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Old 11-25-2011, 04:00 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by azflycaster View Post
.[*]Never pull into an area without a plan on how to drive out of that area.[*]
That's great advice and something I always try to do even when I don't have the trailer (yes, I'm a nerd like that). Towing the Airstream, we pulled into a diner in Meridian, Mississippi in the summer and, as usual, I'd already scouted on the approach to make sure I could turn around and get out again. The parking lot was big and had lots of space at the far end so I backed into one corner and thought that I would be fine so long as no one parked too close to the front of the tow vehicle. I assumed that as everyone liked to park near the door of the diner we'd be fine, being some distance away. I hadn't counted on the old guy in the truck, though, who unaccountably parked really quite close to us and, from where I was sitting in the diner, looked have blocked us. I really couldn't understand why he'd do that because the rest of the lot was mostly empty. I had visions of trying to persuade the guy to move, with my cut-glass English accent not really serving me well in deepest Mississippi and was getting into a sweat about it. It didn't help that there was an altercation in the diner, too, with a few frayed tempers about. Fortunately, when we did go out into the lot I realised that there was enough room to swing past the truck, so I was greatly relieved. To make my point, though, and hoping the guy who'd parked there was watching, I left that parking lot a bit more quickly than I might have, making sure that we didn't leave too wide a gap when swinging past the damned truck. The best laid plans and all that......

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"You can't tow that with that!"
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Old 11-25-2011, 04:57 PM   #16
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A lot of this becomes 2nd nature with some practice. The little ones can be distracting at times so let your co-pilot deal with those matters. My wife was instrumental when it came to hitching and unhitching by taking the kids for a walk, for me that was a particular time I didn't need help forgetting to latch the coupler or plugging the umbilical. A leisurely pace is more enjoyable and when we were younger it seemed important to get in as many miles as possible each day. At the end of the day we were tired and grumpy. We also shoot for that 300-400 miles taking frequent breaks and find it much better.

Remember the trailer is wider than the tow vehicle, so be mindful going through the toll booths, etc. Some jurisdictions enforce the mirror statutes, so for a lot of reasons you want mirrors that let you see down the sides of the trailer and they unconsciously help you thread the needle so to speak; their presence reminds you of your width. Sometimes the barriers they put up in construction zones feel snug. As previously mentioned, the tunnel at Baltimore is a big no-no because of the propane tanks There are some parkways in your neck of the woods that prohibit trailers. You may come across a bridge that has lane restrictions posted, so just watch for any signs and you'll do just fine.

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Old 11-25-2011, 05:56 PM   #17
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Fam', regulations regarding towing can be found in Woodall's (see Post #6) and other places on the internet. Woodall's has campground listings and with the AAA Camping Books can be helpful. They usually tell you when campgrounds are closed. RV Park Reviews :: Home has lots of reviews and we find it helpful.

Parkways in NY and Conn. do not allow trailers or commercial trucks. Getting into and out of NYC is difficult, but that's the wrong way to Fla. I don't know if the Garden State prohibits trailers, but you can check with the Jersey highway dept. Assume no trailers until you find put otherwise. Some tunnels require the propane to be turned off—the one between Norfolk and Hampton Roads is one and I think it has turnouts before the entrances to allow you to turn off the valves. Turn off the fridge first so the propane line to it doesn't get air bound and make it hard to re-light it.

As others have said, it is difficult to travel as many miles with a trailer as you did without one. You have to be more attentive and most people don't drive as fast towing. We hardly ever have those 500 mile days anymore, though on a not so busy interstate it can be done. You will find out your distance limits as you learn. Living in NJ, you are surely aware I-95 is busy and can have awful traffic jams. When you get to Fla., especially as Miami gets closer, you will discover extremely aggressive drivers. They also are on I-4 in central Fla.

