Ultimate RV Road Trip Planner

Here’s How to Plan a RV Trip 

Essential RV Trip Checklist

It can be tempting to load up the RV and hit the road as soon as the last snow of winter starts to melt. While the call of the open road can be irresistible, it’s important to make sure that you’re properly prepared for your trip before you leave. A little preparation and foresight can save you some massive headaches on the road while freeing up the focus to really enjoy the world around you. 

Before you head out on the road, give some thought to these five things. 


Maintenance Is Key

Literally. Motorhome maintenance is important enough that you should view it as the key to getting on the road. Motorhomes are complex machines which require care and attention to ensure your coach’s systems are all in working order. You don’t want to find out about any engine issues while you’re driving on a busy highway or navigating a remote mountain road. 

At the start of every RV season, consider taking your motorhome in for a checkup. In particular, focus on servicing your RV’s roof AC, batteries, and generators. You’ll also want to inspect the roof and body sealant to make sure you don’t have any leaks. Finally, having your coolant serviced and tires rotated is always a good idea — especially if you’re planning to get a lot of use out of your motorhome this summer. 


Know Where You’re Going (and How to Get There)

It can be easy to take navigation for granted in the era of Google Maps, but you shouldn’t always count on having a GPS app available. There’s an unspoken rule amongst experienced RV campers that cell phone service always seems to vanish at the moment when it’s most inconvenient. 

Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about paper maps losing signal; and while they may not be as immediately intuitive as a phone app, they’re invaluable in a pinch. 

Having a solid sense of where you’re driving before you leave can also save you from being stressed on the road. Identify alternate routes to get to your destination, so you have a backup on hand when needed. By being able to quickly pivot from Route A to Route B, you can minimize lost time while also taking advantage of any interesting destinations that your detour has to offer. 


Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

Nobody plans to have an emergency during an RV trip. That’s why it’s all the more important to make sure that you’re prepared to react if something unexpected happens. You don’t have to map out every single RV service center between home and your destination, but you should be prepared if a tire bursts on the road. 

Speaking of front-end tire blowouts, there are a couple simple (yet powerful) safety products which may not only save you a lot of headache but could potentially save your life and the lives of those you love. One such product is called RettroBand®. This revolutionary run-flat tire safety system is installed inside your RV’s front tires and provides a built in, highly-durable doughnut for your motorhome!

How does it work? Well, should your RV’s front tires lose air for any reason, your motorhome will settle onto the RettroBand wheel enhancement band and will allow you to keep better control of your motorhome until you can find a safe place to pull over and stop. Learn more about RettroBand here.

Another critical and potentially life-saving product that every coach owner should have installed in their motorhome is the one-of-a-kind THIA by Proteng Fire Suppression System. Fire safety in any situation is very important, however, when it comes to suppressing a fire within the tight confines of your RV, having a fire suppression system which can give you time to escape a deadly fire, as well as operates even when you’re not in your motorhome is a must and simply priceless! 

The Proteng system is custom installed in your coach by placing Proteng tubes in areas of your motorhome where fires are likely to occur. Should a fire start up in your RV, these tubes are activated and rupture to release a non-toxic gas that lowers the temperature flash point of the fire, suppressing it completely or long enough for you to get to safety while not leaving any sort of residue. To learn more about Proteng, click here

Hoping for the best, but planning for the worst goes doubly for the possibility of medical emergencies. Make sure to confirm any allergies before you prepare food for the trip, and make sure everyone has enough medicine to cover the trip, along with a few extra days worth in case of detours or delays. Lastly, before you leave, make sure that your RV’s first aid kit(s) is properly stocked as well. There aren’t any fun ways to find out that you’re low on Band-aids. 


Don’t Forget Food

When people think of “RV food,” their minds almost immediately jump to their favorite mid-drive snack. While good snacks are undoubtedly a part of any good RV adventure, dining exclusively on Doritos and gas station takeout can get exhausting and unhealthy (not to mention smelly!) really fast. While planning food for a motorhoming trip may not be your favorite part of the RVing lifestyle, there are a ton of advantages to doing so.

Packing meals doesn’t just give you better control of what you eat, it also gives you extra control over where and when you eat! Being able to simply pull over to a rest station and dine on some sandwiches or burritos means saving time and money that would otherwise be spent pulling over to restaurants. Keeping yourself alert and full of energy during a long drive goes a long way towards maximizing your RV adventure, so you’ll want to make sure you’re packing meals that actually refresh you, instead of sending you into a slightly gassy food coma


Take a Moment to Be Mindful

If you can, try to set aside some time before your trip to take a deep breath and open yourself up to all of the exciting adventures ahead of you. In all the hustle and bustle of preparing for a trip, it can be easy to lose a bit of the excitement for the RV journey ahead and forget why you’re going on one in the first place.

At the end of the day, RV trips are about adventure, regardless of what that specifically looks like for you. Whether you’re looking forward to attending group rallies with your motorhome club (check out the AIM Club which NIRVC is a sponsor), evenings sleeping alone under the stars, or cooking some barbecue while watching a movie with your entire family. These adventures are a chance to unwind, decompress, and focus on the things in life that bring you joy. 


Happy travels!


Living Full-Time In An RV

What Is It Like Living in an RV?

Life looks different on the road. There are plenty of immediate, obvious ways that living in an RV is different from living in a fixed home, but some of the biggest differences can be hard to appreciate until you’re actually behind the wheel. Here are some of the most significant ways that life changes when living in a motorhome: 

Your Pace of Life Slows Down – and That Can Be a Good Thing

RV life operates at a fundamentally different pace than life elsewhere. The best parts of RVing are often found when exploring new places or unusual locales. That’s difficult to do if you’re constantly in “go” mode. Over time, you’ll naturally adapt to a pace that lets you savor your surroundings, which can look pretty different from the hustle and bustle of digital life. 

