There is a lot of discussion in the full-time RVing community over what the optimal pace to travel at is. How much time on the road versus how much time parked in one spot. How much driving to do on any given day, and what the best time to arrive at your destination is.
Often, those who are just starting out on the road jump from place to place and cover distances quickly, trying to cram as much into as short of a period of time as possible and don’t stay in one spot long.
The more experienced full-timers shake their heads at this behavior, saying those folks are still in ‘vacation mode’. They will tell you that you’re a full-timer now, you have as much time as you need to see it all and there is no rush. Do less driving in a day to save on sanity and money, and stay in places longer to get a local’s perspective and have a fuller experience. Slow down, smell the roses, relax and enjoy.
I knew all of this months before I even bought my RV. But that still didn’t stop me from driving from Indian Springs, GA to Sioux Falls, SD in three days shortly after starting full-time.
It was an interesting learning experience, and for all you prospective full-timers out there I offer these tidbits of advice:
Lesson 1: Weight the pros and cons of that much driving in a short period of time.
While not physically demanding, it tires you out, especially if you have to do it alone. I don’t mind driving, especially if it’s through a pretty or unexplored area. The first four hours or so that first day were fine, but it got worse the longer I went. The second day and third days I got weary of it faster.
Sometimes it’s worth it, and sometimes it’s not. See, I really wanted to get my domicile stuff taken care of in South Dakota before starting at Amazon, and I wanted to give myself enough time to take care of any big problems that may have come up along the way. So I decided that in this case, doing it in one mad dash was best. That way I’d have plenty of time to deal with the unknown.
For a newer RV, this is probably a pretty minimal concern, but the Casita, while in good shape, is 13 years old. I had never driven it a great distance before and so had no idea what to expect with it on the road. For all I knew, the rest of my rivets could have come loose from all the rattling around and I would have had a major repair on my hands. Better safe than sorry in this early learning phase. Now that this is in the past and I’ve been driving the Casita around a while and gotten a couple hard rains I know that it is still quite road worthy an in the future I’ll worry less about catastrophic failures.
Lesson 2: If you are trying to get somewhere quickly, overnighting at campgrounds and RV parks is not the best answer.
If you’re willing to put yourself through the unpleasantness of this much driving, you aren’t traveling to sight see, you’re trying to make good time. And having to set up and take down camp every day is going to take a lot of time – it takes me at least an hour and a half, more like two hours realistically.
Dry camping is the best answer in this case. During my travel days I over-nighted at truck stops almost exclusively. I was traveling along interstates and they were the easiest to find, but places like WalMart work just as well. Every single truck stop I’ve asked about RVs staying overnight at has said it was okay so far. I’m sure sooner or later I’ll run into one that will decline, but in that case I’ll just drive a bit further to the next one.
Not only does going this route save time, but it saves money too. To save more time and money, plan ahead and stock your fridge and pantry with food that doesn’t require cooking. You probably won’t want to cook after a long day of driving and going out every night adds up quickly. Cold cut sandwiches are my staple on travel days, I don’t even have to get a plate dirty.
Lesson 3: Know your limits.
It’s not just about covering miles quickly, it’s about doing it safely as well. It’s no good if you manage to reach your destination too worn out to accomplish whatever it is you needed to be there for in the first place. It’s also no good if you get into an accident along the way because you pushed yourself too hard.
For instance I know I have a hard time staying alert behind the wheel after dark, so I always planned to be parked within an hour after night fell. That gave me plenty of time to rest before the next day of driving.
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Tomorrow I’ll be leaving Roaring River State Park in MO and making the last push towards Coffeyville. I’ve had a wonderful time here so far and my next post will be the review of it once the whole experience is over. Expect pretty pictures.