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Wizards&OZ

Planning Your Route

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For those of you who travel often (staying in one location 1-4 nights at a time), how do you go about planning your route? In other words, how to do you choose your destination? ...choose the campgrounds along your route? ...the sightseeing along the way? 

As an example, we may opt to travel along Route 66, starting in Illinois and ending in California. How much pre-planning would  you do? Plan each day of travel in advance and pre-book all your campgrounds? How much of it do you leave to "exploration" and just go with the flow? 

Thoughts and suggestions, please?

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The internet has massive amounts of information available. Here are links to some websites I have used to find places of interest to us.

National Parks, National Wildlife Rufuges, State Parks Scenic Byways, National Historic Trails, Legends of America, Roadside America, Ghost Towns, Slot Canyons, Pow Wows, Flea Markets, Rock Art, Native American Ruins, Factory Tours, Waterfalls, Scenic Railroads, State Fairs, Lighthouses, Breweries in the United States, Wineries in the United States, Trip Advisor, State Tourism Websites, Frommers Guide, Fairs and Festivals, More Fairs & Festivals, Scenic USA and Road Trippers.

For route planning I still use Micro Soft Streets and Trips. In addition to the campgrounds and other points of interest that are part of the basic program, there are many data sets that can be imported from sites like the Discovery Owners Forum, POI Factory, USA Campgrounds and Ultimate Public Campground Project.

In my experience, no one website lists all the campgrounds. Here are some of the ones I commonly used: RV Park Reviews, Passport AmericaAllstays, RV Parky, Woodalls, Free Campsites, U.S. Campgrounds, National Forest Campground Guide, Ultimate Public Campground Project and Corps of Engineers Campgrounds.

In regard to your interest in Route 66, checkout Driving Route 66, Historic Route 66, NPS Route 66 Map, and Route 66 Museums.   

 

Edited by trailertraveler

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We keep a bucket list and as we read/hear about things to see put that on our list. I also collect all sorts of info from the internet and put the articles etc. into Evernote. I can then scan the state when I am planning to visit that state. I then take a paper map and highlight each town that has something of interest that I want to visit.

We rarely make any reservations and just look for someplace to stay within an hours drive of where we want to visit. We travel every 3-4 days, seeing everything within an hours drive of our "base" camp.

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31 minutes ago, Wizards&OZ said:

As an example, we may opt to travel along Route 66, starting in Illinois and ending in California. How much pre-planning would  you do? Plan each day of travel in advance and pre-book all your campgrounds? How much of it do you leave to "exploration" and just go with the flow? 

We usually have a destination in mind but leave the arrival date very loose as in a specific week or so. We also look over potential routes with a preference to the US routes and use the interstate highways only to travel areas that we have been over many times or if there is some reason to pass through that area quickly. To us, an interstate highway has only 1 real value and that is quick passage over good roads. You actually see very little of what an area is like if you do not get off of them because of the wide road and rapid travel. We rarely ever make reservations at an RV park before we leave, doing so only in locations of heavy tourist traffic or on major holidays. We do use campground apps to locate a place to stop as we travel, usually choosing a place for our next stop somewhere between noon and 2 pm as we typically stop by 4 pm, and we then call ahead by cell phone. We nearly always are parked by 4 pm if traveling through an area we are not familiar with and we typically unhook and go exploring the area around us for evening entertainment. If we find local museums or attractions that interest us we return to the park and book another day or two so that we can visit the things which interest us. We also find that many small towns allow RVs to spend the night in the city park and some even have RV sites, free or for little cost. We enjoy walking the main streets of "small town America" and shopping in the local small stores. We have found the best part of our RV experience to have been the people that we have met along the way. 

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We drove Historic Route 66 in 2008 in a 24' Class C not towing anything. What i did was gather as much info as I could and put it all into a spread sheet. Each day we decided what stops we wanted to make that day. The blog I was writing when we started has disappeared but this one starts at day 7 in case you'd like to read what we did: https://sandcastle.sandsys.org/2008/10/day-7-route-66/.

This is the method we used for all our travels: gather data, put it into a spread sheet, decide as we went what we would do and where we would stay. That let us be sure we weren't missing anything significant to us without committing to any specific timetable. After all you can't know in advance if a museum stop is going to be 30 minutes or 3 hours.

Linda Sand

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Historic Route 66 is the most comprehensive website I've found for what to do.. If you establish a set timetable, IMO you'll miss or by pass most of the lesser known attractions; worlds largest collection of soda pop bottles, etc.

Edited by Ray,IN

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I haven't worn a watch in about 8 years . No need . 

If you want to watch the sun rise , get up . If you want to see it set , build a fire to enjoy when it does . 

About the only real rule is the golden rule , which isn't really a rule as much as it is a pleasure . ;)

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Just Google RVing Route 66 and you'll have a lot of information appear such as:

http://www.doityourselfrv.com/route-66-places/

There are probably books on Rt. 66, too.  Try Amazon.

