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Old 06-07-2014, 02:40 PM   #1
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How to plan a long trip?

Not sure if I'm posting this in the right area.
I'm in the process of planning next years summer vacation. Crazy since we have not gone on this years yet.

For those of you that have done long trips before how do you plan?
I have a general idea of where we would like to go. We live in Fl and want to go out west, S. Dakota, Wyoming, California, Arizona, Texas and Louisiana. Hitting the major tourist attractions. I'm thinking of taking a month off to do this with the kids. Then I'm trying to figure the best routes. Map Quest has been pretty good. This will probably take me a year to plan and to save up. Map Quest calculated my fuel cost at over $3,200.00. Damn you big oil, damn you!!

I'm not sure what's a realistic amount of time to travel each day. Then I'm trying to factor in enough time to enjoy the sites. It's tough because we live so far away and we want to pack in as much as possible.
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Old 06-07-2014, 03:21 PM   #2
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Just go, and stop when you or the kids get tired or restless untill you get close to where you want to see(you can always see close to home anytime) then site see and have fun . I did the west trip from southern ontario(across from Detriot) 3 yrs ago with out any reservations and never had a problem , we did 6 weeks though,but did the last 3 weks thru Canada , so a month should be good.
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Old 06-07-2014, 03:52 PM   #3
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No reservations. Wow, I guess I'm used to camping here in Fl where all the Canadians have all the parks booked up. ( I had to take a shot.)
I think it's an awesome idea and it would make it less stressful. It makes the budgeting part a little harder. You never had trouble finding a park to stay in even for a few days?
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Old 06-07-2014, 04:49 PM   #4
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Apologies in advance for a long post.

Ouch! You Floridians should keep in mind that we Canadians (and other Northeners) are responsible for the bulk of your economy! My husband and I are retired and spend winters in Florida.

Back to your trip. We did a trip in 2012. We planned the trip to the last detail, including the campgrounds and had reservations at most places. Two things were carved in stone - we had a reservation at Yellowstone Park which we made the fall before and were meeting friends there, and we decided since we were going all the way out west, we may as well take an Alaska cruise while we were out there so that was booked ahead. (No airfare!)

We ended up changing our route a bit as we went, and we moved on earlier than we had planned in some places because we did not really know how long everything was going to take. We also changed our minds about some campgrounds. The entire trip took 7 weeks, including the one week cruise. On the way home (through Canada) we stayed at Walmarts twice. We were just on the way home then, no longer sight seeing. If all you are doing is making tracks, Walmart is a great way to save money on overnight stays.

This particular trip was to follow most of the Oregon Trail. We saw many relevant sites and enjoyed it immensely. The entire trip cost us $5,300 (not including the cruise). Half of that was gas. The rest was campgrounds and admission fees. I did not include food because we bought groceries and cooked our meals just like at home. We were towing a 30' Jayco fifth wheel at the time.

This fall we are taking another trip. This one will start the Friday after Labor Day and last 6 or more weeks. We have our route planned, based on research we did, but the timing will be decided on as we go. We have all the information we need on campgrounds (Good Sam directory, Good Sam RV GPS, AllStays app, research I did ahead) so we will make a reservation for the next place when we know the date we will be there. Going in the fall will reduce the crowds (no kids!) and ensure cooler weather as well. I have made a list of things to see, but we will decide once we are out there what we do when. We will take things as they come. I planned our route using Microsoft Streets and Trips software.

Our trip will take us first to Colorado Springs, then the southern part of Colorado, Utah south of I-77, northern Arizona and a bit of northern New Mexico. Our route home will depend on the weather. Home is eastern Ontario, Canada.

I started the plan with a book called The Most Scenic Drives in America by Reader's Digest. We picked the "drives" and planned our route around them. Then I listed the highlights according to the book, and did research on the internet for other interesting things to see and do there. I listed campgrounds along the way, and made note of places the trailer cannot go. All this is in a Word document on my computer.

On your trip, if you find yourself in Montana near Beartooth Pass, I highly recommend this drive. Leave the trailer in the campground, however. Red Lodge is a very nice town to visit in that area. That was one of the more memorable places we went. If you go to St. Louis, MI, the Arch and museum under it are well worth a visit.

Good luck on your trip plan. Planning is part of the fun!
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Old 06-07-2014, 06:26 PM   #5
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[QUOTE=Loneoak;79713]Apologies in advance for a long post.

Ouch! You Floridians should keep in mind that we Canadians (and other Northeners) are responsible for the bulk of your economy! My husband and I are retired and spend winters in Florida.

Loneoak, do you really think/believe that you Canadians are responsible for the bulk of Florida's economy? Really?
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Old 06-07-2014, 06:47 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=Lloyd;79724]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loneoak View Post
Apologies in advance for a long post.

