Whether it’s your first time this year, or your first camping trip ever, it’s exciting to get revved up to RV and your chance to get away, recharge and enjoy the open road!
Before you begin your adventure, check out this helpful RV checklist that includes everything from a detailed list of often forgotten essentials, to family-friendly activities that won’t leave you saying “RV having fun yet?!”
In this article, we’ll help you select the right RV for your trip, guide you in all your planning needs and provide some very useful tips for a smooth trip.
Choosing the right RV for your trip
If you've done your research into recreational vehicles, you've probably found there are a wide variety of options to choose from. From massive Class A motorhomes to petite camper vans, some vehicles are great for families and large groups looking to set up camp in the great outdoors, while others are best for couples and solo travellers who are constantly on the go.
Before you rent or buy, consider the following:
- If you're camping off the grid, you'll want to make sure your RV has a solar panel or standalone generator.
- How many people are you traveling with? Families and larger groups will likely want to opt for vehicles with more space and amenities, like Class A and C motorhomes.
- If you're traveling alone or as a couple, you'll find that camper vans and small towable trailers (like Airstream) offer just enough space.
Here are the types of RVs to consider:
- Class A motorhome (largest type of motorhome)
- Class B motorhome (camper van)
- Class C motorhome (medium sized motorhome)
- Travel trailer
- Fifth wheel camper
- Pop-up/folding camper
- Truck camper
Planning your RV road trip
Whether this is your first experience RVing or your hundredth, planning is always a crucial element. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind while planning your adventure:
Pick the destination
This is the ultimate question: Where will you go for your first RV trip?
Do you want to drive to the beach, the woods or the mountains? Alberta has some pretty spectacular summits! But, you need to see the Maritimes at least once in your life, too. Regardless of the destination, you’ll want to find a campsite the whole family loves – like those with pools and playgrounds – maybe even indoor plumbing if your RV doesn’t have this!
Whether you choose a destination in Ontario, Alberta or Atlantic Canada, the options for a memorable adventure are endless and rewarding! Don’t be afraid to travel a bit off the beaten path.
Book your campground(s) in advance
Although it’s adventurous to drive where the wind takes you, it’s a good idea, especially when traveling with kids, to have a campground booked. Make sure you pick a campground or trailer park that supports RV hook ups and with the resort facilities you require. There are many to choose from across Canada and they get booked quickly during summer months, so make your reservations before you set out.
What do you bring on your first RV trip? Besides ensuring you have the basics, try packing light the first time and reassess what you need to bring next time.
There are a few essentials you just can’t forget – like extra clothes for weather changes and food that’s easy to prep on the road. From there, plan to pick up any forgotten items you need along the way.
Plan your meals
Cooking on the road can be tricky if you haven’t quite mastered the craft of meal planning. If you’re new to RVing, do some meal prep, such as cleaning fruit and vegetables, chopping them up for meals, portioning meals, etc., before you head out.
Freezer meals can be a lifesaver and can serve as ice packs for your cooler if you’re travelling by camper. It’s also helpful to plan simple picnic recipes if you know you’re going to spend a lot of time on the road.
Consider your pets when planning
How many pets are you bringing? RV'ing with just one pet is easy, but multiple pets can be a little trickier.
Consider your destination when travelling with your pets and plan their food, places to sleep, exercise breaks and first aid. There’s even more to consider if you’re crossing the border with your pets.
Get used to a small living space
Maybe the biggest adjustment to the RV lifestyle is the transition to small-space living. Check YouTube for great organization and storage hacks to make the most of your indoor space with extra cozy design choices so your home-sweet-home on wheels feels more spacious.
Campsites or wild camping
There are a wide variety of RV parks and campgrounds across Canada. From first class resorts, to rustic and retro sites, with many more in between. In addition, each province has its own spectacular parks and campgrounds that offer beautiful views and outstanding recreational opportunities. A large number of privately owned campgrounds can be found through local tourism offices.