This naturally comes with a change in how you perceive the world. Instead of frantically counting down the days until Friday, you begin to view each week as a chapter in a larger, ongoing journey. In time, you come to appreciate special events even more because you view them as magical moments in time, not hours in a schedule.

Traveling Means You Get Diverse Experiences From Unexpected Places

RV camping lets you see parts of the country that are easy to miss if you only travel by air. Every state is full of interesting detours, quirky towns and beautiful sights that are best appreciated from the road. 

One of the most liberating aspects of RV travel is that it’s (hopefully) not subject to the same schedule crunch as trains and planes, meaning that you’re free to take your time if a place catches your interest. Veteran RVers will tell you that some of their best adventures come from unexpected places, and living behind the wheel of a motorhome makes you equipped to appreciate them when you find them.

You Meet New Friends – and Plenty of Interesting Locals

While not every person you meet at a campground is going to land in the “birthdays and baptisms” part of your life, you’re bound to make plenty of friends. RVers are a famously friendly crowd, meaning that you’re sure to find good company at almost any campsite that you visit. Over time, you may even start to notice some familiar faces at the different places that you frequent! Social media and RVer groups like AIM Club make it easier than ever to connect with like-minded individuals while attending exciting rallies, outdoor excursions, RV training courses and other fun RV-focused experiences. 

New friendships aren’t always limited to other RVers either. During your travels, you’ll undoubtedly meet plenty of locals, and that provides plenty of opportunities for making new friends! 

You Get a New Appreciation for (and New Definition of) Safety

When your home is on wheels, you quickly learn to appreciate all of the care that keeps it running. You also develop a strong sensitivity to potential safety hazards, and that means thinking about it in a way that suburbanites and city dwellers don’t. As an RV owner, any issues in your vehicle translate to issues with your house, and visa-versa. 

Most home and apartment owners merely have smoke alarms and fire extinguishers to fight fire, but RV drivers will happily opt for something more advanced. A leading example of this is THIA by Proteng, a patent-pending fire suppression system that is heat-activated, minimizing fire damage by eliminating heat at the source. 

Ultimately, It’s About the Little Things

Living in a motorhome allows you to appreciate life from an angle that’s difficult to find anywhere else in the modern world. While you’ll be sacrificing some areas–a fixed routine or consistent access to sushi–you’ll be gaining in just as many others. One of the biggest changes that happens is a newfound appreciation for the little things. 

While an RV trip is ultimately about getting somewhere (like the East Coast or the Grand Canyon), the little moments that happen along the way are often what make it magical: Unexpectedly good food from a local dive; nights spent stargazing free from the light pollution of the city; grilling away the afternoons with newfound friends at a shady autumnal campsite. These small adventures are what make RV life worth it and you’ll come to develop a profound appreciation for them. 

RV life is ultimately about adventure, and there’s no shortage of it to be found on the open road. Sometimes these adventures are big cross-country endeavors, and sometimes they’re as simple as an afternoon of fishing. Either way, living behind the wheel of a motorhome puts you in a unique position to experience – and appreciate – all of the magic that our big, beautiful country has to offer.

If you’re ready to take the next step and learn more about RV living, contact one of our Lifestyle Specialists today!

RV Generator Selection

RV Generators: A How-To Guide

Modern motorhomes are packed with the latest technology and household conveniences. Items such as washer/dryer laundry centers, dishwashers, entertainment systems featuring multiple HD TVs, residential refrigerators and electric cooktops all require 120 volt AC power – and that’s in addition to the rooftop air conditioners. 

All of these items operate just fine when you are parked and plugged into a campground pedestal that supplies shore power to the coach, but what happens when you are driving or camping at a location that does not have any shore power? 

Many coaches have inverters that will power some devices, such as a residential refrigerator, microwave oven and entertainment systems. But larger AC power loads can’t be handled by an inverter when driving, such as rooftop air conditioners. Plus, dry camping inverters can draw down your battery bank pretty quickly, so you will need to rely on the motorhome’s generator to provide AC power in order to operate these items and to recharge your battery bank.

Generators come in various forms and sizes, so it’s best to analyze what your power consumption needs and particular applications are when choosing the best generator for you. First, let’s understand a bit how generators work…

Portable- Versus Permanently-Mounted RV Generators

Most larger Class A coaches will come equipped with a generator that is permanently installed in the coach. Larger diesel pushers generally have them installed in the nose of the coach and are mounted on a slide-out rail for ease of service. Gasoline powered motorhomes that are of a front engine design will have them installed in a side compartment, or may even be an optional feature.

National Indoor RV Centers blog RV Generator in Class A motorhome

Generators such as this 5500 watt Onan Marquis Gold gasoline powered generator are commonly mounted in a basement compartment on gas powered class A motorhomes.

Installed generators have the benefit of using the same fuel tank that feeds the engine. The output wiring is connected to an automatic transfer switch, making it a simple task to start the generator via a switch in the motorhome’s interior. Smaller Class C and Class B motorhomes are limited on storage, so a generator is often an option not chosen by the buyer, opting instead for more storage space. In that case, a portable generator might be a better choice.

National Indoor RV Centers blog-RV-compact-generators-Class C-Class B motorhomes

Compact units – such as this 4,000 watt gasoline powered Onan – are typically installed in Class C or B+ coaches where basement cargo space is limited in height.

