Long trips: plans vs. spontaneous? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-29-2012, 11:10 PM   #1
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Long trips: plans vs. spontaneous?

For those who have done long trips in their trailers, did you plan each day ahead of time, researching stops, making reservations in advance, fitting in visits you knew you wanted to make and firm dates, and have the whole trip planned out? Or did you just take off in the general direction and play it by ear? Or some mix of both?

In a year or two I'd like to do a round the country tour, a bunch of short visits to people and possibly a few events with set dates, but I'm wondering how closely I need to plan it.

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Old 09-29-2012, 11:51 PM   #2
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I've tried planning trips, short ones and long ones. I never have stuck to the plans. No more planning. There's very very few times I'll get reservations, usually for glass gatherings.
Our 3+ month annual winter trip, we usually have a direction, or maybe a first destination. This past winter, it was Death Valley was the first stop other than a night on the road. The night on the road is usually a rest area, the exact one depends on when I get tired of driving.
Once at the first destination, then we decide the minimum time we want to stay. Before we leave we pretty well know where we want to go for our next stop. We are however always open to change.

One of the problems with attempting to plan too tightly things happen. Road construction slows you down, there's an interesting museum you see a sign for. The place you planned to stop at is icky, so you move on. Or you'll meet some really nice people and would like to spend more time visiting with them.

One the things we discovered that some of the neat places to stop we didn't know about. We found about them from other travelers.

For us doing a country tour would mean stopping at as many National Parks as possible, with a few National Forest stops thrown in for good measure. Part of the reason for that is the cost, with the Golden Age Passport, now called Senior Pass, camping is pretty cheap.

Do it as soon as you can, you'll always remember it and discover places you passed by you want to return to or places you want to revisit.
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Old 09-30-2012, 03:44 AM   #3
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I agree with Byron, when you have a schedule, you have deadlines and stress, something camping is supposed to relieve you from.
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Old 09-30-2012, 05:28 AM   #4
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With about 48 years of travelling behind us we do not plan very much ahead if at all.Two years ago our only plan was to stay on the east side of Glacier nat park and take a day trip over the border into Canada to visit Waterton nat park. All the rest of the trip we just wandered around. Last year we decided to go to Montana and Idaho. We just wandered around. When we wander, we stop when we see something interesting. Sometimes we'll decide on something on a particular day and we've sometimes changed those plan several times. If everything is planned ahead, it leaves no time for the unexpected, whether good or bad.
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Old 09-30-2012, 05:43 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
I agree with Byron, when you have a schedule, you have deadlines and stress, something camping is supposed to relieve you from.
Hi: cpaharley2008... I long to be spontaneous...but my wife enjoys the planing and reservations as much as the trip. We usually have a deadline for vacation weeks. Mon.-Fri. I drive a transit bus so I know schedules and stress.
Soon as I'm retired we're gonna try "Spontaneous"!!!
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:20 AM   #6
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I find a rough outline with a few days in each "area" is good for me. That way if a place is fantastic and I want to stay a bit longer by stealing a day or two from down the road it doesn't totally disrupt my plans. It is good to research a bit so that you don't pull into town the day after a big festival that you would have loved to attend, which still seems to happen LOL! I did have a travel partner several years ago who was a total control freak. She had to plan every city, every reservation, every event down to the minute. She is now far down the road in my rear view mirror. Nothing worse than not being able to do what you really want to do because of a schedule, grrrrrrr!
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:20 AM   #7
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Planning

Over 11 years we hardly ever plan though do have general directions and usually a few pre-defined stops.

On this year's 11 month trip we had three timed destinations, a graduation, a wedding and a Fiberglass Rally (NOG). On the moment we added a second rally in TX.

We only make reservations if we want to go to a special highly visited area like Denali Nat Park or Death Valley.

Like most long range travelers we find the best spots from other travelers or just by chance. This year we spent 2 weeks in Elko, NV. The mom and pop campground owners continually gave us tips of places to see, actually we never finished their list. We spent another week in the boot of NM. As well we found a Basque restuarant on our own. We rarely eat our but seek the different.

Most people don't even know these places exist. We got home this year and one of Ginny's sisters, who could not formerly understand our 'RV drive', said "while most of us worked the two of you have seen more in one year than most will see in a lifetime".

We travel looking for all the wonder, for all we don't know.....

