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Author Topic: Planning Your Trip?  (Read 1991 times)

4ducksrus

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Planning Your Trip?
« on: November 22, 2011, 10:42:18 AM »
Okay, I know that there are quite a few of you out there that have a detailed way that you start planning your trips.   What I'd like to know (and I'm sure there a plenty of others) is what and where do you go to start your planning process?  Like, I assume you map it out first, figure how many miles a day you want to drive and then where to stay each night...right?  Then, where do you go to find out where you can stop for the night, where to get gas, where to eat (where you can park a 40' MH)?  These are the questions that are bouncing around in my head before we start each trip and since we haven't travelled much in the RV, just quick trips, I'm hoping I can get some advise from you experts!  TIA  Mikie
Jim & Mikie

2011 Itasca Meridian 40U
2013 Jeep Rubicon
2003 HD Ultra Classic
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seilerbird

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2011, 11:38:22 AM »
Okay, I know that there are quite a few of you out there that have a detailed way that you start planning your trips.   What I'd like to know (and I'm sure there a plenty of others) is what and where do you go to start your planning process?  Like, I assume you map it out first,

That is my first step. I use Google Maps since it is free and so easy to use. I start by putting pins in the places I want to go to and then I connect with straight lines. Google offers the option for drawing lines along the highway but for a longer trip that won't work. Google Maps can only produce so many points per page so your map will be broken up into several pages if is it a longer trip. Here is an example of a trip I have planned:

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=215617306805779620107.0004b18d3fc8a2f133f19&msa=0

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figure how many miles a day you want to drive and then where to stay each night...right?

I don't figure out that part. I usually drive 100 to 300 miles in a day when I am moving but I don't like to plan my trips out like a military maneuver. I like to leave room for me to improvise once I am underway.

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Then, where do you go to find out where you can stop for the night, where to get gas, where to eat (where you can park a 40' MH)? 

Once again I don't plan my trips out that much, it would take some of the fun and adventure out of the trip. Finding gas, food and rest stops while underway is not that hard. Usually the night before I am going to be driving I will go over the next days route and sorta guess where I will be getting gas. I use GasBuddy or MapQuest to find the cheapest areas for gas so I have a rough idea where the best spots will be to get gas, but I don't try and find the very cheapest gas because too often I have found the cheapest gas listed at GasBuddy is there due to an owner who lies, trying go bring in business.

http://gasbuddy.com/

Another thing I do is make a spreadsheet listing the destinations, mileage, hi and low temperature average for the month I will be there and the rainfall. I don't like places that are too hot or too cold.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AvvZF6_ChElTdDRvN0RPaTRyd3IzUTdSMVJFb2ZpR0E

I get my weather averages from Yahoo Weather:

http://weather.yahoo.com/

I also go into Walmart and buy the current issue of the Rand-McNally Road Atlas ($6.97) and an orange highligher and highlight the route on both the USA map and all the state maps that apply. I love to read the map and look at my route and look for attractions that might interest me.

KarenS144

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2011, 04:41:28 PM »
I spent weeks planning our trip to Utah but that was our first major trip and I didn't want surprises.

I used MS Streets & Trips as the primary resource.  I could tweak the speed & time option so we averaged about 50 MPH while on the road.  That included gas stops, potty stops for the dogs & lunch.  After calculating our real average was more like 45-47 mph but MS S&T was able to give us overnight markers every 350 miles.  I used the marker to look for campgrounds again using that program.  Sometimes we drove another 25-50 miles to find a campground and other times we drove less but it gave me a good place to start.   I did find some campgrounds online that weren't listed on S&T.  Another great resource is Google Earth.  I used it to get a good look at the campgrounds and changed my mind on a few based on what I saw.

I also used The Next Exit a LOT.  It was extremely handy to find gas & Walmarts and helped a lot with exits to the campgrounds.  I also used Trailer Life Directory to find campgrounds while on the road.  We had already made reservations at the parks we were visiting.

