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Campervan Hugo tells his story: Hi! I’m Hugo – at least that’s what my new owners (Johannes and Birgit) named me in the fall of 2020. I recently turned 6 years old and am an L2H1 Renault Trafic in a vibrant, life-affirming green color. I’m here to tell you all about my camper van conversion story!

I met my new family in Berlin. The young couple came all the way from Munich to check me out and see if they wanted to adopt me. Well, lucky for me, they signed the contract on the same day! Adoption costs: 9999€ – and I am worth every cent!

Barely a month later (both of them quit their jobs to take care of me full time) we drove to Karlsruhe, where Birgit’s mother and grandma live. It was very nice to meet her relatives and get to know my new extended family.

In the three months that followed, Johannes and Birgit took great care of me and took on a full-time project of van conversion to campervan. Like most people who take on a DIY project, I’m pretty sure they thought everything would be easier than it was.

But for anyone else out there who is thinking of a camper van conversion, read on to learn about their process. Maybe you’ll get some inspiration from my makeover story!

Essential Amenities for my Camper Van Conversion

Allow me to walk you through a few changes that happened during the story of my Renault Trafic camper conversion.

1. Insulation Against Heat and Cold

I was insulated with 19mm, 9mm, and 3mm Armaflex as well as sheep’s wool. After lots of research, Birgit and Johannes found out that wool is one of the best options for insulation: it insulates well against heat and cold, does not mold, and is eco-friendly (after all, it grows on sheep!).  So now, I can protect my family from heat and cold.

Johannes hard at work on the insulation

Johannes hard at work on the insulation

2. Click Vinyl Flooring

To create a liveable interior, Johannes and Birgit set about installing chic flooring. Unfortunately, the click vinyl flooring was much trickier than anticipated. Even I know that you should watch a video of how to lay vinyl flooring BEFORE trying to do it!

Birgit's mission: Move the flooring from the green grass to the green camper.

Birgit’s mission: Move the flooring from the green grass to the green camper.

 

Success! Finishing the edge of the vinyl flooring

Success! Finishing the edge of the vinyl flooring

3. A New Side Window and Skylight

In contrast with the difficult flooring installation, it was a snap to cut two new openings for my roof window and side window. That was done in just one day. I’m glad they chose high-quality Dometic windows. They even come with built-in screens and blackout blinds!

Once I got my new side window I really started to feel like a camper van!

Once I got my new side window, I really started to feel like a camper van!

4. Tigerexped Parking Heater for Winter Trips

The two decided early on that they would want to travel with me in the winter since I am perfect for a cozy retreat. For cold-weather trips, I got a parking heater from Tigerexped, which has 2 kilowatts of power.

I’m now able to heat the interior from 0 to 20°C (freezing to a comfortable room temperature) in just 10 minutes! They did all the installation themselves, aside from the gas tank tap, which was done by a pair of helpful hands from a local auto repair shop. I very much appreciate it, since the tank is one of my most sensitive components!

Autoterm Air 2D heater from Tigerexped

Autoterm Air 2D heater from Tigerexped

5. Stylish Side and Roof Panels for a Livable Interior

My side panels are made of multiplex panels that were sanded and painted white, plus 4-way stretch felt. Felting was fun for Jo & Bibs, I could tell they enjoyed it!

Luckily, felt is a forgiving material, so they didn’t have to be quite as precise as they had to be for other aspects of my van makeover. They simply applied adhesive spray to the Armaflex and pressed the felt on bit by bit.

Their oft-praised “secret weapon” was an orange peeler from Birgit’s mother’s kitchen. With it, they could stuff the felt into even the tightest cracks, and now I look nice and neat! 😉

The secret weapon: an orange peeler to help achieve a clean finish on the felt.

The secret weapon: an orange peeler to help achieve a clean finish on the felt.

My ceiling is made of 4mm-thick birch wood. Before installing, it was soaked with oil to prevent mold and keep it in good shape over the next several years.

It was the right plan in theory, however, they realized after the fact that they should have used a different type of oil. Unfortunately, my interior still has a distinct smell from the oil (even tho it is intended for living rooms!). I’m still getting used to it, but they would probably recommend a different one.

