The Art of Going Big: How to Plan a Multi-Continental RV Road Trip 
Learn more about how the Holcombes planned their upcoming PanAmerican adventure.

By: Peter & Kathy Holcombe

TODAY’S THE DAY!! We have been planning this expedition for the better part of three years, and now we can finally share our big news with you. Today we will cross the border into Canada and begin phase two of the Famagogo World Tour: The Americas! 

We plan to head north along the Cassiar Highway, through British Columbia, and then all the way up to the Arctic Ocean, first via the Dempster Highway to Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, and then on the Dalton Highway to Deadhorse, Alaska. From there, we will be headed southbound over the course of the next two years as we work our way all the way to Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of Argentina. 

It’s a colossal endeavor, and one that has been at the forefront of our conversations for almost a decade. Honestly, there is still a lot that is up in the air, and that is ok - it’s impossible to plan every detail of a trip of this magnitude in advance. But the big pieces are in place, and we are almost ready to roll. 

Tips for Planning an RV Road Trip Across Continents!

This journey is a dream long in the making and we wanted to share with you what we have learned about planning a multi-continental road trip in the hopes it will help you chase after that really big dream road trip of your own.

Decide where you want to go.

This is always the hardest step for us. The world is big, and there are so many places that we want to explore. When we first started our travels, we chose our destinations based on prime kayaking or rock climbing opportunities, and I have to admit, our tic list was fairly extensive. 

This is an image that represents our original dream road trip (circa 2017), when we first envisioned taking a Winnebago around the world. There have been many iterations since then, but the goal has always been the same: we want to go EVERYWHERE!

Over the last nine years of RV travel, we have definitely checked off most of those original goals, and yet our list of places we want to visit has expanded exponentially. That’s the funny thing about travel, the list never gets shorter, each destination or interaction with new people adds a handful of new objectives to the list leading to an infinitely expanding list of new dream destinations. 

So, whether your goal is to leave your hometown for the very first time, plan a dream trip to Alaska, or you are like us and planning a multi-continental expedition over the course of several years; commit to a specific destination during a specific timeframe. Write it down and tell your friends and family. 

Committing is the most difficult step, and the more official that you can make it, the more likely you are to follow through with it. Once you are truly committed to a specific location and timeframe, the rest is just details that will all fall into place.

Pick the proper vehicle for the journey. 

Let me start by saying that there is no magic answer for the perfect vehicle. It all depends on your budget, how you prefer to travel, where you intend to go, and what you plan to do once you get there. 

Our dream vehicle has changed pretty radically over the years. For our PanAmerican journey, the Revel is the perfect blend of off-road performance and comfort.

There is always a tradeoff between comfort and agility. Bigger vehicles have more amenities but are limited in where they can go. If you plan to travel shorter distances and stay in one place for a while, a larger vehicle might be a better choice. We tend to drive almost every day and prefer to take the road less travelled …aka, long, seldom travelled dirt roads. We spend more time outside and are content living with less of pretty much everything (except kayaks!).

For us, and for this particular mission, the Winnebago Revel is our vehicle of choice. The Revel is nimble at only 19’ long (21’ with our bikes and storage box on the back) and is built on a 4x4 Sprinter chassis (which we love).

We love the 4x4 capability of our Revel and have invested in upgraded suspension, an additional fuel tank to expand our range, and expanded our power capacity with additional lithium batteries. (Read about some of our favorite mods.)  It is comfortable, reliable, and should something go wrong in our travels, it is relatively easy to get parts for it around the world. 

Back in the day (circa 2010), a loaded-up Toyota Tundra felt like the pinnacle of luxury. That, of course, was before we knew about Winnebago!

Once you choose your vehicle, it is important to give it a proper shakedown and familiarize yourself with all of its systems and make sure that everything is working properly and that you know how to use it. It is also really important to do your homework to see if there are any known issues that you may encounter during your travels. 

One known issue, and our biggest concern in traveling in a Revel/Sprinter beyond North America, is our ability to find ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel in some of the more remote areas of South America. In an effort to minimize this known issue, we have added an auxiliary 24-gallon fuel tank to help span the distance between quality fuel stations. 

We are also bringing extra fuel filters and diesel exhaust fluid to help offset lower quality diesel should we find ourselves in a pinch where we are forced to use lower quality diesel fuel. 

Once we discovered how good life could be in a Winnebago, we opted for a 2016 Winnebago View with a 12-foot cargo trailer full of toys before getting our Revel.

Lastly, if you plan to venture into remote areas where help may be far away or completely unavailable, make sure that you have the tools that you need to get yourself out of trouble and/or to make any necessary repairs yourself. Here is a video about what we carry in our emergency repair kit.

Build out a rough itinerary with the big pieces in place. 

I have to laugh as I write this because we definitely fly by the seat of our pants more often than not, and I rarely know where we are going to park for the night until the sun is starting to set. 

With that being said, I do know that I will be in Chile in November of 2024 and that I would like to hike the Mirador Las Torres trail. I know that this seems like a vast contradiction in strategy, but our modus operandi is to plan a general route of where we want to go within the time constraints that we have and based on the optimal time of year to be there. Once we have the general overview of the route in place, then we start researching the things that we want to do while we are there. 