My Droid's navigation app was awesome!  Right on the money for all sorts of places.  For weather, I have an app from our local TV station which figures out where we are & gives us the weather including radar.  Pretty slick.

I also have the Gas Buddy app and that was helpful but you've got to watch when the updates were.  Some were a couple of days old so the gas price had changed.

If you have a limited amount of time for a trip or reservations somewhere, you do need to plan a bit more.  Don't forget that many Walmarts allow overnights in the parking lots.  I had a couple of them scoped out but we wound up in campgrounds instead.  The Rand McNally Atlas at Walmart list the stores & if they allow overnighting or not.

I had a folder with the printed reservations for the parks, a few maps of places that seemed to be confusing and the phone numbers of various campgrounds near our overnight places. That stuff came in handy too.

I'll probably do much the same thing for our next trip.
Karen
"Traveling" with 1 DH and 2 boxers
2011 Georgetown 280DS

seilerbird

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2011, 04:52:47 PM »
The Rand McNally Atlas at Walmart list the stores & if they allow overnighting or not.

Karen - I have owned many RM atlas' from Walmart and never have I seen one with overnighting info in it. Where do you find that information? I usually find that info online.

wackymac

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2011, 05:54:55 PM »
We're heading to Santa Cruz, CA from Ocala, FL next month.  We just take off and in the afternoon we'll stop and look at the map (RM) and see where the WalMart*'s are.  We'll pick one and enter the address in our GPS and follow directions.  About every 3rd day we'll stop at an RV park.  For that we'll use Trailer Life's campground software on our laptop to find an RV park about where we want to stop for the night.
2002 Fleetwood Fiesta 31H, 2001 F53 Ford chassis
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KarenS144

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2011, 06:17:09 PM »
Karen - I have owned many RM atlas' from Walmart and never have I seen one with overnighting info in it. Where do you find that information? I usually find that info online.

Welll.... hmmmm.... I should have double checked because it's NOT in that atlas.  Good catch!  I thought for sure that's where I found the info.  Apologies for not verifying.

I neglected to mention that I also took advantage of the Discovery Owners POI (http://www.discoveryowners.com/cginfo.htm) in conjunction with MS S&T.  I KNOW you can choose the WMs that allow overnighting with it. 
Karen
"Traveling" with 1 DH and 2 boxers
2011 Georgetown 280DS

Mary Jane

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2011, 06:23:28 PM »
Pardon me while I just sit back and learn.  :)
I use map quest, google earth and google maps. I will have to check out these other sites you all use too.

ArdraF

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2011, 06:57:07 PM »
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I assume you map it out first, figure how many miles a day you want to drive and then where to stay each night...right?

Not really.  That's way too organized for us!  ::) If we have a firm destination in mind (for example to attend a reunion) and need to be there by a specific date Jerry has an old computer version of Rand McNally that he uses to guesstimate the distance so we'll have an idea of the time required to get there, although we've now driven across the country so many times we have a pretty good idea about that.  Then we consider the weather to factor in extra days in case we have to hunker down somewhere.  We also think about any sightseeing along the way, but we don't usually plan an itinerary.  I collect travel articles of places we might want to explore and have them organized by state so we always have places to visit.  Before a trip we kind of look at a map and think what states we might cross so I can pull out appropriate bundles of info.  But it's very casual.  For example, if we're pretty sure we won't be in New England I leave those bundles behind, but I always try to have a map for each state in a wide swath because of our propensity to change directions.

Normally, however, we decide the general direction we want to go and start that way.  We don't plan too far in advance because that removes flexibility.  We sometimes change direction completely or partially because we see something that interests us.  (We might head to Wyoming, encounter snow, and end up in El Paso instead.)  And we've been known to stop at the campground exit and flip the proverbial coin to decide "right or left?"

