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Old 02-13-2021, 05:45 PM   #21
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Like a few have said we use RV Trip Wizard. You set your given parameters even you type of campground Good Sam, Military Bases, etc. It does the routing for you. Really don't get much easier.
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Old 02-13-2021, 06:58 PM   #22
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Reservations

If we are going to popular national parks and staying inside the park, we usually reserve 9 month ahead. If you go to a larger TT it will restrict the number of available sites. We switched about 4 years ago from PU to TT. We wish we had done it sooner for connivence, comfort and reduced set-up time. If you think you might be camping in an area w/ bears, many areas require "Hardside" trailers. When we were at Yellowstone and Glacier in September 19', they made the tent campers and PUs leave due to bear activity. The TT can handle weather better.
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Old 02-13-2021, 07:06 PM   #23
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Reservations

We also use Trip Wizard. We have used it for 5 years, and really like the features for planning longer trips w/ all the campsite reviews. They are constantly, "Improving It" and that can get a little frustrating relearning addition features. It does everything for you has a lot of features. Key is starting your trip and going forward. My DW likes to change plans after I have everything organized and planned, can give you a headache going backwards. I believe they made changes to correct this recently, I just have not learned it yet.
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Old 02-13-2021, 07:36 PM   #24
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Just finished up planning our cross country trip.

I just made our last nights reservation for our 4000 mile two week trip for this summer. There are 7, 1 night reservations out and back, a 5 night reservation at our final destination around Mt. Rushmore and 2 night reservation at Estes Park, Colorado to go check out the Continental Divide. Its really nice to have a destination each night with a reservation. So far, weve never just winged it and tried to find a campground without a reservation. I can imagine now it will be 100 times worse to try and wing it because everyone is camping now due to the pandemic. Good luck and have fun!!
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Old 02-13-2021, 07:58 PM   #25
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How do you make long, cross country trips with several stops?

I make at least two long distance trips (more than 1200 miles each) a year. For each trip I make a detailed travel plan based on the number of miles I want to drive each day. I also make reservations depending upon the time of year and the competition for spots. I can email a copy of my recent plan if you like.
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Old 02-13-2021, 08:49 PM   #26
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If you think you might be camping in an area w/ bears, many areas require "Hardside" trailers. When we were at Yellowstone and Glacier in September 19', they made the tent campers and PUs leave due to bear activity.
Which campgrounds were those? The only campground for RVs in either park, that has a permanent ban on soft-sided campers, is Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone.
And if you have a hybrid TT, you simply just "turtle" if something lime that happens. That's the beauty of a hybrid TT, it can have sleeping capacity up to 10 when all the tent ends are deployed or you can close them up and sleep on the dinette and sofa, like a regular TT.
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Old 02-13-2021, 11:34 PM   #27
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... I use ... freecampsite.net, ...
Correction:

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Old 02-14-2021, 09:18 AM   #28
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All good advice and recommendations. Kids definitely change the equation. Frequent stops to let the kid run and burn off their energy, use the toilet, etc. helps make long trips more enjoyable. We used to do 650 - 700 miles a day towing (I did all of the driving being the road warrior that I am), but now only do 300 - 350 miles a day stopping about supper time before the RV Parks fill up. Makes the trip much more enjoyable and relaxing especially with children. Look at the trip as an adventure and voyage of discovery, and share it with the kids. They will never forget those experiences. Safe travels!

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Old 02-14-2021, 09:55 AM   #29
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Due to limited vacations, I am forced to do long days behind the wheel to get to distant destinations in the shortest time possible. When planning LONG road trips, I plan on 700 miles of driving per day. If my destination is 1800 miles away, I figure 2 1/2 days to arrive and will book my campground based on that travel time. For overnights, unless unforeseen circumstances creep up, my overnights on the road usually involve Walmart, rest areas or other such locations.
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Old 02-14-2021, 10:31 AM   #30
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We travel cross country often. We just drive wherever we want to go and about 3 pm start looking at the map to see where we want to end that day. We boondock if possible for 3-5 days in a row sometimes ending up at rest areas or parking lots for overnight. We prefer forest parking if possible. Maybe every 5-6 days we use a KOA or similar to do laundry. We will make a reservation only if we are going to a difficult place to boondock such as New Orleans or Miami, or a crowded park like Yellowstone.
I travel like you do. Where and when I want with just my farthest point really known. I decide where I'm going to stop for the night around lunchtime.

