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Old 10-24-2010, 09:46 AM   #1
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RV campground planning tips and tricks

Well we have ordered our Airstream. Expecting delivery in a couple of months. I have started going to school on how to get the most out of our Airstream and vacations on this forum... There is a ton of data.

My Newbie question is how do folks go about planning their long distance RV trips. For example, we want to head down to Florida in March about a 24 hour drive we plan to do over two or three days, Stay at a resort for a week and then do the trek back. I am interested in hearing about how folks plan their stops. What parks to stay at. What rates and services should be expected. etc..... Are there any rv guides folks would recommend.

Any info is truly apprciated.
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Old 10-24-2010, 10:02 AM   #2
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The AAA guides (called "Campbooks") are a wealth of information as well as the Trailer Life RV Parks and Campgrounds Directory. Florida has several publications the are excellent. There is a lot of info online. One site is campgroundreviews.com. Almost all states have State Parks online. It is hard to go wrong with a state park. If you can't find the Florida guides send me a PM and I can probably help you. Most Florida RV parks fill up in the winter but by March you might be OK. That is a lot of miles to cover in 3 days towing a trailer!
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Old 10-24-2010, 10:26 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forums!

We like the Woodalls directory, partly because it lists commercial, state, and municipal campgrounds (when it knows about them). The Woodalls information is also available at their web site, RV Campgrounds, RV Camping, RV Rentals, RV Parks, RV Resorts - Woodalls

Somewhat surprisingly in this day and age, there doesn't seem to be any one directory that lists all, or even most, campgrounds.

When traveling cross country we have found it doesn't pay to plan too far ahead. We like to be parked before dark and with road construction, etc. you can't always make as many miles in a day as you would like. Besides, a relaxed trip is much more fun, and you can stop and see "sights of opportunity" along the way.

Around mid-afternoon we dig out the directories we carry in the tow vehicle (Woodalls, Trailer Life, and KOA) and look for something near where we will be in a couple of hours. Then call them on the cell phone to make sure that we can get in there.

I'll second the recommendation for RV Park Reviews :: Home . The reviews seem to be pretty accurate in most cases and they know about some parks the directories miss.
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Old 10-24-2010, 11:06 AM   #4
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us. The 27FB is a great plan. We have a 2005 25FB, named Lucy. We have spent over 740 nights in her, and have towed her almost 70,000 miles.

We find our campgrounds almost exclusively on RV Campgrounds, RV Camping, RV Rentals, RV Parks, RV Resorts - Woodalls. They also have a printed book, but we prefer on-line info. Sometimes we pick overnight stops from signs on the road. We also overnight at truck stops or Wal-Marts on occasion.

Some Airstreamers plan every stop including lunch and bathroom breaks. That's not us. Sometimes, we get off the beaten path and visit places and attractions not on the most direct route to our target destination. One one occasion, we made an overnight stop at a campground in Ranchester, Wyoming. We ended up spending a week there, exploring the Bighorn National Forest.

If we hit a campground, we look for 5 point hook-ups. You can usually expect to pay $30-40 for full hook-ups. Keep in mind that in some areas, campgrounds are considered lodging, and the campsite is subject to a local bed tax, which can run the tax up to 10 or 12 percent.

Safe travels with your new baby.

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Old 10-24-2010, 11:32 AM   #5
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We tend to do more planning for short, week-end trips. I make reservations for all of these trips. I also so more meal planning as we usually eat breakfast and dinner at the campground.

We are much more flexible on longer trips and often make detours if we see something that sparks our interest. We usually don't make advance reservations on these trips unless we are headed to Disney. We get the AAA camping guides and use the "where to" function on our GPS to find campgrounds. We call from the road to make sure there are vacancies. We have also stayed at Flying J for quick overnight stays.
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Old 10-24-2010, 11:46 AM   #6
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florida in march is still pretty packed until the last week of the month. if you have a destination in mind, i'd call as soon as possible to see what their bookings are like when you expect to be there. the economy has made some places more available.

especially if you're new to all this, i'd plan more than 3 days. nyc to miami took me almost 22 hours by car and i ate on the run and i have a good bladder. also my speed was just let's say 'optimal your fuel stops will probably take longer than mine. pushing that hard took almost all the fun out of the ride. you'll have less daylight at that time of the years and it is also easier if you hit a campground before dusk.
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Old 10-24-2010, 12:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mifair View Post
...about a 24 hour drive we plan to do over two or three days, Stay at a resort for a week and then do the trek back. I am interested in hearing about how folks plan their stops...Any info is truly apprciated.
All of the previous info is good - don't drive for more than 6 hours - short days and potentially bad weather - 400 miles a day is an attainable goal.

