One of the most asked questions amongst RVers is how long should your RV travel day be? This doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on many factors in determining what is a safe calculation for getting to your destination. All RVs are different as are the expectations of the RV driver and travel companions.
Let’s see what defines a reasonable distance and time to travel in your RV each day and how long you should drive your RV in a single travel day.
How Long Should Your RV Travel Day Be?
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Type and Size of RV
The type and size of your RV plays a huge part in determining how far you should drive your RV in a day. Each type of RV handles differently. You’ll have to figure in if you’re towing; whether a truck towing a camper or a motorhome towing a toad vehicle.
Many big rig motorhome drivers say they could easily drive upwards to 700-800 miles a day. However, when sitting in a truck pulling a big fifth wheel, you’ll more than likely cut that figure in half to even a third. And those in smaller RVs like our small Winnebago View Class C or those with vans, you may feel comfortable driving until the wheels fall off (not us!).
Condition of your RV
The physical and mechanical condition of your RV is a huge factor when determining how far you should drive in a day. You need to commit to a strict RV maintenance schedule; engine, tires, etc. If you don’t, you’ll be faced with unexpected breakdowns or even an accident. Most often, they happen at inopportune times and places.
So, stay on top of your RV maintenance and equip your RV with the right tools to keep your RV in top notch condition. An essential tool to get for your motorhome or camper is an RV tire pressure monitoring system that alerts you when your tires lose pressure and before you have a blowout!
RV SAFETY TIP: Never leave home without conducting regularly scheduled RV Tire Safety and Maintenance.
Age and Health of the driver
A lot of RVers don’t take into account of their health or their age. As we age, we lose cognitive abilities such as reactive and response reflexes; especially when driving long periods of time.
Let’s not forget health issues that require medication that may alter your mental state, make you sleepy, jittery or anxious. Pay attention to any medications that stipulate ‘do not operate machinery’. That means operating motor vehicles and RVs as well.
And lastly, if the RV driver is not feeling well, it may be a good idea to just park the RV and travel when he or she feels better so they can concentrate on safe driving on the road. Or, leave the driving to another legal driver.
A good night’s sleep the night before driving any RV is imperative for the safety of not only you and your travel companions but everyone else on the road. RV travel days can seem long. Long distance driving adding to the stress of inattentive drivers, construction zones, distractions inside the RV, where you’re getting fuel, planning your stops, worrying about getting to your destination on time all play a huge part in driver fatigue. This is why the person driving the RV should be fresh and alert. Driving while tired is the same as impaired driving.
In a National Safety Council article, “The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) estimates that every year about 100,000 police-reported, drowsy-driving crashes result in nearly 800 fatalities and about 50,000 injuries. The real number may be much higher, however, as it is difficult to determine whether a driver was drowsy at the time of a crash.
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated that 328,000 drowsy driving crashes occur annually. That’s more than three times the police-reported number. The same study found that 109,000 of those drowsy driving crashes resulted in an injury and about 6,400 were fatal. The researchers suggest the prevalence of drowsy driving fatalities is more than 350% greater than reported.”
So, you see the importance of keeping the driver well rested and alert on the road.
Amount of Traffic
When figuring how long your travel day will be, you’ll need to take into account the amount of traffic. Obviously, driving through cities will add minutes to even hours to your drive time. But then again, driving the backroads through small towns where speed limits are less will also add time to your travel day.
While it would be nice to just plug into your RV GPS your starting point and destination to get your ETA (estimated time of arrival), there’s two things to factor into that equation; road conditions and construction.
Road conditions that may add time to your travel day are rough roads and impassible lanes. But also, construction zones will add time and possibly miles due to detours and slower traffic.
Time of DAY You’ll be Driving
If you’re an early riser, of course you’re going to have more daylight hours to drive. However, there’s a few caveats to this. If traveling east to west, as the day progresses, you’ll be driving into the setting sun. And vice versa, if traveling west to east, in the morning, you’ll be facing into the sun as well.
As a driver you need to realize you’re going to be driving less daylight hours each day during daylight savings time.
