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Old 02-16-2021, 08:40 PM   #1
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2021 19' Bambi
Duluth , MN
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reservations vs. "winging it"

This will be our first summer traveling with an airstream (19CB Bambi). Part of the romance of traveling with way is the flexibility to change plans on the fly, but with increased popularity of camping it may not be realistic. I booked reservations for the 1st part of our summer trip (Devil's Tower to Grand Tetons). For those of you who traveled last summer, do you think we will be able to find campsites in July 2021 going north from Boise towards Missoula without reservations? Dry camping would be fine. Thanks for any input!
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Old 02-16-2021, 08:53 PM   #2
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The woman I am married to finds absolutely no romance in surprises, when it comes to accommodations. She feels it is most efficient to determine a reasonable distance, and then find an appealing facility to get refreshed for the next day. Living in Florida, camping without reservations during snowbird season is a “fuhgeddaboutit” situation anyway.
It doesn’t cost anything to look... Check availability for your preferred type of campgrounds online now and again in a few months. You can still wing it, but you won’t be going into it blind.
It really depends on your standards. Dry camping could be anything from a mountain meadow to a Cracker Barrel. How picky are you?
Are you a member of Harvest Hosts or Boondockers Welcome? Those organizations would increase your options without dealing with reservation and cancellation fees.
Happy camping!
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Old 02-16-2021, 08:59 PM   #3
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I just finished booking our first trip of 2021, which will include about a month on the road across the southwest. It was hard to find availability at some of the places we wanted to stop, and we had to be flexible with our plans. So many people are camping this year, the good campsites are filling up quickly. Personally, I’d rather know where I’m stopping for the night as opposed to trying to find something at the last minute, and possibly ending up in a Walmart parking lot. I agree that this approach removes some of the adventure and spontaneity of the experience, but I’m willing to trade that for a solid plan until things ease up a bit.

I will also add that our first trip will include a bit of workamping, so I had to be picky about campsites and try to find good WiFi and/or cellular service.
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Old 02-16-2021, 09:06 PM   #4
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with covid19 around, reservations are a must IMHO
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Old 02-16-2021, 09:09 PM   #5
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Are you still working and need to complete your trip within a specific time? If that is the case then I would recommend having some sort of plan on where you anticipate staying.

When we travel we always make reservations every place we are staying that takes them. We stay places from time to time that do not, but when know what time we need to be there to get a spot, and would be OK with overflow parking if the hookup spots were full.

We are still working, and frankly don't need the stress/hassle of seek and find in busier places.

Also it seems more and more places started requiring reservations, including many state parks. No more same day show-ups at some places, you have to book at least 1 day ahead.
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Old 02-17-2021, 02:00 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by waninae39 View Post
with covid19 around, reservations are a must IMHO
Probably good advice for this season IMO . . . to the extent possible. Our favorite local state park used to have a daily "wait list" which we could get on at 8 AM, and know by noon if we had a site. No more.

The virus will change many patterns . . . . . . consider us lucky, I guess, to have the options we do . . .

Happy trails!
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Old 02-17-2021, 02:06 AM   #7
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No reason you absolutely have to do one OR the other. I recently booked May reservations in the Smokey Mountains, NC and a ACE site and in VA at a an AS club site. National Park and the AS club site availability was scarce to nil. Seemed like there were plenty of ACE sites. While I booked these sites, I did build a little flexibility in between and either the front and tail ends of this extended trip, so may end up at a Cracker Barrel or two.
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Old 02-17-2021, 04:25 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by JeffofCT View Post
. . .
. . . so may end up at a Cracker Barrel or two.
Posts here about CB:

https://www.google.com/search?q=Crac...=airforums.com

Or a Walmart maybe . . .

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f42...ing-13082.html

campmel, are you familiar with Harvest Host sites? [edit -- and welcome to the forum!]

https://www.google.com/search?q=harv...=airforums.com

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f38...st-215455.html

Good luck.
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Old 02-17-2021, 06:00 AM   #9
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If you are a member of the AS Club don't forget that many member allow guest parking at their homes/businesses etc. A nice way to meet people as well as find a place to stay for a night or so.
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Old 02-17-2021, 06:19 AM   #10
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I used to be a "wing it" guy. I didn't want to be tied to a schedule.
But one too many times arriving after dark to find the office closed and weaving through a strange campground has convinced me to plan a little.
Now, at about 3pm I pull into a rest area, open Allstays and find a campground about two hours up the road. I call and reserve a spot arriving while the office is open.
Okay, that minimal planning, but it works.
I tried RV Trip Wizzard, but it locked me into a schedule that I might not keep.
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Old 02-17-2021, 06:33 AM   #11
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Welcome Aboard👍

If the destination is the trip, we would reserve.

The destination is rarely a priority for us, when it is and we know the Campground and it's an extended stay, we will call ahead.
We hate to 'reserve' a crappy site for two weeks.

