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How to RV Across America: The Ultimate American Dream

Do you want to RV America? If so, you’re in the right place! We’ve been RVing across the United States since 2015, and we’re so excited to share the wonder with you. We put together this article to answer your questions about RVing America so you can plan the trip of a lifetime. 

mortons with rv in front o grand tetons

How To Budget Your RV Trip Across America 

The costs of traveling the U.S. via RV vary widely depending on your circumstances. Factors that affect how much it costs to RV America include:

  • Rent vs own your RV
  • Whether you boondock or stay in campgrounds
  • Your route and mileage
  • How fast you travel (speed and how many days in each spot)
  • The size of your RV 
  • The experiences you want to have
  • How many states you want to see

For example, our 6-month RV trip to Alaska cost us around $20,000. But we’ve RV traveled full-time with all expenses as low as $2,000/month.

While rental RV costs add a nightly rate, you do not need to make the upfront purchase of an RV and lose the depreciation value.

Rig size will play an important role in where you can easily drive, how comfortable you are in the RV and or on the road, and, of course, the fuel economy. Large Class A motorhomes might get around 7 Mpg while small Class B’s can see upwards of 20.

Campground costs can add up quickly but can overall cost less than staying at hotels or resorts. Boondocking is a good way to offset the costs and stay in some amazing places for free. Learning to boondock can add another exciting aspect to an RV trip across America as you can spend a night or two in places people rarely get to experience overnight.

Renting an RV vs. Buying an RV to RV America

Should you rent an RV to RV America or drive your own? 

RV rental in zion

If you have an RV, it might seem like a no-brainer to drive your own.  

If you don’t have an RV at all, you might weigh the pros and cons of renting vs. buying. RVs are expensive! But if you want to take an extended road trip all around the U.S.A., you might be better off purchasing one that can handle the trip! You can always sell it when you’re done to recoup some of the cost.

Rental RVs can cost anywhere from $100-$300 per night, depending on what RV you choose, where you are located, and the supply and demand in that area.

How Do I Plan an RV Trip Across America?

How We Plan our Full-Time RV Travels - One Year on the Road

Planning an extended RV trip across America can be an intimidating task. Luckily, you don’t have to plan it all at once! Here are some tips for planning your trip to RV America. 

1. Decide the Length of Your Trip

The first step is deciding how long you want your trip to take. Are you planning on hitting the road full-time, or do you have a time limit before you return to home and work? 

The dates you choose will also influence your plans. Prices will fluctuate depending on the season, and you might face different deadlines at different times of the year. Once you have the time frame sorted, you can plan other things like stops, activities, and more. 

2. Plot Your Must-See Destinations

You can’t see every single thing, especially if you’re traveling under time constraints!

Make a list of must-see destinations on your trip across America so that you can plan your route of travel accordingly. You might make a secondary list that you’ll hit if you have time. 

Pro Tip: Leave a little wiggle room to follow your wanderlust! Some of our favorite memories and experiences were unplanned and spur-the-moment.

3. Plan Your Route

Once you have a good idea of must-see destinations, it’s time to plan your travel route. Travel route planning is one of the most important parts of planning an RV trip because most RVs are large and can’t drive on every road. 

Don’t rely solely on Google or Apple Maps for your travel route. Stick to major roads like interstates, or purchase an RV-specific GPS. An RV GPS will help you avoid low bridges, roads with length or weight restrictions, and more. 

We often use RV Trip Wizard to reduce our stress during the planning phase. It might help you, too! 

4. Plan and Book RV Campgrounds Across America

Don’t let this step overwhelm you. You don’t have to plan and book every campground all at once, but if you plan to travel to popular destinations in peak seasons, book campsites in advance. Popular destinations like national parks and tourist towns tend to be at or near capacity frequently, so these places will require a bit of extra planning.

There are many great resources for finding and booking campgrounds. We like the following apps:

5. Pack for Your Trip

Once you have your must-see destinations, a general idea of your travel route, and campground reservations, all that’s left is to pack!

Now, you don’t need to bring everything except the kitchen sink. In fact, we’ve learned the hard way that there are things you just simply shouldn’t bring on a camping trip.