I'll use one of the online apps to see if there's any "boondocking sites" along the way using one of several online apps. In some cases I've found spots that were enough to entice me to stay several days. As my FW tank empties and my other tanks fill I'll find an RV Park where I can drain, refill, do my laundry, and refill the refrigerator/freezer if needed.

Only time I actually plan for a long trip is if I'm attending an event at my destination and have a specific date/time to arrive. Then I try to be at an RV park within a 4 hour or so drive from my destination so I don't need to rush.

As for places to stay, pretty much anywhere I can legally park my truck and trailer has worked well. Beside the usual Walmart/Cracker Barrel lots I've found undeveloped parking areas next to "middle of nowhere" convenience store/gas stations, truck stops, and even just wide spots at highway off ramps where truck drivers often stop for a nap.

I kind of travel a lot like those who followed Route 66 during the Depression Migration did and camp anywhere it makes sense.
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Old 02-14-2021, 11:14 AM   #31
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On long trips, it is hard to figure out how far you are going to go in a day. I like to make a reservation sometimes in the afternoon if we need a camp site. In the West, it is no big deal to find a boondocking spot. I like to just head off the highway onto BLM or USFS land mostly. I never camp in parking lots.
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Old 02-14-2021, 11:42 AM   #32
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Hi, like yawl most of our camping is near home, within 3-4 hours at most. But we have done some cross country trips and rather than rely on any one source of information we use a variety of tools to help us plan them out.

First we use a several sources for our destination campground selection:
RV Parky, KOA, Good Sam are all good apps to locate campgrounds. So is Google and Yahoo searching the destination for RV Campgrounds.

No one source has them all so we use several to select what seems best for us. We also call the ones we may be interested into get a feel for the owners. TripAdvisor.com is also a good resource to find info on campgrounds which has feedback from previous guests.

Next I go to MapQuest to plan the route. After choosing the best route I begin breaking it down to day trips. somewhere between 250-400 miles in a day seems to work out best for us. I will look at what city is near the route within those mileage constraints and search for overnight stays in those cities, using the resources mentioned first in this post.

For us, the beauty of this effort is we often learn about things to see and do along the way about which we had no idea before the research.

We have used this for a 2 day trip to St Augustine, FL and for a 5000 mile, 6 week, trip up to Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone, several other national Parks, N California, Nevada and back home to Louisiana.

Hope this helps some. Good Luck and Happy Camping.

PS, you could do this trip with your pop-up just as well as a TT. Just depends on which you prefer.
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Old 02-14-2021, 12:08 PM   #33
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Camping

Correct, there is no "permanent restriction on soft-side camper or tents" in most national parks due to bears. But they have the right to ask you leave or move due to high bear activity. We saw it in Glacier and Yellowstone in Sept. and October in 2019.Many people had to move out of the park due to lack of available sites. Really disappointing if you have driven a long way to visit the area.
Just something to consider if you have thought of camping in remote areas
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Old 02-14-2021, 05:01 PM   #34
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Since my DW and I are now retired, our trip planning has changed. However, what is still the same is we will research the area as our final destination, Key West in 10 days, and book a campground there. Working backwards, we'll take the number of miles wanting to drive each leg. If that takes us to someplace worthwhile to spend a day or more, again we will research and book a campground near the attraction, town, national park etc. In between, we give ourselves a cushion of days in case we come across something or someplace we might want to spend some time at. This type of trip planning removes a lot of the stress of being there at this time or that. But, again, it'll be different for retired travellers vs. those that are still working on a two-week vacation.

When we were working, up to last summer, we still booked the destination, say Mt. Rushmore, and then where did we want to go from there, ok Deadwood (near Sturgis too) and we booked a site there. Everything in between going or heading home was as many have posted, find a campground along the road. This is where having a great co-pilot, aka wife, using the phone app RVParky that show rest stops, Walmarts, Cracker Barrels and such along your route. To a lesser extent, we will use CampgroundReviews.Com (formerly RVCampgroundReviews). Many folks as suggested use RV Trip Wizard, I've been tempted to spend the $39.95 membership fee, but have resisted so far because I try as hard as possible to keep RV'ing expenses in check. A disclaimer though is just a couple of weeks ago we did join HarvestHost for a $60 introductory offer because we are wine-o's and they have great reviews.