Bob
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Old 02-17-2021, 06:49 AM   #12
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I always make reservations and we haven't had a bad trip yet.
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Old 02-17-2021, 07:45 AM   #13
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We do both — reservations for week-ends (esp. Holiday week-ends) and wing it for Sun - Thurs. In 16 years have been stuck settling for a Walmart parking lot exactly once.

Keep an eye out for County Fairgrounds (usually have campgrounds and are only full two weeks a year).

Once college football season starts up, a LOT of parks fill up Fri and Saturday with a regular cadre of local fans who have “watching” parties (those season tickets go to boosters for $$$ nowadays). Especially in the South. Usually a convivial crowd but can be loud.
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Old 02-17-2021, 09:18 AM   #14
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Hi

If you *must* camp at this campground in that National Park, then indeed, reservations (likely years in advance) are part of the process. Even with reservations things can come along and close the campground ....

If you are fine with simply being in the vicinity of the National Park, you likely have a lot more flexibility. Toss in not needing hookups and you may have a pretty good chance of being here or there. Probably not going to work on 4th of July. May be more challenging through the "packed season".

Traveling between "must see" locations, we *might* plan a week ahead. Yes we do miss out on this or that by not reserving 12 months in advance. To us being able to visit is generally as good as camping out at this or that intermediate location.

If you have a 3 months for a trip and turning that into 4 isn't a big deal, planing *exactly* how many hours you will be at each location is not a lot of fun. Those sort of plans rarely work well once you see the reality of this or that location. Some are way less than they are played up to be. A lot of them are way more interesting. Either way, you have the wrong number of hours available. Toss in things like rain / snow / hurricanes and it gets even more complicated.

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Old 02-17-2021, 09:33 AM   #15
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Response to your post

Quote:
Originally Posted by n2916s View Post
We do both — reservations for week-ends (esp. Holiday week-ends) and wing it for Sun - Thurs. In 16 years have been stuck settling for a Walmart parking lot exactly once.

Keep an eye out for County Fairgrounds (usually have campgrounds and are only full two weeks a year).

Once college football season starts up, a LOT of parks fill up Fri and Saturday with a regular cadre of local fans who have “watching” parties (those season tickets go to boosters for $$$ nowadays). Especially in the South. Usually a convivial crowd but can be loud.

(Nice profile!)
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Old 02-17-2021, 09:38 AM   #16
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In many areas Covid has closed/restricted state parks...so private campgrounds have higher reservation volumes than during non-pandemic times. Getting advance reservations at privately-owned campgrounds seems wise. We especially like to research campgrounds in advance...reading reviews on Airstream Forums, TripAdvisor, TheDyrt, Yelp, etc. More pictures and feedback than the campground's own websites...and sometimes good recommendations on particular campsites within the park. If you just drive into any campground unannounced without a reservation, you will have the last choice in site selection...not usually a good thing. But some folks like that flexibility!
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Old 02-17-2021, 09:44 AM   #17
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We just traveled from Idaho Falls through Central Idaho up to Missoula and Glacier this past July. You will need reservations for private campgrounds , for sure, and there aren’t many private campgrounds in both states. Much of Idaho and Montana is either BLM, national forest, or Corp of Engineers camping. Even dry camping, everything around Stanley, ID, was full within 50 miles in any direction. You can reserve dry sites in many places and I’d advise having them if you can.
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Old 02-17-2021, 09:46 AM   #18
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You might want to also try Hipcamp - very similar to Harvest Host, but free - tons of resources and many, many sites that you would have a hard time finding on your own.

https://www.hipcamp.com/
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Old 02-17-2021, 09:46 AM   #19
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I tried to wing it on our last trip. I couldn’t do it though. By the time we left for a four week swing out through NM, AZ, and TX I had at least 75% of our nights booked. There’s just so much to see and do, and so many places to stay, I wanted some decisions already made. In the past I’ve had “too” much planned, and it got a little too regimented. So, 75% seemed ok. I wish we would have taken more time in BB NP, but now we have a reason to go back. There’s like four apps, plus here, and FB I was checking for spots near where we wanted to go. We found good and bad HH spots, a good Hipcamp spot. Some allstsays spots. It is more than I want to manage while in route. If you’re going to be out west, in the summer, I’d really try to get a reservation or two. We are heading to ID this summer, I haven’t even started planning yet.
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Old 02-17-2021, 09:51 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by campmel View Post
This will be our first summer traveling with an airstream (19CB Bambi). Part of the romance of traveling with way is the flexibility to change plans on the fly, but with increased popularity of camping it may not be realistic. I booked reservations for the 1st part of our summer trip (Devil's Tower to Grand Tetons). For those of you who traveled last summer, do you think we will be able to find campsites in July 2021 going north from Boise towards Missoula without reservations? Dry camping would be fine. Thanks for any input!
We book in advance. Primarily, to get choice sites. Without a reservation, you're likely to get the least desirable site they have. But I have to admit, even with a reservation, we sometimes find that we erred in our choice . . .
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