Airstreaming is supposed to be fun and relaxing - not a 24 hour endurance marathon.
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Old 10-24-2010, 03:31 PM   #8
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Reading campground reviews makes me want to stay home. Don't happy people write reviews? Either most of the reviews I read are dump jobs or most campgrounds are pits. I've camped a lot and never had one bad experience. In the 90's my wife and I took multiple three week camping trips all over the country and I never wrote anybody down in all that time. Bill Clinton was president during that time. Hmmmmm
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Old 10-24-2010, 03:59 PM   #9
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We work hard on meal planning before leaving home so that we eat well (and quickly) on travel days. Stews, ragouts, and other "one-pot" meals are our favorites for dinners but we have good breakfasts ready to go as well -- waffles cooked ahead and frozen, hard-cooked eggs, etc. Packing food and beverages for the trip is a big effort for us, requiring lots of planning and ahead-of-time preparation. But we enjoy that aspect of camping. We love our rest stop lunches and a great coq au vin for dinner after a long day on the road is just wonderful. Bon appetite! -- John
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Old 10-24-2010, 05:37 PM   #10
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When travelling either to Florida or Arizona from Ontario in the winter, we generally stop for a free overniter at "Flying J" truckstops. Check on their website and you will find a map showing all of them.

Its not so much to save the money, just so convenient to pull in, stop, no check in, no unhooking, nada, eat at their buffet, fill up with diesle in teh am and hit the road again!

We very seldom make reservations for Feb. or March and rarely have trouble.

Generally we tend not to stay more than a week or two at any one place. We have found that other than an overnight stop while traveling though, we don't usually stop for less than three nights in order to be worth setting up camp.

A place we enjoy in Florida and have been to quite a few times is the Royal Coachmen at Nokomis which is just north of Venice on the Gulf Coast.

Beware that campgrounds on the keys are now pretty pricy - I think because many have been sold for the land to put up condos so there are not that many available - you could easily pay $100+ a night.

I think Florida is probably among the more expensive places to camp. We often go to Arizona (Tucson) and enjoy it a lot. It is less expensive.

The Rio Grande Valley - places like Brownsville & McLean - in Texas are even less expensive, but we did try in once and didn't care for the area so much - many folks do though.

Hope you have a great trip!

Brian.
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Old 10-24-2010, 05:52 PM   #11
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Here's a great Web site devoted to listing just about all Federal, State, and local campgrounds, about 10,000 are claimed !

ALL US AND CANADA CAMPGROUNDS: STATE PARKS NATIONAL PARKS FORESTS MORE california oregon washington new york pennsylvania more

I like it because they list the Lat/Lon of each location so you can load it in your GPS if you wish...

They also have an 'AP' for iPhone, iTouch, & iPads if you want this data 'on the go'...

When you look at a place that interests you, you can also switch to the Sat view, topo, etc. and zoom in to check out the area as well - look for the menu in the upper, RH side of the map window...

Enjoy!

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Old 10-24-2010, 06:07 PM   #12
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First you decide how far you want to drive in a day. I usually only drive 250 or so miles, use mapquest or google maps and find out where that will take me. Scope out the campgrounds and make reservations. Works pretty well, and I plan in sight seeing and other excursions in that city.

Planning travel in Florida in the winter is essential. Campground reservations are booked a year in advance and state parks are especially packed until the beginning of April.

Have fun planning and enjoy the sights!
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Old 10-24-2010, 07:48 PM   #13
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I am interested in this as well. We are taking the AS to Fort Wilderness at WDW from OKC in March. Even though I am a complete over planner, I am a bit intimidated by planning this one.
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Old 10-24-2010, 08:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
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My Newbie question is how do folks go about planning their long distance RV trips.
There are many resources and many approaches. No one book or web site lists everything with the smaller, lower cost campgrounds being particularly hard to find.

I use campgroundreviews.com extensively although it is important to realize that reviewer's tastes and sensitivities differ.

Otherwise for campgrounds generally there are state-by-state resources that are free and fairly comprehensive. Woodalls charges campground operators for listings and so the smaller more modest parks aren't in there. In particular free or low cost municipal and county parks don't show up. Those are especially hard to smoke out.

It is important to be sensitive to peak periods and to understand when a reservation is required and when it is just an extra nuisance and expense. I prefer to travel without reservations but usually call ahead to gauge availability.

With a longer trip I prefer to make some stops at campgrounds with full hookups so we can get caught up on showers and things but then I travel with three children. That changes the character of the places that I stay.
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Old 10-24-2010, 08:56 PM   #15
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Campground tips and tricks

Since we are new to A/S camping we decided to use all the references we could find listed above. Then we chose to stop and visit campgrounds in areas close to home or in areas that we visit all the time. That allowed us to drive the family sedan through campgrounds looking at sites before we brought the whole traveling circus on the road.

