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Old 09-19-2017, 01:56 AM   #1
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Advanced Reservations or Not?

We're thinking about a 4 week trip to the western US and Canada next year and we're curious about how others have planned their trip. Would you make reservations for major destinations like national parks and go day by day for a more flexible daily schedule for other days? We're sure there's not a right or wrong answer on this but would like to know what's work for you. Thx!
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Old 09-19-2017, 03:20 AM   #2
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If you are considering Utah big 5, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone. If you plan to stay inside the parks, you are late, very late. There are very nice places outside the parks but the best ones book up very quickly. My suggestion is book asap. All that being said, Last year I snagged a spot inside Arches about 10 months out.
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Old 09-19-2017, 11:50 AM   #3
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Just returned from a 5 week trip out west a few weeks ago, did not have any reservations and stayed at every national park we visited except the Grand Canyon. Never had a problem finding a spot to camp. This was out third trip out west and neither of the previous two did we have reservations in advance.
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Old 09-19-2017, 11:57 AM   #4
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advanced reservations are, I believe, over rated for most folks.

we just returned from a two month 14,000 mile 'journey' from GA thru all of western Canada, to Alaska, back thru Canada and into the US via Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado without a SINGLE reservation.

reservations, to me, just put pressure on you to reach a destination on a certain day/date... giving you less ability to stop at your leisure for places and things you didn't know where there, or didn't plan on.

but, having said all that, many folks just can't bring themselves to do anything other than plan each day in advance... that's just not us.
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Old 09-19-2017, 12:01 PM   #5
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On the other hand: If you aren't retired and don't have a lot of time advanced reservations takes a lot of the headache out. Since you only have a limited number of days some advanced planning ensures you get to everything you want to see (granted even if its "Look kids its the Grand Canyon..ok now everyone back in have to make it to the next stop".
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Old 09-19-2017, 08:54 PM   #6
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for our summer trip to the canyon this year, I had hoped to have reservations for the canyon, as well as at least one major destination stop midway enroute in each direction.
For the grand canyon I think it was January or February when I made my July reservation. Come march or april...or was it may?.... when we had to reschedule to June, the place was booked solid for the entire summer. No big deal, we boon docked in the national forest. There was also commercial stuff available if that's more your thing.
We did the entire 19 day trip without any prior reservations. A few places we reserved maybe the day before...and a few others we wished we had because there was no spots left.... but we figured it out and had fun.... One place we stumbled across...Palo Duro Canyon, we had no idea about till the lady in the visor center told us about it... we sure do wish we would have had reservations. It was a nice park.... but you can't plan what you don't know...
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Old 09-19-2017, 10:34 PM   #7
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You can most always find a spot. You might be in a parking lot or boondocking somewhere. I think it is fairly factual that most (probably all) of the most desirable parks fill up quickly with reservations unless as a few park they hold a small section for drive ups only. You may wind up in an undesirable spot or without any amenities. If you are fine with that then that's great. If you want a nice spot in a desirable park better to have reservations or hope there is a cancellation that you happen onto. Just my opinion others may see it differently.
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Old 09-19-2017, 11:19 PM   #8
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You are right, there is no right or wrong answer. Some folks are planners and some are wanderers.

We made reservations for July at private campgrounds near Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Bar Harbor, ME. Every one of those campgrounds were sold out unless you had a reservation. Advance planning meant one less thing for us to worry about.
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Old 09-20-2017, 10:03 PM   #9
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You are right, there is no right or wrong answer. Some folks are planners and some are wanderers.
I agree... it all comes down to what kind of person you are.
By nature: the Missus and I are hardcore "planners". Every hour of every day... every penny of each expenditure.. every second of each activity...
But we HOPE to cure this with our Outlaw!! .
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Old 09-23-2017, 12:56 AM   #10
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Thanks for the replies! We'll lean toward the "planner" side.
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Old 10-08-2017, 02:53 AM   #11
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This is a great discussion for my wife and I. We are fairly new to this, but we are out for a 3 week trip around the western states, with no specific plans, just some ideas of places we want to see - not the big national parks.

But we are struggling with the question of planning one, or two, or three days ahead - for tomorrow, do we think about that tonite, or tomorrow morning, or even later?? Very stressful!

For those of you who DON'T plan ahead - when DO you make plans? Do you just look at where you are at 5pm, and make some calls?

Any insights would be appreciated!
Dan

PS We have a Thor Siesta, Class C - done friends with a van don't worry much, and I suspect people with big class A's don't move every day.
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Old 10-09-2017, 01:09 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by lspotho View Post
This is a great discussion for my wife and I. We are fairly new to this, but we are out for a 3 week trip around the western states, with no specific plans, just some ideas of places we want to see - not the big national parks.

But we are struggling with the question of planning one, or two, or three days ahead - for tomorrow, do we think about that tonite, or tomorrow morning, or even later?? Very stressful!

