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While many of your friends and co-workers decided to find lovely little places in the sunbelt, you chose to check off those bucket list destinations by RVing. To get you going, we’ve put together some smart RV travel tips for seniors to make your RV lifestyle experience incredible.
Come with us as we walk you through this collection of travel tips for seniors collected from veteran RVers and experts in the industry. Whether you plan on a part-time RV lifestyle or going all in as a full-timer, you’ll find these tips valuable for this new chapter in your life.
27 Best RV Travel Tips for Seniors
1. These are Your Golden Years, Not a Gilded Cage
As an empty-nester and retiree, they say this stage of life is supposed to be your “Golden Years.” Yet many at this stage in life are still paying on a brick-and-stick house and have monthly bills that will suck up their retirement savings in a few years.
The real question is, are all of those sentimental memories of the past giving you golden wings to fly, or is it turning into a golden prison that’s locking you down?
In the RV Boom during the Remote Period of the Modern Era (2020-Present), one of the biggest growing demographics are single women over the age of 50.
Downsizing into a camper van, truck camper, or truck camper has given these solo women explorers the golden wings to fly free and live life on their own terms.
2. The Best RV Is the One You Can Comfortably Operate
The best RV is the one you can operate comfortably. This is the most fundamental RV travel tip for seniors or anyone. Of course, we could teach you every trick in the proverbial book, but it’s all pointless if you have a motorhome or travel trailer that’s too complicated, big, or minimalistic.
Everything looks good on a brochure or computer screen, but renting some is the best way to learn what RV category is right for you. Peer-to-Peer RV rental companies like Outdoorsy, RV-ezy, or RVshare help you find coaches in your local area owned by real RVers.
You can determine if you like:
- Drivables or Towables
- Which class fits your lifestyle (A, C, camper van, fifth wheel, travel trailer, truck camper, etc.
- Best RV floorplan
- Length, weight, and other specifications
- Favorite and needed features
3. Camper Vans Aren’t Just for the Kids
There’s a lot of coverage on camper vans/Class B motorhomes for the Millenials and Generation Z. Yet, when you peruse the RV manufacturer websites, you’ll find many camper vans for the over 50 crowd.
You’ll see genuine leather seating, high-gloss finished cabinetry, luxury-level memory foam bench sleepers, and other high-end features.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is an excellent all-purpose van chassis. Still, quality RV brands have models that make the Sprinter camper van feel like the Mercedes S-Class Sedan. Check out RV manufacturers like:
- American Coach
- Coach House
- Leisure Travel Vans
- Regency RV
4. Get the Dinette and Fold Out Sofas for the Grandkids
Travel trailers without dinettes are great space savers, but dinettes and fold-out sofas convert into beds that fit the grandkids.
Standard and U-shaped dinettes lower, creating a bridge for the cushions. You can sleep two younger children on the table and bench in bed mode.
Convertible sofas come in different styles: hide-a-bed pull-outs, tri-folds, and jackknife futons. The hide-a-beds work just like those couches in your brick-and-stick home (don’t worry, the mattresses have improved).
The tri-folds use thick memory foam built-in cushions and don’t have metal springs that dig into your back. The jackknife futons are suitable for pre-teens and are best suited for one.
Many Class A motorhomes have a standard or optional drop-down bunk over the driver’s area. They come either powered or manual. Be mindful of the weight and watch the motors. After many uses, the lifting motors can lose strength if not correctly maintained.
5. There Are Mobility-Friendly RVs for All Stages of Life
RVs have entry steps, but many (except fifth wheels, truck campers, pop-ups, and hybrid trailers) have models with flat floors.
You could be okay with a mainstream RV if you have a “hitch in your get-along” and don’t go in and out of the RV too much.
Here’s a list of RV brands and models worth looking into for those who need more assistance. Notice not all of them are Class A Motorhomes.
- Droplet Trailer– Teardrop camper that works for wheelchairs
- Harbor View– Travel Trailer with ADA compliant features
- Keystone Outback 342CG– Travel trailer with a front campside ramp and front bunks
- Newmar– 5 ADA Compliant 40+ ft. Class A motorhomes (Bay Star, Canyon Star, Kountry Star, Ventana, and Dutch Star)
6. Make Your RV Pet-Friendly for the Kids That Stayed
Your two-legged kids grew up, got a life of their own, and moved away. But your four-legged fur baby was the one that stayed to take care of you. Reward that loyalty with pet-friendly add-ons inside your RV.