Pick up a copy of Next Exit. It lists everything at every interstate exit including those services that have RV parking or gas where you can get in or out. We look for truck stops. Sooner or later you will need gas and only find a station that is hard to get out of—watch out for those concrete filled posts near the pumps. Also watch the roof over the pumps—the Airstream is 9 1/2 feet high, some of those aren't in out of the way places.

You have about 4 weeks before the big trip. Find a big empty parking lot and practice turns and backing. Then go to a nearby campground or park and spend the weekend. You have to learn how things work, what you need, where to pack it, stock up on lots of stuff like black tank deodorizer, hoses for the sewer lines, tools to fix things, and on and on. Expect to spend some bucks on this stuff and that it never stops.

Marital advice is more difficult. If your wife doesn't think this was such a good idea, find ways to involve her in planning trips, going to the RV store together to get all that kitchen stuff you will need, ask her what she'd like to decorate it with. Or reverse roles and you decorate it and she drives and sets up the sewer lines. When we arrive at a campground, we do everything together and can do each other's jobs—that way stuff usually doesn't get forgotten and it is a joint adventure. If she is only grudgingly going along with this, you need to work that out. There are few things worse than being locked in a tin can with someone who is unhappy with the whole thing while 3 infants are screaming, it is snowing or raining out and something in the tin can just broke or doesn't work.

Good luck.

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Old 11-25-2011, 05:57 PM   #18
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Montgomery , Alabama
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GO WEST, YOUNG FAMILYMAN. I-95 isn't your only option; you could go west from West Orange and down the I-81 corridor through the Shenandoah Valley. I-81 has its traffic but it is not comparable to the 95. It's scenic and offers a lot of other diversions along the way. I speak as a veteran of 20 trips to New Jersey from Alabama in the last five years (with 'stream and without). We are in Jersey now having just negotiated a rain drenched trip up the 95 (to test whether it's still a nightmare --It was) I will never grumble about the Penn Turnpike again.
These winter trips are more weather dependent than others. We rely on several of the real time weather update sites sponsored by the states you will traverse. Sometimes the best plan is to pull over somewhere safe and play house in the new 'stream for a while...
With all the new navigation aids you can even have your own "operations". My son and granddaughters monitor us on the Latitude program on the Android phone and check in if we haven't moved in a while. Before that we used to get phone calls asking for our mile post and instructions like "Turn South immediately to avoid tornado track crossing the interstate 20 miles ahead." As a new streamer, you might want a couple Forum members on speed dial to handle questions we all had on our first trips...
You are getting a lot of good advice here, most important of which was slow down and have fun. don't try to do too much.

PS best advice I got as a new RVer: If you are having trouble with the trailer in the campground, just stand out in front looking at it and scratch your head. Shortly, you will have gathered a small but animated crowd providing advice. Half of them will have heard of the problem before, 10% will have solved it, at least one of them will have the necessary tools....
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Old 11-25-2011, 06:34 PM   #19
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There’s lots of good advice here from seasoned RVer’s, and I’m sure there’s more to come. An old-timer told me many years ago that a trip becomes an adventure with the first screw-up. Let the adventures begin. Acquiring experience is very important, and I would follow the many suggestions noted earlier.

I know others travel further, but I generally keep my daily-drive limit to 250 miles, unless I’m headed back to the barn, or I’m otherwise very familiar with both the route and the facilities at my destination. Since I use a 50 mph-average speed as a rule-of-thumb, that means about 5 hours of driving. I like to arrive at my destination during daylight, and I don’t like to arrive just in time for dinner…it is after all “the journey”. Since you’re traveling during cold weather, I suggest you keep your coach winterized until well out of the freezing weather, and then remember to re-winterize when returning home. If you experience freezing temperatures driving down the road, you’re vulnerable in the coach. I usually travel without reservations, but on your maiden voyage you may want to pick a spot so you know you’ll be ok on the first night out. Otherwise, don’t wait too late to start looking for a suitable place. A little research ahead of time will help you find several potential transit destinations, and allow you to key their addresses into your GPS. I like for researching stops along my route.

