From A to Z: Planning the ultimate RV road trip
Jun 1, 2012, 8:32 a.m.
Planning a road trip may not be as easy as you think, especially if you've never done it before. But with summer fast approaching, you'd better act fast if you want to experience the open road. Here's a checklist of road trip ideas that'll ensure you won't find yourself wishing you'd have spent your vacation at another predictable Jamaican resort.
Rent an RV. If you already own one, skip this step and move on -- you're obviously covered. But if this will be your first time sliding behind the wheel of a Winnebago (or one of its similarly sized cousins) your first step will be to contact an RV rental company in your neighborhood and inquire about prices. When you throw an RV into the mix for a road trip, you've got instant hotel savings -- but not all RVs were made alike. Don't forget to ask about important amenities. Make a list of all you'd like your RV to have, including everything from a kitchenette to sufficient bed space to a portable TV.
Plan a menu. One of the reasons to rent an RV in the first place is so that you don't have to rely on costly hotels and equally pricey restaurants. In an RV, you're wholly self-sufficient and that's the true appeal. Planning a cheap, healthy menu that you and your co-travelers can agree upon (be they the grandkids, your friends, or your spouse) is critical.
Draw up an itinerary. While taking to the road and discovering random adventures may work for some, you'll get a lot more out of your vacation if you map out a specific course and stick to it. Get online and find a good road trip planner that will identify points of interest from origin to destination. Doing so, you'll discover a lot you might otherwise miss.
Arm yourself well. Remember that information is power. These days, there are so many resources to help you when planning a road trip that you might overlook some of the obvious: Google Maps has road trip planner features that can help you find RV parks on the way to your next destination. Likewise, there are a number of smartphone applications you can use to discover points of interest wherever you are, including AroundMe, Yelp, and Poynt. These are certainly not the only location based apps ones out there, so ensure you check out everything that's available.
Keep an eye on the weather. This won't require you to become a meteorologist overnight and you won't even need access to The Weather Channel on TV. You can use your smartphone to download a number of helpful weather applications that will give you the heads up on weather conditions wherever you're headed.
Give yourself plenty of time. When you draw up your itinerary, be realistic about what you can accomplish in a given day. Long distance travel can be incredibly exhausting, and the last thing you want to do is spent the majority of your day trying to beat the clock to a designated destination when you should be enjoying every moment.
Plan for the worst. The odds are, you won't find yourself stranded roadside with an immobile RV and a blown gasket. But if you do and you don't have a contingency plan in place, your plans may be shot for good. Ensure that the RV rental company offers a roadside assistance plan so that you don't end up having to foot the bill for a tow to the nearest RV repair shop.
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