Route Planning — Will I Ever Figure This Out?
A Newbies’ Tale — What I learned in my first year RVING — Our Limitations
Route planning is one of my greatest stress triggers. I have always been a planner. I need things organized. I need to know how it works? RVing full-time does not always fit these needs. And, as I have aged, I lost a few things — patience, some ability to retain what I learn, things take a bit longer to learn, and I get easily overwhelmed by too much information… route planning, for me, can be overwhelming.
Where to start?
Everyone has a different way of route planning. We all need to do what works best for us. Everyone absorbs information differently, our learning abilities are different, how we use information is different. For me, when we started — the hard part was where to even start?
I had some basic tools, but there was a learning curve. I watched videos, but they don’t usually teach the process as a whole, you get snippets that need to be pieced together. Then there are so many factors to add to the decisions you need to make — directions (routes), dates, taking into account that some RV parks are crowded and full, being a newbie and what you are capable of, life gets in the way, things happen, etc.
I felt a bit overwhelmed?
Some people are great at traveling wherever the wind takes them. Some people can travel long periods of time and across many miles. Some start early. Some arrive late. Some just pull over and sleep wherever. You won’t know if you are one of those people until you hit the road. You have ambitions. You think you can, only to find out what you can’t do.
I learned early on what we can and cannot do and now base our route planning using those criteria.
Most experienced RVers will tell you the three 3’s — 1. no more than 3 hours. 2. No more than 300 miles (not sure how you do 300 miles in 3 hours). 3. Arrive by 3:00 p.m. for set-up and a stiff drink.
I was fairly ambitious and a bit overconfident early on, but soon discovered what our limits were —
- No more than 5 hours, but 4 hours is better.
- Maximum is 250 miles usually we do around 200 miles a day.
- Arrive by two to three. If you arrive early before other RVs check-in, you don’t have to wait in line and you won’t have to hold up the line because you are a newbie who needs more time to get into their site.
How far in a day.
Since Tony does the driving (why I have not driven yet is another subject for later), we have found he can only handle a couple of days, three days max, of driving before he needs to stop in one location for a few days to take a break. When we left for the east coast, we went from Anacortes to South Dakota, traveling around 250 miles per day, it took us five days total to get there and we were wiped out when we arrived.
ADD TIME to arrive.
We add about an hour or so to arrive at our destination. If Google Maps says it is 3 hours, we plan on at least 4 1/2 hours. Towing takes more time and takes more out of the driver. You can’t (or at least shouldn’t) speed down the highway. Sometimes you take back roads, instead of the interstate, which means more traffic and traffic stops. Add in bathroom breaks. What if you need gas. It all adds to the time.
The TOOLS we use.
We started out just using Google Maps, only to find it doesn’t always work. Google maps does not account for our height, our weight, our length. It wants to pick the fastest route, which is perfect for a commuter in a car, but not always advisable for someone towing an almost 7,000-pound trailer, who is around 10’ high and is a little over 50’ in length total. We invested in a Garmin RV GPS 890. You enter the information of what you are towing and it routes you on roads that are supposed to be RV “friendly.” I have found that Garmin is not always right either, so I use Google Maps to compare. When I am really unsure, I then take a screenshot of Google Maps and go to my Facebook groups to ask about routes, I figure if anyone knows, it is the people in these groups who have experience or live in the area.
What I learned early on was I needed a STARTING POINT and an endpoint with a date (a deadline.) I had to figure out “how” (what route to take) to get from Point A to Point B. I then plan where to stay in between the points, if they exceed our travel days mileage criteria.
For example, We are currently in Myrtle Beach (Point A), our Point B goal is Tom Sawyer RV Park in East Memphis, Arkansas. Before I can make reservations I am trying to figure out when can we realistically arrive, so I have a date. Depending on the route we take, we are looking at over 700 miles, which tells me we should take at least 3 days, but more than likely, we will do it in 4 days. Once we decide on a route, I then break down the miles in-between and look for either a Harvest Host, A Boondockers Welcome, or an RV park to stay the night.
Travel days are still stressful…. It is the unknowns. Unknown roads, unknown areas? But each little journey teaches us “how” and our confidence inches up just a little more. It also helps to have great Facebook groups with helpful RVers sharing their knowledge.
Route Planning — have I figured it out? No, but I am learning and each trip adds to my arsenal of information I need to make the next route a little better — and a little less stressful.