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Old 11-21-2019, 01:00 PM   #1
Viet_Vet
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Anyone "Camp on the Fly"? (no reservations, just go)

I've been trying to plan a 2 1/2 month trip from NY to Duluth GA, Savannah Ga, down to Florida, then head west toward Houston.


All the planning has turned into a real chore, and I'm getting tired of trying to figure it all out. We have camped before, but never for this length of time, and usually just go and find someplace on the way to stay.


I was wondering if any of you full timers travel this way, and if so, how difficult was it to find campgrounds to stay without planning more than a week ahead. We will be traveling from 3rd week of December thru end of March, so probably peak season down south.



I'm thinking about joining Thousand Trails, and specifically would like to know of your successes or failures in finding a spot with minimal or no reservations with Thousand Trails. Info about last minute check-ins at non-Thousand Trails campgrounds also would be appreciated.

We aren't set up yet for boondocking, so we need full hookups.


Thanks in advance for any feedback you can give.
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Old 11-21-2019, 01:24 PM   #2
Tbos
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There are a couple of threads about Thousand Trails. It seems the reviews are mixed depending on which package you have. If you plunk down a large sum of $ you can reserve a spot 120-180 days in advance on a first come first served sites basis when you arrive that may or may not be full hook up. If you have a zone pass itís 60 days to reserve.
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Old 11-21-2019, 03:30 PM   #3
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Don't know anything about Thousand Trails other than all that I have read about them which, to me, seemed like a mixed bag unless you could really use what they had to offer all the time - sort of like timeshare I guess.

Many travel without planning and they like the ability to change things on the fly; and while doing that gives you additional latitude, it also requires patience because that "horrible" day may have just gotten a couple of hours longer because you had no plan. I fall into the "planned trip" category. Having spent 2+ hours looking for an RV park I could get into at night I decided that the effort spent up front to set things up and lock down my plans was far, far more convenient for us; but I have zero patience and when I want the drive day to be over.....I want it over. So your personality and perspectives will make or break how fun "doing it on the fly" is.

As far as heading "south" and trying to wing it I'm thinking it might not be too bad N of FL unless you're trying to hit popular or resort areas. Just gather up the info for what's available BEFORE you leave so you have ready reference as you near your destination (you can use your smartphone as well but unless DW wants to spend all day on it as you drive I like my options on paper too for quick reference). If you are going to be able to plan a week in advance I would think you are going to be in good shape.

You don't specify where in FL....that can/might be an issue. You need to determine that and then check it out. The further S you go it gets much more crowded although there are some locations that will be available but you may have to do some digging. Even here in N FL we are booked here but still have the "overnite" sites.

I think heading W toward Houston should be no issue. We've never had a problem getting a site on the first call. When you start trying to stay in S TX you might want to do some checking depending on where you are going.

All said, I think you'll do fine if you realize up front you might have to adjust a bit and keep in mind where your destination is (resort/popular etc.).

Hope you have a great trip. Share your particular destinations and I'm sure folks can give you some specific insight into their experiences.
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Old 11-21-2019, 03:41 PM   #4
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Try zero days ahead. We don't camp any other way on extended trips, and by and large, it has practically never been a problem.

We took a seven-week trip in September to make a HS reunion in New England. We take it on faith that we may get detoured from our planned route, we may experience mechanical, medical, or pet problems that delay us, and so we won't be able to predict our arrival date with any certainty. We just built in a cushion of time to get there, and don't reserve anything until we're close.

Each day, we decide how long we want to drive, how far that will take us, get on the smartphone apps, look up a campground along our route at about that target distance, and call for a transient slot for that night. If (as rarely happens) we strike out, we try a campground a little closer or further. Only once in 20 years have we crapped out and had to resort to a night at Walmart.

Occasionally, you discover the town you targeted is having a local event and is full up; then you adapt or divert your route. But even the misses can be happy adventures.