Portable generators won’t tie up your RV’s basement storage space, but you will have to find some place to carry it, like in the back of a pickup bed. They can multitask, so you can use the generator in other locations without the RV. You can even use it to provide emergency power during an outage at your home. One drawback is that you need to carry a separate fuel supply for the generator, which also requires storage. Weight is also a consideration because the need for horsepower increases as the wattage demand goes up. More horsepower means larger engines that are heavier, making the generator harder to handle.

National Indoor RV Centers-blog-RV generators-portable generator for motorhome use

Units such as this Honda 5,000 watt are portable and can be moved by two persons.


 Household power in North America is 60 Hertz – which is the measurement of the power’s frequency or wavelength per second – while electrical power in Europe is 50 Hz. Any electrical device designed for use in North America will require 60 Hz power in order to operate. Frequency in a generator is determined by the number of times a magnetic field passes by a generator’s stator winding and receives an induced charge. In a generator with two field coils, the generator needs to spin at a constant 3,600 RPM in order to create 60 Hz power while a generator with four field coils only needs to run at 1,800 RPM.

Most portable generators are of the two pole design to save weight on both the engine and the generator itself. For example – a 3,500 watt generator will require around 8 HP to generate that much electrical power. A typical 8 HP engine will produce that power at peak RPM, which is going to be close to the 3,600 RPM that a two pole generator will operate at. A four pole generator will only need to turn at 1,800 RPM to achieve 60 Hz, but a four pole generator is heavier and bulkier and the engine won’t be able to create its maximum rated power at that slower speed. Therefore, a large engine rated in the 12-14 HP range at 3,600 RPM will need to be used so that 8 HP is still available at the lower 1,800 RPM. The extra weight and size of the larger engine and generator doesn’t make it a good choice for a portable generator but is best suited for a stationary mount where the quieter operation associated with lower RPMs is beneficial.

Split Phase Versus In-Phase:

Regardless of whether your generator is a two pole or four pole unit, there will be two field windings that provide power to the receptacles. Each winding is capable of producing 120 volts of AC power at one half of the rated capacity of the generator. These windings can be connected in series to offer 120 or 240 volts in a split phase design, or in parallel to offer only 120 volts in what is referred to as an in-phase design. For example – a 6,000 watt generator has two field coils, each with 3,000 watts of available power at 120 volts. Referring to the graphic below, we can see that there are 6,000 watts of 240 volt power available between L1 and L2. There are 3,000 watts of 120 volt power available between L1 and Neutral, and another 3,000 available between L2 and neutral. 3,000 watts at 120 volts is only 25 amps. Unfortunately, you can’t draw 30 amps on one circuit because the two fields are in series.

National Indoor RV Centers blog RV Generators split phase wiring

The graphic referred to in the text as the Split Phase diagram

The split phase system works fine on larger generators, such as 10,000 watts and up, but has its limitations on smaller units. Many of the smaller units used in RVs do not have 240 volt capabilities, which is fine because 240 volt appliances in an RV are extremely rare except for very high end coaches. In this case, the two windings are placed in parallel rather than series. This eliminates any 240 volt capability but allows for the full 6,000 watts to be available on any one circuit. This is referred to as an in-phase system and is generally used on generators rated at 7,000 watts or less. 

Inverter Generators

Inverters are the opposite of converters. A converter takes 120 volt AC power and converts it to 12 volt DC power to operate lights, water pumps, fans and other 12 volt accessories in the RV as well as battery charging power. An inverter takes 12 volt DC power from the batteries and inverts it to create 120 volt AC power. Small inverters can be used to power an entertainment system while larger inverters can power a number of receptacles and appliances. This means you don’t have to run your generator to keep a residential refrigerator cold while driving and can also operate a microwave and a few outlets. They are helpful because it extends the time interval between times when you need to run the generator to recharge batteries or run larger loads.

National Indoor RV Centers-blog-RV generators-inverter- based-Honda 2200-unit

An inverter based Honda 2200 watt unit.

However, inverter technology has also filtered into generators as well. Inverter based generators are popular in some of the small portables, such as the Honda EU2200 series as well as in the Onan Quiet Diesels in the 7KW to 8KW range. In a sense, these generators are not true AC generators, although their eventual output is AC power. They are actually DC generators that send their variable DC output through inverter circuitry built into the generator itself. This eliminates the requirement to operate at a steady 1,800 or 3,600 RPM because the inverter electronics convert the DC power from the generator into 120 volt AC power and establish a 60 Hz frequency electronically. 

A DC generator has no requirement to turn at any given speed because the output power increases as the generator’s speed increases. This allows the generator to operate at a lower RPM under light loads, saving fuel and reducing the noise level. 

As you add more demand for power, such as when an air conditioner starts up, the generator’s speed will increase to raise the power output level, all the while maintaining a steady 120 volt AC power level at a 60 Hz frequency. Inverter based generators also put out fairly clean power with low levels of noise or total harmonic distortion (THD), which is a benefit when powering sensitive electronic equipment. Inverter generators are not found in the larger 10KW  sizes and up because the inverter boards would be large and expensive and generally not necessary with the stability present in the larger diesel generators. However, they are quite popular in the smaller portable models.


