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Open Roads Forum  >  Beginning RVing

 > Should I make reservations or wing it?

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SteveWoz

Simsbury, CT

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Posted: 03/01/19 09:40am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This might be the most general of general questions but since I'm a relative newbie - at least in terms of owning a motorhome - I really want the opinions of more experienced RVers. I'm planning a 3-week family trip this summer starting at home in CT and heading west to at least the Montana Rockies, but possibly all the way to the West Coast. I figure it will take 4 or 5 days to get to MT traveling at a comfortable pace. I'm wondering whether you all recommend making campground reservations along the way and in MT or is it safe to make decisions about where to stop on a daily basis. I figure boondocking is always an option. I know there are a countless variables but this question is already fairly long.

Thanks in advance!

SoundGuy

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Posted: 03/01/19 09:49am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

When traveling long distance on travel days that mostly involve interstate driving we rarely reserve so we're not committed to having to be in a certain location at the end of each day, especially on weekdays. OTOH our ultimate destinations - Myrtle Beach, Yellowstone, The Black Hills, Colorado Rockies, etc - have tended to be "touristy" in which case we would reserve.


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goducks10

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Posted: 03/01/19 09:50am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

When we have a destination we almost always make res at that destination. We also will make a few res on the way to our destination. On the way back home we wing it. Winging it has it's pros and cons.
Pros, you have greater flexibility in the time and places you can stay at.
Cons, you may not get a preferred camping spot. It may not be as cheap as you want either and you have the hassle of trying to find something at the last minute if you stretch out the days drive too long.

The other issue with winging it is, weekdays are much easier to find one night stops at CG' but weekends can be a lot tougher near popular areas.

diazr2

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Posted: 03/01/19 09:53am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You will find that lots of folks wing it and lots of folks get reservations. If your not the kind who cares when you stop and for how long and you are very easily satisfied Walmart parking lot, Cracker barrel parking lot, side of the road and happy to be there then don't worry about reservations. If you are the kind that likes your creature comforts electric, water, dump stations cable TV wifi then you had best make reservations. There is no right or wrong way to do it. So have fun and do what ever fires your rockets.





DrewE

Vermont

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Posted: 03/01/19 10:00am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It really depends on several criteria. Often times either option is perfectly reasonable.

If you are going someplace popular, or someplace at a popular time (i.e. a holiday weekend, or maybe a weekend during the summer), reservations may be advisable or essential. Many of the online reservation tools will let you see what is available before you make a reservation, and that can be a reasonable guide for how necessary a reservation is. If there are 75% of the sites available a few weeks out, the chances are very, very good that the campground will not be full when you arrive; but if there are only a few sites available now, they are very likely to fill up before you get there if you don't reserve one.

If you are under fixed time constraints and need to be at a certain place at a certain time, reservations may be very much advisable.

If you have rather stringent requirements for a site, either due to having a quite large rig or due to needing certain amenities or hookups, then reservations are probably a good idea to ensure you can find a suitable site.

If money is quite tight, doing without reservations can often be slightly less expensive since many times advance reservations--at least at public campgrounds--incur a (nominal) additional fee.

If you do not like ambiguity or disorderliness in your personal life, you may well prefer to have reservations for your own peace of mind. In that case, please take advice that you should wing it with a grain of salt or two or three; vacations are intended to be relaxing, or at least refreshing, and fretting about something you can resolve up front is neither relaxing nor refreshing.

If, on the other hand, you prefer to be as spontaneous as possible, then going without reservations where practical is a better plan, and take advice from the people who map out their whole vacation in advance with a grain or two or three of salt.

I've done both, with fine results, depending on the situation.





ppine

Northern Nevada

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Posted: 03/01/19 10:04am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Steve,
You are travelling to a place with a relativelly short peak season. Reservations would be advised for Montana. For the journey to get there, you would be much more flexible to wing it and just call ahead in the afternoon when you are ready to stop for the night.

DarkSkySeeker

Freestone, California

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Posted: 03/01/19 10:12am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

SteveWoz wrote:

I'm wondering whether you all recommend making campground reservations along the way and in MT or is it safe to make decisions about where to stop on a daily basis.

I guess you have to count on a little luck.

In my first long trip, I went to Tahoe and planned to stop overnight in a rest stop. It turned out there was only one position right next to a haul truck with its loud refrigeration unit running, so we left. (there are other issues now that I am more aware of regarding not using those coveted truck parking lanes).

So we continued on and found an empty forest service parking lot and stayed there the night. We were never confronted, but I slept very lightly wondering if we'd be told to vacate during the night.

Where we were headed, there was not a Walmart or other option. The next morning we sat in the parking lot at Squaw Valley and enjoyed our coffee and breakfast, with no issue. But that was just a one hour visit, not an overnight.


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time2roll

Southern California

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Posted: 03/01/19 10:13am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

At critical and popular destinations I prefer to have reservations. I like to be in the mix instead of a less desirable spot and commuting in to see the main attraction. Done it both ways and prefer reservations.

If just driving a few days A to B then we tend to leave it open. Sometimes we are done early or want to stop for something and end up short. Other days we just roll and want to make an extra 100+ miles.


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fitznj

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Posted: 03/01/19 10:15am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think you may be being optimistic with a 3 week vacation to cross
the country and back - even MT is a loooong way. I just came back from a
trip to Big Bend (5,000 miles round trip) and it took me 10 days of just driving
(7 days out and 3 days back)

On my way west, I set my limit at 350 miles per day; at 4PM I would pull
over get out the RVPARKY App and look for a rv park (pulbic/private) to
stop for the night.

I did not have any problems finding a place to stay - I did this during the
summer months when camping is more active.

On the way back, I drove till 7PM and then found the closest WalMArt and stayed
there.

Personally, if I were in your shoes - I would wing it, gives you more flexibility.


Gerry

midnightsadie

ohio

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Posted: 03/01/19 10:36am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

you might do 400mile a day rethink your trip. and just wing it ,its fun to figure out where you,ll spend the night.

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