Planning our RV trips is not rocket science. Our starting approach varies but it usually entails the use of a map. Sometimes it is a specific event we want to attend, like when we went to the Memphis in May BBQ festival. In that case, since we were going to be in Tennessee, we looked for other things in the area to see. Since we also had to be in North Georgia for a wedding around the same time our route was pretty much determined by looking at the map. Go to Memphis head east to the wedding, along the way see Chattanooga, Great Smokey Mountain National Park and the Asheville area, then drop down into Georgia for the ceremony. Other times, like when we decided we wanted to go down the Baja to Cabo San Lucas, entail more research. Since it meant crossing the border into Mexico, we thought there might be safety in numbers so we decided to join a group and caravan. The trip was planned for us and all we had to do was show up on the appropriate day.
When we were still in the dreaming phase of owning an RV we used to cut articles out of Motorhome Magazine and file them by state. Is was our “wish list” and it helped keep our dreams of RV travel alive. We thought when we were heading to a state we could check the files and see what things of interest might be found along the way. We still have and frequently use those files, but the internet has made it a lot easier for planning stops.
On that Tennessee trip our research found Chicamauga National Military Park in Chattanooga. In Asheville, there was the Biltmore Estate and the local galleries and restaurants in the downtown area. Of course once we get to a place plans may change. We might find something we didn’t know about like Rock City, on Lookout Mountain just outside of Chattanooga. This roadside attraction of convoluted trails, gardens and bizarre rock formations was opened back in the 1930’s. In the 1940’s over 900 barns across America got a free paint job in return for letting them paint the “See Rock City” advertisement on the roof. It seems barn roofs predated billboards when it came to roadside advertising.
If we don’t have a special event we’ll just pick a direction and plan from there. Like Hubby’s desire to fish in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota (don’t ask) led to the decision to circle the Great Lakes and see Ontario, Canada. From there it was a similar effort. Get out a map, pick a general route and plan from there. We know how far we like to drive in a day so we have some idea of where our stops might be. We research what there might be to see along the way and that determines how long we might stay in an area. Before you know it we have the rough outlines of a trip. I say rough because all our plans are flexible and subject to change at will.
We rarely book our reservations at campgrounds in advance on our trips. If we like a place we may stay a while, if not we’ll pick up and go. With the wedding in Georgia, we knew when we had to arrive and there were not many camps, so we booked that ahead. 4th of July is another reservation we book ahead. It is the most popular time for camping, so we “guestimate” where we will be and book a site somewhere. We usually try for a spot where we know we’ll want to spend at least week. That gives us some flexibility since the campgrounds will work with you if you need to arrive a day or so late and extend on the backend.
So that’s pretty much our planning strategy, a map and a desire to see something, then fill in the blanks in between. If it all sounds a little loose, it is. But that’s the way we like it. We do have preferences in terms of the campgrounds we stay in, but that is a separate decision from the route we will take.