We have a list of essential items that we recommend all RVers bring on every trip. Beyond those, you should pack enough clothes to get through a week or two before having to do laundry.

Bring gear to support the activities you want to do – hiking boots for hiking, climbing gear for rock climbing, or binoculars for bird watching, for example. But also keep in mind that you can rent gear that would be big and only used once or twice – think kayaks, SUPs, or ski/snowboard gear.

rv on the road in utah

Pro Tip: See more of America by traveling across the country by train. Find out how!

How Long Does It Take to RV America?

How long it takes to RV America is all about personal preference. Some hit the road full-time and travel slowly, taking a year or longer to see the country. Others have a time limit and must see it all in a matter of months. 

Your length of journey depends on your time frame and budget. Slow travel is a great way to save money and see more of each location, but that isn’t an option for everyone. 

Be realistic with your travel planning. Don’t try to see the entire country if you only have a couple of weeks. It will make your trip incredibly stressful and overwhelming. Give yourself at least a couple of days in each must-see location, and schedule a rest day now and then. It’ll slow you down, but you’ll get much more out of your journey.

cherry blossoms in DC spring
That’s us when we RV’d to Washington DC in the spring for the cherry blossoms

Tips for RVing Across America

We’ve already covered the basics of scheduling your cross-country trip. Now, we want to offer a few additional tips to help you make the most of your trip!

Join Discount Camping Clubs to Save Money

There are many discount camping clubs RVers can join with yearly membership fees. Typically, they pay for themselves in just a few uses! 

Passport America gets members 50% off of camping fees at over 1,400 campgrounds in the US. Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Hosts also allow members to park for free overnight on participating privately-owned properties. 

You could also join Thousand Trails, a membership with campgrounds and RV resorts around the country that can save you a ton of money, too! 

RV camping in thousand trails
Our first few years on the road we utilized Thousand Trails memberships extensively

Join RVing Clubs for Community, Resources, and Events

There are many RV clubs and membership opportunities with varying resources and benefits. If you seek a community on the road, check out clubs like Escapees RV Club, Full-Time Families, or FMCA

These RV clubs have events and resources to learn more about the lifestyle and meet like-minded people. 

Friends at Xscapers
Here we are at an Xscapers event, a group for working-age RVers

Learn to Boondock to Experience Beautiful Places and Save Money

Boondocking is perhaps the best way to save money on your journey. That’s camping for free or low-cost on dispersed public lands, and there’s plenty of it, particularly in the West! 

We particularly love this form of RVing and have outfitted our RV to be able to operate for over a month without hookups. We have boondocked from Mexico to the Arctic Ocean and just love the experience. More than the locations, it can be easier to make a quick stop as you do not need to go through the work of checking in and hooking up the RV, its just ready to go when you park it.

Boondocking is an exciting way to travel and see some of the most beautiful places in the US. But there’s a bit of a learning curve to this camping style since you won’t have electric, water, or sewer hookups and virtually no facilities. 

Research more about boondocking to see if it’s something you’d love to do! 

beautiful fifth wheel at sunset with cactus
There’s something about being completely off grid where no one lives or works and yet having all the comforts of home.

If you want to RV America, there’s no better time than now! While it may seem daunting to plan such an extensive trip, it’ll never happen if you don’t take the first step. 

Here are our final notes: Take advantage of the many great resources on the web to help you along every stage of your journey. And always plan, but leave enough room in your schedule for delays and serendipity. You’ll be glad that you did!

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Bonnie Wenners

Sunday 26th of June 2022

thank you for your great articles!

Mortons on the Move

Sunday 26th of June 2022

You're welcome! :)

Joe Curbelo

Sunday 6th of June 2021

Tom and Cait,

Thank you for the great post today! As new RV owners, traveling across the country is on our bucket list once we can get enough time off! Great resources here to help with the planning, safe travels to Michigan!


Sunday 6th of June 2021

Love your articles !! Have enjoyed following you for sometime now, and especially liked your Go North series...Was overjoyed to see picture of you both with the Getaway Couple , as I also follow them.....Happy RVing !!

Mortons on the Move

Wednesday 9th of June 2021

Thank you so much! Glad you're enjoying our content! :)