How to Plan a Long Trip

When we travel with OAT we leave the real planning to them and just figure out how to get on the plane in time. However as RVers getting to the plane on time can take some doing. Since we travel coast to coast regularly we have to decide where we are going to fly from and then figure what we will do with the coach while we are away. But, as always I ramble.

The question came up on a group of RVers about how to plan a multi week long distance trip. I started to write a response and decided to write it as a post here while we take a “do nothing” day in the coach outside Quebec City in lousy weather.

Planning starts with some goal be it “let’s see Newfoundland” or we want to be back in Jojoba Hills by the end of October. I have tried various specialty planning packages and none of them were written the way I think. First is the map. Well in our family’s life the map is always first for almost any discussion there must be a map. Next comes the “far point” or the place where we must turn around and go the other way. Then we fill in with wishes desires and most important people who we would like to see along the way. These people may be RVers whose plans we know or, easier, people with fixed residences. Finally dates we are committed to must be factored in. These could be ferry schedules, flights we have booked or family events. Last as almost an afterthought we get to where we will stay.

The route starts with a map such as Delorme Street Atlas, now defunct, which lets us set the route and build in normal travel days of 6 hours. This lets me see if we can actually fit in what we know we want to do and still not have excessive travel – it is a defined by us as more than two six hour days back to back. Looking at the daily stops and the possible side trips or deviations lets us build the schedule.
Finally I get out the camping resources that we like to use. First I start with Federal resources such as national parks/forests/monuments. There is Army Corp of Engineers, state parks, county parks and then I get out Days End which is a rich resource of free and inexpensive campsites across North America. Harvest Hosts offers wineries and agrotourism spots across the continent that are prepared to offer a night of camping for the price of a wine tasting or boat ride with alligators (we did that) or maybe the chance to buy fresh eggs and farm raised lamb. Resorting to campground review websites like and others brings together the possibilities for any given night. If it is not a weekend or not in the summer we often find ourselves making these decisions at 2 PM as we look for something interesting not to far from our route.

I will create a spread sheet with proposed stops and number of nights to see if it works and gets us where we must be and allows us to take a few days for us to do laundry, wash the coach, read a book. This is not a vacation, it is living and shopping and cleaning do have to fit in to the plan. If the plan sounds open ended that is because it is meant to be. We need to allow for serendipity and for aging bodies to rest.

We are in the midst of living such a plan as I write. As I mentioned we are taking a work day (we call it do nothing because we are not touring Quebec City as originally planned). We had two days of touring in chill and wet and a third such day did not appeal. Carol got to the laundry and I have messed around trying to get better service from our water heater – parts on order and our tire pressure monitoring system, parts on order. We have had a saga of small failures that have made life just a bit less comfortable than we would like. These too must be allowed for in any RV travel plan. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Quebec City and are looking forward to Montreal where we have allowed three nights as well. We have the time, why not.

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