G and I aren't usually the "jump in the Roadtrek and wing it " types. But we did just that in December 2013 a couple of weeks after taking delivery of our 210P. That 2500 mile initial trek was a lot of fun and it ended well. But we did take some risks by doing that. Those types of risks might not be prudent for everyone.
There is an old expression "Be prepared and take advantage of opportunity when it is presented. "
I've been asked about our approach to trekking. Here is a quick summary of tools, etc. that we use and approach to such travel.
First and foremost we like to have our treks be as pleasant as possible, under prevailing conditions. So we do things to facilitate that.
Our first trek, overnight at a rest stop:
I put together this list and asked G her comments. She's partner, co-pilot and navigator!
- Communications Tools A smart phone with internet access is essential. We carry a PC for more serious internet tasks. ·
- Weather and inclement weather planning We closely monitor the weather, using 10-day forecasts when planning. When trekking we recheck each and every day. This is mandatory when travelling longer distances and at certain times of the year when fast moving storms do occur. We always carry rain gear and clothes for cool to hot weather, even in summer.
- Insects and other pests and physical well-being We carry bug repellent, tick removal tool, a small medical kit.
- Trip and Route Planning Tools
- Clio App (history, museums, culture, etc.)
- Allstays App (truck stops, campgrounds, overnight parking, stores, RV Dealers & Service, etc.)
- GPS [Real time - Verizon Navigator for online traffic (or Google Maps Traffic), etc.]
- GPS (Trip planning – Garmin, TomTom , Microsoft Streets & Trips 2013)
- Printed maps (Nationwide Rand McNally for truckers, local street and highway maps.
- Sources for travel information We do online searches before and during travel. G as Navigator also consults printed material. Good Sams, KOA, AAA materials Roadtrip USA (a book by Jamie Jensen), FMCA membership data including the "cyberrally" email service.
5. Travel in Realistic Segments. We break each trek into segments which allow for a reasonable amount of daily travel.
- 6. Use the distinction of “sightseeing” travel vesus “distance” travel. We use two different aspects for travel segments. These are “sightseeing” and “distance”. We have different expectations and goals for each of these approaches. We use both approaches when trekking.
- 7. Be Flexible because Things do happen. We do our best to simply accept what occurs as a challenge rather than as an impediment. It’s good to have a plan “B”.
- 8. Set maximum daily travel limits
This is determined by objective or “time to distance”. For example, travelling at 70 MPH for 10 hours allows a maximum daily distance of 700 miles. However, there are bathroom breaks, meal stops, stretch stops and gas stops to consider even if we are going for distance. I use 60 MPH as a realistic average speed for distance driving on interstates, and that may be pushing it. However, it is prudent to combine these agendas for the stops. So we look ahead using the Apps to find truck stops we like and can provide the amenities per stop. Experience is a good teacher.
- 9. Have Reservations
To avoid booked campgrounds we make a reservation. We may do this the “morning of” but usually several days in advance as we progress along our route. In busy seasons, or in popular areas making reservations weeks ahead may be prudent. Sometimes months ahead is necessary. It is really comforting to have the security of knowing we have a place for the night before arriving.
- 10. Duration of the Travel Segments and Multi-night stays
When trekking we may travel for the better part of one day, stay overnight and then travel the next day. However, this means we setup each night, and get back on the road each morning. To make segments more enjoyable we prefer two nights minimum in most locations. That allows us to stretch for an entire day, get up a little later on that first morning at the campground, explore the area, have a nice meal and even a campfire in the evening before settling in for the second night.
- 11. Incentives
We like to have something to look forward to each and every day. It may be a museum, or painted churches, or strolling through a town, or even driving to see an ancient bridge. And of course there are state and national parks, too.
- 12. Shared responsibilities
I do most of the driving and G is the Navigator. We approach trekking as a partnership for all. When the children were young they participated in my camping outings, too. Current duties have been determined by practical experience. I don’t mind driving for hours and I am inclined to travel near the speed limit. G prefers to travel at 5 MPH or so below the speed limit, but is willing to do daily planning and logistics. I view a 5MPH deficit as accumulating as much as 50 miles over 10 hours. That’s nearly an additional hour of extra driving per day. (10 hours @ 50 MPH = 500 miles per day. 10 hours at 55 MPH = 550 miles per day. The difference is 50 miles per day). Bottom line: If we are going for distance it is prudent to put the faster driver in the driver's seat.
- 13. Planning the Route
We determine the rough route before beginning a trek. We establish goals. We then do some online research of communities and sights along the way. When researching these communities we look for festivals and the things that make each community unique.
The day of arrival makes a difference. Some locations fill up with weekend travelers. Holidays can produce special problems or issues.
We own a RT, a travel trailer and a 5th wheel. The manuals provided by RT were the best of the three. Howevever, our 2013 210P has minimal high tech or proprietary equipment. We have no fancy diesel engine, no Alde heating system, no proprietary lithium batteries, etc.
I've downloaded all of the service manuals for everything. Our 210P has performed extraordinarily well with travle during ambient temperatures from 5F at night to 103F during the day, and for 33,000 miles. We have lived in it for up to 110 continuous days and we have experienced good factory/dealer support. I suppose one could argue that "things have changed" but that's not been my experience. One could also argue that "I am lucky" but I prefer that old definition of luck: Be prepared and take advantage of opportunity when it is presented.
I will admit I am probably unusual. I spent years reviewing class Bs before a purchase. We rented one before purchase. Then upon buying I took a lot of it apart to figure it out. And, oh, I read all of the manuals and tried everything. That includes stuff that wasn't clear to me in the manuals. After I thought I understood the tech I tried it all and practiced everything including winterizing and de-winterizing. I learned every valve, fuse, etc. and G and I even purchased certain spare parts to take with us.
Gee, I wonder why we've had great treks? Just luck of course!