Planning Your Next Camping Trip

It almost goes without saying, exploring America with my family is the best thing about trailering.  Spending quality time together.  Getting out there and discovering something new, interesting, beautiful.

1. Determine budget.

Before anything else, I gotta know how much we can spend.  Gas will typically be at least 1/2 the budget- depending on how far you’re going.  One of our trips out west, covering over 4,300 miles with gas between $3.50 – $4.10/gallon YMMV, budget worked out to be:

  • $2,050 fuel
  • $380 campgrounds
  • $250 parts/service
  • $120 souvenirs

Food is not included, since that’s part of the regular household budget.  Boondocking overnight stays is a great way to reduce the campground expense.  (I can’t justify paying a full days rent for a slot you’re only using to sleep in- for about 5 hours, and probably won’t even use their hookups).  BING satellite views can give you a great overview of space availability.  Casino’s make great urban boondocking locations.

Mega-malls make great boondock locations.  Plenty of space, usually easy on/off from freeway.
Mega-malls make great boondock locations. Plenty of space, usually easy on/off from freeway.

GasBuddy : Great website for minimizing your fuel costs.  Haven’t tried the app, yet.

2. Council meeting on destination

One of the only instances in our family when the children actually have a vote in the decision making process.  Of course, they’ve learned suggestions like “moon” and “Aruba” are forfeit, since only destinations that can be reached with the Airstream are entertained.

3. Maps and websites.

This is where BING (because it’s not google) maps, DNR, reservations.gov, and all the other state reservation websites come in.

Michigan State Park Reservations

Reserve America : Many of the other State Parks use this system

4. How far can I get?

Great tool for estimating your waypoints.  With our current rig (2500 Suburban, Hensley, 2008 Airstream), I’ve been known to go just under 700 miles in a single day, before I’m too fatigued to safely continue.  A typical travel day is closer to 500 miles, if we’re not taking the back roads.

How Far Can I Get

5. Contingency Plans

If you’re traveling with a family, you know last minute changes are likely; and the probability of plan change increases by a factor inverse to the age of the youngest.

I usually have two plans at the ready. One’s a modification on our final destination, and the other is in the event of complete cancellation– which has only happened once.  We had a Cape Cod trip planned, when the transaxle actuator, module and motor died (about 8 miles into the trip, thanks be to God).  I ended up popping a tent in the backyard, starting a campfire, lighting the grill, and camping out with smores and ghost stories.

You can find other useful links in the sidebar.

Thanks for visiting.

See you down the road.


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