How many times have you heard or said, “You can’t get there from here”? Navigation is key when heading out in an RV. Finding your way can be scary and mysterious; you can and will get lost. And although map reading comes easier to some people than others, road maps and atlases are necessary tools, especially if you do not yet have a Global Positioning System (GPS), or for those times when your GPS access is unavailable or you just want to confirm its directions. Here are some tips to help you stay on the beaten path (as long as that’s where you want to be).
- When you are staying with friends in their driveway, identify a billboard or another landmark to look for to know when to turn onto their street or road. This is especially helpful at night. – Annie Carroll, Panama City, FL
- Learn how to read a road map. The legend on the map will show you what all the different symbols mean. It may indicate scenic routes and exit numbers too. You should also find symbols for rest areas and picnic areas and even campgrounds.
- Before hitting the road in the morning, get out the maps and tour books you’ll want during that day, as well as the campground directory. You’ll be glad to have them handy when a question comes up. GPS users will want to be sure their day’s travel destinations are programmed into their units.
- Keep your map folded open to the relevant section.
- Use a yellow felt tip pen to highlight the next day’s route on your map. This helps the navigator follow the route and give information to the driver as requested.
- Write down the day’s route numbers for the other drivers in your caravan if you are the one who figured out the itinerary. Having information written down makes navigation easier. Discuss and review your notes with the other drivers also.
- Lost? Don’t panic. Look at the map and ask for directions at the nearest fuel station.
- In addition to carrying campground and truck stop directories with you, stop at state welcome centers, talk to campground hosts, and pick up maps of the area and brochures on what to see and do.
- Get a map of each state you will drive through either from your automobile association before you leave home or at the welcome center for that state (where they are free). A state map is usually larger than the page in an atlas and contains more information such as smaller towns. Atlases do come in handy when route planning involves several states at once, and because of their size, they are easy to handle.
- Be sure your state maps show rest areas and exit numbers. This helps you to plan stops as you travel. Some highway signs will tell you the distance to the next rest area. Your GPS may also provide this information.
- Navigators should be able to tell the driver what the exit numbers are so the driver will know when to leave the interstate highway. Also, by knowing the last exit number before leaving some states, you can determine approximately how many more miles you will travel in that state on that highway. For example, in Mississippi, the last exit number for I-10 as shown on the map is Exit 75. As we traveled east on I-10 toward that exit, we passed a sign for Exit 61. We subtracted 61 from 75 and learned that we had about14 more miles in Mississippi.
Enjoy your RVing!