When we first began our trip we told ourselves we wouldn’t plan ahead, but rather give way to the whims of the moment, wherever the road may take us, lolly the gag, etc. etc. And for the most part, that has been our plan all along. However, a few things one might want to consider when embarking on an epic life of RVing without a single day planned ahead.
- Cheaper by the Dozen. That is, most RV parks are going to be cheaper if you book in advance. Even if you don’t get a discount at a park by booking a few days or a week early, you’ll at least have time to suss out the town and figure out which parks have the best deals on which days. I believe this is the difference between getting a spot for $25 vs. getting them for $39. And if you’re looking for $10 campsites, I’d suggest rethinking your strategy, because even though plenty of people we know and have talked to claim they’re out there, the cheapest site we’ve found that also had water and electric has been $15.
- Las Vegas, NM vs. Las Vegas, NV. Okay, so my choice of locations here is highly subjective, according to my opinion, but my point remains: if you plan ahead you can do some research and find killer little hideaway towns that still have local cafes, roadside diners, town squares and friendly faces. If you just show up wherever, you may find yourself smack dab in the middle of wherever the hell you definitely don’t want to be. Don’t get me wrong, some of the best places we’ve ever stayed have been completely on accident (see Marathon, TX), but without doing some research, we’d have missed some real gems as well (see Bisbee, AZ).
- The Joy of Planning. And last but by no means in any category deemed “least”, I have to admit that planning where we’re going next is nearly as much fun as getting there. The excitement of knowing we’ll be in a place like Austin, Texas or Portland, Oregon in a few days/weeks often keeps me up at night just imagining what it’ll be like when we arrive. It also gives me time to determine if the RV park we want to stay at is within walking distance to a healthy grocer, coffee shops, and bike trails, so we don’t have to unhook the RV every time we need a gallon of milk.
So What’s a Happy-Go-Lucky Spirit to Do?
Don’t be fooled, planning out your entire “year” (a reference to the “Oh, we’re going to live in an RV for a year.” statement which never holds true, everyone I know who lives this lifestyle has started off that way and just kept on going until they’ve had too many babies, bounced checks or too many busted alternators) is not only completely impossible (imagine the weeks it would take to organize that all at once), but improbable as well (the first time you hit a town you really love, you’ll likely find yourself scrapping plans to go to point X and just linger around a bit longer). We typically plan anywhere from a week in advance to a few months, the latter typically being something like “Well, we’ll head into the Southwest and then we know we need to meet Mr. So and So in Bakersfield on June 10th, so we’ll make our way in that general direction.”
All in all, part of the fun is taking your time, balancing out the planning and the just doing, and finding out what works for you. After all, your preferences may not be the same as ours. It doesn’t mean either of us are wrong, just that we’re probably a little bit more right. :)