As we’ve met more and more people living the RV lifestyle, we’ve discovered there is no right way to do anything. For example, some people level first then extend the slides, others extend the slides first then level. Once in a campground, some people leave their gray and black water tanks open all the time, others watch their gages and dump once they are two thirds full. Some like to mostly travel on interstate highways, others hardly ever use an interstate preferring the scenic routes. And then there is the topic for today, itinerary planning.
There are those who just head in a direction. When they are about two hours from stopping for the day, they call ahead and book a campground that is available. And others (like us) prefer to know they have a site waiting for them once they arrive. The former like the flexibility of staying longer or shorter depending on what they found once they arrived. “We’ve pulled into some places, planning to stay for a night and we ended up there for two months!” Or, “we had planned on staying there for a month and we were gone in two days!” The later loose that flexibility in trade for knowing they have a site and never plan on staying in a parking lot overnight, be it a Walmart, Cracker Barrell, rest area or truck stop.
And then there is us! The super planners!! Maybe it is because we are new at this, or maybe we are just anal, but no one does it like we do. If you are reading this because you are trying to learn more about living on the road, choose what style is comfortable FOR YOU! I describe it as The Symphony Musician or the Jazz Player. In the symphony, everyone has the score, is watching the conductor, and knows when their part or section is to be playing. In a jazz ensemble, you start in a key, count out the beat, and then the melody just evolves as the song continues with each taking a turn at a solo to play a solo of their choosing. So, if you are the type who can’t have the window shades at different heights in the same room and want to do it the way we do, here is how it works for us. Be warned though, it takes a lot of time and is a lot of work.
We start with where do we want to go. This year it will be Mount Rushmore, The Black Hills, The Badlands, Yellowstone and The Albuquerque Balloon Festival. We know we are leaving June 15th and know we are returning to Punta Gorda November 1st. We know the Balloon Festival is the first week of October (we made that reservation in March of 2019 before we even owned a motor home) so the edges of the puzzle are done, now to fill in the center pieces. We don’t want to drive more than three hundred miles in one day. It doesn’t have to be that far, but that is the max. And we are the no surprises type that use mostly interstates. We learned from last year, less stops and longer at each to minimize the number of three day or less stops. So there is a lot of Google, “how far is it from A to B?” Once you find a destination, is there anything in particular you want to see to determine how long you want to stay there, or is this just a rest and relax or get off the highway stop? Next question, are there any campgrounds in that area? And our last and most important question, what are their reviews? We will not stay in a gravel parking lot with sites so close you can touch your neighbor and has dirty bathrooms, if we don’t have to. We have actually changed directions twice now in our planning rather than risk being disappointed.
So how is it going you ask? We are still working on it! It’s a combination of maps, the All Stays Website, The KOA book of campgrounds, the Harvest Host Website, the Good Sam book of campgrounds, the Google top ten list of things to see in, (your city goes here) notes made when people tell you, “when you get to X you must see Y,” the National Geographic book 50 States 5000 Ideas, and lastly Trip Advisor reviews. Stay tuned to the page Post Cards From The Road 2020 to see the final itinerary and then the actual trip unfold. One last thought. If you are a super planner, before you actually leave, you get to discover what is out there in this amazing country of ours and enjoy the excitement and anticipation of going and seeing it! That’s worth every hour of planning!!