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Author Topic: Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice  (Read 2090 times)

doolinguy

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Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice
« on: July 02, 2015, 07:33:46 PM »
My wife and I are planning to buy an RV within the next six months. Im looking on some feedback on size, models and trip advice.

Our plan is to leave NC in late March/early April and work our way to Alaska via state and national parks with stops in the Dakotas, Glacier and Yellowstone/Grand Tetons. Probably arrive in Alaska in late May early June. Well return via the Pacific coast and the SW. I expect the trip to last about 8 months.

There will be the two of us plus one or two dogs and we will tow a VW Jetta Wagon.

My main interest is nature photography so Ill have camera gear and a computer. The plan is to bring flatwater kayaks on the car.

Were thinking of a 30 to 33 MH class A. Ive looked at the Thor ACE, the Bounder, Thor Palazzo, Forest River and many others. Im having trouble narrowing done to a few models to test drive.

One question I have is about trip planning and reservations for campgrounds. Do we need them in most areas or just near major parks? How far out should we make them? I expect I may want to stay longer in some areas than planned or may want to cut other places shorter.

Id appreciate any advice or experiences that people on this forum may share.

Best regards,

David and Susan McManus
Raleigh, NC

SeilerBird

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Re: Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2015, 08:18:49 PM »
One question I have is about trip planning and reservations for campgrounds. Do we need them in most areas or just near major parks? How far out should we make them? I expect I may want to stay longer in some areas than planned or may want to cut other places shorter.
I much prefer to travel without reservations. The reason is that I like to change my plans as I am traveling. If I hit a place I really love I might stay longer. If I hit a place that stinks I can leave early. Get a copy of Woodalls Campground Guide and notice there are about a million campgrounds in North America. It is very rare that all the campgrounds in a given area are filled up.

http://www.woodalls.com/

I would also highly recommend Overnight RV Parking web site:

http://www.overnightrvparking.com/

It costs $25 per year and it gives you access to 12,000+ places you can camp overnight for free. One years subscription can be paid for by finding one free night.

Anther great resource is National Forest Campground guide:

http://www.forestcamping.com/

There are hundred of national forest campgrounds painstakingly reviewed.
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bucks2

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Re: Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2015, 11:09:00 AM »
March thru June should be easy to find a spot to stay except that occasionally you will run into a local event that has all campgrounds in the area full. If you've been driving all day and finally go to what was going to be your destination and find all the places full for the Blues Festival..... you'll be unhappy driving another 60 miles to the next town. We've found that calling ahead that morning to where we think we want to stay works well to avoid these little glitches.

After school is out, mid June in most places, the campgrounds and parks fill up much more rapidly. Some places, think Yosemite, fill up almost immediately as soon as the reservation line opens each year. This is when you need to either be more flexible by staying further from the attraction and driving the toad to see it, or locking yourself into a time and money commitment with a reservation.

Ken

John Beard

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Re: Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2015, 04:17:51 PM »
My hat is off to those who can travel without the benefit of reservations, I just cannot get comfortable with winging it. Yesterday as I was finalizing plans for our return trip from Oregon, I looked for a State Park and settled on Colliers Memorial Park for a stay. When I made reservations there were only two sites left for the day(s) we would be there.

When I made plans for our summer trip to Oregon, we leave this week (Thursday 7/9/2015) I made reservations months ago, and thankfully so, because right now every place on the area we are visiting is booked solid.

Traveling without reservations has a bit of adventurism, but it is not for me.
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MN Blue Skies

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Re: Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2015, 01:36:09 PM »
I much prefer to travel without reservations.

We like to "wing it" too but common sense tells us that sometimes we really should make a reservation.  Example:  This 4th of July weekend we decided to pay extra to make a web reservation at a popular Minnesota State Park.  We are glad we did because that park, as well as all the nearby State Parks, ended up being completely booked and they were turning campers away.   So if it is a popular location, or a holiday week, or there if there is an event going on nearby we play it safe and make a reservation. 

When we are winging it we usually call ahead and ask the campground if they expect to be busy.
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DearMissMermaid

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Re: Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2015, 02:08:24 PM »
I've done both and I prefer to plan ahead somewhat, though sometimes I leave gaps open. I prefer not to boondock, so in that case, I think ahead and plan ahead. If you don't mind boondocking, then it's easier not to plan ahead. I just personally can't see myself happy camping in Walmart parking lots, but plenty do, just not my cup of tea.

What I've learned after 5 years...  Plan your holiday dates, otherwise you might end up in places you would rather not be. Holidays are popular with campers. If you are going to be close to a major attraction, plan ahead, others want to be there too.

Seasonally certain areas are super popular. For instance, trying to find a last minute reservation in southern Florida for January can be darn near impossible.

Sometimes you can do a hybrid method. For instance I was careening around South Carolina state parks last fall. They are wildly popular  on the weekends, so I reserved all my weekend dates and left the weekdays open. The parks I enjoyed I was able to extend my stay, other times I was able to leave after the weekend and show up early (weekday) at a park and check in early before my weekend reservation kicked in.

