Until recently, we have taken shorter trips and it's been easy to plan them. But next year we'll be heading out on a long cross-country trip. During the first part of the trip, we'll be traveling with four other RVs and will have 14 stops between North Carolina and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
When I started planning the trip, it quickly became apparent how difficult it would be to line up all of the places we wanted to stay, fill in the days between our larger camping spots with short stays (or overnighters), and estimate our costs. Planning a trip like this isn't that easy, so I chose to use a Reserve and Fill-in method (see my post Trip Planning: Getting Started) where we would reserve all of the "main" places we wanted to visit and then fill-in the intermediate stops as we saw fit.
One of the things I often see people request on various Internet groups and forums is an app that will allow them to find places to stop at specified intervals. For example, let's suppose that you're at Yellowstone and want to go to Albuquerque, but don't want to drive more than 300 miles each day. You need a way to 1) see the route between the two, 2) be able to divide the route into 300-mile intervals and 3) find campgrounds and places to stay along the way. I looked high and low for a tool that would do this sort of trip planning, and was pleasantly surprised at what I discovered.
RV Trip Wizard Setup
RV Trip Wizard is a web-based application. That is, there's nothing to load on your phone or computer. Whenever you want to use it, you just log in (and your computer can remember all of the login details, so it's easy) and start planning. It costs about $45 per year, but it seems like it'll be worth it if you travel a lot.
When you first get into RV Trip Wizard, you enter your personal preferences and parameters. These include RV dimensions, average speed, average daily amount you might spend for food and miscellaneous expenses, and more. These become defaults for your selections, so they are multiplied by the number of nights at a given campground to help determine the cost for the entire stay.
A second preference screen allows you to select the things you want displayed on your maps: campgrounds (many different types: Good Sam's, Passport, etc.), fuel stops, national and state parks, etc. You assign a number to each one and they are prioritized so that the higher priority icons appear before others.
When you select Trip Planner, you're taken to the place where you'll spend almost all of your time. The screen is divided into four sections. Across the top are menus. On the left is your itinerary. The right side has the map and, beneath it, information about anything you've selected on the screen.
Creating a Trip: A sample walk-through
Let's say I want to go to three "main" places: Nashville, TN then Yellowstone National Park and, finally, Cheyenne, MO. Although I'm sure that there are a lot of ways to go about planning a trip with RV Trip Wizard, here's what I do:
Related posts: Trip Planning: Getting Started and Apps to use when Planning a Trip