Five Tips for Camping with a Travel Trailer

Mary Gormandy White
Travel Trailer in Tow

Vacationing in a travel trailer can be a fun, affordable way to enjoy spending time away from home for a few days, a few weeks or even longer. This type of RV provides travelers with an opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds - spending time in the great outdoors while enjoying many of the comforts of home.

Five Travel Trailer Tips

1. Install Electric Brakes in Towing Vehicle

Many states have laws requiring breakaway braking systems for vehicles pulling trailers. You can verify state-specific requirements at TowingWorld.com. However, since it is likely that you will travel in more than one state during your RV vacation adventures, it's best to install a braking system that is compliant regardless of where you live. Doing so only enhances your safety and that of others who travel with you.

While hydraulic surge brake systems are acceptable in some states, they are not compliant with the law everywhere. It's best to install an electric towing brake system in your truck or other towing vehicle if you are going to pull a travel trailer. This type of braking system meets all breakaway brake requirements that you may face and provides you with the greatest control and stability when towing your travel trailer.

2. Pack Your Travel Trailer Carefully

When preparing to leave for an RV vacation adventure, packing is an important consideration. Space is limited in a travel trailer and weight is an important consideration when selecting items to take on your trip. Take care to pack all of the items you need without carrying along anything unnecessary.

One of the best ways to make sure that you have all of the items necessary is to make an RV camping checklist and organize items for packing by room, or by the specific area of the RV where they will be used or stored. Gather everything that you need for a particular section of the RV. Once you have everything, place the items in storage containers in or near the area where they will be used.

It's also important to consider item placement. According to a USA Today Travel Tips article, it's best to place the items you are taking with you on or near the floor. This keeps things from shifting too much or falling out of cabinets. Having the additional weight low to the ground also makes towing easier and more stable.

3. Verify Campground Vehicle Policies

Travel Trailer and Tent

Before setting out on a trip, make sure you are clear on the policies of your campground. Some facilities allow no more than one towing vehicle and one travel trailer per campsite while others allow more. If you are planning to bring a motorcycle or ATV with you, or if you are planning to have people who are driving their own car or truck, you'll want to make sure that the extra vehicles will be allowed. The same is true if you are planning to set up a tent at your campsite along with your RV, something that you may want to do if you are traveling with children or another family.

Assuming that you find a campground that allows extra vehicles and/or a tent, you'll also need to know if there is an additional fee and how much. If the additional vehicles and/or tent that you plan to have are allowed, you need to take their size into consideration when reserving your spot, first verifying that you are getting a campsite that is large enough to accommodate everything you will have.

4. Learn About Free Overnight Parking Options

When you are on the road and need to find a place to catch a few hours of sleep in between destinations, there are several options available to you. Of course, you can always look for a traditional campground that has room for an overnight stay. However, on long trips, you may find that you want to drive as late as you can, which may put you on the road much later than some campgrounds are open. You might also prefer to avoid incurring camping fees when you really just want to stop and rest for a little while.

There are a few no-cost options that RV travelers in your situation may find to be helpful. For example, many Walmart stores allow free overnight parking for RV travelers. You should verify store policy for the particular location where you stop before hunkering down for the night. While there are no hookups, you can park your vehicle and grab a bit of shut eye in your travel trailer before setting out on the next phase of your trip. Some Camping World locations also provide overnight parking in their parking lots.

Truck stops are also a good free overnight option for travel trailers, with most allowing overnight stops. For example, Pilot and Flying J travel centers offer dedicated overnight RV parking spots and also allows parking in open areas of their parking lots. Love's Travel Centers also offers overnight spots at some locations.

5. Rely On Truck Stops but Be Considerate

Truck stops are beneficial to RV travelers in a number of ways beyond providing possible locations for free overnight parking. Navigating on and off the road when pulling an RV can be nerve wracking, especially if you're in an area where exit ramps are particularly steep or turnarounds require a tight turning radius. Finding parking can also be challenging when you are pulling a travel trailer. The locations where truck stops are situated are designed with the driving and parking needs of tractor-trailer drivers in mind, so they are typically located in areas where such challenges aren't likely to be a problem.

Truck stops are also great travel stop options because you can typically find just about everything that you need under one roof. Without having to stop and start multiple times, you can get fuel, visit restroom facilities, purchase snacks and beverages and more. Many truck stops have attached restaurants where you can enjoy sit down meals or fast-food takeout and also offer WiFi, video games, souvenir shops and more.

Some national truck stops even offer customer rewards programs for RV customers, making them a money-saving option as well as a convenient solution for getting your travel needs handled. For example, Pilot and Flying J offer a free My Rewards RV Customer program that allows RV travelers to earn discounts off fuel purchases and RV dumping fees, as well as convenience store and restaurant discounts when you use the card at participating locations.

Whenever you visit a truck stop for a quick break or to pick up supplies, be considerate. Remember that these stops exist so that truck drivers, who work long hours, can take a break and get some food and rest. Only stay as long as you need to, and if the stop is busy, make sure that you aren't taking up more space than you need in the parking area. While these stops are convenient for RV travelers, they are a necessity for truck drivers.

Enjoy Your Travel Trailer Camping Adventures

Start with these tips and pick up others along the way as you experience adventures and get to know other travelers at the campgrounds you visit. It won't take long to master all of the tricks of the road; you'll be on your way to becoming an expert RV traveler in no time at all!

Five Tips for Camping with a Travel Trailer