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Old 09-30-2012, 10:45 AM   #21
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With respect to reservations, we noticed this year due to the economy many campgrounds were not full or even nearly so..

We were at Myrtle Beach State Park on Thanksgiving weekend without reservations, normally an impossible situation. The park hostess said they had plenty of space, a story repeated every where we went this year.

I believe the price of fuel and the general uncertainty has kept people home or at least stationary.
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:47 AM   #22
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I don't have solar panels but can easily spend a night or two off the grid- but I don't want all of them that way. I do want to plan in the sense that I know how much time to allow between visits and to give people at least approximate arrival dates, plus I'll probably want to hit one to three dog events which of course will have set times.

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Old 09-30-2012, 11:27 AM   #23
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What I have learned about Reservations:
They are only absolutely necessary if all 4 conditions exist:
  • a Destination (a place you have to be at)
  • over a weekend
  • in an extremely popular place
  • for longer than 1 night
Remove any one condition, and a Reservation becomes reassuring, but not necessary.
Remove two conditions and a Reservation is irrelevant.
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:30 AM   #24
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Bobbie, I probable do 50/50 in regards to being off grid or on grid when on long trips but it has a lot to do with the area/state in - some states have lots of great off grid popular camping spots (many of them free) others not so much. If you want to stay on the grid you should have little problem doing that no matter where you head but as you travel across the country you will see why you might rather be off it in some areas and even within some State parks that offer sites with or without power.

If your using google or your gps to determine estimated driving times you need to take a few things into consideration. One is that they calculate the time it will take to do your trip based on no traffic hold ups - thats not going to happen if your going through a large city or heading into a popular area or over a mountain pass. Its also not going to happen if you are running ST tires on your trailer which prevent you from going over 65 mph and the area you are going through has a higher speed limit that that. So while doing a rough plan of your trip take a look carefully at the speed limits it is suggesting you will be doing. Even when only doing what the GPS says is only a 3 or 4 hour drive and I know I will be doing the speed limit, I still add another hour or more to the time to cover me for gas stops and lunch stops or just stops at look outs to enjoy the area going through.
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:46 AM   #25
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Off the grid isn't a problem- when I am I use an LED lantern although I think I'm going to replace my Coleman lamp with one of these and then I won't even need batteries. Heat could be a problem in some places but during the day I'm not averse to using a propane heater and at night I just bundle up.

I might get wired for 12v before I get around to this... I won't go until I have no more than two dogs and one of my three is 12 1/2 so no telling when that might be. The oldster hates car travel so it is really a kindness to him to wait but he's in great health so I hope we're talking 3-4 years down the road.
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:19 PM   #26
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Bobbie,

Your future lamp looks cozy. I would not forfeit my LED lantern for anything else. Mine has the night light and two stronger light levels. If I could only have one light source it would be my lantern. Would be a bit difficult to walk around the campsite with your cosy camp light. Or, walk through a dark lava tube. I'm glad we have the 12 volt lights. we use them more than the 110, since we often use parks without electricity. If we plan on being without electricity for several nights the portable lattern gets used more to save on the battery.

Mostly we are spontaneous. Often I do try to have reservations at popular places (Arches for one). We never know for sure how far we might drive each day. Would hate to feel pressure to keep driving if we want to stop.

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Old 09-30-2012, 12:31 PM   #27
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I don't use flashlights outside, much. The LED lantern is used mainly in the trailer (or with groups, sometimes at our cooking area.) I don't think I'd leave it behind even if I do get the new light installed. The camp light is to replace the existing, malfunctioning Coleman lamp that came with the trailer so all the plumbing is already there. The Campster has self-ventilation so no worries about that with propane (but I won't sleep with it turned on.)

