So, I’m not going to beat around the bush. I have big travel plan news from Trailer Tales. I bought an RV! It’s a travel trailer, otherwise known as a camper trailer. Here is my travel planning guide for RV road trips.
What Camper Trailer?
Specifically, I purchased a 31 foot Passport 2710RB GT. Sounds fancy? I thought so. Overwhelming? Yes, indeed. However, it seemed like the perfect solution to this Summer’s travels. I actually need to be in NYC for a few weeks, prior to heading out long term camping. So, buying a travel trailer is going to work out very well.
See Jenny In Wanderland article, Buying a Camper Trailer to find out how I chose which one to buy.
My First Obstacle
So, not a huge ordeal, but there is a great deal to think about. Like things that I did not know I did not know.
I need to bring the camper trailer to my home for a week, prior to taking off. During that time, I will want to clean the interior and test all functionality. I also want to run the fridge and freezer so that it starts out cold to place my food. Lastly, I am currently in Florida. Temperatures are high, so in order to work in the trailer, the air conditioning needs to be on.
This sounds simple, except the trailer requires 30 amp power, which I currently do not have accessible here. Therefore, I had to call an electrician to come out and install a 30 amp outlet below the electrical box. It also needed to be in a location where the power cord was long enough to reach. The project is now complete and the air is running cool. Whew! I did not see that coming!
My Summer Travel Plan Overview
My plan is, to first drive the trailer from Florida, where it was purchased, to a storage space near NYC. Once I am finished my activities in NYC, I’ll go back to pick it up and head out on a road trip. If all goes well, camping should officially begin just before the Fourth of July. Then I plan on traveling throughout the Summer in a loop around the Northeastern United States.
In the meantime, I get a trial run of using the camper trailer on the 4 day trip from Florida to NYC. I really hope I like it, because I’m all in! So, now I need to implement my travel planning guide for RV road trips. Big news from Trailer Tales!
Travel Planning Guide: Considerations for RV Road Trips
This week prior to departing has been a mixture of 100% chaos and super fun excitement. No matter what type of travel you are preparing for, it generally takes a generous amount of planning and organization. This is no different. Key planning items for cruising in an RV are somewhat the same as prepping for any travel.
For me, there are basic planning elements that apply to any trip you are taking. Some examples are figuring out the period of time you will be exploring, preparing a budget, determining the objective of your travel, planning your route, packing, and securing reservations.
Determine the Length of Your Travel
Knowing approximately how long you plan on traveling will help you get organized. You will need an idea of length in order to create a budget, map a route, and for packing purposes.
Preparing Your Budget
I like to prepare a budget for long term trips. For RV traveling this involves having an idea of how many miles I plan on driving and the amount of fuel I will need. I also figure out the number of nights I need to be in a campground and the average rate for a site. Food consumption is essentially the same as being home because I can grocery shop and cook in the camper. Additional costs to consider are parking, tolls, RV storage and miscellaneous purchases, such as firewood.
What Are Your Objectives?
I always like to know my travel objectives. This helps me to decide where I’m going, and types of activities to pack for. For example, if your main goal is to hike, you may choose a mountainous location and pack hiking boots. Whereas if you really need some rest and relaxation, you may choose a lakefront or beach area and pack flip flops. If you want to sightsee, camping near a major city could offer the best of both worlds.
Planning Your Route
Planning your travel route in advance helps to ensure that you do not miss attractions along the way, but more importantly with an RV, aids in safe travel. Creating a route map that avoids roads not suitable for oversized vehicles is important. You likely want to avoid highways that go through major congested cities and narrow winding streets.
Sometimes map apps take you on unpaved or rough roads which you also may want to circumvent. It may be important to you to steer clear of expensive tolls. I found that the most direct routes sometimes involve a costly ferry. In this case, you need to decide how important time versus cost is, and research if the ferry can transport your RV.
Since pulling a camper may consume more fuel than usual, it is also good practice to earmark gas stations. I plan gas stops based on my average miles per gallon and figure out how far I can go. Rest stops are an important break because driving a large RV can be tedious.
See Jenny In Wanderland article on 5 Top Travel Planning Tips Using Google Maps
Packing for Travel in an RV
Then there is the packing of clothes, shoes, and toiletries. Just like traveling by plane, weight is a concern. Because there are restrictions on the weight in both the trailer and tow vehicle, it is best to pack light. Pounds add up fast, especially if you are filling your water tanks. There is also the actual closet space inside the RV to consider. Storage is generally is very limited.