Don’t be unrealistic about how quickly you can roust the family in the AM, and get on the road. You might be able to rise at the crack of dawn, but getting your wife and the kids out of bed at 0-dark:30 can be a challenge, with a likely unfavorable outcome. You don’t want to hookup in the dark anyway. GPS devices are handy, but they’re not foolproof, and can cause some grief if the preferences are not set correctly, so we travel with AAA maps, and my wife likes to keep it handy to see exactly where we are, and where the GPS is trying to take us. Be careful with the fast-food joints and the gas stops. They can be tricky to enter and exit, and unforgiving once committed. Some of them have excessively steep entrances/exits that will cause you to bottom out, either entering or exiting; that’s not fun, so at fast-food, I usually park and walk, ideally in a large supermarket. Costco and Wal-Mart can be great places to gas-up, and the parking lots are usually a little friendlier. Since I lived through the 1974-75 gas lines, I’ve been permanently scarred, so I start looking for gas at half a tank. Don’t let anyone rush you. Take your time. We were very experienced RVer’s, but new to our Airstream when we pulled into a very busy Camping World to dump. We tried to hurry, since there were long lines coming home from a busy weekend, and just as I opened the black water valve, the force disconnected the improperly-connected hose from the coach. Oops! And don’t forget to pick up a big box of latex or nitrile gloves at Costco or Harbor Freight to use during those sewer-dump adventures.
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Old 11-26-2011, 06:34 AM   #20

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Make sure you have a good Airstream tool kit...
WD40, duct tape, zip-ties and Lego blocks,(ramp to change flat).

What I've found is the Airstream will tell you what you really need, by the time you get to Fla, it should be pretty complete. You'll be stopping along the way, so don't stress too much about things you may have left behind. I think you'll find as we did that most "stuff" will be AS specific and not need to be packed again for future trips.

We had been "streaming" for 18yrs when we got "Cloudsplitter", still we camped a few days on the pad before our first trip just to get familiar with the new rig, a worthwhile endeavor indeed. 45 min in a large empty parking lot also helped calm the newbie shakes.

Keep right, take your time and have FUN!!

AF #1

"Sticks & stones can break your bones...and hail will dent your Airstream"

So when is this..."old enough to know better" supposed to kick in?
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Old 11-26-2011, 10:58 AM   #21
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Don't turn into a road with the sign "Dead End". But since not every dead end has a sign, or you don't see the sign, learn to spot them without a sign. And some roads look good and then turn into nightmares—you have to smell them out too.

I know a lot of people use GPS systems, but don't blindly do what it says. Have maps too. They are all information sources, and like all of us, can be wrong. GPS can lead you to some bad places and when you are towing anything, that means dirt trails, dead ends, restricted roads, etc.

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Old 11-26-2011, 07:41 PM   #22
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one more item is fuel/gas cans. most bridges/tunnels have rules on how much you can transport.
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Old 11-26-2011, 08:31 PM   #23
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Thank to everyone for taking the time to list all of the good advice. I am printing this stream to have as reference once the journey begins. One day I hope to have the experience to offer to another. thanks again.
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:41 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by richinny View Post
one more item is fuel/gas cans. most bridges/tunnels have rules on how much you can transport.
That is true in the NYC area, but in most of the country there are fewer or no rules about this or propane. Manitoba and (I think) Nova Scotia require propane be turned off while driving, but I doubt it is much enforced. It seems to me spoiled food in the fridge is more dangerous than a propane problem. Car ferries usually require the propane to be turned off and for a long trip, dry ice may be a good idea.

You are supposed to see 200' behind you, such as a cop with his lights on. Tow mirrors are essential because of that law. Someone was stopped in Fla. earlier this year by a cop claiming he couldn't see the cop with lights on. This is very subjective as the cop can't tell what someone sees or exactly how far 200' is, but when you are a tourist, are you going back to fight it?

