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Old 05-16-2016, 09:14 AM   #1
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Are you a trip planner type?

Hello everyone,

Here is the question: If you going to make a long trip such as 2, 3 weeks or longer, of course that you have to plan out your route because you have to know where you will be going as well as budget.

However, to what degree you have to plan? Down to the daily detail? Example: How far do you have to drive each day, which campsite will you be stopping at and how long, making the RV site reservation in advance, how far in advance that you have to plan ahead? do you have any problem with can not book the RV site if not plan out far enough? Daily activities? Etc.

I am a project manager by trade, therefore, everything I do has to be planned, some people called it too excessive. I will be in full retirement in few months and I have already had the plan for my long-term travel after the retirement to the end of 2017. I know retirement travel is "play", not "work", that is why I am looking for your seasoned RV traveler for advice because I certainly hate to drive up or short notice reservation to the RV park and found that they could not accommodate me.
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Old 05-16-2016, 09:24 AM   #2
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Exactly why I book well ahead. Just made several reservations for a two week trip in December. Biggest risk is something comes up and have to eat cancellation fees. We don't do parking lots.
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Old 05-16-2016, 09:28 AM   #3
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I was a design engineer turned large project manager. When I retired and began to RV travel I found a "happy medium" that works for us. I really enjoy planning what we are going to see, and to a large extent the routes we are going to take. Unless it is a really popular destination, at a very peak season ( our winter snowbird roost for example ) I never reserve more than one stop ahead. This leaves our schedule somewhat flexible. We stay as long as we need to and see what we want to see. Before I hit the road to the next stop I will call a campground and pay for a spot. That way while traveling I know that there is a spot available when I get there and don't need to stress. One time while traveling out west I had a flat tire on a dolly and it took between 3 and 4 hours to get it changed. I arrived at the destination campground around 9 or ten PM and a map to the parking spot was posted on the office door, and there was no problem.
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Old 05-16-2016, 09:28 AM   #4
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Before I retired I would pick a destination and a time I had to get back. I never made the destination because there were too many things to see on the way. When 2/3 of the money or time was gone I would turn around and find a differant way home. Now that I am retired I spend a lot of time in Florida during the winter months and as far as a summer trip I just pick a direction and head that way. It's usually somewhere I haven't been(and that list is getting short)or to visit freinds Ive met alond the way.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:07 AM   #5
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tamdle....... If you feel the need to plan right down to the details, then all your relaxation just becomes one more project to be managed.

The answer to your question is "...it depends...". If you want a particular favorite campsite, at a specific park, on a particular holiday weekend, well.......

Otherwise, we have found that there are far more parks and campgrounds out there than regularly show up on Google searches, and most of them are fine.

Barring specific requirements, we rarely have any firm idea where we will be Thursday night until some time Wednesday afternoon, and maybe not then, either. And we've never had a big problem finding a place.

Good Luck!


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Old 05-16-2016, 10:18 AM   #6
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I call it "Mission Planning"! Driving a 45 foot Newmar Essex (long and tall) I always plan our trips well in advance, especially when school is out. I try to limit the "miles per day" to ~250, on average. I use RV Trip Wizard as my primary planning tool (I like the concentric circles set at 200, 250 and 300 miles); highlight a selected campground and the circles appear to help you select your next campground within those ranges. RV Trip Wizard also allows you to "Print" your trip to an Excel file where you can then "tweak" the output with extra columns for "CG Comments" (my opinion of the CG) which I then keep in a notebook should we ever go that direction again. The Excel printout also has the CG telephone number and address for the GPS.

Example of a page from my "Mission Planning" book:


I usually book a week to two weeks in advance UNLESS the destination is a "High Tourist" attraction, then I will reserve earlier. As for "cancellation fees", don't cancel! If you have to make a change in your schedule most CGs (I haven't found one that refused yet) will hold your reservation in abeyance for a future arrival date! If you would like a sample of a Mission Plan, PM me your email address and I'll send you a PDF.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:29 AM   #7
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I have been rv'ing for 50 years and now snowbirding for 19 years.
As a retired person this is how I plan.
We are going to Alaska again this summer. My PLAN is to leave home the middle of June and return the end of Aug. We have 1 (one) reservation made. Denali National Park for 4 nights. End of plan.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:35 AM   #8
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I don't over plan, but I plan enough. If I want a specific campground/site/dates, then I reserve ahead. Sometimes that has to be 6mo-1yr ahead if my trip includes a holiday or is in a popular destination. After doing this for almost 20 years, we already know how far we want to drive per day so I choose parks that fit that criteria. I'll check the local CoC website for things to do & make notes but I don't schedule our time down to the minute.

