There are lots of different ways to travel in an RV. On your own, with a significant other, with your family, with a pet (or three)– or with a caravan.
Despite the fact that the majority of RV vlogs on Youtube feature solo travelers or couples, caravans are actually a very popular way to travel the country. If you’re worried about loneliness on the road, or have concerns about safety, you might want to to think about joining a caravan.
What’s a caravan?
In the US, a caravan is literally just a group of people traveling together, in separate vehicles, going to the same destination. It could be a permanent group who travel together all the time, or a temporary caravan meant to last for a specific amount of time. Caravan members can be friends, family, or members of a club or tour group! There are even companies who specialize in forming caravan groups and hosting tours of a specific location of the US. Joining a caravan group be a really good way for new RVers to start a trip, as it has a built-in support system if things go wrong.
Types of caravans
- Professional tours: caravan members pay a third party company to travel along a predetermined course. Third party company usually has secured places to stay, dump stations, food, excursions, etc. as part of the touring fee.
- RV clubs: caravan members are also members of an RV or travel club, and have deliberately grouped together either as part of a club event or immediately before/after an event. For example, traveling with a caravan to go to a club’s rally.
- Amateur tours: caravan members aim to go to a specific place for a specific purpose, such as the caravans which formed after the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.
- Friends & family: caravan members are, well, friends and/or family!
Professional touring caravans could be a wonderful way to go explore a specific location without having to worry about all the logistics of traveling. If you’re new to RV life and unsure about going it alone for the first time out there, perhaps this is a good option for you.
Personally, I’m planning on joining an RV club or two and am super excited about potentially joining a club caravan as well! It’s an excellent opportunity to get to know other club members.
Why join a caravan?
There are a lot of positives about joining a caravan! Here’s a few that I can think of:
- You don’t have to make new friends at every camp you go to, because you’re taking your friends with you.
- It’s fun to travel with a group of friends and explore new places.
- Safety in numbers!
- If something breaks, you’ll have people who can help (or at least call a tow truck).
- A great opportunity for nightly potlucks– share meal costs!
- (Maybe) get group discounts for tours or expeditions.
But wait, what about…
It’s not all peaches and cream! There are for sure some negatives of being in a caravan:
- If you don’t like someone in the group, you can’t exactly kick them out.
- Multiple RVs take up way more space, which means finding places to stay at night might be more difficult if you want to stick together.
- Constantly being part of a group can be tiring.
- Having to coordinate travel between multiple people can lead to delays.
- If you have a timeline for getting somewhere, you can’t just go off and do something else that seems cool.
Ironically, many of the negative aspects of being in a caravan mirror the positive aspects. For instance, if you like big groups and being around people all the time, caravans can be great. On the other hand, if you DON’T like those things, caravans could be a downer.
The best thing to do is to make sure that whoever you caravan with is a good match for your personality type. If you’re a big people-person, then make sure you’re traveling with people who feel the same.
More of an introvert who needs to recharge alone at the end of the day? Get in a caravan of other introverts! We can call benefit from group travel once in a while, and it doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. Find (or make!) a group of travelers who can go with your flow, and it’ll all work out fine.
Should you join a caravan?
Consider the following: do you like traveling with others? Are you nervous about going somewhere by yourself? Do you want to have a guaranteed hangout buddy at evening firepit?
Think about how you like to travel, and how you may have to adapt that to work within a group. Also consider that caravans are not forever– you can totally join one, leave it, join another, rejoin the first, etc.
I myself am a bit of an introvert. While I can turn on the energy and be fine with groups for a while, I need to eventually be alone for a chance to recharge. Also, I don’t like having to wait on other people when I’m traveling somewhere. Being able to leave when I want, or go where I want, is a big part of why I’m moving into an RV in the first place.
On the other hand, I’m often nervous traveling to new places, and the idea of having a group to go with is reassuring. Plus, just because a caravan is going to the same location doesn’t mean that every caravan member has to drive the exact same way. There are some casual caravans that just meet up at certain points around a certain time period, for instance.
I haven’t been part of a caravan (yet), but I could see myself doing a short-term caravan or two. The benefits of traveling with a group of friendly people outweighs any negatives. Plus, I do like the idea of being able to share meals and hang out with people while camping.
What about you? Are you part of a caravan, or would you ever join one? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!0