When we got to New England, the campground I had tentatively chosen for our two-week stay couldn't accommodate us. We found another that was just delightful, had much less of a stick up its backside, and we had it mostly to ourselves on all the weekdays.

On our way south, the South Carolina state park we had targeted was having some sort of event and was full up. We diverted to a more obscure state park and discovered it was a retriever training facility, complete with large running meadows, lakes, marshes, and stables (image). Our two furballs were so overjoyed to get a "trip to dog disneyland" that we stayed an extra day.

On the way back home, a local fishing tournament in a central Texas town left only a couple slots open at a park we'd never heard of. It was a lovely place, right on the North Llano river ("dog Riviera"), with herds of deer running around the margins, so again we stayed an extra day.

I realize one has to have a very flexible deadline to enjoy a trip this way, but even when there are deadlines, as long as you have planned an achievable schedule with a bit of cushion built in, choosing your campgrounds on the fly adds a surprisingly negligible amount of risk to your plans.
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Old 11-22-2019, 09:31 AM   #5
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We have traveled a "modified" version similar to LHaven. A few years ago we went to Dollywood in late March (early tourist season). We scheduled out or stops and stays to that destination. From there we "winged it", typically last day at one stop we made a reservation at the next point of interest where we wanted to sightsee. Made reservations for typically 2 nights with an option for a third. Traveling "off season" made this easy and having the spontaneity of "let's head in this direction" made for a very memorable experience.
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Old 11-22-2019, 09:49 AM   #6
CWtheMan
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We were truly full timers for more than 4 years. We had no home other than our fiver. We found out right away we did not have to all the time make reservations. In fact, getting locked into a program can be a real pain in the butt and we were glad we never got into a program. However we did become golden at KOA campgrounds. Back in those days golden meant you had stayed at them often enough to qualify for their 15% discount. We mostly stayed at them a lot because they were available, easy to get into and out of and almost always had FHU facilities. Keep in mind that our budget was a bit higher than the average and we never boondocked or even considered it.

We set our travel days at 300 miles. At 200 miles we started watching billboards and checking our campground guide. Many of the places we stayed at were not advertised and we found them from watching roadside advertisements. (I'll bet today with Google being on just about every cell phone, its real easy to find and call ahead for site info).

We did make reservations when we decided to stop for a couple of months and rest. We did that up north in the summer time and somewhere down south in the winter. We did ME, NH, VT, NY, ND and CA in the summer and mostly CA, AZ, TX and FL in the winter.

During those years we visited all of the lower 48 and 3 or 4 CDN provinces.
Here is a link to a blog with short stories about 90 of the places we stayed at.

Clicking on any of the pictures in the blog will enlarge them.

https://fasteaglervparking.blogspot.com
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Old 11-22-2019, 11:01 AM   #7
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Even in busy areas, it is usually pretty easy to find reservations on weekdays. I would try to minimize ďwinging itĒ on a weekend in a busy area (or at least expect it to be harder to find a place).

You mentioned you werenít set up for Boondocking. I completely understand if you donít want to do it, but Boondocking or dry camping can really open up your available camping options. I would say it doesnít take much to be ready to dry camp, especially for only a night or two. If you wanted to try dry camping, you probably would only need a generator to recharge your battery and run the microwave every once in a while.
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Old 11-22-2019, 05:27 PM   #8
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I'll wing it if its just me in the Bigfoot cabover. The DW will want FHU so we do some planning. We have campgrounds that we know that are 1 day out from home. So the 1st night is usually a slam dunk. After that we have planned for 1 night before. We tend to travel more in the shoulder seasons...spring and fall, so we're not fighting the summer crowds. The more you get out there you will develop a list of campgrounds that you have stayed at, if not written, just mentally. I found the book "RV Camping in COE Parks" to be a great help.
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Old 11-22-2019, 06:42 PM   #9
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Outside of holidays weekends, you can generally find a campground along the main interstates in VA, NC, SC and GA. That’s said we will start calling ahead to sites and looking early, generally after lunch as we gauge traffic and how far we feel like going. There are apps you can use which help a lot. South Florida can be a pain, so we always plan ahead in that area.
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Old 12-05-2019, 08:31 AM   #10
duh1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Viet_Vet View Post
I've been trying to plan a 2 1/2 month trip from NY to Duluth GA, Savannah Ga, down to Florida, then head west toward Houston.