When selecting the proper size generator, it’s important to remember that wattage is the measurement of true power. A 50 amp shore power supplies 50 amps of 120 VAC power on each leg. “Amps” x “volts” = watts, so a 50 amp shore power receptacle is capable of providing 6,000 watts power on each leg, for a total of 12,000 watts. Therefore, if you want a generator that can match that power, you’ll need a 12,000 watt generator. If you don’t use all of that power, you may be able to step down to a 10,000 watt generator, but the biggest factor is with air conditioning. A coach with two rooftop air conditioners may be able to get by with a 7,000 watt generator, depending on how many other 120 volt accessories you have. But any coach with three rooftop units is going to need at least 10,000 watts.

 When sizing up a generator, you need to consider how your loads are distributed across the breaker panel. A split phase generator can only supply half of the total capacity on each leg, so you have to be sure that your heavy loads are evenly distributed across both legs of the panel. Remember that each leg has a given amount of amperage and on a split phase generator, they cannot be shared. If your loads are imbalanced, you’ll need a much larger generator just to feed one leg while the other leg is not being fully utilized. 

Another consideration is static versus dynamic loads. Lighting and heating elements are static loads in that they always consume the same amount of amps. Dynamic loads are associated with components that have load requirements that vary under different conditions.

Motors are considered dynamic loads because the current draw varies according to how hard they are working – plus, they generally have a startup surge which can be up to three times the running load. Consider the case of an air conditioner. It may have a typical unloaded draw of less than 10 amps, but when it first starts up it will have a surge of in excess of 20 amps as the capacitor start motor starts up against the head pressure in the refrigerant. If the unit was resting long enough, it may settle in to around 10 amps immediately after startup but as the head pressure increases and the unit works hard, it can draw 12-14 amps. Consider that you most likely won’t be starting all three air conditioners at the same time so you don’t need to use the peak starting surge for every unit when calculating how large your generator needs to be. Remember that “volts” x “amps” = watts, so just multiply your amps by 120 to convert to watts in order to determine how many watts you’ll need. 

Following are some examples of typical load requirements:

Air Conditioners 1400-2000 watts
Refrigerator 600-1000 watts
Electric Frying Pan 1000-1500 watts
Electric Stove Element 675-1000 watts
Electric Water Heater 1250 watts
Hair Dryer 500-1500 watts
CRT Television 200-600 watts
LED Television 100-375 watts
Portable Ceramic Heater 750-1500 watts
Toaster 1000 watts
Satellite Dish and Receiver 200 watts
Battery Charger/Converter 750-1400 watts

When sizing your generator, you also need to consider the fact that altitude affects the engine’s ability to create power. Different engines react in varying amounts. An Onan Marquis Gold series of gasoline powered generators will lose 3.5% of power for every 1,000-foot gain of altitude over 3,000 feet. The Onan Quiet Power Diesel 10,000 watt will derate 3.5% for every 1,000’ over 500’ of altitude and it further derates by 1% for every 10oF of temperature increase over 85oF. This equates to a 7,500 watt generator running at 9,000’ of altitude that will only be capable of handling 5,000 watts at that altitude unless the engine has enough excess horsepower to allow for it.

National Indoor RV Centers-blog-RV generators-diesel generator

Most Class A diesel pushers have diesel powered generators, such as this Onan 10,000 watt installed in the front cap area of a Newmar London Aire are placed on slide-out rails for ease in service access.

Diesel engines are pretty much capable of handling the fuel injection requirement at higher altitudes but carbureted gasoline powered engines will have issues with running rich due to lack of air. Some generators, like the Onan Marquis Gold series, have a mixture adjustment on their carburetors. You can adjust the fuel flow with a lever to lean the engine out when operating at higher altitudes. But be sure to reset it to the full rich position when you return to the flatlands or else you run the risk of burning valves by running the engine too lean.

Armed with this information, you should be ready to select the best generator for your RV lifestyle. Be sure to include your generator when you have your RV tech perform scheduled maintenance on your motorhome. Taking care of it will ensure it will take care of you when you need it.

Surprise! New Storage Facility for Hundreds of RVs

Book storage at NIRVC Phoenix for just $11/ft per month! In addition to your RV, we’ll also store your boat and towable! Inquire about availability today.
New storage customers only. 

National Indoor RV Centers is erecting a brand new, state-of-the-art, 130,000-square-foot facility that’s dedicated to safely and securely storing RVs. The building, which is expected to be completed in June, will have capacity for more than 200 motorhomes and is located across the street from our RV Lifestyle Center at 11280 N. Solar Canyon Way in Surprise, AZ.

NIRVC to Expand Offerings

Upon completion of the storage facility, we’re expanding our service capacity by adding more than a dozen new bays and upgrading our lot to accommodate more inventory. Upon completion, the Phoenix location will have 600-700 units onsite between storage, sales and service.

From Pick Up to Drop Off

Our concierge storage makes beginning and ending an RV trip easy and convenient. 

When coach owners are ready to hit the road, our technicians prep your coach for travel. They’ll check and adjust tire pressure, fill the fresh-water tank, adjust or fill the water level for lead acid house batteries, turn on the refrigerator and store the owner’s car – we’ll even detail it, upon request!

When returning from travel, simply place your motorhome in our expert hands and hop into your waiting car. NIRVC has on-site dump tanks for owners’ use or, for those who prefer to avoid that task, we can handle it. 

While in storage, our technicians conduct periodic engine starts to lubricate the engine and change tire position to prevent flat spots. Additionally, routine chassis and motorhome maintenance, collision repairs and paint and body work can be performed upon request. Finally, owners can give their motorhome some TLC with a professional wash and detailing while the unit is in storage.

Security a Priority

To ensure your RV is stored safely, NIRVC has a state-of-the-art security system, exterior and interior video cameras, exterior signage noting the facility is under video surveillance, a well-lit exterior and individualized entry codes. 

