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Old 07-12-2022, 03:16 PM   #1
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Nervous Newbie

We both have been camping since we were kids, and we had a Scamp 16 ft Deluxe for over 20 years, so we are not new to camping or pulling a trailer around. We ARE new to the RVing lifestyle, which we plan to begin in June 2024 when we take delivery of our Escape 21C.


Our Escape will have most of the options available including a solar system with 2 panels and 4 batteries to make the option of boon-docking more feasible. Between the Escape and a new Toyota Tundra pickup we will have $120,000+ invested, probably more with the regular increases in price we have been seeing with Escape over the last year and a half.


We are nervous about the ease in finding a place to park and spend the night while traveling, and finding RV parking at our destinations. The more videos we watch on YouTube about the need to plan months ahead has us concerned it is going to be a struggle to find places to park.


What programs/applications have you found that make it easier to take on the task of finding a place to park? How hard is it to find places? We get the impression it is very difficult to find anywhere unless you plan 5-6 months out. That seems to be an arduous task.


Is there any encouragement for us? We are feeling defeated before we get started. We are wondering if we need to cancel our Escape order while we still can - but we REALLY want to spend some years on the road with our Escape. Staying in motels does not appeal to us at all.


Are we worrying too much about this or should we take heed to the warnings about the difficulties of finding places to stay?


Thanks in advance for your advice.
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Old 07-12-2022, 03:36 PM   #2
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I don't have experience with RV lifestyle but I did watch a ton of YouTube videos while waiting for our escape. These two I found really well made. Hope they ease your concerns a bit.

Grand adventure video about finding your own boondocking sites
https://youtu.be/qbIgOAkf6No

Grand adventure video about an app that alerts you when a campsite has become available
https://youtu.be/E7LM4e9WGyc
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Old 07-12-2022, 04:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottarue View Post
We both have been camping since we were kids, and we had a Scamp 16 ft Deluxe for over 20 years, so we are not new to camping or pulling a trailer around. We ARE new to the RVing lifestyle, which we plan to begin in June 2024 when we take delivery of our Escape 21C.


Our Escape will have most of the options available including a solar system with 2 panels and 4 batteries to make the option of boon-docking more feasible. Between the Escape and a new Toyota Tundra pickup we will have $120,000+ invested, probably more with the regular increases in price we have been seeing with Escape over the last year and a half.


We are nervous about the ease in finding a place to park and spend the night while traveling, and finding RV parking at our destinations. The more videos we watch on YouTube about the need to plan months ahead has us concerned it is going to be a struggle to find places to park.


What programs/applications have you found that make it easier to take on the task of finding a place to park? How hard is it to find places? We get the impression it is very difficult to find anywhere unless you plan 5-6 months out. That seems to be an arduous task.


Is there any encouragement for us? We are feeling defeated before we get started. We are wondering if we need to cancel our Escape order while we still can - but we REALLY want to spend some years on the road with our Escape. Staying in motels does not appeal to us at all.


Are we worrying too much about this or should we take heed to the warnings about the difficulties of finding places to stay?


Thanks in advance for your advice.
I understand National Parks are getting to be a problem. We just made a reservation yesterday for Friday for a state park in Rhode Island. We often do not have reservations during the week but try to have reservations during weekends. There are many options from boondocking to indian reservations to town and county campgrounds all over the place....be flexable, learn how to camp without hookups and you will be ok. Also realize that you can stay in some Walmarts, Cracker Barrell, Truck stops and even highway rest areas if you get stuck.....go out locally first and get a feel for it...you will be ok. Also go off season if you can.
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Old 07-12-2022, 04:26 PM   #4
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Just about any rest stop on the highway will have trucks/trailers in one area and automobiles in the other. The truck/trailer area have large pull thru slots, ideal for a trailer behind you. I would disconnect but leave your trailer lights on for visibility. If I remember the 11 and one o'clock pins with a 15 amp fuse will allow your lights to stay on.
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Old 07-12-2022, 04:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelS78 View Post
I don't have experience with RV lifestyle but I did watch a ton of YouTube videos while waiting for our escape. These two I found really well made. Hope they ease your concerns a bit.

Grand adventure video about finding your own boondocking sites
https://youtu.be/qbIgOAkf6No

Grand adventure video about an app that alerts you when a campsite has become available
https://youtu.be/E7LM4e9WGyc
This is an excellent post, MichaelS78! First of all, we love the Grand Adventure YouTube channel. Marc Guido does a great job of providing useful and informational content.

