Jayco trailer in the woods

Trip Planning

Weekend RV Trips: 9 Tips, Tricks, and Hacks to Help You Relax and Have More Fun

We bought our first RV over 12 years and have been weekend warriors ever since. Our family loves hitching up and heading out to the campground on a Friday night--whether it’s in the spring, summer, or fall. Our weekends at the campground are fun and relaxing and we make great memories every time. 

But we also know that planning, packing, and driving to our weekend destinations can be a little stressful--especially if the right strategies are not in place. Over the years my family has figured out how to make our weekend RV trips fun and relaxing for everyone involved--and we know that you can too. If you follow these 9 tips, tricks, and hacks you will become successful weekend warriors in no time and you will be planning your next weekend RV trip on your way home from the campground--just like we do.

Take Three: 

It goes without saying that a three-day weekend is a lot better than a two-day weekend. But just how much better is it? I have always thought that taking a three-night RV trip is twice as good as taking a two-night RV trip because you get two full days at the campground instead of one. That one extra night (either Thursday night or Sunday night) makes the weekend feel twice as long and twice as relaxing--even though you are just adding a single night.  It may not always be possible to extend a weekend trip--but I recommend doing so whenever you can.

Find Your Local Gems:

If you are looking for relaxation when you take your RV out for the weekend, then I recommend finding all of the great campgrounds that are close (or somewhat close) to home. It’s nice to finish work on a Friday and know that fun and relaxation are just a short drive away.  My family typically tries to find campgrounds that are within a two-hour radius of our home for weekend RV trips--and we have several go-to spots that are less than 30 minutes away. We return to these places again and again for relaxing weekend trips. We have wanderlust just as much as other RV owners do--but we save our more adventurous road trips for spring break and our week-long summer vacations. For us, weekend RV trips are for relaxing and (more often than not) camping close to home.


Keep the RV Stocked With Basics:

If you have to repack the RV for each weekend trip you will probably find yourself stressed and camping less and less. So, keeping your RV stocked with all of the basics is incredibly helpful. Having dedicated bedding, dishware, and bathroom essentials that are just for your RV will help you hit the road more quickly each weekend--and put the focus on the fun and relaxation--and not on the packing and unpacking. We keep our RV stocked with almost everything we need to hit the road except for that weekend’s groceries and clothing. We even have toothbrushes, towels, rainy day games, and rain jackets that are just for the RV.  

Find or Create the Perfect Packing Lists and RV Checklists

When it comes to packing and unpacking--and to the basic “order of operations” for using and enjoying our RV--I have always found that using packing lists and checklists makes life much easier. If you don’t work with these lists, it can feel like you are reinventing the wheel each time you go on a trip. Many RV owners often find themselves rushing out the door after work on Friday and this can lead to forgetting things and making mistakes. A good packing list should be personalized for your family and a good “order of operations” checklist should remind you of all the basics--like putting up the stairs and locking all of your exterior cargo doors before taking off for the campground.


Pack Layers for Varying Weather:

One of my favorite things about RVing is spending time in the great outdoors with people that I love. But spending extensive time outside does require some preparation. Depending on where you are camping, temperatures and weather conditions can vary greatly over the course of a weekend--and even over the course of a few hours. My family always makes sure that we pack layers of clothing for different types of weather. Having warm clothes for evenings around the campfire is incredibly important and so is packing rain gear for each member of the family. We still like to get outside in light rain and go hiking and fishing. Having good rain gear allows us to do this. As mentioned earlier--we keep extra raincoats in the RV--and when we are at the top of our game, we also stock extra sweatshirts and sweatpants for each family member. 


Enjoy Everything the Campground Has to Offer

When we first started RVing over 12 years ago, we would often explore the area around the campground on Saturday afternoon. But over time we realized that the weekends were pretty short, and it was more relaxing to kick back and relax and enjoy everything that the campground has to offer instead. Whether that be fishing or swimming--or just riding bikes around the loops--our favorite memories were often made at the campground. Most campgrounds are pretty magical places and when you pick a good one you often don’t have to leave to have fun. Many private campgrounds have activities for kids on the weekends and many public campgrounds offer a great back-to-nature experience. Of course, many campgrounds offer both. If you are looking for relaxation, consider skipping exploring the area and plan on enjoying everything that the campground has to offer instead.

Post Pictures After the Trip

At this point it seems mandatory to say that you should put your phone down so that you can reconnect with nature and with family and friends. I believe that is true with every ounce of my being--but I also don’t want to be a hypocrite. We live in a hyper-connected world, and it can be difficult to completely disconnect. However--it is definitely good to be intentional and thoughtful about your phone use during a camping trip. I used to love taking pictures and posting them on social media during our camping trips. But over time I realized that the process of doing so was taking me out of the moment and sucking me into my phone too much. I still love taking pictures during our trips--but now I post when I get back home. This way I’m not spending time posting and answering comments from family and friends during the trip when I would rather be hanging out with my kids or going for a swim. I encourage everyone to find ways to limit their phone usage on a camping trip. I never regret being present for family and friends on a camping trip--or just spending time relaxing on my own. I often regret spending too much time scrolling, even if it is around the campfire.

Ask About Late Checkout

If you can’t take a three-day weekend then you should at least ask if the campground allows for a late checkout. Some private campgrounds charge a nominal fee and allow you to check out a few hours later so you can linger and enjoy Sunday afternoon just a bit longer. It’s not as good as staying an extra day--but every extra hour at the campground is an hour well spent. You can often grab a couple of quiet hours in the pool or fishing on an empty lake after everyone else has checked out for the weekend. We love the positive energy and community vibe that can be found at a campground on a Friday night or a Saturday morning--but it’s also really fun to have the whole place to yourself on a Sunday afternoon. 

Jeremy Puglisi is the host of The RV Atlas podcast, and the author of the bestselling books Where Should We Camp Next? and Where Should We Camp Next: National Parks both published by Sourcebooks and available wherever books are sold. 


Jeremy Puglisi

The RV Atlas

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co-hosts of the weekly RV Atlas and Campground of the Week podcasts and the RV Atlas blog. They are also the authors of See You at the Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors, and Where Should We Camp Next: A 50 State Guide to Amazing Campgrounds and other Unique Outdoor Accommodations, and the Acadia National Park Adventure Guide. After buying their very first pop-up camper more than 10 years ago, Jeremy and Stephanie caught the RV bug in a big way, and now spend over 70 nights a year in their travel trailer with their three sons, Theo, Max, and Wes, and sweet Maggie the pup. You can follow along on their adventures (and misadventures) over at RV Atlas.