I have no sponsors and will make no money off of this post. I just wanted to share my experience with an awesome tool for planning those long road trip vacations.
When we hook up Monica to Rachel, we are about 60 feet of truck and trailer. I will admit that there is a little stress going into travel days. What if I make a wrong turn and can’t make an easy U-turn or can’t find a large enough intersection to change direction? I’ve seen the YouTube vids of the online personalities having to back up their trailer 100′ because of the wrong turn.
When we travel, I have a Garmin 770RV on the dash, Google Maps on the phone and two RV map apps at the ready. With all of that on our first trip, the Garmin changed the route mid-destination and we ended up on New Mexico’s 434 going into Angel Fire. What started as a somewhat tight 2 lane paved road eventually became a 25 min white knuckle drive winding through tight turns, no shoulders and a drop off to a creek on one side. The audible gasp from all in the truck was heard miles around when around the corner came an 18 wheeler with trailer. We were super fortunate that he gave a friendly wave as he backed into the light growth on his shoulderless side of the road and we squeaked by with our tires inches from the edge overlooking a creek below. Excuse me while a stop typing for a minute to go wash the sweat off of my never-forget-the-drive hands.
Since that day, we use Google Street View to check out the in-town intersections, tunnels and entrances to camp grounds the day before we head out. But the secret ingredient is the RV Trip Wizard website. It uses settings we provide, like our 42′ trailer length, our 13’5″ hieght, the weight and our desire to avoid tunnels and New Mexico 434.
RV Trip Wizard starts my process by showing me camping sites around the place I want to go visit. I can filter by campground rating, amenities, reviews and more. This is a big help when I’m trying to find places for Monica’s 42′ of fun. Once I find a site and add it to my trip, it will use the preferences I set to show me an appropriate range for the next leg of the trip. It will tell me how many miles and hours between my selected campgrounds. The path that it suggests should be within the limits I provided for the trailer.
This site is a great resource for finding my routes, planning my dates, locating trucker fuels stops along the way and more. And that alone has made me relax a little before a drive. But what I just found out today was that I can export my final trip routing as a spreadsheet. Opening that up in Google Sheets, I found a very well organized spreadsheet that shared the name of each stop, contact information, gps coordinates, URL link to site’s website, miles travelled, cost of each leg and more! Then you can go old-school and open the second worksheet tab to find turn by turn directions for the whole trip. So very MapQuest!! Ha
The site is not without it’s flaws. Several times, the routed path between two locations that were under 500 miles apart ended up making some mysterious path across the state and added 700 miles to the route. A small bug that I worked around by choosing a different location not too far away just for route distance calculation. Another thing that I wish would improve is the ability to locate the hazards in the route. For example, ‘no route available without a tunnel’ just means there is a tunnel somewhere along the 600 miles. Finding it so I could judge the hazard was very difficult.
Regardless, plotting our path across the country was so much better with RV Trip Wizard and I’ll not plan another trip without it again.
What trip planning tool do you use or what strategies have you found helpful? We’d love to learn more tips from our visitors. Leave a comment below!
*Edited June 2021: This post was followed up with more new learning around using Trip Wizard. Check out our Trip Wizard- Part 2 post.