Campsite and parks: Advantages and disadvantages
Traditional camping first comes to mind when you think of camping. You pick your campsite, set up your RV or tent and get ready to roast marshmallows over the fire. This is probably the most common form of camping in Canada and there are a few things to consider before you start planning.
- Easy to do: drive in and set up.
- There are often many amenities included, such as: on-site water, electricity, washrooms, showers, wifi, laundry, playground and pools.
- Neighbours nearby: if there is an emergency or you need help, there are other campers around to lend a helping hand.
- Can be more kid friendly and a great way to introduce children to the world of camping.
- More planning is required: you must book in advance to secure your campsite.
- Campsites may also be expensive.
- Not all campsites are created equal – some amenities offered may not be well-maintained or they may be crowded.
- A campsite can be crowded and noisy.
- You might not get the peace and quiet or the connection with nature that you seek.
- If the campsite isn’t well-maintained or you feel unsafe due to other campers, this could be a negative experience for the kids.
Camping rough: Advantages and disadvantages
Camping rough or wild camping means you’re out in the wilderness without any amenities or facilities. Most people who opt for wild camping use a tent. However, it’s also an option for folks with RVs – you’ll definitely be more comfortable! Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages.
- Peace and quiet. You can find a secluded spot and fully switch off from the busy and technical world of everyday life so you can enjoy the simple things nature offers.
- It’s either free or much cheaper to wild camp.
- You can develop and expand your skills at roughing it – cooking, sleeping, hiking and exploring.
- Fresh and drinkable water isn't readily available so you must you’re your tank in advance or bring a filter or bottled water, whichcan be heavy and cumbersome.
- If you’re in an RV, there’s no hook-up so you have to make the proper preparations for your vehicle.
- It can be hard to find a good, safe spot to camp if you’re not an expert.
- You have to consider wild animals, weather, and make sure you’re allowed to camp in the area you’ve chosen.
- An accident or emergency can be harrowing if you’re far from civilization. Make sure someone knows where you are in case there is no cell service, so that people search for you if you don’t return on time.
Going the distance: RV road trip checklist for crossing the border
While we’re partial to the beautiful Canadian landscape, you may find yourself wanting to cross the border. To help make sure you stay as safe as possible, here are some factors to consider:
- Every passenger in the RV will need proof of citizenship which may mean more than a passport. Acceptable documents include: a passport, birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship or naturalization, a Permanent Resident Card, or a Certificate of Residence along with photo identification.
- Proof of insurance and registration. You may be asked for these documents for all vehicles you are bringing into the country. You may also want to memorize or write down your license plate numbers.
- Think about your pets! You may be asked to present a current rabies certificate for all pets in the RV. All pet food and treats should be in their original, commercially packaged, unopened container and cannot weigh more than 44 pounds.
- Are you transporting alcohol or tobacco? Consider how much you are bringing over the border. Check with the border you’re crossing ahead of time to see how much you’re allowed to bring.
- Money: if you have $10,000 or more in your possession when arriving in or departing from Canada, you must report to the CBSA.
- Prescription drugs: All medications need to be in their original, labelled packaging.
Before going on an RV road trip, make sure you have the insurance coverage you need in the event of an unforeseen incident! You can get customized insurance coverage from your local BrokerLink insurance expert – contact us today!
FAQs Things you should know before going on an RV road trip
Are solar panels required when going on an RV trip?
Although not required, solar panels can come in handy if you pull into a camping spot without electricity. You can be your own source of energy, which you’ll appreciate when your phone battery starts to run low!
What does self-contained RV mean?
A self-contained RV means is a home away from home that has the essentials you require without the need for exterior resources. In other words, a self-contained RV has running water, electricity and a washroom, so you don’t need to rely on the campground to supply these facilities.
What is dry RV camping?
Generally when you pull your RV up to the campsite, you can plug in to an electrical outlet and hook up to the resources they provide. When you camp dry, you avoid using any of the campsite provided hook-ups. Why would people do this when the resources are right outside their door you may ask? Not using the provided resources can save money and government fees and you can get to more remote places by not relying on campsite hook-ups!