All the planning has turned into a real chore, and I'm getting tired of trying to figure it all out. We have camped before, but never for this length of time, and usually just go and find someplace on the way to stay.


I was wondering if any of you full timers travel this way, and if so, how difficult was it to find campgrounds to stay without planning more than a week ahead. We will be traveling from 3rd week of December thru end of March, so probably peak season down south.



I'm thinking about joining Thousand Trails, and specifically would like to know of your successes or failures in finding a spot with minimal or no reservations with Thousand Trails. Info about last minute check-ins at non-Thousand Trails campgrounds also would be appreciated.

We aren't set up yet for boondocking, so we need full hookups.


Thanks in advance for any feedback you can give.
None of the plans seem to have places along where we go. Alstays ap is a god send. When you leave each am figure out about where you want to be and see what is available. It has phone numbers and basic information. Also good luck with. Googling. Rv camps near Slidell. Or where ever you are. Camping world used to have a good state park guide with each park listed if it had campsites and what hookups where. If you plan too far ahead and get off by a day or so that throws all the down stream reservations into disarray. Start looking around noon . You will do fine. Just don’t overthink it. Our first long trip was 5 months and we never slept by the side of the road. Enjoy. Interstates have lots of overnight options.
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Old 12-05-2019, 10:08 AM   #11
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We do a combination of the approaches mentioned below. I'll often scope out what's available in an area the night before - just to know our options. So far we have been forced to boondock only once (at a Flying J) due to local area flooding restricting available sites at campgrounds in the area.

My DW likes using RVParky in addition to Google to locate campgrounds. We also use the GS big book, AAA camping books and state camping booklets offered at welcome centers.

Many city and towns also offer camping accommodations - these are often relatively inexpensive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LHaven View Post
<clip> We take it on faith that we may get detoured from our planned route, we may experience mechanical, medical, or pet problems that delay us, and so we won't be able to predict our arrival date with any certainty. We just built in a cushion of time to get there, and don't reserve anything until we're close.

Each day, we decide how long we want to drive, how far that will take us, get on the smartphone apps, look up a campground along our route at about that target distance, and call for a transient slot for that night. If (as rarely happens) we strike out, we try a campground a little closer or further. Only once in 20 years have we crapped out and had to resort to a night at Walmart. <clip>
Quote:
Originally Posted by CWtheMan View Post
<clip> We set our travel days at 300 miles. At 200 miles we started watching billboards and checking our campground guide. Many of the places we stayed at were not advertised and we found them from watching roadside advertisements. (I'll bet today with Google being on just about every cell phone, its real easy to find and call ahead for site info). <clip>
Quote:
Originally Posted by K_N_L View Post
Outside of holidays weekends, you can generally find a campground along the main interstates in VA, NC, SC and GA. Thatís said we will start calling ahead to sites and looking early, generally after lunch as we gauge traffic and how far we feel like going. There are apps you can use which help a lot. <clip>
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Old 12-05-2019, 12:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Viet_Vet View Post
I've been trying to plan a 2 1/2 month trip from NY to Duluth GA, Savannah Ga, down to Florida, then head west toward Houston.


All the planning has turned into a real chore, and I'm getting tired of trying to figure it all out. We have camped before, but never for this length of time, and usually just go and find someplace on the way to stay.


I was wondering if any of you full timers travel this way, and if so, how difficult was it to find campgrounds to stay without planning more than a week ahead. We will be traveling from 3rd week of December thru end of March, so probably peak season down south.



I'm thinking about joining Thousand Trails, and specifically would like to know of your successes or failures in finding a spot with minimal or no reservations with Thousand Trails. Info about last minute check-ins at non-Thousand Trails campgrounds also would be appreciated.