NIRVC Phoenix Location Details

Address: 11280 N. Solar Canyon Way, Surprise
Sales Hours: Weekdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Service Hours: Monday – Saturday 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Upcoming RV Rallies: What You Need To Know

RV Shows & FMCA Rallies with AIM: 10 Reasons You Need To Save These Dates!


Annual RV Shows & FMCA Rallies – It’s that time of year! Open up your brand-new calendar and SAVE THE DATE(S) FOR 2023!


The Big Three Events with AIM Club in 2023:

Why only three RV events?

There are hundreds of different RV shows, rallies and events across the U.S. every year. 

FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) sponsors two of the biggest, with the bi-annual International Convention & RV Expos above. FMCA also sponsors hundreds of regional rallies and smaller gatherings.

Other organizations sponsor RV events all over the country, including well-known shows in Quartzite, AZ in January and Hershey, PA in September.

  • RV manufacturers host different types of rallies and events at their “mothership” (factory) or nearby (usually in fairgrounds or campgrounds in the area).
  • Dealers also get into the action, like NIRVC hosting their annual “Customer Appreciation Rally” events for customers each and every year.

Our focus here will be The Big Three: FMCA International Conventions & RVTA’s Florida RV SuperShow, because that’s where NIRVC & AIM Club will be in 2023 – and that’s important!

RV Shows, Rallies & Events

Most of us, as RV owners (or soon-to-be RV owners! 😉) have probably attended an RV Show at one time or another. They’re all over the place! I mean, what better place to wander around for a day:

  • Dreaming about camping in comfort and style.
  • Learning about RVs, comparing types, models and prices.
  • Exploring all of the accessories, memberships and camping possibilities.
  • Researching everything you could possibly hope to find out about RVs. 
  • Buying an RV!!! (Whether you meant to or not…)

My husband and I wandered through three small, regional RV Shows before unexpectedly becoming Entegra owners in 2020. (We didn’t realize we were looking to buy a big Class A Motorhome, but the pandemic was a crazy time!)

Before we became RV owners, we had no idea you could actually camp at RV shows. We didn’t know anything about FMCA. Or other membership organizations. Or RV rallies. 

Thank goodness we wandered into the Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa last year as day visitors and bumped into The All Inclusive Motorhome Club (AIM)!


Meeting Angie & Brett in the AIM Tent (Closing Day)

We are currently in our second year of living, working and traveling full-time in our 2016 Entegra Aspire. It’s taken us that long to get the hang of RV shows, rallies and events, as owners. Sometimes I’m still not sure we’re doing it right. 

But we do know enough to schedule the dates and plan our itinerary accordingly. We don’t want to miss out on the fun of the season… And seeing friends! 

Our experience with AIM Club at outside events:

  • Jan 2022 – Day Visitors at the Florida RV SuperShow (Tampa)
  • Mar 2022 – Tucson, AZ FMCA Rally w/ Entegra Caravan & AIM
  • Aug 2022 – Lincoln, NE FMCA Rally w/ AIM Caravan

Camping with AIM Club

You’re already an AIM Club Member, right?

If you purchased your motorcoach at National Indoor RV Centers – NIRVC, you received one year FREE membership to The AIM Club in your new owner’s package. If it’s been more than a year, or you purchased your motorhome elsewhere – it’s okay! 

Any owner of a Class A, B or C motorized coach is encouraged to join AIM for Exclusive Member Benefits & Discounts, including Member Rallies & Events. Click here to Join/Renew AIM Today!

However you became a motorcoach owner, it’s time to elevate your RV show, rally and event experience!

  1. Register and attend one of The Big Three: The Tampa Show or FMCA International Conventions (Rallies) – with your RV, in the campground
  2. Caravan with AIM (more about that in the reasons below)

If not this year, the calendar for these Big Three Events will be basically the same next year – January, March, and August – so you have plenty of time to plan (and register) ahead.

Note: These events are NOT AIM Club Rallies

I’ve written about attending an AIM Club Rally before:

Inside AIM (All Inclusive Motorhome) Luxury RV Club & California Dreamin’ 

NIRVC AIM Club Califorina
NIRVC AIM Club Rally FMCA Lincoln Nebraska

CA Dreamin’ AIM Club Rally

AIM Club at FMCA Lincoln

THIS IS NOT THAT. RV Shows & FMCA Rallies with AIM Club, caravaning (camping together in a group) at these events is very different: More rustic in accommodations and services. I’ll explain more below. 

You should definitely experience both!

RV Shows & FMCA Rallies with AIM: 10 Reasons Why You Gotta Go!

All Inclusive Motorhome Club at FMCA RV Rally wearing blue shirts

AIM Club at FMCA Lincoln

1. RV Community

Let’s face it. RVing can be a lonely adventure sometimes, especially if you’re full-timing. RV shows and rallies are a fantastic way to find community out on the road – meeting new people, making new friends and connections.

We consider many of the people we’ve connected with at RV shows and rallies new best friends and family on this extraordinary adventure. With some of them, we’ve arranged to meet up again in our travels. 

RV shows and rallies give us a chance to come in from the wild and hang out with the tribe for a week. It is a truly special and memorable experience.

NIRVC AIM Club rally in Tuscon

FMCA Tucson Entegra Caravan

2. RV Chapters & Neighborhoods / Caravans

As new RV owners, new to rallies and events, we didn’t understand the concept of RV Chapters and Caravans. When we joined FMCA and started to learn more about rallies, we realized there was a lot more to it!