We like paper atlases so we would read these sites to gather information on what to see and then highlight them on a map.  Connect the dots and this is your route (for any kind of trip).  If there are a lot of stops in a small area then pick a town to stay and do all the stops. Use RVParkReviews to find parks …. or other sites.

Many small towns have city parks to stay.  Our way of travel would be not to make reservations in case we wanted to tour more of the area other than Route 66.  There really isn't much left of the route.

For other trips and because we were full-timers, we always studied a map to pick our spots. Rarely did we have long-distance destinations as our main one, except Alaska.  For that we didn't even think of the destination but instead, broke it down into short segments and did our siteseeing as we traveled.  Sometimes staying longer than intended; sometimes shorter. No definites.  We most always traveled secondary roads wherever we went.  We weren't in a hurry.

For western states we had every one of the Benchmark Series of individual state atlases.  They showed all public areas and many campgrounds.  They also showed good gravel roads to travel with our Jeep.  Since we like public scenic areas, this was our main source of deciding where to go.  We didn't do cities or attractions such as amusement parks.  We liked nature.

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10 hours ago, Wizards&OZ said:

For those of you who travel often (staying in one location 1-4 nights at a time), how do you go about planning your route? In other words, how to do you choose your destination? ...choose the campgrounds along your route? ...the sightseeing along the way? 

As an example, we may opt to travel along Route 66, starting in Illinois and ending in California. How much pre-planning would  you do? Plan each day of travel in advance and pre-book all your campgrounds? How much of it do you leave to "exploration" and just go with the flow? 

Thoughts and suggestions, please?

We travel pretty often since we are full timers.  While spending the winter months in Florida we will make a general outline of the states we want to visit and the basic time frame.  Depending on the time of year and what area of the U.S. we are planning on visiting dictates how far in advance we might call different campground for reservations.  Generally speaking when we head out in the spring we are booked at least a couple months ahead for most places but there are exceptions.

Some RVers just take off and kind of "wing it" and head in a general direction checking things out as they go.  I think if you are in a smaller rig you could get away with that type of traveling, the larger/longer rigs probably tend to pre-plan a little more.

Example:  currently we are heading to a CG called Top Sail in the panhandle of Florida first thing in the spring.  We had to go online and make reservations 6 months in advance to get 2 weeks there.  After that we slowly head to central Illinois for a grandkids HS graduation and will dry camp along the way, no reservations needed there.  We already booked a park district CG in that area for two different periods so that reservation had to be made in advance because they fill up and it is only $13 a day including all utilities.  Then we head to the Black Hills, several other states, and back through Illinois, those reservations won't be made until around June.  

Anyway, you get the idea.  We are pretty long so we can't just pull into any CG and ask if they have a 80' pull through site.

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9 hours ago, sandsys said:

We drove Historic Route 66 in 2008 in a 24' Class C not towing anything. What i did was gather as much info as I could and put it all into a spread sheet. Each day we decided what stops we wanted to make that day. The blog I was writing when we started has disappeared but this one starts at day 7 in case you'd like to read what we did: https://sandcastle.sandsys.org/2008/10/day-7-route-66/.

This is the method we used for all our travels: gather data, put it into a spread sheet, decide as we went what we would do and where we would stay. That let us be sure we weren't missing anything significant to us without committing to any specific timetable. After all you can't know in advance if a museum stop is going to be 30 minutes or 3 hours.

Linda Sand

Did you drive through Oatman?  It was tight getting through with our car, can't imagine taking anything larger through that.   The drive from Kingman through Oatman and on to Needles is a real throw back in time.

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16 hours ago, Wizards&OZ said:

For those of you who travel often (staying in one location 1-4 nights at a time), how do you go about planning your route? In other words, how to do you choose your destination? ...choose the campgrounds along your route? ...the sightseeing along the way? 

As an example, we may opt to travel along Route 66, starting in Illinois and ending in California. How much pre-planning would  you do? Plan each day of travel in advance and pre-book all your campgrounds? How much of it do you leave to "exploration" and just go with the flow? 

Thoughts and suggestions, please?

After 13 years, we get up, start heading in a general direction and about noon I call ahead for a place to stay.  If we like the place, we might stay a second day.  We try to follow the 2-2-2 rule; 200 mile a day, in the park by 2:00 pm and spend 2 or more days.  Sometimes we only stop for one night (like going from LA to Sacramento on I-5.  We try to use the US Highways as much as possible unless we on a time schedule to stay with my 96 yr old mother so my sister can have a vacation, or we are returning in the fall to the Mesa area and have physicians appointments already lined up.   We do block out 1-2 week stays when we want to explore an area.  The month of September is Wineries for us so we have a whole list of places we like to stay/visit.  We use membership parks extensively for our summer stays in the Pacific Northwest.  

Another good trip is to follow the Lewis & Clark route (going either way).  Lots of good COE parks in the midwest to stay at, we usually stay 3-5 days before moving on to the next area to explore.  

