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Old 01-17-2019, 10:44 AM   #1
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How to plan first cross country trip???

My husband and I are planning our first cross country round trip. We’re wondering ... what do the experienced RV’ers do regarding overnighting it while on the road? Do you make reservations at a set mileage limitation prior? Make reservations while driving down the road once you’ve had enough driving for the day? Do you hunt for the nearest rest stop, Walmart or other RV friendly parking lot to boondock for the night? We’re going to be on the road 4 nights ... Me and the dogs and cat, well, we are the planners; he’s flies by the seat of his ... lol!
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Old 01-17-2019, 10:59 AM   #2
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I wing it at Wal*Marts, Cabellas, rest areas, etc. I try to go at least two days at the dry camping spots then stay at a campground to dump tanks and take on water. However I have gone 5 days travel to cover 2,000 miles without hookups in my '02 DSDP.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:03 AM   #3
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After a couple years of "winging it" and finding Walmarts and rest areas, we now generally look for somewhere that we can plug in for the night. I sleep very light, so found that I wasn't getting a lot of sleep sitting next to an 18 wheeler that had a noisy refer unit cycling on/off all night.

In order of preference, I use:

1) Passport America
2) Good Sam's
3) RV park Review

On the overnights, I usually plan ahead and find spots that are approx 500 miles apart. I do a Googler Skyview and street view to get an idea of what it looks like and how to get there. I'll write the phone number down, along with any directions, i.e. exit number, etc. We then wait until we are about an hour away and make the call to the RV park.

I like to keep my options open so usually don't make a hard "reservation", especially for somewhere that I've never stayed before.

I prefer something thats away from the main road so we can avoid road noise. We also use the Passport America discount, where available.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:04 AM   #4
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Been coast to coast 4 times, with another one coming in Sept.....have never had trouble finding a campground for an overnight stay......and winging it isn't all that bad.....but getting off the interstates is when you really get to see the country....if I travel alone, rest stops work.....don't much care for Wally World, so, get a Passport America book, a KOA book, and with a couple apps on a phone, should be a fun trip..
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:05 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Mr_D View Post
I wing it at Wal*Marts, Cabellas, rest areas, etc. I try to go at least two days at the dry camping spots then stay at a campground to dump tanks and take on water. However I have gone 5 days travel to cover 2,000 miles without hookups in my '02 DSDP.
Ditto. I make reservations where I plan to stay for a while, and hit the Walmarts and rest areas as needed on the way there. But I do plan out those intermediate stops, checking them out on Google Earth to make sure I can get in and out.
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:06 PM   #6
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We traveled around the country for 20 years and have used various style at different stages in our lives. Mostly, though, I try to identify where we are going to stay the next night, either the night before or the morning before travel (we are NOT early starters). Whether I actually make reservations or not depends on factors such as season, weekend, popularity of the destination, and how confident I am about the next day travel plan. Our usual mode is to have a few fixed targets (place & time) over a several month period and a lot of flexibility in-between, but we usually have a pretty good idea of how far we are willing to go in any one day (typically 250 miles are so). If the days travel goes faster or slower timewise than expected, we may re-target halfway thru the day.

Since we generally stop early, 4 pm at the latest, we can near always find a spot if its not a holiday weekend or prime tourist place. If you expect to arrive after 6pm, I would suggest reservations in more places. Back in the day it was more difficult to find a spot if the first choice was full up, but now you can call around easily using your mobile phone. Quite a few people call ahead only an hour or so out.

Much depends on your style of travel and your personal planning comfort factor. I know people who plan rigidly and reserve every night several months in advance. Nothing wrong with that if it gives you the confidence & comfort to better enjoy your travels.
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:47 PM   #7
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I would certainly agree with Gary, it depends on your preferences. However, with one being a planner and the other like me, you may need to try both to see what works best.

We've been traveling around the US for 40+ years, and nearly always overnighting by "seat of my pants". We nearly always make a trip from OR to WV and back each year, with side trips to whatever we would like to see. We have no set time to stop, or start the next morning, that happens when we get tired, and are rested. In my mind that provides a lot more freedom to drive a little more if you feel like it, or stop sooner if you don't. There are no commitments.

