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Solo RV Travel: Tips and Preparation for a Safe and Enjoyable Journey

This post was updated on May 28th, 2024

No partner? No problem! Solo RV travel is becoming increasingly popular among adventurers seeking freedom and flexibility on the open road. While traveling with a partner has its perks, the independence and self-discovery that come with solo RVing are unmatched. Imagine not having to coordinate schedules, having the freedom to decorate your RV exactly how you like, and being able to explore destinations on your own terms. The allure of solo RV travel lies in the ability to go wherever you want, whenever you want. Whether you’re an experienced RVer or new to the lifestyle, hitting the road solo offers a unique blend of adventure and tranquility that’s truly addictive.

Why Is Solo RV Travel Daunting?

Hitting the road alone can be daunting, especially for those embarking on their first solo RV trip. But why is this the case? To begin with, solo travel in an RV offers complete and unparalleled freedom. However, believe it or not, this unfettered freedom can be intimidating. We often find comfort in our routines and habits, even if they’re not always fulfilling. Suddenly being faced with the freedom to live out our dreams and do anything we want can feel overwhelming.

Additionally, there are practical concerns about traveling solo in an RV. Newbie solo RVers, particularly female solo RVers, have shared several common worries about hitting the road alone:

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  • Driving the RV
  • Backing the RV into a campsite
  • Wildlife encounters
  • Unfriendly human encounters
  • What if I get lonely on my own?
  • What if the RV breaks down?
  • What if I’m in an accident?

These concerns are valid and shared by many who have taken the leap into solo RV travel. But with the right preparation and mindset, these challenges can be managed, making solo RVing a rewarding and liberating experience.

Preparation Is Key To Solo RV Travel Success

When it comes to solo RV travel, there’s nothing to fear but fear itself. With a bit of planning and preparation, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. By planning for the best and preparing for the worst, you can avoid many potential problems or minimize their impact on your adventures. The key to a successful solo RV trip lies in being well-prepared and staying flexible. Remember, the more you plan ahead, the smoother your journey will be.

16 Tips To Help You Get The Most Out Of Solo Travel

1. Safety First

Your safety should always be your top priority. When choosing campsites or boondocking spots, trust your instincts. If a campground looks neglected or if there’s a lot of litter in the area, it might not be safe. Listen to your gut feelings and use common sense. If a place feels off, it’s okay to move on—there are always other campsites available. Additionally, consider these safety measures:

  • Secure Your RV: Always lock your doors and windows, even when you’re inside.
  • Stay Aware of Your Surroundings: Familiarize yourself with the area and be cautious of unfamiliar people or activities.
  • Have a Safety Plan: Know the nearest medical facilities, keep emergency contacts handy, and have a first aid kit accessible.

2. Carry a First Aid Kit and Know How To Use It

It’s always good to have a well-stocked first-aid kit handy in the RV and in your tow vehicle. Also, take a first aid course so you can confidently deal with any emergency that comes along. Taking a CPR course will be a well-spent few hours if someone nearby has heart failure. If you have a dog or cat traveling with you, be sure to carry a first aid kit that will meet their needs too. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the first aid steps to treating a snakebite for both pets and humans if you travel in areas that are home to venomous snakes.

3. Have Your RV and Tow Vehicle Inspected and Serviced

Preventative maintenance is key to avoiding problems on the road. Before embarking on a solo adventure, always have your RV and tow vehicle thoroughly inspected and serviced. Here are some key maintenance tasks to ensure your journey is smooth and trouble-free:

  • Tires: Check all tires for wear and tear. Ensure they have the correct air pressure and that your spare tire is also in good condition.
  • Fluids: Check and top off all fluids, including engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid.
  • Brakes: Inspect the brake pads and discs for wear and ensure the brake system is functioning properly.
  • Battery: Test the battery’s charge and inspect it for any corrosion or loose connections.
  • Lights: Verify that all exterior and interior lights are working, including headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and trailer lights.
  • Belts and Hoses: Check for any signs of wear or cracks in belts and hoses, and replace them if necessary.
  • Roof and Seals: Inspect the roof for any damage and ensure all seals around windows and doors are intact to prevent leaks.
  • Emergency Kit: Ensure you have an emergency kit with tools, jumper cables, a tire pressure gauge, and other essentials.
  • Professional Inspection: Consider having a professional mechanic or RV service technician perform a comprehensive inspection.