As a project manager, it's in you to micro-plan so you won't be able to be one of those that just "goes with the flow". Don't fight it, but don't let it ruin/stress out your retirement. Plan some, but don't be afraid to just let go & see where your travels take you.

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Old 05-16-2016, 10:46 AM   #9
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Driving a 42' rig + tow'd = 62', so I do like to look ahead on the route we're planning to take just to make sure we can get there and back. I use Mountain Directory, Low Clearances Database, Google Earth, Trip Wizard, Good Sam Trip Planner, etc. I know it's a chore for some but I really enjoy the process of trip planning, but then I'm kinda geeky

However, we typically don't plan every minute of a trip unless we have a specific destination we need to be at at a certain time. That usually translates into planning the trip out pretty thoroughly on the way to wherever we're going and winging it on the way home. If during the planning process I see there are multiple roads / highways to choose from, and multiple options for places to park, then I won't even bother with reservations. But, if there's just one way in or out and/or just one park along that route, I definitely reserve a spot... we're just to big to take a chance.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:55 AM   #10
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Not sure it I'm up to the level of NASA planning but I've got to be close. Just need final details concerning meals for our two weeks in July. Gives me something to do during the winter. Usually after Thanksgiving I'll have the route and camp grounds nailed down and reminders programming into my phone regarding when a reservation window opens. I've got pretty much everything either on a spread sheet, word doc of JPEG images. Fuel stops and potentially how much fuel I'll need, camp grounds and camp sites, route, tolls, boarding crossings, food stops, site seeing in route or near by the CGs, meals and grocery lists, coach pack out lists. The meals might be a bit much but makes for better use of a small fridge/freezer and storage space.

With all the planning, lists, checks and rechecks about a third to half of the plan gets tossed by the fourth day or so. All the stuff beyond what's the next CG and how do we get there more or less becomes optional. When your limited by an employment schedule it's best to at least have something in place when your a 1000 miles from home and have to be back at some point so you can make the next loan payment.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:55 AM   #11
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I think it comes down to whatever works best for you.

I am one of those who does enough research to know what we would like to see, plans a way to get there and goes. It has always worked out well for us. When we are traveling from one place to another we stay in rest areas, Walmarts, wide spots in the road, parks, and occasional campgrounds. Some of these places were so unique we will remember them forever.

We are not full timers and don't plan to be, but we've been doing this since the late 70s. We would be gone for about a month while we were working and for up to three months after retirement in 94.

IMHO, there is nothing wrong with doing whatever amount of planning fits your comfort zone, but I think having a little flexibility while traveling is a good thing.

It's supposed to be fun.

Just my 2c.

Steve
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Old 05-16-2016, 11:05 AM   #12
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It depends on who I'm traveling with one may not like the Walmart lot on occasion the other wouldn't hear of it. Did an Alaskan trip 2 yrs ago came back down the West coast no reservations no problem. Decided to go back to Winchester Bay in Oregon this summer and found the are booked over a year out😠 Got in for 2 weeks but have to change sites once. Will just play it by ear on the way up. Hate to be restricted by reservations may not want to travel one day.
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Old 05-16-2016, 11:06 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth01 View Post
I call it "Mission Planning"! Driving a 45 foot Newmar Essex (long and tall) I always plan our trips well in advance, especially when school is out. I try to limit the "miles per day" to ~250, on average. I use RV Trip Wizard as my primary planning tool (I like the concentric circles set at 200, 250 and 300 miles); highlight a selected campground and the circles appear to help you select your next campground within those ranges. RV Trip Wizard also allows you to "Print" your trip to an Excel file where you can then "tweak" the output with extra columns for "CG Comments" (my opinion of the CG) which I then keep in a notebook should we ever go that direction again. The Excel printout also has the CG telephone number and address for the GPS.

Example of a page from my "Mission Planning" book:


I usually book a week to two weeks in advance UNLESS the destination is a "High Tourist" attraction, then I will reserve earlier. As for "cancellation fees", don't cancel! If you have to make a change in your schedule most CGs (I haven't found one that refused yet) will hold your reservation in abeyance for a future arrival date! If you would like a sample of a Mission Plan, PM me your email address and I'll send you a PDF.
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Old 05-16-2016, 11:06 AM   #14
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In working on a spreadsheet right now planning a 6-7 week trip from Illinois to Cape Cod, Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, Quebec and then home.
Columns include: Start, Destination, City, Miles, Dates, Confirmation Number, Phone Number and Cost.
Start is my starting point for the day. Destination is the name of the campground.
Then I keep a running total at the bottom for miles and cost.
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