37 RV Tips for Seniors That Will Keep You Safe and Happy

More and more people choose to enjoy their retirement in an RV.

Whether selling their house and going full-time, taking a rig out on the occasional long road trip, or even just renting, recreational vehicles seem to attract seniors—for all the best reasons.

My husband and I are considering this option as well, and that's why I've been researching RV life, spending many hours in RV forums and groups and trying to find ways to make this lifestyle work for us.

Many of my cocnerns revolved around unique age-related aspects. Being in my 50s, and not particularly athletic or agile, I was worried about all kinds of RV life aspects.

The good news is that there seem to be solutions for pretty much everything! And so I decided to compile this list of tips that might help others in figuring this out.

I tried to avoid general tips that you can find just about anywhere and focus on things that are important for people in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and even 80s and 90s! 

Because you are never too old to RV!

That's not a slogan, either. That's the reality in campgrounds across the US, and there's no reason for you not to join the tens of thousands of so-called elderly people who decided to just "disrupt aging," as the AARP puts it, and just go out there and enjoy life!

With that in mind, let's start the tips rolling!

 #1 You have a lot of options to explore

Just because you're 68 or 86 does not mean you can't RV or are limited to a specific type of recreational vehicle.

People of all ages own and operate various RVs and do fine with them. The trick is finding the RV that works for you, your needs and abilities.

#2 Consider a motorhome if you don't want to deal with hitching

Many senior RVers prefer motorhomes. If you're not familiar with types of RVs, these are the ones that combine the vehicle and living area in a single unit, eliminating the need to unhitch and hitch.

Learn more: 7 Types of RVs You Simply Must Know

This is even more advantageous if you plan on moving from one campground to another often.

Elderly couple next to a motorhome

You can tow a smaller car behind the motorhome with a simple hitch that's easier to connect. Then, you can use that car when the larger RV is parked in the campground.

An additional advantage a motorhome offers mature travelers is the ease of access to the living area—even on short stops.

You can pull over at a rest area of gas station and quickly hop out of your seat to use the RV bathroom.

Perfect for a quick nap, too - something many of us appreciate on long drives. And you can do all of that even in bad weather!

#3 Consider a 5th wheel if you plan on staying in one place for long

Motorhomes are meant to be driven. A motorhome is not necessarily the best option if you plan to stay in the same place for an entire season.

In this scenario, hitching and unhitching the RV to the towing vehicle isn't much of an issue, so many people prefer a towable.

Of the towables, fifth wheels have two benefits that appeal to many RVers of all ages: They're easier to tow and generally offer more living space.

(In case you're unfamiliar with this - fifth wheels are easier to tow primarily due to their hitching mechanism. They connect directly over the rear axle of the towing vehicle and provide greater stability and balance compared to traditional bumper-pulled trailers.)

 

#4 Look for a floor plan with no steps

If you have back or knee issues, you may prefer a single-level floor plan with no steps.

This usually means a travel trailer and not a fifth wheel. Fifth wheels have one area that sits above the truck bed. That means there's a small stairway leading to that section, and that's where you'll usually find the master bedroom.

A travel trailer, on the other hand, will have a flat floor and no steps.

#5 Make the interior steps safe

If you do have a fifth wheel, install a handrail and LED lights across the steps to ensure their safety.

The last thing you need is a nasty fall in the middle of the night—in the middle of nowhere. That's true for anyone, but even more so for golden agers, especially those of us with osteoporosis.

#6 Make sure your pickup truck has a comfortable step

Pickup trucks can have hoop steps or a nerf bar that offers a longer step across the body of the truck.

Choose the latter for a comfortable and easy way to get into your cab. Whichever you choose, make sure the step is solid and stable.

If you feel the step in an older truck getting a "bounce, " handle the problem in time and replace the step if necessary.

#7 Get sturdy stairs for your RV, too

Your RV steps should be stable and sturdy. If you're shopping for an RV, look for steps that reach the ground so that they're well-supported when in use.

RV steps

Try the steps to make sure they don't wobble or move as you climb. If they do, you can actually replace the RV steps fairly easily—and you should.

#8 Get no-skid/no-slip steps

Even when the RV steps are well-anchored, you still need to make sure they offer good traction when you actually place your foot on them.