For those of you who DON'T plan ahead - when DO you make plans? Do you just look at where you are at 5pm, and make some calls?

Any insights would be appreciated!
Dan

PS We have a Thor Siesta, Class C - done friends with a van don't worry much, and I suspect people with big class A's don't move every day.


Relax already! Work with the level of planning that gives you the least stress. We do a mix of reserved and unplanned nights. Nights at store parking lots are the most flexible. There are times and locations that require reservations, or you won't get the campground you want.

We usually drive 250-300 miles after a leisurely start, a stop or two mid-day, and arrive in time to find a local restaurant after the coach is situated for the evening. (We tow a car, which makes this easy.) Doing this, we rarely are setting up at a campground in the dark. Some days require more intense traveling, some allow more roaming and exploring.

Your results will vary!
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Old 10-09-2017, 02:23 AM   #13
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There is no downside to planning, and not needing to. There is a big downside to not planning, and finding out you should have.
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Old 10-09-2017, 02:44 AM   #14
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We do a little of both. Typically if our destination is a national park, we'll make reservations well in advance, but don't make reservations for campgrounds along the way there or back. I usually plan an extra day to give us flexibility getting there. If we see something we like, we'll use the planned slack time as needed.

When trips are primarily for exploring an area, we don't make reservations at all.


When we started traveling by motorhome about 20 years ago, we felt more comfortable making reservations for every single night in advance. However, with experience and advances in technology (making finding a nearby campground much easier), we started enjoying less planning and more winging-it.
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Old 10-09-2017, 04:06 AM   #15
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Last year was the exception...being the 100th Anniversary of the National Parks Service...We went to Lake Powel at Page, AZ ... We did not have reservations, as full hookups,( as I began booking there in March 2016).. could not get any...so we went to Lake Powell...and found the Dry campsites were plentiful and had a great couple days there...this is from folks who do not boondock very often !!
With that said...we do not make reservations ...however, we will call ahead at a couple hours before we are ready to quit for the day to make sure our destination has a site for us. That seems to work for us. We do not like to be on a strict schedule.

I agree with those who confirmed that you must do what makes you comfortable ... do not make your travel day too long .. give yourself a little of wiggle room !
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Old 10-09-2017, 09:55 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lspotho View Post
This is a great discussion for my wife and I. We are fairly new to this, but we are out for a 3 week trip around the western states, with no specific plans, just some ideas of places we want to see - not the big national parks.

But we are struggling with the question of planning one, or two, or three days ahead - for tomorrow, do we think about that tonite, or tomorrow morning, or even later?? Very stressful!

For those of you who DON'T plan ahead - when DO you make plans? Do you just look at where you are at 5pm, and make some calls?

Any insights would be appreciated!
Dan

PS We have a Thor Siesta, Class C - done friends with a van don't worry much, and I suspect people with big class A's don't move every day.
Above all relax and have fun...that is the point isn't it.

How much planning do you do in general? Shop for a week's worth of groceries and have every meal planned out? Or you just wing it and grab each days dinner when you're hungry? Same thing goes here...

We've done both: Plan each stop and make reservations well in advance, or at a late afternoon stop figure how much more we want to drive and start calling.. In one case you know exactly how far you have to drive and in the other you just stop when you feel like it (after you've made a few drives those two values approach each other as you get used driving the RV).
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Old 10-09-2017, 01:03 PM   #17
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Probably three things factor into what determines the importance of making advance reservations or winging it.

The destination and time of year may dictate your need to reserve a site. If you are heading to an extremely popular place in the middle of the summer travel season then maybe you would want an advance reservation.

Is your rig 24' long or are you a 45' DP pulling a 24' trailer? Back in sites for smaller rigs are much more available than 80' to 100' pull through sites. If you have certain length restriction maybe reservations would be in order.

Lastly, do you have any type of timetable to maintain? Is there a reunion in the middle of the trip you have to be at? Do you have to be back home at a certain date for work? If you are on a schedule then again, maybe reservations are in order.

So I guess like someone else already said, what fits your needs.
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Old 10-14-2017, 01:15 AM   #18
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Recent example. We just left Asheville, NC. Stayed at a great park and decided to return next year at fall break. Chose several choice slots and went to make reservations for next year. Our fifth choice was the first of the one available for NEXT year. The park was totally booked each day we were there. If you don't mind where you stay the don't worry about reservations. If you want nice spot better plan. But as has been said "It's personal preference.
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Old 10-14-2017, 01:56 AM   #19
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it depends on the time of year also, the 4th of july is most busy, and where you go, get away a few miles from tourist site and there is more room
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Old 10-14-2017, 02:11 PM   #20
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Also sometimes you can find a hidden gem. We stayed at a park in Az that was near empty most of the time we were there. It was right off Route 66, next to Winslow, Az where we saw the monument to the iconic eagles song and experienced a true Route 66 diner. Also not far from Petrefied Forest National Park
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