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Old 11-24-2011, 10:50 PM   #1
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Regs regarding towing

I am heading out on my maiden voyage on December 20th. NJ to Florida. In tow, besides my new 27' flying cloud will be my three childreen under three, my wonderful wife who finally approved the AS

So, I expect there to be a challenge or two along the way, as I am new to RVing. Since I promised my wife that this would be the beginning of a wonderful relationship, I figure I should ask the pro's:
What should I be thinking about?

I imagine that I may be limited to expressways rather than parkways. How does one plan to avoid these roads with standard GPS.
Please feel free to offer any advice. Marital in particular
Thanks
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Old 11-24-2011, 11:56 PM   #2
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Have you camped in your Airstream at all?

Brian
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Old 11-25-2011, 12:04 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moosetags View Post
Have you camped in your Airstream at all?

Brian
I Believe the OP stated in another post that he is picking up his Airstream on December 5th, so I think the answer to your question is no.
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Old 11-25-2011, 12:04 AM   #4
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Regs regarding towing

Greetings famlyman!

Quote:
Originally Posted by famlyman View Post
I am heading out on my maiden voyage on December 20th. NJ to Florida. In tow, besides my new 27' flying cloud will be my three childreen under three, my wonderful wife who finally approved the AS

So, I expect there to be a challenge or two along the way, as I am new to RVing. Since I promised my wife that this would be the beginning of a wonderful relationship, I figure I should ask the pro's:
What should I be thinking about?
Something that many novice RVers encounter while getting acquainted with their rig and towing responsibilities is adjusting to what I like to think of as the "RV mindset". Travel stress can be greatly decreased if you aren't pushing for unrealistic speed and/or distance goals. I began towing during the universal 55 MPH speed limit days so didn't have the speed pressure, but did have the distance pressure. When friends new to RVing have asked me about realistic speed/distance expectations I generally suggest that they look to their typical travel day when vacationing by auto then take 75% to 80% of that distance as a realistic travel day. Prior to purchasing my first RV in 1980, I had a goal of 500 miles per day when on vacation. A two week vacation with that first RV taught me that 300 to 400 miles per day was the most that I wanted to travel. Frequent lane changes can be stressful when towing so many find it helpful to adjust their preferred speed while towing . . . I have always had the option of traveling during my school's summer vacation so time wasn't generally a huge concern . . . and I adjusted my preferred speed to a maximum of 55 MPH and no more than 60 MPH (I know that such adjustment isn't practical for everyone, but traveling at a lower speed than you would in the car alone can reduce stress significantly).

Beyond issues of speed and distance, travel during the Winter months adds additional concerns. Until you get South of the line where freezing temperatures are common, available campgrounds will likely be quite limited; and those campgrounds that are open may not have full amenities available. Calling ahead to verify availability of space as well as amenities that can be counted on is wise. Some campgrounds in my region that are open this time of year offer basically a parking place with electric service -- water and sewer are not available. Something that I learned with my Overlander in 1995 on my first long-distance tow was that trying to outrun a Winter Storm is far more taxing than sacrificing the schedule and waiting the storm out in a safe parking spot or warm motel room - - - I made it to my destination about 20 minutes ahead of the freezing rain, but my nerves were on edge to the point that I remained in bed for two days (I could have spent two days in campground or motel while waiting out the storm and enjoyed my vacation just as much with a lower overall stress level).

Quote:
Originally Posted by famlyman View Post
I imagine that I may be limited to expressways rather than parkways. How does one plan to avoid these roads with standard GPS.
Please feel free to offer any advice. Marital in particular
Thanks
I haven't traveled extensively in the Northeast, but I do know that whenever traveling in unfamiliar territory, it pays to carefully observe posted advisories for RVs/trailers/etc. As a general rule, many tunnels will have posted rules requiring that the LP Gas valves be turned off before traveling through. Some bridges may have posting regarding strong crosswinds, narrow lanes, or restricting RVs to a particular lane. Some toll roads limit RV access and/or charge by axle for tolls which can become quite expensive.