About a month or so before we cross the border into a new place, we begin to decide on the details of exactly what we are going to do and when it will happen. It is critical for us to have a big picture in place so that we don’t fritter our time away on a long journey and end up missing a critical weather window, or something we really wanted to see or do because we ran out of time at the end. It also allows for flexibility in our travels to add something that we didn’t even know we wanted to do. 

We have found that we often discover our favorite things through happenstance: either through the recommendations of someone that we meet along the way, or by seeing a sign or a road that looks interesting and following our noses to something extraordinary. 

Abby on a beach near Gibraltar. Once we realized how close we were to Africa, we desperately wanted to make the jump to a new continent. However, with only two weeks remaining on our visa and no prior research, we elected to wait on that journey.
I typically organize our travels in a Notes document on my iPhone that I share with Peter. That way when someone makes a recommendation of something that we have to do, I can jot it down in the appropriate place in my outline and as we get close to that destination, I can research the recommendation and see if it is something we actually want to do. 
Here is an excerpt of part of our PanAmerican Itinerary as an example:
July 2024
Galapagos - July is ideal with an average temp of 72 degrees F. The Humboldt cold current continues to attract abundant marine life including bottlenose dolphins, orcas, hammerhead sharks, Bryde’s whales, and the gentle whale sharks. Spot and swim with playful California sea lions. Vibrant bird life as iconic species like the red and blue footed boobies, waved albatrosses and flightless cormorants are nesting. Small boat cruises are the best option to see the ecological marvels of the Galapagos.
August 2024
Sumaco National Park rivals Galapagos in ecological diversity.
September 2024
Via ferrata in the Valley of the Gods in a glass bubble and the zip line down.

Research visas, insurance, vehicle import regulations, and political pressures in an area well before you arrive. 

These are all things, when traveling internationally that can be deal breakers. While we are quite spontaneous for a vast majority of our travels, crossing into a new country is something that we don’t leave to chance. 
Knowledge is power, especially when you are crossing a border. It is your responsibility to know the rules, and follow them, when you travel to a foreign land. The first thing to research is whether or not you can enter a country, what documentation you need, and how long you can stay. This is the State Department website that we use to help inform us of what we need to know when entering a new country. 
In addition to a visa, you may also need a TIP (temporary import permit) for your vehicle. Be sure you know what paperwork you will need (title, registration, proof of insurance, etc.) for a TIP and bring extra copies just in case. 
Most countries require some kind of vehicle insurance. Often it is a local liability policy that can be purchased at the border. However, purchasing comprehensive insurance locally is extremely expensive and often is difficult to redeem in the event of an accident. Be sure to read the fine print carefully and read reviews before you purchase vehicle insurance abroad. 
Lastly, it is a good idea to have a general understanding of the political pressures in an area before you arrive. Is there an upcoming election? Is the area politically stable or is there unrest? Safety is always at the forefront of our decision making process, and aside from talking to locals and using good common sense and situational awareness, we use this State Department website to check for any travel advisories before entering a new country.
Famagogo checking out the view at Lake Powell during the peak of Covid, circa fall 2020. We were supposed to be midway through our mission to South America. Instead, we were struggling to find camp after many parks and public lands closed.

Do your homework on forums, apps and through real life experiences. 

Wherever your dream road trip takes you, there is likely a forum or app that can help you connect with others who are on a similar journey. For our Pan-American expedition, we have been carefully reading the PanAmerican Travelers Facebook group for up-to-date information on what people are experiencing right now. 

When we went to Baja, there were several great Facebook and What’s App groups with people sharing real time information. We also use the iOverlander app to help us locate campsites and to read reviews on everything from border crossings to restaurant recommendations.

But, most importantly, we talk to real people: locals, tourists, shop owners, gas station attendants, etc., and ask them questions about everything. We ask where to eat, where to camp, what we should do, and a thousand other questions. In our experience, people are always honored that you ask their opinion, and do their best to share something that will make your visit to their home extraordinary.

The road less travelled is always our favorite route, and we cannot wait to see what awaits us just over the horizon!

Be a good steward.

Whether you are traveling domestically or internationally, it is important to always leave a place better than you found it. When you are visiting remote and wild places, be sure to pack out everything that you brought in, including human waste. If you are visiting a new place, be sure to make some time to get to know the locals and learn about their culture, eat some local cuisine, and explore the scenery. 

“Travel is rich with learning opportunities, and the ultimate souvenir is a broader perspective.” -Rick Steves

You can follow the Holcombes on their PanAmerican adventure on Instagram @PeterHolcombe and @Holcombe.Kathy. Or watch their weekly videos on YouTube @PeterHolcombe


Comments on this post are moderated, so they will not appear instantly. All relevant questions and helpful notes are welcome! If you have a service inquiry or question related to your RV, please reach out to the customer care team directly using the phone numbers or contact form on this page .

User commented on August 1, 2023 4:23 PM
We live in Fairbanks, Alaska. We saw these folks in their Winnebago Revel in Fairbanks, Alaska a couple days ago. There were actually two Revel MHs that appeared almost identical. Travel on!