According to The Dyrt, in 2021, 44% brought their dog, and 4% camped with their cat. While that’s over 10% less than 2020s 60% of all RVers traveling with a pet, it still shows that almost half of the camping population bring pets with them.
Whether you’re a dog lover or a forever feline friend, there are many ways to keep your RV comfortable for your pet. First, make sure you bring their health and licensing paperwork with you. Also, toys, medication, food, water bottles for pet hiking, and leashes should be in your pet storage drawer.
7. Travel Lightly or Glamp it Up
The most long-standing myth is that Retiring in an RV is only for the rich. We say shenanigans to that most strongly!
Some find ways to live in an RV on Social Security by supplementing their income in realistic and enjoyable ways. Others can glamp it up with luxury Class A motorhome rolling palaces.
Between these extremes are plenty of people in that gray area. Sitting down with a financial advisor, learning all you can about the RV lifestyle from RVBlogger.com and other online resources, and talking to those living the RV life can help you determine how to RV your way.
8. RV Discount Clubs Can Help You Save for the Holidays
RV discount clubs can help you save money for the holidays or other important things you need. Even if you’re on a fixed income, this RV travel tip for seniors can make you the “cool” grandparent this side of the Milky Way!
Campgrounds make arrangements with the various RV discount clubs that are mutually beneficial. Club members receive discounts between 10-50% off the nightly fee, and the campground increases guest bookings.
Even in these times where popular campgrounds have reservation lists as far back as 9 months, you can still get a better rate.
For example, let’s say you’re planning to stay at a campground with a nightly rate of $100. If you’re a member of the RV discount club that the campground participates in, and the location offers a 25% discount for members, you’re saving $25 a night.
If you stay 4 nights, you save $100. You could use that savings for a free fifth night or put that $100 into your savings account for your holiday gift expenses. Of course, that money could also go into your RV maintenance account, RV trip abroad savings, or something else.
Check out some of the most popular RV discount clubs available. Many pay for themselves after a few nights of use.
9. Keep the RV Dream Alive With Workkamping
After the first year, even those who can afford to live off their savings can burn through their bucket list of those places they want to see or do.
By the end of the RV season, they either don’t know what to do, realize they spent too much, or feel they need a new purpose.
Workkamping can be an excellent opportunity to earn extra income, reduce expenses, and guide your RV experience.
Campgrounds and tourist attractions need staff members. The jobs could be running the front desk, guiding people to their campsite in golf carts (they frown on golf cart racing), or light maintenance work.
- An hourly pay rate
- Free or reduced rate campsite
- Campsite hookups at a lower rate or free
- Free or lower rate use of the campground or location’s attractions
10. Better Our World RV Style By Volunteering
Organizations like A Year to Volunteer bring RVers together to work on community service projects all over the country. It could be urban renewal, home building, rural projects, or helping military families.
Ask our RV Influencer friends Phil and Stacy of Today is Someday. They volunteer all the time and raised over $100,000 for active members, veterans, and their families.
11. Get Your America the Beautiful Senior Pass
The America the Beautiful Senior Pass gives you a significant discount at the National Parks, Landmarks, and other places overseen by the National Park Service.
Unlike the standard Annual Pass, those 62 and over get discounts on camping, boat launch, specialized interpretive services, and other things offered. Each location has a unique discount schedule.
You can purchase a lifetime or annual senior pass for a great deal. Most locations charge entrance fees by the carload, so you can get the grandkids off the screens and show them what real life is all about.
12. Make Friends With RV Camping Clubs and Rallies
The road can be lonely after the “Honeymoon” phase wears off. Camping clubs are a great way to find friends within the RV community. Whether they have local, regional, national, or specialty criteria, everyone has something in common with you: RVs.
Just because you’re a member doesn’t mean you have to show up all the time. Some big camping clubs like Escapees offer their members additional features like domicile addresses for full-timers, discounts on RV-related products, education workshops, and other programs.