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Old 01-17-2019, 01:06 PM   #8
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I use my time for planning - to check distances and have a good idea on where I want to be each day. For instance our next trip will be driving the Natchez Trace Parkway and Branson, Mo. We have family halfway between the two for driveway surfing.
What I haven’t decided yet is what direction to go first. NTP or Branson. We won’t even know exactly what day we are leaving home until a couple weeks beforehand. Just depends on the weather and our mood for getting ready. Therefore booking reservations is not even an option. With today’s app’s we are not worried about finding a place to boondock or having a place to fill water and dump tanks.
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:50 PM   #9
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We seldom make reservation to far in advance. We will overnight at Walmart, Sam's Clubs, Cabella's, casino's and truck stops as long as they are not crowded. When we do decide to stay at a campground we'll drive until ~2-3PM and start checking locations and then start calling. Usually don't have trouble finding a place to stop.
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:59 PM   #10
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There are always spots for one night without having reservations.... IF you pull in before 4pm. After 6-7pm plan on the WalMart.
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Old 01-17-2019, 03:08 PM   #11
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Travel with a plan

Develop a plan. The seat of the pants wears thin at about 8:00pm. Find a stopping point by 4:00pm each day. Having a list of 3-4 RV parks that work for your travel style will help to make your day's travel less stressful.

The same is true for a planned route. Write out basic instructions for which roads you want to travel. Helps considearbly to communicate the plan to both driver and navigator. A partnership is a lot of the experience.

If a park is full, ask them if they have suggestions for an option down the road. That gives you more alternatives to consider.

Do plan on multiple day stops at least twice a week. Do accept that you will reject parks that sounded good in the reviews. Do understand that a good site in a bad park will work and a bad site in the best park is a mistake. Do expect to pay for a park in a good location. Do ask for available discounts. Do not get insulted if there are no discounts.

It's an adventure out there, enjoy it.
Travel Safe and with a Smile! Pat
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Old 01-17-2019, 03:19 PM   #12
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I have less experience than some on here with about 12,000 miles in my current coach since buying it in 2016. In general I will get advanced reservations at destination points, for overnight stops I will often scout out potential non reservable campground options for the next day, if there are no good ones along my projected route, I will generally call ahead and get reservations when I am a couple of hours out, or take my chances upon arrival. I use various online tools to find potential places to stop for the night, one of my favorites is Ultimate campground guide, which lists all sorts of public campgrounds including state parks, as well forest service campgrounds, municipal and other parks with RV sites. Unless I am travelling through a cool climate, I prefer having electricity for air conditioning, though I can live without water and sewer hookups.
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Old 01-17-2019, 03:22 PM   #13
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JMaire said:

" We’re going to be on the road 4 nights ..."

You're going cross country in four days? Hang on to your hat!!
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Old 01-17-2019, 03:26 PM   #14
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We generally try to stay at campgrounds primarily. I use the campground wifi the night before, and scope out the general area we plan on getting to the next day using rvparky and allstays app. We generally plan to leave by nine in the morning, but sometimes we dont get out of the park until closer to 10. By around two or so, we have a better idea how much farther we will get. I will use the list I created the night before and call ahead on my cell to see about availability. We like to get into the new campground by three or four at the latest. The journey is the destination, so why overdo the driving. 250 to 300 miles a day is plenty for us. We have crisscrossed the US in the last two winters, logging close to 20k miles, and have really only had to resort to Walmarts once or twice. Unless you are heading into a prime destination, at prime vacation time, you can generally always find a campground. If you want to stay for an extended period, or have a particular area you really want to stay at, reservations are a good idea. We like to fly by the seat of our pants, as sometimes you find a gem of a spot you want to stay longer at, or you have a mechanical issue that forces you to stay longer in one spot. Things happen, and if you have reservations across the board, and have a delay, you will be getting charged for camping you are not using. Also you might have to skip an area, or drive an extended amount to catch back up to your prebooked schedule.
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