By addressing these points, you can significantly reduce the chances of being stuck on the side of the road due to preventable issues. Regular maintenance not only ensures your safety but also extends the life of your RV and tow vehicle.

4. Have a Contingency Plan for Everything

Having a “Plan B” for every aspect of your trip can prevent panic and ensure you’re prepared for any unexpected situations. Here are some essential tips for creating effective contingency plans:

  • Emergency Funds: Set aside an emergency fund specifically for unexpected expenses, such as vehicle repairs, medical emergencies, or last-minute accommodations. This will give you peace of mind knowing you have a financial cushion.
  • Accommodation Alternatives: Research alternative accommodation options along your route. Familiarize yourself with nearby hotels, motels, or campgrounds that you can turn to if your planned spot is unavailable or unsafe.
  • Vehicle Breakdown Plan: Know what to do if your RV or tow vehicle breaks down. Have the contact information for roadside assistance services, such as AAA or Coach-Net, and keep a list of reliable mechanics and service centers along your route.
  • Medical Emergencies: Be prepared for health issues by knowing the locations of nearby hospitals, urgent care centers, and pharmacies. Carry a basic medical kit and ensure you have any necessary medications with you.
  • Communication Plan: Ensure you have a reliable way to communicate in case of an emergency. Carry a charged cell phone and a backup battery, and consider a satellite phone if you’ll be traveling in remote areas with poor cell coverage.
  • Alternative Routes: Plan multiple routes to your destination in case of road closures, traffic jams, or adverse weather conditions. Use a trip-planning app to map out these alternatives.
  • Essential Supplies: Stock up on essential supplies like food, water, and clothing to last you a few days in case you need to stay put due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.
  • Documentation: Keep important documents such as your driver’s license, vehicle registration, insurance papers, and emergency contacts in a waterproof and easily accessible location.

By preparing these contingency plans, you’ll be ready to handle any challenges that come your way, ensuring a smoother and more enjoyable solo RV travel experience.

5. Make Sure Someone Knows Your Solo Travel Plans

Always let a trusted friend or family member know your travel route and your estimated arrival times. Sharing your itinerary ensures that if something unexpected happens, your loved ones will know where to start looking for you. Here are some tips to make this process more effective:

  • Share Detailed Itinerary: Provide details about your planned stops, destinations, and expected times of arrival and departure. This helps others track your progress and pinpoint your location more accurately.
  • Regular Check-Ins: Set up regular check-ins via phone or text to update your status and any changes in your plans. This keeps your loved ones reassured and informed about your whereabouts.
  • Emergency Contacts: Share the contact information of the campgrounds or locations where you will be staying. This can be helpful in case of an emergency when someone needs to reach you quickly.
  • Use Location Sharing Apps: Consider using location-sharing apps like Google Maps, Find My Friends, or Life360. These apps allow your trusted contacts to see your real-time location and can be a lifesaver in an emergency.
  • Leave a Paper Trail: If you’re not comfortable with digital tracking, leave a written copy of your itinerary and emergency contact numbers with someone you trust.

By keeping someone informed about your solo travel plans, you add an extra layer of safety and peace of mind for both yourself and your loved ones.

6. Bring Paper Maps and Use the RV LIFE App

While apps like Google Maps are convenient, they can sometimes choose questionable routes, especially for RVs or those towing trailers. Additionally, these apps may become useless without cellular service. That’s why it’s a good idea to carry old-fashioned (but current) paper maps for backup. However, to make your solo RV travel even more reliable and stress-free, consider using the RV LIFE app.

Benefits of the RV LIFE App:
  • RV-Specific Routes: The RV LIFE app provides routes tailored to the specific dimensions and weight of your RV, helping you avoid low clearances, weight limits, and propane-restricted tunnels.
  • Offline Navigation: One of the biggest advantages is the app’s offline navigation capability. You can download maps and routes in advance, ensuring you have accurate, turn-by-turn navigation even when you’re far from cellular service or Wi-Fi.
  • Integrated Trip Planning: The app works seamlessly with RV Trip Wizard, allowing you to plan your trip in detail and then navigate those plans without the need for an internet connection.