If you’re into pairing up a Canned Ham Shasta AirFlyte travel trailer from the Vintage Era (1945-1970) with your 1950s Thunderbird, you may want to apply to become a member of the Tin Can Tourists.
13. How Do You Get to Carnegie; Practice, Practice, and a Good Map
Pittsburgh, PA, is home to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. If you’ve never driven an RV before, an RV travel tip for Seniors is to take an RV driving course.
Take an online RV training course to learn techniques to drive/tow your RV. Your RV dealer may offer a class, but online courses let you review them as much as you want to help with retention.
Once you’re comfortable, follow your favorite trip planner’s GPS directions to the Carnegie museum.
14. Use a Comfortable Daily Travel Strategy
When you’re “in the zone,” the hours and miles tick by in one big blur. When you pull over, that’s when everything catches up to you.
Your arms, back, knees, and legs could feel stiff. You may also have a splitting headache wash over you. That’s when you know you overdid it.
A smart travel tip for seniors is to use a comfortable daily travel strategy like the 2-2-2 method.
- Drive 200 miles a day
- Stop every 2 hours
- Rest for 2 nights
By resting 2 nights, you’re taking a day off between travel days. It keeps you fresh for travel days and gives you a chance to keep it slow and enjoy the experience. The journey can be just as fun as the destination itself in the RV lifestyle.
Some will change this method to a 3-2-2 where they travel 300 miles in a day or other variations. As long as it doesn’t overtax you, find a way that works best.
Mike and Jennifer Wendland of RV Lifestyle created the 330 Rule. Their approach is to travel 330 miles a day or stop by 3:30 p.m.
The advantage of their method is that you have plenty of daylight to set up at the campground you’re staying at by stopping by mid-afternoon.
15. 55+ RV Parks Keep the Kids Off Your Lawn
55 and over RV parks are nothing like assisted living facilities for RVers. Instead, they’re dedicated RV campgrounds (value-friendly), parks (mid-level), and resorts (high-end) for active retirees that want to live an active RV lifestyle.
You can shoot a round of golf, enjoy the pools and hot tubs, participate in the planned activities, dine in the restaurants, and enjoy the various amenities.
55+ RV parks have a quieter atmosphere compared to family-oriented campgrounds. You’ll find that the owners put a lot of effort into the landscaping and beautifying the location.
Campsites can be paved, offer all the hookups, including cable, and the park’s wifi service is usually strong.
16. Choose a Health Insurance Plan that Travels With You
Today’s full-time RVers have many more health insurance plan options than they used to. When President Obama and the insurance companies created the Affordable Care Act and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO), health plans became travel-friendly across the U.S.
If you’re a part-timer or full-timer heading out on a long trip out-of-state, speak with your health insurance provider about how your coverage works outside your local coverage area. The smart RV travel tip for seniors is to get the facts and question your assumptions.
Many of these plans work with Medicare as supplements and through the Medicare Advantage program.
17. Use a National Drug Store Chain for Medication
Since we’re on the topic of medical needs, using national chains for your prescription medication is also a smart travel tip for seniors. Drug stores like CVS and Walgreens use the same computer systems, but your file mainly exists at your home location.
Make sure you fill all of your medication before heading out—especially any schedule 2 controlled medications for pain or other issues. Also, keep the paperwork that comes with the bottles if you need to prove you have an active prescription.
If you run out of medication, these national chain locations can look up your file from your home drug store. Depending on which medication it is, they can refill it for you. You may have to show them your prescription paperwork as further proof.
Scheduled medications can get more complex. After contacting your doctor, they might be able to give you a few days of the medicine that will get you back home but don’t expect a full refill.
We recommend speaking with your home location’s pharmacist or the staff to find out the exact policies so you’re aware of what to do if the situation arises.
18. Travel in Loops for Appointments at Home
Full-time RVers who need to see their doctors regularly have found an excellent solution to balancing the RV lifestyle and their medical needs. They travel in three-month loops, returning home in time for their doctor appointments and other scheduled needs.
Scheduling their appointments and tasks in two-week segments every three months gives them the chance to get everything completed, a break from the road, and prepare for the next RV adventure.
19. Toading Flat is Best, or Dinghy a Dolly
For those that RV in motorhomes, many like to tow a passenger car behind them. In “RV Speak,” this is called “Toading” or towing a “Dinghy.” When parked at a campsite, the car lets them drive around the area without having to tear down every time they want to go somewhere.
