How this came to be
A few months ago, Bobby’s sister, Leann and husband Alex called us over for dinner. They had just decided to get an Airstream and plan a trip out West for a couple of weeks in the summer. They wanted to know what we thought about the idea, and whether we would consider coming along in our own RV.
I laughed. A lot. I tried to stop laughing, but then I pictured myself on an RV and I started laughing all over again. Once I finally gathered myself and realized they were serious, we started talking. Bobby and I gave them all the dirty details of our last attempt at RV life, and we weighed the pros and cons.
The main con for me, being the first time I was tricked into this RV life, it was very hard. I am a self-admitted camping quitter. But the last time our kids were much younger and we were on the road solo. I constantly felt like I was on an episode of Naked and Afraid, only the prize was just Survival.
This time, I did agree it could be different. Our kids are older and we are going with Leann, Alex and the kids. How fun would it be for the kids to be with their cousins all summer?! That’s a big plus (dammit!).
But let’s not get carried away. We are talking 40 days, in the wilderness. To be clear, no one here has any significant camping experience. In fact we have almost zero experience. We are going to be out in the wilderness. What happens if there is a camping problem and we need someone who actually knows what they are doing? Or can even identify a camping “problem”.
If we are brutally honest we are actually 4 of the most spoiled adults you know. We have never really “roughed” it. Some of the adults on this trip take multiple showers a day. One of us cannot stand the idea of bugs, and another can’t stand the sight of dirt. If we are going off our previous RV trip, the kids and I begged for mercy 10 days in. Could we really last longer than that?
We are going to be dirty. There is going to be mud. There is going to be bugs and animals. Who is going to adult in these situations?
As the conversation continued, I could see how this was going to end. I was going camping. I may as well start to get on board. This should be interesting to say the least.
Where do we even begin?
How do 4 adults, with zero RV or camping experience even begin to plan a multi state RV trip for 40 days? I will tell you- divine intervention.
First we decided to pick a starting point and an ending spot. From there we could plan the route based on what we wanted balanced with what was available. As most people will tell you, to get the best spots in the best locations, you do need to plan this with significant advance. But don’t let that stop you. We ended up finding great spots, and great things to do with just a couple of months notice.
Once you decide to do this, you will find there are some good resources out there. We found that Roadtrippers (linked below) was a great place to get inspiration and see what routes other people have used. Hipcamp was a great source to find campsites that maybe were not as main stream or commercial. All Trails was a great one to use to find different hikes or other activities in each area. Google Maps was also a great souce and not to be underestimated. It helped us zoom in and see all the available campgrounds, and we used it for directions as Waze doesn’t exactly take into consideration that you are driving a camper.
Here are a few great websites/apps you can use to search for campsites or plan routes:
One of our priorities was to be able to spend 4-5 days in most spots. In our experience, the unpacking and resettling is what makes the RV most difficult. Spending at least 3-5 days in a spot allows you to settle in and get to do different activities you may not have had time for with an overnight or 1 day stop. So we picked a starting point and ending point that were not too far apart.
Once we picked our starting and ending locations, we booked the best possible locations we could find in each. Then we starting throwing out ideas for different stops along the way. As a group we were able to map out a route and a few options of ways we can go. Then we started checking travel blogs, trip advisors, or asking people who had done it on ideas of where to go or where to stay.
It slowly started to come together.
Our Final Plan*
We decided on Mt. Rushmore for our starting spot and Zion National Park as our ending.
Here is our final itinerary. As we go along I will update each location with where we stayed and different things we came across for you, in case you are feeling frisky and want to plan a trip of your own.
First Stop: Mt. Rushmore – Rapid City, South Dakota
Second Stop: Devil’s Tower- Wyoming
Third Stop: Little Big Horn Monument – Garryowen, Montana
Fourth Stop: Boondock Night (more on this HERE)
Fifth Stop: West Yellowstone, Montana
Sixth Stop: Grand Teton National Park- Idaho
Seventh Stop: Heber City, Utah
Eighth Stop: Moab National Park- Utah
Ninth Stop: Bryce National Park- Utah
Tenth Stop: Zion National Park- Utah
*One Rule is Be Flexible
We all decided at the beginning of the trip that one rule will reign supreme. We will all vow to be flexible. There is no space on this trip for any one person’s desires. We are a team. Sometimes we will be able to get things in, and sometimes we have a pile of laundry and the water heater isn’t working and we need to do something different. Whatever may arise- you must remain flexible. Already as it is we had to switch up where we were staying one night. It’s the wild wild road you can’t control it.