The smell is slowly fading away, and to accelerate the vaporization of the oil, they leave my closet doors open with the windows cracked whenever I’m parked.

Johannes admires my interior. My conversion from van to camper van is coming along!

Johannes admires my interior. My conversion from van to camper van is coming along!

6. Self-Sufficient Power for Camper Van Living

One of my coolest features is the 6 LEDs embedded in my ceiling- The front 3 can be switched on and off independently from the rear 3, and even from 2 different locations.

Alternate switching is the keyword here! All in all, they took great care of my electrical system. Especially Jo was very interested in this part of my camper van conversion, calculating all the cable strengths and figuring out the necessary fuses that I would need. 

Within my cozy cabin, I have a 180Ah AGM battery, a 300-Watt inverter for laptops, a 32-Liter cooler from Mobicool, a submersible pump, various USB chargers, and even a monitor so that Johannes and Birgit can hop in and travel with me while they work remotely.

The electrical heart of Hugo

The electrical heart of Hugo

And guess what – all of these devices are powered by the sun! My owners installed a 360-Watt solar panel on my roof. It’s a standard solar panel like the ones you see on house rooftops.

Johannes and I picked it up from a solar builder in the neighboring village. My owners first used industrial glue to attach 4 spoilers to my roof and then screwed the solar panel onto them.

The wires run into my interior and connect to the battery. I think it’s great that during my camper van conversion they figured out how to use the sun to generate green energy – after all, green is my favorite color!

360 W solar system on Hugo's roof

360 W solar system on Hugo’s roof

Update: Unfortunately the glue didn’t stick to the solar panel spoilers. Luckily Johannes and Birgit noticed before it was too late and dismantled the solar panel during their recent vacation in Italy.

So for now I don’t have a solar panel on my roof but Johannes and Birgit are working on a solution. Van conversion is a constant process!

In the meantime, I’m using a charge booster to charge the battery while driving. This can be switched on/off by a special switch in the driver’s compartment. Now that my interior battery cannot be loaded by the sun anymore, I’m very glad that this charge booster was installed.

Space-Saving Design Features

My interior living space is really cool and I have to say, very well thought out! It has to be, because as is the case with all camper van conversion projects, the space is limited: As a typical Renault Trafic before my camper conversion, I had about 5m² (54 square feet) of space in the living room – and a height of just 140 cm (55 inches). So it’s important to make the most out of every spare millimeter. 

Like most camper van conversion projects, I am full of hidden features and tons of practical space-saving tricks! Let me take you on a little tour of all the cool things inside 😉:

  • Funky LED sideboard with a corkboard and integrated USB charging station.
  • White cabinet wall with tons of storage space, the cabinet door is also the table. It’s made of beautiful acacia wood – for a camper van like me, fine wood is basically like fine jewelry. The external monitor is tucked behind the cabinet.
  • A camping stove that can be pulled out through a drawer, making it easy to cook outside if weather permits! Underneath that drawer is another drawer. Drawer-inception, so to speak. It serves as an additional area to cut vegetables when cooking.
Kitchen set up in a van conversion project

Drawer inception for expandable space in the kitchen

  • The entire space under the bed can be used for storage. There are 3 heavy-duty drawers + an area with space for either a folding box or a crate of beer. I’d love to say this was planned – but the fact that my humans chose these exact dimensions was pure coincidence.
  • I even have a small sink. The water comes from a 12-liter fresh water tank under the sink, flows through the kitchen faucet, and drains into the 12-liter waste water tank. By the way, the faucet can be pulled outside through the side window and used as an outdoor shower. Ideal after a strenuous hike!
  • The bed is flexible and adjustable, so it can either be used as a bench or a large bed measuring 200cmx125cm (about the size of a Full bed). If you want to sit at the table, the bed can be made into a U-shape and three people can sit.
  • The acacia cabinet door has two drive-in nuts, which allow you to screw in two large threaded bolts with feet to become the table legs. When it’s folded down, the table legs rest on a part of the bed, so it’s super stable.