We don't plan campgrounds either until about an hour or so when we start thinking about where we might stop.  For campgrounds we tend to use the Trailer Life Campground & RV Resort Directory.  Another good thing if you're on an interstate is to stop at the state visitor center as you enter a new state.  They often have great maps, booklets of attractions, and campground brochures.  By the way, no campground resource covers every single campground - they pay to be included and when advertising budgets shrink, so do the entries in the directories.  If you're really stuck Google "campgrounds" and the name of the town you want to stop.  We've always been able to find some place to park for the night, so it's not a problem unless you're in cold areas where campgrounds have seasons and they shut down for the winter.  Just avoid private property and obey "no overnight parking" signs.

Because you're new at this you may be worrying too much about all these things.  Remember, it's supposed to be fun so don't obsess about it.  Some people like military precision and others don't so you have to look at yourself and see what mold you fit and act accordingly.  Also remember that if you lock yourself into a firm itinerary with lots of reservations and then something happens and you need to change plans, then there are lots of reservations to cancel.  It's easier not to deal with all that.  ;)

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I spent weeks planning our trip to Utah but that was our first major trip and I didn't want surprises.

By contrast, with our very first motorhome back in 1972 we got it one week and left the following week for a "summer trip around the country."  All we had was a box of paper maps for every state.  We didn't know where we were going - only when we needed to return.  We changed directions a couple of times because various family members were moving and we wanted to be at their old place before they left or at their new place when they arrived.  That trip was about 11,000 miles and we had a wonderful time with no planning to speak of.  We literally circumnavigated the USA and made a few excursions up into Canada - tip of Maine to tip of Florida on the east coast alone.

ArdraF
« Last Edit: November 22, 2011, 07:07:00 PM by ArdraF »
ArdraF
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seilerbird

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2011, 07:04:34 PM »
Pardon me while I just sit back and learn.  :)


I can't pardon you, I am not a governer ;D

Mary Jane, that is what this site is all about. I learn something new every day, usually a number of things.

4ducksrus

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2011, 08:31:30 AM »
Wow, this has all been great information.  I know I am a little nervous about the whole thing, especially the getting around in places.  We've gotten into a "couple" of situations...hit a rock in a tight turn, and had to unhook the toad in a parking lot just to mention a few! LOL  Anyway, I'm just concerned about that kind of stuff.  I like the idea of just winging it and think that as time passes we will probably be that type of RVer.  For now, it's just baby steps so I really appreciate all of your input.  You guys and gals rock!  Mikie
Jim & Mikie

2011 Itasca Meridian 40U
2013 Jeep Rubicon
2003 HD Ultra Classic
WIT WI54011

seilerbird

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2011, 08:53:01 AM »
It is perfectly logical to be nervous as a newby. It is better to be a bit concerned than to just not caring at all. In a year from now you will be old pros. Just remember doo doo happens. So far I have hit a small stump and did $3k worth of damage to the front end. Hit a speed bump going too fast and ripped out the drive shaft. I have driven off with a slide out twice, with the TV antenna up once, with the electricity connected twice and with the sewer hose still connected once during the last nine years.

KarenS144

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2011, 09:16:46 AM »
4ducks,

There was only one place that we stayed on our month long trip that we thought we wouldn't fit and that was at Escalante Petrified Forest in Utah.  We did and the campsite turned out to be okayish but I don't know that anything much over 30' would fit there.

I had pretty much mapped out everything until we left Zion.  We were "homeless" for one night before we had reservations at the North Rim but managed to snag a great site at DeMotte then moved to the NR campground for one night.   We would have stayed longer but that's all we could get.  Once we left the NR, I had sort of an idea where we might stay but really didn't make a decison until we were about an hour out.  I think that was Meteor Crater Campground (GREAT place, btw).  For the rest of the trip home, I'd call about an hour or so from where we wanted to stay and make reservations and never had a problem.

As I said earlier, we did have reservations well in advance at the parks and it was a good thing!  Dead Horse Point State Park, Zion, North Rim & somewhere else were filled!  DeMotte was full before the day was over.  We were lucky we got there early.

