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RV Trip Planning: When, Why, Where, and What

It’s time to lift the jacks and hit the road RVing.

You’ve spent countless hours and many late nights zombie surfing the Internet, grabbing ideas from other RVers who have documented trips they took years ago. You feel armed with all the tools you need to excite and inform your crew on what your big adventure will entail, and you feel sure everyone will eagerly jump on board with the crazy, awesome idea. 

“Everyone’s opinion matters, and the more reasons you have for starting the trip, the more you will likely see and do.”

This might be the way your story begins, but for many getting their travel companions on the same page for small decisions can be a major task. So, the idea of everyone jumping onboard with such a big decision may be more of a dream than reality.

RV Trip Planning

We know it might be tempting to plan every detail, make a beautiful PowerPoint presentation and then showcase your ideas to everyone involved. However, once you’ve made up your mind and completed basic research, the best way to spark the spirit of adventure in others is to include them in the planning process. Allowing your traveling crew, no matter how big or how small, to help plan the next adventure is the best gift you can give them. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how engaged they become. Giving each person the ability to express his/her ideas, wants and needs will enable everyone’s bucket lists to showcase a few checked boxes. 

Here’s how: Grab two pieces of paper, a U.S. atlas and your favorite pen.

Gather everyone involved and get ready to plan. There are four big questions to steer you in the right direction when starting your trip planning process:

When?

You shouldn’t assume everyone is ready to pack up and leave tomorrow. You may be ready to hit the road hard, but others may need extra time. Also, if Mom is thinking about a year-long trip and Dad thought you were only going for two weeks, it’s better to know everyone’s expectations up front. Take your first piece of paper and fold it in half vertically. Write the word “WHEN” on the top of the left side in bold capital letters. If you are not traveling solo, divide the page into horizontal segments based on the number of people involved and write their names in each box. Hold a meeting and ask each person when they would like this trip to happen. This will include when they want to start, how long they want it to last and when they would like it to end. Make sure to write detailed answers in everyone’s box. Allow them to pick specific dates, months or even seasons if they have a preference. The more information you have the better. 

Why?

Why? On the right side of your first piece of paper, write the word “WHY” in bold capital letters. Going around the table ask each person the same question. “Why should we take this trip?” Have each person answer the question however they want and write it on the right side of the paper in their box. After they’ve answered the question, help them elaborate on their answer. Try to encourage them to think deeper into their explanation and explore multiple reasons for such an amazing trip. Everyone will have different reasons why they think you should take the road trip, and that’s okay. Everyone’s opinion matters, and the more reasons you have for starting the trip, the more you will likely see and do.

Where?

Take out your second piece of paper and fold it in half vertically. Write “WHERE” in bold capital letters on the top left side. Then divide the paper into four horizontal segments writing “NORTH, SOUTH, EAST and WEST” at the top of each of the boxes on the left side. Take out your atlas, turn to the main map of the country and allow each person to name a state they would like to visit and write it down in the correct box. 

Continue around the table one by one to form a list. If more than one person names the same state, write it down for each. Even if they name the same state, this doesn’t mean they wanted to see or do the same things.

RV Trip Planning Map

Visit the Escapees Park Locator to find discount parks, boondocking locations and work opportunities along your trip.

What?

Deciding what to do is the best part of planning and arguably the most fun.
Make sure to spend extra time on this question to fully ignite everyone’s imagination and dig into exactly what your crew wants to do on their trip. After you have a substantial list of states, you’ll need to direct attention to finding out what to do in each place selected. Was there a particular landmark they thought would be interesting?

Is there a relative they want to visit? Finding the “what” for each location can be as simple as driving through the area or more detailed with specific landmarks, local attractions and events. On the right side of your second piece of paper, write the word “WHAT” in bold capital letters. Starting with the first state on the list, turn to its page in the atlas, so you can decide which places in this state are the most interesting to everyone. Write down one specific place or activity for each line where the state was written down. Continue to find fun things for each state named until all additions have been researched. Finding “what” can take quite a bit of time. If your travel companions become antsy, especially if you are dealing with young children and short attention spans, take a break, or better yet, split your list into different days. An awesome tip for this stage of planning is to whip out the computer and Google each place so everyone can see pictures of the area and attractions and further their interest through visual stimulation.

Congratulate Your Progress

If you’ve managed to have your group answer all four of these questions honestly and everyone is still smiling, or at least still interested, you can count your planning session as a success.

You’ve managed to gather all their needs, wants and high expectations in a fun and engaging meeting, where everyone had input. Then get ready to take the information you’ve collected and read through it a few times. Give yourself time to fully absorb and consider what each person wishes to accomplish on this trip. At this point, you’ll need to plan the starting and stopping points and then detail how you’ll hit your destinations along the way and for how long. It’s important to keep all your travel companions in the loop. Avoid letting the flow of information drop off after the initial meeting is over. Keep everyone up-to-date with the progress of the trip. Show them your rough drafts and itineraries and allow them to help you modify the route if changes are necessary.

Good luck in your travel planning and stay positive even when you hit roadblocks. All your organization and attention to detail will pay off with happy campers and unforgettable RV experiences. Hopefully, we’ll see you out there on the road.

Author

Sharee Collier #129450

Sharee Collier is a wife, mom, full-time RVer and a positive voice in promoting the young, full-time traveler’s movement. After realizing the stereotypical American Dream wasn’t her family’s idea of the good life, Sharee and her husband, Antwon, said enough was enough, and they packed their stuff.
Now their family of six is traveling the US, finding new and exciting adventures in homeschooling, work-camping and full-time family travel.
Visit the Colliers online at www.meetthecolliers.com.

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