FMCA Chapters are smaller associations within the big organization:

Quote: FMCA has nearly 400 chapters across the United States and Canada. Some cover a specific or general geographic region. Others revolve around a particular RV brand or model.  (from FMCA’s Join A Chapter)

At FMCA Rallies, chapter groups can caravan in and park together, so it’s like a small neighborhood within the larger camping area. Many of these groups host their own “onsite rallies” with potlucks, entertainment and social activities.

While AIM Club is not its own FMCA Chapter, like the Entegra Coach Owner’s Association or the Diesel RV Club, it is an officially recognized caravan group – or neighborhood – at The Big Three Events.

We’ll talk more about that below!

NIRVC Display at FMCA Tucson

NIRVC Display at FMCA Tucson

3. RV Shopping 

Are you in the market for a new RV? Even if you’re just looking or dreaming… RV shows and rallies are the place to SEE them all! Dealers bring in brand-new models for display: For Sale!

The stickers are “in the window” (so to speak), with MSRP and option lists. There are Show Specials and deals to be made. (The dealers don’t want to drive all those RVs back to the lot!)

RVs of every size and type are all lined up for side-by-side-by-side comparison of different types, classes, brands, models, equipment and accessories. Talk about the ultimate window shopping experience! And you get to go inside and see all the things: Open all the cabinets and doors. Push all the buttons. Explore new decor, color schemes and accessories – in real life!

NIRVC FMCA Tucson First-Timer’s Orientation

FMCA Tucson First-Timer’s Orientation

4. RV Education

What better way to learn about RVing, RVs, and the lifestyle than hanging out with a thousand RV owners for a week? Imagine the combined decades of experience!

Beyond that informal learning experience in the camping area, there is a daily schedule packed-full of seminars and demonstrations with RV vendors and event sponsors. Every day!

FMCA rally Tucson Schedule of events

Sherri’s FMCA Lincoln Schedule of Events

You can learn anything and everything. Maybe more than you ever wanted to know:

FMCA RV rally Tampa, Florida Exhibit Hall Tampa Show

Exhibit Hall – Tampa Show

5. RV Specialty Products

You might not know you need it, but you’ll definitely find it at the Tampa RV Show & FMCA Rallies!

RV shows & rallies are a great opportunity to find specialty products, all in one place (and get your steps in, too!) at hundreds of vendor booths in the exhibit hall(s) or street markets:

  • RV pieces, parts & equipment
  • RV products for organization, cleaning & safety 
  • RV art & decor (outside mirror covers, anyone?)
  • RV gadgets & electronics
  • RV services: Insurance, Financing, RV Properties, Memberships & Campground/Resort Info

I have to admit, I’m not a shopper. We keep a running list of the things we’re searching for: Goals for 2023! We did buy our TPMS (Tire Pressure Management System) from TireMinder last year, at the Tampa Show.

TireMinder TPMS Tire Pressure Management System FMCA rally

TPMS Display

Mark & Sue Our Journey in Myles at RV Life

YouTube Friends

Mark & Sue (Our Journey in Myles) at RV Life

It’s a lot of fun to walk around and SEE all the things and people at the show. Many of our favorite RV YouTube Superstars attend The Big Three, meeting & greeting fans and working with sponsors in the booths. It’s always fun to catch up!

AIM/NIRVC Service Truck installing RettroBand Tire Safety at FMCA Lincoln

AIM/NIRVC Service Truck installing RettroBand® Tire Safety at FMCA Lincoln

6. RV Services

While we have not had much success with shopping (which is our own fault), convenient, on-site RV services at the shows and rallies are a godsend for full-time travelers!

It is super easy to schedule services at the shows and rallies – generally, they’ll come to you:

  • Sign up before the show (FMCA sends out email with service appointments you can schedule in advance).
  • Sign up at the show, at the vendor booths or during seminars.
  • Sign up with service trucks in the camping area.  

You can flag the service trucks down on the roads or approach them when they’re working on a neighbor’s rig. The techs are always happy to hand you a business card and let you know their schedule.

We were able to have ProTeng Fire Suppression installed in the camping area at FMCA Tucson – there was a Show Special for AIM Members. We had two foggy windows repaired in the lot at FMCA Lincoln. Super convenient!

FMCA Lincoln foggy window repair on site

FMCA Lincoln foggy window repair on site

You’ll see all sorts of service and installations in the camping area:

  • Awning replacement
  • Solar installations
  • Magne Shade installations
  • Wash & Wax and exterior detailing – very popular service! 
  • AIM partners: RettroBand® Tire Safety, THIA by Proteng Fire Suppression

7. FMCA Book Club!!!

This should probably be titled “RV Entertainments & Social Activities” but my personal bias as a book nerd & reader is showing. There are dozens of social activities on the RV show and rally schedule everyday: Ice cream socials, coffee hour (& doughnuts!), crafts, Lunch & Learn presentations, games, contests, trivia & bingo!

I was so excited to see FMCA Supersized Book Club on the schedule for both Tucson and Lincoln. Yes, it’s a personal favorite, but I know I’m not the only one! FMCA selects a local author with a relevant best-selling book and invites them to come to the rally for an engaging discussion and book signing. (I would recommend ordering and reading the book ahead of the event!)

In Lincoln, award-winning Nebraska author Jonis Agee discussed her book The Bones of Paradise, a multigenerational family saga set in the unforgiving Nebraska Sand Hills in the years following the massacre at Wounded Knee.”

And in Tucson…

FMCA Tucson Supersized Book Club
Isabella Madonado signing her book

FMCA Tucson Supersized Book Club

Isabella Madonado signing her book!