To the OP's other question regarding availability, during weekdays you should have no problem getting a campground site for the night. Weekends, meaning Friday and Saturday can be dicey, often they fill up with locals who live a short distance away. Also, only my guess but from reading this and other forums West coasters seem to be having a more difficult time than East coasters with campsite shortages. Also, post-Covid-19 Floriday and some of the Southern states can get pretty crowded with snowbirds during the winter, especially with a huge influx from Canada.

If you don't stress it, as already pointed out in other posts there is always somewhere to pull in for the night.
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Old 02-14-2021, 06:33 PM   #35
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reservations essential for NP and COE

Our first cross country trip was from VA to CA in a pop up with 3 girls (ages 10,10,7). It was the best time! We are planning another on this fall (our kids are now college age). I get much enjoyment out of the planning portion, taking notes on places to eat and things to see at each anticipated stop. If you are interested in National Parks or Corps of Engineer Parks, or some popular State Parks, you definitely need reservations and you need to reserve when the reservation window opens. For most National Parks that is 6 months, but for some its is 9 months. For the Corps parts it is 6 months. All the state parks are different. I was a couple of days late for our Custer State Park reservation window this fall (one of our favorite places in the world) and there were only a few sites left. I think its easier to find space at private campgrounds. But, in 2019 we camped from late August to Early October (not prime season) and most everything was full - we had reservations almost everywhere. I remember camping as a child and just pulling into a place when my Dad got tired. Camping has become so popular, (especially with COVID) that I just don't want to take the chance of it being full when we are exhausted after a day of driving. Also, I research all of the camping options ahead of time and we often go 20 miles this way or that to visit a campground that gets great reviews. Have fun!!
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Old 02-15-2021, 10:13 AM   #36
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We live in MO, and have traveled across country to CA a couple times each year, for the last 10 years on just about every imaginal route. Also have taken trips east to Gettysburg, and many other trips.

Like many others, I plan each day including miles we want to drive, fuel stops (we're 55 ft long, and there are just some places you can't easily get in and out) rest areas, etc so we have optional places to pull out as we go.

Google Maps satellite and street view can be your friend when trying determine where you want to stop. Sometimes we'll stay two nights, and unhitch to visit some local attractions. Other times we just pull in and out.

Campground Reviews is also a great site to help decide on where you want to overnight.
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Old 02-15-2021, 01:31 PM   #37
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dm6- Why wait to take your trip until you trade your pop-up for a TT. In August-September 2018 we took our pop-up on a 5 week, 8100 mile trip from Ky. to the Washington and Oregon coast. We followed the Lewis and Clark trail. Back then, we had no reservations and had little trouble finding a campground. Likely it's different now. We prefer state park, county and COE campgrounds. The pop-up was great on this trip, and much easier to pull than our current travel trailer. Good luck on your planning, and enjoy your trip. BTW, AAA was very helpful in planning our trip- maps, travel guides, tips, etc.
OH wow, you are brave!! Funny you mention that because I actually live in Washington and have always wanted to go along the Lewis and Clark Trail. This sounds like a fun way to do it and take your time and make a lot of stops. I honestly can't imagine doing it in a popup though. Maybe you pack lighter than we do with 2 kids, but I don't even like to stay only two nights with it anymore because by the time you get everything set up, it seems like is time to go. I agree though, it would be nice to tow something so light and practically fit it anywhere. Good for you for making that work!
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Old 02-15-2021, 02:04 PM   #38
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dm6, It was only my wife and I -much easier. It did take some planning on where to store what. We usually stayed 2-3 nights at each location and used COE campgrounds wherever possible. We had a screen room to attach to the awning and used it quite a bit. It was work setting up and breaking down, but we were used to it. Just a part of the ride! Didn't think about it - just did it. Have to admit that after 5 years with the pop-up , and getting older, we have upgraded to a 16 ft. TT. Haven't been able to take it out yet, but looking forward to checking it out- and learning how to use it! Hope you enjoy your trip.
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Old 02-15-2021, 02:10 PM   #39
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dm6, The Lewis and Clark trail was a great trip! It would be a great learning experience for your kids. AAA was a big help in planning our trip. So much to see and do. Lots of museums and historic sites on the way.
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Old 02-18-2021, 07:13 PM   #40
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I moved my family cross country and we stayed at several campgrounds, and when we left the next morning, we would make a plan for how long we were going to travel that day then google campsites around that distance and made reservation. There were times when we came in late after hours, and was nice having an envelope with camp info and our campsite. If we found we could not make the distance, most places were understanding and cancel while we found another place on the fly. Easy process...good luck
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