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Old 05-02-2021, 08:15 AM   #1
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Planned our first big RV trip, what fun!

I thought I'd write this for those new to RVing or new to multi-location trip planning, just to tell of our experiences.

We have planned an 8 week trip this summer to go along with the purchase of our new RV, a 2007 Winnebago Voyage 35L Class A. In the past we did a few trips with our old travel trailer but mostly just point A to B, stay at B, then return to A.

This year, we are taking the full two months of summer and staying at 27 different locations. Most are one or two nights but we have a couple longer ones (Yellowstone, Moab area, and Olympic). It's a pretty long trip, starting in Massachusetts and out through Utah, over to Northern CA, up to Washington, then back.

We have never planned anything so detailed before, and as this was our first time out with this RV, my wife was not comfortable with the idea of sleeping in a parking lot somewhere overnight, so we have many one night stays at campgrounds (or Harvest Hosts). We acknowledge now that this is an overly ambitious trip but we are also looking at places we may be moving to for our careers, so it's a multi-use trip, however, I do NOT advise doing this and our next RV trip will not be so complicated.

We started planning back in February/March, by pinning a huge map of the US on the wall of my wife's home office. Within a few days, the entire room looked like the war room at the pentagon. Multi-colored string, push pins, sticky notes, all over the map, walls, a second map, an atlas spread open on the desk, you get the picture.

I downloaded RV Trip Wizard, which after a brief learning curve, helped tremendously. After seeing, on the Trip Wizard map, just how little we could expect to drive in one day really changed things a lot. We found we couldn't go everywhere we had planned. Ended up taking out the Grand Canyon, and everything south of Moab until we hit Yosemite. We'll do a Southwest US trip next year, I think.

First, we found and added in to the Trip Wizard all of the campgrounds we liked along the way. After days of researching the campgrounds along the way, reading multiple reviews, and narrowing down what we absolutely wanted to see or do, vs. what would be nice, as well as what we didn't care at all about, we came up with a finalized plan.

At that point we hadn't booked anything yet. Many places weren't taking reservations yet. Some places were already booked out.

I printed an itinerary from RV Trip Wizard and put it in a three ring binder. Over the course of the next few weeks, I called or reserved online as many of the campgrounds that I could. Some had to be changed for various reasons. I must have printed out a dozen copies of the itinerary as each thing changed. At one point, I realized every one of the last 11 campgrounds were booked wrong by exactly one day. I had to cancel and rebook them all! One little mistake can really throw you! For some of the campgrounds, they wouldn't open reservations until a certain date, so my wife set up email reminders to send to me on those dates and I would make the call or reserve online. We had to play a little game of Whack-a-mole trying to reserve a day pass at Yosemite too. Tried that one about 8 times before I was successful. We also had to reserve boarding kennels at two places (near Yellowstone and while in Moab) because they aren't allowed on some of the trails we want to hike, which meant different shots for my dog, as the kennels we usually use only require rabies.

We both know, however, that even one mistake, one mechanical failure, one bad day of driving, can throw everything off. Doing it this way really showed us how NOT to do this kind of vacation/trip! We will really be putting ourselves to the test, along with our son and dog. It's going to be a real learning experience.

Our trip binder now has the full itinerary, a copy of every reservation along the way, prints of all of our club membership cards, Park Pass for the National Parks, etc. I think this trip is going to be hectic, but also great fun. We'll see.

In short, if you are new to this kind of planning, try to have fun with it, but also, be as organized as you can possibly be. And maybe a little bit less ambitious.
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Old 05-02-2021, 08:53 AM   #2
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I hope everything works out. We have traveled in a RV since 1976 and never planned like that. WE make reservations at destinations and add a few days for changes on the road. Do you pull a car? We stayed at Moab several times for a week. Lots of off road trails. Jeeps are available in Moab. With Covid it may be necessary to plan more. Our traveling this summer is on hold because of 2 knee replacements. Next big trip is back to Moab next Easter for the Easter Jeep Safari. I made reservations for that because Moab fills up early. Have fun and be careful.
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Old 05-02-2021, 09:18 AM   #3
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I hope everything works out. We have traveled in a RV since 1976 and never planned like that. WE make reservations at destinations and add a few days for changes on the road. Do you pull a car? We stayed at Moab several times for a week. Lots of off road trails. Jeeps are available in Moab. With Covid it may be necessary to plan more. Our traveling this summer is on hold because of 2 knee replacements. Next big trip is back to Moab next Easter for the Easter Jeep Safari. I made reservations for that because Moab fills up early. Have fun and be careful.
Yes, we read many forums and articles saying due to Covid that every campground would fill up fast, so in order to leave nothing to chance, we had to plan and book so tightly, and looking now at some of the places we booked, they are completely full so it seems that was the right thing to do. We are pulling a small car. I'm not convinced it's necessary, but we'll see. It's all a learning experience.
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Old 05-02-2021, 09:27 AM   #4
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That is SO AWESOME!!! We plan to roll through Yellowstone and Glacier, wave!

Yeah the RV is never as fast as Google thinks it should be. Especially in the mountains. Little inefficiencies tend to add up by the end of the day. Although it's often those little inefficiencies that make travel a pleasure rather than a burden.