The problem in summer around here is you can't plan two days in advance, it has to be nine months for summer weekends at popular places. But I think September-October should be good.
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:38 PM   #28
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I map out potential camp sites before leaving, so I have an idea of what is out there. Then I wing it, with no reservations. Except if wanting to stay in a place that is usually booked up, like Yosemite...for some special spots a reservation is the only way.
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:30 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Bobbie Mayer View Post
The problem in summer around here is you can't plan two days in advance, it has to be nine months for summer weekends at popular places. But I think September-October should be good.
Bobbie, thats the case in a lot of places which is why if heading to a real poplular spot in the summer reservations on week-ends are pretty well it. But midweek you can normally find something. Yes the first week of September is a great time to start traveling!!!!
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:06 PM   #30
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Generally, since the only time we would ever even think about taking the trailer out of the driveway would be to go to an event or a site where we have to be THERE THEN, we tend to "plan backwards". We have to be THERE, THEN, so we allow approx 400 miles per day for getting there then, (sometimes 500 or more miles per day) and depart accordingly. Stops are then "unplanned" with no reservations made. (400 miles makes for a quite short travel day, so 500 may be more common in future)

Then we can return home at the same rate of travel without needing to spend any more time than absolutely needed in transit and minimizing the total number of nights spent in the trailer.
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:14 PM   #31
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The problem in summer around here is you can't plan two days in advance, it has to be nine months for summer weekends at popular places. But I think September-October should be good.
I don't know where "around here" is, but "around here", or for that matter any place from Wash, OR, CA, AZ, NM, TX, and LA I can find places to camp that don't take reservations. Furthermore, if I'm stopping someplace to spend a night, it's very rare that I'll have to pay for that. Overnight stops are Rest areas, truck stops, Wal-Mart, free champ grounds.

As Norm says how can you plan for trips longer than a week or two. There's no way I could plan for my 3+ months winter trips. Furthermore, my average camping fee is less than $7.50 per night.
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:27 PM   #32
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we do a little of both---we'll aim for reservations for a special campground we really want to spend some extended time in...especially necessary in florida during the winter months (i'm referring to state parks here). in fact, to secure a spot for, say, 2 weeks, one needs to book online or on the phone almost exactly 11 months to the day! and even then, there's no guarantee to get what one wants!!
otherwise, we wing it. having no schedule is incredibly freeing.....and that is our goal--to relax. meeting someone who recommends a sight, a park, a city and being able to check it out at our leisure is exactly WHY we travel!!
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Old 09-30-2012, 04:21 PM   #33
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I like Theresa's comments as well as the others. Pick your target dates. Make your reservations and allow enough time and flexibility between to enjoy. A quasi schedule will keep you on track. If you are capable of boondocking, some of the nicest sites are out in the fields. There is many a campground that will accomdate you if you are willing not to be connected to the grid.

BTW what are you doing at the dog shows?
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Old 09-30-2012, 05:50 PM   #34
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It sounds like most people have the freedom to be a bit carefree in their travel and planning. Because of our very limited vacation schedules and desire to get to certain places, we do plan everything before leaving. Our longest trip has been right at two weeks, but most are about 10 days. We have typically planned to get to a destination that is at least 500 miles away, with some destinations up to 1600 miles away from our home near Chicago. That means we need to travel some long days, always with a reserved site waiting for us that we can pull into after dark, if need be. Since we don't have a battery in the VT or a fresh water tank, we also need electricity and prefer to have water available, too. In 6 years of doing trips with advance reservations, we've only had to change/cancel a reservation once and that was because we blew out a hub north of Cheyenne, WY. This is our style and it has worked well for us. At least we have the peace of mind that we have a site waiting!
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:20 PM   #35
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At least we have the peace of mind that we have a site waiting
That's probably what bothers me when I don't... I worry. But I think if I can book a day or two ahead I will probably relax eventually and not worry about it so much. Being on my own does make it a bit more of a concern- I don't want to end up being one of two rigs in a campground in a remote area, with the other guy revving up a chainsaw.
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:43 PM   #36
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Yes Bobbie you will most likely be able to even call the morning of. Of course as stated holidays etc might throw a wrench into waiting. But for everyday travel, you most likely could call within the day or two and be just fine.




