How to Plan an RV Trip: A Beginner’s Guide

New to the RV lifestyle? You’ve joined a fast-growing segment of the population! The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association reports that nearly 8 million American households have an RV, a motor home, or a travel trailer. There are some 30 million RV enthusiasts in the U.S. Exploring the country in an RV is an affordable and exciting way to enjoy quality family time and witness the scenic beauty of various regions.

How does an RV trip to, say, the Grand Canyon sound? According to the U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Services, the Grand Canyon National Park mesmerizes our senses through its immense size—it’s 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. A study even reveals that a family of four can save up to 74 percent traveling by RV as opposed to conventional forms of transportation. With more than 16,000 public and privately owned campgrounds spread across the country, there are RV trips to be made that’ll satisfy your family’s vacation fantasy and adventurous side.

It may seem pretty intimidating to plan an RV trip for the first time. Don’t worry, though! Beckley’s has you covered!

Plan an RV Trip Tip #1: Prepare Your Navigational Guides

One of the best parts about taking RV trips is the spontaneity and adventure that’s involved.  RV enthusiasts love the freedom offered by the open road—there’s a certain pleasure in going where you want, when you want. It does help, however, to have a solid plan in place if it’s your first time planning an RV trip. If you know exactly where you’re heading, find the route that’ll offer you and your family the best opportunities to explore interesting sights. Browse through RV travel guides and search on the Internet to find the best campgrounds and most popular attractions on your journey.

Make sure you bring along appropriate road maps and even a GPS system as well. Don’t forget—you can still enjoy an adventurous and spontaneous RV trip even after some careful planning! Notice an interesting museum or a sporting event on the way? Your family can stop by and have a great, memorable time.

Plan an RV Trip Tip #2: Setting up at a Campground

We’ve heard the same question and over and over again here at Beckley’s from newcomers to the RV lifestyle—“How should I set up at an RV campground?” Here are the steps to keep in mind:

Step 1: Find your camping spot and check to make sure the hookups are close enough to the trailer for the hoses and the electrical plug to reach. Remember to chock the tires so the trailer doesn’t roll while you are setting it up.

Step 2: Unhitch the trailer. Note that there are slight variations in unhitching methods depending on the type of hitch you have. Undo the safety chains, sway bars, and the electrical connection to the tow vehicle and stow them out of the way. Generally, you unlock the hitch and raise the tongue jack until the ball releases.

Step 3: Level the trailer. You should lower the tongue hitch until the trailer looks level from front to back—use a carpenter’s level to check.

Step 4: Set the corner jacks. Mechanical jacks typically pull out from their travel position and then down. Be sure to check for level and adjust the jacks with the rod your dealer provided with them.

Step 5: Hook up the trailer. You should turn off the circuit breaker on the shore hookup box and connect the electrical power cord to the box. Then, turn the circuit breaker back on and attach a water pressure regulator to the hookup box water outlet and connect the white water house to the regular. You also need to insert the water hose into the sewer opening.

Step 6: Go inside your RV and make sure all the connections are working properly. Fill water tanks and light any pilot lights. Switch the refrigerator to AC power if it’s been running off the battery as you towed. Open the valve on the black water tanks to empty them if necessary—remember to close the valve once you are finished.

Step 7: Deploy the slides if your travel trailer has them—have a spotter available to make sure the slides don’t hit surrounding trees, picnic tables, the post for the hookups, or any other obstacles.

Step 8: Set up the satellite dish, awning, and any outside furniture you use.

Plan an RV Trip Tip #3: Prepare a First-Aid Kit

Safety comes first when you’re planning an RV trip. Make sure you have a fully stocked RV first-aid kit, and keep it in an outside storage compartment. Your RV first-aid kit should include basic medical supplies:



Insect repellant


An emergency supply of doctor-approved medications

It’s also a great idea to take the following items with you on your next RV trip:

Flashlight and extra batteries

Paper and pens

A disposable camera

Cell phone and charger

Always be prepared for the unexpected when planning an RV road trip.

Plan an RV Trip Tip #4: Think Kids and Pets

Planning an RV trip with kids or pets in the mix? There are some things you should keep in mind. Be sure to set aside time during the day for outdoor activities—even the most spacious RVs can be confining and suffocating for kids. The same goes for pets. You don’t want your kids to get more and restless on an RV trip, so be sure to take along games, toys, and DVDs. If you know which campground you’ll be staying at, call ahead of time to see if pets are allowed (if you plan on taking any).

Plan an RV Trip Tip #5: Ask the RV Experts

If you’re getting ready to plan an RV trip for the first time, we’ve covered the most important things in this guide. If you’re still in doubt about anything, however, don’t hesitate to ask the fellow RVers in your life for help.

Contact Beckley’s Camping Center if you have any questions or need RV servicing or products for your next trip!

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