Peering out your tiny window at 30,000 feet as you shift uncomfortably in your seat on a plane, you see things below you, but can’t quite grasp the details. You see lakes or mountains and a winding road that goes into a forest. But you won’t be there; instead, you are headed for an airport -- and the early morning frenzy of getting past security and dragging your luggage through the terminal, of course.
Maybe you would enjoy yourself more if you got out of the sky and got exploring on the ground. One way to do this: Put an RV trip on your travel bucket list!
I never knew how much fun an RV trip could be until I bought one and started traveling, which I now do full time. Here are the top reasons you should add an RV trip to your travel bucket list, based on my adventures.
1. It’s An Experience, Not Just A Destination
Taking an RV trip is first and foremost a travel experience. Whether you are towing or driving, your RV transportation is a unique experience for most of the traveling public. Choices range from small camping vans, travel trailers, or large fifth wheel trailers to all-in-one RV trucks and coaches. Each RV has a unique floor plan, modern conveniences, and a guaranteed glamping experience. Your travel options are endless.
Savor your travel and you will have miles to remember. Driving lets you see, smell, and taste the places you go through. Stop in small towns (away from the interstates). Find interesting main streets, kitschy cafes, or wineries that provide unique lunch experiences. You can picnic in a forest or at a scenic overlook. When you find an interesting place that was not on your itinerary, it’s never a problem to stop because your hotel is with you.
2. Create An Itinerary Of Unlimited Activities
RV travel is all inclusive. Bring your bikes, skis, kayaks, canoes, fishing gear, and a full range of clothes for any activity. There is no two-bag limit in an RV. You can park your RV inside a national park, hike every day, boat when you want, and opt to do nothing if you like. Stay at a premier RV resort and there are beautiful pools, lounge areas, and social activities galore. Build a trip that suits your desires.
3. Claim All The Views You Can
There really is nothing like coming over a crest on the road and seeing a vast landscape in front of you. Now imagine waking up to that view every day of your trip. Whether it is the vast plains in big sky Montana, the Rocky or Smoky Mountains, red rocks in the West, or ocean beaches, the vista is part of what makes this trip worthy of bucket-list travel.
Exploring adds to the fun. Get on the backroads in Iowa to see the Amana Colonies or into the Hill Country of Texas. There are five national parks in Utah, each more scenic than the next, and all can be visited by RV. Go fly fishing in Idaho at one of the dozens of RV parks on the Snake River or explore forests and lakes in the great north. Seeing it from an RV will mean a view you’ll never forget.
4. Make A Base Camp And Take Fun Day Trips
Consider staying outside crowded national parks and instead make day trips to see the sights. There are many state parks and commercial campgrounds near the entrances to national parks. Stay away from the madding crowds and drive in when you are ready to see the sights like Old Faithful at Yellowstone, the Badlands, or Devil’s Tower. I did all of these trips from base camps that were magical destinations themselves. At your base camp, you’ll have quiet nights and plenty of space for a campfire. Lounge in your camp chair under your awning or around the fire while you sip your favorite beverage and marvel at how far away the everyday world seems to be.
5. See The Night Like An Ancient Explorer
When you travel by RV and park far outside the city, you look up and the stars are too numerous to count. Constellations you learned about as a child are visible. I remember the first time I saw the Milky Way. I thought it was clouds and then realized it was the heavens. Night after night you will be surrounded by this light show. Here are the seven most incredible stargazing sites in the U.S. Set your GPS to any one of them and let your bucket list RV trip begin.
6. RV Travelers Know Something You Don’t
I’ve talked to many RV people during my travels. The most common refrains about why they love to RV are the freedom to go wherever they want, whenever they want and the friends they make along the way. There are no tours to join, no schedules to keep, no wondering what the next hotel will be like. Imagine camping on a beach, in a forest, in the mountains, in a desert -- and maybe in the same trip! When was the last time you made great friends with people in a hotel?
Campgrounds compel camaraderie. Campfires, walking, hanging at the lake all create a common experience that people want to share with others. I’m thrilled with the new friends I’ve made with people who travel the world this way.
7. See Wildlife Up Close And Personal
When you stay in the wild, the wild comes to you. Stay near the Grand Tetons and you will have moose come sauntering through your campground. Deer are plentiful across the U.S., and they will come in small groups to graze or traipse to the water spot. Bears are plentiful in many locations, especially out West, and you must respect the rules about keeping food and garbage properly stowed. And don’t forget to listen and look up to see eagles, osprey, and owls. It’s a delight you won’t get at a hotel.
Consider including on your itinerary a wildlife refuge where migratory birds fly in by the thousands. Get a good pair of binoculars, and you’ll see cranes, ducks, and all manner in between. There are guided tours you can take and expert rangers and volunteers to help point out these beautiful creatures.
Pro Tips For The First-Time RVer
Make sure your RV is outfitted with what you will need for cooking and having a good time. Are there bike racks and a blender? Understand how the stove works and where the lights are. RV electricity requires being “plugged in” to campground power. Make sure you know if your RV is 50 or 30 amp so you book the proper camping site.
Make sure you get a run through on tank monitors and tank hookups. You want to have a good time, not unwanted surprises. An RV toilet requires using a pedal to flush and refilling the water.
The best pro tip is to meet your on-site camp host and ask for any assistance you need, including getting your RV situated. You will find RV campers and glampers to be generous and friendly. They’re having fun and you can too!
Know that the open road is yours and you set your schedule. Get ready to wake up to your own coffee, a comfy couch or outdoor chair, and the great outdoors. In an RV, you get to see the world up close and personal.
Like what you see? Stay a little longer. Not what you were expecting? Then move on down the road. Whether you want to pack in a lot of iconic sites or drift along in scenic spots, an RV trip gives you a customizable travel experience that you will never forget.
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