Three Tips for Traveling in the North East with an RV!
We have been full time living and traveling on the road for the last 3 months. We pull a fifth wheel camper with a full size truck. Overall, we are about 50 feet long from the truck’s front bumper to the back of the bike rack we have hanging off the back of the camper. I mean, go big or go home, right? As starry eyed RV newbies we decided to hit up the north east first. It is totally doable, and enjoyable – there are just some things you should keep in mind so your visit goes smoothly.
Plan to park your rig before hitting the city
The northeast is gorgeous and packed full of amazing things to see from the historic sites to its miles of tree lines to mountains and beaches. With choices from DC, Philadelphia, Boston and New York City, you can’t go wrong! RVers, you cannot navigate the downtowns of these big cities with a camper in tow. There is just not enough space! The roads are too narrow, the turns are too tight, and people and cars are everywhere. And parking? Ha! We struggled sometimes to find spots large enough for our Dodge Ram! “RV Parking” was not an option in 95% of places. You will need to find an RV campground (free camping is pretty much non-existent) so you can either use public transportation or your regular vehicle to get into the city. Plan to be a little far away, or to pay a pretty penny for your campsite. If you read my blog posts about the individual places we have visited I always include a link for where we camped.
If you are a fan of parking-lot boondocking on travel days, make sure you call ahead to make sure they allow it. We found many of these popular overnight stops are not an option in New England because of city ordinances (some lightly enforced, some fully). We did have better luck getting the OK to stay from Cabela’s than Walmart. Vermont especially really doesn’t like this type of “camping!”
Know your route before you hit the road!
While DOT regulations require overpasses and tunnels to accommodate tall big rigs on major routes, that is not true on smaller highways and surface streets. There are bridges and tunnels all over the NE that will ruin your day if the top of your camper makes their acquaintance! Even some of the off ramps from those major interstates have low overpasses so beware when exiting! We used the AllStays app to check bridge heights as we traveled. Mike also found trucker maps online that have information on large vehicle restrictions and low bridges/tunnels. Many tunnels and even some bridges don’t allow RV’s because of the propane tanks. It will save you a lot of stress if you plan out where you are going and do some research in advance!
Tolls take a toll for sure!
Tolls are everywhere! Have cash and coins ready. We went through several in New Jersey that were like “75 cents, exact change only.” We are not typically cash carriers, and are especially not coin carriers, so this caught us off guard and we were digging under seats and scrounging! Not all tolls were so reasonable. We are used to the Midwest where when it says “toll” we can expect to play a nice, reasonable amount like $4.00. A $27 toll on one road had us reeling but then the $55 toll into New York practically gave Mike a stroke. Not cool New York. Not cool. I can’t imagine how much you spend on tolls a year when you live there! Next time, we will research the tolls more and see if it is worth driving around. We will also set up an EZPass so we don’t have to worry about carrying fistfuls of cash. Side note: You would think with crazy tolls like that the roads would be great in the NE, but they are decidedly not great.
I may have painted a unwelcoming picture of New England and the northeast but I really didn’t intend to. We loved our time there and saw some of the coolest things! Plymouth Rock, the Liberty Bell, Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty…. DO IT ALL! Just budget a little extra money, spend some extra time route planning, and don’t expect to just roll into a campground or boondocking spot. I promise though, it is worth every extra penny and minute you spend. Happy travels!