7. Plan Your Route with RV LIFE Trip Wizard

Planning your route is crucial for a smooth solo RV adventure, and the RV LIFE Trip Wizard makes this process simple and effective. Here’s how it can help:

  • Visual Trip Planner: RV LIFE Trip Wizard provides a visual interface where you can see your entire route, including campgrounds, gas stops, and points of interest. This helps you plan your trip more efficiently and ensures you don’t miss any important stops.
  • Customized to Your RV: The Trip Wizard customizes routes based on the height, weight, and length of your RV. This helps you avoid low clearances, steep grades, and propane restrictions, making your journey safer and less stressful.
  • Unbiased Information: With over 20,000 campgrounds reviewed by real RVers and more than 10 million data points related to parks and hookups, you can make informed decisions about where to stay.
  • Integration with the RV LIFE App: Trips planned with RV LIFE Trip Wizard can be seamlessly integrated into the RV LIFE app. This allows you to access your planned routes and navigation on the go, even without an internet connection.
  • Points of Interest: Discover unique places along your route with over 57,000 points of interest included in the Trip Wizard. This adds an element of adventure and discovery to your travels.
  • Cost Estimation: The Trip Wizard helps estimate the cost of your trip, including gas and campground fees, so you can budget effectively and avoid surprises.
  • Driving Times and Distances: Set your preferred driving times and distances to ensure you don’t overextend yourself on any leg of your journey.

By using both the RV LIFE app and RV LIFE Trip Wizard, you can plan and navigate your solo RV trips with confidence, knowing you have reliable tools to guide you.

8. Use Towing Mirrors on Your Tow Vehicle

Using towing mirrors is crucial for improving your visibility and overall safety while towing your RV. Here’s why they’re essential and how to make the most of them:

  • Enhanced Visibility: Towing mirrors extend your field of view, allowing you to see further behind your RV. This is particularly important for safe lane changes, merging onto highways, and monitoring traffic around you.
  • Easier Maneuvering: Backing your RV into a campsite can be challenging, especially when you’re alone. Towing mirrors give you a better perspective on your surroundings, making it easier to maneuver your rig into tight spots.
  • Reduce Blind Spots: Standard mirrors may not cover all the blind spots when towing a large RV. Towing mirrors help eliminate these blind spots, ensuring you have a clearer view of other vehicles and obstacles.
  • Increased Confidence: Knowing that you have a better view of the road and your surroundings can significantly reduce stress and increase your confidence while driving and towing.

9. Practice Driving or Towing Your RV

Practicing driving or towing your RV before embarking on a long journey is essential for building confidence and ensuring safety. Here’s how you can effectively practice and what to focus on:

  • Find a Safe Practice Area: Choose an empty parking lot or a wide-open space where you can practice without any obstacles. This provides a safe environment to get comfortable with your RV.
  • Backing Up and Parking: One of the most challenging aspects of driving an RV is backing up and parking. Practice backing into simulated campsites, using cones or markers to represent the boundaries. This helps you get a feel for the size and maneuverability of your RV.
  • Turning and Cornering: RVs require more space to turn compared to regular vehicles. Practice making wide turns and navigating corners to understand how your RV handles.
  • Lane Changes and Merging: Practice changing lanes and merging onto highways. Use your towing mirrors to ensure you have a clear view of the traffic behind and beside you. This helps you become more comfortable with the increased length and blind spots of your RV.
  • Braking and Accelerating: Get a feel for how your RV accelerates and brakes. Practice gradual braking to avoid sudden stops, which can be more challenging in a larger vehicle.
  • Simulate Real-World Conditions: If possible, practice in different weather conditions and times of day. This helps you prepare for various scenarios you might encounter on the road.
Tips for Effective Practice:
  • Take It Slow: Start with simple maneuvers and gradually increase the difficulty as you become more comfortable.
  • Use a Spotter: If possible, have someone assist you as a spotter. They can provide guidance and feedback, especially when practicing backing up and parking.
  • Record Your Sessions: Consider recording your practice sessions using a dashcam or a smartphone. Reviewing the footage can help you identify areas for improvement.
  • Learn from Others: Join RV forums or groups where experienced RVers share their tips and tricks. The iRV2 forums are a great place to gain valuable insights and advice from those who have been on the road for a while.

