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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!

A road trip across the U.S. is quintessential Americana! From the early days of vehicular travel to now, hitting the road to see the country is a bucket-list item for many. We have crossed the country by RV many times and find it to be a great way of travel. We put together this article to answer your questions about RVing America so you can plan the trip of a lifetime. 

How Much Does It Cost to RV 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 whether you rent an RV or have your own, whether you boondock or stay in campgrounds, your route and how fast you travel and the size of rig. 

fifth wheel on the road

Your costs will vary depending on how you want to travel, the experiences you want to have, how many states you want to see, and more. 

While rental RV costs add a nightly rate you do not need to make the upfront purchase of an RV and loose 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 7Mpg while small class B’s can see upwards of 20.

RV miles per gallon

Campground costs can add up quick but 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? 

If you have an RV, it might seem like a no-brainer to drive your own. But is it well-equipped for such a trip? Is it self-sustainable and able to handle varied terrain? Can you stand living in it for an extended period? If not, you might consider renting. 

RV rental in zion

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! 

Usually, buying your own, self-sustaining RV is the better option. It has many advantages over renting, and saving money is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Owning an RV gives you more freedom to travel when and where you want and modify the RV to your liking. And who knows? Maybe your road trip around the country will inspire you to hit the road full-time!

How Do I Plan an RV Trip Across America?

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. 

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

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

There’s no way around this one: 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. 

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 Campendium, The Dyrt, Campground Reviews, and Allstays

5. Hit the Road!

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

rv on the road in utah

Other helpful steps you can take in your planning stages include learning more about RVing and the lifestyle. YouTube is a wealth of information, but if you want more in-depth RV knowledge, check out an online program called RV Masterclass.

RV Masterclass has courses on every topic related to RVing: boondocking, RV basics, mobile internet, finances, and more. 

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
Thats us when we RV’s do 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

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

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

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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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!

Trina

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! :)

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