But, if you’re a night driver, your field of vision will be considerably less. Thus, you may have to slow your roll and drive slower which will obviously add time onto your travel day.
Time of YEAR You’ll be Driving
One important thing to remember if you’re planning your RV trips is what time of year you’ll be driving. We realize not everyone RVs in the beautiful summer months. So, you’ll be faced with different elements throughout the different seasons.
Another thing to consider is if you’re driving during daylight savings time or the winter months. You’ll have less daylight hours to drive your RV to your destination. And let’s not forget, in different regions of the country, you’ll face various types of weather depending on what time of year you’ll be driving.
Everyday won’t be an ideal travel day when it comes to dealing with weather. The weather can be unpredictable and sometimes even stop you in your tracks. So, pay attention to the regional weather broadcasts and predictions.
And speaking of weather predictions, laugh all you want but when planning our trips, we oftentimes refer to the Farmer’s Almanac. It’s not just for farmers or gardeners. It’s also perfect for travelers as it gives us an idea of what weather and temperatures to expect during our travels.
Realize though during your travel days, in certain parts of the country in the winter months and/or colder climates, you could face the possibility of snow and black ice on the roadways.
In other parts of the country, Springtime is known for abrupt stormy weather; including dangerous lightening, high winds, tornados, hail and blinding torrential rains.
And in the southwest, it’s quite typical for those afternoon tropical storms to bring in torrential rains, dangerous lightening and possibly high winds. Lastly, let’s not forget hurricane season is from June to December in the southeastern quadrant of the United States.
Read more: 8 Most Popular Weather Apps for RV Travelers
Availability of Services
When planning your travel days and mileage, you’ll need to consider where you’re going to stop for fuel food, rest stops, and ultimately, campgrounds or RV parks. All of those play into how many miles you’ll drive to your destination and how long your travel day will take.
Location or region you’ll be driving
Another thing to consider when determining how far you’ll be driving your RV in a day is where you’re driving. Whether it’s driving your motorhome or pulling your camper through the mountains or sitting idle in traffic, you’ll need to plan for those minutes lost.
If you’re a big rig, whether pulling a big fifth wheel or driving a tag axel motorhome towing a toad vehicle, you’re going to lose much time through single lane and mountain passes. And of course, if you’re driving around or near big metropolitan areas, you’ll need to figure in traffic, multiple lane changes, and moron drivers.
There’s a huge difference between traveling with kids and pets than just you as a solo RVer or a couple. The more people and pets, the more distractions you’ll have when driving your RV to your destination. You can’t expect babies and small children to sit for hours in their car seats. And you certainly can’t keep your dog or cat crossing his legs forever until getting to your destination.
So, it’s best to allow you and your travel companions enough time during your travel day to let the kids and dogs out for potty breaks, lunch, stretch their legs and burn off some pent up energy.
Planning Your Stops
To help determine how many miles you’ll be driving, you’ll want to allocate yourself enough time to get fuel, food and rest stops. Sometimes, this may entail breaking your route to find cheaper fuel, searching for the right restaurant and a place to let your kids or pups run around. A good driving tool to plan your stops is an RV GPS.
Sightseeing and Attractions
You may encounter some cool attractions along the way. Or, you may want to park your RV to go sightsee during your travel day. So, when planning out your trip, you should research to see how long it takes to get to the attraction if you have to get off track. And add in how long your sightseeing adventure will take. Doing this will shorten your mileage and time on the road.
Read more: Best RV Trip Planning Apps & Websites
RV Travel Day 2-2-2 Rule or 3-3-3 Rule
One of the best pieces of advice I can give when determining how far you should travel with your RV in a given day is either the 2-2-2 Rule or the 3-3-3 Rule. They are easy to remember, will fit your RV lifestyle and get you to your destination safely. By following these easy
Final thoughts on how long your RV travel day should be
I know that sounds like a lot of determining factors to take into account when figuring how many miles or how far should you drive your RV in a day. The point of it is that you don’t have to get into your RV and drive like it’s your last day on earth. Remember, you can’t take the road with you. Drive safely and drive defensively. Plan out your route and allow you and your travel companions time to enjoy the journey.
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