 

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2 hours ago, Barbaraok said:

Did you drive through Oatman?  It was tight getting through with our car, can't imagine taking anything larger through that.   The drive from Kingman through Oatman and on to Needles is a real throw back in time.

Yes, we drove through Oatman in our Winnebago View. Once. :)

 https://sandcastle.sandsys.org/2008/11/day-32-route-66/

Linda

Edited by sandsys

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When I was younger I collected road maps and would spend hours looking at them, thinking about where I wanted to travel.  Now, I am living the dream of going to those places.  Really, for people like me, planning the trip is part of the fun.  This is an excerpt from our travel blog:

--

For us, it starts with a general course of action, like: “lets go to the Pacific northwest for our next big adventure.”  From there, I go to my first planning tool, Google maps.  I put three or four points on a map, creating a big round trip loop for our trip.  That gives me a general outline that will anchor my planning.

2trip-150x150.png

If you right click on the map, you can pick “measure distance” – since we like to travel around 150-200 miles when we move I measure out that distance and now have the general location of a stop.

At this point I go to a terrific website, RVParkReviews and start reading the reviews of the campgrounds in that area.  Taking into account amenities, sightseeing opportunities, etc. I pick a campground and enter it, adding it as a destination to my Google map.

I’m now ready to enter the campground information on a spreadsheet that has columns for campground name, location, general cost, distance traveled to get there, potential start date, and how many days I’d like to stay there.  There’s also a column to enter reservation information once I’ve nailed it down.

3map

From here, I start the process again using my selected campground as the new start point.  I measure out another trip of my preferred travel distance. 

--

I don't claim that my way is the only way.  But I enjoy what I do and it has worked for us over 5 years.  You can read the entire article here.

Edited by GR "Scott" Cundiff

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Since I'm a dry camper, I'll use google maps to find a suitable flat spot along the road to spend the night. Then I"ll find a couple more, plus a state park or RV park as plan b, c, and d.

Edited by hemsteadc

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I start with Google maps and put my starting point and my eventual destination on maps then look at the route it gives me.  Might find some national parks on it, or might have to deviate to find some national parks.  And since I almost always stay at state and national parks, I start looking for the ones that have campground. Ditto for COE campgrounds. 

Eventually, I find spots about 150-200 miles apart or less that look promising, so I estimate how long I will want to stay in each one by looking at museums and attractions nearby.  At that point, I start making reservations, especially if it is a high-tourist time of year, like winter in warm times of year, especially places like Florida and the desert southwest that attracts snowbirds.

I also look at three day weekends and plan around those.  Even Presidents Day weekend can be difficult at the last minute if you are in an area with lakes.  So, I might find an out of the way place for times like the fourth of July and LaborDay that I know won't attract families and boats. 

I do like reservations, but by the time I actually make a drive, I have done a lot of research so I know a lot about the area and can plan.

And I also use a spreadsheet to keep track of where I am going, reservations, and when I am supposed to be there.

Edited by Solo18

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We generally have some sort of destination in mind, although it may be a few months out. We generally plan on about 200 miles or so on a driving day, and like to spend some time at the place where we stay. Sometimes that works well, and sometimes it doesn't. Weather often makes some decisions for us. Other times we find that the place that we thought would be interesting enough for a week is good only for two days, and sometimes the two-day place turns into a week.

Our original plan was to go somewhere and spend whatever time it took to see and do everything we wanted to see and do within a 100 mile radius, then move on and repeat. That works sometimes. We need to be in Hobbs, NM in January. That's about 400 miles from here, so two travel days. Since we've already explored the mid-point we'll have two back-to-back driving days.

We generally have some rough plans several months out, and try to fill in the details as we can. We've learned that when we make plans God just sits back and laughs. Then we find out what HIS plans are.

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On 12/3/2018 at 6:34 AM, Wizards&OZ said:

For those of you who travel often (staying in one location 1-4 nights at a time), how do you go about planning your route? In other words, how to do you choose your destination? ...choose the campgrounds along your route? ...the sightseeing along the way? 

Depends. In 2017, we planned on attending SXSW in Austin, TX in March and then Milwaukee, WI in Summer.

We had to book months ahead for both destinations. However, in between destinations, we were free to go where & when we wanted.

Next year we also have a destination that we'll have to reserve months in advance. This particular destination is mid-journey so planning is important. We now use www.rvtripwizard.com which helps a lot.

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On 12/9/2018 at 11:43 AM, Zulu said:

Depends. In 2017, we planned on attending SXSW in Austin, TX in March and then Milwaukee, WI in Summer.

We had to book months ahead for both destinations. However, in between destinations, we were free to go where & when we wanted.

Next year we also have a destination that we'll have to reserve months in advance. This particular destination is mid-journey so planning is important. We now use www.rvtripwizard.com which helps a lot.

RVTripWizard looks great! Thank you for that information. I think I will look into this more and eventually purchase the app. Thank you for the suggestion! 

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