RV Trip Planning

RV Trip Planning Tips: Step by Step

Every RVer has its own way of RV trip planning. These RV trip planning tips will make planning fast and easy.

When we started our full-time RV journey trip planning made me so nervous. I was afraid I would do it wrong (whatever that means) or end up at a crappy campground which happens to everyone eventually! But now, after months of practice, I finally figured out what works for me. And after a few months, you will find your rhythm too.

Here is my process for planning our routes and finding campgrounds. Hopefully, this will help as you jump into route planning mode.

RV Trip Planning

Step 1: Choose a Final Destination

It might sound strange to hear us say we choose final destinations because we are full-time RVers. But for planning purposes, a final destination makes life much easier. I usually choose a destination with a date that can’t be changed like a rally or in this example a week camping with Phil’s Mom. Our final destination for this example is Higley Flow State Park which we booked almost 6 months in advance.

Map with RV trip with final destination.
San Antonio to Final Destination: Higley Flow State Park

Step 2: Choose Major Waypoints

Now, we decide what we would like to see along the way to Mom’s neck of the woods. I have almost 6 months to fill in so I will choose a few major waypoints to help guide my direction. For this route, I chose to visit my Mom in Georgia, our son Andrew in Virginia, and finally Boston. I usually make sure the major waypoints are spread across the route. I also allow ample time between each point to explore along the way. For this example, I knew we wanted to Harvest Host around the New England area so I left plenty of time for that after Boston.

RV trip with waypoints and final destination
Major Waypoints added to Route

Step 3: Research Campgrounds for the Major Waypoints

I search for campgrounds the same way every time. I pull up the area I would like to stay on either Allstays or Campendium. Then, I filter for military or Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds because they are our favorites. If those are not available in my chosen location, I will filter for the county, state or national parks. Finally, if all else fails I will look at private campgrounds in my chosen area.

Allstays Filter Options
Allstays Filter Options
Allstays map with military and Army COE campgrounds
Military & Army COE Campgrounds

Once I find available campgrounds in my chosen area, I research them individually. I will look at their website to check the price, available hookups, park maps, and photos of the campground. I will also look a the reviews on Allstays, google, and RV Trip Wizard. When I find the campground I like the most I will book it.

Map with RV trip and campgrounds
Major Waypoints and Ending Destination

Step 4: Booking Stays Between Waypoints

Now, all you have to do is fill in the gaps between your waypoints. I usually look for Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome to see if there are any stops that I would like to make on my route. These subscriptions allow you to park overnight for free so they help me stay within our camping budget. I use them as much as possible.

You can decide if you want to make the rest of your reservations ahead of time or choose to wing it. I usually do of a mix of both but I don’t book out more than a week or two in advance. When we first hit the road, I booked every stop months in advance. But it didn’t allow for spontaneity in our travels. Sometimes, we wanted to stay a little longer in an area or we heard about a place from a local we wanted to check out. This caused us to cancel reservations and cost us money! I don’t like to just give away my money for nothing so I changed how I booked my campgrounds.

Step 5: Specific Needs

Occasionally, while traveling we choose locations based on specific needs: Giz needs to be groomed, the rig needs maintenance or the Trailhawk needs new tires. These are easily negotiated between major waypoints. When this occurs I make a mental list of what I need from our campground before I start looking.

While on our way to visit Mom, Gizmo needed grooming in the worst way. He was looking like a mini sheepdog. So, I made a list of our needs.

Map with groomers listed
Grooming Options Along Route
  • 30 minutes or less from a groomer for Giz
  • Full hookups because we had boondocked for 6 weeks and had chores to do
  • Less than $40 a night to stay on budget
  • 30 min or less from a grocery store
Map with the final leg of the RV trip
Our Final Leg of the Route

We were in Cooperstown, NY on our way to our final destination. I pulled up all of the Petsmart groomers along the route and got to work. After a little digging, I found J and J Campground. It met all of our needs and we were able to take care of all of our chores.

RV Trip Wizard

I hope these RV trip planning tips help you as develop your own preferences for trip planning. It is a learning process and you will get better and faster over time.

To keep all my reservations organized I use RV Trip Wizard. Although, I have tried a few other programs this one is my favorite. You can try RV Trip Wizard free for 30 days but be advised you will love it!

For a step by step RV trip planning and RV Trip Wizard walkthrough check out this video.

Be sure to check out the map of all our locations since we hit the road full time!

We would love to hear some of your RV trip planning tips. Let’s learn from each other! Add your tips in the comments below.

Author: Stacy Farley from You, Me & the RV – All Rights Reserved

Disclosures: We are a participant in an affiliate program with RV Trip Wizard designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to affiliated sites. We purchased our own membership with RV Trip Wizard and used it for months becoming affiliates. We would recommend this app with or without the affiliate program. It does not cost you anything to use this link.


  • Our Epic Field Trip

    Great way to break down the process. We recently started using RV Trip Wizard (on your recommendation 🙂 ), and it’s very helpful. You can also use the route you created in RV Trip Wizard on the RV LIFE phone app (App Store and Google Play) which we’ve been doing with good results.

  • Teresa Chalkley

    Can you consolidate all stays that might not show up in the RV Trip Planner, including HH and Boondockers or family farms? I love trip planning. The more you know about where you will be staying, the more fun you have exploring. Thanks for all the helpful tips.

    • Youmerv

      RV Trip Wizard will not show any Harvest Hosts or Boondockers Welcome as they are platforms in which you have to be a member to see locations. You can see boondocking on BLM land or Forestry land etc. I do add the addresses of HH and BW into RV Trip Wizard once I make reservations there so it will show up as a stop on my trip.

  • Larry & Shirley Pippin

    Hi Stacy & Phil. We became full-time in July 2017. Been watching your travels from the start. We love the traveling we are getting to do and taking our time doing it. Have some that is Master Sergeant in amry in Virginia right now but will be going to Africa in September for 3 years. Our daughter is in LA and works for FFA so RV travel makes it much easier to see them. We don’t boondock but do like Army COE. So far we have do one winter in Florida and One out west and enjoyed both Florida keys in April are wonderful alone with spring baseball in March. Take Care and. We THANK YOU FOR YOUR YEARS OF SERVICE. LARRY

  • Linda

    Hi Stacy,
    I’m glad you wrote the blog along with doing the video. I had saved my email notification from You Tube for your video and will now book mark this blog post. Between the two if I can’t figure it out then I’m a lost cause! But seriously, I do like the methodology you employ for your trip planning – it leaves in enough wiggle room to be spontaneous. For my husband and I spontaneity is one of the big draws about this lifestyle. We love to just wing it most of the time, but there are some events that have to be planned for, so your method allows for both. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

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