By taking the time to practice driving or towing your RV, you’ll be better prepared for your solo travels. This preparation will not only make your trips safer but also more enjoyable and stress-free.

10. Bring a Dog (or Two) on Your Solo Travel Adventures

Bringing your dog along on your solo RV travels can be a delightful and reassuring experience. Dogs make excellent traveling companions and provide an added layer of security. They are always eager to explore new places and can alert you to unusual activity at your campsite. Here’s how to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey with your furry friends:

Benefits of Traveling with Dogs:
  • Companionship: Dogs offer constant companionship, which can alleviate feelings of loneliness during solo travels.
  • Security: They act as an early warning system, alerting you to any unusual activity around your campsite.
  • Routine: Traveling with a dog helps maintain a routine, as you’ll need to walk and feed them regularly.
Tips for Safe and Happy Travels with Your Dog:
  • Proper Identification: Ensure your dog wears a collar or harness with an ID tag that includes your current phone number and a tag with your campsite number. This helps in quickly locating them if they wander off.
  • Carry Veterinary Records: Always have up-to-date veterinary information, including vaccine records, with you. This is crucial in case of a medical emergency.
  • Locate Nearest Veterinarian: Before you settle at a campground, find out where the nearest veterinarian is located. Having this information readily available can save precious time in an emergency.
  • Leash and Containment: Keep your dog on a leash or in a fenced area when they are not inside the RV. This ensures their safety and prevents them from wandering into dangerous areas or disturbing other campers.
  • Comfort and Safety in the RV: Make sure your RV is comfortable for your dog. Bring their favorite bed, toys, and enough food and water. Ensure good ventilation and temperature control inside the RV.
Additional Tips:
  • Pet-Friendly Campgrounds: Research and choose campgrounds that are pet-friendly and have amenities like dog parks or walking trails.
  • Health Check: Before setting off on your trip, take your dog for a health check-up to ensure they are fit for travel.
  • Pet First Aid Kit: Pack a pet-specific first aid kit that includes items like bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, and any medications your dog might need.

Traveling with a dog can make your solo RV adventures more enjoyable and secure. By following these tips, you can ensure that both you and your furry friend have a safe and memorable journey.

11. Take Frequent Breaks and Limit Driving Time

Driving an RV can be deceptively tiring, especially when traveling solo. To ensure safety and maintain your well-being, it’s essential to take regular breaks and limit your driving time each day. Here’s how you can manage your driving time effectively:

Benefits of Taking Breaks and Limiting Driving Time:
  • Prevent Fatigue: Long hours behind the wheel can lead to fatigue, which impairs your reaction time and decision-making abilities. Taking breaks helps you stay alert and focused.
  • Physical Health: Stretching and walking around during breaks can prevent stiffness and improve circulation, reducing the risk of health issues associated with prolonged sitting.
  • Mental Well-being: Breaks give you a chance to relax and take in the local sights, making your journey more enjoyable and less stressful.
Tips for Effective Breaks and Driving Limits:
  • Frequent Rest Breaks: Take a rest break at least every two hours. Use this time to stretch, walk around, and refresh yourself. This helps prevent fatigue and keeps you energized.
  • Limit Driving Time: Aim to drive no more than 5 hours a day. This translates to about a 7-8 hour day when you factor in rest breaks and a longer lunch break. Limiting your driving time reduces the risk of accidents and ensures you arrive at your destination safely.
  • Plan Your Stops: Before setting out, plan your stops for rest breaks, meals, and overnight stays. Knowing when and where you’ll take breaks can help you manage your time more effectively.
  • Stay Flexible: Be prepared to adjust your plans if you start feeling tired sooner than expected. It’s better to stop early and rest than to push yourself and risk an accident.

