Time to Get on the Road and Go!

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[SW Colorado | July 2020 | By Ninah Hunter]

According to Forbes Magazine, 2020 is likely to be a banner year for RVers. “Consider that millions of cooped-up Americans are eager to get out and travel. Driving will be the preferred method of transportation, and self-cocooning in some sort of RV would seem to be one of the most desirable ways to travel with family or close friends.”

There are lots of advantages to heading on the road in an RV. Social distancing is a given—it’s you and your fellow riders; no masks needed. You have our own bathroom, which alleviates the fear of shared germs, a major concern for road trippers who use public restrooms. And you take your bed with you, no need to share one where you aren’t sure how clean it is or if the hospitality staff has thoroughly sanitized your accommodations.

RVs can be expensive, though. Buying one new can set you back anywhere up to $300,000! Sharing one can be a good option, so you don’t have to store it or park in your driveway when not in use. It’s kind of like an Airbnb rental, but motorized and on wheels. Owners who don’t use their rigs all the time can share them (for a rental fee) with you through a company like Outdoorsy or RV Share. The latter reports the number of days booked via its website has more than doubled compared to last year. Another option is to outright rent one from a company like Cruise America. And that company reports it is rapidly running out of rentals, so if you want to sign up, do it now. Rental fees are similar to hotel rates (in many cases, a little lower), but don’t forget to figure in the gasoline cost. These vehicles go through a lot of gas! Before you rent—if you rent, or if you buy used—be sure to check that the vehicle has been thoroughly sanitized according to CDC guidelines.

You can take your toys with you. Many RVers haul a “Toy Trailer” behind their rig. Image, Amy Lokey, Red Mountain RV., Silverton.

You can take your “toys,” too—ATVs, Jeep, boat, bikes. A lot of campers use a “toy-hauler” for the bigger items and often tow a Jeep or 4-wheel-drive vehicle behind the rig. For those who make a habit of it, RVing is a great way to travel, and they’ve mastered the tools to travel comfortably.

Own, buy, share, rent—whatever your choice, now is a great time to get on the road and go. Here are some tips for planning for summer and fall camping and road tripping. You can also find some of my favorite Internet planning tools, most of which also have a mobile phone app for use on the road.

RVs and Fifth Wheels let you set up home away from home, with all the comforts of home! Image, Amy Lokey, Red Mountain RV Park, Silverton.

Checklists. While not really an online tool, I find a checklist to be indispensable. I create one on my laptop in Pages (Word for PC users). It’s a continual work in progress as I update or revise it after each trip. You can search camping or travel checklists online if you want a few suggestions to get you started.

Google Maps. Google Maps (GM) is a good routing tool to figure out mileage and driving time to your destination and stops along the way. GM will give you alternative routes, so you can choose whether to take the fastest route or the blue highways through more scenic territory You can also click on a location or attraction and a pop-up window will give you information about it.

Google Earth. Google Earth (and the satellite view in GM) is fantastic for getting an idea of the terrain and surrounding landmarks in places you’ve never been to before. I use it particularly for checking out campgrounds. I even us GE to pick out my campsite by comparing the satellite view to the campground map.

Pinterest. Pinterest is actually a great research tool. You can search Pinterest and save “Pins” to a “Board” you create by destination or subject matter. Pins will take you to a specific web page concerning the topic, many of which are blog posts by travelers who give you first-hand info and tips, including the good and the bad. Once you search or save a pin, Pinterest will thereafter offer up many other suggestions on the same subject.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife. This a must-visit site for Colorado state parks and campground information. You can, and should, reserve state campsites via this site, since most state parks now are reservation-only campgrounds. You can also buy the annual park entry pass (a separate fee from the campground), and fishing and hunting licenses.

US Forest Service. This is the camping reservation site for the US Forest Service campgrounds. For general information about USFS, which includes info on camping and campgrounds, visit fs.usda.gov. You can buy your America the Beautiful – National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass here: https://store.usgs.gov/recreational-passes

FreeRoam.app. Both a website and an app, this is a phenomenal free tool for finding campgrounds, including no-cost dispersed aka boon docking campsites or big box store parking lots that allow overnight camping. You can plan and route your trip, which will show certain amenities along your route, including gas stations, dump stations, grocery stores, and fresh water. The app also has its own navigation system.

The Old-Fashioned Way. And, of course, there are still many great guide, camping, backpacking, and hiking books, road atlases, and maps that you can buy at your local bookstore, state and national park headquarters, or online, or pick up for free at AAA if you’re a member. It is a good idea to have a few of these on board for your trip since you will often find yourself without good cell or wifi service.

Ready to get on the road! Ziggy is coming, too. Image, Ninah Hunter.

Ready to go? Own your own wheels or have an RV lined up? Get your camping gear organized. Check out your RV to make sure it’s well-equipped and roadworthy. Plan your itinerary, collect maps and information, consult your Internet tools. Stock up for the trip, then…hit the road for your next big camping and road-trip adventure. Happy trails!