Oct 302009

By the time you read this we may be rolling down the highway, headed south. Or, we may still be tucked away snug and warm in our bed. It all depends on the weather.

Yesterday the forecast for Elkhart, Indiana was supposed to be sunny, with a high somewhere between 65 and 70 degrees. Instead, a heavy overcast hung on all day long, and it was in the low 50s all day. Today the forecast was for cold temperatures, wind, and rain.

I’m hoping that the weatherman is wrong two days in a row, and that we get yesterday’s weather today. If so we’ll leave Elkhart Campground. But if the predicted storm hits, we’ll sit it out and wait for it to pass. We’ve been here a long time, and one more day won’t make a difference one way or another.

One of the great things about the fulltime RV lifestyle is that we usually have the luxury of setting our own schedule, and we don’t have to risk life and limb to get anyplace at any time. If the weather is bad, if we didn’t sleep well the night before, or if we just wake up and feel lazy, nobody is going to be calling to tell us to get a move on.

If we are traveling and things get ugly, we find a safe place to get off the road and hunker down to wait things out. Many times we have been parked in a rest area or a truck stop while nasty storms pounded our motorhome, and watched RVs flying down the highway. That just doesn’t make sense to me. We have also been ensconced in comfortable RV parks and watched folks pull out in weather that would even make a duck seek shelter.

I have always wondered about fulltime RVers who drive into terrible weather conditions just to get someplace else. Why? They have their home with them, so where are they going in such a hurry?

We also never hit the road until around 9 a.m. I just can’t see fighting rush hour traffic to get an extra 50 or 100 miles behind me in a day. Our preferred routine on a traveling day is to pull out somewhere between 9 and 10:30 a.m. By then most of the commuters have gotten to work and traffic is much lighter.

We try to be off the road by about 4 p.m. if we’re near a town or city of any size, to avoid the evening rush hour traffic. If we absolutely have to travel more that day for some reason, we will often pull into a truck stop or rest area, have an early dinner and just relax until the rush hour is over, then we’ll put a couple more hours of driving time under our belts.

Since my night vision is terrible, we try to be off the road before dark. Besides, we became RVers to see America, and you can’t see much with just headlights illuminating the landscape.

Though I always tell people that an ideal driving day is somewhere between 250 and 300 miles, I will admit that all too often, if the weather is good and the driving is easy, we’ll cram more miles into a day than that. If we’re not tired and traveling conditions are comfortable, sometimes we just enjoy the drive so much that we’re not ready to stop. On days like that, it is not uncommon for us to cover 400 miles.

What is your traveling style like? Do you hit the road early and stop early, do you take a more leisurely pace and only cover a couple hundred miles a day? Or, like us, do you sometimes poke along in the slow lane, and other times have marathon driving days? 

If you are also stuck waiting for good weather to travel in, you can pass some time reading Bad Nick’s new blog post Halloween Is For Kids, Not Psychos And Fanatics.  

Thought For The Day – Middle age is when you have stopped growing at both ends, and have begun to grow in the middle.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  15 Responses to “Waiting On The Weather”

  1. I’m weather watching myself at the moment. More than anything that is what keeps my travel plans set in jello. I always have plans B and C. There is nothing more wonderful than sitting inside your warm, cozy travel trailer while watching it snow outside. Beautiful!! It will stop and the roads will dry off so what is the worry or hurry? I’ve seen those folks “blow out” when the first snowflake hits the ground trying to out race the storm. Why??? Oh well…….

    Like you, I tend to leave around 10am and try to get to my destination by 4pm or prior to dark (during the winter) to set up. I really don’t like going over 250 miles if I can help it and less is better. Since I’m doing all the driving, setup, etc., more miles than that wears me out and keeps me from enjoying traveling. There are a few days where I feel I must get somewhere and travel 300 miles but that is not my idea of RVing. I want to look around and stop if I see something without feeling the pressure to beat the clock somewhere. Been there, done that, not doing it any longer. RETIRED……

  2. “Though I always tell people that an ideal driving day is somewhere between 250 and 300 miles, I will admit that all too often, if the weather is good and the driving is easy, we’ll cram more miles into a day than that. If we’re not tired and traveling conditions are comfortable, sometimes we just enjoy the drive so much that we’re not ready to stop. On days like that, it is not uncommon for us to cover 400 miles.”

    Your paragraph above describes our traveling to a “T”…..

  3. Travel days are always stressful! I am an early bird and DW is an night owl! We agree on a time she gets up the night before, therefore, I usually go for a walk until then. We get on the road by 10:00 or so and off by 4:00. I too do not like night driving or trying to get into a parking spot after dark! We have friends that make Florida in 2 days … us at least 4. How do others handle travel when spouses have opposite sleep patterns?

  4. We wake up at 7am but leave the campground between 8:30 and 9am on travel days. We consider this to be leisurely. We both drive so we keep going until about 3pm. We travel between 200-400 miles per day depending on the destination. We like to travel on overcast light rain day. It’s cool and the engine loves that weather. Hot days we like to get off the road earlier; 1-2pm. We don’t like to push the engine. Really bad weather days we just go in and pay for another day. Headlights are for rain and overcast. We don’t drive after dark. What’s the point? Unless there is an emergency and you have to make it somewhere in a hurry we are off the road by 3pm, then have set up, relaxed, checked the e-mail and internet and have had a restful dinner. We’re retired and set our own schedule or lack of schedule. We do travel a lot. The most we have stayed in one place is a month. But we do stay several days to a week somewhere if we are doing genealogy, going to a rally or just like the place. We have been Rving now in retirement for 13 years so we have worked out a travel routine.
    Can’t help the couple with alternate daily rhythms. Unfortunately we are all born with internal clocks and some people are early birds and some people are night owls. It is very hard to reset those clocks. Hence jet lag. So you appear to be doing the right thing; talking about your schedule on travel days and setting a time to leave. Neither of you will change so you have to compromise. Good Luck.