By incorporating regular breaks and limiting your daily driving time, you can ensure a safer and more enjoyable solo RV travel experience. This approach not only keeps you safe on the road but also allows you to make the most of your journey by exploring new places along the way.

12. Get to the Campsite Early

Arriving at your campsite early, ideally before 3 pm, can significantly enhance your camping experience. Here’s why it’s beneficial and how you can make the most of early arrivals:

Benefits of Getting to the Campsite Early:
  • Daylight Setup: Setting up camp in daylight is much easier and safer than trying to do it in the dark. You’ll be able to see your surroundings clearly and ensure everything is properly arranged.
  • Reduced Stress: Arriving early gives you plenty of time to settle in without feeling rushed. This reduces stress and allows you to start your evening in a relaxed state.
  • Avoiding Hunger: By arriving early, you have time to prepare and enjoy your dinner without feeling hurried. This ensures you’re well-fed and ready to enjoy your evening.
  • Better Campsite Selection: If your campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis, arriving early increases your chances of securing a prime campsite.

13. Avoid Solo Travel Before or After Long Weekends

Traveling around long weekends can be particularly stressful due to increased traffic and crowded campsites. To ensure a smoother and more enjoyable journey, it’s best to plan your travel dates carefully. Here’s how you can avoid the pitfalls of traveling before or after long weekends:

Reasons to Avoid Traveling Before or After Long Weekends:
  • Heavy Traffic: Roads are typically busier during these times, leading to longer travel times, traffic jams, and higher stress levels.
  • Crowded Campsites: Campgrounds often fill up quickly, making it difficult to find a good spot, especially if you haven’t made a reservation in advance.
  • Higher Stress: The combination of heavy traffic and crowded campsites can significantly increase the stress of your trip, detracting from the enjoyment of your solo RV adventure.

14. Don’t Attract Wildlife

It’s easy to avoid attracting bears, raccoons, or other wildlife to your campsite. Wild animals come to campsites looking for free and easy food. You can avoid attracting bears by not cooking strong-smelling food like bacon or fish in a heavily populated bear country. Keep your campsite clean and tidy, and don’t leave food wrappers, pet food, or trash outside the RV. It’s a good idea to put the trash into trash bins provided by the RV park at the end of each day.

15. Relax and Enjoy the Journey

Slow down and see the sights. Embrace every moment as it arrives.

Tell Us Your Solo Travel Tips

Do you have a Solo RVing tip or travel experience you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments below or join the RVing community online. One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and much more.

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8 thoughts on “Solo RV Travel: Tips and Preparation for a Safe and Enjoyable Journey”

  1. Love solo traveling. I have a partner right now and regret it. We travel too long, go the way he wants to go, do what he wants to do. When I soloed it was what I wanted to do and go. I wasn’t lonesome at all. I gave my Dog.

  2. For “newbies”; if you THINK you can be a Solo (or regular) RVer, you’re right!
    If you think you can’t be a Solo (or regular) RVer, you’re right.
    The good news is that YOU get to decide if you want to think positively or negatively.
    I recommend that a newbie start small. I started with a 17′ fiberglass “egg” travel trailer that I could SAFELY pull with the minivan I then owned. It was a Casita but, there are several “egg” trailer builders (Scamp, Oliver, Escape, Bigfoot and others). MOST fiberglass “eggs” are build better than “standard” RVs and are easy to maintain. Probably the BEST first step a newbie can take would be to attend an RV Boot Camp. Escapees, FMCA, RVSEF and other groups offer this important educational product that usually runs over a weekend. In that time, your questions will be answered and the “nuts & bolts” of RVing are explained & demystified (weight ratings, systems found on an RV and much, much more. LOTS of instructional videos can be found on YouTube and specialty websites. “RVTravel.com” is a free resource e-newsletter that provides a WEALTH of good information. Class C RVs can be rented in many places so that newbies can “test the waters” BEFORE they spend BIG bucks only to find RVing is not their “cup of tea”. If you decide that you like the RV lifestyle after you’ve tried it via a rental, you’ll be in a MUCH better position to start shopping for an RV that would suit YOUR needs. I hope this helps!

