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Comments for Do you like to carefully plan your RV trips or just ‘wing it’?

  • When we take off for a month or two we generally have one or two pre-planned stops or appointments and the rest of the time we just freelance it. That way if we find a really interesting place we can spend as much time as we like. We don’t even make RV Park reservations until we are 3 or 4 hours out.

  • I don’t mind a strategic plan like “winter in the south this year” or “summer in Newfoundland next year” but when you operationalize that intent you have to be planning in a smaller window. Why? Weather, forest fires, construction closures, health, cash flow. And once you cross the start line, reality will govern what you actually do.

  • We usually have a “final” destination in mind like a national park, for example. It is very difficult if not impossible to secure a campsite in many of our national parks without reservations a year in advance. Then between our embarkation point and our destination we plan ahead a day or two depending on the area. This has worked well for us for many years. I must say in all honesty, I do like to know where I’m going to sleep that night. We avoid Walmart like the plague.

  • Making reservations well ahead depends on the trip. If just traveling through will start to look for spots using camping apps in the late morning when we have an idea of how far we will go and then start calling for availability. It is helpful to not be tied to a park (and have paid non-refundable deposit ) when things can change; particularly wind and weather. If it is a destination: national park, favorite or popular park will make reservations up to a year in advance. If the national park is fully booked even then, will look at the shoulder seasons for openings. As we are full timing now and have a more flexible schedule and can be more flexible with planning than when we had a start and stop two week vacation. Ahhh- the joy of full timing!

  • Here’s a reversal: for weekend trips, availability often dictates lead time – I’ll decide I want to go camping “soon,” and see when’s the next available date, which will usually end up being a month or two out. Reserving even a no hookup site the next weekend, always impossible.

    For larger destinations like national parks, we will book at least a year in advance and book every stop on the way, even if it is a Walmart. A lot of managers sound very confused when we call months in advance for an ad hoc overnight stay but we have found many Walmarts that do not allow overnighting, even when they appear in listings for that purpose. We’ve also found a few where the manager was unusually welcoming, and we’ll deliberately stock up there as a thank you, and mark them on our map for good stopovers to recommend in fireside conversations.

  • I have found we plan ahead where needed. Crowded areas and times of year dictate how far in advance we plan. I have also found google maps to be invaluable for finding good campgrounds AND sites within them. Its nice to be able to zoom in and actually see the layout of the campground. What sites are where and how close it is to the rail line or interstate etc.

  • We have found it is darn near impossible to be spontaneous in rv travel especially in popular destination areas. Too many people vying for too few quality campsites nowadays.

  • We are 5 1/2 weeks into our western national park tour having left Florida on August 2nd. I made no reservations prior to leaving for this trip. I have had no problems booking into RV parks in places where we wanted to stay longer than overnight. They have been Tulsa OK, Denver CO, Moab UT, Panguitch UT, Springdale UT, Las Vegas NV, El Portal CA, Three Rivers CA and now we are at Valencia Travel Village in Santa Clarita CA for a month to rest and see friends. On our way back to Florida I have just made reservations recently for Grand Canyon, Page AZ and Monument Valley but other than the Grand Canyon it wasn’t necessary. And our last big stop will be the ABQ Balloon Fiesta in October but those reservations were made through Monaco International back last spring. Although they still have a few openings as I write this post. In the almost 10 years of full-time traveling The ONLY place I had to make reservations well in advance is Disney World as that place is VERY popular.

  • How about another category? My preference is to plan a general route to include towns and areas I don’t want to miss, but then hang around that area for days, weeks, or months until I’ve enjoyed everything there, then move on to my next general destination.

    Also, could you make this text black when we’re typing our comments? This pale gray is rather hard to read (especially on small netbook screens like I imagine many RVers use) and maybe by the majority of your audience, which you point out is 55+.

  • I like to plan as a matter of course. I hate surprises, but it can cause a little stress if I have more miles than time to complete any certain leg. We have tried the call just ahead for reservations, and so far have had success finding a place to stay the night, but it s NOT my preferred method.

  • I used to be spontaneous, but the risks of not finding a place to stop for the night has caused me to make advanced reservations, even for overnight stops on the way to my next destination.

  • Being retired, and full time, we are traveling around the Country for the next 5 years. We are in no hurry, and have no particular place to go (and all day to get there), We plan a week at a time. Our only reason for even doing that is that we have a 40ft. 5th wheel, and need to make sure the next RV park can accommodate us.

  • I guess we’re learning to wing it. I thought we were in the long-range category which we’ve been planning for the last year for our trip to the Oregon coast from our home in Michigan. Wild fires have dominated the west forcing us to wing it. We also encountered a mechanical problem. Mike at Jolly Rogers in Cheyenne, Wyoming, is repairing that as I write this. Mike has been so gracious and kindly took us immediately in to fix the problem. So with winging it, we’ve been fortunate to meet wonderful folks and doors to new adventures.
    Our prayers go to those fine folks in Oregon.

