During the last week, I have started planning our next big adventure which will start on August 1st. We will be going to Illinois in April, but that trip will be for only 3 or 4 weeks and will include a visit to celebrate my mother’s 85th birthday and then a stop in Gafney, SC at Freightliner for service. We are now to the point that trips of only a few weeks seem to be very short in nature. In comparison, the fall trip will be 3 months long and we will travel over 5000 miles. As I started to prepare for this trip, I thought it might be beneficial to go over the process that Liz and I use in our planning. This was discussed to a certain degree last August and September when I published three posts, two of which were labeled Reflections, and one, Planning That Big Trip – Part 3. Since then we have six more months of experience on the road and have traveled in two completely different RV’s. I went back and reviewed those posts, and although much of the information remains the same, there is enough of a change that I thought it would be nice to re-visit the subject, especially since I’m starting the planning process for the fall trip. It also keeps the blog active while we are not actually traveling. In addition, I think planning an upcoming trip keeps me motivated and excited about this whole RV experience, and I’m also hopeful that this sharing of information will help someone else. Always having something new to look forward to keeps everything fresh too.
Before we retired, both Liz and I had jobs that required us to do a lot of planning to insure success. I think both of us have taken those learned traits into retirement. Even though I do most of the trip planning (I like to), Liz has a lot of input. So now there is a double dose of planning when we take a big trip. I have wondered if this trend will continue when we are actually full timing as it will no longer be the “big fall trip,” but it will be one big long trip. My conclusion is that it will still be planned, as certain events such as the Balloon Fiesta and places like the Florida Keys have to be scheduled well in advance of the date to reserve spots and to fit into our schedule with such things as family obligations and doctors appointments.
Soooo, let’s get to planning a trip.
Choosing an event or destination that is usually the anchor for the trip.
An Anchor is an event or location that is the main focus of your trip. Most of the time everything else is scheduled around this anchor. The fall trip for example really has 4 anchors that started with a desire to go to the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. It has been on my bucket list for several years. I discovered that the Newmar Kountry Klub (Newmar owners club) sponsored 50 spots in the VIP section next to the launch field for 6 days and 5 nights. So I started by signing up for that. It sold out in just a few days so I feel fortunate to get a spot. That was anchor #1.
Then I discovered that Newmar has it’s international rally in Puebleo, CO at the end of September and that a lot of people would be caravaning to Albuquerque from Pueblo. I told Liz, “We need to try this.” So now we have anchor #2.
We then decided that we have crossed this country on I- 10 too many times in the past year so we decided to get to Pueblo via a visit to my mother who lives in Illinois. This would take us across several states from Illinois to Colorado that we haven’t visited before in the RV. That plan matured into “Well if we leave soon enough we can take a trip through Michigan and the Great Lakes,” which is on our bucket list. So we decided to leave on August 1st and work 4 to 5 weeks into a Michigan trip. It’s really not as much time as I would like, but it will allow us to get a flavor for the Great Lakes Region and Upper Peninsula. We can always plan to return to a place that we may really like and stay longer. So now we have anchor #3.
Finally, we decided to go to the Hoots Rally at Buckhorn Lake RV Resort near Kerrville, TX. Hoots is the name of a group of Newmar owners who are also members of the iRV2 forum and share interests in both Newmar and RV’ing. So now we have anchor #4.
What I do now is put all the anchor dates on a calendar and then start choosing our routes and eventually filling the holes by deciding where we will stop, and for how many days, in between each event. For some, I’m sure that this is way too much planning and others don’t like attending rallies or group events so this type of preparation wouldn’t be fun and probably would feel burdensome. They prefer the solitude of individual travel and do not like being saddled by activities that come with group events. I know Liz wasn’t particularly excited about attending any rallies and then we went to the RV Dreams Rally in Sevierville, TN last year and she enjoyed herself. We just didn’t feel obligated to attend anything that we didn’t like or feel suited us. I did get her to go to the Kentucky Derby party though and they gave her a stupid hat to wear, but she was a sport about it. At least she didn’t have to get on one of those stick horses and pretend she was in the race.
In Part II I will discuss how we go about filling in the blanks.