  3. I have been traveling solo since 2013 and all of your tips are all very good and I agree with all of them. However #8 Traveling with a dog needs some
    additional information for folks to consider. Traveling with a dog has drawbacks I traveled with one 2013 to 2017 or 5 years but have not had a dog since 2017 which has now been 5 years. I do a lot of photography and I am often out for the whole day and more often than not you can not take your dog on hikes so you either have to get dogwalker or break the day in two parts so you can take care of the dogs needs give the dog bathroom, which can mean driving several miles to do this.
    T

  4. The seven daunting things Solo Woman Travelers fear…

    I have been a solo female wanderer for over 16 years in my RV with a small dog. I must have over 150,000 miles behind me. We have extensively traveled throughout the US, all provinces of Canada and Alaska.

    I have encountered all of these things at one time or another.

    I have learned to stay calm, take a deep breath, step up to the challenge. Stressed and angry (don’t yell) it’s not going to solve your problem), learn something about your challenge. From this experience you could help yourself again or someone else in the future.

    Always follow your gut feeling, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t stay in the situation. Turn the key on and go somewhere else.
    I’ve done that a couple times, found a better spot because of it. I primarily boondock.

  5. Excellent advice- I find I follow pretty much all of them! One thing I am going to change however is that I often make my reservation for one instead of two people and there’s never an additional cost for two people so I think I’m going to stick to making it for two- not one for additional safety/security.

    I started with an 18 foot Class C. Now have a 24’ B+/C

    When I first got my old one, I went onto rv.net onto “rallies and gatherings” and signed up for an RV rally about four hours from my house – I ended up attending probably six of those rallies and made very very good friends that I still connect with and camp with. I also joined another RV travel club that has a rally every month and I have met some really nice people at those rallies as well.

    I really like RV trip Wizard and have used it for two long trips- I have been through Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands, Dead Horse State Park, Moab and Arches , Valley of fire, Kolob Canyon, Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming. South Dakota, Custer, Crazy Horse. Badlands, Colorado, RMNP, Crater Lake, Arizona and California., to name a few places. . Heading to Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas later this year. I think I’ve put about 15,000 miles on this motorhome since I bought it in August 2020. I actually prefer traveling by myself rather than having somebody with me as well.

    One addition to my motorhome that I think also adds to security is having a tire pressure monitoring system – I bought a TPMS system which was not that expensive and works really well – and make sure you have the tire pressure valve adjustment tool so you can tighten the valves if you’re losing air and it’s not because of a problem with the tire -it might be the valve.

    As much as I make it a habit to look in my hand at least twice when I get out of my motorhome before I hit “lock all doors” – I did manage to lock my keys in the motorhome in Wyoming – fortunately I was at a large service station with a subway and grocery store so I was in a safe place to call for help but it took almost 2 hours for someone to come and unlock the door – which can be very very easily done so that is something to consider.

    And for safety sake I almost always refill my tank when I’m at half a tank unless I know I will be close to my destination within 100 miles then I may wait until I get to the destination and I generally try to fill up before getting to the RV park so I’m good to go in the am.

    Keep the good tips coming!!

    I also used to only carry the door, not cab key with me around the campsites and I had a lock malfunction where the piece breaks off inside the lock and you are locked in or locked out. If I had been outside and it broke I would not have been able to get into my RV so I always carry the cab key and the door key and I plan to put a hide a key somewhere in the event I locked myself out again!!

  6. In summary always have backup plans for everything you can think of. And this includes membership of AAA and/or Good Sam Club, just in case.
    And also, just in case you find yourself in an area with no cellphone service, buy a satellite SOS device and basic subscription so you can call for help from anywhere. I would recommend the Garmin inReach Mini 2 along with Garmin’s subscription plan.

  7. Instead of a One-Pot, I make use of a Hot Logic, an insulated plug-in food heater the size of a lunch box, to heat food while I am driving to a destination. It plugs into my 12-V cigarette lighter port and will heat fresh or frozen dinners (homemade or store-bought) to the proper temperature. When I arrive at camp, dinner is ready to eat. It’s the perfect size for soloing and doesn’t take up much room to store nor does it weigh much.

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