Several new and used cars, trucks, and SUVs can be flat-towed with all four wheels on the road. Flat-towing a dinghy vehicle has the least sway and allows the brakes to engage when you hit the motorhome’s pedal.
All-wheel-drive, 4 x 4, and some rear-wheel-drive vehicles allow you to disengage the driveshaft and transmission. Check out the following:
- Jeep Wrangler
- Ford Bronco
- Ford F-150
- Buick Encore
- Chevrolet Equinox
- Toyota Corolla and Yaris
- 2014 Honda CRV and older
Front-wheel-drive vehicles need a two-wheel dolly or flatbed trailer since you can’t disengage the transmission from the wheels. However, some front-wheel-drive vehicles are flat towable if an output shaft lubricates them.
To make your vehicle flat towable, you may need to install a driveshaft disengage and other parts. Again, your RV dealer will have more information about this rather than your auto service center. The RV service center can install the components on your toad vehicle.
20. Have Your RV Essential Kits Prepped and Accessible
There are 5 essential kits you need to have before you set off on your RV adventure. This RV travel tip for seniors is also something everyone should have.
- First Aid Kit: The most common injuries include burns, sunburns, cuts, allergic reactions, poison ivy, eye irritation, broken bones, and running out of medication. Don’t rely on the pre-packaged first aid kits alone. You want the big bottles of antiseptic, burn cream, and other over-the-counter items.
- Pet First Aid Kit: Speak with your veterinarian about what you should have in this kit for your dog, cat, or other pet you bring along. Some medical supplies for humans will work for pets, including over-the-counter medications. Don’t rely on the internet only; your vet knows what truly works for your fur baby.
- Emergency Road Kit: If you get stuck on the side of the road, you’ll need road hazard signs, flares, a yellow/orange vest, tire sealant, radiator repair liquid, and all of the engine fluids. You want semi-truck versions of these items instead of passenger cars. Pick them up at truck stops like Flying J/Pilot, Love’s, TA/Petrol, or your local auto parts store.
- Survival Kit: If you can’t evacuate from a disaster area or you have to wait for a long time for rescue, you want non-perishable food, bottled water (if you can’t access your freshwater tank), blankets, fire starting supplies, and other items to survive until rescued.
- Tool Kit: You don’t have to be Bob Vila, but RVs break. Over 90% of an RV is repairable with a bit of knowledge and some “sweat power.” A good tool kit with an electric drill, screwdriver bits, and your tool kit from home can repair that broken cabinet hinge, faucet handle, or other things. YouTube and blogs will walk you through everything.
(we forgive you for the frustrated course language)
21. Compare Your Roadside Assistance Coverage
Between your RV insurance, RV discount club, and other programs, they all offer RV roadside assistance. You need to sit down and read through them all. Find out which one does what. It’s the little details that make the difference.
Deductibles could be different, have different towing mile limits, and other minutiae that aren’t common sense. You need to know your coverage if you ever need to use them. If you ever have an RV tire blowout, is the roadside assistance going to cost more than the repair itself or be more of a hassle?
If nothing else, know that your passenger vehicle’s roadside assistance WILL NOT work for your RV.
22. Check-In With the Kids/Family Once a Week
Remember when the kids were teenagers, they missed their curfew, and you panicked because you imagined the worst? Because you gave them the “parent’s curse,” they probably think the same way about you on the road. Check-in with them at least once a week.
Besides, with the advances in video chat, you can say, “Hello, we’re still alive. Now, where are our grandkids?” Who wouldn’t enjoy seeing and talking to the young ones?
More importantly, it’s an issue of safety. If you miss your weekly scheduled call, your kids or family members you check in with know something isn’t right. Safety check-ins are always a wise RV travel tip for seniors. It gives peace of mind to everybody.
23. You Need a Reliable RV Communications Network
If you’re a Baby Boomer, your generation created the personal computer Generation X grew up with, cell phones the Millenials depend on, and the virtual world Gen Z has known their entire lives.
In the Remote Period of the Modern Era (2020-Present), having a wireless network in your RV has become essential for reliable communication. In addition, many Baby Boomers stay connected with their friends and family through various social media platforms like Facebook.
