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Old 03-06-2014, 07:39 AM   #1
planning for full time...
SCOTTinNJ's Avatar
2014 30' FB FC Bunk
Somerset County , New Jersey
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How many miles should I plan to travel for a "typical" summer vacation?

Hi all. Great forum here. Been reading as much as I can but still left with a quandary.

I am looking at buying an Airstream and hitting the road with my family of three (and maybe a dog) for a 2-2.5 month summer vacation each summer for the foreseeable future. I will also do some long weekend trips more locally.

For the 2.5 month trips, what can I expect to plan in terms of total mileage? I want to enjoy the trips and not be on the road every day. I also would want to limit my days to 300 miles or so, max. Even less would be better. That said, leaving from the east coast I would prefer to get out west and enjoy the sites on the west coast and along the way.

Is that realistic? Looking at the map, a west coast loop from the east coast is approximately 7,000 miles. Let's say I have 75 days for the trip. That's 93 miles per day. If I drove every third day, I'd have to do just under 300 miles each trip. That leaves two days at each destination for a total of 25 destinations.

Do most people drive a few days in a row and "bank" the free time for longer stays at certain destinations?

Should I consider not going so far west and keep the trip to 5-6,000 miles?

I understand there are a huge amount of variables in all of this. But one variable for me is how realistic it is to do this type of trip. If it's not, then I could buy a smaller Airstream than the 27'er that I'm currently considering. I wouldn't need such a large trailer if I am going to be limited to trips along the east coast.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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Old 03-06-2014, 07:59 AM   #2
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We do a 2+ week trip every other year and have discovered that what we 'plan' is different from what we 'do'.

Our original thoughts were to drive a day, then stay a day to get to our location, then stay parked for a few days. What we have found is after 24 hours, we get the 'Hitch-Itch" and move. If I recall, we averaged over 200 miles a day for the entire 1st trip, seldom staying in the same place for 2 nights.

Most travel days were 300-450 miles

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Old 03-06-2014, 08:10 AM   #3
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You are the only one that can answer the question.

It all depends on how much you are willing to drive between areas of interest and how much time you want to spend at each. I think the national average fro time spent in a national park is 17 hours.

If you want to go out west some will do it in 5 days and others will take weeks. When I would go to Montana while I was working I would make it in 3 days. My trip to Alaska after retiring was 2 months. One month to and from and one month there. I would plan on 2 months there if go again.
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:15 AM   #4
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We travel 3 to 5 hundred per day and found that stopping every 4th day at least for a rest. If I have a destination that I can reach in a couple days, I may push the mileage to five hundred, but then we will stay put for a while. Jim
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:16 AM   #5
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With kids I would seek and spend time at great destinations, less travel more play. And make a beeline for the first one in the West and then slow way down. Set destination goals and involve the kids so everyone has things to look forward to. And remain flexible, if they really like it, stay awhile and enjoy.
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:16 AM   #6
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. we're glad to have you with us.

As to your Airstream travel thoughts, your proposal is very doable. We have been doing almost precisely that for a number of years.

We have traveled extensively in our 2005 Safari 25FB over the past eight years. We have spent almost 1,400 nights in the Airstream and have towed it over 120,000 miles. Our long western trips usually last about nine weeks and cover around 10,000 miles on the tow vehicle. We have made a lengthy western trip every year since 2006.

We rarely cover more than 300 in a day. We often get distracted along the way and cover a lot less. We sometimes stay places as long as a week, but usually less. You are proposing the very kind of travel that we have been enjoying for these past years.

We recently traded our 25FB on a 2012 23FB to continue our Airstream adventures.

We wish you well on your endeavor, and keep us posted. If you have any further questions, just ask.

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Old 03-06-2014, 08:27 AM   #7
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Everyone is different, and expects different things from a vacation. If it was me, I'd pick six or eight "hubs" and spend about a week in each, using the hub as a base to make day trips to the sights I wanted to see. Then in between each hub, I'd drive my limit each day, with an overnight if necessary someplace where I wouldn't even have to unhitch before starting the next day's journey to the next hub.

This would result in less hitching and unhitching throughout the trip, and allow enough time in any one "hub" campground to actually get to know your neighbors. It would also mean fewer reservations and simpler logistics all around.

Also, if you're making the trip in the summer months, you've got more daylight, and might consider bumping up your limit a bit. Even 350 miles vs. 300 in a day can add up, and only adds an hour to your daily driving time.

