RV Rallies 101: The Best Reasons to Attend These Events
If you’re an RVer, you know there’s nothing quite like the feeling of hitting the open road and exploring new places. But sometimes, it’s even more fun to gather with people who share your love and passion for the RVing lifestyle. That’s where RV rallies come in. There are national RV rallies where RVers from all over the country gather in huge groups to socialize, learn, and meet with vendors. And then there are local rallies organized by RV owners themselves to meet with like-minded people in smaller groups. Both are a great way to meet new people, learn about new RV products and services, and have some fun.
Heartland recently held its national Heartland RV North American Owners Rally in Indiana, an event that happens every other year on odd years. It’s a huge event that draws tons of people for a week of festivities and fun. So if you’re curious about attending your first RV rally, let’s take a look at what makes the national rally so great and how it compares to smaller regional rallies that happen more frequently.
Benefits of RV Rallies
Meeting New People
One of the best things about rallies is the opportunity to meet new people who share your passion for RVing. You can make new friends, hear about their RVing experiences and share your own, and even exchange travel tips.
Chapter rallies tend to be smaller than the national rally, ranging in size from 10-50 RVs or so. Although there aren’t as many people, the upside is that it can be easier to make new friends, and you’ll meet people from your same region. So, for example, if you attend a rally in Texas, you’re more likely to meet people who live nearby, making it easier to swap local travel recommendations or meet up with them during the year.
National rallies are much larger, allowing you to meet people from all walks of life and all areas of the country. Plus, with the variety of seminars and events at the Heartland North American Owners Rally, you can meet people who share your specific interests – like yoga buddies, 4×4 owners, road schoolers, etc.
The first rally Heartland owners Anita and Wayne Cooper attended was a regional one. “Our first rally was the Nashville rally, which was held in July 2010, the year of Nashville’s big flood. We didn’t know a soul and had never been to any type of rally. After a bit of a rocky start due to the campground flooding issues, we quickly met a lot of great people and began making plans to attend the 2011 national rally. Once you meet fellow Heartland owners, you can’t help but come back year after year.”
Learning About New Products and Services
The North American rally is a huge event that attracts some of the biggest vendors of RV products and components. That makes it a great place to learn about new RV features, accessories, and services that can make your life easier as an owner. You can talk to representatives from Heartland itself, regional dealers, and component manufacturers like Dexter, Lippert, MORryde, and more. They love to share what developments are coming down the pipeline, so you can get a sneak preview into the near future of RVing. Here’s a list of vendors who attended the 2023 rally to see the wide variety of attendees.
But smaller rallies almost always have representatives from Heartland present. So while there may not be the same number of other vendors and reps, you’ll still get news about new Heartland RV models, features, and developments, and have a chance to ask questions with the Heartland rep on site.
At the 2023 national rally, Heartland held a camp talk with their executives one evening, allowing people to rub elbows with them and get to know who they are more. “We love the fixes, the seminars and learning, and meeting and being able to talk to Heartland executives,” said Heartland owners John and Debi.
At the end of the day, rallies are just fun. At the national rally, there are usually activities and events for all ages, from movie nights to games and contests. Attending a rally is also a great way to explore the local area and get to know the community with other RVers. And of course, there are tons of educational seminars about how to do common RV-related tasks, from basic maintenance to optional upgrades and optimizations.
Regional rallies have a variety of events that tend to be more personal, allowing people to get to know one another better. Potlucks are common, along with local sightseeing tours, theme nights, escape rooms, scavenger hunts, and much more.
Don’t let the fear of not knowing anyone keep you from local or national rallies. There are tons of activities that will keep you occupied and help you make fast friends, wherever you go.
Opportunities to Give Back
Rallies are also a great way to give back to communities and support local charities. At the 2023 owners rally, Heartland organized support for LoveWay, a volunteer-driven non-profit in Elkhart County, Indiana, that provides therapeutic horseback riding to people with disabilities. They raised $12,000 for the charity, which will fully cover the cost for six children to attend their programs this fall.
And while regional rallies may not always have official donation programs, because they’re organized by real RV owners on a grassroots level, you can always suggest it. If you’re meeting in the state or area where you live, a local rally is an excellent opportunity to ask people to donate to a cause that affects the immediate community. What better way to show appreciation for a specific place than by organizing a small-scale fundraiser for a local charity?
How to Prep for a Rally
As you get ready to attend a rally, here are a few tips to help you have the best possible time.
- Plan ahead: Look over rally agendas and make a list of the things you want to do, along with the local attractions you want to see. Pack to take advantage of your favorite choices. For example, if there’s a group hike, pack your hiking boots and layers for the local climate, which may vary day by day and hour by hour.
- Prepare for anything: Unpredictable weather can happen anywhere, so be sure to pack for all eventualities – cool summer evenings and overly-hot days, or a late-season snowstorm in spring. Light layers will help you take advantage of activities no matter what the jet stream blows in. Also, be sure to pack a first aid kit, sunscreen, insect repellent, etc.
- Bring your camera: Whether you take photos on your phone or a separate camera, you’ll want to capture all your favorite rally moments and budding new friendships.
- Relax and have fun: The most important thing to remember is to relax and have fun. This is your chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy the company of other RVers.
Where to Find Rallies
While the Heartland North American Owners Rally only happens every two years, opportunities for local rallies abound. Every Heartland owner is eligible to join the Heartland Owners Club for free. This is where owners organize their own rallies across the country, coordinate with each other, and communicate about upcoming events. In addition, even prospective Heartland owners can access the Heartland Owners Forum, where people chat about all kinds of RV-related topics, including regional rallies – although you will need a Heartland RV to attend.
The national rally happens in Indiana every odd year, so the next one will be held in 2025. You can take a look at the kinds of events that were held at this year’s rally to get you excited for the future. Our best tip is to start planning early. Because this is a big event and because it’s held every two years like clockwork, spots can fill up well in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute to join, or you may find your choices are limited.
If you’re looking for a tighter sense of community, to take a break from daily life and relax, or to stay informed of all the latest developments in the RV world, a rally is the perfect getaway. And we have no doubt that once you attend a few, you’ll be hooked. Because where else do you get to be surrounded by people you share something in common with, who are all there to make new friends and have a good time together? It’s truly a wonderful experience, and one we hope you’ll get to share.