You may be wondering how we plan our trips. As you can imagine, many considerations go into our location choices, including weather, travel distance, and people we know in a certain area.
The year before we started full-time RVing, we thought we were super smart and organized. We planned our stops based on the distance we thought we could travel in a day, having never driven a big rig, and even booked campgrounds.
After taking ownership of our fifth wheel, we wised up a bit and looked at the map differently — so differently, in fact, that we canceled all of the campgrounds we had booked. We had originally planned to hit the road toward the end of June 2020, but we moved up the date and completely rerouted our course.
Start with a Goal
Now, we start our course planning with a goal destination in mind. In 2020, we wanted to make it to Bob’s homeland of Massachusetts, as we hadn’t been there in about six years. We also needed to deliver some items to our son, Joshua, in Eugene, Oregon, and to our daughter, Megan, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. So those had to be stops on our journey as well.
For 2021, we set a goal of traveling to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, somewhere I’d never been even though I was born in Michigan. For 2022, we’re planning two destinations: Florida and Maine. And 2023 may include a trip on the Alaska Highway to the Last Frontier.
Add Stops Along the Way
Since we had a target destination of Massachusetts in 2020 and needed to visit Oregon as well, it seemed fitting that our debut cross-country RV trip should be from the West Coast to the East Coast.
We also wanted to visit family in South Dakota and Michigan and planned to be in Washington, D.C., in September for a warbird flyover. So, we plotted those points. We had planned to travel only on the weekends and only one day at a time. That objective quickly changed since I had a freer schedule being out of work.
In 2021, we had originally planned to visit the northern Midwest states: Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. But, we also planned to leave the Phoenix area at the end of February. We knew heading north wouldn’t be the smartest thing, but our love of adventure convinced us otherwise.
When we learned, however, that the average accumulation of snow in Bozeman, Montana, in March is more than 13 inches, we decided to alter our course. And it worked out for the best. We spent three weeks with my parents in Yuma, Arizona, and then headed east — staying south — with fellow full-time RVers Tom and Molly Gates.
The location of friends and family, as well as visiting places we haven’t been and filling in states on our map, all weigh into our overnight decisions. And internet coverage is a must for us at any RV stop as I need it to be able to work.
Don’t Plan Too Far in Advance
We’ve learned to be flexible and generally don’t plan each stop very far in advance. That frees us to modify our route as desired based on weather and other circumstances. For example, we try to avoid driving in the rain or strong wind whenever possible. We made the mistake toward the end of our 2021 travels of driving in the rain, only to find puddles of water inside the trailer when we set up camp.
When we knew we’d be in Michigan’s UP over Memorial Day, we booked a campsite a month in advance to ensure we had a place to stay. But typically, we don’t book more than a week or two out — although we may have an idea in mind of the area we’d like to stay.
Even though we already have a general route in mind for our 2022 travels, we only have a couple of stops planned. One is because we’re going on a cruise out of Tampa, Florida. When you’re a full-time RVer, you have to plan ahead to keep your home somewhere safe while you’re away.
Read more answers to reader questions.
This is the travel blog of Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong. We live on the road full time, enjoying all the adventures that come our way.