I don't know if it will affect your plans, but DoD Joint Travel Regulations generally limit driving distance to 350 miles per day, unless that 350 miles leaves you within 75 miles of your destination, in which case you can do the full 425 miles in one day. These limits apply no matter how many people share the driving duties, so two drivers can't do 700 miles a day, but still only 350. This is based on how long a driver can go without undue fatigue and has nothing to do with speed limits (driving faster for fewer hours causes the same fatigue), and recognizes that being a pasenger isn't restful enough to extend your driving range for taking second shift behind the wheel.

My family lives 426 miles from my home, so I do the drive all in one day each way every year, and it's right at the limit of what I feel I can do safely, so I'm pretty confident of the JTR travel distance limits.
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:34 AM   #8
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Pro has it about right, very good advice, better than mine, jim
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:38 AM   #9
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Spokane , Washington
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Welcome. This is a great place to get advice.....of all kinds.

Someone already mentioned that only you can answer your question. I second that thought. I have read of situations where people have a short vacation and they want to hit a big site like Yellowstone. They "need" to drive long days to get there so they can have fun and relax. Since you are talking about taking 2 months or more you will have no need to put in big days.

We take a 5 to 6 week trip most summers and I do not like to drive all day. 300 is a good target for us but often we do less. Plan out your route, figure out the sights you want to see and give yourself plenty of time to get there and also time to see these places.

Last summer we drove from Spokane, WA to Albuquerque and planned to stay a couple of days in Custer State Park in South Dakota. We liked it there so much we stayed three days. We were ready to get back on the road by then and felt good about seeing most everything we wanted to see. You will know what is going to work best for you. Do take the time to plan out your trips. Best wishes.
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:48 AM   #10
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You have to determine what is good for your situation. All we can do is give you our experiences;

We (2 of us) traveled back to the East Coast last summer, 10,000 miles and 75 days out. Our travel days were between 225 and 250 miles, with some lower and some higher. We generally don't like to travel more than 6 hours in a day, and aim for 5. For planning purposes, such as letting friends know about when we will be in a particular area, we found that over time our speed over a day averaged 50mph. That includes stops for fuel, food and rest stops. So using assorted planning tools such as Google Maps and Apple's Maps program on our iPad we could be in Boston and pretty accurately tell our friends in Morehead City, NC when we would be there.

250 miles a day will eat up 1000 miles in 4 days, and not leave you dead tired. After 3 or 4 days travel we liked to spend an extra day or two to rest up and see the local sights.
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:54 AM   #11
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We have repeatedly heard 300 as a good goal . A traveler friend said they follow the "not on the road before 9am off the road by 3pm and mileage around 300". When we are retired and don't have the time / distance constraints we would like to try that method as it sounds very enjoyable.

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Old 03-06-2014, 08:54 AM   #12
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Hartford , Alabama
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We used the 2-2-2 rule when my wife was with me. 200 miles or 2:00, whichever comes first, then stay two days, otherwise we wouldn't see any local attractions. If we were in a hurry and had seen the area, maybe 300 miles and pull out the next morning for a day or two, then rest/ sight see for a couple of days. Plans for this summer to AK is to try 300+ miles every other day, GD has to get back for colledge.
Remember, you will see something along the way that you "have" to visit and that will throw off your plans. That's one reason we never made reservations, wouldn't be able to keep them anyway, but only works if you a flexible about where you stay.
Relax, enjoy the trip and your family. They might not remember every spot you visit, but they will never forget the time spent with you.
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:45 AM   #13
planning for full time...
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2014 30' FB FC Bunk
Somerset County , New Jersey
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Thanks all. I really appreciate the tips.

It sounds like a mixed bag of what I expected. Maybe in the beginning of the trip we can bundle a few driving days together to get somewhere and then slow things down. I like the idea of having more time at a particular location and maybe picking 3-4 predetermined spots with free time in-between.

I also should have said that I will be be working during these trips, so I do have to set aside a few hours here and there and then a few full days once in a while for that.

I will keep the forum updated. Already been to Colonial Airstream and spent some time in everything from 23' to 30'. We are thinking 27' will be the one. I won't even ask about tow vehicles, 1/2 ton vs. 3/4 ton, or gas vs. diesel. :-)
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:36 AM   #14
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When I was younger I would travel great distances each day.
As I get older I find myself traveling shorter distances.
When I was younger I would get to to camp and set up after dark.
Now I prefer to get to camp during daylight hours.
I will even break down a 9 hour trip into 2 days.
When I was younger I didn't mind staying in a place for just one night.
Now I want to stay 2, 3, or 4 days.
I am slowing down, just like an old wind-up clock...
Part of the decision making process is based on the wife- I think it is harder sitting on the passenger side idle than it is to drive.
I find myself taking longer at fuel stops, food stops, and rest stops-

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