In our 50 years on Earth, we have discovered 3 main types of planners:
- The Champagne Planner: Champagne Planners are the ones who are organized down to the minute detail. You know the people who carefully and thoroughly peruse a menu for the perfect glass of bubbles or wine that will pair just right with the evening and their dinner. Let’s be honest, they probably already researched the menu before they even arrived at the restaurant. These planners are the people who book flights at least 21 days in advance - usually on a Tuesday - to get the best rates. They research for hours, and I mean hours to find the perfect AirBnB or VRBO (which - according to John Legend - is pronounced “verbo”…who knew??). They even scope out the best local restaurants or bars from Guy Fieri's DDD show, Trip Advisor, or any other blogs about the area they can find. They create a list about everything that needs to be packed. They pack at least a week before, then double check, and possibly triple check, making sure everything is packed up until the morning of departure!! Oh, and lastly, of course they pre-book an Uber to assure they are at the airport at least 2 hours before their departure. (this.is.Stace!)
- The Bourbon Planner: This is the planner who is the most laid back planner. They just sit back and say, “Tell me what to pack, or just pack for me.” Then they say, “Tell me where and what time to be there, and I will be there.” A bonus with this person is they are always on time…give or take 5 mins. (My favorite type of planner to travel with) They will give a little input, or even book something to show they are in for the ride, but for the most part, they are as laid back as a nice glass of bourbon by a fire on a chilly fall night. Now, it's important to note that this person could do it all if they had to but are ok with other people taking charge. (this.is.Jules!)
- The Give Me A Shot Planner: There is always at least one of these in the crowd…you know the type, you may even be this type…no judgment here!! This planner is the one who never knows what they are packing, where they are staying, or even how they are going to get there until the very last minute…many times the day before, even though they knew about the trip months in advance. They are rarely on time so you often see them sprinting through the airport because they couldn’t find an Uber to get them to the airport in 15 minute (when they live 30 minute away). They also either stay up all night doing laundry to have clean clothes to wear, or many just do the sniff type of packing - if it smells clean-enough and doesn’t have any (or too many) blaring stains, it goes in the bag!
So - what kind of planner are you?
What we are learning when planning a coast to coast RV trip is you have to be a Champagne Planner. As much as we both would love to be the Bourbon Planner and just go with the flow, it is not possible. And heaven help us if we were Shot Planners…we would need much more than shots. And, if we were a Shot Planner, we’d probably be lost somewhere on this great Continent without a cell phone, gas, a map, or any clean clothes. Oh, another reason you have to be a Champagne Planner is because the pandemic created a whole new spotlight on RV road tripping. When people realized they didn't have to be stuck in a cubical to be a productive part of society and they could bring the kiddos along, what better place to be than on the open road!
It is hard to find any statistics on how many actual RV campsites are available in the US, but there are over 1 MILLION “full timers” and, well, there's no telling how many “weekenders” there are. All this to say, if you are planning for a trip that includes full hook-ups - which includes water, electric, and sewage - it's highly recommended you plan ahead far in advance.
Here are some things we do when planning our coast to coast RV trip:
- Utilize apps and online services: We use a number of apps for gas and food, including 2 GPS navigation apps. The one we use to map our trip is called RV Trip Wizard. This online service gives us a broad overview of where our next stop needs to be after driving 4 to 5 hours per leg. It is also fun to share as an interactive map to show where you are in the US.
- Be creative on your stays: RV parks can definitely get expensive so we joined several groups like Harvest Hosts and HipCamp to pepper in a few one or 2 free nighters in safe places like breweries, museums, wineries, or farms. We have even been lucky enough to find a few friends along the way who've made room for us in their driveways - SCORE!
- Plan for the Holidays: If you are expecting to pull up at an RV park for a major Holiday with room “at the Inn”, you may instead find yourself with a NO VACANCY sign flashing in neon red in your face. Talk about a damper on what was supposed to be a fun, relaxing time away…you may just be searching for the closest Cracker Barrel or Walmart parking lot!
- Check your tire pressure: Checking all systems before hitting the road will save a lot of long waits along the road shoulder and unexpected expenses. Take the extra time to make an appointment to have your rig checked out including tire pressure and all fluids.
- Gas up: Keep your eye on your gas tank. We actually don’t let our RV tank get below a half a tank if we can help it. There are stretches on I-10 where getting gas is like finding water in the desert, so stop when you can…and stopping for gas helps break up the road trip a bit for those long days!
- Get a National Park Pass: National Park Passes are only $80 per year and most entry fees are at least $25. We have been able to visit 3 parks so far…Joshua Tree, White Sands, Cabrillo National Monument…all making the pass worth every penny!
- Check out local State Parks: We stayed at a very nice State Park in Fredricksburg, TX with full hook-ups for half the rate of RV parks.
Here's the thing, planning a coast to coast trip takes time. Think about it this way... you are planning where you are staying every night while you are on the road.
These days, RV parks fill up fast - especially now that the Canadian borders are back open and all the birds are flying south for the winter.
The moral of the story is Plan! Plan! Plan! (or travel with a planner) :)
Either way - cheers to all of you, no matter what type of planner you are!
Jules + Stace 💚