Having decided to live on the road full-time, you are as free as a bird, able to come and go as you please. But what comes next? Making a decision about where to go next, on the other hand, isn’t always as straightforward as filling up the tank and driving. Several factors should be taken into consideration prior to beginning driving.
Pro-tip: Purchase a paper road atlas of all 50 states, as well as local maps to use while traveling. Paper maps reveal details that a GPS or a smartphone app will not reveal.
Crowds vs. No Crowds: Which is better?
Almost everyone who is new to the RV lifestyle has a few places on their bucket list; for many, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Yellowstone National Park are must-see destinations. All of these places are fantastic places to spend some time, but if you go during peak season, expect to be surrounded by people. It is possible to find lines of cars stretching for miles in places like Yellowstone and Zion National Parks, where people have been waiting for hours to enter. But on top of that, you’ll be competing for limited parking space with thousands of tourists, many of whom will not have the same regard for the environment as you do.
In order to visit a world-renowned location during the offseason, which is generally early spring or late fall, you should plan your trip during these times. There will be significantly less competition and significantly more breathing room. Keep in mind that you will need to make your reservations well in advance; many of the most popular campsites are booked 6-12 months in advance at this time. Certainly not the spontaneous life you’ve imagined, but life on the road can necessitate extensive planning ahead of time on occasion.
A better strategy might be to look into state and national parks that are less well-known and less visited; there are many hidden gems out there just waiting to be discovered. Take out a paper map and look for state and national parks in the general direction you’re going to be traveling in on it. It’s possible that you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.
Check the weather forecast
Have a weather app on your phone that allows you to change the location of the weather forecast is a good idea. Enter the location of your choice and check the weather forecast for a longer period of time, such as 15 days or more, if you are able to do so. One of the benefits of the lifestyle is being able to keep up with the nice weather, and checking a weather app is one way to do so.
In the minds of many people who are new to the RV or van lifestyle, states such as Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico are nothing more than scorching hot deserts, which is simply not true. The northern parts of those states are mountainous, and heavy snowfall can occur even in the spring or early fall in the mountainous regions. It’s important to know what the weather will be like throughout your journey, both for your own comfort and for your own safety.
Going Down a Road Less Traveled
While entering a destination into a GPS or your cellphone is convenient, it is likely to lead you down one of the nation’s major interstate highway systems. Paper maps can be extremely useful in this situation.
You can use the map to find alternate routes if you know where you’re going but don’t want to take any major highways. You can still use your GPS, but instead of setting it for your final destination, set it for the points in between along your desired route. It is not only less stressful to travel on state highways and back roads, but they are also more scenic and full of unexpected surprises.
All RVers and van dwellers should have a copy of the Mountain Directory, which is available in paperback or as an app, and which depicts nearly all of the steep grades, hairpin turns, low bridges, and bad roads that can be found along the highways. Consult the Mountain Directory if you want to stay away from steep grades or need to stay away from low overpasses. It is possible to plan an RV-friendly route with the assistance of a paper map.
Keeping in Touch with Others
A destination with 4G cell service is ideal if you are conducting business online or are simply addicted to social media platforms. Locate the cell coverage map for your carrier and cross-reference it with the location you intend to visit. Additionally, websites such as Campendium provide user reviews that include information about cell coverage, so it’s worth looking into.
Nighttime parking lots in between major cities.
Even if your final destination is more than a day away, you’ll want to go online and plan out where you’ll be able to park for the night; Walmart, truck stops, and rest areas are all good options. You may also want to make a list of the locations of propane stations, water stations, grocery stores, and dump stations that you will pass along the way. Paper maps can be useful for locating rest areas, but the length of time you can spend at each location varies from state to state.
Also, even if you’re traveling to a well-known destination like Yellowstone, it’s a good idea to look for lesser-known attractions along the way. When you’re on the road, it’s best to go at your own pace and take things slowly and deliberately.