FMCA Supersized Book Club!!! Oh my gosh, y’all — book group & a visiting author! The room was packed with engaged and enthusiastic readers! #rvlife #50states50books #readingcommunity #literacymatters

Isabella Maldonado: A Different Dawn (Crime Fiction). Set in Phoenix! I was in my Happy Place. Loved the book, loved the author.

Lincoln Station - Lincoln, Nebraska

Lincoln Station – Lincoln, Nebraska

8. RV Destinations

While the FL RV SuperShow is reliably held in Tampa, FL every year, the FMCA International Convention & RV Expo Rallies are held at different locations, year to year: Tucson, Arizona and Lincoln, Nebraska in 2022; Perry, Georgia and Gillette, Wyoming in 2023. This provides a wonderful opportunity to travel to and explore new destinations.

While Tucson, AZ has been on our travel route several times, it would have taken us a lot longer to get to Nebraska. We might never have had a reason to visit Lincoln, NE without FMCA! It is very cool that the local communities, cities and states are actively involved and promoted at RV shows and rallies. 

In Tampa and the FMCA locations, the local tourism office usually has a booth with visitor’s information, guides and great suggestions for what to see and do in the area. Throughout the week, there are activities and special tours available to learn about and explore the local area: arts, history, and culture.

At FMCA Lincoln, sponsor Blue Ox hosted the FMCA Welcome to Lincoln Night Bash at Lincoln Station in the historic Haymarket District downtown. It was an amazing evening and a fantastic opportunity to explore Lincoln!

AIM Club invitation to Tampa!

AIM Club invitation to Tampa!

9. NIRVC / AIM Outside Events

This is, in my opinion, the best reason of all to attend one of The Big Three events listed above. If you are an AIM Club Member – and you should be! – you can sign up to caravan and camp with AIM at these events:

  1. You’ll receive an email in advance of the event with information and instructions on how to caravan with AIM. Basically, when you register, you’ll indicate “AIM Club” as the chapter or group you want to camp with.
  2. Camping with AIM at these events is FREE – there is no additional cost, beyond your event registration fee with 30amp camping.
  3. There is an AIM “Wagon Master” for each event who coordinates the caravan and keeps everyone informed with check-in date (caravan groups usually enter a day early to park), entrance gate & directions, and the time to arrive for AIM group parking.
  4. You will receive more information between registration and the date of the event, by email from AIM Club, with updates on the AIM Club Facebook Group.

AIM Members: JOIN the AIM Club Facebook Group to keep up with all the latest news and past, present & future events!

The Big White AIM Tent at FMCA Lincoln

The Big White AIM Tent at FMCA Lincoln

Why camp with AIM?

There is always something happening in the AIM Neighborhood at the Florida RV SuperShow and FMCA International Conventions!

The Big White AIM Tent and caravan camping area is usually (in our experience) on the outskirts of the RV camping, which is fine. There are continuous golf carts, trams, and buses coming around to take you to the show and rally events and bring you back whenever you’re ready. 

During the day, you determine your own schedule, however you want to experience the rally or spend time in the camping area. At The Big Three events, NIRVC is a sponsor and vendor, with a large display of big, beautiful, brand-new motor coaches and several vendor tents set up in the main area.

You are always welcome at the NIRVC area – check-out those brand-new motorcoaches! 👀

NIRVC Blue Shirts & THE DRAWING!!!

You are encouraged to stop by the AIM Club table at the NIRVC display – often! On your first visit, you’ll pick up your NIRVC royal blue “How I Roll” t-shirt. 

AIM / NIRVC Drawing at FMCA Lincoln

AIM / NIRVC Drawing at FMCA Lincoln

You’ll want to wear that t-shirt all week (try not to sweat it up!). Because, every time you walk by the NIRVC / AIM table or visit the NIRVC motorcoaches during the event, you’ll receive a ticket for the DRAWING on the last afternoon of the show – and you could win BIG! (No, not a brand-new RV, not that big.)

Great prizes in the past have included all kinds of fancy-brand camping equipment and accessories: coolers and travel cups, bbq sets and outdoor furniture, iPads & Instant Pots! Dozens of goodies. Dozens of WINNERS! (You have to be there to win AND you have to be wearing your NIRVC blue shirt!) At the very least, you WIN a free NIRVC t-shirt! 😉

The AIM Tent After Dark: Dinner & Entertainment

The AIM Tent After Dark: Dinner & Entertainment

AIM After Dark

After a long day at the event – shopping for a new RV, attending seminars, enjoying activities, and spending money on all the gadgets & gizmos you never knew you needed – you catch a tram back to the AIM Neighborhood and the fun continues!

You don’t have to cook. You don’t have to go out to a restaurant. You don’t have to worry about bringing anything to a potluck. Every night of the show or rally, except for the last night (when everybody needs to be packing up and getting ready to go, including the AIM Club tent and equipment), AIM Club serves dinner at the big white tent. With beverages (water, soda, beer & wine) and dessert. And, usually, Randy-the-Rally-Man’s famous hand-cut, fresh french fries!*

[*You’ll know what I’m talking about if you read the AIM article: Inside AIM (All Inclusive Motorhome) Luxury RV Club & California Dreamin’ 😉] 

All this is followed by evening entertainment: a live band, a DJ, a vocalist, or small musical group. And then there’s dancing!!!

Welcome One & All!