I get utility out of getting up early, try to grind out some miles before sunrise while it's cool and there's no traffic and my cortisol levels are high. Flip side is, I don't grind at night anymore. So much easier to just pull over at 3 or 4 and enjoy the stop. Which sounds like your plan re: harvest hosts and all. Good plan. At any rate, that's how I deal with the variance. If I have catching up to do, we are wheels up by 5 regardless of the whining. Not sure what your alternatives are, if you want to stay in the best places. Especially with all the pent-up demand out there. People have been locked indoors for too doggone long, I think.

Biggest aggravation and waste of time for me is fiddling around with tire pressures, which is pretty much inevitable with all the changes in altitude and temperature. And it's important, you kinda want to get that pressure right, for comfort, handling and peace of mind. May have to weigh your rig and look it up to see what "right" is. Too high and the ride is rough, and the wind will drive you nuts. Too low is *really* bad. Some parts of the country there's not a functioning chuck within 200 miles. People swipe those things, I guess. Dunno why. I'd definitely bring a chuck, and consider bringing a heavy duty compressor. The other time suck for my gasser was finding appropriate gas stations, with maneuvering room. With my diesel, I've discovered the benefits of truck stops, some of whom (Pilot/Flying J in particular) often have RV lanes for gassers. I'm assuming there must be an app for that.

Finally, I'd have your mechanic go over the thing before you go, check the brakes and belts and anything else he can think of. Maybe hook you up with a spare belt. Clean up electrical connections including your chassis ground. Get your tires inspected. Have him look at your valve extenders, which is a potential point of failure if they are old and gummed up. Take your batteries down to Auto Zone for a checkup. Get new windshield wiper blades and lay in a supply of Rain-ex too (and use it). Ounce of prevention and all that. All things I learned the hard way.

So you're going straight from Moab to Jackson? I love that run. Consider 191, which runs through some beautiful country before it drops you off in Rock Springs. That ride doesn't get a lot of publicity but it's really amazing. Unlike some of my rides, I have actually done it in an RV, not just on motorcycle (generally a good idea to ask with any of my recommendations). Stayed at the Rock Springs Walmart, which gets my highest five-star endorsement. (Not so much from my traveling buddy Bill, whom I found outside at six am staring at the Walmart, saying, "this looks just like the last Walmart, and the one before that. How do I know you aren't just driving around in circles?")
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Old 05-02-2021, 09:29 AM   #5
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In a normal year, I'd say you are overdoing the planning process -- just go!

This year, you are doing it the right way. We just got back from two weeks in Utah, mostly boondocking. But when we needed an RV park for a night here and there, what a shock! No vacancies.

The RV park owners told us they had never seen it so busy.

Enjoy the ride!
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Old 05-02-2021, 09:57 AM   #6
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Finally, I'd have your mechanic go over the thing before you go, check the brakes and belts and anything else he can think of. Maybe hook you up with a spare belt. Clean up electrical connections including your chassis ground. Get your tires inspected. Have him look at your valve extenders, which is a potential point of failure if they are old and gummed up. Take your batteries down to Auto Zone for a checkup. Get new windshield wiper blades and lay in a supply of Rain-ex too (and use it). Ounce of prevention and all that. All things I learned the hard way.
When we were buying the RV, we negotiated all new tires and batteries, so we're good there. But I will be doing the other things you suggested. Thanks. Right now we're trying to figure out TPMS, what to buy and how to install/use.
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Old 05-02-2021, 10:37 AM   #7
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Good idea.
I use Evernote on my iPhone for my reservations.
You can upload PDFs, emails, photos, etc. just about anything.
It’s like a file cabinet in the cloud.
Been using it for 11 yrs.
It’s great to keep all your manuals for everything, even for the home base.
I do pay the yearly fee for the upgrade so I can forward emails to it.
Saved me many times with goofy campgrounds and campgrounds that don’t send refunds.
I keep notes on all the CGs and who I talked to.
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Old 05-05-2021, 06:26 PM   #8
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Going West for 2 months and just made the only advanced reservation... Monaco Int Pre rally in Gillette, WY end of June. Will wing it from there. Did much the same last summer ...no reservations and didn’t have any problems ...different strokes for different folks.
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Old 05-06-2021, 05:47 AM   #9
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Going West for 2 months and just made the only advanced reservation... Monaco Int Pre rally in Gillette, WY end of June. Will wing it from there. Did much the same last summer ...no reservations and didn’t have any problems ...different strokes for different folks.
Just curious, is it that you don't believe all the folks and news stories saying campgrounds are filling up fast, or you aren't going to be staying at campgrounds / RV parks, or that you can find vacancies where others don't know about?
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Old 05-06-2021, 05:38 PM   #10
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Doubt it will be any worse this summer than last which was very busy. Fortunately the newbies (and others) think they need FHUs and reservations... we only need those about 1 day/week, usually on Monday as you can forget finding a FHU CG on short notice on the weekends. Our favorite CGs are the USFS that do not take reservations or dispersed sites. Helps that we’ve been doing it this way for 20 years in big rigs...now a 44’ DP.
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Old 05-06-2021, 10:59 PM   #11
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Doubt it will be any worse this summer than last which was very busy. Fortunately the newbies (and others) think they need FHUs and reservations... we only need those about 1 day/week, usually on Monday as you can forget finding a FHU CG on short notice on the weekends. Our favorite CGs are the USFS that do not take reservations or dispersed sites. Helps that we’ve been doing it this way for 20 years in big rigs...now a 44’ DP.
We did the same.

If you're OK with dry camping you can find places without reservations.
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