If you have been around the RV lifestyle for more than a few weeks, you have very likely heard the term RV rally. What exactly is a “rally” in the RVing world? It is an organized event where RVers come together, at a designated time and place, and share information, food, probably some adult drinks, and enjoy the RVing lifestyle with like-minded people. Usually, their rigs are involved, but many rallies welcome those who are interested in the lifestyle but not have purchased their first RV, yet, too. Escapees RV Club’s annual rally, Escapade, is an example of this. Camping arrangements are available for those who want to park their RV on-site for the week-long event, but walk-ins are also present daily. These walk-ins either live in the area or are staying nearby.
Whether you are heading to a 2-day rally or one that stretches over a week or more, there are a couple of things to keep in mind in order to get the most out of the event. A well-organized rally often includes learning opportunities, happy hours, group meals and entertainment. It is enough to overwhelm anyone! To help you get most out of your experience, here are a few guidelines to arrive prepared and avoid burn-out:
Rally Meal Prep
We all must eat, right? When you’re busy having fun, it can be a nuisance to have to return to your rig to prepare a meal and spend time away from your new friends. In the weeks leading up to the rally, make time to plan and prep your meals for the event. If you will have electricity in your camping spot, soups and chili are easy meals to have on-hand. Make a batch in advance, portion and freeze it, then reheat a portion at a time in your microwave for a quick and filling meal. Not into soups? Pull out your slow cooker or Instant Pot and make a batch of BBQ pulled pork or shredded chicken! You can use it for quick sliders, add some protein to a salad, or do a bit of both by wrapping fresh veggies and shredded protein in a tortilla for an on-the-go meal.
It can also be handy to have portable snacks on-hand to toss in your bag before heading out for the day. Trail mix, jerky, homemade protein bars, even some PB and J pinwheels will help you satisfy hunger, so you can keep on having fun. Don’t forget your water bottle! Not all fairgrounds and campgrounds have water fountains available, so make sure you carry water with you everywhere. Recovering from dehydration is not how you want to spend your time.
You can find recipes for the ideas included here, and many more RV-friendly dishes, on our Pinterest board for RV cooking.
"Can’t decide between two seminars that share a time slot? If you are traveling with your spouse or friend, divide and conquer!"
In addition to planning your meals, you should also try to build a rough schedule for yourself for the rally. Get ahold of a program and look at what opportunities you have each day. Can’t decide between two seminars that share a time slot? If you are traveling with your spouse or friend, divide and conquer! You each attend a seminar and take copious notes to share later.
Build some downtime into your day, too. Even the most extroverted RVer can burn out after several days of one activity after another. Downtime looks different for everyone, whether it is a nap, an afternoon walk, or a getaway to a local café or restaurant. Whatever works best for you, don’t neglect the value of “you time” in your daily plans.
RVers are great at challenging boundaries and learning a lot about themselves in the process. It’s one of the best things about RVing! However, those aren’t the kind of boundaries we’re talking about here.
In your day-to-day life, do you try to get to bed by 10pm each night? Though some flexibility is necessary, you probably don’t want to completely disregard this part of your routine for too long. Staying up late and getting up early can wear you out quickly. Add that to all the walking you do each day as you move throughout the event, and you’re going to exhaust yourself. Instead, plan for one or two nights of staying up late with your new friends and try to stick to your normal sleep routine the other nights.
Do you typically stick to a particular diet? Don’t stray too far from these habits. The temptation for quick and easy food, or dining out often with your new friends, can wreak havoc on your digestion and energy. Remember that meal prep we talked about earlier? That will go a long way to helping you maintain a similar way of eating while you’re busy soaking in all the rally fun you can. For more on nutrition and health on the road, take a look at this article from Christine Willers.
Speaking of planning for the week, make sure you have plenty of pet food available, and your medicine cabinet is well-stocked! You never know if you’ll need something for a headache, blistered heels, allergies, or achy feet and legs. You will also want to ensure you have plenty of your prescription medications available for the week so you don’t have to leave the campground to hunt down refills.
Establish Realistic Expectations
First of all, understand that at most rallies, you will be parked closer together than you may otherwise choose to be. This means you’ll have some noise from your neighbors, maybe some light, and maybe a few pets to get to know. Space for parking is limited to the parameters of the rally area, so they park RVs close together in order to allow for the maximum number of attendees. Are you a light sleeper? Make sure you have some comfortable ear plugs and a sleep mask, so you have a better chance for a sound nights’ sleep.
You should also be prepared for generator noise in boondocking areas. Most events have established “generator hours” to avoid keeping attendees awake all night. Though there is an understood etiquette that comes with generator use, not all RVers are aware of the expectations. There also may be an extenuating circumstance that requires someone to run their generator for most of the approved hours. Before you get upset with the noise, reach out to your neighbor to see if you can help.
Even if you get to enjoy full hook-ups, there are often some restrictions for electricity usage at rallies. Make sure you are using the correct amperage for your spot to avoid tripping breakers for everyone. You don’t want to be the one who causes everyone’s air conditioning to quit!
Added for 2021 as events pick up again after many COVID-related cancelations in 2020, make sure you review the safety protocols and cancellation policies of events for which you register. In order to resume hosting gatherings for members, many organizations have adjusted their safety measures to include CDC guidelines regarding social distancing, hand washing, wearing appropriate masks, limiting the number of people in indoor spaces, etc. As part of your registration process, you often have to agree to these amended terms, so be prepared for event staff to remind you of them during the gathering!
Be ready to make new friends, but probably not with every person you meet. Just as in your sticks-and-bricks life, you are surrounded by people from all kinds of backgrounds, political preferences, religious affiliations, etc. Though we can find something in common with almost anyone, that isn’t a guarantee that you will become lifelong friends with everyone you encounter at a rally. And that’s ok! Instead, use this opportunity to learn about people who differ from you and take time to find deeper connections with the right people. For example, many friendships are seeded at an Xscapers Convergence, but grow into meaningful relationships as people stay in touch during the rest of their travels.
Does this sound like a lot to think about? Take a deep breath and you’ll be alright. Once you have decided to attend a rally, reach out to other attendees via social media and discussion forums to learn about their experiences with that particular rally. A short internet search will likely yield at least a handful of blog or video recaps regarding previous rallies. Skim some of these and see what others have experienced. The organization may even have some resources of their own out there to help you prepare for their rally.
Attending an RV rally can be a stressful, or an enjoyable, part of your RV adventure. With a little preparation and planning, you can pace yourself and make it a fun and engaging experience. Most importantly, be yourself, keep an open mind, and get ready to plunge head-first into the RVing community.
Georgianne is the Communications Director for Escapees RV Club. Growing up with a love of the outdoors, she continues to follow that love with numerous camping and road trips each year, putting many miles under her tires. In her work with Escapees, she interacts with many RVers and professionals in related industries, soaking up information in order to understand the RV lifestyle from all perspectives.
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