We’ve been asked this question, so here is our process for planning a trip:
Usually we decide where we want to go, then we map it out on Google Maps and plan a route with approximately four hour intervals. (We’ve learned that four hours is about as much as the RV and the kids can comfortably handle in a day.)
We plug it into our handy dandy spreadsheet (here is a template), and then start to look for places to stay along the way. We try to stay in a mix of places, but also need to make sure there is WiFi and/or decent cell service so we can stay connected with work and family, so we’re often looking at private sites, at least on weekdays.
Our go-to resources lately are (in no perfect order), GoodSam, Harvest Hosts, KOA, Recreaction.gov and iOverlander. We have yet to try HipCamp, but am definitely curious! (What are your favorites? Have you tried HipCamp? Comment below!)
Depending on how long our trip is and where we are going, we try to book some sites in advance – especially the more popular ones. But Charlie is also pretty spontaneous so sites that book a year in advance don’t usually work out for us! I am also rather risk averse, so first come first served sites are not my favorite. (We had good luck one time though.)
Then we look at what we want to do – usually at a macro level, such as visit such and such park, then micro once we get there, e.g. any particular hikes. One of my habits is if we’re in a town or city is to check out some local bloggers or sites such as Yelp , Trip Advisor, Instagram, and online travel “magazines” like CondéNast Traveler, if we don’t have anything planned.
Having a plan certainly gives me some comfort. We aren’t full-timers, so there is always an end date to our trips, and it’s helpful to know how long it will take us to get somewhere – and how long it will take us to get back.
Now that we have a plan, it’s time to hit the road!