Secondly, we can add firsthand experience on the effectiveness of the Campnab app. We used it for finding campsites at Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks on our way back from Sumas last month. Our awesome plans at Yellowstone were upended by the floods closing the Park. Campnab saved us there too.

A couple words of caution on Campnab, though. Make sure you define the parameters of your search to the narrow criteria of your camping plans. We left things too ambiguous at first and got notifications to the point of being annoying. Also, do not hesitate to jump on any sites for which you get notified. We lost out on a few in a matter of just a couple minutes!

Good luck, and happy camping!
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Old 07-12-2022, 04:40 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Just about any rest stop on the highway will have trucks/trailers in one area and automobiles in the other. The truck/trailer area have large pull thru slots, ideal for a trailer behind you. I would disconnect but leave your trailer lights on for visibility. If I remember the 11 and one o'clock pins with a 15 amp fuse will allow your lights to stay on.
In addition to cpaharley2008ís words of wisdom about rest area stops, be aware that different states have different rules for how long you can stay. Some only allow three or four hours (or less?), while others permit 24 hours. I have no idea how they enforce this, but if it concerns you just check the rules for the states you plan to pass through.
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Old 07-12-2022, 04:50 PM   #7
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There are lots of different styles of travel and camping, from boondocking in remote dispersed camping areas to commercial RV parks. While it is true that popular national and state parks are more crowded and require advance planning to get reservations, there are many other options. We have been traveling throughout the West for 20+ years and since getting our Escape several years ago we have seen a significant increase in crowds and campground fullness - the days of being able to drive into Arches National Park and get a first come site are long gone.

But all the places we love to go to are still there and are just as beautiful. We still like to camp inside national parks when we can, and despite the hassle of having to plan far in advance and play the reservations game we have still been able to do that. Your new Escape will have terrific capabilities for boondocking, far better than the majority of trailers out there, and will open up many camping possibilities for you, it just depends on what you like to do. We have met a number of Escape owners in our travels who hit the road with an open agenda and no reservations and have still managed to have terrific camping experiences in wonderful places. With 20 years of experience camping with your Scamp you have a leg up on many first time trailer owners who have never done this before. Don't let the talk of crowds discourage you, there's so much to see and do and with your new truck and trailer you will have a supremely capable rig to do it in.
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Old 07-12-2022, 05:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottarue View Post

We are nervous about the ease in finding a place to park and spend the night while traveling, and finding RV parking at our destinations. The more videos we watch on YouTube about the need to plan months ahead has us concerned it is going to be a struggle to find places to park.

Is there any encouragement for us? We are feeling defeated before we get started. We are wondering if we need to cancel our Escape order while we still can - but we REALLY want to spend some years on the road with our Escape. Staying in motels does not appeal to us at all.

Are we worrying too much about this or should we take heed to the warnings about the difficulties of finding places to stay?

Thanks in advance for your advice.
Yes, worrying too much, no, stop watching so many youtube videos.

We head off across Canada or the US with zero reservations anywhere. There's always a place to stay.

Battery "needs" have followed a herd mentality. I find the amount of battery capacity that folks feel they "need" is getting way beyond what's actually needed. Unless you plan on boondocking in one place for months at a time or have special needs.

Ron
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Old 07-12-2022, 05:37 PM   #9
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My advice: relax, don't be nervous.

I'll relate, as an example, my trip last month from OK to MI and back. I mapped out how far I wanted to go each day and thought about places I could camp, placing high priority on free/low cost spots and zero priority on hookups. But sometimes I did shoot for someplace with showers.


Night 1: about 7 pm I rolled into a little municipal CG in IL, north of St. Louis, where I'd been once before. Most campsites were open and I took the same one as last time, on a little peninsula of land and a 270 degree view of the lake. Cost: $0.
Night 2: About 8:15 pm I pulled into a nice open area off a dirt road on national forest land that I'd read about on freecampsites.net, about 5 miles from the Lk. Michigan shore, N of Ludington. Quite a few mosquitos, otherwise a nice quiet spot. Cost: $0.

