Tuesday, September 13, 2016

(I Don't Know) How to Plan an RV Trip Without Pulling Out Your Hair (Part 2)

If you haven't, may I suggest you click here to read part 1 of this post. I'll wait. 

So you're caught up? Good. On we go. 

While we're in California, we want to do things like go to Universal Studios and go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (of course), see the San Diego Zoo, LEGOLAND, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and of course see several of the national forests and parks that are there (Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and don't forget the Giant Redwoods).

I also have a couple of friends I want to visit that I haven't seen in years, and of course there are the beaches, My problem lies in that California is a huge state, and instead of starting in the north and wandering down at a leisurely pace, we're basically having to skip a bunch of those things and go straight to Los Angeles right away, if my realtor is correct in her estimation. Then we have to decide whether to go north or south, and if we want to continue around parts of California or head through to Arizona and then New Mexico before heading to the midwest to see our families hopefully.

I found this terrific website called Roadside America - it basically lists all the cool and unusual roadside attractions in every state - and I found so many great things I want to see! Including - did you know that George R.R. Martin bought a bowling alley/artists' haven and has turned it into a sci-fi children's museum/interactive art space? Neither did I! But Roadside America did, and now we HAVE to make it a part of our trip somehow!

It's called The Meow Wolf Arts Complex and House of Eternal Return, and you can read about it here. They also have their very own website (of course) here.

My brain works like this: try to find the most efficient (while also being scenic) way of getting from point A to point B, etc. Try not to go too fast, because we need to pace ourselves so we don't burn out and also allow for lots of recovery time because of chronic illness. So starting from the middle is essentially scrambling my circuits, because there is no way to suddenly make this trip efficient. And we might have to skip some things that are REALLY important to me to see and do.

So as of right now my brain is still trying to process how to make this trip one where we can see all we want and do all we want and still have enough down time and not spend too much time on the road or relocating. I haven't figured it out yet, not by a long shot.

But I do have some tools to help, and I thought I'd share some of them.

In a fit of frustration and bewilderment, I searched YouTube for "how to plan an RV trip" and found this video:  

From there I found a great hour plus long chat from one of my favorite RV YouTubers, Technomadia, and I actually listened to the entire thing until the end:

I found both of these to be helpful, and after watching the first video, I:

1) Started making a private map of all the places I want to go in Google Maps "My Maps" feature. I'm still figuring out how to use this more effectively, but right now I'm digging how I can color code and choose my own icons for each place on the map. So I can place something and see where it is, places I want to go only.

2) Went to the Good Sam website and began taking advantage of their trip planner (we were already members). This one is useful for mapping fuel stops along the way, realizing you're in an RV and not a car, and some of the campgrounds.

3) Went ahead and sprung for the membership for RV Trip Wizard (I like that it also helps calculate distance traveled per day and fuel costs as well as other expenses (provided you know what they will be ahead of time). It also accounts for the height of your RV and lets you avoid routes that may have low clearances, You can also tell it to avoid toll roads, which may save some $ in the long run. It's fairly clunky as apps go, and their website needs a lot of help, but I do like the features and the simplicity of it. Hopefully I'll figure out how to use all the useful features that make it worth the $.

4) Discovered that Trip Advisor is the Yelp of destinations, and tells you where to go in any city in any town anywhere. I have fallen down several rabbit holes on that site. I haven't used their trip planner because it doesn't seem to be useful to me but I do like that you can make a little interactive map on your profile of where you've been and where you hope to go. It's kind of cool to see that.

So I've started at least, and am feeling a bit less overwhelmed with it all than I did the first day I started planning. I know RV parks can fill fast, so I need to book ahead, but I have a slight advantage of traveling in the "off" months, even though the states I'm traveling in DO have more likelihood of hosting the fulltimers. (They're the warm places!)

Now I just have to get my head around what's going to be the best route for us with the most downtime that's also still got all the fun stuff.

So what do you use to plan your RV or other road trips? How do you keep your sanity while you do it? I need all the help I can get!

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