Did you know that around 10 million households in the United States own a recreational vehicle (RV)? Whether you live in the United States, Europe, or Australia, there are many benefits to owning a caravan.
Owning a caravan allows you to travel in your own space, gives you flexibility when planning your trips, and allows you to travel with your pets. While there are many benefits to planning a caravan trip, it can be overwhelming for beginners.
Are you wondering how to plan a caravan trip? If so, keep reading to learn everything you need to know when preparing for your first RV vacation.
Choose a Caravan
One of the first steps in planning a caravan trip is choosing the right vehicle. Do you want to buy a camper or rent one for your trip? If you are new to RV travel, renting a caravan allows you to try it out before investing.
Whether you want to rent or buy a caravan, make sure you consider the size, off-road capabilities, and price. The right size for you will depend on how many passengers you will have, how long you plan on traveling, and your preferences.
If you are going on a short trip with your partner, you won’t need a large camper. If you are buying an RV to live out of it with your kids, you will need a lot more space and amenities.
Some amenities to look for include bunk beds, a washing machine, extra closets, and an outdoor kitchen. Before buying or renting an RV, compare prices, read online reviews, and read the fine print before signing paperwork.
Consider Installing Solar Panels
If you choose to buy a camper instead of renting, you should consider installing solar panels before you leave for your trip. Installing solar panels on your RV will give you electricity when you aren’t at a campground.
This means you can spend more time off the grid and experience more exciting places. Solar panels can charge your devices and run your refrigerator. They also can reduce your impact on the environment.
While you can install solar panels yourself, it’s best to hire a professional because you will have to deal with electrical wires. To choose the best professional, compare quotes, read reviews, and ask them questions.
Practice Driving Your Caravan
Before you go on your vacation, you should practice driving your caravan. Depending on the size of the camper, it may be difficult for you to control. Make sure you can park, back up, and make turns without issue.
If you don’t practice driving before leaving, you could have a stressful experience or get into a car accident. If you haven’t bought a camper yet, practice driving an RV before buying to ensure you’re comfortable with the size.
Create a Budget
Another thing you should consider when planning is your caravan trip budget. Your budget will determine what type of camper you can afford, where you can stay, and how long you can travel.
If you are on a tight budget, consider staying closer to home, camping off the grid, and cooking your meals around the campfire. If you have a large budget, you can travel further, plan more activities, and stay at luxurious campgrounds.
When planning your budget, consider the cost of gas, campgrounds, meals, and parking. You also should bring extra cash for toll roads and emergencies.
Consider the Season
Before you choose your caravan trip destination, make sure you consider the time of year. Summer is a popular time to travel because of the good weather and fun things to do.
You also won’t have to worry about staying warm and can spend most of your time outdoors. While there are benefits to traveling in the summer, it can be expensive, and there could be more traffic.
Traveling in the winter is a good option to save money and have a quieter experience. If you travel during the winter, make sure your caravan is equipped to stay warm in freezing temperatures. You may want to avoid traveling during busy holidays and events.
Choose a Destination
Once you know when you want to travel, you need to choose a caravan trip destination. Your destination could be weeks away or a few hours away, depending on your budget and how far you want to travel.
When choosing your destination, think about what you enjoy doing on vacation. Would you prefer to go hiking in the mountains, relax on the beach, or visit an art museum in the city?
You can base your destination around activities, campgrounds, and national parks. If you have time, you can choose multiple destinations to stop at along the way.
Plan a Route
After determining where you want to go, you can start planning your route. While it may sound fun to go on a road trip without plans, this can be stressful and dangerous.
You may argue with passengers over where to stop or run out of gas while driving in the middle of nowhere. Make sure your route has plenty of gas stations, rest areas, restaurants, and places to sleep. You should also choose stops that have RV parking.
When choosing road trip routes, keep in mind that you are traveling for fun. Instead of looking for the fastest way to the destination, choose a scenic route with fun stops.
Try not to do too many miles in a day, and don’t be in a rush. Planning downtime for everyone to relax can help you manage the stresses of traveling.
Pack Your Belongings
One of the most stressful parts of preparing for a caravan trip is packing. You have to make sure you have all the right clothes, personal belongings, and travel essentials.
When packing clothes for a road trip, consider how long you are traveling and where you are going. If you are only going away for the weekend, you don’t need your entire wardrobe.
