Here at Apollo Motorhome Holidays we love sharing the adventures of our road tripping guests. We recently had Mitchell from the Mad Lifestyle join us for an epic 23 day USA road trip which saw him travel from LA through Yosemite National Park, Salt Lake City, Zion National Park, and Monument Valley in Arizona. Mitchell loves inspiring others to experience the joy of the open road and has put together his top tips to help you plan your own epic USA road trip. Check out Part 1 of this blog below.
THE MAD LIFESTYLE HITS THE ROAD TO TAKE ON THE BEST OF USA’S GREAT OUTDOORS!
Part 1- Tips & tricks to planning the ultimate road trip
If you already follow us on Instagram, you know that we’re made up of a close group of friends sharing our love for travel & living a healthy lifestyle! Living by our MAD motto – Memories being created, Adventures to be had, Discovering the world one destination at a time.
This was a last minute trip to the USA, so we had to put a quick plan together before we set out on this journey. The plan; to share with you our love of the diverse countryside that is the USA and the amazing RV culture. (Aussies; RVs are American campervans).
For our readers, we hope this post inspires you to ditch your hotel room, hit the road and experience what has become one of our favourite countries to explore! We will even throw in a few tips to help you on your way.
- Tips on what you need to know before you travel
- Expected costs & how to save
- What to pack
- Do’s & Don’ts on the road
IMPORTANT ‘MUST KNOWS’ BEFORE YOU HIT THE ROAD
- BOOK IN ADVANCE: We highly recommend booking your RV & some camping spots in advance. Most National Parks get super busy and require bookings to secure your spot, especially in summer and around any holidays! The last thing you want is to turn up to an amazing park and then find out you have nowhere to stay and have to move on and/or drive hours to find the nearest overnight camping spot.
- COMPARE & SAVE: Compare the flight cost from your country/city to the RV pickup destinations to find the cheapest option. Apollo Motorhomes have depots all over the country, so you can save some money this way. When booking with Apollo, be sure to check their website for any relocation offers, as you can score RV’s at a heavily discounted rate if your route & schedule is flexible.
- VISA: Make sure you have a tourist Visa for entry into the USA, if needed. Plan this before you leave your own country as they are very strict and will decline your entry without the correct paperwork.
- PACKING: Check the weather at all your expected locations, and pack accordingly. If you’ll be hiking and spending a lot of time outdoors, the weather can change fast, so keep that in mind and don’t forget those layers!
- CHOOSE QUALITY: There are many RV companies out there, but our personal choice has always been Apollo Motorhomes. We have traveled with Apollo numerous times, and everything from their excellent customer service to their modern and well maintained vehicles exceeds expectations every time! Apollo also has their own “Apollo Connect App” which will help you find nearby attractions, campgrounds & hot deals. The app also has informative videos about the RV and how to operate the vehicle to help you along the way.
- ROADTRIPPERS APP: We also recommend downloading the Roadtrippers PLUS app to plan your trip both in advance and whilst on the road. The app lets you calculate the total route miles, expected fuel consumption/costs, must see locations & attractions along your route, and much more. You can also share the trip itinerary with family & friends, so you can plan your dream trip together. Once you’re on the road you can use the app as a live guide along the way!
- NATIONAL PARKS PASS: Buy the annual National Parks Pass if you’re planning on visiting multiple National Parks. You will save a lot of money with the pass ($80) compared to paying per visit ($25-$35USD). NOTE; State Parks are not included in the Annual National Parks Pass fee and require an extra fee per entry.
- HIKING: It’s very important to have a map either loaded on your phone or printed out when going on any serious hikes. We used the AllTrails app, which allows you to download your trail and access it offline for areas without reception. Download the AllTrails app here!
HOW TO BUDGET FOR YOUR ROAD TRIP
- PLAN & SHOP: Buy your groceries & camping supplies on day one so you’re setup for the whole trip and get into a routine. Most RVs have a refrigerator/freezer, stove and microwave and all the cooking equipment for you to prepare most meals easily. So stock up on cheap groceries and save money. Besides, half the fun of road tripping is preparing your own meals in your RV!
- FUEL CHECK: Always check the price of fuel and try to time when you fill up. Use the ‘search for petrol stations along your route’ function on Google Maps to compare fuel prices.
