A Guide to RV America: Where to Stay With Your Big Family

    With an RV, finding a place to stay is part of the adventure. But if you’re new to road-tripping in a motorhome or travel trailer, planning your first journey can be a little overwhelming. The beauty of an RV, however, is that you don’t need to pre-book every motel and plan every stop. Instead, when you’re cruising down the highway, consider these budget-friendly tips for overnight stays.

    1. RV Stay at RV parks

    RV parks provide a cost-effective stay that allows you to get the most out of your rig. Designated spots are typically gravel pull-throughs that come with full hookups for water, electrical and sewage. A water hookup allows you to tap into the city water supply, so you won’t have to use your freshwater tank. Electrical hookups allow you to power your components and appliances without using a generator. Finally, a sewage hookup means any waste will go out of your RV through a sewer hose.

    Not all RV parks are created equal. While most are well-kept, with observed quiet time so as to not disturb your slumber, others can be a little rougher around the edges (with late-night partying included). The best trick is to do a quick search online. Find the RV park’s details and any reviews from past patrons to get the lay of the land.  

    In any case, expect to have neighbors and limited privacy at RV parks. If you’re interested in starry nights and nature, you’re better suited to find that elsewhere. But overall, RV parks are great for affordable overnight or short-term stays with convenience.

    2. RV Stay at private campgrounds

    Campgrounds are everywhere and always have designated sections for RVs. Usually, these places can accommodate the size of any rig and offer both pull-through and back-in spaces. Many campgrounds offer “partial hookups.” This means water and electricity will be available, but your waste will have to go to your black and grey tanks to be dumped later.

    Campgrounds are affordable and offer more natural scenery than your average RV park. You can also expect a clean area with campsites, along with amenities like a fire pit and picnic table. Finally, staying at a campground also gives you a little more privacy. You’ll probably have neighbors, but trees and foliage provide cover.

    3. RV Stay at state or national parks

    State and national parks can offer a remarkable experience, with nature and wildlife all around you. Access to trails and other activities are plentiful, and these areas are always well-kept by park authorities. Whether certain state and national park campgrounds can accommodate the size and clearance of your rig is sometimes dubious, but most people find an option for them.

    State and national parks sometimes offer partial hookups (water and electric), but you should also expect “dry sites.” That means no hookups, and you’ll need to rely on your freshwater tanks, generators, batteries, and more. Often, there is nothing more than vault toilets available at state and national parks, but they may also maintain bathrooms, coin-up showers and dishwashing stations, depending on the park. When in doubt, expect amenities to be limited.

    Despite the lack of comforts, state and national parks offer perhaps the most serenity and solitude. Sites are limited, and you won’t be surrounded by the droves of RVers common at RV parks. But that also means availability can be tight. Often state and national parks have reservation systems online, and it’s always best to plan ahead to save your spot. Many also offer first-come-first-serve sections, but plan on arriving no later than 7am depending on the popularity of the park.  

    4. RV Stay at RV luxury resorts

    As RVs are growing more popular by the day, many businesses are catering to wealthier travelers, and as you might imagine, many of these places are not cheap. But if you’re on a long trip, there’s nothing wrong with splurging once in a while for a little luxury.

    Not only do resorts offer full hookups, but they also often have spas, swimming pools, and restaurants. Activities like water sports, snorkeling, jeep rentals, day trips and more mean these are usually great places for family fun.

    Lots in RV luxury resorts are spacious and offer plenty of privacy, and you can expect grounds to be well-kept and safe. 

    Putting it all together. 

    The moral of the story is that no matter where you are in an RV, there’s always a place to park your rig for a short or long stay (and on any budget). Getting to your destination is part of the fun, so enjoy the road with all its spontaneity.

    Ready to go RVing with your big family? Check out more RVing articles.

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    Theresa Jorgensen

    Theresa is the mother of four including twins. She is the owner of SixSuitcaseTravel, a travel site for big families of 5, 6, 7, 8. She enjoys helping other big families build life-long travel memories. Her family's travel bucket list includes Yellowstone, London, and anywhere in the Caribbean.