I have told this story before here, but it's worth repeating! For the mere fact that somepeople over plan to the point that they can't enjoy their vacations.

When we had the Rv park, I had a guy come in one day insisting he had a reservation. I tried finding him to no avail. We had 3 ways to verify a reservation and I wasn't finding him anywhere! He kept insisting I finally asked him if he had a comfirmation #, he said I do and ran out to his truck to get it. He pulls out this binder of their vacation intenary. He show's me his comfirmation # which wasn't from us! He still insisted it was! I finally said sir, it's not. We gave comfirmation # with the site number in it. His comfirmation # didn't have number's that would coninside with our site numbers. So I spent sometime trying to help him locate the campground he was suppose to be in. Wala, I found where he should be, so we sent him on his merry way to the correct campground. The minute the guy was out of the office my DH was like did you see that binder? I said yes, he said no did you really see it? Ummmmm, I thought so! But I guess I didn't look as close as my DH did. The guy had his vacation timed into 15 min time slots. Then timed himself so as to keep track if they spent 4 extra minutes at the truck stop (which by the way, he had each and every stopped planned!) The gas station, grocery stores, even where they would stop for breakfast, even the rest stops. The business name, prices etc.) He had even planned which grocery stores they would shop at for grocerys. God forbid you run outta tooth paste before the next grocery store he had planned to stop at.


I can't imagine vacationing on such a tight schedule. Life is about having fun, not if you wasted an extra 10 min at the rest stop. There is good and bad in planning, but don't get caught up in it......... Enjoy your self...........
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Old 10-01-2012, 02:53 AM   #37
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When we've traveled (so far... around Spain and France), we usually stay put in one campground for a couple of weeks at the least. This (1) gives us the opportunity to visit all of the sights in the surrounding area; and (2) this way we aren't having to pick up, pack up everything every couple of days (tiring! - especially since we have a screen room which gets attached to the TT and takes quite a bit of time and effort to put up/take down (we use the screen room to double our living space - table and chairs for eating, lawn chairs for relaxing, table with camp stove, rack for shoes, water bottles, laundry hamper - EVERYTHING goes out here!) This being said - I usually spend time in advance (online) choosing campgrounds near where we want to visit). Then, other planning involves what towns/historical sites, etc., there are to see, routes, etc. Other than that, we usually "wing it" and spend one day sightseeing, the next relaxing, and so on...

Robin, I can't imagine having my trip planned down to the "quarter hour". But, I guess there are all kinds of people and different strokes for different folks!
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Old 10-01-2012, 06:28 AM   #38
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we usually do a combonation of both. for example , if we are heading past a location,say dollywood as a random example, i will check to see if anything interesting is happening there. if there is we may push a little to get there by a certain date,, or dally somewhere else to hold off getting there till a later date. there is often something i want to see at a specific time such as the cherry blossums in washington dc., or the tulip festival in holland michigan. its not hard to find fun crazy things to see, and by adjusting your travel a little being able to include them.
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Old 10-01-2012, 11:14 AM   #39
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I used to work with a guy who took his family cross country from Michigan to the west coast. Reservations made for every night both ways before leaving home. The interesting thing is that he was a teacher and had about 2 1/2 months off in the summer. We simply could NOT live & travel that way so we don't.
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Old 10-01-2012, 08:39 PM   #40
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I always know where we are going and what campgrounds are in the various towns where we expect to stop. I book Fridays and Saturdays as a rule, if not before leaving then during the week of arrival. That way I am more sure of our schedule when closer to a stopping point. It is only the weekends with a problem, just as with hotels, unless there is a special event in that area. Need to check for those beforehand.

We did go to a campground last week on a Friday without a reservation and found a "Campground Full" sign up the road. We went to the gate anyway and were told that two trailers had pulled out so we could get in (Army Corps). I normally would not show up like that and definitely would not at a private campground. I will call them to get the situation and let them know we are coming if no reservation.
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