The thing you might not expect, at AIM After Dark… It’s not just the AIM Club Caravan neighborhood at the event. The AIM Club, NIRVC & other AIM Club sponsors extend the evening invitation to the entire RV show and rally community at The Big Three: 

Everyone attending the show or rally is invited, usually when they visit the NIRVC display, the AIM Club table for blue shirts and drawing tickets, or when someone asks someone else about the sporty royal blue “How We Roll” shirt that EVERYONE is wearing by the second or third day.

The proper response: 

“That’s the AIM Club, sponsored by NIRVC. They serve dinner & beverages in the big white tent over on the outskirts of the camping area – for free! – followed by evening entertainment. Everyone is invited. It’s a lot of fun! Just bring your own chairs and wear your dancing shoes…”

FMCA Lincoln AIM Announcements

FMCA Lincoln AIM Announcements

10. RV Adventure…

Last, but not least: A few words about “roughing it” in the camping area:

The Tampa RV Show and FMCA Rallies are held at large, regional fairgrounds and outdoor event centers. The camping area is a huge, grassy field with makeshift power systems providing individual electrical hookups. Caravans usually park in the 30amp service area.

There are no individual water or sewer connections, but they do have fresh water and pump-out services you can arrange for a fee…

NEXT ARTICLE: “‘Roughing It’ At RV Shows & Rallies – You Can Do It!” 😉

For announcements and more information about The Big Three Outside AIM Events every year:

  1. Be sure to JOIN / RENEW your AIM Club Membership!
  2. JOIN The AIM Club Facebook Group to stay up-to-date!

Did you know The AIM Club schedules AIM Rallies around The Big Three? Pre- and/or Post-Rally with AIM!

Check the AIM Events Calendar online for all the fun!

Safe Travels & See You Soon!

National Indoor RV Centers blogger Sherri Caldwell profile image

Sherri Caldwell is the founder of BooksAndTravelUSA.com – Full-time RV Travel Blog & Book Club/U.S. Literacy Project. With her husband, Russ, she is currently living, working, and traveling full-time in their 2016 Entegra Aspire: Charlie-The-Unicorn RV.

How to Plan Your RV Trip

Here’s What to Keep in Mind When Planning Your RV Trip

A Little Preparation Goes a LONG Way

Proper planning can make or break your RV adventure. While it’s easy to get lost in all of the luxuries of a modern RV, it’s important to remember how much of a journey RV adventures can be.

Simply put, most RV trips involve driving hundreds of miles or crossing state lines in a large, highly-complex machine. No matter how sophisticated modern motorhomes may be, there’s always a margin for something to go wrong. 

While nobody plans on complications, it’s always a good idea to prepare for them. Here’s what to keep in mind once you start planning for your RV trip.

It’s Better to Have Extra Food and Not Need It …

… than the other way around. Even if you’re one of those RVers who eats at restaurants whenever possible, it’s still a good idea to stock your pantry with enough non-perishables to last a few days. You don’t need to go full doomsday prepper, but it’s a good idea to stock several meals per person of dried or canned food. That’s something you can easily accomplish with a single large bag of rice and a few cans of beans. 

Don’t Just Count on GPS

Over the last decade, GPS apps have become so ubiquitous they’ve essentially replaced all other forms of navigation. While platforms like Google Maps may be incredibly accurate when routing through urban areas, they can lose a lot of their accuracy on more remote roads. In addition, GPS apps might not account for issues like road closures and detours. Plus, a lapse in cell phone coverage (or power) can prevent you from using them entirely. 

There’s no substitute for knowing how to navigate to your destination manually. Print out the driving route you plan to follow, along with any maps that will help you navigate it if your phone stops working. Nobody wants to load up the RV to spend a day driving around lost. That little bit of preparation can save you plenty of frustration. 

Know the Legality of Any Substances You’re Carrying

You should never get behind the wheel if you’re under the influence of ANY intoxicating substances. 

Suppose you’re the sort of person who enjoys sitting in front of your (parked) RV and relaxing with a cold beer. In that case, it’s a good idea to know the laws regarding alcohol (and potentially marijuana) consumption in both your destination and any states you plan on driving through. 

More than 40 US states have open container laws that limit where alcohol can be stored or consumed in a moving vehicle. The vast majority of these laws prohibit any consumption in the vehicle’s passenger seat, although many carve out an exception for any designated living quarters in an RV.

It’s essential to understand these legalities if you live in a state with legalized marijuana use. As states have vastly different laws regarding legalization and decriminalization, a perfectly legal $40 purchase in one state can be a felony if you drive just a few miles into another.

When in Doubt, Get Someone on the Phone

In a post-2020 world, there’s always the risk of disruptions or policy changes during travel, especially if you’re visiting a popular tourist attraction. It’s a good idea to review your itinerary ahead of time along with pre-purchasing passes and tickets whenever possible.

There are plenty of destinations where this won’t be an option. Any experienced RVer can tell you that RV attractions don’t always feature modern websites. If you encounter any confusion when pre-planning your trip, never underestimate the power of getting an actual, talking human being on the phone.

Whether you’re clarifying the check-out policy of an RV campground or trying to book day passes to a local history museum, don’t hesitate to call. After all, the worst-case scenario is that you confirm information you already know.

Of course, more goes into planning an RV trip than just preparing for worst-case scenarios. Figuring out a good trip itinerary can be a journey in itself, and that’s BEFORE you factor in all the long-term considerations that come with RV ownership. Storage, repairs and routine maintenance are all factors that greatly affect your RV experience.

Think of National Indoor RV Centers as your co-pilot in all of your RV adventures. We understand the ins and outs of everything RV, from sales to paint & body to storage. Our expert technicians have everything required to get you on the road – and keep you there.