- I start out with a very general idea of where I want to be at a particular time of the year. For example, right now I know I want to be in Las Vegas by mid-December at the latest. I am planning to fly to Ohio after Christmas, so I planned around that. In addition, I want to spend most of January and February in Arizona, and be in New Mexico for March. April will probably be Texas as I work my way back to Michigan and Ohio.
- Next, I do a lot of online research to decide what places I really want to visit. I had heard that this state park I am in right now was very beautiful. Another place that was a must was Death Valley since it has been 50 years since I have been there. I also had gotten a recommendation not to miss Valley of Fire State Park north of Las Vegas.
- I don’t like to drive more than 225 miles each day, and I don’t like to drive every day, so I start plotting a route using Google Maps that will get me to the places I want to go. I may adjust it several times.
- I like to stay in state or national parks, but I also like to have an electric hookup so I can watch satellite TV. I also need cell service for my mobile hotspot so I can have internet access. So, I start looking for state or national parks along my route to see what is interesting and what campgrounds are available. I also like a view, if possible. I tend to be really picky about where I stay, so I spend a lot of time on this. I also consult rvparksreview.com and use Google maps to actually look at the campground and what is nearby. The maps help me pick out the best site, also.
- Also, since gas is a major expense when you are only getting 8-10 MPG, I try to plot out routes that don’t require a lot of backtracking and will get me where I want to go in a logical order.
- Using an Excel spreadsheet, I start to fill in the blanks. I have columns for dates, arrival location, departure location, number of miles, name of campground, costs, notes, etc. for each date. If I drive one day, I try to stay in the next place for at least two nights.
- When I get all the blanks filled in and am comfortable with that leg of my trip, I go online and make reservations. A lot of people just drive and take their chances, but I am fussy and feel much more comfortable if I have things planned out.
I have some very long-term plans to spend next summer in Colorado, and then Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. After that I might head to Florida for the 2014-15 winter. Someday I want to visit New England, but don't see where I can fit it in right now.