Jun 112019

With winter behind us and the busy travel season here, 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 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 – Don’t measure your life using someone else’s ruler.

Nick Russell

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

  9 Responses to “Summer RV Trip Planning”

  1. I made a spreadsheet of places we wanted to see or eat or camp for each state. Then we’d pick a direction, then a road, and head down it stopping at places that interested us whether or not they were on my spreadsheet. When it was coming up to supper time we’d check the spread sheet for an overnight place near us and go there or Walmart. We’d stay a night or two then do it again. In three years we drove through every one of the contiguous 48 states and enjoyed all the experiences we had along the way. My favorites were taking a month to drive Historic Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica and driving down the east coast in the fall so slowly we stayed in peak color season the whole way down.

  2. That is what “Tioga George” such a great blog sorry I didn’t get to meet up with him.
    But his blog was an open book on traveling free as a bird.

  3. Depends on where I’m going, but I like to have a list of places I plan to stop, along with reservations. Not having a co-pilot to figure out a new route or find a place to stay makes it harder to find something at the last minute. It’s much less stressful for me that way. I guesstimate my mileage and note fuel stations along the way also, mostly so I can check their entrance on satellite. Maybe in another ten years all of that won’t bother me so much.

  4. It has taken a good bit of work to get me to slow down, I’m still working at it.
    Step one was ‘no driving after dark’, I can’t see the country. That led to step two, ‘stop early’, 2 or 3 in the afternoon is a good time to stop if I don’t have to be somewhere.
    It does look like it’s getting crowded out there in RV land with more every year. That leads to reservations & those lead to a schedule and that leads to pushing the first two rules a bit.
    I’m still working on it…

    I have a friend who’d set out for a location, let’s say the PWN. He’d pick a spot (say Neha Bay Washington) and use the route planner on freecampsites.net. He would allow the widest net on the route and look for a free place to stay in the time/distance he was willing to travel that day. Then he would go there…Often as not he could hang out in that area for a few days looking around then repeat the process. He went to a lot of places he’d never been before…

  5. In our 11 years of full-timing we had the motto of 200 miles or 2 o’clock which ever came first to stop for the day. We never set an alarm unless we had to be somewhere special and never made a reservation unless again we needed to be somewhere special. We would still be on the road but health reasons made us hang up the keys.

  6. Cheri and I fall into the “plans in jello” catagory. We have a planned destination but not always a plan to get there. We take our time getting there then look for things to do on way back home. We try to be on the road 6-8 months per year as we have a stick home and plenty of kids, grand kids and great grand kids to keep us busy. We very seldom ever make a reservation as we never know how far a day we are going to travel. We rarely have trouble finding some place to spend the night. That plan might not work for someone that has to have a resort with 50 amp full hook ups.Works for us! As you know Nick we have stayed in lots of different places. Hi to Miss Terry!

  7. We’ve never done the “plan it down to the last detail.” We still do the rallies we want but have no desire to run cross-country just for that. After 14 years full-time, we’ve done the other travel modes. Now we have a home-base S&B. It’s lots different.

  8. We usually have an “ultimate” destination in mind, often in Canada (We live in Florida). Then we decide what general direction we’ll take to get there. Then I bring up Google Earth and look at all the push pins I have planted on there for the past several years, marking all the stuff we want to see. The ones near our direction of travel determine our route. 100-250 miles, stay a couple days, knock off a couple of nearby push pins, and on to the next area of interest.

    20 years 1/3-timing. It works for us.

  9. When I was quite young, i had opportunity to meet what was then called a “bum” in a railroad yard near our house. These were the days when kids left home in the morning to return home for meals. These guys were dirty, carried a stick over his shoulder with a curiously tied bundle of stuff. My mother encouraged me to stay away from these guys, but I was curious and watched. They were happy, enjoyed some simple things, and joined each other for a meal that seemed like a stew, as I recall. They welcomed me and seemed to be quite happy. I am sure their travels were in box cars, meals had origins perhaps from sources that were suspect, but they seemed to have no definite plans, and parted with “see you in …..”. RVing gives many of us the opportunity to be “bums” and enjoy folks, travel wherever, and live to be free of many of the common constraints. At times I really would like to be a modern RV bum.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.