There are add-in POIs for some GPS devices that can help to steer you away from roads that prohibit large vehicles, have bridges with low clearances, or have other road issues that prevent larger vehicles from traveling safely. With less sophisticated GPS devices, it is possible to program in the point of departure and the destination then ask the device to suggest the route -- you can then go in and add "stopovers" to redirect away from roads you can't or don't want to travel (once you are satisfied with the route save it as a favorite and you are ready to go) -- I often use this feature as I like to travel secondary roads as much as possible when on vacation. The Internet can be a wealth of information from each state's DMV or department of highways regarding particular regulations that RVs must observe - - a comprehensive recent road atlas can also provide a tremendous amount of information. My most recent GPS (now 4-years old) has a feature that allows me to utilize a trip-planning program on my laptop to plan my route and then download the route to the device -- the software was part of an upgrade offered when I purchased map revisions a year ago.

Good luck with your new rig! Enjoy your adventure, I am sure it is something that you and your family will remember for years to come . . . and don't forget to take plenty of photos to document your great adventure!!

Kevin
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Old 11-25-2011, 12:25 AM   #5
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Welcome to Airstreaming and the forums!

As always, I agree with Kevin's excellent advice above. Regarding daily travel mileage, also remember you will be traveling on the shortest days of the year, and arriving at campgrounds after dark is stressful. Always pick a spot to stay--and as Kevin says, call ahead--well before dark if possible.

I wouldn't worry about road restrictions. Some roads have "no trucks" signs--referring to large commercial trucks--but I don't think I have ever seen a "no RVs" sign.

If at all possible camp a night or two in your trailer before leaving on your cross country trip. That will give you a chance to try things out and think of things that you want to bring along that you might not otherwise have thought of. You will probably receive the trailer in a winterized state so you will be unable to use the plumbing on your initial overnights in NJ.

Marriage-wise, the best advice I can give you is prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and take what comes with equanimity. My wife and I took off on our first cross country in a vintage 1960 Pacer with the plumbing leaking like a sieve, and arrived at our first campground with part of the belly pan temporarily held on with duct tape. That was nine years ago. We had a blast and have been Airstreaming ever since.
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Old 11-25-2011, 12:26 AM   #6
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I fully agree that 3 to 4 hundred miles a day would be a reasonable maximum. Also consider that it it gets dark pretty early this time of year, and that making camp in an Airstream in the dark may prove to be challenging for a new RVer. You must also consider that with three small children on board, you wife will be quite busy and not able to render much assistance in setting up camp.

We just came back from a camping trip to Maine last week, and I can attest that you will find very few campgrounds open until you get to North Carolina. I would highly suggest researching campgrounds in advance. Try RV Campgrounds, RV Camping, RV Rentals, RV Parks, RV Resorts - Woodalls, and check out what is available along your route.

Best wishes on your maiden voyage. Please feel free to ask any questions that you might have.

Brian
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Old 11-25-2011, 08:04 AM   #7
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As ever, all the above is excellent advice. We've just completed our first ever RV season towing our 28' International and adopted much of the advice here and elsewhere in the forum.

I've found that when RVing, everything takes longer than you think it's going to so it's best to allow for more time than you think you'll need. We've not camped in the winter months but I'd imagine that the advice regarding short days and limited availability of campgrounds is something you should plan for.

I generally tow at around 60-65mph on the Interstates, which for me is the best compromise between making progress, gas mileage and how stressful the driving can get. I know that's slow compared to some but it sure works for me. Anyway, I RV for fun so I'm never really in any hurry to get where I'm going.

As to regulations, the Internet can provide most of what you need to know. Airstreams meet all the general rules regarding dimensions and weights, and like Nuvite I've never seen a "No RV" sign. Well, not yet anyway!

Happy camping, take your time and above all, enjoy.
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Old 11-25-2011, 09:35 AM   #8
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I would strongly suggest that you get as much practice in before the trip. Towing is not difficult, and we were all beginners at one time.

My rules:
  • Check everything twice before you proceed, a checklist works for first timers as well as towing veterans.
  • Take your time, this is supposed to be fun.
  • Plan ahead, Left hand turns from the right lane can be problematic.
  • Don't panic, if you have made a wrong turn or are confused about where you are going, pull over and regroup.
  • Never pull into an area without a plan on how to drive out of that area.
  • Take frequent brakes and check everything when you do.
When you are done for the day and get to your RV Park, the fun begins. Not all spots are pull thru and you will be faced with your greatest challenge, backing into your campsite. Everyone will be watching and many will want to help. This is where the practice will pay off. Work with your partner ahead of time by backing into parking spots in an empty parking lot.


Have a great trip and remember to have fun.
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Old 11-25-2011, 10:56 AM   #9
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Been there, done that

I've traveled this corridor more than once.

