We get lots of questions from regular readers and listeners of out podcast about how we travel and where we stay while heading from pace to place in our RV.
So, in no particular order, let me share our Tip 10 Traveling Tips:
- Stay off the Interstates – This is often easier said than done. But always, driving two lane or divided state highways is more interesting and yields more fun places to explore. Unfortunately, though, we find that we can not avoid them completely because interstates are always the fastest and most direct ways to get somewhere and often our schedule is such that we have to be somewhere at a certain time and we don't have the luxury to indulge our curiosity for the serendipity of relaxed travel. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the stress of traveling the interstates. Keep reading….
- Follow the Roadtreking 330 Rule – When we're just meandering, our preferred style is simple: Stop for the day when you have either traveled 330 miles or it reaches 3:30 PM. Notice I said “preferred” style. Generally, this is always best as you are not exhausted from too much driving and when you do stop, you still have time to explore the local area. It's a good rule to follow but it doesn't cover every trip. Sometimes things happen. You stay longer somewhere than you planned or something some up and you have to be somewhere faster than you expected. So the 330 Rule can be supplanted anytime by any of the following guidelines.
- Stop and See – Rarely do we travel long distances without finding somewhere to stop and see something interesting or bizzare, like the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas, the Obscure Collection of Torture Devices in Alton, IL or the Cathedral of Junk in Austin, TX. We use the Roadside America website and app to help us find such places but often it's just a roadside sign that leads us off the highway, like the one we found for the Jello Museum in LeRoy New York. None of these surprise attractions take long to see. Usually an hour or so will do it. But you invariably discover something you didn't know before that stretches your mind as you stretch your legs.
- Change Drivers – When traveling a long way in a day, we start out by changing drivers every two hours. Then every 90 minutes. Then, if we still have more ground to cover, every hour. We also try to find a park or rest area to do the swap so we can also walk Bo. A typical swap takes five or 10 minutes. It is amazing how even such a short break refreshes you.
- Time your Travels around Big City Rush Hours – Trust me, you don't want to be on I-75 in Atlanta during Rush Hour. Or I-65 in Nashville or or Louisville. Or the interstates through any other big city. We have found the best days to travel are Sundays and holidays. When a big city is on our route, we always try to spend the night on the far side so when we start off the next morning, so we are going against the rush. If we're heading north, we'll stay on the north side of the city. Heading west, stay west. You get the picture. If you're driving in mid afternoon and your current pace will have you traveling through at rush hour, stop, stop short and find an attraction to tour, take a nap, find a dog park to exercise your pet, eat your evening meal a little earlier, anything that delays your drive through the city until after rush hour. In big cities, rush hour pretty much runs from 4 PM through 7:30 PM.
- Take Advantage of what Big Cities Offer – While you do want to avoid big city traffic, big cities DO have a lot to offer. We have friends who regularly boondock in New York City. They find a spot to park on a street and overnight there. Granted, they don't set out lawn chairs and the grill, but they love doing so and have never had an issue. We prefer finding nearby campgrounds around big cities. A great many of them offer bus tours of the nearby metropolis. They are an awesome and very efficient way to sample big city offerings. You're free to look around because someone else is driving. You can scout out places you'd like to return for a longer look and locate nearby parking spots for your RV. That's another reason we love traveling in a Class B RV, by the way. There are very few urban spots where we are unable to park, mostly parking garages. Everywhere else we have found places to park.
- Overnight where you can sleep well – We are not fans of overnighting in WalMart parking lots. They are too bright and too noisy. Interstate rest stops are quieter, in our experience. We prefer to overnight in Cracker Barrel parking lots. Generally they are much less busy. We also will choose a KOA. We like KOA campgrounds. They are always clean and many of them have fenced in areas were dogs can get off leash exercise. I'd rather pay to get a good night's sleep than be a cheapskate and end up tossing and turning in a noisy parking lot where RVers can stay for free. We recently joined Harvest Hosts, a membership service that offers overnight camping in wineries, on farms and unique attractions. They ask that you buy a bottle of wine or some produce from the place before leaving but its otherwise free, covered in the $40 a year membership dues. We also like to boondock in quiet, uncrowded state and national forests, where overnight camping is often free or ridiculously inexpensive. Here's a list of all the boondocking stories we've done on the blog to give you ideas on how to find such places.
- Listen to Audiobooks and Podcasts – To break the monotony of the drive we listen to audiobooks. You can get them free from your local library. Cracker Barrel restaurants offer an audiobook library where you buy the book at full retail but then, when you have finished, return it to any Cracker Barrel anywhere in the country and get a refund the purchase, except for a $3 rental fee. Our referred method is to get audiobooks through Audible, which is owned by Amazon. Audible has a great introductory offer. You can get a free audiobook download and 30 day free trial to to check out their service. It’s, in essence, a free audiobook. After that, it’s $14.95 a month, about half the price of buying one at retail. We have been using the service since early last year. You can cancel anytime, and the books are yours to keep. If you are on the road a lot, this may be worth it for you. We also listen to podcasts. We use the podcast app on our iPhone and then play it back through the entertainment system on our Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL by Bluetooth. On iOS devices, the podcast app comes standard, On Android and other smartphones, get a podcast app through your app store. Be sure and subscribe to and listen to our Roadtreking RV Podcast while you're at it!
- Be prepared for emergencies and bad weather – Don't travel in a bubble. Know what's happening along your route. I try to find local TV websites along the route and quickly scan them to see if roads are closed or local emergencies will affect our travel. One time, we diverted around one big city where there was some urban unrest going on. If I hadn't read the news, I wouldn't have known of what could have been a very unpleasant if not dangerous situation. Similarly, weather can vary a lot as you travel. Any time there is a potential for an ice storm, for example, you'll want to be off the road or in a different region. In case you do get stranded, always make sure you have water, a good first aid kit and enough food for a couple meals. That's easy to do in an RV.
- Finally, Don't be afraid to splurge time to time – Sometimes, on long road trips, we give ourselves a fun change of pace and spend a night in a hotel or motel. We spread out with all that room, take long hot showers, sleep in, swim in the pool, soak in the hot tub and enjoy the free hot breakfasts offered by most chains. Maybe we'll use the break to also do the laundry (they all have coin operated machines). We don't motel it a lot but when we do, it's guilt free. Usually, we'll also find a nice restaurant to go along with the motel, one that prefers you not wear T-shirts and sandals. Sometimes we'll also find a movie to see or a concert to attend. It's nice to change things up and splurge from time to time. Variety truly is the spice of life.
How about you? What Traveling Tips would you add to this list?