How we plan our travel days

{Photo of the day: Arriving at Valley of the Gods.}

It’s been about 10 months now since we sold our house and began living and traveling full-time in our RV.  As many of you may already know, this isn’t our first time, it’s actually our 3rd.  All the previous experience has culminated in a wealth of knowledge that is making our travels more enjoyable than they’ve ever been.  Planning routes, locating campsites, knowing how often and how far to move…these are all things that can be stressful and time-consuming if gone about haphazardly.  We know, because we’ve been there.  

After 9 years and 3 different rig configurations I’ve come to believe that successful full-time RV travel comes down to 3 major factors. 

1) Knowing your travel style. 
2)  Finding a rig that fits your travel style. 
3)  Knowing how to execute your travel style with ease.

Our travel style is slow and deliberate.  Our priorities are to follow the weather and to not spend more time driving than living.

We make it about 2 weeks on our tanks before it’s time to dump and resupply.  Coincidentally, 14 days is the camping limit on many public lands.  With those two factors, we plan on moving every couple of weeks.  

As we were planning this week’s move, Mark & I acknowledged how many factors go in to executing a smooth travel day.  In the past, we’ve had our fair share of travel days that end in fatigue, hunger and frustration.  It’s because of those experiences that we’ve learned what to do and what not to do to move with ease while also finding a great new spot that we’re excited to call home.

Those factors are…

Always move on a weekday.

We always plan on moving on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.  This gives us the best shot at beating the crowds and getting our pick of the best camp sites.  With RVing being more popular than ever, I feel like this is a huge component for enjoying this lifestyle.

If possible, run errands the day before moving day.

If we’re camped close enough to a town with resources, I’ll do laundry, grocery shopping and any other errands the day before we move.  No matter what, tanks need to be dumped the same day that we travel, so any other errands that can get done another day help cut down on our overall travel time.  This isn’t always possible though.  If groceries and laundry need to get done on moving day, we have to factor this in and not be too ambitious on how far we want to get that day.

Know your limits.

We don’t enjoy traveling more than about 200 miles at a time.  That may not sound like much but add in packing up the RV, dumping tanks, errands, fuel stops, finding a campsite and setting up the RV and you’ve got yourself a full day.  When we push our limits, we end up making compromises that lead to frustration.  Working within our limits means we enjoy travel days and also get to keep our sanity in tact.

Factor in your destination.

Sometime we know exactly where we’re going.  Maybe we have a reservation at an RV park for the night or we’re boondocking with a friend who already has a spot saved for us, whatever the case may be, this allows us some flexibility.  I’m willing to pack more in to a travel day if I know we don’t have to search for a spot when we arrive at our destination.  Most of the time though, this isn’t the case.  And it’s impossible to know how easy or difficult it’s going to be to find a spot.  Today, when we arrived at Valley of the Gods, it was a couple of hours before we found a spot that would work.  Other times, it’s a non-issue and takes little effort.  We almost always end up with a sweet spot and I attribute that to our willingness to put in the effort to find one.  If we showed up tired and cranky after a long travel day we’d likely just settle on whatever we could find.

Plan a midway overnight stop if needed.

Here’s the beauty of always having your home with you.  If the distance from Point A to Point B is further than we’d like to do in a day, we simply find a place to park for the night.  If we’re worried that we might be about to bite off more than we can chew, dividing our trip in to two days makes our life so much easier.  This week’s plan was to leave Cottonwood, AZ and get to Valley of the Gods in Utah.  290 miles.  We knew we didn’t want to fit that in to a single day and so we found an easy place to park for the night in the National Forest outside of Flagstaff.  This made all the difference and was also a beautiful little pit stop.

This isn’t a rulebook, it’s the strategy that fits our unique travel style.  I think learning how far you want to move and how often is key to enjoying this lifestyle.  

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By Michele

Michele

Hi, I'm Michele, a nomadic wedding photographer and lover of the great outdoors. I live on the road full-time and document my adventures daily. This is my personal blog where I share and record my thoughts on living simply and intentionally with less stress and more joy. Check out my wedding and portrait photography at http://www.oncwest.com

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