Remember, you'll be using them in all kinds of weather, so they need to provide traction even when wet. If your current steps don't, get heavy-duty non-slip tape (Amazon link) and add at least one strip to each step.

#9 Get a good handrail for the entry steps

Yes, we're still on the topic of steps and stairs! There are many here because staying safe while using the RV is super important for Golden Year RVers.

Last tip on this topic though, promise.

Some RV steps already come with a built-in rail. If yours don't, add them for a safe and secure entry and exit.

RV handrails are adapted for outdoor use and should be easy to remove and store - without losing their functionality. The Rail Mate (Amazon link) is a popular choice.

#10 Choose a walk-in shower

Stay extra safe when entering and exiting your RV shower stall. Opt for shower pans that have minimal above-floor height with little elevation between the pan and the bathroom floor.

If you can, choose a large shower stall and add a bench—sitting down is safer if you're feeling weak. Seasoned adventurers taking a shower after a day on the trail can appreciate this.

#11 Install a handle in the shower

You can never be too careful in the shower. Even if you have a full-size RV shower with a bench, it never hurts to have an extra place to hold on to if needed.

This is a standard feature in showers designed for the elderly and should probably be included in showers for people of all ages. You just never know where you might lose your grip and need to quickly reach out to a handle to prevent a fall.

#12 Non-skid shower mat

Still in the wet and soapy area, make your shower pan anti-skid. Either buy a non-skid bath/shower mat that's antibacterial and mold-safe or use adhesive anti-slip bath strips.

#13 Install a handle next to the toilet too.

It's not something people often tell you, but the truth is, getting up from the toilet can become harder as we age.

Depending on your level of fitness and the strength of your quad muscles, you could find yourself grabbing for something around you to pull yourself up. If that's the case, install a handle next to the toilet too.

#14 Make sure the inside of your RV is well-lit

Almost all of us experience vision deterioration at some point, often beginning in one's early forties.

In addition to a quality pair of glasses, adding light can help. Battery-operated push lights can easily illuminate spaces in your RV.

Good spots for adding them would be inside cabinets, above kitchen counters, under shelves, and just about anywhere else you need extra light.

#15 Have good lights outside

Most modern RVs already have great external lighting systems. These are important for seniors for two reasons.

First, they can help those with failing eyesight, as mentioned above. Second, they can deter miscreants from approaching your RV.

This can add to your sense of safety, especially when boondocking away from a campground.

#16 Keep a headlamp near the door

Sometimes, you need to leave the RV and walk for a bit. This can happen at night as well.

It can be as simple as walking to the campground office after 6 PM on a short winter day.

Because you're RV'ing, you're more likely to find yourself in an unfamiliar environment when that happens - and this is where having a good light can literally be a lifesaver.

Choose a headlamp over a torch light so you can keep your hands free. A properly adjusted headlamp means you never need to take a step without knowing what your foot might land on.

And keep the headlamp within reach near or even on your RV door - so you won't forget to use it. These are often rechargeable, so just keep it plugged in while not in use.

#17 Make things easier to operate

RVs are vehicles and homes in one, and as such, they have many systems you need to operate at some point.

Many of these can be either manually operated or automatically operated using a small motor. Many senior RV owners choose the latter to save on potential back pain.

Look for this when you buy your RV. Opt for things like an automatic leveling system, an electric awning, electric jacks, and electric steps.

Make things easier—after all, this is your time of life to enjoy yourself and get others—or other things—to work for you!

#18 Keep a pair of spare eyeglasses - or two

When traveling anywhere, having spare prescription eyeglasses with you is a good idea.

This is especially true for the designated driver. You may be going places where replacing a pair of eyeglasses will be more expensive than back home or just take a long while, keeping you stuck in one place.

What's more, you may be boondocking somewhere with no eyewear shop nearby. A separate pair of prescription sunglasses can be your spare - although it will limit you to driving during daylight.

Read more: 17 RV Boondocking Tips that Actually Make a Difference

#19 Consider your medications

Medications usually become part of life as we mature. RVers are no different in that respect.

Since you'll be traveling, you need a decent supply of your medications on hand. Make a list of your medications—daily or otherwise—and stock up before hitting the road. Keep medications in a cool area.

medications in small bag
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Bring the medications to the air-conditioned towing vehicle on a driving day if you're towing in a hot climate.

