One of the first questions I asked before our trip was “how far can I go?” I have noticed that on longer road trips in an automobile, no matter how much I would speed I would always average 60 MPH. The Unicorn RV weighs 7x what an average automobile weighs, so my open question to the RV’ing community was “how far can I go?”
The consensus I found was 200 miles per day was what most full-time RV’ers drive. There were retired couples who would stop driving at 2:00 PM, no matter how many (or little) miles they would drive. Other people would drive 600 miles in a day to get across the country then slow their travel down significantly. Diesel, 5th Wheel, Class C RV, everyone reported do not push yourself and try to enjoy yourself.
After 11 months on the road, I can finally answer the question “how far can I go?” The answer is about 400 miles per day, but I really recommend under 200 miles per days. I sampled some of the data I had collected and found that our average miles per hour (mph) was 45, no matter the distance or roadway. We relocated the RV 77 times over our trip; the average drive between locations was 158 miles. The most we moved in a single relocation was 492 miles, and the least we moved was 20 miles.
I will readily admit I still do not have a good grasp on why we only averaged 45 MPH, but I can offer some empirical reasons why:
- Toddlers Need Breaks – Having a 2 year old and a 4-year-old means stopping or slowing down often. There would be potty breaks, diaper breaks, kids have fits breaks, and food stops. It was rare that we could go for two hours without stopping at least once.
- Driver Needs Breaks – It is no secret; I have a tiny bladder, so I would need to stop often much to the annoyance of Jen. In addition, driving the Unicorn RV through rough terrain or rough weather I would need a few minutes to relax and calm down. An example was driving down a 9500 ft. mountain, about halfway down I pulled over to enjoy the view and loosen up my knuckles from the steering wheel.
- Gas / Propane Stops – Unicorn RV has a 75-gallon tank, we would normally fill up 50 gallons per stop. Filling up 50 gallons of gas takes a while, and you have to maneuver into a gas station and make sure you can easily exit after topped off. Filing propane required a gas station employee to fill the tank; it was not uncommon to wait 10-20 minutes, which slows your overall speed.
- Hills – Surprisingly hills did not cause a large amount of delay, unless you were very mountainous areas like Montana where you would spend 10 minutes climbing a mountain at 35 MPH.
- Construction – Rarely did road construction affect our driving, unless we were forced into a single lane with cones on both sides of the road.
- Weather – The hardest weather element to deal with on the drive was wind. If wind speeds were above 20 MPH we would have to lower our road speed 10 MPH or the Unicorn would become too unstable to drive.
- Supplies – We tried not to put together supply missions and relocations together, but sometimes to visit Costco, Whole Foods, or another specialty store it would be necessary to stop.
- Corners – You know those yellow warning signs on corners, you know that say 25 MPH ahead. In a car, you may ignore it and take the corner at 40 MPH without a problem. If you do not obey them, your passengers will not enjoy the corner. Slowing down for these advisories makes everyone happy in the RV, but slows down your overall speed.
If you are considering doing a large RV trip and need someone to answer the question “How far can I go?”, let me be the first to tell you that 500 miles per day is the absolute most you should do in a single day. You should reserve 500 miles per day for relocation trips and limit how many you do; if you do, you will miss huge portions of your trip. My recommendation is stick to 120 miles per day; it works out to about three hours of driving. When you do relocate, spend some time enjoying your new “home” before jumping into another relocation drive.