Every RVer has its own way of RV trip planning. These RV trip planning tips will make planning fast and easy.
When we started our full-time RV journey, trip planning made me so nervous. I was afraid I would do it wrong (whatever that means) or end up at a crappy campground, which happens to everyone eventually! But now, after months of practice, I finally figured out what works for me. And after a few months, you will find your rhythm too.
Here is my process for planning our routes and finding campgrounds. Hopefully, this will help as you jump into route planning mode.
RV Trip Planning
Step 1: Choose a Final Destination
It might sound strange to hear us say we choose final destinations because we are full-time RVers. But for planning purposes, a final destination makes life much easier. I usually choose a destination with a date that can’t be changed, like a rally or, in this example, a week camping with Phil’s Mom. Our final destination for this example is Higley Flow State Park, which we booked almost 6 months in advance.
Step 2: Choose Major Waypoints
Now, we decide what we would like to see along the way to Mom’s neck of the woods. I have almost 6 months to fill in, so I will choose a few major waypoints to help guide my direction. For this route, I chose to visit my Mom in Georgia, our son Andrew in Virginia, and finally Boston. I usually make sure the major waypoints are spread across the route. I also allow ample time between each point to explore along the way. For this example, I knew we wanted to Harvest Host around the New England area, so I left plenty of time for that after Boston.
Step 3: Research Campgrounds for the Major Waypoints
I search for campgrounds the same way every time. I pull up the area I would like to stay on, either Allstays or Campendium. Then, I filter for military or Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds because they are our favorites. If those are not available in my chosen location, I will filter for the county, state, or national parks. Finally, if all else fails, I will look at private campgrounds in my chosen area.
Once I find available campgrounds in my chosen area, I research them individually. I will look at their website to check the price, available hookups, park maps, and campground photos. I will also look a the reviews on Allstays, google, and RV Trip Wizard. When I find the campground, I like the most I will book it.
Step 4: Booking Stays Between Waypoints
Now, all you have to do is fill in the gaps between your waypoints. I usually look for Harvest Hosts, and Boondockers Welcome to see if there are any stops that I would like to make on my route. These subscriptions allow you to park overnight for free, so they help me stay within our camping budget. I use them as much as possible.
You can decide if you want to make the rest of your reservations ahead of time or choose to wing it. I usually do a mix of both, but I don’t book out more than a week or two in advance. When we first hit the road, I booked every stop months in advance. But it didn’t allow for spontaneity in our travels. Sometimes, we wanted to stay a little longer in an area, or we heard about a place from a local we wanted to check out. This caused us to cancel reservations and cost us money! I don’t like to just give away my money for nothing, so I changed how I booked my campgrounds.
Step 5: Specific Needs
Occasionally, while traveling, we choose locations based on specific needs: Giz needs to be groomed, the rig needs maintenance, or the Trailhawk needs new tires. These are easily negotiated between major waypoints. When this occurs, I make a mental list of what I need from our campground before I start looking.
While on our way to visit Mom, Gizmo needed grooming in the worst way. He was looking like a mini sheepdog. So, I made a list of our needs.
- 30 minutes or less from a groomer for Giz
- Full hookups because we had boondocked for 6 weeks and had chores to do
- Less than $40 a night to stay on budget
- 30 min or less from a grocery store
We were in Cooperstown, NY, on our way to our final destination. I pulled up all of the Petsmart groomers along the route and got to work. After a little digging, I found J and J Campground. It met all of our needs, and we could take care of all of our chores.
I hope these RV trip planning tips help you as develop your own preferences for trip planning. It is a learning process, and you will get better and faster over time.
To keep all my reservations organized, I use RV Trip Wizard. Although I have tried a few other programs, this one is my favorite. You can try RV Trip Wizard free for 7 days but be advised you will love it!
For a step-by-step RV trip planning and RV Trip Wizard walkthrough, check out this video.
Be sure to check out the map of all our locations since we hit the road full time!
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We would love to hear some of your RV trip planning tips. Let’s learn from each other! Add your tips in the comments below.
Thanks for stopping By!
Phil & Stacy
You, Me & the RV
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