We don't go very far in a day, this year we averaged 70 miles of towing and exploring driving per day. We spent 4th of July week in Port Orford, OR and then went only 20 miles to Cape Blanco State Park, OR for 3 days. Now we've been to the Port Orford area 7 times over 11 years. Everytime we have visted Port Orford we discover things to do and places to visit we had previously known about.

As well this year we took a liesurely drive down route 93 from Glacier to the Ruby Mountain's Lamoille Canyon. We learned, though we took about 3 weeks, we could have spent months and not seen everything.

When we drive a road we are not simply trying to get from A to B, we are trying to absorb the area. This requires talking with people, stopping and just walking about, seeking out the new and unusual and wondering about everything.

Even on our somewhat rushed trip home from the Scamp factory (averaged 200 miles a day) we had good experiences. We stopped at a state park in Zanesville, PA. The campgrounds brochure mentioned a pizza restuarant open since 1958. It turned out to be the largest, very Italian decorated, Pizza place ever, with even two drive thru windows. We ordered a spinach salad and a small pizza. The waitress came over and asked if we would like cheese on the salad, thinking she was talking about a light dusting we said yes. As you can see from Ginny's shocked look, the salad came with a pile of heavily shredded mozzorella cheese. You just never know. Surprisingly the salad was great.

As well next door they owned a deli/bakery. We stopped to get a few things for desert. Ginny mentioned we were from NH. Another customer chimed in and said "Have you been to the 'Y'?" It turns out that Zanesville has one of the two Y bridges in the world, the other is in Germany.

Zanesville's Y bridge branches off in two directions over the middle of the river. There's actually a stop light at the middle of the bridge at the fork.

It's a marvelous life.....
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:35 AM   #8
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Hi: honda03842... I love a little salad with my cheese too!!!
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:41 AM   #9
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Interesting story about the "Y" here is a picture- http://www.muskingumcounty.org/mcybridge.html
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:41 AM   #10
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Alfred, We thought it would be uneatable. It turned out to be great. We had a similar experience near Mt. St. Helens where we ordered a pizza with fresh tomatos. The pizza camewith every inch covered with sliced, overlapping, uncooked tomatos. Things vary across the country. We took the tomatos off, brought them home, and made tomato soup.
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:11 AM   #11
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The only time we really plan anything is when we know we will be in a popular area during the busy season (I have been stuck without a campsite, and ended up staying in a not so nice campground) So I will make site reservations but other than that, no set plans.


Now if your the type that can camp anywhere if your desired site isn't available then you wouldn't have to worry about that! But just don't get mad at other's when your wants aren't met due to not planning.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:00 AM   #12
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Steve's post about his companion who had to plan everything reminded me of the one and only trip we took with our son, his wife, and their, then, two kids. Jennie had every day planned except for campground reservations. She soon found out that didn't work. Time never went the way she saw it. Since we were in Colorado and they live in Indiana (she grew up in Ohio), she simply didn't realize that miles in Colorado do not go by as fast as in Indiana. She had no experience with how mountains can impact on how long it takes to get from one place to another. Under those circumstances we won't travel with them again, though she (and all of them) are wonderful people. I wonder, since she is a chemist, if that has any bearing on planning everything.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:10 AM   #13
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Spontaneity is fine, but it has its time and place.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:49 AM   #14
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We've been traveling/RV'ing for more'n 40yrs (actually more'n 50 but the 1st ten we didn't have an RV). We ALWAYS have a detailed itinerary before each trip, & invariably that itinerary 'goes by the wayside' before the end of the 2nd day . We have great fun planning our upcoming adventures & then we end up having more fun by ignoring/deviating from the plans. Like Norm & Ginny we're usually the last to leave a campground in the morning, & one of the first to stop in the afternoon (sometimes the forenoon). Our most enjoyable adventures have been those that we just 'happened upon', & we've spent days camped in locations that were supposed to be just 'overnighters'. Last month we made a 'flying trip' to New Mexico, Arizona, & California, towing our teardrop, in just 10days. That was probably the most stressful trip we've made in many years & even on it the itinerary was discarded on the 3rd day, & we drove a return route that wasn't even close to our planned route. We'll probably continue our meticulous detailed planning & just as predictably 'toss' it shortly after we're 'on the road'. We usually end up in or near the original destination but seldom at the time or via the route originally scheduled .
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:52 AM   #15
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If I am heading out for only a week-end trip or just a week then I do tend to make reservations especially in the summer months. But on longer trips I am with the others - trips seem less stressful when you don’t have set dates that you need to be at a certain place along the way. On longer trips I only make reservations ahead of time if attending a FG meet or going into an area such as Yellow Stone during peak season and you know its going to be very busy, especially week-ends. Did two trips last year that were fairly lengthily with only a couple of reservations made ahead of time. Prior to leaving I do spend time making notes of places others here have suggested staying at & what I wanted to see for sure on the trip and a general outline of how far I want to go and what I wanted to see based on the time I have. But as others have said once you get to a certain place someone will tell you about another must see spot or the spot your at may be a place you wish to spend more time than you thought. Which is why not having to be anywhere on a set date works so well. It helps to have a few books with you or a computer to look up where your next stop over spot options may be based on how far you wish to travel the next day. You may find yourself camped in a not so great spot every once in awhile but that more often than not happens on one nighters while moving from point A to B & your moving on the next morning anyways. You also may not get to everyplace you thought you would but that just means you have a good reason to return to the area on a future trip.