Your first choice is I-95 vs. Route 13 down the eastern shore. Your choice, but even though the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel has a whopping fee ($25-maybe more) for RV's it's my humble opinion that ANYTHING beats I-95 especially around Baltimore and Washington DC. I've left a campground at 2:00 AM to do the beltways and there are still many many insane truckers on the road. You MUST take the beltway at Baltimore, their downtown tunnel allows absolutely NO propane tanks bigger than the little ones you use on a Coleman lantern.

I prefer 13 - though I normally pick it up in Wilmington rather than using 113 and the Cape May Ferry. Don't know the cost of that but with an Airstream it's got to be high. I believe it's over 2 hours long, so you could nap with the kids in the Airstream if you choose it. In the summer the smell of chicken processing gets intense especially near the Tyson and Perdue factories, but in winter it's fine - watch out for deer. There are two RV parks at the north end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and a big parking lot where you can rest just before the toll booths. One is a Va. State Park. Don't know whether either have services in the winter. On the south end you are in Virginia Beach. Jog to the east on I-264, to Birdneck Rd South - it'll take you straight to Holiday Trav-l Park which is open with full services all year long. If you're traveling dry, ask for a space near a shower house. (OK for your Doberman - on a leash - bring your plastic baggie!) If you decide to hookup water here because you think it can't freeze... well that depends. Watch your local forecast carefully. I put pipe insulation and a heater cable on my water hose and open my drains only periodically. Never had a freeze-up, but I always make sure the propane tanks are FULL in case it does get too cold for the heatpump and the furnace is needed. Good water if you want to fill your white tank. I've personally taken 13 as far south as Camp LeJeune - It's nice and I believe it continues to be good beyond that. You can also cut back to I-95 from Williamstown NC.

May I recommend Savannah GA as a wonderful place to visit. Perhaps better when the kids are a little older though. I really loved the horse and bus tours of the historic disctict, and the food, and the people. There is a KOA south of the city that's more than a bit above the normal KOA standard. It's on the water so there are ducks and swans in residence.

In Florida I-95 may be even more hellish than it is around DC/Baltimore. I don't have good alternatives there. Perhaps others can advise you better.

The 300-400 mile range is good. With Kids, stop and run, feed and potty them frequently. PB&J sandwiches seem to put them to sleep pretty well.

Happy trails - Paula
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Old 11-25-2011, 11:09 AM   #10
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I 95 in fla, once you get past jacksonville, it is wide open until palm beach. Piece of cake!
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Old 11-25-2011, 11:17 AM   #11
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i made the same trip a month go. (probably from the same dealer, lol)

if you can...
start at dawn and stop for breakfast as rush hour begins.

try to get to your overnight spot two hours before dusk.

many wal-marts allow overnight parking in the far ends of the lot (look for other rv's)

if you overnight without electricity you'll need to be careful not to exhaust the battery. the furnace blower draws a lot. make sure you don't also drain your tow vehicle battery if it stays on with the tow v. off.

make sure you stow the steps and lower the antenna before breaking camp.

look carefully before pulling in for fuel. as mentioned, getting out is usually more difficult.

make sure the hitch setup is correct.

as for the spouse..... plenty of hugs and kisses and "i love yous" help :-)
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Old 11-25-2011, 11:25 AM   #12
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oh, i did the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel trip from cape may. it is well worth it! check the web for ferry times since it runs less frequently off season. it might be a bit cold outside but in the enclosed area it should be ok. yes, it s about a two hour ride once underway.
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Old 11-25-2011, 01:49 PM   #13
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How-To for Towin'

As a newbie it comes to mind that taking the trailer out, even for a trip around the block, would provide practice in a stress-free environment. If you haven't already, take the owner's manual and other on-line resources and build your personalized checklist. Break down, hitch and tow. Then park, unhitch and think through what you just did.

Whether you have already built your checklist, review it step by step. Then - if you forget stuff as I do - do it again, being sure to put it all down. Airline pilots with thousands of flight hours in the same equipment a-l-w-a-y-s use a checklist.

Include in your routine walking through the campsite before pulling-through or backing in and a last walkaround before pulling out. It slows the process of getting parked and getting underway and could occasionally turn up the odd good thing.

There are lot's of on-line resources for travel planning and routes. Others will have more and better comments in those areas.

Take it slowly and have a fabulous trip.
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Old 11-25-2011, 03:52 PM   #14
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