Ouch! You Floridians should keep in mind that we Canadians (and other Northeners) are responsible for the bulk of your economy! My husband and I are retired and spend winters in Florida.

Loneoak, do you really think/believe that you Canadians are responsible for the bulk of Florida's economy? Really?
From Wikipedia:

"Tourism makes up the largest sector of the state economy. Warm weather and hundreds of miles of beaches attract about 60 million visitors to the state every year. Florida was the top destination state in 2011. 42% of poll respondents living in the Northeast United States said they planned on visiting Florida over spring break"

Notice I said Canadians AND OTHER NORTHERNERS, not just Canadians. Tourism is the largest sector of Florida's economy, and most people come from the north seeking warmth and sunshine. Zephyrhills, where we winter, goes from 10,000 people to 80,000 during the winter. About half the folks are from Canada, and of the rest, a lot are from Michigan. We don't just come for a week or two, we come for 3 - 6 months. We spend a lot of money there on rent, groceries, entertainment, restaurants, shopping, etc.

A lot of Floridians complain about the influx, but they should take a look at where the State gets a lot of its money from.
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Old 06-07-2014, 06:49 PM   #7
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I'm joking about the Canadian thing. We call Hollywood, Fl. little Canada and if it wasn't for the Canadian owned motels Hollywood would be all huge high rises.

Thanks for the input. I want to get that book it must be fascinating. I've been discussing what you said with my wife and she agrees with you. We can have a general idea of what we want to do, but she rather let the trip dictate us. She has already reserved the book at the library.
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Old 06-07-2014, 06:55 PM   #8
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Good luck. I hope you have a great trip. RVing is such a great way to go because no matter where you are, you are home because you have your little home with you.
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Old 06-07-2014, 08:21 PM   #9
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[QUOTE=Loneoak;79728]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lloyd View Post

From Wikipedia:

"Tourism makes up the largest sector of the state economy. Warm weather and hundreds of miles of beaches attract about 60 million visitors to the state every year. Florida was the top destination state in 2011. 42% of poll respondents living in the Northeast United States said they planned on visiting Florida over spring break"

Notice I said Canadians AND OTHER NORTHERNERS, not just Canadians. Tourism is the largest sector of Florida's economy, and most people come from the north seeking warmth and sunshine. Zephyrhills, where we winter, goes from 10,000 people to 80,000 during the winter. About half the folks are from Canada, and of the rest, a lot are from Michigan. We don't just come for a week or two, we come for 3 - 6 months. We spend a lot of money there on rent, groceries, entertainment, restaurants, shopping, etc.

A lot of Floridians complain about the influx, but they should take a look at where the State gets a lot of its money from.
Thanks. And you are right planning is part of the fun.

I hate for this thread to go this way but... In regards to the tourism comment you posted. I'm getting the impression you are annoyed and I may be wrong and I hope you are not. I don't want to offend anyone.

You are absolutely correct we are a huge tourism state. If not for tourism our economy would collapse. But as a Floridian it's a double edged sword. I appreciate all those who come to visit not just from the north but the south as well. We have a huge South American population that come to visit. But as a camper in the winter months it is almost impossible for me to get a spot on the weekend at one of our local county parks. Because of all the tourist that come for months at a time. So yes I appreciate the tourism and the money they bring. But it's frustrating when you are a resident and you can't use your local park. That's all I meant by the shot I took. My apologize if you were offended.
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Old 06-07-2014, 09:47 PM   #10
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No reservations. Wow, I guess I'm used to camping here in Fl where all the Canadians have all the parks booked up. ( I had to take a shot.)
I think it's an awesome idea and it would make it less stressful. It makes the budgeting part a little harder. You never had trouble finding a park to stay in even for a few days?
I only had one park that was full and some people we talked to told us to drive about 1/2 mile down the road and look in any open area for an empty fire pit and pull up inn front of it and camp the night free. turned out to be on a rushing river with a treed mountain in the background ....wonderful night.
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Old 06-08-2014, 04:06 AM   #11
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No Bert, I am not annoyed by you but by Lloyd's comment of my saying that Canada is responsible for Florida's economy when I specifically mentioned other Northerners as well.

As like Harley said, if a campground is full then there are usually places you can stay for free until you find something. I think the ones that fill up would be the really popular places and it might be an issue on a Friday or Saturday night. Places like Yosemite and Yellowstone would need reservations months in advance.