#20 Have medications on file with a pharmacy chain

If you're RVing full-time or for prolonged periods of time, you may not be able to keep a large enough supply with you at all times.

That's where Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, and even Walmart can come in handy. They typically have no issue pulling your prescription from any branch.

Another good idea is to keep paper copies of your prescriptions. Most pharmacy chains will accept prescriptions from other branches, even if they are in a different state.

However, if you find yourself camping and there is no nearby CVS or Walgreens, a paper prescription can help you get what you need at any local pharmacy.

#21 Find a doctor you can call on the phone

Should a medical problem occur, it's good to be able to contact your regular physician back home.

If you have an established relationship with a good doctor, that's good news. Tell them about your RV plans and see if they can contact you by email or phone. Many caregivers can also schedule telehealth appointments and connect with you via secure apps.

Yes, there may be times when you'll have to be seen by a different physician away from home, but having access to your regular doctor who knows you and your issues can save you at least some appointments.

#22 Plan on trips back home for checkups

If you suffer from a medical condition that requires constant checkups, it may be wise to plan your travels accordingly.

Many RVers choose to return to their hometown for these procedures. Ask your caregivers to see if you can have all of your tests and checkups during a certain month of the year so you can travel away from home the rest of the time.

#23 Get good roadside assistance insurance

Even if you're very technical and can fix some things on your own, it's best to be able to call for help when necessary.

Roadside assistance through Good Sam, Triple A, or a similar company can mean help is just a phone call away.

For people with back problems or other health issues, such a service can help prevent the pain and potential damage to your health that changing a huge trailer tire can cause.

#24 Consider getting a satellite phone

Your RV will take you places, and not all of them have good cell phone coverage.

When we traveled to Alaska via the Alaskan Highway, we were without reception for days on end. While being off the grid can be enjoyable at times, it's good to have a form of emergency communication.

That's where a satellite phone comes in. These phones rely on a direct connection to satellites, so they can receive signals anywhere on the Earth.

They're expensive to use, but then again, they're meant for emergencies only. And when you're on the road, emergencies can happen—even more so with older people who are just more prone to some health issues.

Another option to consider is a Starlink subscription. Starlink provides satellite internet coverage, offering reliable connectivity even in remote areas where traditional cell service is unavailable.

With Starlink, you can maintain internet access for both emergency communications and everyday online needs, making it a valuable addition to your RV setup.

It's especially useful for extended stays in secluded locations, ensuring you stay connected no matter where your travels take you.

#25 Keep in touch with your family back home with Skype or Facetime

It's good to keep in touch with your nearest and dearest - even when they're no longer near you geographically. It will help put their mind at ease, and you'll enjoy keeping in touch with them.

These days, you don't even need a tablet or a laptop. Your smartphone is all you need. And thanks to Covid, everyone is used to video calls!

#26 Hide-a-beds for the grandkids

Most mature RV enthusiasts travel as a couple or on their own, so a queen bed is usually enough.

However, many people love having their grandkids over for shorter trips. While a bunkhouse floorplan doesn't make sense for most senior RV owners, hide-a-bed couches and dinettes certainly do.

Your spacious living area can then be turned into sleeping quarters for the young ones when they join you on a limited-time basis. And once they live, you bring them back to their usual setup and have the RV back to yourself again.

#27 Join a club and make friends

RV life is anything but lonesome! RV'ers are known to be a friendly bunch, and many campgrounds have get-togethers in the evenings. They're great for making new friends!

Another thing you could do is join an RV club. These clubs offer a variety of perks, including get-togethers and they have many senior members, just as eager to make new friends as you are. The most popular RV clubs are -

Women RV'ing on their own have their own club, too: RV'ing Women

#28 Join forums and Facebook groups

Memberships in RV clubs cost money but joining forums or Facebook groups is almost always free.

While they don't offer the same perks, you can connect with other like-minded RVing seniors and meet new people through them.

My favorite RV forums are The RV Forum Community and RV.net by Good Sam.

#29 Travel in a caravan/convoy

Traveling in a caravan, which means a group of RVs traveling together from one destination to another, allows you to combine safety and company.

Caravans are usually events organized around routes, such as going to and from Alaska or going along a famous route like the Oregon Trail. Information about such events can be found in the aforementioned forums, Facebook groups, and clubs.

