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5 Tips on How to Plan a Truly Epic RV Trip

| Updated Feb 15, 2024

This week on Episode 484 of the RV Podcast:

  • How to plan a truly epic RV trip – 5 tips from a couple who have road trip planning down to an art form.
  • The Buc-ee’s mega gas station chain is rapidly expanding… if only they were more RV-friendly!
  • Looking for a good excuse to get outside this month? The Great Backyard Bird Count is almost here, and it needs your help.
  • All this, plus the RV News of the Week and your questions coming up in Episode #484 of the RV Podcast

You can watch the video version from our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel by clicking the player below.

If you prefer an audio-only podcast, you can hear us through your favorite podcast app or listen now through the player below.

Interview: How to Plan a Truly Epic RV Trip

How to Plan a Truly Epic RV Trip

Liz and Jim Cahalan are planning to take a bucket list RV trip out West this summer and fall, starting from their home in Texas, heading north through Colorado, hitting Glacier National Park, then heading west to Mt. Rainier National Park, and down the coast of Washington, Oregon and California, then east through Arizona and New Mexico, returning to their home just outside San Antonio, Texas.

This is a dream trip, a little more than 10 weeks long, 5,641 miles. They are bringing along their 3 boxers, pulling a 37-foot Fifth Wheel with their truck. So how did they plan it? That is our topic today in the RVLifestyle podcast.

5 RV Trip Planning Tips from the Cahalans:

  1. Know Your Must-Sees 
  2. Slow Down and Take your Time
  3. Use a Route Planner
  4. Check your Campgrounds Carefully
  5. Google Nearby Activities & Adjust Nights Accordingly

List or watch the podcast in the players above for all the details.


5 Tips on How to Plan a Truly Epic RV Trip 1

Wendy Bowyer reports on the hot issues most talked about this past week on social media and our RV Lifestyle Community group.

In our RVLifestyle Community, we recently had a post in the e-Bikes space from Joan. Joan wrote that she loves e-biking and is always looking for campgrounds that offer opportunities for good, safe, and fun bike trails. Her favorites so far are Tiger Fun Resort in Breckenridge, CO, Sun Outdoors Bay Harbor in Petoskey, MI, and Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, AL.

So Joan asked for recommendations, and what I love about the community is this thread does not disappear, as it would on Facebook, but it stays up so people can continue to use it as a resource and add new suggestions. 

Some recommendations that caught my eye include one from Lisa, who recommended a trail just outside the gates of the Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort in South Carolina. She said you can ride to the beach or anywhere on the island and do not need a car.

Patty recommended trails on Jekyll Island, GA. She said you can ride all over the island on bike trails, and it is beautiful. 

A couple of people recommended the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail outside the national park in Michigan – and there were many other helpful campground and trail suggestions.

Also, in the community, in the Mods and DIY Tweaks space, Monica had the perfect solution for what to do with collectible stickers. You know the maps of the U.S. or Canada where you put in a sticker for every state or providence you camp in? Monica didn't want to lose all the special memories each sticker represents when it is time to sell the rig so she created her own solution.

What Monica did was attach plexiglass to the inside door of an outside storage area. Then on this plexiglass she put her map of the USA, and other stickers of special places she visited like the Narrows, Route 66, Niagara Falls and so much more. Then one day when she and her husband needed to sell their rig, she said she would take the plexiglass out, and put it up on a garage wall.

What a GREAT idea! And she did a shout-out to us, saying “Hey Mike and Jen and Bo – I have the perfect place for my first podcast/YouTuber sticker! You were the first podcast we started listening to” – And it sounds like Monica recently bought property in TN, so one day we are going to have to get Monica a sticker!

Meanwhile over on our RVLifestyle Facebook group, I have to share a post that drew literally thousands of laughing emojis and well over 700 comments. And it was from Tami. She shared three pictures and simply wrote: “Husband making the bed for the first time.” So many could relate! This poor man was shown stretching and trying to reach one far corner of the bed, and looking like he is laying down stretching to reach the other corner. For those listening to the audio only version of this, you will need to go to our show notes or YouTube version to see these pictures for yourself. 

Leah wrote: “The battle is real!”

Claire wrote: “This made me laugh so hard, my sides ached.

And Laura wrote what many I'm sure were thinking: “I feel his pain.”

Thank you for that chuckle Tami.


5 Tips on How to Plan a Truly Epic RV Trip 2

Man convicted of diverting a river in Michigan national park to create better fishing and boating access

A Michigan man was convicted of two federal misdemeanors last week for diverting the Platte River in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to better access Lake Michigan.

A National Park Service ranger saw the man use a shovel to hand-dig sand and rocks at the river in August 2022. This eventually created a damn, which led to a new channel which grew to be 200 feet wide.

