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Old 03-13-2019, 05:09 AM   #1
WSCY
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New to all the travel shortcuts

Can I ask some of the seasoned RVers how you go about getting reservations at an RV park when you're really not sure how far you are going to go that day? Is there a mobile app like allstays that we use for hotels/motels, or do you just guess and hope you make it before dark?
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:05 AM   #2
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What we do is plan out how long is reasonable to drive while dragging the trailer and try to arrive at our destination around mid to late afternoon. That way we are setting up in the light and don't feel pressured. We also leave early enough in the morning to make our arrival times. Last year we drove from Colorado Springs to Yellowstone and planned for overnight stops in Casper, WY. Could we have pushed more each day? Sure, but why make yourself miserable?
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:16 AM   #3
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We've been doing the RV travel thing for about 50 years. Back then, there were fewer campgrounds and more camping places. By that I mean that people would set up camp most anywhere there was an open place along the highway, at rest stops, down a quiet road just outside a town or city or even stop to ask a farmer if it was OK to use his orchard, field or pasture. Those requests were almost always met with a, "Sure, just don't leave a mess." Of course we followed those requests and appreciated the hospitality. No reservations were needed and few people even considered the need for reservations.

As times changed, demand for campsites grew and more campgrounds were built, usually in the private sector. Many of them attempted to follow the "hotel/motel model" and hung up "Vacancy/No Vacancy" signs under their roadway signs. Most people had a Woodall's Camping Guide and would look up the location of campgrounds near their location. There were no cell phones, so it was either stop at a phone booth to make a long distance call or just show up in the area and "tour around" until you found a "Vacancy" sign, pull in and register.

As personal communications changed and everyone has multiple ways to instantly communicate, some people have relied on technology to structure a "minute by minute" travel plan. Others (us included) formulate "a general travel plan" and modify that general plan daily.

What works for us is about 2PM daily, we estimate where we'll be in an hour or two, look for campgrounds in that vicinity, my DW starts calling them and secures a campsite based on "within the next 100 miles or so". We have never been stranded and we don't feel the need to "push through or we'll lose our deposit".... We still have our Woodall's, still use it to make a list of campgrounds around the area we'll be "tomorrow evening" and then we use the internet to add to/delete from that list. The sheet of paper with the names, phone numbers of those campgrounds we think would be near where we plan to be is carried with us the next day and about 2PM the phone calls start.

We do make reservations for lengthy stays in popular areas, places like around Orlando, Houston or Las Vegas, simply because they are difficult to find a campsite for a prolonged stay. We stay in touch with the campground to advise them of any travel delays or early arrivals and have always found them easy to work with to adjust our stay based on travel conditions.

Thinking back on the last 10 years of travel (we average 6000-10000 miles annually) I can't remember a situation where we haven't found adequate camping space during our travels. Even if it has been in an overflow area with a extension cord to get power, all the areas we've visited have been accommodating. That's not to say that every campground has been accommodating. Some have said, "Sorry, we're full" and hung up, but most have said, "We're full, but we'll find a place for you for the night."

Honestly, that's why we travel "with our self contained house behind us". It's so we can stop in the middle of nowhere and have reasonable comfort during our travel. If, on the other hand, you wish to travel with internet capability, cable TV, a pool for the kids, structured activities in a popular resort area, then you'd best make reservations well in advance, push through to not lose that check in time and expect to be "clear of your site before checkout time"... We have never found that type travel to be relaxing or refreshing.
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:45 AM   #4
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We've fulltimed for 10 years & never were not able to find a spot, although the last few years was getting harder due to I,creased sales of rvs & more looking for spots.
What worked for us was average your trip at 50 mph to get a fairly close guesstimate of arrival time. This worked well for us so that we were always parked & comfortable BEFORE dark.
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Old 03-13-2019, 07:58 AM   #5
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Thank you all for the great advice. The negineer part of me wants to stay to a strict schedule. The Marine in me says aah what the hell. Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.
Thanks to all.
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Old 03-13-2019, 08:39 AM   #6
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Thank you all for the great advice. The negineer part of me wants to stay to a strict schedule. The Marine in me says aah what the hell. Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.
Thanks to all.
If you were in control of things like traffic congestion, weather conditions, accidents on the interstate, construction delays, kids needing a break, detours and "just needing to pee", then I'd say let the engineer part keep a strict schedule. If, on the other hand, you can't control the above, prevent (or avoid) the "schedule stress" and think, "What the hell, improvise, adapt and overcome" It'll make your RV travel much more enjoyable and significantly happier.....
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Old 03-13-2019, 10:16 AM   #7
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For more years than I care to count, I have lived by the adage that if you are not 10 minutes early you are late. I have been working on that. My motto now is I got no place to go and all day to get there.
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Old 03-13-2019, 10:27 AM   #8
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My DW has to plan things (not an engineer, she is an accountant). So we know our stops long before we start the trip.