  5. Because we have not retired yet, we like to hit the road early out of our town in Southern California. We tend to travel around 400 miles or a little more if the traveling location is far. I will agree that traveling early you do not get to see the scenery, but when you only have one week to enjoy, one must start early. The day will come when we start getting up and hitting the road later, but for now, yes we are those crazy people that start early.

  6. Nick, we do a lot of what you describe. Leave after 9 AM sometime, missing the “go to work crowd” traffic. Stop early, for sure by dark. Sometimes we will stop somewhere along the way and spend some time being tourists or something, that can put us in a campground a bit later. Up till now, we have not done rest stops or Flying J’s, always pulling into a campground. That may change, life morf’s remember?? We have gone and paid for another night, sat out horrific rain storms, and like you cannot figure out why someone would willingly run in that stuff. We have run harder, of course, when we NEED to be somewhere, home for family member in the hospital, or outrunning a snow storm when we leave MI in January and are headed for warmer climes. But a 300 to 330 day, dry pavement and a nice campground at each end are sweet!! Seems to fit us pretty good. And, sometimes we do a 65 mile day! YA!!

  7. I found it interesting that everyone talks about “Miles per day”, when in reality most of us are really talking about “hours on the road” per day. For us and the roads we take, they don’t seem to have much of a morning rush hour, perhaps for 5 minutes. Even I-10 here in NM and AZ was pretty dead early on. Traffic actually picks up at mid morning when the delivery crews finally hit the road.

    I prefer to be on the road at sun rise, but DW schedule seems to delay our departures until 8 plus. Yesterday we left Deming at 9. (Checkout is 8:30 and we forgot to do the early checkout the night before.) We typically travel 8 to 3:30 with a 30 minute lunch break plus breaks about every 90 minutes. 300 miles more or less.


  8. We rarely leave before 10:00 a.m. and anything over 200 miles is a chore. And we try to swap out the drivers seat about every hour or so. Rest areas we rearely pass up. We are not in any competition to get somewhere fast.

    Love this life style.

  9. We travel in a similar fashion – we never leave before 0930, and I try to be off the road no later than 4pm. That gives us a max of 300 miles for the day, more or less. I really prefer 250. If it is rainy or windy out we do not leave. We often know were we will stop for the night because we have driven the route before – on newer routes we just wing it – rarely do we make a reservation. We prefer to overnight at a Casino, but will sometimes do WalMart or selected truckstops (mostly out west where there is lots of room). We try to avoid truckstops unless we know they have lots of extra space, since the truckers have no choice on where to stop. With campgrounds, our first choice for a simple overnight is always Passport or Escapees.

    Generally, if we drive 2 days in a row we will stop for 2 days. There is no hurry.

  10. Our last three stops were 83 miles, 52 miles and 89 miles. The next one will be either 49 miles or 286 miles depending on the weather the day our stay here in Phoenix is up.

    Try to be out by 10 and in by 2 also. For me with the way I sleep, it could out by 5AM and in by 9AM. However that doesn’t work for Dale.

  11. My preferred driving distance is the same as yours…250-300 miles. In fact I completely agree with all you said. I have friends who think nothing of pounding out 1,300 miles in 24 hours…..ugh! Half of the fun is the journey to the destination.

  12. We are the “marathon” travelers, at least we used to be:) There was NO stopping. We would drive until we got there, switching drivers as often as needed. Now that we are retired and not in a hurry – AND have plenty of time, we enjoy the trip. It took a couple of years to get into that mode of travel, however. We are still up early, but rarely leave before 9 or 10. If it gets to be noon, we just “bag it” until the next day:) Leaving is always hard for us. I guess we just like to stay a little longer wherever we are:) We usually drive about 200 miles or so. Definitely no night driving anymore.

    A couple of years ago, we started home in April from Aransas Pass, TX and got to Fredricksburg, planning to stay just one night. Checked the weather down the road and it was snowing and blowing everywhere we needed to travel. We ended up spending a wonderful week in Fredricksburg and the surrounding area. Friends of ours showed up and we had a nice visit too. After the storm moved on, we did too. Arrived home to muddy roads, but at least had the option of not driving in that weather.

    We are still adjusting to “slow mode”, but really enjoy it.

  13. Chris likes to get under way by the crack of noon. Even though she is often up early, she needs to do “one more thing” on the computer before shutting it down and doing her stow and go routine.
    My ideal travel day is to leave about 10 and arrive at the days destination before 4. In six plus years of full-timing, that has happened a few times. Flexibility is important!

  14. We like to leave about 10 and get in around 3, with a stop for a fast lunch. we generally switch off drivers after lunch. DW like to know where she’s going to set for the night, so we usually have reservations. If I had my way, we would just take off and look for a campground when we got tired of driving.

  15. We hit the road between 9-10 a.m. drive a couple hours, stop for lunch, drive an hour, TAKE A NAP, then drive another hour or two. As navigator, I’ll use the afternoon drive time to plot our overnight destination – calling ahead around 2 pm for reservations if needed. We are alway in before dark. I’ve also discovered geocaching at rest areas and since we travel with a dog, I am getting in a bit of exercise while making pit stops, lunch, or driver nap time. – Judy

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