Saturday, September 30, 2023


Use AI to plan an RV trip? Maybe, but…

I just read an article from National Geographic about using AI (artificial intelligence) to plan a trip. AI basically draws on the information already on the internet and in seconds gathers and answers questions, writes reports, and now plans trips. As planning an RV trip is now one of my least favorite things to do I decided to give it a shot.

I Googled, found a trial AI trip-planning app on my iPhone, and tested it out. I had a three-day trial, then it would be $6.99 a month after the trial.

I realized right away that I needed to be very specific and need to double-check all the information the AI app provides. While it was fun to watch it typing out an entire trip itinerary, the devil is certainly in the details.

Specify driving distance

The first plan looked great until I realized that if we followed it we were driving 400-plus miles a day. I went back and edited it to “drive time 200 to 250 miles per day.”

Points of interest

I then decided to ask it to add National Parks. I didn’t say add National Parks on route so it routed to several National Parks way out of the way, adding hundreds of miles. I edited again to say “National Parks on the route.”

Number of days at a location

Oops, I didn’t mention the number of days I’d like to spend at each location either. The route it planned was going to be one grueling trip with no rest days. I had to edit it again to say “two nights at every stop.” It tried but did not do so very accurately. It must have gotten tired when it just said to follow the previous plan rather than rewriting it with multiple-day stays.

Type of campsite

Amazingly, there were a number of private campsites along the way we either knew about or had been to. I edited it to show more state and COE sites.


When I added dates in October and asked to know if the campgrounds were open in late October and November, the AI app did not research deeply enough to check on the campsites it was recommending. It basically said to call ahead.

Double check! Double Check!

On the surface, the AI route sounded pretty good until I went to my trusty RV LIFE Trip Wizard planner and compared the two routes. The AI route wandered into Nebraska then into Missouri and added about 600 extra miles to a direct route.

The AI route to Washington, D.C. added another 600 miles, routing us to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Sample AI route from Minnesota to Arizona

Below is the AI itinerary from Minnesota to Arizona:

“Here’s a suggested RV trip itinerary from Maple Plain, MN to Phoenix, AZ, focusing on State Park campgrounds and COE (Corps of Engineers) campgrounds along the route. Assuming you will be departing on October 20, here’s what your itinerary might look like:

Day 1: Maple Plain, MN to Clear Lake State Park, IA
– Drive from Maple Plain to Clear Lake State Park, IA (Approximately 230 miles)
– Set up camp at Clear Lake State Park Campground and enjoy the beautiful lake views and recreational activities.

Day 2: Clear Lake State Park, IA to Lake Anita State Park, IA
– Drive from Clear Lake State Park to Lake Anita State Park, IA (Approximately 240 miles)
– Set up camp at Lake Anita State Park Campground and enjoy the scenic lake, hiking trails, and fishing opportunities.

Day 3: Lake Anita State Park, IA to Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, NE
– Drive from Lake Anita State Park to Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, NE (Approximately 170 miles)
– Set up camp at Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area Campground and explore the recreational activities along the Missouri River.

Day 4: Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, NE to Smithville Lake, MO
– Drive from Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area to Smithville Lake, MO (Approximately 210 miles)
– Set up camp at one of the COE campgrounds at Smithville Lake, such as Camp Branch COE Campground or Little Platte COE Campground.

Day 5: Smithville Lake, MO to Kanopolis State Park, KS
– Drive from Smithville Lake to Kanopolis State Park, KS (Approximately 220 miles)
– Set up camp at Kanopolis State Park Campground and enjoy the scenic sandstone bluffs, hiking trails, and water activities in the reservoir.

Day 6: Kanopolis State Park, KS to Cimarron National Grassland, KS
– Drive from Kanopolis State Park to Cimarron National Grassland, KS (Approximately 230 miles)
– Set up camp at one of the dispersed camping areas within Cimarron National Grassland and experience the open prairies and unique ecological features.

Day 7: Cimarron National Grassland, KS to Ute Lake State Park, NM
– Drive from Cimarron National Grassland to Ute Lake State Park, NM (Approximately 220 miles)
– Set up camp at Ute Lake State Park Campground and enjoy the scenic views of the lake, fishing, and water-based recreational activities.

Day 8: Ute Lake State Park, NM to City of Rocks State Park, NM
– Drive from Ute Lake State Park to City of Rocks State Park, NM (Approximately 230 miles)
– Set up camp at City of Rocks State Park Campground and explore the unique rock formations, hiking trails, and stargazing opportunities.

Day 9: City of Rocks State Park, NM to Lost Dutchman State Park, AZ
– Drive from City of Rocks State Park to Lost Dutchman State Park, AZ (Approximately 220 miles)
– Set up camp at Lost Dutchman State Park Campground and take in the stunning views of the Superstition Mountains and hiking trails.

Day 10: Lost Dutchman State Park, AZ to Phoenix, AZ
– Drive from Lost Dutchman State Park to Phoenix, AZ (Approximately 40 miles)
– Arrive in Phoenix, where you can either set up camp at a nearby RV park or explore various attractions and activities in the city.

Please note that this itinerary provides a rough guideline, and you can adjust the driving distances and times based on your preferences and available days. Also, make sure to check the operating hours and availability of campgrounds along the route, as some may be subject to seasonal closures or restrictions.”

Edit, edit, edit, and it doesn’t listen!

After receiving the basic itinerary, I asked for a direct route, no backtracking and suitable travel for October and November. It went for a scenic trip to South Dakota and the Black Hills, then to Yellowstone.

Then I wrote: NO South Dakota, so it directed the route to South Dakota again and Colorado Rocky Mountains, in November, in an RV. Then back to Yellowstone.

Like a stubborn child with its own mind

It felt like I was yelling at it: “NO, NO, NO!” I finally gave up. It seemed to be copying an existing itinerary and not customizing it to my directions.

Useful or not?

I think asking the right questions to begin with is key. Continual editing seemed to confuse AI. Perhaps it is better at this point to get specific information on things to see and do at a destination. I did not find it useful enough to pay $6.99 a month and canceled at the end of my free trial.

Make sure to read this other story on AI trip planning, too.


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.


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Donald Schneider
2 months ago

We have to remember it is “Artificial Intelligence” and NOT the end-all and be-all for EVERYTHING!

Doug Setzer
2 months ago

This is why I love our service. Real people helping real travelers. Y’all had an article on us when we first came out.

Bob R
2 months ago

Wife and I are heading out in Sep for a month. We used ChatGPT as an initial planning tool. I knew it was a crap shoot, with expectations set appropriately low. Our first attempt gave us an impossible trip. To improve the odds, we asked ChatGPT to recommend campsites and interesting spots to visit in a region of the country, with descriptions of each. That part was useful and gave us a roster of ideas for places to stay or visit. While we could have found this same information from other sources, this was easier, and gave us ideas to use when we later input our trip into RV Trip Planner. My advice is to use AI for what it’s good at. Detailed planning of the actual isn’t one of them.

Ken Shoop
2 months ago

Interesting article, because AI trip planning is all over the headlines right now. Based on your experience, it sure seems like it’s not ready for prime time in the RV world though. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I actually enjoy trip planning because it gets me excited about our next trip. I’ll stick to Roadtrippers Plus for now.

2 months ago

Not prime time yet. Coming to the government near you.

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