Top tips for shipping an RV

Guest post by Jason Mueller

Visiting landmarks, remote locations, and generally touring the country in an RV is one of the most liberating experiences. You can do it alone or with the whole family, provided you have the right-sized RV or camper to accommodate everyone’s needs. The only downside to planning a road trip is that driving takes a long time. And if you don’t have that many vacation days to begin with, planning an adventure on the other side of country is hard if you have to drive the RV yourself. So you might consider shipping an RV ahead of time.

Sometimes using a licensed motor carrier is the best solution. You can hire a shipping company to transport your RV to a desired destination ahead of time. Instead of spending a few extra days on the road, you can hop on a plane and meet the carrier at a specific date and time with your RV prepped and ready to go.

But shipping an RV can be a complex logistics endeavor. These are large vehicles that require extra care, special shipping methods, and a good deal of prep work. So, here’s what you need to know.

RV Shipping Methods

There are only three reliable ways to transport an RV if you can’t drive it yourself to your trip’s starting point:

  • Drive-away shipping
  • Flatbed shipping
  • Tow-away shipping

When choosing drive-away shipping, an RV transport company will select a driver to move your RV from point A to B. Naturally, this only works for operational RVs and campers and requires you to place your faith in the driver. But you get a level of service more along the lines of a concierge service and someone constantly in your RV who can look after everything inside.

Flatbed shipping RVs and campers is a very popular transportation method. It’s also one of the best ways to ship multiple RVs across long distances.

Sometimes, flatbed shipping is even cheaper because shipping companies can fulfill multiple orders simultaneously. You can check out the typical rates at A1AutoTransport, an experienced vehicle shipper. The only downside is that it could take longer than a drive-away service.

Lastly, you can choose tow-away services. With this method, shipping companies tow the RV to its destination using specialized equipment and long-haul trucks. It can be a very safe hauling method but slightly pricier depending on your RV’s size, weight, and other specifications.

(When we spent a few months in Texas, we found it worth the cost to ship Jessi’s Jeep down from Michigan. But that was easy compared to preparing an RV for shipment! -Ari )

RVs Require Serious Prep Work Before Shipping

You must prepare all vehicles accordingly before shipping them across long distances with a specialized carrier. But while it’s easy to get a passenger car or motorcycle ready for shipping, RVs demand more attention to detail.

The distance from point A to B can be long. Weather and road conditions can affect the ride quality for every item and appliance inside the RV. Therefore, you want to check quite a few boxes before handing over the keys and letting a shipping company drive off with your RV or camper.

  1. Shut off non-essential and essential electric appliances, and store them safely.
  2. Disconnect all water and gas lines, as well as the power supply.
  3. Check the condition of the indicator lights, turn signals, parking lights, and brake system.
  4. Ensure the RV doesn’t have any leaks and the fluid levels are in the optimum range.
  5. Set the appropriate tire pressure for long-haul shipping, as recommended by your shipping company.
  6. Remove or store loose belongings accordingly.
  7. Take down all items hanging on the RV walls and ceiling.
  8. Close and secure the latches on cabinets, windows, and doors.
  9. Secure any slide-outs in your RV.
  10. Inspect and secure the hitch and tow bar.
  11. Ensure the battery is in good working condition.

Set a Budget

The longer the shipping distance, the cheaper the price per mile is to ship your RV. Naturally, the rates differ between drive-away, tow-away, and flatbed shipping. But other factors also affect the overall quote you get from carriers.

Keep the following in mind when preparing to ship an RV before for your next adventure.

  • RV size and weight
  • Shipping distance
  • The RV’s condition (operational vs. non-operational)
  • Destination
  • Road conditions
  • Weather conditions
  • Season
  • Delivery date

Find the Right Carrier

You can’t and shouldn’t hire an RV hauling company without doing your due diligence. Even the most attractive offers in the industry can hide something.

Therefore, you should start by vetting the shipping company’s credentials. Check their license and registration numbers to ensure they’re legitimate, licensed carriers.

Furthermore, you should check out a couple of customer reviews. You may find people with similar shipping needs who have used the same carrier in the past. That way, you can get a sense of how the company treats its customers and if it has what you need to get the job done.

Also be sure to get information about the company’s insurance policy. Not all shippers are insured and of those that are, many may not offer more than the minimum liability coverage. If you’re shipping an expensive RV, you may want added assurance that the shipper can reimburse you for damage sustained along the way.

Moreover, you’ll want to know what is and isn’t covered in the policy. For example, damage to the RV’s exterior or components may be covered. But that doesn’t mean damage to your belongings, cabinets, and other personal items falls in this category.

Of course, you should also learn about the carrier’s experience in moving RVs over long distances. Not all shipping companies with trucks and flatbed trailers move RVs. Some specialize in passenger cars, motorcycles, heavy equipment, etc. But RV shipping requires specific equipment, loading and unloading procedures, and experienced drivers.

Get Ready for an Adventure

Sightseeing and exploring take time. And if you want to maximize your free time, driving your RV across the country to reach a certain area isn’t always the best option. Sometimes it’s better to ship your RV to your trip’s starting point. You get more time to visit the locations you’re interested in and can save a lot on mileage.

Find the right carrier, get an estimate, and work on a service package and quote that fits your needs and budget.

2 thoughts on “Top tips for shipping an RV”

  1. It really helped when you elaborated on how to prepare your RV when transporting it with a professional carrier. I have a cousin who bought an RV last month, but he just found out that he needs to ship it by himself, so I believe your article will be very helpful for him. I appreciate your insight on disconnecting water and gas lines before shipping your RV.

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