Nights 3 & 4: since night 2 turned out to be buggy and hotter-than-expected temps were predicted for the next couple days, I got on the phone and booked a site farther north (and right on the big lake) at Fisherman's Island State Park near Charlevoix. IIRC cost was $20/night plus the daily fee.
Night 5 was a Friday night and the SP was booked solid, so on Thur I drove inland about a dozen miles to Ellsworth and checked out their municipal CG. Sure enough, sites available for Fri. Told the camp host I'd be there, and she wrote down the reservation. About $30 IIRC, but it had flush toilets, showers, and a nice view of the lake below (went for a paddle while there).
Night 6: spent the night in my sister's yard near Alanson, but not before checking out a bare spot visible on Google Maps located in nearby state forest.

Night 7: camped in that big open area on SF land. Cost: $0.
Night 8: crossed the Mackinaw Bridge. Was planning to camp SW of Engadine near the Lk MI shore but rain was long and hard, so I kept driving. Weather maps showed sunshine at Munising. They were right. I had 2 boondock sites in mind. The first one (on Lk Superior shore) was blocked off (boulders placed in the road), so scratch that. On the way to the second one (in woods) I changed my mind and wheeled into Bay Furnace NF CG to see if they had an open site. This was about 1 pm. Not only did they have open sites, but the nice camp host lady pointed out that I could have the one 2 slots away, right on the lake, because the previous tenants had left a day early for home. Best campsite in the place. Cost: $11.
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Night 9: Arrived about suppertime at village CG of Bergland, on shore of Lake Gogebic. Choice of several sites. Cost: $17 IIRC. Flush toilets, shower.
Night 10: I wheeled into Ledges State Park in Iowa about 7pm. No trouble getting a campsite. Cost: $14. Flush toilets, showers.


As you can see, even when my plans went a little off-kilter I had no trouble finding spots to camp! Weekends are tougher and high-traffic tourism spots are very hard to get into without way-in-advance reservations, but general travel with camping is certainly feasible.
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Old 07-12-2022, 07:21 PM   #10
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In the past four months, we have crossed the US west to East and back, north to British Columbia and back. 8,500 miles and 50 plus nights. We had reservations for the Escape Rally (had to), and for 5 days in Victoria.

Most of the other nights were either National Parks, US Forestry parks, BLM land (no reservations) or Pilot truck stops. One night was in the parking lot of a Safeway grocery store. We also found several commercial RV parks for overnights when we wanted hookups.

While success in getting a spot that you really want on short notice is somewhat fleeting (it can still happen, if you are persistent), the key is opening up your range of acceptable options, particularly when covering significant miles in a short time.
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Old 07-12-2022, 11:12 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Just about any rest stop on the highway will have trucks/trailers in one area and automobiles in the other. The truck/trailer area have large pull thru slots, ideal for a trailer behind you. I would disconnect but leave your trailer lights on for visibility. If I remember the 11 and one o'clock pins with a 15 amp fuse will allow your lights to stay on.




With all the Truckers on the road, & limited hours to drive. Almost all the rest areas, truck stop were full(east coast), & spilling out on the ramps. You'd do better to do Walmarts(toilets & food, til 11pm, no more open 24 hrs) & Cracker Barrels, close earlier. Some places are not allowing them to let travelers spend the night. Was a yahoo group for that, with a list. But most of FL & CA don't allow it. I've looked at Google Satellite maps, to see who's parked there before. I did it a lot on fast dashes to FL for parents. Only need to sleep 4/5 hrs.
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Old 07-13-2022, 12:35 PM   #12
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I'm full timing and usually plan 2-5 days in advance at any given moment. Usually I'm just making best speed between points of long term stay (2-4+ weeks) at friends houses or my land. Not once have I had an issue finding a place to set down for a night. Its kind of like flying standby though, but ultimately with my mode of travel I can set down in a cracker barrel for one night and get breakfast before setting off if nothing else. I use google maps, freeroam, harvest hosts/boondockerswelcome. You can look at the satellite view of a cracker barrel parking lot to see if they have RV/trucker parking spaces which are double length.
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Old 07-13-2022, 01:31 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mike G View Post
My advice: relax, don't be nervous.

Night 1: about 7 pm I rolled into a little municipal CG in IL,
Municipal campgrounds and fair grounds can be hidden gems.
I find it harder to find info on them but we've stumbled across some gems from time to time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chasing Trials View Post
With all the Truckers on the road, & limited hours to drive. Almost all the rest areas, truck stop were full(east coast), & spilling out on the ramps. You'd do better to do Walmarts(toilets & food, til 11pm,
I agree, not all truck stops are all that great. Our go-to truck stop/rest area is French Prairie just South of Portland when we're doing our milk run South. Three parking lots deep, away from the I-5 with a large field and trees.

