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Old 06-01-2020, 06:54 PM   #1
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2017 Basecamp
Eagle , Idaho
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Cross country trip in Basecamp

We are planning a road trip from Idaho to Nashville to Ohio and back to Idaho. What is the best tool to use for planning this trip?

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Old 06-01-2020, 07:13 PM   #2
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Kansas City , Missouri
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A paper nice-quality 50 state atlas

Google Maps for driving distances and route planning

Google Earth-(plus it's so fun)--use it to see things like will the site you are looking at have shade, get morning or afternoon sun, be next to the stinky dumpster, have a lake view.

Campendium-a user content provided website with actual user reviews and photos of commercial campgrounds, local, state, national parks, and---free places to camp on Bureau of Land Management areas which are typically in the Western and SouthWestern US. Users rate the campgrounds on cleanliness, and cell phone signal. Sign up for their weekly email. We have found some great sites from that.

And here is what I do to figure out travel specifics for each day.
We always have reservations or at least know where we want to stay for the night (if it is a place that doesn't take reservations) and know what time we need to arrive to get a spot.

For drive time estimates, I have found that this works for us.

Estimate an "average " speed of 55 mph based on miles to drive. Add 45 minutes time for a smaller metro area (Omaha, Des Moines) and add 1 hour 15 minutes for a larger metro (Denver) or a rush hour in a smaller metro.

This will "average out" driving at 62-65 on the highway, and allot time for gas/quick meal in the Airstream/bathroom break.

This has worked for us on long trips. (Kansas City to Yellowstone, or Kansas City to Glacier NP and Banff)

Also make note of where time zones change.

Once I have all of the info--driving distance, route, desired arrival time, then you can figure out the drive time, and know what time you must leave in the morning to hit your goal.

Also-always gas up at arrival before staying the night. Mornings at fuel stations are super slow.

Always arrive before dark if possible. (look it up!). If you know you will arrive after it is dark, be prepared with headlamps and some lanterns to set on the ground for parking.

We usually stay at RV parks or KOA en route. Once you have your route planned, you can post it and ask for recommendations for the travel overnights.

Also-one more bit of advice is that to know once you get east of the part of the US that runs through about where Lincoln NE and Topeka KS are, you leave the prairie ecosystem and enter the Ozark ecosystem. That means you leave the part of the country where once the sun goes down it cools off. There is a LOT OF HUMIDITY once you get to the Missouri/Mississippi river part of the midwest. You will need AC to sleep. This means you will very likely want to be at a campground with hookups. I would never, ever assume that we would be able to actually sleep if we couldn't plug in. Trust me on this one.


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Old 06-01-2020, 08:01 PM   #3
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McHenry , Illinois
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Well said Piggy Bank!

This should be a sticky post Piggy Bank! Great advice, I picked up several tips from your post.

Regarding the "always arrive before dark", I have a funny anecdote. Last year we stayed at a small campground in the town of Estes Park. The next morning I turned on the water (full hookup) and nothing! It turns out someone arrived late after dark the night before and backed over the water bib, breaking it off at the ground.

They left without saying anything and the next morning the campground manager found the pumps ran all night depositing thousands of gallons of water on the ground. It took them several hours to repair the damage before we had water again. Thank goodness we had fresh water in the tank so we were able to get by.
So, note to self, make sure to have some fresh water for emergencies.
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Old 06-01-2020, 08:13 PM   #4
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Kansas City , Missouri
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Wow-that's some story about Estes Park. I would never have imagined something like that.

The dark thing is really important for those Friday trips in the fall. I am always surprised how early it gets dark in October.

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Old 06-02-2020, 09:09 AM   #5
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2017 Basecamp
Eagle , Idaho
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Thank you for the great advice. Just wondering if you or anyone has used the RV Trip Wizard?
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Old 06-02-2020, 09:24 AM   #6
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We use RV Trip Wizard to plan our trips. Works great. It lists most parks and links to most of the other apps and websites. Is a little difficult to use for pre-planning on the iPhone but it is doable(mostly use to look up info not for planning). I find it works great on our laptop with a cellular hot spot while on the road. For pre-planning I use the Laptop with a Flat screen attached. This allows the itinerary to be displayed on the bigger screen while I have desired information on the smaller screen.(with an HDMI cable, we use the TV screen in the Airstream)
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Old 06-02-2020, 10:05 AM   #7
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We did California to Nashville and back last fall, it was a great trip 6,000 plus miles and lots of beautiful country to see and explore.

You already some great responses, I would add ...reserve for ALL weekends. That's Friday and Saturday night...where ever you expect to be.

I'd add ParkAdvisor and AllStays to Campendium for nice little apps. Between those three you can almost always find someplace to stay. Stop before dark is a good idea, but we also learned to estimate where we thought we would be and call to reserve a place by the early afternoon. And, if you discover they are already full ...ask them where else in the area you might stay. We found that a really valuable clue, often they know everyone and everything near by, ditto for places to visit or eat.

And, be flexible. Sometimes the highlights of your trip may not be exactly what you had planned. Near Mammoth Caves, a park owner recommended both a diner for lunch and a private cave tour -both were spectacular and beat our planned afternoon of doing laundry and napping. An unexpected repair stop near Flaming Gorge kept us busy for several days enjoing the area after our vehicle was fixed, not even on the list of things we had planned to see.
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Old 06-02-2020, 01:44 PM   #8
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2018 Basecamp
North Conway , New Hampshire
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NH to OR in BaseCamp

We're heading out in 3 weeks NH to OR, thank you Piggy Bank for the wonderful tips!! I've driven XC with Uhauls and just cars 6 maybe 7 times now so know the routes but was staying in hotels. This will be first time in our BC (and first travel trailer) so not going to be doing the 12-14hr days (was always in a rush!) plus know will be driving slower (not 80-85 most of the way). Planning on 6-7 nights. Was going to forego campgrounds some nights, but since have CPAP, need electrical hook up, although researching to see if any DC machines - anyone else out there with sleep apnea have suggestions?

Just starting the planning. Trip out will be more driving - since have a scheduled arrival date in OR.

Appreciate the sage advice from all.


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