Having solar panels and being welling and able to dry camp is a big bonus - so if you do find yourself at a park late in the day that you really want to stay at that is very busy many of them will find a spot to slip you into but it will not have services. I made the mistake last November of arriving late in the day in Death Valley on the eve of the American Thanksgiving – one of Death Valley’s busiest week-ends. LOL Totally forgot Thanksgiving as we had already had ours. Busy place but not so busy you couldn’t dry camp. Did the same at Grand Tetons last summer as well - arrived during peak season no reservations but ended up with one of the most memorable camp spots I had that whole trip much nicer than the reserved spot that was waiting for me in Yellow Stone a few days later.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:54 AM   #16
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We usually have a deadline for vacation weeks.
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969) - Plot Summary

I have planned out trips with the goal of getting the most out of my limited "vacation" allotment. This usually turns the trip into more work than my job has. In 2005 Robert and I set off from San Diego, California on an epic cross-country gauntlet to attend both my family reunion at Oneida Lake, New York and The Oregon Gathering in Bandon, Oregon... 6,800 miles round trip within 16 days! Included in that trip were planned stops in Williams, Arizona; Bartlesville, Oklahoma; Springfield, Illinois; Tipton, Iowa; and Portland, Oregon. (Plus one unplanned stop in Medford, Oregon) We ended the trip with a 23 hour sprint from Bandon, Oregon straight through back to San Diego, California. Now I know how Zombie Movies became popular.
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:02 AM   #17
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I might add how could one even begin to plan for 315 days???????????
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:21 AM   #18
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My last two trips (111 days & 138 days) had very little scheduled plans. I usually make a list of places I want to see or photograph complied from books, comments by others on blogs & websites, etc. I guess you could call that "planning" but without a schedule.

About the only time I make reservations are for rallies, or holiday weekends. If I'm in an area with few camping opportunities & I know where I'll end up that day I will sometimes call for reservations in the morning. One thing that helps is I plan to stop by 1:00 - 2:00 in the afternoon so I avoid the evening rush. I've rarely had problems finding a site, although during July the state parks on the Oregon coast had their "Campground Full" signs up round the clock. I still managed to find sites in commercial campgrounds.

I know people that are more comfortable knowing where they are going to be every night, even on long trips, but that would drive me crazy. I've discovered too many interesting stops that would kill any schedule. I've always found something - yet to spend an overnight at Walmart!
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:31 AM   #19
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. I wonder, since she is a chemist, if that has any bearing on planning everything.
Uh oh, that's me, and it probably does!

I guess I'm concerned about finding campsites when and where I want them. I suppose a good compromise would be making reservations if I knew I would be in a certain place for awhile, and playing it by ear otherwise.
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:39 AM   #20
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We ended the trip with a 23 hour sprint from Bandon, Oregon straight through back to San Diego, California. Now I know how Zombie Movies became popular.
LOL I recall to many of those types of trips from my days of over planning! Yup Zombie would be a great way of describing it - not at all coming home all relaxed as they say your suppose to be after a vacation!

Unfortunatly it can still happen when on the no set plan vacation as well last winter I did one of those on my trip home from Southern Arizona as I had decided to stay in the sunny south longer than I should have and then had to outrun a snow storm on the way back home and no one was willing to be flexable in regards to the date Christmas would happen
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