We aren't set up yet for boondocking, so we need full hookups.


Thanks in advance for any feedback you can give.

We have always had a reservation for at least the first stop on any trip just to make sure that we had a spot for at least the first night. We can give you a couple of good recommendations though.



Brunswick GA.
Coastal Georgia RV Resort https://www.coastalgarvresort.com
great location right off I-95, great facilities, great staff and close to both Jekyll Island and St. Simon's Island for day trips.



St. Augustine FL.
Compass RV Resort https://www.sunrvresorts.com/resorts...pass-rv-resort
Great facility, super friendly staff and shuttle service to downtown St. Augustine


Port St. Joe FL
Presnell's Bayside Marina & RV Resort presnellsrvresort.com
A little bit out of the way south of I-10, but well worth the drive right on St. Joe Bay. Great facilities, super friendly owners (Bud & Mary)
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Old 12-05-2019, 12:30 PM   #13
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Cmper Clubs

Why not just get a membership with "PASSPORT AMERICA"? The membership fee for one year is $44.00 and at the membership CG's you'll get 50% off their daily rate. I have used it for years and it had worked well. Onteir website you can pick the state you want and therefrom the city or town and the campground. The site will tell you what's included, how long you can stay at that rate etc. I have looked into Thousand Trails and did NOT find them worthwhile. High priced small discount and not very acomodating.

Happy camping.
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:57 PM   #14
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From our experience you could stay at some very nice RV parks for the membership of TT, most of their parks don't fall in the "very nice" category.
We fulltimed for 10+ years in "camp on the fly" mode. The only time I would reserve something well in advance was if camping during holiday times.
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Old 12-05-2019, 03:19 PM   #15
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Nope. Always make reservations. Wife and I still work full time so we are only using our trailer for a week or so at a time throughout the summer plus a few long weekend trips. We generally go to the same places every year, or when we change it up we'll hit places that we only visit every few years. We have favorite spots everywhere we go and most of them are so busy that you'll never just drive up and get a spot. One place we go every June fills up 6-9 months in advance so I make reservations for the next year, while we are camping there in the current year.



When you live in Montana and do all of your camping in National Forest campgrounds and state parks around Glacier Park or over into Idaho there is no camping on the fly unless you want to do it in Walmart parking lots.
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Old 12-05-2019, 03:31 PM   #16
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We do MN to AZ round about trip and make reservations the day we are leaving our last site. This year was through IA, MO and Biloxi MS. From there through LA to Tx. In TX bay city to San Antonio to Corpus Christi and eventually arriving in Phoenix area around Jan 1.
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:33 PM   #17
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When we are going on a 10-day long trip. Missouri to near Boone NC the High Country or up to Northern Michigan, or New Mexico. The first night I put in a lot of miles and like to have the option of going more miles, and I do the same on the trip home.

We have always managed to find a place although backing in the dark late at night can be a challenge.

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Old 12-05-2019, 05:42 PM   #18
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We do MN to AZ ... This year was through ... Biloxi MS... In TX bay city to San Antonio to Corpus Christi...

This sounds like the last time I let the DW navigate.
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Old 12-06-2019, 08:50 PM   #19
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In our area the State park's are usually filled up for the weekends and then empty on Sunday nights. The private RV parks in the same proximity cost a bit more, but it seems they have more vacancies on weekends. I personally like to setup reservations at areas I know that will be filled at %100.
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Old 12-07-2019, 12:30 AM   #20
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The "destination park" is definitely a special case. If your trips mostly involve a one- or two-day drive to a place where you're going to stay a week or two, there's little advantage to planning on the fly. When you're taking 10-14 days to travel cross-country so you can stay somewhere for a visit or a function, planning on the fly can be real valuable. I don't even try to predict when I'm going to "arrive" at the far end of a trip like that, because there are too many opportunities for delay (health, breakdowns, whatever).
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