Apr 192017

With winter behind us and the busy travel season fast approaching, I know a lot of RVers are starting to think about where they are going to go this summer. So today I thought I would talk a little bit about RV trip planning.

There are many ways to plan your RV travels. Some people I know spend days going over routes, making lists of attractions they want to see on the way, creating schedules, making reservations, even planning where they are going to stop for fuel along the way. It works for them, but I don’t need that much organization my life.

There are people who take that to an extreme. We’ve known at least two fulltiming couples who always had a year’s worth of reservations made in advance. They both said they just needed the security of knowing there would be a place for them to stay wherever they were. The husband of one of those couples went so far as to have two-week reservations made and paid for in advance for the next 52 weeks at all times. Once they arrived at a destination for their two week stay, he immediately made another reservation to tack onto the end of their schedule. Twice that we know of they ran into unexpected delays because of mechanical breakdowns and didn’t get to the next stop when expected. So instead of just staying 12 days instead of the planned 14 to make up for the time they were in the shop, he would go through their schedule and start canceling and changing reservations until he was back on his two week stay schedule everywhere they went. Seriously, what fun could that be? Apparently not much, because they lasted less than a year and got off the road. His stress level was so high worrying about every little thing that could possibly happen to mess up their schedule that he was having chest pains, his blood pressure had skyrocketed, and his stomach was constantly knotted up.

Just as bad are the people who are in what I call “get there” mode. They leave wherever they are and head for their destination, never slowing down along the way. No stops to sightsee, no leisurely evenings or mornings, they get up, they drive 300 or 400, or even more miles per day, stop and sleep, and get up and do it all over again the next day until they get where they are going. That can be a real grind. I know because when we were teaching at Life on Wheels and working RV rallies and all of that, or when we had to get to a printer to get a new issue of the Gypsy Journal ready to go, back when we had the printed edition, we did that far too many times. Sometimes it’s just unavoidable if you are working RVers. More than once we’ve wrapped up an RV rally on a Sunday, packed our vendor booth and seminar equipment, and were setting up at another rally 700 miles away on Wednesday. I’m sure glad those days are behind us!

And then there are others who are more laid-back about things. They know where they are going to go, they know which route they are going to take, when they are going to leave, and they know when they plan to arrive, and that’s about it. They build a little buffer room into their schedule for unexpected delays, or unanticipated opportunities to check out something new along the way. I would say this is probably close to a majority of the RVers we have met, to one extent or another.

A great category to be in are those that know they are going to be someplace during the month of June, for example, and they may even have reservations if it’s a busy destination. But they are in no hurry to get there. If they see something interesting along the way they may stay a day or two, or a week. If they bump into friends and decide to hang out with them for a while, their schedule is flexible enough that they can do so. Once we stopped chasing the RV rallies and speaking gigs all over the country, we fell into that group,

And believe it or not, there are some free spirits who have no idea where the heck they are going or how they are going to get there. I envy them most of all. Early in our fulltime RV life, before we got too tied down with working rallies and teaching, we actually did that. You will never feel more free in your life than when you pull up to an intersection and flip a coin to decide if you’re going to go right or left, North or South, East or West.

There has been a lot of talk lately about how difficult it is becoming to travel spontaneously in an RV like that, because there are more and more RVs hitting the road and only so many campgrounds available. Which means that if you go to a busy area in the peak season and have not made reservations in advance, you may have some difficulty finding a campsite. I wrote about that recently in a blog titled No Room At The Inn. But those free spirits I mentioned above do not want to go to those places and be part of the herd, anyway. They would rather seek out the road less traveled and see where it takes them. Like I said, I envy them most of all.

How about you? How well do you plan your RV travels? Which category above do you fall into? Or you do you have your own style that’s a combination of the different ones above? I’d like to hear from you.

Thought For The Day – A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

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Nick Russell

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  9 Responses to “Summer RV Trip Planning”

  1. As a full timer I fall into one of the later groups – when I travel I know where I am going to stay for the next month or 2 but not necessarily exactly when I am going to arrive or how I will get there. For the last 8 or so years I have never once had reservations on the road except for my final destination. I have also not once stopped overnight at a campground where I had to pay to stay 12 or 15 hours. I am very happy spending a night, or sometimes 2 if I discover something to see, at a truck stop, Walmart, Cracker Barrel, or highway rest area Whether its for a week at a rally, a month or 2 to visit with family or a winter snowbird roost, my travel is pretty free and easy.