We plan 4 to 6 hours of driving on travel days.

We usually start our travel days before 8AM.

We rarely stay anyplace for just one night.

Our goal is to never "have to" rush.

Once we retire, I hope we can graduate to just go...
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Old 03-13-2019, 11:36 AM   #9
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My life now is very organized and I find a certain level of comfort in that. I keep thinking about how much I have to give up and how much I can take with me. I sincerely hope that my bride and I can create a supportive environment that we both can enjoy.
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Old 03-13-2019, 12:59 PM   #10
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When we were full-timing back in 1999, the Good Sam campground catalog was our planning bible. Now, I can just store apps on my iPhone. I keep several because I find some of them list campgrounds that others don't, and in general those campgrounds are less known and will have more availabilities in a pinch. Also, I get a better range of camper reviews without any potential bias from an organization that maintains a roster of "preferred" campgrounds.

The apps I keep on hand are GoodSamCamping, ParkAdvisor, and MyPassportAmerica (though we're not members). I recently added KOA -- we usually don't stay in KOAs, but we got a complimentary discounted membership recently that we haven't yet had a chance to exercise.

Each travel morning, we figure out how far we want to go, then while on the road, we hit up all three apps for campgrounds at the far end of that. When we see one we like we call in for a slot, and if we strike out, we try closer, then further. We've only had to take the WalMart Last Resort once in 20 years.
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Old 03-13-2019, 05:53 PM   #11
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3 or 4 long road trips a year with no real idea where we are going or how long we are going to take to get here, humm, our plan.
From AAA you can get the Woodall's RV campground guide. We may use it as a review but seldom as a selector.
Every time we cross a state line we stop at the visitor's center to a) see what's interesting and b) campground guides.
About the time I'm getting pretty sick of driving and my wife is tired of sitting we start looking for a place to overnight.
My Silverado has a WiFi hotspot and Android Auto so I say "OK google, campgrounds near me". My wife then gets busy looking up the options in Woodalls or visitor center handouts. Then we start calling and getting prices and available services. If it's only one night and there isn't much of interest around I'll pay extra for a pull through site. If we think we would like to stay a while maybe not.
We have NEVER not been able to find a place to get full hookups for the night.
So, when we stayed on the coast in MI in a state park we had reservations. When we stayed in Murfreesboro TN we didn't. We almost never "just show up" but mostly we only give a hour or 2 notice.
BTW, we planned to stay in Murfreesboro for a couple of days and stayed for 8. Messed up our entire non schedule.
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:51 PM   #12
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3 or 4 long road trips a year with no real idea where we are going or how long we are going to take to get here, humm, our plan.
From AAA you can get the Woodall's RV campground guide. We may use it as a review but seldom as a selector.
Every time we cross a state line we stop at the visitor's center to a) see what's interesting and b) campground guides.
About the time I'm getting pretty sick of driving and my wife is tired of sitting we start looking for a place to overnight.
My Silverado has a WiFi hotspot and Android Auto so I say "OK google, campgrounds near me". My wife then gets busy looking up the options in Woodalls or visitor center handouts. Then we start calling and getting prices and available services. If it's only one night and there isn't much of interest around I'll pay extra for a pull through site. If we think we would like to stay a while maybe not.
We have NEVER not been able to find a place to get full hookups for the night.
So, when we stayed on the coast in MI in a state park we had reservations. When we stayed in Murfreesboro TN we didn't. We almost never "just show up" but mostly we only give a hour or 2 notice.
BTW, we planned to stay in Murfreesboro for a couple of days and stayed for 8. Messed up our entire non schedule.
This is very much the same way we travel except we don't have a WiFi hotspot in the truck, we use our Verizon MiFi to connect when the DW's phone won't work (AT&T). We decide on a "general destination" and that's about it. Our next "regularly scheduled trip" is "sometime when the pole barn door thaws and we can get the Cougar out to load it"... That's a generalized departure of "maybe late March or sometime in April" (no need to get too precise) and our "general destination" is "hopefully the Grand Canyon, then Las Vegas, and then north, unless it's too hot or too cold, then maybe back through Denver or maybe Albequrque (Never can spell that) and then maybe to Memphis to pick up some Savoy's Sausage and then back to visit the new great grand daughter and then probably home for a couple of weeks and then to the UP for our annual fishing trip.... MAYBE ..... Campgrounds.... Yeah, there's some along the way, if not, we can stop in a rest area or find a Cracker Barrel or ??? Like Alfred E Neuman, What, me worry ?????
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Old 03-13-2019, 11:15 PM   #13
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We did a 50 night trip from Oregon to the east coast and back. Initial planning was done through the KOA planner on their website... until I realized how much it would cost. I ended up paying for a subscription to RV trip wizard and did all my planning using that tool. I used an average of 50 mph, including stops, to plan travel distances for each day.