The difference with a camper trailer is that I have never RV’d before, and many things are closed due to the pandemic. Therefore, anticipating my basic needs accurately, especially in more remote towns, is important. I need to be thinking about stocking food and water, and how often market trips will be. Also, hand washing laundry may be crucial because not all laundry facilities are operating. This will effect the quantity and types of things I pack. Fast drying, lightweight items will be easier.
When packing food, not everything I need for a long term trip is going to fit in the camper’s fridge. Therefore, I decided to order 5 day coolers. In my opinion, a good cooler like the Coleman Extreme 5 day Cooler, is worth the price. It truly keeps food cold for the stated time. Next I needed to figure out how many coolers I needed and my combination of ice to cold freezer packs. I also put all cooler items in sealable freezer bags. This way when the ice melts, the water does not ruin the food.
I may need parts for the camper, such as extra hoses, chalks, jack pads, and other sexy such words. These supplies may not be readily available as many stores are low on stock. I also do not want to be enjoying nature and have to leave to civilization because I forgot something.
Prepping the camper trailer seems a bit akin to furnishing a new apartment. I definitely need plates, knives, sheets, towels, rags, and a coffee maker. The more I think about it, the more gadgets that come to mind. I’m finding that the easiest way to organize is going back to basics. For me, this is creating a spreadsheet with my lists.
Creating Organizational Lists
One of the easiest ways I have found to pull all of these tools together, is to make a list. I took a simple spreadsheet in Google Drive and created a bunch of pages with labeled tabs. This way I could share my sheet actively with others and all of my lists can easily be opened by clicking between tabs of one document.
Without some type of organization, I would not be able to remember everything. For me, the easiest way to keep lists is to sort the information by specifics. For example, one tab is for all my reservations with the place, address, and dates of stay. I also like to include the cancelation policy. My next tab is my meal plan. I then can work off this in order to make a grocery list (on the third tab). I divide my shopping lists by store, so it is really easy to place my order.
Camping is always a popular activity, but during Covid, many more people have decided to go RV-ing, so making reservations is imperative. While there are some off-the-beaten-trail options, most campsites mandate a booking. An RV requires a lengthy space, and one wide enough to handle any pop-outs.
Some National and State Parks book up months to years in advance. If there are last minute spaces, they may be in a less desirable location. Most campgrounds offer a map when booking, so that you can select your optimal camping site. Sometimes an additional fee is charged to hold a specific spot, rather than any spot in a specific category.
While I am a person who likes to go with the flow, I would not want to drive really far, camper in tow, to be told upon arrival that there is no room. That would be awful.
Another factor when making a reservation, is to notice what hook ups, if any, are available at each site. There are usually several categories of sites, such as tents only, RV with full hook ups, RV with water and electric, and dry RV spots. Within the electric description, it should indicate how many amps.
The hookups available at a site may be important for several reasons. First, if it is extremely hot or cold, you may want electric in order to have air conditioning or heat. If you cannot drive with much weight, the ability to fill your water upon arrival will be imperative. You may not want to travel with sewage, so a site with a sewer or at least a dump station on premises may be of interest.
In addition to site amenities, you may have the option of a pull through versus a back-in site. A pull through may be appealing if you are new to driving your trailer. Sometimes there are additional choices such as a gravel or grass site, or one with a patio-like concrete slab. To have the best chance of getting a camping site that meets your desires, it is best to have a reservation and book early. Lastly, be sure you understand the cancelation policy.
My Current State of Affairs
Shipments have been arriving daily. My home is beginning to look like an Amazon warehouse. I feel like I am single handedly boosting the economy and I am doubting my choices. But just when my nerves came, so did my aqua placemats to match the brown interior of the RV, and my hopes soared again!
After everything was bought and gathered, and scattered in various piles throughout the house, it was time to return to the RV dealer to complete the purchase process and pick up the RV.
I’m sure there are still many things I’m not thinking of, but at least I have the run to NYC, prior to setting out for weeks, to live in the trailer a bit, and actually see what is lacking. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. This is the part of It is part of the travel planning guide for RV road trips that you have to learn for yourself. It is the fun and adventure of travel.
Travel Planning Exercise: 5 Minutes in Your Space
A great way to notice items that you otherwise, may neglect to pack, is to do an exercise that I call, 5 Minutes in Your Space. It is a visualization activity that aids you in picturing what it would be like when you are in a specific space or destination.
With the trailer, this was fairly easy because I could physically sit in it and go through the motions of a day in the life. However there are many place that you will be staying sight unseen. You will need to visualize based on the information you have.
After doing this exercise prior to departing Florida, I found that I needed to come up with solutions for towel racks, cup holders while moving, wet dish sponges, shower soap, and ice.
So, I’m off to order more supplies!