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Old 08-11-2014, 02:54 PM   #1
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Cross country RVing

Hello All,
I want to plan a cross county trip to Montana next summer. We've never done this before. My wife has family there. We will be travelling with our two kids and our dog. I'm still a very newbie as an RVer. We Have two weeks vacation time and only want to spend a couple of days in MT.

I figured I would break out the map, figure out how much time, MPH, and distance per day and figure out a daily average to get us there. Spend a couple of days in MT., then head out.

We'd like to use as many National Forest camp grounds as possible. Our tour will feature a lot of National Parks (my kids are 10 & 8).

Any helpful tips would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 08-11-2014, 03:02 PM   #2
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I'd recommend stopping early each day of travel. Also try to visit places the kids will like. Two weeks isn't much time to make it to Montana and back. We try to limit our days to 300-350 miles each.


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Old 08-11-2014, 03:08 PM   #3
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A couple of things that would help with comments. First, what type and size of RV do you have? Have you had your RV long? Experience traveling with/in it? Montana is a pretty big state. Will you be traveling to eastern part or western? North or south part? Traveling in a car/SUV pulling a pop-up is a different experience than driving a pick-up with a 5er or TT behind which is different than driving a MH.
Good luck with the planning and welcome to IRV2!!
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Old 08-11-2014, 03:20 PM   #4
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cross country

You're absolutely right, I should have added more details.
1. Very new to RVing
2. Jayco Swift SLX 20ft travel trailer. Sleeps 5
3. Using a Ford Explorer to pull it.
4. Heading out from the Baltimore area, heading north to MT. and head south on the return trip. How big of a loop depends on time.
5. Missoula, MT is our end point.

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Old 08-11-2014, 03:37 PM   #5
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Just a quick look shows that at 2300 miles +-. That is 5 10 hour days of driving. Two days at Missoula leaves 2 days for touring. Really not the way I would want to take a vacation. But, I might be spoiled. I have been on permanent vacation for 3 years. Could the family meet you half way?
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Old 08-11-2014, 03:42 PM   #6
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Well... Doing a quick google map of your route... It looks like you'll be swinging through the state of WI...

May I suggest spending a day in the WI Dells area... It's the water park capital of the world... Not sure how old your kids are.. but a nicely timed stop over in the dells could help...

Official Site For Wisconsin Dells | The Waterpark Capital of the World | Wisconsin Tourism

Also... it appears you'll be going through SD... I took my kids to Mt Rushmore and they loved it..

Good luck... very jealous.. I'd love to take a two week trip... Oh what I would give to have a 5000 mile trip looking out the big windshield
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Old 08-11-2014, 03:48 PM   #7
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Hwy 2 is a good road. 2 weeks is a it aggressive. We travel 251-300 a day,
Have a good trip, be safe!!
John and Susan. New 2018 Chevrolet 2500 2 WHD . 6.6 Duramax 3.73 rearend. .4 door ,Short, Bed W/Topper. 2017 Grand Design 297 RSTS. Our rescue dog Annie. Still ,Full timing since 07-01-2011. No sticks and bricks.
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Old 08-12-2014, 07:19 PM   #8
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Montana is a very large state so what area of Montana makes a significant difference in the distance you will be traveling. To visit Glendive, MT it will be 1,714 miles one way. Google estimates the drive time to be 26 hours. Billings is 1,934 miles and Great Falls would be 2,061 miles and 32 hours of drive time. Missoula would be 2,278 miles and 34 hours of driving time. This means that if you drive for 8+ hours per day then it will take between 3 and 5 days of travel each way, depending upon where in Montana you are going. I suggest that you need to plan to stay in commercial RV parks along the way in order to have them convenient to your route to save time. If you want to save some money, join Passport America for park discounts, rather than to spend the time getting to and from national forest campgrounds which usually have no hookups or showers and usually well off of the highways.

Some national parks and attractions you should consider seeing along the route are Glacier Natl. Park, Yellowstone Natl. Park, Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park, Badlands NP, Custer Battlefield, to name just a few. We have visited all of these and each is worth the time to see. Since you clearly won't have enough time to see all of these, do some research now to share with the family in planning your route.
Good Travelin! Kirk
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Old 08-13-2014, 11:03 AM   #9
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While this might not set well with some, if I were taking that long of a trip in that short of time I would not pull a trailer and camp. Just to much moving around, places you might want to stop and see that are hard to get into.
While I love camping and do it as often as possible, we have taken several trips like this, lots of miles and about 2 weeks to stay gone and every time we stayed in motels and I'm would do the same again.
Just my thoughts.
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Old 08-13-2014, 11:12 AM   #10
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I agree with the consensus here, that is a pretty aggressive schedule. You will pass through some beautiful country and there is so much to see and experience. Your two week schedule will not allow much other than see what you can from the road as you whiz by. Is there any way you can add a week and make it a three week trip?

If your family could even meet you in the Black Hills (Rapid City) there is so much you can see and do in that area. Just a suggestion.

Whatever you decide, wishing you safe travels and many happy miles.
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Old 08-13-2014, 11:23 AM   #11
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If you would add items #1, 2 and 3 from your second post above to your signature line it will help others help you.
As you see, people on this forum love to help!
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Old 08-13-2014, 11:38 AM   #12
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You are planning a very aggressive vacation. As pointed out you are looking at 4, maybe 5, ten hour driving days. This is not a problem for one day or even two days but after that it will become a lot of effort to keep that pace. One suggestion was to not take your TT, but that doesn't solve the fact that you have 2300+ miles. The TT will allow you to pull over and nap comfotably. Good luck and Happy Trails!!!!
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Old 08-13-2014, 11:56 AM   #13
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After reading the other's input, I agree that this trip, in the short time available, with 8 & 10 year olds, might be better done without the trailer. If you consider time to set up and take down each day, extra wear and fuel needed to tow, motels might be cheaper or close. You could save money with packing a camp stove and cooler to do tailgate meals. I used to do 'adventure trips' with 12-17 year olds. Had many great experiences, but on longer trips, Like Ohio to Banff, back through Yellowstone, Black Hills, etc. on the way home we couldn't drag kids off the bus to look at stops they were so tired of new things. You don't want to make the kids hate trips!

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Old 08-13-2014, 04:13 PM   #14
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Quick look at Google maps and their drive time calculator. I'd do the trip with the trailer. FWIW assuming M-F work week my approach would be to finish packing on Thursday. Get home from work Fri, get dinner and head out for some place 3 or 4 hours down the road. You probably want to be checked in somewhere by around 9. That gets the gears shifted. Pull one or two long days and then switch to shorter days and plan stops to sight see each day. That gets you out of the more familiar circle around home. I'd also re route to avoid Chicago so I would be a bit more west before I went north. Do a long day Saturday and then start shortening days. Part of drive time will be dictated by the distances out west between stopping spots of interest. Part will be a couple day stop in Missoula. Reality is that with 35 hours drive time each way and 15 or 16 days to work with you can take 5 or 6 days to do each leg, have time to visit, and have time to sight see along the way. It's the kind of trips I did when the kids and I were young and tough. Now I'd double the number of days for the same driving time. ;-)

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