Some states (Cal. and Ill., for ex.) have low speed limits for trucks and trailers—55 mph. These limits are ignored by many, especially on interstates and good highways.

When you see trucks and trailers must stop at a weigh station, it doesn't mean you.

A section of I-10 west of Houston does not allow trailers and commercial trucks, so avoid Houston because it is very hard to get around that section of interstate.

I think just about every state does not allow anyone to ride in the trailer.

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Old 11-27-2011, 04:58 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
That is true in the NYC area, but in most of the country there are fewer or no rules about this or propane.
CHESAPEAKE BAY BRIDGE-TUNNEL (not likely to be exceeded)
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel -- Hazardous materials

Cape May-Lewes Ferry:
  • Recreational Vehicles
    Not more than two cylinders of propane safely secured to the vehicle in an upright position with valves closed and tagged, plus one only 25-litre (6.6 gal.) gasoline container, empty or full. Propane-powered refrigerators must have the thermostat control turned to the "off" position.
  • Automobiles
    Not more than one 25-litre (6.6 gal.) gasoline container, empty or full.
  • Motorboats (towed)
    Not more than two portable 25-litre (6.6 gal.) containers, empty or full.

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Old 11-30-2011, 12:38 PM   #26
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You have been given good advice from all who have chimed in to your question. I cannot add much except that as a fellow NJ resident I too often look for a route to minimize the stress of hauling a trailer when I'm going on the road. I would suggest anything but 95 through Baltimore - DC. And I mean anything. Last year returning from Florida in late March we got off 95 at Richmond, Va and rode the rest of the way on 301. A good road and much less stress. The alternative I would suggest you consider in your trip is Rt. 78 W into Pa and then 81 S down into Va. Then onto Rt. 77 to Charlotte, NC. Then following your GPS work your way back to 95 for the rest of the trip. I've done it before and it's a good road w/ light traffic ( usually ). Do heed the advice to plan ahead if you're looking for a campground along the way. It will get very cold at night even down into southern Va so I suggest a campground where you can get hookups to help with the heater. ( Don't ask how I know this, but I do).

Now, if you are inclined to this route and are in the area of Mooresville, NC at mealtime there is a great BBQ place right off I 77. It's Fat Boys BBQ and you won't regret stopping if you can. And they have a large parking lot with plenty of room for your rig.

The roads are good between NJ and Fla and you'll have a great trip. Enjoy the ride.
See ya on the road sometime. ( We'll be in Fla from late Feb. through March).

PS: As you mentioned stay off the parkways with one exception. The Blue Ridge Pky will allow the trailer. Campgrounds will be closed on the way down but maybe not on the way back. Depending on when that is. It's a good change of pace from the highway.

PSS: Oh, and one more thing. Again, don't ask how I know this one either. You can put some water in your fresh water holding tank before you leave but don't run the pump to fill your system and hot water tank until you are well south. Been there, done that.
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:17 AM   #27
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This is all great advice about how not to get too crazy with the towing aspect of the trip. We travel with two little kids and I can tell you that the rear seat entertainment system is priceless. Also, the back-up camera saves all kinds of marital stress; we tried doing it together but it just wasn't happening... lots of stress.

Oh, and something that I like to do is to take the kids by myself for the weekend and let my wife have some non-crazy time.

You guys are going to have so much fun as long as you remember that it's supposed to be fun; if you're not enjoying yourself take it down a notch. For instance, one morning after a rough night (baby woke up a lot) and, instead of doing the work of cooking breakfast we drove to a nearby town and hit up IHOP. It wasn't really in the plan (or the budget) but it was what we needed.
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Old 12-05-2011, 06:52 AM   #28
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Good advice above. But...
Several people have warned you about keeping an eye on the weather until you get south of VA. I suggest keeping and eye on it until you get to further south. The only time I ever had damage from freezing was in GA just north of the FL state line, on I-95. I incorrectly assumed I was far enough south that freezing was not an issue.

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