The Final Touches for my Renault Campervan Conversion

My cozy interior really came together with the addition of the light gray “home-sewn” mattress (well… sewn by Birgit’s aunt – that was a 14-hour sewing marathon!).

The white curtains provide privacy and complement the white furniture and the dark brown acacia wood in the kitchen. Artificial ivy hides the electrical cables and creates a homey atmosphere.

With the ceiling lights on and a candle lit, I transform into quite a romantic little place! Seeing me now, you would hardly believe that I was once an empty Renault Trafic before my camper conversion makeover.

Bed arrangement in a camper van conversion project

DIY Van conversion project

Makeover complete! Can you believe how far I’ve come?

What’s Next for Campervan Hugo?

Originally, my new owners budgeted 2 months to convert me from van to campervan. That they overestimated themselves was clear to me from the beginning – but sometimes people have to learn the hard way!

I will probably never become a real full-time camper for the so-called ‘van life’. Even though Johannes and Birgit are very fond of each other, <5m² is a bit small for the long term.

In any case, the two had a great vacation with me this summer. We drove through Germany, Switzerland, and Italy together.

I’m not sure what our plans are for next year, but we will definitely go to the mountains for hiking or maybe a snowy getaway. If you’re interested in what the future brings for me, you can follow along at @hugo_campervan on Instagram. Maybe you’ll get inspiration for your own Renault Trafic camper conversion.

In closing, I just recently overheard a conversation that made me so happy, and I would like to share it with you. Maybe you as (future) van builders or owners see it exactly the same way:

“Hugo is our little second home and the whole world is our backyard!”

DIY Van Conversion

If you’re thinking of taking your outdoor adventures to the next level, bikepacking might be just the thing for you. Bikepacking is perfect for anyone who loves the great outdoors, is comfortable on a bike, and would like to cover great distances on their own two wheels.

The concept is simple, but there is some essential bikepacking gear that any first-time bikepacker needs to take to have a great experience. Who knows, this might become your new favorite vacation hobby!

Here is a list of the 15 bikepacking essentials that any first-timer needs to bring on their trip.

1. The Right Bike

When it comes to finding the best bikepacking bike, there is no easy answer. The bike that you choose depends entirely on the terrain, the distance, and your personal preferences.

That being said, the best bike for a bikepacking trip will be lightweight, sturdy enough to take the weight of your packs, and high quality so that you can minimize repairs along the way.

Bikepacking trips generally fall into three different categories, and each requires a different type of bike. The three different styles of bikepacking trips are multi-day mountain biking, ultralight race & gravel, or expedition & dirt touring.

You can read more about each of these bikepacking trip types and the right bike for each. Regardless of how much research you do, there are a few bikes that are consistently recommended by other bikepackers: 

  • Best Multi-day Mountain Bike: Surly Krampus – a lifetime investment and one of the highest quality bikes for bikepacking. If you have the budget, the Surly is the best choice
  • Best All-Rounder: Salsa Fargo – it’s a good all-rounder bikepacking bike for anyone interested in starting bikepacking as a new hobby. You can do an endless amount of research on the size, fittings, and accessories, but the Salsa Fargo seems to suit the needs of most people.
  • Best Gravel Bike: Specialized Diverge gravel bike This bike is well-regarded for its ability to go anywhere and everywhere. It can handle just about any road and even the average person would do well on a bikepacking trip.

The bike you choose also depends on whether you intend to make this a long-term hobby. It may not be worth shelling out thousands of dollars if this is just something you’ll do once or twice. But if you plan to be out on the trails multiple times a year, it’s worth investing in a high-quality bike that will stand the test of time.

2. The Right Packs

Packing for your bikepacking trip

With the increasing popularity of bikepacking, there has been a lot of innovation on how to efficiently transport gear on a bike. You’ll have infinite options for your bikepacking gear setup, but the basic storage locations are side-saddle bags, handlebar bags, under-seat bags, and wedge packs that fit inside the bike frame. You’ll be surprised how much essential bikepacking gear you can bring with you!