This new channel dramatically altered the natural flow of the national park river and shoreline by causing sand to build up and reduced the ability of boats to access Lake Michigan. 

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a beautiful park, and the Plate River Campground is a favorite of ours in that area. We write about it in our 7-Stop Adventure Guide for Michigan's Lower Peninsula here.

Have 15 or more minutes to spare? Go outside this week and count birds with the Great Backyard Bird Count!

If you find yourself with some free time this week, you might want to consider joining the Great Backyard Bird Count.

The public is asked to pick one day between Feb. 16-19 to go outside to a favorite park or even their own backyard and spend a period of time as short as 15 minutes counting birds.

The information from where you were, what birds you saw, and how many you counted during a block of time is then submitted to scientists who use it to better understand bird populations around the world.

Sponsored by The Cornell Lab, the Audubon Society and Birds Canada, the group has a website with full instructions here.

New York state parks and campgrounds set visitation record in 2023 for 11th consecutive year

The number of visitors to New York state parks and campgrounds set a new record in 2023, totaling 84.1 million visits, a 6 percent increase from 2022, which also set a record.

This was the 11th consecutive annual increase in visits to New York state parks, and to us, it is easy to see why.

Watkins Glen State Park in the Fingers Region had 1.2 million people visit in 2023, setting a new record. This breathtakingly beautiful park is known for its gorge path that winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of the Cavern Cascade.

The Adirondack Park and Fingers Lakes Region of upper New York is an area we recommend every RVer visit at least once. The Adirondack park is huge, containing 85% of all wilderness in the eastern United States.

In fact, we like the area so much that we wrote an adventure guide for the area telling you what to see, where to camp, and what to do that you can learn about here.

Popular RV gas station and convenience store Buc-ee's opening in several new states in 2024

Have you stopped by one of the massive Buc-ee's on your travel days? If your answer is no because you haven't come across one in your part of the country, that may soon change!

The Texas-based gas station and convenience store chain with a beaver mascot has become a destination of sorts for many RVers. 

The stores are HUGE and crowded and serve things like brisket and jerky, they have a bakery, clean bathrooms, gas pumps, and SO MANY other items for sale in its sprawling space – many see them as a destination to experience at least once.

Not that long ago a person had to travel in Texas to come across a Buc-ee's, but that is quickly changing. Stores are now in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and South Carolina. 

And just this week, we saw reports of stores opening in Ohio, Arizona, Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Colorado.

Buc-ee’s are great, but they are not very RV-friendly. If you’re towing a trailer, fifth wheel, or toy hauler, you’ll have to really search for a spot. And no matter what kind of RV you are in, don’t plan on staying long, as they'll chase you out. They allow no overnight camping or long breaks for RVers.


5 Tips on How to Plan a Truly Epic RV Trip 3

QUESTION: We keep hearing all these commercials about why we should get a Virtual Private Network especially when we’re traveling in our RV for our Internet access to protect our privacy, especially when using campground Wi-Fi. Should we? Do you and Jen have one? – Marci

ANSWER: No. We do not. A Virtual Private Network – a VPN – is a service you buy that supposedly protects your internet connection and privacy online. VPNs create an encrypted tunnel for your data, and the many firms offering this service claim it protects your online identity by hiding your IP address and allows you to use public Wi-Fi hotspots safely.

But the truth is, for most of us, that isn’t necessary. I get it that No one likes to be watched or tracked –and if you are seriously concerned about that, then spend the money and get a VPN, though many of the cheapest VPNs and the free ones really can't 100% guarantee the privacy they claim to offer.

We don't use a VPN for a variety of reasons. First, it will slow your connection speed. Not a lot. But in spots where it is already marginal, it makes a bad situation worse. 

But the biggest reason is that some websites check your IP address against a list of known VPN server IPs when you log in. If there’s a match, they will block your connection. 

In fact, PayPal and online banking institutions may temporarily disable you from visiting your account if they see that you’re logging in from a foreign IP. 

Now, there are ways around this – like logging in through different servers – but it’s a hassle when this happens. And it happens because cyber criminals and fraudsters usually use VPNs to steal data and hack into accounts. So you can’t blame websites and financial institutions for being a bit leery of VPNs. 

Another reason we don’t use a VPN is the cost. It’s only a few bucks a month, but we’re already paying for Internet access. We don’t need to pay any more.

Are You an RV Newbie? Or Thinking of Joining the RV Lifestyle?  

newbie guide

THIS is the ebook to get first – before you purchase anything- to make sure you are heading in the right direction with the right RV and plans.

So, buckle up and get ready for the ride of your life. Consider this not just a guide—but an invitation to discover the joy of RV travel and the freedom of the open road.

You’ll find it all in this 64-page ebook (digital PDF – NOT a print book) The Newbies Guide to the RV Lifestyle

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-02-14

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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