If you've been reading, you know we have a wicked travel schedule starting in March and lasting through September. I, Tarah, take on the responsibility of planning out our stops and the RV parks we visit. Keith is our mighty driver. As he likes to say, "she just tells me where to go, and I drive." I always take into account the things we both enjoy, so we are visiting cities where we will find something that interests us.
Planning Our Route
For 2020 I started mapping out where we wanted to go. Typically I start with google maps and pick our starting point and ending point to see the route it takes to get there. Then I break it down city to city. We try to stick to the 330 rule. Drive 330 miles or stop by 3:30 pm. We follow it pretty closely, but sometimes I will stick in a long day to get us somewhere we want to go so we don't have to stop and set up somewhere we don't want to visit. I always make sure to ask Keith since he is the driver...
When we stop, we try and set up for at least three nights or more; otherwise, it's a bit of a pain to set up and break down the next day. We haven't boondocked as of yet, but we may try it this year. Not sure.
RV Park Planning
Once I have the route and cities somewhat down, I will start looking at the Thousand Trails website to see what RV parks they have along the way. Since we are paying members, we try and stay in their RV resorts as often as possible. When I can't find one of their parks, then I look at Military Campgrounds. (Keith is a retired Coast Guard vet, so they offer affordable rates).
If that doesn't turn up anything, I will look at Good Sam and Passport America, since we are also members of both clubs. There are times when I don't find anything and then have to go to google to see what I can find in the area, but that is typically my last resort.
Recently, I read a blog post about how to find FREE RV camping spots and found that to be interesting. I will be adding that to my routine as I like FREE!
Book Early When Possible
I try to book places as early as I can, especially knowing the summer is going to be busy and many parks fill up quickly. This trip has taken on a different spin than last year. This year I decided to incorporate HomeExchange and Love Home Swap as we are also members, and we enjoy swapping our Mexico condo for homes all over the world. My request was a bit unorthodox as I requested our two dogs to be able to stay and a place to park our RV. When looking at homes, I made sure to pick houses that appeared to have outdoor space or long driveways. So far, I have managed to schedule 4 home swaps. I know it's not traditional RV'ing, but it will allow us a nice break to do laundry and have more room to stretch our legs and let the dogs run outside more. We thought we would give it a try to see how it feels.
BOOKING TIP: Watch out when booking early; many places will charge you a cancellation fee if your dates change, so make sure to know their cancellation policy ahead of time. When I am planning out our dates, changes often happen for the first few weeks of planning.
Fun Things to Do
Lastly, once I have our dates finalized and the cities locked down, I start looking at fun things to do in those cities. One of my favorite websites is Atlas Obscura; they always have unique things to do in most places. I'm also a member of a lot of helpful RV groups on Facebook, and asking them for tips always pays off. Roadtrippers is also a fun website to plan your route and to see what types of things are along the way. Both sites offer an app you can use too.
Once We Arrive
I have mentioned this before I am a fan of Groupon for finding things to do in cities. Most cities typically have something going on, and if not, they will show you the surrounding areas. I pay for their monthly membership of $4.99, which gets us an additional 25% off, so it's been money well spent. When we arrive anywhere, I always look to see what restaurants, spas, and activities are listed.
In some cases, I will search ahead of time and buy groupons to use. One thing to keep in mind, if it's for a spa or something that requires an appointment, I will call ahead to see if I can schedule one. The worst thing you can do is buy one ahead of time, get there and find out they have no availability while you are in town. If that does happen, Groupon is great about letting you cash it in for Groupon bucks. I can't promise they will do that, but they have done it almost every time I have called... then again, I do buy a lot of groupons.
Check out our post on our money-saving tips; you may find some ways to save you cash too.
If you have any tips, we'd love to hear how you plan out your RV travel. Tell us your favorite websites and tips-and-tricks.