by Chris Guld, GeeksOnTour.com
I’m talking about trip planners here. All those apps that RVers use to plan where to go, what to see, and how to get there. There’s a lot of them. Here is an incomplete list – just the ones that I have tried.
The problem with all of them is that they are built for people who like to plan. Well, duh … You’re probably saying, what are they supposed to do? But I don’t like to plan. It probably comes from being a full-time RVer for 14 years. Being on the road was not a “trip” – it was life. One of my biggest joys was driving down the road, coming to a fork, and tossing a coin as to whether we turn right or left. The beauty of living on the road is freedom, and nothing says freedom like not knowing where you’re going!
So, what’s my problem? Why don’t I just not use a trip planner? Well, we do still need to be in certain places at certain times. For example, this summer we will be presenting seminars at both the FMCA Convention in Gillette, Wyoming, and the Escapade in Rock Springs, Wyoming. We are no longer full-time RVers – we live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But we do still travel by RV. I need a planner to figure out when to leave home in order to – leisurely – get to Wyoming for the rallies starting on July 7.
The little trip planner built into the RVParky.com website is my tool of choice for simple planning with dates. You set a start date for your trip, then it’s very easy to add stops, set a number of nights’ stay for that stop, and RVParky will calculate the date you arrive at the next stop. If it’s not the date you want, you can change the start date or the number of nights at a stop and the plan will recalculate. Here is what the big picture of our summer’s travels looks like on RV Parky.
Our first stop will be at a friend’s in Melrose, FL, so I enter that in the plan and set it to 1 night stay. The next place we know we want to stop is at a friend’s in Waco, Texas. RV Parky tells me that it is 1,054 miles from Melrose to Waco. We like to travel no more than 300 miles in a day, so that means we need to plan 3 night stops along the way. NO! I don’t want to plan those night stops. They would only be written in jello anyway. We’ll drive until we start getting tired then get out the AllStays app. We’ll find a place up ahead to park. A rest area or Cracker Barrel or Walmart is just fine. Or maybe an Elk’s lodge, if there is one close to our route.
That’s the way we roll. I want the map of my “plan” to only show the big picture – just the places we know we want to go to, not each overnight along the way. I wish that a program would understand this and calculate the number of nights in transit for me. But I don’t know of any program that does that. Do you?
How to get the right arrival dates without planning every night stop
So, here’s what I’ve figured out. If, for each planned stop, I add the number of travel nights to the next stop, RV Parky will calculate my arrival date correctly.
|Known places we want to stop||# of actual overnights||# of nights needed until next stop|
|1. Gainesville, FL||1||3|
|2. Waco, TX||3||3|
|3. Westminster Elks Lodge, Denver, CO||3||1 (+ 4 for leeway)|
|4. FMCA in Gillette, WY||Date of arrival = start date + all nights.|
Here’s what it looks like in the RV Parky trip planner. Notice that I write a little note to myself to remember how I came up with the nights. You might notice that this plan does not get us to Gillette in time, but now that I have all the nights along the way accounted for, I can adjust the start date until the calculated arrival date is more to my liking.
Other trip planning apps
If you do like to plan more details, RV Trip Wizard may be more to your liking. You can still use the above technique for calculating dates. Google My Maps and Roadtrippers do not calculate dates at all, and Furkot gives you suggested night stays according to your desired driving range.
Lots of choices here for trip planners, folks. You need to understand your needs and play with all the different options. I’m just glad I found my solution.
This will be the topic for our LIVE YOUTUBE show on Sunday (tomorrow) May 9, 2021, at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Join us live, or watch the replay later.
Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She and her husband, Jim, produce a free weekly YouTube show called What Does This Button Do? They have been Fulltime RVers, popular seminar presenters at RV Rallies, and regular contributors to RVTravel.com, for many years.