  2. We have been RVing for 20 years of retirement. We fall in the category of having a few target dates (a genealogy conference, a rally with our FMCA chapter, a specific date to visit some relatives so we fit into their schedule). In between those specific events we tend to have a general vague idea of where to go and what to do. We only make reservations for known dates or places that would be hard to get into on holiday weekends or known dates/places for conferences. We like small towns, local campgrounds, state and local parks, Passport America CGs, Elks. We don’t always know how long we are going to stay. If we find something interesting or another place in the area to conduct genealogical research, we may stay longer. We also tend to drive 300 miles a day or less and our speed is around 58 mph. Life is to be enjoyed each day. Relax and enjoy the ride.

  3. We started in ’98 with 6 months of reservations and promptly found out that the actual terrain and road conditions override the averages posted on the AAA map.
    Also, on the paper map there was Yellowstone than Glacier and nothing to stop at in between so we planned to go from one to the other in one day. Who knew??? We made RV travel as overscheduled and as stressful as a work day. It was difficult to do this as very few parks had a dial up internet and cell towers were sporadic so we had to find pay phones to add this much stress to our lives !! We were very entertaining to the full timers who had been out there a while. This year, we intend to spend July, August and September on the Oregon Coast in mostly state parks. Reserved in advance. How we are getting there and the actual when and where we will be coming from ???

  4. I’m a planner. It must be the accountant in me. I’m much more relaxed about being on the road by myself if I know I have a place to stay, probably because I seem to travel to the most popular destinations. If I did not have reservations and there was no room at the inn, I would have no idea where to go.

  5. We have been on the road for ten years and the way we plan and make reservations varies. Right now we are at Canyon de Chelly and have reservations at our next two stops, Monument Valley and Cortez. After that we have none until August 1 when we go back to Pennsylvania for doctors etc. Between now and then we call ahead only a day or a week early depending on how busy it may be or how long we want to stay. Sometimes we make reservation far in advance. We have our stays booked for South Florida and the Keys for next December and January and for Cajun Mardi Gras at Betty’s RV Park in February. To me the planning for what we are going to see and do and where we are going to stay is part of the adventure.

  6. I hate reservations, they feel too much like “homework” used to feel back in the day. Accordingly, we never make them unless we are going to be in some popular area for some holiday or Spring Break time. Generally, we know the direction and a broad time-frame defined in terms of weeks or even months and then we “wing it.” Very freeing and we’ve never been caught flat footed without a place to stay. Of course, being an Elk gives us some degree of comfort knowing that there is almost always a Plan B nearby.

  7. I have been solo for going on 2 years now. My father-in-law who full timed for 15 years told me to remember the 2-2-2 rule. I may occasionally travel more than 200 miles or more than 2 hours but I am always set up before dark.
    Having a 25 ft motor home on a Sprinter chassis I have a little more leeway in finding parks than if I was 40+ feet. Several times last season I pulled into a park I was able to take the last spot that was way to small for other rigs.
    I tend to have a general idea of what I want to see and where I am going. I do try to plan ahead enough to make reservations during the holiday weekends.
    I use Allstays app to check out different possibilities for what’s ahead and go from there on planning my drive.
    This year although I was tempted to leave Oregon the end of May and not come back until Spring I have decided to break it up with a long trip back to Wisconsin to see a grandson and his family,do the Lake Superior tour and check out some of the history in Indiana where my dads family was from.
    After time back in Oregon I will head out again to Glacier and Yellowstone and then down into Texas for the winter to check out the TT parks there. I spent the last 2 years in Southern California and need a change.

  8. No particular place to go and no time to have to be there..

  9. We’ve been full-time for 5 years. We have events we attend every year and family times, but the in-between-time we plan as we go for the most part with no reservations until one or two days before traveling. We don’t enjoy the pressure of planning free time to far ahead. Nice to know we can always boondock in a parking lot along the way with permission, of course, if a reservation can’t be had.

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