and more.
The map refreshes while you drive to show locations that fall within your filters, making it easy to plan on the go.
Requires a one-time price of $9.99.
CAMPING YOUR RV
When you decide to go on a Solo RV Trip, the most important rule is to be safe. When you are en route, you are safe, if you take an RV-friendly route. But the problem is during the night when you need to camp. Especially knowing that you are on your own. So make sure you make this your priority.
If you decide you want to stay on campgrounds or RV parks, find a compound and book it in advance. It can get crowded, especially during the high season.
Finding a campsite for your RV Solo Trip
If it’s your first time on an RV trip, you have several options to find and book online a campsite: booking systems, camping apps, and word-of-mouth.
Online Campsite Booking Systems
Like Booking.com for Accommodations, you have a campsite platform for RV as well. These databases store information on different campgrounds, including location, amenities, and reviews from other campers.
- EuroCampings.net – filters campgrounds in 30 countries across Europe.
- CamperOnline.it – has an English menu to search for camping info and sites across Europe.
- Camping France – a great site for finding campgrounds across the country.
- Reserve America – Camping & Campground Reservations Online
- BookYourSite – Online Campground and RV Park Reservations
- Roverpass – Ideal for Campgrounds Near Me & Find RV Parks Near Me
RV Camping Apps
These apps will show you campgrounds based on your location, and desired amenities, depending on the type of experience you’re looking for.
- Hema 4X4 Explorer – for Australia
- Park4night – sharing campsites among a close-knit community.
- ACSI Campsites Europe
A great way to find campsites is by asking fellow nomads that you can stumble upon on your trip. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions or useful tips from other VR tourists you will meet on your trip. Also, take their contacts because it’s also good to have someone to call that can help you when you struggle with setting up your camp, for instance.
What to pack for your solo RV trip
Remember that the RV will be your home for the next few weeks or even months. So try having the stuff that turns your life more comfortable when you are home.
- You’ll need the basics: clothes and toiletries
Depending on the season and how long you will spend on the road, pack comfortable stuff for day-to-day, some fancy little dresses if you go to a nice restaurant or you meet someone on the road. Always pack for chili evenings, and rainy days even if you do this during the summer season. In the mountains, the temperatures are quite low.
- Sports gear and clothing
If you are an adventurous type, don’t forget your sports gear, like clothes for hiking, and trekking, hiking shoes, and a backpack. If you like water activities take your snorkeling gear with you. If you like skiing in the winter, take everything you need for this activity. Some things you will buy or rent when you will do the activity, but if you already have that stuff take it with you. It will cost you less money.
If you have your bike, try attaching it to your RV. It will come in handy when you will want to leave the campsite and go visit the area.
- Pillows, blankets, and sheets
Make sure to have what you need to comfortably sleep on your linen. Don’t overpack, take one set of linen, especially if you are alone because you will do laundry either way.
- Have a fully equipped kitchen
Because most RVs don’t come with what you need, take an inventory to make sure you have: dishes, glasses, cutlery, pots and pans, and toilet paper.
If your RV comes with a refrigerator, it will help you store food for a few days. Make sure to pack plastic bags that store longer your veggies in the fridge and plastic pods for cooked food, so as not to have odors when opening the fridge.
- Safety and Orientation Kit
First aid kit
MONEY-SAVING TIPS ON YOUR SOLO RV TRIP
Even if you plan a Solo RV Trip on your own, know it is a budget. Knowing a few tips on how to save some money can help you stay on your initial budget.
- Shoulder Season RV Trip
Like in any other trip, try avoiding the high season, especially summer in Europe, one of the most expensive seasons around the world.
So what is shoulder season? The period between a peak and off-peak season is called shoulder season. In Europe, the shoulder seasons are spring and fall.
While many campgrounds and attractions close during the off-season, you can still find some that remain open. This could mean a tremendous money-saving opportunity and less crowded destinations. It’s a win-win.
- RV Rentals Discounts
Use rental discount codes from influencers that have an agreement with some RV rentals and can benefit from their code. If not, make sure to plan in advance, usually during the off-peak season, for the next shoulder season. And always verify that you get the best price for the same RV. Use a website that compares different prices and choose the one that offers the best price/quality.
- Boondocking & Stealth Free Camping
Boondocking (or dry camping) means camping for free in an undeveloped area: a rest stop, a parking lot, or pulling off to the side of the road.
Stealth camping means camping for free in a more built-up area, like in a town parking lot. You have to be discreet, though: no campfires, no generators, and no partying.
Boondocking and stealth camping can help you save money, but they can be done only in areas that allow this type of parking. Check the regulations of the area before doing so.
- Book parking spots or campsites well in advance, as soon as you have your itinerary. It will save you money and stress along the road. If you stay in one or two places, you can get an even better price.
- Save Money on Gas
You can spend less on gas if you optimize your route to avoid unnecessary km/miles.
Also, the way you drive impacts the consumption: higher speeds generally use more fuel so avoid highways, unless you go at a constant speed. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference can make.
The tire pressure set to the correct level will also improve fuel efficiency.
The Gas Buddy App helps you find the cheapest gas in your area.