The most important thing to keep in mind when determining your bikepacking gear setup is to make sure your bags are appropriate for the specific bike. For example, a typical mountain bike won’t have anywhere to mount side-saddle bags, so you’ll need to focus on under seat and handlebar storage. And of course, if you get a wedge pack, it needs to fit your bike frame perfectly to maximize storage space.

Be careful not to fall into the trap of overpacking! Just because you can load up your bike, doesn’t mean you should. Even though you’re not carrying the gear directly on your back, you’ll still be the one who needs to put in the leg power to transport each ounce up each elevation gain.

The most important factor when it comes to bags is the quality. Don’t skimp by buying cheap bags that are going to rub on tires, need constant adjustment, or have failing zippers and buckles. Just like investing in a quality, reliable bike, you must also invest in quality bags. Bags should be waterproof, lightweight, and durable.

3. Navigation, GPS

Especially when going offroad, a high-quality satellite GPS can be a life-saver. Be sure to get one that has a bright display that can be attached to your handlebars. You don’t want to have to pull over to check your coordinates while you’re trying to make good time on your route.

4. Sun Protection

Bikepacking Gear Essentials

Bikepacking means you’ll be exposed to the elements. You’ll most likely be biking on fire roads or paved surfaces, which usually means there will be little shade. And with the speed and wind chill, you are not likely to notice your sunburn until it’s too late.

A quality pair of polarized sunglasses, a hat, a neck cover, clothing that offers UV protection, and of course, high-grade SPF are essential bikepacking gear to provide sun protection.

5. Extra Jacket for Insulation

Inevitably, you’ll experience a change in the elements, whether you get caught in a rainstorm or climb a high elevation to chillier temperatures. Bring a windproof, lightweight jacket for these times.

You’ll be surprised how often you’ll reach for your jacket, even in warm weather due to the wind chill you’ll experience at high speeds.

6. Illumination

Although it is not advised to cycle at night, a bike light is essential if you are planning to cycle at dusk or dawn. Plus, a light does a lot to increase your visibility which is important for safety, especially if you’ll be sharing the road with cars.

7. First Aid Kit

A basic first aid kit is essential for any active trip, but especially for bike packing. You’ll want to be able to treat any blisters, hotspots, and scrapes along the way. In addition to a basic first aid kit, be sure to bring along some magnesium tablets to help avoid cramping after a long uphill day. You’ll need to rely on your legs day in and day out so be sure to keep them in top condition!

8. Food & Cooking Gear

If you plan to camp along your bikepacking trip, you need to bring lightweight cooking gear to prepare meals. Since packing space is limited, be sure to make the right choice for bikepacking recipes.

The most popular bikepacking cooking gear is the Trangia ultralight camping cook set. Or, if you are making meals where you just add hot water, you can get away with bringing a Jetboil camping stove. If you want to skip the bikepacking cooking gear, check out some of our cold soak recipes to help lighten your pack. 

It’s also helpful to have some easy-to-access snacks that you can rely on during the day. Especially if you’re biking on a schedule or trying to time your rides with the weather, it’s helpful to have some nutrition that you can access on the go, like energy gels for quick carbs and electrolytes.

9. Bike Repair Kit

Do not go bikepacking without a basic bike repair kit and the know-how to make minor repairs along the way. A blown tire or loose screw can ruin your trip if you’re unable to repair them yourself. Bikepacking repair kits are very compact, so this small but invaluable item does not have to take up much space among your essential bikepacking gear.

10. Hydration & Water Storage

Bikepacking gear - add water bottle storage to your bike

Add more water storage to your bike before your bikepacking adventure

In addition to the standard location for a water bottle, you may want to add some more storage. Depending on your bike, you can usually add a few reserve water bottle locations. To cut down on the total weight in your bikepacking gear, you can bring a steri pen filter to purify your water along the way.

Since bikepacking goes hand in hand with a love for the outdoors, check out our article about the most sustainable water bottles and water filters so that your choices are kind to mother nature.

