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Old 08-12-2014, 09:35 AM   #1
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First Cross Country Trip

DW and I are planning our first cross country trip. We’re traveling from home (Columbia, SC) to Park City, UT, where we’ll be staying for about a month. Mapping out the route shows that it’s about 2000 miles. The way I see it, we can drive about 350 miles a day and spend 5 nights on the road, or drive about 450 miles a day and spend 4 nights on the road. I’m leaning towards 4 nights, and DW agrees. My question is twofold. Is driving 450 miles a day for 5 days in a row feasible in a motorhome, and should I make reservations at campgrounds along the way, or just wing it? (I know Walmart will let you park overnight, but that is a LAST resort; we really, really want full hookups every night) I appreciate the insights of you more seasoned travelers!

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Old 08-12-2014, 09:55 AM   #2
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I'm not as seasoned of a traveler as some on this forum, but I have made several trips in my motor home. Four days or five depends on the two of you and how much you want to see, stop, visit and relax along your route. Your mileage estimates are both doable without knowing what kind of rig you have. Driving a motor home is not the same as tooling along in a car/suv at 80mph just trying to keep up with traffic however. The need for full hook up every night will depend on what time you stop for the evening. If you are up and on the road early each day and looking to stop around 4 or 5 PM then by all means a campground would be the better choice. But, if you are driving into the evening hours of say 8 or 9 PM, then a Wal-Mart or highway rest stop would work fine. You can still have a nice meal, relax and walk about, have an adult beverage or two and still get a decent nights rest before your travels the next day. My wife and I usually start our trips the night before our official vacation days start to get a jump on our destination. We'll drive several hundred miles to an approximate destination before pulling into a rest stop for the overnight. This gives us a jump on getting to final location to spend the bulk of our trip.

Good Luck on your journey and enjoy the many sights along the way.

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Old 08-12-2014, 10:01 AM   #3
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Sounds like a blast to me. I have no long haul vacation experience other then a feww hundred miles from home but I will develope the experience one day I hope. Have fun and be safe and take pics
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Old 08-12-2014, 10:33 AM   #4
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Have done the Atlanta-to-Utah run several times. (Also Atlanta-to-Yellowstone and Atlanta-to-Durango.) We usually want to minimize our time on the road, and maximize the time we spend at our destination, so DH powers through the drive and we only spend 2 nights on the road. We don't make reservations, since we don't know exactly where we'll stop. A few tips:
  • There are some travel apps that can help you. I think we used Road Ahead on an iPad, and it was great at finding upcoming fuel stops, restaurants, and RV parks. What I liked about that app is that it literally searches JUST the road in front of you (it knows what interstate you're on). There's no sense finding a great restaurant 5 miles away, when it's actually 5 miles behind you.
  • Does your vehicle have a GPS? Check out how good it is at finding nearby campgrounds. We use that a lot, but some GPS units don't have a category for campgrounds or RV parks.
  • Staying at Walmart is definitely sub-optimal, but there's a list (ask Uncle Google for it) of Walmarts that do/don't allow overnight stays. Some don't allow it due to local regulations. Boondocking is tough in summer when it's been 95 degrees in the heartland -- that Walmart asphalt really holds the heat. Plus, we never really feel safe & secure there, and DH definitely doesn't like leaving the generators plugged in & running (so no AC). Walmarts are also very loud, and you really won't sleep well. Which makes it tough to drive 10 hours the next day.
  • You gotta get the Walmart version of the Rand McNally road atlas -- it lists all of the Walmarts by highway exit #, and whether they have fuel stations. AND it's a great road atlas too.
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Old 08-12-2014, 10:43 AM   #5
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We completed a 6 month journey from Bassett, VA to Arizona via the southern states route. Looking at doing a route similar to yours next. Check and double check your route for low clearances. Rand McNally Road atlas for truckers is what we used in addition to a Garmin RV GPS. 450 miles a day is too much for me, unless you are splitting up the drive with your significant other. Where in Park City Utah are you staying?
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Old 08-12-2014, 03:26 PM   #6
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450 mi a day is about what we do in a trip like that. We usually stop around 5:00 pm and call ahead for a reservation about a hour before we stop. I can't remember a time we couldn't get a reservation. I have done 500 plus, but I'd rather not.
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Old 08-12-2014, 06:09 PM   #7
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We have worked hard at not driving to long each day since we no longer have to go to work. There are so many things along the way to see. For us a good part of the RV is to enjoy the trip not just the destination. Only you know how much time you have for this trip.
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Old 08-12-2014, 08:29 PM   #8
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We just returned from a 2200 mile Greenville, SC to Oklahoma round trip. For us, 350 to 450 miles per day is about right. At 65 mph with a daily fuel stop, we usually roll out at 8 or 9 am and get to our next stop around 4 or 5 pm, often depending on traffic conditions and the inevitable highway construction delays. I do all the driving and only stop for fuel and bathroom breaks. DW handles the food and kid needs while I drive. We usually stay in commercial campgrounds like KOA's that we've booked in advance so the kids can hit the pool or other amenities after being cooped up inside all day. Plus, full hookups means we don't have to worry about running the generator for A/C or whether four showers and other water usage is going to fill the gray tank with no place to dump. Reserving the campgrounds in advance assures me we have a spot for the night and I don't have to deal with it on the trip. If we were sightseeing along the way, we might try a different method but on the long trips, we usually have limited vacation time and the destination is the goal more than the journey.

I recommend an Ipad with cellular data and the Rand McNally RV GPS app. It's almost identical to the $300-$400 Rand McNally standalone GPS but only costs $99 or so. I have a suction mount for the Ipad on the dash and a plug in inverter for the 12v power port to keep the Ipad fully charged. The GPS will suck the Ipad battery down pretty quickly if not plugged in. You can customize the GPS for your specific RV length, height, etc. so you don't end up on a road with low clearance or a dead end with no place to turn around. It also provides upcoming weather, highway exit info, speed limits, RV checklists and points of interest specific to RVs. I don't know if it is available for other types of tablets.

As a previous poster mentioned, long distance driving in a motorhome is considerably different than a car and it also varies by individual. I'm sure there are drivers that can push through for hours on end but 7-8 hours per day is pretty much my maximum driving fun, unless I'm carrying a professional massage therapist. Your results may vary, lol. I hope this helps.

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Old 08-12-2014, 10:46 PM   #9
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Thank you all for the advice. DW prefers to have a schedule rather than wing it, so I think we're going to do the 4 nights on the road option and book the stops in advance. We're staying at the Park City RV Resort just off of I-80.
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Old 08-12-2014, 11:31 PM   #10
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We did Alabama to Utah in May/June of this year, our longest trip in travel trailer and new TV. Based on other forums and friends that had done it before, we targeted 300 miles a day. That gave us enough freedom to stop when we wanted and enjoy the trip, and plenty of time to set up in the evening and not get up ridiculously early in the morning. It is, after all, a vacation.

Also built an extra day in our schedule in case of cross winds out west. We left day before Memorial Day, so I felt it necessary to make reservations for all the stops. One of them was a dud - be sure to check out the camp ground reviews closely.

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