10 Important Lessons Learned from Our RV Road Trip Across America

RV Camping Tips

Our first RV road trip across America was a round trip journey from Massachusetts to the Grand Canyon National Park. During this amazing journey, we saw things we would not ordinarily see. In addition, we had stopped in towns we had never heard of before. We also got to meet some good people from different parts of America.

This was a 21 day RV road trip across America. We traveled over 5,000 miles and visited four National Parks. However, most importantly we made some amazing memories.

You can learn more about this trip, and our itinerary, on our Grand Canyon trip page. 

Here we have put together the 10 important lessons we learned on this trip.

Bighorn National Forest | Buffalo, WY
Bighorn National Forest | Buffalo, WY

1. The United States is Big, Diverse, and Majestic

We had never driven outside of the East Coast prior to this trip. Of course, we had an idea of what the rest of the country looked like. However, we had were surprised at the diverse landscape we drove across.

We have seen pictures of cornfields but were unprepared for the miles, and miles, and miles of cornfields and farmland. The open landscape of the midwest desert was extremely humbling. The rocky mountains in Colorado? Of course, we heard of them, but could never imagine how large, and majestic, they truly are before driving through them.

There were days that we had the odd experience of seeing no trees. In addition, there were days we went hours without any signs of human activity or development.no buildings, and no signs of life for quite some time.

We saw cattle in fields, mountains, deserts, and miles and miles of corn for the first time. Driving cross country on an RV road trip will certainly give you a new appreciation for America’s size, diversity, and vastness. 

2. The Backroads of America Offer A Lot

While interstate travel is much faster, you’ll experience some great adventures if you get on the backroads of America. Of course, It may take a bit longer, but it will be worth it. In our journeys, we quickly learned all the Interstates look the same essentially.

We travel in the RV to see America. Getting off the Interstates offers this. We have seen wildlife we would have never seen on the Interstate, and have gassed up at some unique small towns. Traveling the roads of America gives you a true appreciation of what is out there.

Of course, there are time limits and days the Interstates are a must. However, be sure to slow down occasionally, get off the Interstate, and experience America. 

3. Look For Fun and Unusual Roadside Attractions

Grafton Ghost Town, Utah
Grafton Ghost Town, Utah

One of the best lessons we learned while driving across America is that there are tons of unique and fun attractions.  Again, this is why it is important to not spend all your time on the interstates. On our first trip cross country, we stopped at the Four Corners Monument, visited a ghost town in Grafton, Utah, and even stopped to dig for diamonds. 

There are a number of websites, and apps, you can use to find unusual roadside attractions while traveling. Our favorite site to find unusual roadside attractions is Roadside America

Visiting fun and unique roadside attractions will help make the trip more memorable.

4. Talk to The Locals Everywhere You Go

Our Tour Guide Michael | New Orleans French Quarter
Our Tour Guide Michael | New Orleans French Quarter

Without question, the greatest way to learn about the uniqueness of America is from its people. We have driven through towns that are so small they could easily be missed. In addition, we have been to some of the countries biggest cities. The local people from both of these areas have something to offer. We have met amazing people, from different backgrounds, and different cultures all over the country.

5. You Will Find Good People Everywhere 

You will also quickly find out that people who travel enjoy helping other people that travel. We certainly had some minor issues with the Rv during our travels and there was always another RV’er willing to help us. RV parks are full of great people willing to help and share their stories. 

6. Take Time to Eat Locally

Pappy's Smokehouse | St. Louis
Pappy's Smokehouse | St. Louis

While traveling the interstates chain restaurants are everywhere. Rest stops and highway exits are littered with familiar logos that promise cheap food for the RVer on the go. While these spots might be convenient, and cheap, you don’t want to miss the different cuisines that make our country so unique.

Food remains one of the defining aspects of regional identity, and locals will work hard to convince you their dishes are better than anyone else. Take them up on the challenge. 

Traveling in an RV across America is costly. Part of the purpose of an RV is to save on eating our three meals a day, every day while traveling. Therefore, when we hit the road for a long period we will pick one or two cities we want to try the local food. This has been a great way to break up the trip, meet amazing people, and have some outstanding food! 

7. You Can Survive Without Technology or Television

The purpose of RV travel is to get away and enjoy new things. Having the distraction of Television, and technology, in general, takes away from this. When you are in the less populated areas of the country the night sky is awe-inspiring. However, you are unable to see it while in the RV watching television, or looking at a screen. There is also something special about sitting around a campfire with your family, and the new friends you have made and enjoying human interaction. 

We learned this lesson while camping at Yellowstone National Park. We went for four days without television, no Wifi, and no cell service. Our kids spent four days exploring the outdoors with no distraction. It was truly awesome to see them interacting with the world around them knowing there was no technology to distract them. It may be difficult to believe but you will in fact survive, and possibly create better memories, without the television. 

8. RV Parks and Campgrounds Vary Greatly 

This is an important lesson to learn. During our first RV road trip across America, we stayed at 12 different campgrounds. In addition, to date, we have started at 61 different campgrounds across the country. In our travels, we have stayed at some amazing RV parks. We have also stayed at RV parks that were frightening. The main lesson here is to review the RV parks before making reservations. 

There is a lot of differing opinions about KOA campgrounds amongst the RV world. We have found that these are typically clean, safe, and well maintained. However,  there have been a few KOAs that were less than desirable. Of course, the same can be said about private campgrounds. 

The lesson here is to research where your plan on staying to ensure the RV park or campground is what you expect.  

9. Things Don’t Always Go As Planned…..and That Is Ok

Lost Power 712 Miles From Home | Roanoke, Virginia
Lost Power 712 Miles From Home | Roanoke, Virginia

We meticulously plan our trips. Of course, we are open to changing the plan if we see something interesting, or learn something new while on the road. We have learned more than once regardless of how well you plan your cross-country road trips, they do not always go as planned. 

We have experienced mechanical problems many miles from, forgot to bring the awning in once and riped it off, and have had campground mishaps. However, the most important lesson is that thighs always work out, and being on vacation brings positivity. 

10. You Will Make Unforgettable Lifelong Memories

Top of the World | Badlands N.P.
Top of the World | Badlands N.P.

This is the most important lesson we learned and is now the motivation behind our travels. You can learn more about why we RV travel and the memories made, on our RV Benefits page. 

You will plan things to ensure memories are made. However, it is the spontaneous laughs and spontaneous adventures that truly make this RV adventure worth the investment. These lifelong memories will make the long tedious drive days worth it, and the shady campgrounds worth it. When you look back on your travels it is these memories that will always come back.

These are the 10 most important lessons we learned on our first RV road trip across America. Since then we have completed three more cross-country trips, and therefore we continue to learn new things.

The great thing about the RV world is that it is filled with good people, and offers an opportunity to meet people from all parts of America.

We love to hear from our followers. Please leave a comment below. 

Have you ever traveled cross country? Are there any tips you learned that you would like to share? Or, any great memories or stories to share about cross country RV travel? 

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About Us

We are a  family of four who travels all around the country in a small RV.

So far we have RV camped in 33 different States, visited 14 National Parks, and 17 National Park Sites. 

Being self-proclaimed National Park Geeks we are on a mission to see as many as possible!  

We hope our blog will inspire other families to spend time together, and create lifelong memories. 

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