When we went out west in 2012 one time (Missoula, Montana) we got to a KOA and got the last site. We did not have reservations everywhere because we did change our plans a bit so a great many places we just showed up. We went in June and July. Most places we did have reservations at were not full.
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Old 06-08-2014, 05:49 AM   #12
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We planned a 6 week trip through the southwest, out to the California coast, and back home. What we would do is plan one day ahead for our campground reservations. If we decided we wanted to stay longer in one spot, we would extend our stay. Only once in six weeks did that not work out for us, and then we just moved to another campground that had space. Enjoy your trip!
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:32 AM   #13
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That's great for those that have the luxury of time

but our experience, in the southeast at least,
is that most 'nice' places are reserved a long time in advance...
and some I wouldn't be allowed to stay at by the wife, are too

so we use things like Good Sam's Trip Planner --> http://trips.goodsamclub.com/
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Old 06-08-2014, 10:51 AM   #14
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When it comes to campgrounds we have a mixture of taste. We love State Parks because of the more rustic and wooded properties. But we do enjoy the full hook up at times. An issue for us is the length of our rig. Once we have the locations set and the dates we want to travel I'm thinking of contacting the places where we want to stay to see how busy they are during those times. Unfortunately we will be doing it in the summer.
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Old 06-08-2014, 12:02 PM   #15
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We find the length of our rig to be an issue at State/Federal/Provincial parks so we tend to stay away from them most of the time. Certain places do fill up in the summer, and for good reason - this is when families can travel because their children are off school. Having said that, we did not find it to be an issue with our 2012 trip.

One of the places we plan to stay this fall is the Grand Canyon. I sent them an email and asked about availability end of Sept./beginning of Oct. and was told it is usually o.k. but it would be a good idea to check just before coming. Yes, the really busy places may be an issue. It is however, difficult to set a timetable because you don't know how long you will be in any one place.
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Old 06-08-2014, 02:48 PM   #16
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This place is getting to where there is as much drama as Facebook, lol. Seriously, guys, lighten up a little.

As far as planning long trips, I haven't done a whole lot of them with the camper (yet), but I did do one big one a couple years ago. I spent months studying on the internet about what I wanted to see and where we would park the camper while we were there. www.campgroundreviews.com came in very handy in our trip planning and we had a wonderful time.

I haven't been out west since I was a teenager, although camping across the western states with my grandfather when I was growing up is what got me hooked on the camping lifestyle. I love it, and it brings back fond memories. We did what you are planning to do, took a month and just camped from place to place. The places that still stand out in my mind from back then are: the Badlands of South Dakota; the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore; Deadwood, SD; Custer National Battlefield in MT; Butte, MT; the Grand Tetons; Beartooth Pass, WY; Yellowstone National Park and the geysers (Old Faithful); the Great Salt Lake in Utah; the Meteorite Crater in AZ; the London Bridge in AZ; and from that point on I was ready to make my way back up I-40 to Tennessee, lol.

I hope you guys get to take your trip and have a wonderful time. You will be creating memories you will never forget. (Like me sleeping on the picnic table in the Badlands because my granddad was snoring too loud in the camper to sleep, lol.)
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Old 06-08-2014, 03:16 PM   #17
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my other concern is with the roads. A few years ago we took a trip up to Washington DC and on the way home I wanted to take the kids to a RV park I went to as a child. the roads were winding so bad to a mountain I thought the trailer is going to jack knife. Any idea on map sites or GPS devices to navigate better through roadways? I bent 2 stabilizers a ground down a bike rack. Momma had white knuckles the whole time.
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Old 06-08-2014, 03:16 PM   #18
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This place is getting to where there is as much drama as Facebook, lol. Seriously, guys, lighten up a little.

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Old 06-09-2014, 06:51 AM   #19
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my other concern is with the roads. A few years ago we took a trip up to Washington DC and on the way home I wanted to take the kids to a RV park I went to as a child. the roads were winding so bad to a mountain I thought the trailer is going to jack knife. Any idea on map sites or GPS devices to navigate better through roadways? I bent 2 stabilizers a ground down a bike rack. Momma had white knuckles the whole time.
We just bought a Good Sam GPS which allows you to input the size of your rig (length and height) and it will route you around low clearances and roads that are too windy for your rig. We just got it last month and have not had a chance to seriously test its limitations. There is a lot of info out there regarding low clearances, but not as much about roads too windy for your rig.
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Old 06-09-2014, 08:29 AM   #20
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my other concern is with the roads. A few years ago we took a trip up to Washington DC and on the way home I wanted to take the kids to a RV park I went to as a child. the roads were winding so bad to a mountain I thought the trailer is going to jack knife. Any idea on map sites or GPS devices to navigate better through roadways? I bent 2 stabilizers a ground down a bike rack. Momma had white knuckles the whole time.
Bert
I just bought the Rand/McNally Good Sam GPS. Only had the chance to use it once and that was in the car mode. It worked very well, but what I wanted to tell you was. Good Sam has a trip planner for it's members that is excellent IMHO. You imput your camper info and other driving preferences and it will route your trip. Also will give you points of interest, campgrounds, historic sites and other info along the route you planned. If you have not planned on buying a GPS unit, the price of the Good Sam membership is a cheap way of getting the same information.
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