Friday, October 10, 2014

RV Travel Tips - J. Dawg's Not-To-Do List

Yoda, the Jedi Master, once said - "Always pass on what you have learned".  I've read a few RV blog articles that attempt to do this.  They've got titles such as - "Lessons From the Road", "Things I Learned Along the Way", and "RV Travel Tips".  Some offer very practical advice.  I believe we can all learn something from each other.  It's in that spirit that I share some of my learned RVing wisdom  But its not on what to do or how to do, but instead on what not to do.  These are things that I do to keep me from RVing's "dark side" (e.g., being in a hurry or being afraid).  It's J. Dawg channeling my inner Yoda.
Don't Plan the Destination, Plan the Journey
When it comes to RV travel, rarely do I travel to get to a specific place.  Yes, if its for a weekend getaway, an event, or stay by the lake, my focus is to get to a place.  But when I plan a major trip, its to usually to experience a general area or to have a certain experience, not to get to a destination.  I learned this years ago when I was climbing mountains.  Initially, I was bagging summits, but then I realized that the most enjoyment came from experiencing the hike up to the summit, not standing on the summit.  The reward isn't at the destination, its what you experience along the way.  When planning an RV trip I always plan loop routes; never to a specific point and never an out and back over the same roads.

J. Dawg watching the white lines
Don't Count the Miles
I read some blogs where the writers boast amount how many miles they've driven.  Miles only count when it comes to oil changes, tires, or pay checks for long haul truckers.  Miles don't make you smarter or give you more experience.  The best experiences or views aren't from the drivers seat. Just because something's half way across the country doesn't make it any better than one that's in the next state.  Counting the number of beautiful canyons you've seen, the number of beautiful sunsets, the number of great beaches, or the number of scenic roads are perhaps more worthwhile measures. 

Don't Try to See It All
A few years ago, when I first got into RVing, I read a book (Governor's Travels) written by the ex-Governor of Maine (Angus King).  Upon leaving the Governors office, King took his family on a 5 1/2 month RV trip across the country.  They did a big loop around the perimeter of the country stopping at all the major tourist areas.  The book was great and for him and his family it was a trip of a lifetime.  They saw a lot, but they missed so much.  In starting my RVing journey, I decided to take my time and see the country over several years.  No big 5 month trip for me, just lots of smaller journeys.  I'm seeing and savoring it in numerous small bites, exploring the nooks and crannies.  Staying away from the big cities, taking my time, staying extra days, not trying to see it all, just trying to see what intrigues me.

J. Dawg on the Trail Ridge Road the day it opened
Avoid the Popular Places During the Peak Season
Seems like everyone wants to see the wildlife in Yellowstone in July or drive the Going to the Sun Road in August.  Go to a popular National Park in the peak summer months and be prepared for a heavy dose of frustration from full campgrounds, full parking lots and clogged roads.  I avoid the peak summer months for RV travel.  I prefer to visit the popular spots in the shoulder seasons when the kids are in school and its not peak vacation time.  Spring and Fall are my best times for RV travel.  Yellowstone in early June can be cold but there's a lot less people.  You can drive along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in April instead of having to take the shuttle. 

Don't Be Afraid to Change Your Plans
Some of my best experiences happened when I asked myself - "I wonder what's down this road?" or "Hey, Lets check this out".  Just last March, we were stopped overnight in Wilcox AZ (on our way to Tuscon) and saw a tourist map with a road route called the Golden Circle of Cochise.  On a whim we decided to follow it.  It diverted us for a 160 miles thru some beautiful country that we would have bypassed.  The same thing happened when I was in South Dakota two years ago.  Instead leaving the Black Hills and driving east on I90 like I planned, I decide to go south and spent a couple extra days driving the back roads thru the Sandhills of Nebraska. It was a worthwhile change of plans.  These spur of the moment route changes can provide lots of unexpected pleasure and adventure.
J. Dawg on the Golden Circle of Cochise

Don't Be In a Hurry
This one should be obvious.  Sit on a rock and soak up the view for awhile.  Stop at the scenic turnouts and get out of the vehicle.  Wander down a path.  Wait for the light to change for that photo. You don't have to drive 500 miles in a day.  Don't be afraid to take a nap for a couple hours in a rest area.  Stay an extra day or two.  When you're retired, what's the hurry?

These are just some of the wisdom's that I've learned while RVing.  Its interesting that they are just the opposite of what I practiced when I was working.  But as Yoda said - "You must unlearn what you have learned". 

If you've got some advise or Jedi wisdom you want to share, please leave me a comment because I'd like to hear them.  And may the Force be with you!


  1. Ha ha! Love the Yoda ears!
    Thanks for sharing all your insights and good advice ~
    Warm Wishes,

    1. Cyd,
      Thanks for the kind words.
      J. Dawg.

  2. Love this one J Dawg. It's one for my permanent file. I've always been the ultimate destination driver starting when we'd take the kids to Disney from Virginia in one day. Man, I still get to apologize for that occasionally! Slowly getting better at enjoying the journey.