We looked at whether hookups required longer than usual electric cord and sewer hose, distance to bath houses, possibility of noise and so forth. Was our camp site located next to the jungle gym? Were there multiple sites in a little trailor slum? Was the site a pull-through or was it within our capabilities to spot the A/S or were we in tight quarters?

This is all fun stuff and a good way to send our minds camping as we planned for the next long weekend. Most of our camping will continue be for long weekends with (we hope) the occasional longer trip. By checking some campgrounds in advance we have been able to reserve the exact site we preferred after our earlier exploratory visit.
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Old 10-24-2010, 09:19 PM   #16
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Thanks for all the wonderfull suggestions and advise.
It occurred to me that when we leave in March, temps in my area can fall below zero until we reach the central U.S. What do folks do about plumbing? And probably more importantly what about up return in March.

I have read that leaving the heating system on will ensure pipes dont freeze. I dont think I want to that.
Is the idea that you forgoe using the water system until you know there is no risk of freezing and upon your return to be prepared to winterize the plumbing system.

Thanks

MIFAIR
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Old 10-24-2010, 10:53 PM   #17
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You're talking below 0 C, right? That's below 32 F here.

Anyway, a few degrees below 0 C at night shouldn't pose a problem as long as the heat is on in the trailer. I've just returned from a camping trip where we had several nights of that.
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Old 10-25-2010, 01:28 AM   #18
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Thanks for all the wonderfull suggestions and advise.
It occurred to me that when we leave in March, temps in my area can fall below zero until we reach the central U.S. What do folks do about plumbing? And probably more importantly what about up return in March.

I have read that leaving the heating system on will ensure pipes dont freeze. I dont think I want to that.
Is the idea that you forgoe using the water system until you know there is no risk of freezing and upon your return to be prepared to winterize the plumbing system.

Thanks

MIFAIR
Hi, in really cold weather, make sure you top off or fill your propane tanks just before you get there. If you have to run your furnace 24 hrs a day, [never above freezing temps] like we did, it goes pretty quick. My water hose froze about four times; I haven't bought a heated hose yet. We had a great time in South Dakota in October. Since the water hose froze, we were lucky that I kept water in the fresh tank and have a water pump for flushing and washing.
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:17 AM   #19
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We love state parks. We've camped at several in and around the southeast. Many state parks, Corp of Engineer campgrounds, other Federal parks and many KOA's and similar commercial parks/resorts can be identified and reserved through

www.reserveamerica.com

We also use Woodall's online (I think this was mentioned in a previous post)

www.woodalls.com

We cook several food items in advance that can be mixed and matched to make various meals. Think about things that don't have to be heated - a nice salad with cold grilled chicken comes to mind. I don't mind the cold chicken at all... tastes great with a variety of dressing, and add-on items like nuts, croutons, tomatoes, carrots....

Unless we have specific stops in mind we simply look at Woodalls or some similar directory to find easy overnight spots.

See Ya Down the Road

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Old 10-25-2010, 06:33 AM   #20
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We use Woodalls (Trailer Life is published by the same company, so they may duplicate each other), AAA (or CAA in your case) Campbooks, state or provincial books about campgrounds, RV Park Reviews on the internet, and some dumb luck. The Forum can be a source of recommendations.

Public recommendations on the internet require some translation. Some people like everything, some don't. I look for facts rather than unsupported opinions, or if everyone doesn't like a place, it's probably good to avoid it.

You will make mistakes as you discover what fits you, and even then you can pick a really bad campground or restaurant, pick really good ones without knowing how you did it. Like everything, this takes some learning. We started out with a short trip (300 miles round trip), then a longer one (2,000 miles); a year later, 6,000 miles; this year, 10,250 miles.

As for winter, some people keep furnaces running to heat the fresh water tank while driving, some don't. We've been out in temps down to 20˚F without running the furnace during the day and had no problem. The movement of the trailer must have kept the water from freezing. Have the furnace running when you are stopped if it's that cold. Overnight, temps have to go below 28-29˚ to start freezing without running the furnace, but that's only if it's overnight. Any longer, and water will freeze. Keep cabinet doors open to circulate heat to the pipes. We disconnect the hoses when we think it will be below freezing. A frozen hose is hard to roll up and store. A heated hose is for long term camping.

Maybe Aage will chime in. He lives in Ottawa and used to live near Toronto (I think), and he understands traveling to Florida when it's cold.

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