You are finally ready to take that first big trip that will be more than a couple hundred miles away and last for more than a week. Just remember that with RV’ing the journey is as important as the destination. We usually have as much fun getting to our destination and back home as we do at our ultimate stopping point. We have listed below some things that we found important to consider when making plans for your trip. We do have the advantage of being retired, making our time more flexible which makes planning a little easier for us than someone still working. Finally, to this point our experience is in the East and the Midwest so keep that in mind when reading the recommendations. The West has more open spaces, and “boondocking” on BLM lands and National Forests is more popular. We hope to try that in the future, but have not experienced it yet. The options out West may be different, requiring you to vary your method of planning.
- How many miles should I plan to go in a day? When you lay out your route to your destination don’t try to travel the same number of miles you may have in the past when driving by car. We haven’t traveled by motorhome yet, but I found that pulling a travel trailer requires your utmost attention to the road and traffic which results in fatigue setting in more quickly than when driving a car. It also takes longer than a car to go the same distance. I usually add one hour to whatever the gps estimates our travel time to be. Typically we travel between 60 and 65 mph. Remember too that when you get to your campsite for the night, you still have to set up by putting out the levelers and connecting to water , electric, etc. and then you have to make something to eat or find a restaurant. We try to get to the RV park by at least 4 pm. If you are staying at a Walmart, Cracker Barrel, or other quick layover spot your setup is minimal so this may not be as big a concern. We have found that we prefer to go no more than 300 miles in any day and it seems to vary anywhere from 275 miles to 325. Anything over that and I start to get cranky and that’s not good for anyone.
- Should I make reservations ahead of time, call the day I’m travelling, or just show up? So far I have been doing most of the planning and I come from a job where we always planned ahead. I get nervous and am unsettled when I’m not sure that we have a place to stay. Consequently, on every trip we have taken so far I have identified each stop, on what day, and where we would stay when we stopped. I have done this for everything from our one week trips to our one month ones. I just feel better knowing that I at least have identified where and when I want to stay. However, on the longer trips I usually do not book the RV parks on the back end of the trip until we are underway. Some folks don’t decide where they want to stay until the day before and then call once enroute to secure a place for the night. Finally, there are those folks that just wing it and pull into a campground without calling even while enroute. This last group must love living on the edge. I could never do that, especially in the summer months. You will have to find the method that fits your personality and travel patterns the best. If you are the type that makes a lot of changes to your travel plans as you go, you probably don’t want to make reservations too far ahead. Don’t forget that you can also have some type of mechanical or medical issue that might delay your trip and cancelling at the last minute can result in fee being charged. Also remember that there are peak seasons for some parks and reservations become more important during that period. Florida, for example, is very busy in the winter and many parks fill up a couple months ahead. Another place is Texas. We are spending the month of January in the Rio Grande Valley and we made our reservations in August to secure our site.
- When travelling a long distance should I move every day? When we first started RV’ing last October we were all about getting to our destination to park and relax. Sometimes that might take three or four days and so we drove our 300 miles, stopped and setup, then got up and was gone by 10 am. to do it all over again. Well let me tell you, for us moving every single day got old quickly. If you are like me, you will get tired of setting up camp and then breaking it down again 18 hours later day after day. So now when we stop for one night we then try to find a location that has something of interest and stay at least two nights at the next stop before moving on. This is more of what RV’ing is really about anyway. It would probably be even better yet if you could find something at each stop and stay a couple of days at each location. If time is critical there is the alternative of stopping at a Walmart, a Cracker Barrel, a truck stop or other safe location to just park for the night and then move on in the morning. Many people do this, but I must say it is much easier in my opinion to do it in a motorhome instead of a travel trailer like we have. We do plan to try this approach once we get our coach.
- Remain Flexible. I mentioned this earlier, but it is worth repeating. So many things can change your plans that you need to remain as flexible as possible. If I have a plan in my head, I usually try to stick to it and will balk at making changes, but I’m working to overcome
that tendency. That only increases my stress level and one of things RV’ing is supposed to do is to reduce your stress. Anything from having a good time and wanting to stay longer in a place, to mechanical or medical issues can require modification to your plans. For example, we were overnighting in Louisville, KY and we setup in pouring rain. We planned to head to Alabama the next day and then to Georgia the following day. Unfortunately, mother nature had different ideas. It rained all night and the next day the forecast was for rain all day along our route of travel. I decided I didn’t want to deal with that, so I went to the office first thing in the morning and asked to stay an additional night. Our site was reserved by someone already for the night, but she allowed us to stay and moved the other person to an available spot. We were lucky the park wasn’t full. I then had to call the other parks down the line and re-schedule our visits. The longer the trip, the more likely something will interfere with your plans. Just stay calm, deal with it and enjoy the ride!