  • With how difficult it can be to get into any RV park, we are forced to get reservations a head of time. Sometimes even a month or more is not enough and that isn’t even at the real popular spots.

  • I’m small enough to be comfortable and have all the comforts a traveler wants. I don’t make reservations anywhere I go as I hate being boxed in feet away from another RV’er. When I get away I am not in anybody’s way. Maybe once in awhile we get cg only for refreshen everything, i.e. dump,water,charge up devices, wash clothes etc. Then it’s back to the wide open places ,find a place and park it.

  • There SHOULD be an option of “Both”. When I left the east coast back in March, I was heading to Tucson, AZ for two RV events. I made a beeline. After those two RV events, I hung around the Tucson area for about two weeks LOTS to see & do there) before moseying west to the next RV event I was going to attend in Crossville, TN. After that event, I lingered in TN before heading north for the Hamvention event in Dayton, OH. More moseying after that until it was time for an RV event in Goshen, IN. This event driven traveling and moseying is pretty typical for me the last few years. I don’t expect it to change in the near future.

  • Yes, the polls often need more categories. I planned our recent Alaska trip for a year, but will probably head west from Colorado in a month and won’t do much planning until I know when we’ll leave.

  • My response was wing it but it depends on the destination (and wife bugging me). Some areas require several months advance reservations. Also, my wife wants advance itinerary before leaving So the last trip was some advance planning with some “wing it”. Worked out well,

  • Peter in NH
    In three round trips to Alaska in the past six years we have only made one reservation and that was only for an overnight a day ahead. Have only once been turned away. Being retired means we can adjust as needed to avoid weekends in popular places and Canadian Holidays.

  • I was and still am a Navigator (even said that on my name tag). Some habits die hard. For an extended excursion, I will do a lot of planning. Mostly this is so we don’t pass by something that we might have liked to see.
    The truth of the matter is that the best plan I have even laid out was junk by the end of the third day. It will still form the basis of a good outline, but there is just no way to know what you might stumble upon out on the road. Particularly true for the red roads.

  • We are retired and have no schedule. We travel without an itinerary but i do research on a general route and try to make sure we do not miss things we may want to see. We have traveled as much as several hundred miles off our intended path in order to catch something that may be of interest We seldom make reservations in advance by more than a few hours. Changes in schedule are not a crises for us and we view it as God’s way of pointing us to something or someplace he wanted us to be. Occasionally we have to spend a night in a Walmart, truck stop, or something similar, but that is part of our adventure.

  • If you are planning a trip to Michigan you need to call 6 months ahead for State Parks and for the Nationals. This also includes some private campgrounds. I know. I have to plan one year out if I want a site. Especially along Lake Michigan Shore Line.

    • I circled lake Michigan last year, took a month. Only called a couple days in advance for my 40 ft. 5th wheel at each stop. No problems.

  • I guess I just like knowing I have a place to hang my hat, or park my rig for the night in a safe, secure campground. I wish I had the guts to just wing it.

  • We used to wing it but after too many times when dark was happening and nothing likely was turning up we decided to have a few destinations in mind. In planning, I spot a a place in 300 mile increments. I at least want to know what might be in the area.

  • We mostly ‘wing it’ but if traveling with another couple in THEIR rig, finding spots is much harder for two than one. So, we try to plan and make reservations when running with someone else. Just us? We wing it.

  • Since most of our trips are to see friends & family (boondocking at their place) we usually plan from year to year. We go to Mt. 2 or 3 times a year & boondock with family. This year we went to Salt Lake City & boon docked in the family’s driveway. Each year it’s a new adventure & we love our RV. It also serves as an extra guest room when my kids come to visit (our house is small). Love to stay at our many lakes close by (Lake Roosevelt is not too far) Long Lake is another spontaneous trip.

  • I am a planner by nature my husband, not so much. When we camped with our kids I had 3 kids and 3 dogs to keep track of. Now that we’re retired, husband wants to wing it. I let him but keep a list of campgrounds on our route, so when he decides we’re stopping I call to make sure we can get in.

  • I find half the enjoyment of the trip is the planning. I’ll surf the net, go over maps, and find Google Earth and furkot.com great aids. I seldom make reservations unless I plan to be in a particular spot for several days, otherwise I’ll just move along if there’s no place to camp.

  • Needed a choice for combination. Travel to Florida from Calif every January for 2 months. In Florida, two main places we stay in Daytona & the Keys for extended time are booked before we check out of the current stay. Traveling out & back we just call ahead at a few places we know might fill up. Some of the parks that are full in Jan/Feb on return trip are empty like a ghost town.

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