Even if you’re not computer savvy, you can install an all-in-one device that uses your cellphone’s network for many crucial things.
You’ll want something that boosts your signal in bad reception locations in case of emergencies. If you have an RV alarm system that includes professional monitoring (which we’ll get to), they need a stable connection to locate you.
RVs that come with SmartApps need a reliable connection to communicate between your cell phone and coach. This is especially true if you’re using a pet monitor while away.
24. Monitored Wireless RV Security Systems Are Worth It
RV wireless security systems like Ring have an added feature where their professional security staff monitors your alarm.
If it activates for disaster, carbon monoxide, medical needs, flood, or other reasons, they will send first responders.
This is one of those RV travel tips for seniors that’s better to have it and not need it instead of not having it and needing it.
Many full-timers of all ages find these RV alarm systems useful, but even part-timers will install a more basic RV alarm system.
25. Prove You Live Where You Domicile
In 2010, the State of Minnesota conducted an investigation, finding that over 270 of its citizens bought RVs out of state to avoid the state’s tax.
One of the byproducts of this was those full-timers who changed their domicile address out of state but didn’t have paperwork to prove they were no longer Minnesota residents. The result was that they had to pay back taxes that added up to the thousands of dollars.
When you change your domicile address through a mail forwarding service, you must spend some time in the area to create a paper trail. It’s easy to do and can save you a lot of headaches.
Instead of voting by mail, go to your assigned voting location. Keep your proof of voting receipt in a file to prove you were there. For example, file the receipts if you use a local service or shop at a store.
Unless you have to use your original doctors, change your primary care and specialists to that area.
If the area has a special event like a holiday parade, get photos of your attendance. Definitely save that award you won for the best apple pie at the county fair.
If your previous state ever asks you to prove that you actually live at your new domicile address, you’ll have plenty of evidence to show them.
26. Make a Manageable Maintenance Manifest
There are a lot of items you have to inspect on an RV maintenance checklist. If your back, knees, or other body parts give you an hour or two before you have to stop, divide the list up into manageable pieces.
Maybe accomplish 10 items a week. Go over a particular section in a day like just the roof, the axles, or the bathroom.
You can create a checklist form or use an app like Maintain My RV. The App comes from the same folks that make RV Life Trip Wizard Pro. As you input your mileage every time you fill up your gas, the app alerts you to what needs to be done based on your set maintenance schedule.
27. Apps Are Awesome, But Books Don’t Need Batteries
The apps, GPS, gadgets, and gizmos do things all of us wished for 30 years ago. Yet, no one can erase paper by pushing the wrong button. It doesn’t need electricity and costs less than groceries.
Have a good atlas with you and other road aids in book format. Your local bookstore, camping store, or online marketplace should have current year print hard copy versions for sale. Here are some recommendations:
- Good Sam Campground & Coupon Guide (formally Woodalls)
The Best Travel Tips for Seniors is Not to Wait
The absolute best travel tip for seniors is not to wait. Most of your adult life had to do with making sure the kids were taken care of, completing your work by the boss’s deadline, or other responsibilities.
You’re now retired, and the kids are taking care of themselves. Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you. Start slowly by renting a few RVs over the weekend to see if you like the lifestyle. If you do, then look into buying one for yourself.
The RV lifestyle is for everybody, but not everyone is suited for RVing
The downsizing process takes time anyway. So whether you move to a condo, with the kids, or an RV, make the most of closing the previous chapter of your life by testing the future waters.
After renting, the next step would be buying the motorhome or travel trailer that fits your needs and wants. After that, camp locally and travel further at your own pace.
If you have family on the east coast and others on the west coast, that’s an excellent way to continue venturing out.
After a while, as you talk with other people at the campground, online RV groups, and those you meet in camping clubs, you’ll realize the first year has gone by, and you feel like you’re starting to get the hang of it.
About the Author
Brian Newman – Author and Full Time RVer
Although he’s from Motown, Brian Newman is a legacy RVer that grew up on I-75. He, and his wife have enjoyed the full-time RV lifestyle since 2017.
Like John Madden, he hasn’t “worked” in years because he gets to write about his passion. When he’s not working, he supports his daughter’s dog rescue efforts and disability causes.