If you are going away for several months, you will want a variety of clothes. Make sure your camper has a washing machine, or choose campgrounds that do.
Some essential personal belongings to pack include your medications, laptop, work necessities, chargers, and toiletries. You also should ensure you have your driver’s license, first aid kit, and copy of your current registration.
Make a Plan for Pets
Do you plan on traveling with your pets, or are you leaving them at home? If you bring your pets with you on vacation, they should be safe and comfortable.
Before traveling in the caravan, make sure your pets are familiar with their environment. To do this, introduce them to the camper and take them on short trips before long ones.
You should bring their favorite toys, avoid leaving them alone, and choose pet friendly caravan parks. If they stay home, consider hiring a pet sitter, leaving them with friends, or boarding them at their vet.
Download Offline Maps
To avoid stress during your road trip, consider downloading offline maps before you leave. When traveling across the country, you never know when you will lose cell phone service.
If you rely on your phone for directions, you may end up lost and stressed out. Most GPS map tools will allow you to download the route before you leave. It’s never a bad idea to bring a paper map as a backup.
Make Plans for Food
When planning your road trip, you should consider what you will eat. If you have the budget, you can eat out during your caravan trip. Keep in mind that you may not be able to park your camper at restaurants, depending on the size.
If you are on a tighter budget, consider cooking your food instead. You can go to the grocery store before the trip starts and stock up on ingredients and snacks.
It is easier to cook full meals in campers that have kitchens. If your caravan doesn’t have a kitchen, you can buy a small grill or cook meals over a campfire.
Even if you decide to eat meals at restaurants, always pack plenty of water when traveling to avoid dehydration.
Choose the Right Campsites
The campsites you choose can make or break your trip. You should choose campgrounds based on budget, location, and lifestyle preferences.
For example, if you have a family, choosing a campsite with kid-friendly activities can keep the children entertained. Some campgrounds offer day camp programs, swimming pools, and outdoor movies.
If you enjoy nature, look for campsites in beautiful and secluded environments. When choosing a campground, look for amenities like toilets, showers, RV hookups, and security.
Prepare for Emergencies
Before you leave for your road trip, you should plan for emergencies. You never know when you will have a medical emergency or a flat tire while on the road.
You should have a first-aid kit that includes band-aids, gauze, antibiotic ointment, and alcohol wipes. The Red Cross offers guidance on how to make the best first-aid kit.
Before leaving for a road trip, check the pressure in your tires, get your oil changed, and take care of any warning lights on the dash. Make sure someone in your group knows how to change a tire, and consider signing up for roadside assistance.
Assign Passenger Duties
One of the easiest ways to ensure a smooth road trip is to assign passenger responsibilities before leaving. Even kids can play a small role to make traveling easier. You can decide who is going to drive, who is going to pass out the snacks, and who is going to give you directions.
You should decide who will do what jobs at the campsite. Some essential jobs include emptying the toilet, locking the doors, making the bed, filling the water tanks, and opening the outside awning.
Try to Avoid Traffic
When you leave for your caravan trip, you should try your best to avoid traffic. Not only will sitting in traffic waste your time, but it also can be stressful and dangerous in a campervan.
While traffic can happen anywhere, the worst traffic happens in big cities during rush hour. Try to plan your trip so that you don’t hit big cities during the rush, or try to bypass the cities altogether.
When you are driving, use GPS apps that give you live updates on the traffic. These apps will tell you when to change your route and give you new directions.
Create a Backup Plan
Anytime you travel, there is always the chance that your plans will go wrong. You may encounter severe weather, heavy traffic, or a mechanical issue that alters your trip.
Because things may not go as planned, you should create a backup plan for every scenario. If the weather is severe, consider staying in the camper and watching movies.
Always know where the nearest campsites are so you can end the day early if you encounter heavy traffic. Consider paying for an extended warranty or roadside assistance to cover your caravan if anything goes wrong mechanically during the trip.
Are You Planning a Caravan Trip?
Owning a camper allows you to plan trips whenever you want, save money on travel, and take your pets on vacation with you. If you are planning a caravan trip, you should create a budget, consider the time of year, plan a route, prepare for emergencies, and have a backup plan.
Did you find this ultimate caravan trip checklist helpful? If so, check out our blog for more travel tips.