My parents drug us across country in a tent a couple of times then we upgraded to a popup and all mom had were some paper maps!  I remember once we rolled into a CG at Yellowstone and it was full.  That was eons ago and people were just pulling over on the side of the road & setting up camp!  We did that too.  Can you imagine trying to do that now??  :D
Karen
"Traveling" with 1 DH and 2 boxers
2011 Georgetown 280DS

seilerbird

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2011, 09:31:20 AM »
Karen - Just north of the North Rim are some free BLM camping spots. There are free spots all over the country.

http://overnightrvparking.com/

That is a $25 a year web site with a data base of 8000+ places you can stay for free around this country.

http://www.forestcamping.com/

This is a free data base of all the National Forest campgrounds. Some have a fee some are free.

The Internet is full of web sites with campground listings. And you can always Google "campground any city" and substitute the name of the closest city.

KarenS144

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2011, 10:38:03 AM »
Thanks for the links!  Had we not gotten into Demotte, BLM was my next choice.  One of the nicest places we stayed in was Big Bend Rec Area near Moab.  It's a BLM campground which we found when we were "homeless" for a night.  We left Rifle Gap a day early and couldn't get into DHP.

DH has a Cpap and even after weeks of nagging, he'd neglected to get the inverter it needs so we were limited to electric whenever we could.  I think we spent 3 nights w/o and he sure was grumpy the next day.  He WILL have one next year.  ;)
Karen
"Traveling" with 1 DH and 2 boxers
2011 Georgetown 280DS

jeffbrown

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2011, 12:25:06 PM »
We typically only have between 10 and 20 days, and we normally are kind of like smokey and the bandit, we have a long ways to go and a short time to get there.  I use Map Point which is an upgraded version of streets and trips.  I have several different preprogramed points of interest, like rest areas and large shopping centers.  Planning ussually takes a long time but just because I really like doing it. 

I typically run pretty fast to the farthest point in the trip and slowly work my way home.  most people dont have reservations but we almost always do for destinations, but not for travel days.  Travel days we ussually sleep at walmarts or rest stops

Have fun, the planning is part of the fun for us. 

Jeff
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ArdraF

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2011, 02:14:59 PM »
Jim & Mikie - We all have those mishaps and just hope they don't cause too much damage.  You'll be just fine once you get the "hang" of it.

Karen - Yes, you sure can't do a lot of "next-to-the-road" camping these days.  We used to stay in rest areas when we were still working and trying to make time, but not any more for safety reasons and because many of them are too crowded.  One time we got to Yosemite and put our sleeping bags on the ground under Half Dome.  Boy, was that neat - but surely can't do that anymore either because it's not a "designated camping area."

ArdraF
ArdraF
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Mavarick

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2011, 06:15:13 PM »
Travel planning used to be about AAA to get all the free maps of each state. They still give them out but with the internet we don't use them much anymore except as reference.
I haven't used it yet but I understand Good Sam has their trip planner back up. We like the planning stage as well. It is fun to look at street view on Google to see what you're in for sometimes. We don't reserve CG's unless we are going someplace like AK where you know the good spots can be hard to find.
We also try and plan for around 250 miles/day and wing it from there. This gets us to our destination early afternoon so we have time for exploring.
The fuel sites are exceptional on a long trip. Most stations right off the freeway are the most expensive so it's nice not to have to pay the highest price in town.
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Tin man

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Re: Planning Your Trip?
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2011, 07:30:21 PM »
When the bride and I decide where we want to visit, I stop off at the local travel agency and get a few books from Tauk Tour. Go home and follow the guide. They travel by bus (height) restrictions. First class itineraries, and a pretty good idea what you can see in two weeks.

Now we use the Internet for the books, and now we are retired we can stay out more than two or three weeks. AAA maps and books, and the GoodSam travel directory are very important.

I think you will get more info from this blog than any where else. You have the best expertise you can get Experiance!

Wish I belonged to this group thirty years ago.

Happy Camping
Jim W
AKA TIN MAN
2007 36G Journey SE
2010 Escape Hybrid Blue Ox Air Force 1 Brake