We left home June 16, 2018 with the goal of being in Boston for 4 th of July. So most of those nights were booked before hitting the road. We would start making reservations about a week in advance on our way back west.
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Old 03-14-2019, 04:27 AM   #14
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Thanks folks. Each piece of information helps me get a better understanding of how all the reservation stuff works. You have been most helpful. The more info, the better informed.
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Old 03-14-2019, 05:21 AM   #15
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Another nice phone app is RVParky. The DW relies on it a great deal, supplemented with all the other guides previously mentioned (paper and electronic). We do a little of both with regards to planning: have a general plan scoped out, but are open to modification depending on driving conditions and what we see along the way that looks worth further investigation (i.e., sightseeing).
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Old 03-21-2019, 11:11 AM   #16
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I would add Campsitephotos.com to allow you to actually see a photo of your campsite.
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Old 03-21-2019, 12:05 PM   #17
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Thanks folks. Each piece of information helps me get a better understanding of how all the reservation stuff works. You have been most helpful. The more info, the better informed.

I will just chime in and say I am of the regimented sort. I don't like loose ends of any kind on any thing usually. After 13 years of retirement I'm still that way despite earnest efforts to change. I believe it is just my nature - I have zero patience (I've tried to work on that but it has only changed a little) so getting somewhere and then finding nothing, makes me "unhappy". The longer I have to look, the unhappier I get. The uncertainty worries DW and she is far happier knowing where we are going and staying.

Does that make things "bad" or render us unable to stop and smell the roses? No. We make plans for fairly short days unless we have to be at the far destination at a set time and we didn't have enough notice to plan a longer drive. We spend literally weeks scanning the internet, available literature etc. deciding where we want to stay en route, what we want to see and where we are going to eat - to us it's fun. In interesting places we spend more than one day....maybe a week; depending on what we think we want to see or do.

We have had to modify existing plans and so far have been successful. For us it works, for others I'm sure it wouldn't and would remove some of the freedom or excitement from the trip. For us, we've had all the unexpected "excitement" we want for the rest of this life journey. I wish everyone happy and fun travels as spring starts to blossom around us.
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Old 03-21-2019, 12:18 PM   #18
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We have the Allstays app. Seems pretty good so far. I've also used the Trip Routing on the Passport America site. For our upcoming trip in Jul - Oct I already booked our stops and I'm glad I did. Many of the locations were already booked up, specifically the area around Moab and Rapid City.

PA can pay for itself in a 2-3 stays but you really have to read the details about specific campgrounds on the website because I've found that the majority of them have restrictions such as only one or two nights allowed with discount and what's worse, not valid for months at a time. Most have exclusions for the discount during peak times/seasons/events.

We would prefer to say 3 nights in one spot so as to make it "worth our while" to get everything set up. But on the outbound leg from AZ to the UP, we are on a time crunch, so we are making a 350-425 miles per day trip and only staying one night at each stop getting there. However, on the way back we are staying anywhere from 3 days, 5 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, and a month at different locations.

I hope that next year we'll be more comfortable with just taking off without anything reserved and just ending up where we end up.
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Old 03-21-2019, 12:32 PM   #19
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For us, the anal engineer (me) canít help it, I have our stops planned out and reserved before leaving home. Itís just less stress for me. Part of that is because we want to stay at a particular campground in West Yellowstone that I have learned the hard way books very early. Same for staying in the Bighorns or Black Hills over a holiday, must book early. The other nights just get planned then because we figure out how many hours/ miles we want to do in a day and what we want to stop and see.

RV Parky and Apple maps are what we typically use for finding campgrounds. Apple maps has been my friend for a few years to figure out mileage per day to get to the campground at a nice time. Also, I use it to zoom in on the prospective campground to get an overview of if we will fit, how nice it looks, etc. The only issue I have ever had using Apple maps is it will not route you through Yellowstone, and I donít remember if that is a winter issue since the roads are closed, or if it happens all year. But it is frustrating when trying to estimate mileage through the park.
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Old 03-21-2019, 03:35 PM   #20
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Allstays, RVparky, and Campendium on the phone. When we know we're going to look for a place for the night we search the location.

Where that falls apart is that we like USFS and COE campgrounds - where we can use our Geezer pass, and many of them are through recreation.gov and that site won't allow you to book a site inside the next 48 hour window.
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