Lists For RV Travel And Road Trip Planning


My friend is looking at me, radiating excitement.  “We are going to spend three WEEKS on the road!  I hardly know where to begin packing!!”

This will be her first ever road trip in her life.  She will be traveling by camper van with her new beau and his two dogs to tour the West Coast.  The questions spill out: where to go, what to see, what to expect, what to pack, and enough what-if scenarios to fill a bathtub.  She is practically vibrating with a mixture of thrill and terror of her first road adventure.

She looks at me with wide eyes.  “I know it is still a few months off, but I am already trying to make a list of what to pack.  But he plans to just grab some clothes and go!”

The Book of Lists, aka my trip planning brain (Photo by TC Wait)

And here lies the delicate balance between being prepared for an adventure, and being spontaneously go-with-the-flow.  Whether you are a list-keeper or a by-the-seat-of-your-pants free spirit traveler seems to depend partly on your personality and preference, but also based on what kind of trip you might be planning, and how often you travel.  For the purpose of curiosity, I conducted an informal poll on whether fellow RVers were “list keepers” or “pack-n-go” travelers.

Based on this not-at-all scientific query, results indicate a fairly even split.  It also seems that the more “practiced” travelers (full-time or frequent weekenders) drift toward the “pack-n-go” system, BUT also have incorporated established routines as a habit to make sure they are indeed travel-ready and safe.  Those who don’t travel frequently, or are branching out into uncharted waters (ie taking a first cross-country trip) tend to lean toward list-making.

Personally, I lean toward the list side.  OK, to be honest, I might actually define the list side.  I actually have an entire BOOK of LISTS.  And it is the third volume of Book of Lists that I keep….  I see the Book as my travel brain—it keeps all of the thoughts that rattle around in my brain before, during, and after our travels in one place so that the next trip goes a little smoother.

I have packing lists, repair lists, lists of veterinarians, lists with maps of routes through congested cities, list of tools we need to bring, lists of people’s contact information we meet along the way, lists of books we want to listen to while driving, you get the picture here….  Each trip builds on the previous travel experiences, and the Book serves as a convenient way to keep track of the successes and the challenges.

There is no right or wrong way to plan for your RV adventure.  No matter how you prepare to get out there, the bottom line is that you actually get out there!

To continue my non-scientific research, I would love to hear how you go about getting ready for your travels.  Do you list, or do you just go?

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