Our go-to store parking is Walmart. Some are better than others, they're definitely not all equal but for us they take away any concern about not being able to find a place for the night. It's easy to check reviews ahead of time.


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Old 07-13-2022, 01:57 PM   #14
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Maybe it's a function of where I live and camp (Idaho and surrounding states), but I have had no trouble finding a spot, in 4 years of camping with my Escape.

Become familiar with www.recreation.gov for reserving campsites on national forest lands, national parks, and other federal lands. In using this system, you will notice that there are usually lots of "FF" sites, or first come, first served that you cannot reserve. These sites often go many days without being occupied. If you plan to arrive at the campground no later than mid afternoon, it's likely you'll be able to snag one of the sites. I just got back from camping near West Yellowstone, over 4th of July weekend. I drove through 4 Forest Service campgrounds and Henry's Lake State Park, all of which were less than a half an hour from the Park, and noted that not one of these campgrounds was even half full. Perhaps that was a function of the flooding situation and people cancelling their trips, but still... a person had their choice of sites, on a holiday weekend at the peak of the tourist season.

Then get the apps "freecampsites.net" and "the dyrt" for additional spur of the moment camping opportunties. These apps will have MANY (although not all) of the available boondocking sites in areas where you're planning to go. They are map-driven, so you can simply look on their map and click on the site you like for more information.

Another suggestion is consider BOR (Bureau of Reclamation) camping areas, which are often adjacent to reservoirs. Don't hesitate to camp at one, they seem to get overlooked. I've found some of the nicest sites I've ever camped at in these areas, and they're usually free. I've never found them to be crowded, and most offer pit toilets, water, and garbage pickup. You can just show up and in all likelihood drive right to a primo spot and set up.

The state fish and wildlife management agencies also maintain camping areas, often adjacent to lakes, rivers, and fishing access points, apart from their State Park system. For example, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks has a ton of beautiful camping areas they maintain at their fishing access sites. Just go to their website and look. Idaho Department of Fish and Game offers camping on many of their Wildlife Management Areas. Again, you can't reserve these sites, but there are usually sites available.

And finally, relax!! Don't get stressed out about finding a spot, making a ton of reservations weeks or months in advance, and don't be afraid to wing it or go to Plans B, C, D, or even F. Sometimes "Plan F" works out better than anyone could have expected! The good thing is you will be well equipped to boondock with your own bed, bathroom, and kitchen. Anywhere it's legal to do so, even if it's truck stop next to an interstate, you can pull over and be comfortable in your own space. It will be OK!!!
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Old 07-13-2022, 02:27 PM   #15
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Nope, your worrying too much. We have camped with our escape over 30K miles for 7 years primarily western states. In all that time we only used a walmart for 1 night, we have never had any problem finding beautiful places to stay. National Parks you will want to plan more and get reservations in but the more you do this the more you will be come comfortable/flexible in finding places. We utilize, state and county campgrounds, boondocking places like quartzite, and national parks throughout montana, wyoming, utah, arizona, wash, oregon and calif. We have a Tundra tow vehicle and it has never let us down. Good luck and enjoy the ride.
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Old 07-13-2022, 02:39 PM   #16
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Maybe it's a function of where I live and camp (Idaho and surrounding states), but I have had no trouble finding a spot, in 4 years of camping with my Escape.
East coast IS totally different, than mid west, & out west. Just isn't the wide open National forest lands, National parks, and other federal lands. Do think about that.
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Old 07-13-2022, 09:49 PM   #17
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When you say RV'ing lifestyle, are you talking about going full time, month long trips, or just weeklong trips mostly around the upper midwest?
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Old 07-13-2022, 10:40 PM   #18
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I thought the RV lifestyle was sitting with a laptop and ordering stuff off Amazon.
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Old 07-14-2022, 03:38 AM   #19
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I have not yet had a problem finding a place to stay for 1 night. There is always somewhere to go. It is actually getting better with the apps available and Harvest Host. Many campgrounds even if they are full will have an over flow area because they still want to take your money.

I will mention I have never stayed at a Walmart and never will. I have stayed at rest stops and truck stops. We usually don't stay at these locations longer than a quick sleep and only on long travel days.
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Old 07-14-2022, 07:38 AM   #20
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I thought the RV lifestyle was sitting with a laptop and ordering stuff off Amazon.
No, that is mine, cpaharley's , lifestyle.....
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