Now... 5 years later... I prefer to spend 2-4 weeks in one spot. Many public owned parks have 14 day limits. Anyhow, sometimes if you don't plan ahead, you can't get 14 nights on one spot, you have to do the campground shuffle. So if you want a full week or more at a spot, think about the possibility that is might be popular with the locals who keep the weekends booked ahead.

There is one east coast island I just love to camp at, but apparently so does everyone else. I end up having to book a year ahead to get the 2-4 weeks I prefer there. Even so, they only allow 2 weeks on one spot, so to stay 4 weeks, I have to pick out two spots and prepay the whole mess.

So think about where you want to be when... factor in holidays and local events so that you end up where you want to be with reservations when necessary.

One thing that is VERY important before you prepay for reservations, is carefully read the fine print about the costs of changing or refunding a reservation. Every place is very different! If you run into a snag with your schedule, you want to know how much money you stand to lose by making changes.

Good luck and have fun!
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RVRAC

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Re: Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2015, 02:42:20 PM »
We always make reservations.  I think this is more important during weekends, but do it all the time anyway. We are retired, so we are not in a rush, 225-250 miles/day. My two cents.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2015, 03:07:33 PM »
My hat is off to those who can travel without the benefit of reservations, I just cannot get comfortable with winging it.
I understand what you are saying Mike and I have no desire to change your mind. But I do want to relate a story from this week. I am on a month long car, motel and campground trip around the country. No RV this time. I have never done a trip like this so I planned it all out and made reservations since I would be travelling on the fourth of July week. On July 2nd I discovered that the Buddy Holly Museum in Lubbock was closed on the fourth. My most expensive motel was in Lubbock so I canceled the reservation and on the 2nd I made a reservation for the 4th in Clovis NM that was half the price. I have now been in five motels driving across country and not one of them has been more that half full. Most are about one third full. This will be my last motel trip with reservations. I am finding much cheaper motels on my way to each reservation. The really cheap motels aren't online. All I want is a place to spend the night so I don't need anything fancy. I figure it is costing me about $20 a night extra to stay in places with reservations.
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doolinguy

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Re: Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2015, 09:59:34 PM »
Thanks for all of the replies.

I suspect I'll do the hybrid and reserve for the high season and weekends and wing it other times. We will have a toad and expect to camp some distance away and drive it in to explore.

I started planning the trip to estimate how far we can go and the route that works best.

I want to be in Alaska by early to mid-June, but am concerned that cold weather and snow might be an issue if I leave NC in March and spend time in the Yellowstone area for example.

I also appreciated the list of camping resources. They will be very helpful.

Best regards,

David

ArdraF

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Re: Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2015, 11:53:31 PM »
Depending on the severity of the previous winter weather, many places of interest in Alaska do not open until June 15 or later.  We arrived in Alaska about June 1st one year and found many places to still be closed so don't get there too early.

ArdraF
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Jessy81

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Re: Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2015, 12:24:07 AM »
I have been traveling across country in my RV since February, and I never made reservations more than a few days in advance. Worked out just fine for me, I always got a spot where I wanted to, even at Niagara Falls. Granted, it has become harder now than it was until June, but worst case you can always spend the night at Walmart or a truck stop (many of them have specific spots for RVs, so you don't get bothered by the truck noise). Most CampingWorld stores also allow overnight parking, and they may even have electric hookups. I have even stayed at some restaurant's parking lot or on a mall lot. If you ask nicely, most people let you stay.

The reason I do it this way is because I like to be flexible. If I like it some place, I stay longer. That's one of the beauties of RV traveling IMO, not being bound to any schedule.

That being said, I'd still strongly recommend making reservations for the National Parks as early as possible. They usually fill up pretty quickly, more than State Parks. Same goes for RV parks in some big cities.

Regarding buying an RV, I don't know much about it, so I'll just say this: If you want to be somewhat flexible and make reservations on short notice, don't get a big rig (not more than 35ft). Many campgrounds cannot accommodate them, or only have a few big rig sites, so it will be much harder to get a spot.

Hope that helps!

Jessy81

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Re: Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2015, 12:28:31 AM »
Forgot to mention, also make reservations wayyyy ahead of time for holidays (Memorial Day, 4th of July...), and starting July also make reservations for the weekend more than a couple days before.

doolinguy

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Re: Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2015, 07:54:09 PM »
Jessy81,

Very good information. We are planning on no more than 33" due to hearing some NPs don't allow large rigs and I don't really want one that is so big.

I was wondering about snow as I don't want to be driving in it. I didn't think about parks being closed.

Thanks again,

David




Jessy81

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Re: Questions About Buying an RV and Trip Advice
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2015, 09:44:37 PM »
You're very welcome, David. Good decision about the size. And snow, yeah, you should stay in the South or California during the winter. I drove through Colorado in March, all the campgrounds were still closed, most Walmarts there don't allow overnight parking, neither do the rest areas, not many truck stops around, so that kinda really sucked...

 

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