By Greg Illes
Before I bought my RV, I thought I knew a lot about driving around the country. With almost 50 years of driving experience and several cross-the-U.S. trips, I didn’t think I had much left to learn. Wrong!
RVs are different vehicles. Not only do they proceed — shall we say — more sedately, but they coax us all into a more easy-going attitude. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. So my 500-mile-per-day automobile jaunts were not so easy to achieve in my RV.
Firstly, speed. Yes, my Itasca will go 75 mph down the Arizona highways. But I’m much more relaxed at 60, and I’ll get 9 mpg instead of 6 mpg. I’m going slower, and I’m stopping for a scenic look here and there. Furthermore, there are gas stops, bathroom breaks, meal stops, and shopping stops. Clearly I can’t average that 60 mph speed. To really make time, I increase speed and decrease stops.
So I have two point-to-point speeds. Easygoing: 50 mph. Racing: 60 mph. These numbers have been verified over 35,000 miles of RV travel in the last three years.
Three o’clock or 300 miles, whichever comes first: There is a simple rule, taught me by my older/wiser brother-in-law and verified through many trips. Individual needs and numbers might change a bit, but the rationale is indisputable. If you’re still traveling by 3 o’clock, you are going to need some daylight time to find a camp spot, get settled, have dinner, maybe take an evening walk. It makes no sense to start this process too late in the day.
Alternatively, if you’ve already gone 300 miles, there’s always something new and interesting to investigate; stop and check it out.
Correlation: At a 50-mph pace, 300 miles takes six hours. When you start traveling at a humane 9:00 a.m., that six hours expires at 3 p.m. Simple.
Sure, if I need to get a long ways, I abandon the 3/300 rule for a day, maybe two. But when I want to travel in comfort and leisure, appreciating where I’m going and how I’m getting there — well, the 3/300 works very, very well. And remember, the 3/300 numbers are maximum — if you find something interesting before the time or distance expires, stop and have fun with it. Isn’t that what we travel for?