- GO EASY ON THE UTILITIES: Avoid using the water, generator & propane gas unnecessarily. The less you use, the longer you can go without paying for overnight camping.
- LOOK OUT FOR FREE CAMPSITES: All RV parks and National/State Parks charge a fee for overnight camping, so we try to limit this as much as possible to save $25-$80USD per night. Try to only stay at RV parks when the facilities are necessary, like filling up fresh water, dumping waste tanks and doing your washing, etc. Use https://freecampsites.net/ to find all FREE campsites across the country.
Here is a total cost breakdown for TWO people in USD for 23 days on the road! (Not including flights to the USA):
- RV – $1940 (22-25ft RV – base rate via Apollo Motorhomes, not including mileage, insurance, and generator costs, etc.)
- Food – $2150 (we eat A LOT)
- Fuel – $1284 (3500 miles)
- Lodging – $362 (Saved a lot here by avoiding RV parks unless necessary & finding free camping)
- Miscellaneous – $220 (Unexpected costs)
TOTAL: $5956 USD ($2978 per person)
WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR ROAD TRIP
Packing for a road trip can be tough especially when it’s in-between seasons and you’re doing a variety of different activities that require specialised attire. When we pack we try to keep it as light and compact as possible.
These were some of our packing essentials –
- Comfortable, durable, waterproof, every day and athletic clothes (shorts, jeans, t-shirts, jackets, boots, runners, etc).
- Quality hiking gear (Don’t cut corners here; the difference between a quality pair of hiking boots & pants can make a HUGE impact on your hiking experience).
- Wet weather gear (waterproof jackets, outer shells, boots, etc)
- Shower sandals as you’ll be in shared bathrooms & showers in the campgrounds & RV parks.
- Satellite navigation (GPS) & mobile SIM for data and cell! Pick two different carriers if you’re buying multiple SIM cards (we used AT&T & T-Mobile), so you get more coverage in remote locations.
- Apollo equips you with bedding that is more than adequate, but if you need your special pillow, bring it along.
- Cooking supplies from home (if you can’t live without Vegemite like us Aussies)
- Bluetooth music speaker
- Cards & board games
Some last minute shopping essentials that really came in handy…
- Spotlight/torch for walking to the park facilities at night or setting up in the dark
- Small bucket for your dirty washing
- Dish gloves for washing
- Multiple latex gloves for when you need to dump the waste tank
- Garbage bags
- Bath mat (keeps the bathroom floor dry)
- Door mat (stops you from dragging dirt into the RV)
DO’S & DON’TS ON THE ROAD!
- PLAN AHEAD, but be flexible with your itinerary as spontaneous detours are the best decisions on the road!
- KNOW YOUR RV height and length, and make sure to follow parking and road restrictions.
- USE APPS to help plan your itinerary & expected costs.
- WATCH THE WEATHER when planning your day’s activities.
- STUDY about the motorhome by watching Apollo videos and reading their welcome guide to get comfortable with how to operate everything smoothly.
- CLEAN & TIDY your space. No one likes coming home from a big day of activities to a messy environment. Make it your home, and treat it that way!
- TIME YOUR HIKES & BE PREPARED by starting early in the morning, or later for sunset (carry a torch) to avoid crowds and get better photos. (IMPORTANT: Download the AllTrails App before you hike and load your offline trail map in case you lose reception and find yourself lost like we did)
- OVER-PACK because it will cramp your RV and make the experience less enjoyable as you’ll be climbing over everything to get to and from the door!
- DRAIN YOUR FUEL or let it get below 1/4 of a tank, especially in remote areas where gas stations are sparse.
- GO OFF ROAD, stay on sealed roads. RVs are not 4WD; if you get stuck off-road it will be at your own cost to get assistance.
- LITTER or leave a trace at the RV parks, campgrounds or on any hiking trails you visit. Dump rubbish & waste tanks in authorised areas ONLY.
- APPROACH WILDLIFE or disrespect park rules. There will be many opportunities to come across beautiful wildlife, but keep your distance and stay on designated trails.
Ready to start planning your USA road trip? Check out Mitchell’s full itinerary in Part 2 here.