This is Part 1 of a 7 part series on traveling with an RV or travel trailer. It's all about what has worked well for Fay and me over the last several years of traveling through the U.S. and Canada.
The 7 articles in the series are (click to view):
- Planning Your Route
- Finding Places to Stay
- Preparing For a Trip
- On the Road
- At the Campground
- Leaving the Campground
- After You Get Back Home
Time to start planning another trip
Are you one of those people who loves the idea of just getting on the road with your small travel trailer and going? Do you like the adventure of not knowing where? Do you just love figuring it out as you go along? In other words, you don't like the idea of planning trips. If so, you should probably skip this article since it's all about planning your route!
But that's not me. I'm a pretty organized person. I like the idea of planning trips, although I do try to leave a fair amount of flexibility in them. After all, even though we have a plan, we often get sidetracked.
While we occasionally head out on a brand new adventure, most of our trips are made up of:
- One or more of our favorite destinations
- A few stops along the way to visit friends or relatives
- Maybe a couple of places we've heard about and have wanted to visit
Start with a Tentative Route
I always start with a tentative route. This is our chance to brainstorm a bit on where we want to go. Most importantly though is the fact that it gives us an idea of how much time we'll need to allocate to driving before we decide how long we want to stay at any destinations.
If it's a short trip or if you're headed to somewhere you go regularly, you may already know your route and there's nothing new to consider. But if it's more than that, you need to do some planning. Do you want to get there the fastest way possible, or are you like me and want to take more time, avoid the Interstate traffic (and boredom) and take old highways and back roads? (You should check out my article: Enjoy Your Drive and Avoid the Highways) Either way, you should explore your options and estimate how long the travel will take.
Research Your Routehttps://maps.google.com
I've tried a lot of mapping tools, but I always go back to Google Maps when doing my research. It's very easy to drag your route around on the map to explore alternatives and see how it affects the time. I also like the fact that you can switch and see actual photos along the way on most main roads and streets.
You are probably already familiar with Google Maps, but if not, you really need to give it a try. It's quick and easy, and is great for considering alternative routes when planning a trip.
Google Maps may be all you need for a short trip, but it does have some significant limitations when documenting and planning a longer one. A few of the biggest limitations for me are:
- A limitations as to the number of stops you can add
- No provisions for adding notes along the route
- No ability to adjust the time based upon your anticipated driving speed
- No ability to adjust the time to accommodate stops for gas, meals, etc.
Refining and Documenting Your Planhttps://myscenicdrives.com/
By far my favorite tool for refining and documentation our travel plans is My Scenic Drives. Not only does it overcome all the limitations I listed above for Google Maps, it also has several other features that I love:
- As you add your stops, it allows you to enter other details such as time planned for the stop as well as your notes.
- You can enter the amount of time you wish to drive each day and it will suggest where to stop.
- There is a To Do List where you can keep up with things you still need to address in your plan
- It will generate your entire route map with stops, as well as your basic itinerary.
- There is an option to share your trip with others using email, or even with friends using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. (FOR SECURITY: Please be careful of letting people know when you are going to be away from home.)
This tool has several other features I don't use. (It even includes the ability for you to work up a budget.) If you spend the time to get familiar with My Scenic Drives, I'm sure you'll find it to be everything you need to plan out your entire trip.
Easy Reference to Your Schedulehttps://calendar.google.com/
While My Scenic Drives provides great documentation of our entire plan, I still find that I need a quick and easy reference to where we will be on any given day. Fay and I use Google Calendar for everything else in our lives, so I put a summary schedule for our trip on it.
Google Calendar works really well for our trip schedules because:
- I can easily access it from my phone while we are traveling
- It allows me to setup a specific travel calendar, keeping things separated from everything else in our lives
- It's easy to share just the travel calendar with others.
So I Hope I Got You Thinking
Like I mentioned at the top of this article, these are the proven things that have worked well for us over the last 7 years. We've traveled about 25,000 miles, slept about 300 nights in our small travel trailer, and there's no telling how many hours we've spent sitting in the truck driving down the road.
Be sure to watch for my next article in this series...Finding Places to Stay. And as always, drop me a note if you have any questions.