Keep in mind that this also means adjusting your pace to that of the group. These events aren't for everyone, but hey, you can give it a try. In the worst-case scenario, you can always say goodbye and take a different turn.

#30 Join a rally

Rallies and meet-ups are another favorite of senior RVers, who enjoy slow traveling and long stops with good company.

These events are often organized by the clubs we mentioned earlier, so that's where you need to start looking.

A fee may be associated with joining a rally, but more often than not, it's just about camping with like-minded people and having fun!

#31 Find a job for senior RVers

Yes, you can work and have fun at the same time! During high season, many national parks, state parks, and campgrounds look for employees. While some offer payment, others barter a camping spot for a part-time job.

These places often prefer to hire more reliable and experienced people to work for them (i.e. seniors).

The job can be a camp host—literally managing a campground in a park—or it can include part-time small chores like office work or even mowing the lawn.

These openings are often posted on the park website, so it's worth checking your favorite park's website a few months in advance. Employers often turn to forums, too, so keep an eye on those as well.

#32 Volunteer while RVing

Volunteering can be a great way to meet new people while on the road and make the most of your retirement.

Moreover, although defined as volunteering and not as "a job," some places will let you use their facility to park the RV as an added perk. Some parks may even offer you a site with hook-ups for long-term volunteering as a docent or host.

#33 Get the AARP card

The AARP is the largest non-profit organization for people aged fifty and older. Yup, you just have to be 50 to join the AARP and get your membership card.

That card offers discounts and perks in many places across America, which is very handy for senior RVers.

The AARP's motto is #disruptAging, and I can't think of a better way to do that than RVing. Can you?

#34 Get your America The Beautiful Seniors Pass

This pass will let you in for free into any National Park in the US, as well as national forests and BLM forests with an entry fee associated with visiting them.

This is where you can order yours online - or you can just get it wherever national park passes are sold.

US citizens and legal residents over the age of 62 can get this pass for a one-time fee of just $10. Compare that to the $80 of an annual pass, and you can see why this is a really sweet deal.

What's more, the pass is valid for your vehicle and everyone in it—grandkids included!

#35 Stay organized

Wrapping up this list with a few general tips, my next one is to stay organized. The older we grow, the more likely we will experience those aptly named "senior moments."

Well, the benefit of traveling in an RV is that you can move around, experience new places, and still stay in your familiar home environment - at the same time!

Make the most of that by keeping things organized. Know where your tools are, where your medications are etc.

With so many storage compartments in every direction, a good list can be a lifesaver. And read my tips here for making sure you never lose your key and get locked out of your RV.

#36 Go slow

I'm not talking just about driving speed here.

As mentioned above, life on the move means we're constantly experiencing new situations and new places. As wonderful as that is - it can also be stressful at times, especially when you think there's time pressure.

It's good to remember that there is no such time pressure. Not really. Even if you have to vacate your site by 11 AM, don't rush it. Get up early, then take the time to go through your checklists and gently drive out.

Everyone around you is in the same boat - and they all have all the time in the world. This isn't your job - it's your fun retirement, RV'ing at your leisure!

Speed can lead to mistakes, and some of them may be costly. Take it easy, and don't forget the next (and last) tip:

#37 Have fun!

Yes, that's an actual tip. Anything new can be stressful and RV life certainly can be that - at first.

There's a learning curve and that on its own can be daunting. But with time, you will learn to get to know your rig - and things will get easier.

Remember that and remember that you're doing this all to have fun and enjoy your retirement. This is for you and it's your time - so have fun, and lots of it!

Over to you!

If you're reading this and you have experience RVing as a senior, let me know what you think about those tips. More importantly, add your own!

Nothing beats hands-on experience, and I'm sure seasoned owners of motorhomes, travel trailers, and fifth wheels have found their own relevant tips along the years. Please do leave me a comment and share your own—thank you!

37 fantastic RV tips for seniors - see how you too can RV safely and happily throughout your life!

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2 Comments

  1. Very Interesting
    We live in our 5th wheel
    It has been 5 years now
    We are in a State Park as well and really are ready to retire and get on the road SOON!!!!

  2. Hi, really enjoyed your posts. Been on the road now 25 years, and workamping coast to coast. I’m alone now and intend to keep going and maybe do some boondocking. Still gota have fun and meet people thanks, Dan

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