By Russ and Tiña De Maris
A family man finally has his new RV and the first big road trip is coming up. “How do you decide,” he asks, “where to stop for the night? And how do you go about doing it?” He thinks it should be a simple thing to do, but the stress is killing him.
Our new friend has plenty of company. Many RVers will tell you about their first trips on the road, and how what should have been a relaxing time turned into a major case of nerves when trying to figure out where to drop the hook. Here’s how many of your fellow travelers have shaken off the willies and learned to make traveling fun.
First, shake the fear that there won’t be a place to stay. If you’re planning on staying at an RV park, unless it’s a holiday weekend, or your stop will take you near a major city on a weekend, or a major destination (Disneyland, Yellowstone National Park, etc), most RV parks will have space for you without a reservation. OK, a couple of exceptions: If you must have a pull-though site, or if looking for a site on a summer weekend, might be best to call ahead.
Be sure to pace yourself. We don’t mean you’ll need to have your itinerary planned down to the microsecond: Know where you’re going in the long run, and when you need to be there. Now figure out a comfortable number of hours to drive and give yourself a rough stopping point for day’s end. In our case, unless we’re on a “dead run,” we plan on no more than 200 to 300 miles a day, at an average of 50 miles per hour. That way when we arrive, we’re not so worn out that all we can do is crash and burn.
Micromanaging your routing may work for a few; we knew one family who had every stop planned and plotted clear across the continent, long before they pulled out on the road. But for most of us, such tight planning doesn’t allow for those discoveries on the road, the “let’s stop and see if Grandma’s pie is really the best in the west,” side trips that make the RV lifestyle so fun.
Many RVers who plan on doing the “RV park” stop will pull out a campground directory a couple of hours before the end of the day. After locating one or two “likely” parks, they’ll phone ahead and confirm they can be accommodated. For those who don’t mind “Camp Walmart,” that is, dry camping in a parking lot or at a truck stop, your worries are pretty much over.
Mama has a rule for us: “Get me parked by 3:00 in the afternoon, or plan on taking me out to dinner.” It’s a fair rule; it’s a tough job navigating for this old bird, and I reckon she’s put in as hard (maybe harder) a day than I have.
R&T De Maris photo