11. Care for your Caboose

If you’ve never been bikepacking before, your rear end will be the first thing to scream in pain. Padded shorts are essential bikepacking gear, but don’t forget to bring along wet wipes with soothing aloe and vitamin E, and bottom butter which works wonders. And be sure to do a few long bike trips before your bikepacking adventure to prepare your rear for the long days on the saddle.

12. Cycling Gloves

It’s not until you forget biking gloves that you realize how important they are. Gloves serve multiple purposes. First of all, your hands will be exposed to the elements, and will quickly dry out and become cracked if you don’t protect them.

Without gloves, the constant gripping of the handlebar can lead to sweaty, slippery palms and can result in painful blisters. Lastly, the best gloves have a layer of padding, which adds a very important buffer against the constant vibration of the bike.

When choosing biking gloves, find a pair that fits you like a second skin. They should be snug, but not so tight that they are restrictive.

13. Shelter

If you’re planning to go offroad and sleep in the great outdoors, an ultralight tent will be an essential item in your bikepacking gear. Choose one that can be rolled up into a compact size.

The tent will likely be the largest single item that you have to pack, so be sure to balance it correctly on your bike setup. Most people pack the tent in the handlebar section of their bike since it’s a central storage location that doesn’t cause balancing issues.

14. Good Weather

Bikepacking Gear Essentials

Don’t underestimate the value of a sunny, cool day! Try to choose a location and a time of year that will give you dry conditions with moderate temperatures.

The weather could make or break your experience and significantly affects the amount of bikepacking gear that you’ll need to bring. There’s nothing worse than getting caught in the freezing rain when you are directly exposed to the elements. This could also lead to dangerous conditions like slippery roads & impacted visibility.

15. A Positive Attitude

The right mindset is maybe one of the most essential ingredients for a successful bikepacking trip. Be sure to bring a sense of adventure, self-reliance, and a positive attitude.

Relying on your own physical fitness to get you from point A to point B, being subject to the elements and unforeseen factors, and covering large distances with the raw power of your own legs will bring lots of new challenges. But with big challenges come big rewards, just keep a positive attitude along the way.

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Bikepacking Gear for Beginners

Bikepacking essential gear

Traveling is all about exploring your favorite spots and embracing the solitude that nature offers. It allows you to experience life at its best and appreciate the small things in life. Cross-country American road trips are an enchanting option for a low-budget and enjoyable travel experience. Whether you live in the US or are just visiting the country, you might as well embark upon a journey on one of the classic American road trip holidays.

Here are the best cross country road trip routes in the US to satiate your wanderlust and keep the work-related stress at bay.

1.   Route 66: Chicago to Los Angeles

Backpacking on historic Route 66

Backpacking on historic Route 66

One of the best American road trip holidays is Historic Route 66, starting from Chicago and leading straight to California. You might consider the road trip if you have at least one week to explore and rejuvenate in the great natural beauty of the USA. The route features classic motels, stunning landscapes, and national parks to gratify the nature-lover within. Before planning a road trip holiday across America, don’t forget to get a Nissan X-Trail roof rack. That way, you can comfortably enjoy the beautiful trip. You must not miss out on other spots during the exploration like the Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, and Cadillac Ranch.

2.   Overseas Highway: Florida Keys

Another one of our favorite American road trip holidays is the trail that spans across the Atlantic Ocean toward the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll drive over the Florida Keys archipelago, taking in the enchanting cerulean panoramas coupled with the local tropical flora. Along with this, the trail offers the chance to explore bungalow-style and luxury hotels, national parks, and kitschy souvenir shops. Make sure you stop by the spots like Everglades National Park and Knaus Berry Farm to enjoy a tropical holiday experience. After indulging in the cinnamon rolls and smoothies at this beautiful place, head straight to the coral archipelago. Don’t forget to explore the attractions on your way and make the most of the vacation.

3.   Pacific Coast Highway: West Coast California

Backpacking on the Pacific Coast Highway in California

Backpacking on the Pacific Coast Highway in California

If you’re a dendrophile (tree lover!) who likes to dwell deeper in the heart of nature, you must traverse through the Pacific Coast Highway at least once. From lush green forests to the high-rise cliffs, this classic American road trip is more about the journey than the destination. The trail begins in Northern California’s Mendocino County and ends right in Orange County, south of Los Angeles. Along the way, try out the local cuisine to gratify your taste buds and you’ll fall in love with California in no time.

