When you are planning a car camping road trip, you don’t have to worry about low clearances, weight limits and propane-restricted tunnels.
These RV travel tips are intended to prevent you from getting in big trouble during the driving portion of your trips by providing tools to find RV safe routes.
RV Trip Tips
Our FREE printable camping route planner is designed to help you consider all of the factors related to the driving aspect of your trip.
Our planner is NOT an interactive tool to help you navigate along routes that an RV can safely travel.
You don’t want to end up with thousands of dollars of damage because you tried to drive under a bridge without enough clearance for your vehicle!
Some RV camping tips for beginners won’t actually come in to play until after a few excursions when the trip route is out-of-the-ordinary when even experienced RVers can have accidents.
Post Your Important Numbers In Your Vehicle
Do you know your critical numbers off the top of your head? If your RV route takes you off the beaten path, you may encounter low-clearance tunnels, low bridges with weight limits or other routes with restrictions that prevent big rigs from safe travel. See 12 RV Packing Tips For Beginners for more helpful information.
If you are driving and see a road sign that restricts the height or weight of a vehicle, you should be able to glance at your actual numbers immediately.
RV Camping Tip: Write your actual height, width and weight (and other important specs) on a post-it note and stick it to the dashboard near your steering wheel so you can instantly see your numbers. Alternatively, you can attach the placard to the driver’s sun visor on the side that is visible when the visor is in use.
RV Safe Route Travel Tools
The best camping apps that are FREE usually don’t provide enough data for planning a safe travel route on an RV adventure.
There are some premium versions of navigation apps as well as stand-alone dedicated GPS units that do include all of the necessary data for trip planning along RV-friendly routes.
This is especially important for your RV road trip ideas that take you off of main highways and onto less-traveled roads to out-of-the-way places to view unusual roadside attractions.
Garmin RV 785 Advanced Navigator
Using a dedicated GPS that is specific for RV travel is one of the most popular tools many RVers choose to find RV safe travel routes.
The Garmin RV 785 provides RV-safe GPS routing based on your RV’s size and weight.
- It includes warnings regarding steep grades, sharp curves, weight limits and more.
- It also has a directory that includes RV parks, public campgrounds and RV services.
- You can pair this unit with your phone for hands-free calling, smart notifications and voice-activated navigation.
- This GPS has a high-res 7″ touch display as well as a built-in dash camera.
- One of the biggest benefits to a dedicated GPS navigation device is that it prompts you in advance of required lane changes and exits.
- You are not trying to do “double duty” with your phone if you are using your phone for other purposes (if you are a passenger, of course.)
- Also, this 7” screen size is much larger and easier to see than an app that is on a phone.
- The biggest drawback to stand-alone GPS units … the initial purchase price is a bit steep but the cost/benefit over time is well worth it if you do a lot of RV traveling to new destinations.
RV Life App
If you need RV travel tips and safe travel routes but have a budget that won’t allow for a dedicated GPS device, you can always use your phone with an app that has affordable monthly and annual subscription options.
The RV Life app is a community-driven GPS navigational aid that allows you to enter your RV’s height, length and weight to produce RV Safe routes specific to your rig.
It will route you to avoid low clearances and unsafe mountain passes.
In addition to turn by turn directions, lane guidance and real-time traffic … the app also has a database of campgrounds, RV parks, reviews, activities, weather forecasts and more.
If you also have a subscription to RV Trip Wizard website, the RV Life app has RV Life Trip Wizard Integration which means you can plan your trips on the RV Trip Wizard website then access them to use the RV Life app to actually navigate.
RV Trip Wizard Website
The RV Trip Wizard website is an RV trip planning route tool that includes an RV info tab where you enter your RV’s height, weight, length, type of fuel and whether or not you are carrying propane.
When you are planning your trip, you can choose “standard routing” (good for cars) or “RV safe routing” (good for RVs) depending on how you are traveling during each leg of your trip.
If you select standard routing, it will show an automobile-friendly route but will show a warning for low clearances, tunnels with propane restrictions etc.
If you select RV safe routing, it will automatically change the route to accommodate the specifications of your RV.
Some of the most popular settings allow you to choose routing to filter for things like:
- Avoid unpaved roads
- Avoid highways
- Avoid ferries
- Avoid all tunnels
As far as propane-restricted tunnels are concerned, some tunnels do not allow propane at all … other tunnels permit you to drive through them if your camping propane is turned off prior to entering them.
If you are not sure how full your tanks are, you can use one of these three simple methods for how to tell if your propane tank is empty.
In addition to RV safe travel route planning, the RV Trip Wizard includes information on campgrounds and RV parks, points of interest, reviews, budget planning for fuel and camping fees as well as driving times and distances.
You can print the map or export it to your GPS device or Google Maps (some functions must be done on a computer rather than your phone) or you can download the RV LIFE App (we discussed above) which integrates with RV Trip Wizard so you get the GPS routing right on your smartphone or tablet.
This is my personal favorite RV GPS app because it is a visual trip planner that allows you to see the entire route along with campgrounds, stops for fueling stations and points of interest including national parks.
You can filter for different preferences along the route of your itinerary like parks with hookups, special features like dump stations, popular stops like Cracker Barrel restaurants, Costco warehouses (great if you want to use Costco propane refill service to top-off your rig’s tanks and if you want to purchase Costco camping food, Walmart stores, pet hospitals and casinos with campgrounds.
RV life pro members provide helpful campground reviews too. You can even take discounts into consideration when browsing for destinations that honor Good Sam and AAA etc as well as membership-based clubs.
You can stay within your RVing budget because this is an RV trips planner that keeps track of your gas and campground fees for each of your saved trips.
The web based app offers a 7 day free trial.
If you are looking for a free option for safe RV travel routes you will have a hard time finding one that is specific for RVs.
As the name implies, the TruckMap app is designed for truckers but lots of RVers use it too.
The thinking is … if a semi-truck can safely travel along a route … most RVs can probably do it too.
You can’t put in the specific size of your rig … instead you can choose from size ranges rather than the exact dimensions.
It provides information on routing, weigh stations, truck parking and fuel prices too.
How To Plan Camping Road Trips
When you know how to plan a camping road trip your adventures are much more safe, stress-free and fun!
Print This FREE Camping Trip Planner Template
Our FREE printable camping trip planner template is designed to help you think about every aspect of your trip before you start your vehicle to drive to your camp destination.