Monday, July 11, 2011

Planning an Extended RV Trip

Although it  is very time consuming, I like to plan our trips out ahead of time and reserve all of our campsites.  We like the comfort of knowing that we have a place to stay every night, and it also prevents us from driving too long each day, which can be exhausting.  Below are the steps I take to plan our trips:

  • Use your computer as an aid.  We belong to the Good Sam Club, and I have used their Trailer Life Directory Campground Navigator software.  I like the software very much, because you can put in how many hours a day you want to travel, when you'll leave, what your speed will be, and you can see where you will be at the end of your driving day and what campgrounds are nearby.  Each campground is rated, and there are good descriptions of the facilities along with phone numbers and links to their web site if they have one.  This software has saved me hours when I'm planning a long trip.  It also gives you an estimate of how much you will spend on gas and campsites so that you know how much your total trip will cost.
  • Put your trip on a spreadsheet.  As I am planning our trips, I keep track of all of our reservations on an Excel spread sheet, keeping track of date of arrival, which campgrounds have taken a credit card deposit, how much the deposit is, and amount will have to be paid on arrival.  This helps us keep on budget during the trip.
  • Make use of your smartphone,  I enter all of our campgrounds on my online internet calendar so that I can access it through my phone as we are traveling.  I make sure to enter the telephone number and address of the campground into the calendar, so that I can access the information as we are driving.  This is really handy if you need to call to cancel your reservation or need to input the address into your navigational system.  I had very good luck with my smartphone during out last cross country trip.  I use a Palm Pre Plus, and have Verizon as my carrier.  I was able to access the internet almost everywhere we went except for the most remote places.
We often travel for 5 months, so planning such a trip can take many days.  However, I feel it is well worth the time, and that by doing so our trips have on the whole gone pretty smoothly.  I have had situations where I have had to cancel reservations and re-route (broke an axle in New Mexico while traveling home to New Jersey), but wasn't too much trouble.  To me it's worth the peace of mind knowing where I will be from night to night.

For more tips, read my Yahoo Contributor article How to Plan a Long RV Trip.

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