4.   The Loneliest Road: Maryland to California

For all the travelers who wish to remain in solitude during a cross-country American road trip holiday, The Loneliest Road can be a great option. It starts on the East Coast in Maryland and ends on the West Coast in California. On your way, you get to unveil the secrets of multiple mountain ranges and traverse through the dusty highways of middle America. However, you must pay the utmost attention to Nevada Beach and Great Basin National Park’s views. We recommend you keep your camera handy and capture the bewildering scenic views on the way.

5.   Blue Ridge Parkway: Virginia & North Carolina

For nature lovers, one of the best American road trip holidays is the Blue Ridge Parkway. It starts from the Virginian roads and ends at the North Carolina beaches. Also, the parkway features some attractive national parks for sightseeing and related excursions. Once you explore the natural spots on the way, you can stop by the popular and stunning Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. We recommend you embark on the journey during the autumn month to experience versatile shades of the foliage. Along with this, spend some time in the Asheville area to explore the breath-taking peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

6.   Route 89: Arizona, Utah, Wyoming & Montana

Monument Valley along Route 89 - one of the best American road trips

Monument Valley along Route 89 – one of the best American road trips

Another path to explore during your vacation is the Route 89 road trip that crosses Arizona, Utah, and Wyoming. You are likely to travel through more than 150 towns and several natural spots during the journey. Along with this, visit bucket-list places like Monument Valley, The Grand Canyon, Glacier National Park, and Yellowstone to gratify the wanderlust within. In case you’re fond of the geographic spots, you must unveil the secrets of Great Basin National Park, the Colorado Plateau, and the Rockies.

7.   Hill Country Road Trip: Texas

American road trip enthusiasts must explore the hill country trails that gratify the travel cravings in no time. It begins with the trails of San Antonio and ends at the capital of cowboy culture, Bandera. While in San Antonio, visit some aesthetic spots with the Guadalupe River in the background. Once you reach the destination, you must try out the delicious onion rings at Silver Dollar Saloon. Along the way, make the most of the lakes and natural vibes at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.

Final Verdict

American road trip holidays can be quite rejuvenating due to the solitude and gorgeous never-ending landscapes. Whether you’re taking one of the historical American road trips like Route 89 and Route 66, or want to gratify your senses with natural spots and diverse flora, the USA is the perfect place to do a road trip.

The Best Way to Travel on American Road Trips

It’s becoming increasingly popular to hit the road in an RV for maximum flexibility and mobility. We always use RV Share because they offer a huge variety, often with cheaper options than renting directly from a large company. Or, you can even travel these road trips by bus or train. If you just want to sit back and gaze out the window, you can learn more about how to travel the USA by bus, or take one of the classic train adventures across the American countryside.

The USA covers a huge area that is often underestimated. Perhaps because of the vast distance, the country lacks the train and bus infrastructure that is found in many other parts of the world, so the intrepid traveller is usually left with the option of renting a car to get around. Why not go a step beyond and rent portable accommodation as well? By taking an RV across America, you have flexibility, everything you need in a self-contained vehicle, and you will have experiences that wouldn’t be possible by just renting a car. Imagine enjoying the national parks once the daytime tourists have gone home.

Travel the US by RV and enjoy the US National Parks after the crowds go home

Enjoy the US National Parks after the crowds go home

What’s more, the benefits of travelling with an RV across America are not only great for camping and visiting National Parks. Road tripping and city hopping with an RV in the USA is sometimes the most practical way of exploring certain regions.

This article walks you through everything you need to know about RV travel in the USA, as well as some of the greatest road trips in the country.

Driver’s License Requirements for Renting an RV

You do not need a special class of license to rent an RV to travel across America. However, you must be at least 25 years old and your license must be valid for 12 months beyond the date that your rental contract starts.

Renting a Camper for your RV Trip

To rent an RV in the USA, you have a few choices. Cruise America is the most well-known company– if you’ve travelled in the USA you’ve surely seen these vehicles on the road. You can’t miss their branding. There is also a site called RVshare which functions as a sort of Airbnb for RVs. RV owners list their own vehicles for rent, which means you’ll have a large variety, often with cheaper options than renting directly from a large company.

How to Make Reservations for Campsites in the USA

Especially during the summer high season, it’s best to plan your overnight stops as far ahead as possible. In popular national parks, campsites are sometimes reserved a year in advance. If you dream of sleeping overnight in Joshua Tree or Yosemite, plan as far ahead as possible. Nowadays, you can easily book campsites using booking.com. You can filter by amenities, check out reviews from other campers, and reserve most places with free-cancellation policies. Or, you can visit the homepage of the National Park where you’d like to stay.

In the off-season and in the lesser-known national parks you should generally be ok with just showing up.

For city trips, it’s not impossible with an RV but once you get closer to the compact downtown you may have problems finding parking. It’s best to park in the outskirts of the city and then rely on public transportation. You can usually find RV-friendly parking lots like shopping malls or a subway station.

How to Plan your Budget for an RV Across America

Costs during your RV road trip adventure will come down to the RV rental costs, campsite fees, fuel, National Park fees, and food/drink. However, there are some tricks of the trade to keep your expenses low.

  1. Use your RV kitchen! Even when on the road, try to limit your restaurant pit stops.
  2. If you plan to visit at least 3 national parks (entrance fees cost about $30 per car), it’s worth investing in a national park pass. With it, you get a year of access to national parks for $80.
  3. Learn to love ‘dry camping’ aka parking for free wherever it’s legal. You won’t have hookups for water or electricity, but your water tank and generator should be enough for a night. Park on a friend’s property, on National Forest land, or in any Walmart parking lot– they allow parking overnight for free, as long as you ask the store manager’s permission.

4 Itineraries for RVing Across America

USA RV Itinerary #1: California Highlights (plus Las Vegas)

With this RV itinerary, you’ll hit the best national parks and major cities in California, plus take a small detour to Las Vegas. The camping sites along this RV itinerary range from forest sites to beach-side camping. This is a circular route, so you could start from any point.

Highlights: San Francisco – Monterey – Santa Barbara – Los Angeles – San Diego – Joshua Tree – Las Vegas – Yosemite Valley – Lake Tahoe – Napa

USA RV Itinerary #2: Iconic American Southwest

The American Southwest is full of National Parks where red sandstone has been carved by wind, water, and tectonic activity. These are some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the entire world. Even with all the major highlights, this RV route is surprisingly compact — most people choose to combine it with RV Itinerary #1 so that they can do California plus these desert landscapes in one trip.

Highlights: Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, The Wave, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park

RV camping near Monument Valley, Arizona, USA

RV camping near Monument Valley, Arizona

USA RV Itinerary #3 New England (plus some Canada)

The states are smaller in the Northeast, which means you can visit some world-famous cities and National Parks all in one trip. Plus, it’s not too far to drive to the French-Canadian cities of Montreal and Quebec City.

During half of this itinerary, you’ll be surrounded by pristine nature, but you can also visit major metropolitan areas like Boston, Manhattan, and Washington D.C.

Rather than navigate the busy cities in your RV, it’s best to park at a Subway station in the outskirts, and take public transportation into the center.

Highlights: Manhattan, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. Niagara Falls, Finger Lakes, Montreal, Quebec, Acadia National Park, Boston

 

USA RV Itinerary #4: The South

Camping in the South is a different type of trip. The focus of this RV itinerary is not national parks, but we think this region is best seen with a road trip. This region of the USA has a uniqueness that some of the larger cities in the rest of the USA have lost long ago. It feels like a completely different country from what you would experience on the West Coast or in New England.

Highlights: New Orleans – Memphis – Nashville – Charlotte – Miami – Key West

So there you have it, the essential information you need to plan your RV across America camping experience, as well as some great itineraries to explore. Last but not least, here are some websites you can use to plan your trip and make reservations online as you go:

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How to travel USA in RV

Incredible RV USA roadtrips