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Post Info TOPIC: Beginner's Question - Travel Routes


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Beginner's Question - Travel Routes


I know I've seen topics like this before, but can't seem to find them. What tools do you use to plan your travel routes? I'm not really looking for "how to find a camp ground, etc." but looking more for tools that can help find the best route that can accommodate a large rig (e.g. avoiding low overpasses, construction areas).

I've seen GPS for truckers that have info like this (but they also seem to have lots more industry-specific info that we wouldn't need) and I'm sure there are apps, but I'm just not sure where to begin.

Any suggestions/advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Rachael



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Connie and I have this system.

1. We talk about where we want to go.

2. I design the general route to the destination cities/states/whatever along with a basic schedule of how many days to stay each place based on what we did in #1. We generally stay a week at a time and travel 1-3 days depending on how far the next stop is…we try to keep daily mileage between 270-350.

3. Once that's done she picks out campgrounds…might not be exactly in the town we originally picked but using rvparkreview.com and other sites to pick them.

4. I make reservations for us.

We pull a 40 foot NH 5ver and use a truck GPS which has our height/weight/length in it…doesn't guarantee you won't end up on a road with a low clearance and have to turn around but cuts down on the possibility. We also look as we travel for semi's going the other way…we're shorter than they are so if they came from where we are going that's good.

Construction we don't much worry about…it happens. 

Generally speaking any US numbered highway and most state numbered highways will have enough vertical clearance for you as well as weight ability…since commercial trucks travel over those roads.

I'm not telling you not to worry and not to plan…but it's not as big a deal as you think. 



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We're a lot like Neil and Connie and travel a great deal each year. I do all the trip route planning and actually use Street & Trips.  But any you can use Bing / Google or whatever mapping program you like including paper maps I suppose. I use a "standard" GPS AFTER I have planned the route and put that route in the GPS using specific weigh points so there no GPS surprise turns. I don't use a "trucker's" GPS.  Just not necessary and IMO it can limit your route unnecessarily. I base that opinion on years of GPS travel experience.  Neil and Connie feel differently.  A choice.

This is not 100% true, but if you stay on US-Hiways or Interstates or you see semi's on your route, chances are pretty good you won't have vertical clearance issues.  But that does not relieve he driver and co-pilot from looking at EVERY clearance height sign as you come to them - "Trucker's" GPS or not. Know for sure the height of your rig.  Measure it to be sure. Never believe the salesman or the brochure as to this critical number.

You should always plan your route before you leave and know the GPS is taking you is where you want to go and the way you planned.  Not where it thinks you need to go.

Linda picks the campgrounds with me "approving" them via satellite pix.  I get the exact coordinates for the campground (not the address) and put those in my GPS so I know exactly the turn in points.  Satellite pictures are really helpful when picking campgrounds and even camp sites. I can pick sites even allowing for trees so the satellite antenna will most likely work.

All this is just "us" and if there are 3,000 people on the forum there are at least 2,990 ways this is done.  Everyone has their own way and you have to find what works best for you.  It's as much style as science.  Just make sure to know your route ahead of time.  It will reduce stress and problems.

Enjoy the process
 



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Thank you, both! Very helpful information and great advice. I appreciate it.

Our RV is still up with our dealer in OK. We've made a couple trips back and forth and this last time Bo commented that he didn't want to bring the RV back the way we had been making the trip due to lots of really awful construction (287 through Fort Worth, if you're familiar with the area). Since we know the area, it's pretty easy for us to re-route when we finally do bring the RV back, but it got us questioning how others navigate in unfamiliar areas. We're about two weeks out from bringing it home, so I feel like the pressure is really ramping up to figure out all the little details. I'm sure we'll make mistakes, but I'll worry - I can't help it!

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Every state as a Department of Transportation that has information on most road construction projects that are going on. Good place to get info before you get into the state. In truth, you are not really going to be able to avoid it in the summer - that's prime construction time and you will run into it. Don't get rattled, take your time and don't let someone behind you make you feel like you have to go faster than you feel comfortable doing. Slow is the rule in all construction areas.

We've been traveling 10 yrs and unless we are going to be on county roads for a long time, I really don't worry about heights - if the 18-wheelers are going down the road, we can to. And that is one of the reasons that we pull a car - - we do ALL of our sightseeing using the car. Goggle maps is your friend - use it to look at proposed roadway, especially in the west with the mountains - and also proposed parks.

I always call a park ahead about noon to make sure they have room for us - and often they will say "don't go where the GPS want's to take you, we are on the other side of the road, etc." because the street address (which is used for a lot of the POI are often coordinated with where the original road was proposed, not where it was actually built.

Barb



-- Edited by Barbaraok on Saturday 27th of February 2016 10:21:24 AM

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Barb, thank you so much. That's great advice - I never even considered the state DOT websites. And we'll definitely be sure to call ahead to make sure we know where we're going, and actually fit when we get there.

I think we'd like to have a second car at some point, but we really want to get the truck and the RV figured out before we try to add more complexities to the mix. I *really* have much to learn! Looking forward to the adventure, though!

Thanks for the advice and the encouragement.


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2016 DRV Full House JX450

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"But where were they going without ever knowing the way?" - The Way, Fastball



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Having lived in DFW and stil periodically returning for family visits, I do understand concerns such as HWY 287, yuck😕 in addition to Google Maps, Allstays apps, we just recently also added Co-Pilot to our trip planning tools, not sure yet if it's better, but there are some differences Dale likes better.
Another suggestion that we employ any time we'll be driving through a big city, in addition to state DOT sites to be warned of construction issues, is to use Google Maps to show us the traffic a few days before the trip. For example, recently when we were in SoCal and I knew we would have to deal with some LA area traffic I started checking Google Maps daily for 3 or 4 days, watching their traffic reports, etc to see if there were less busy times to plan our drive through a particular area. That kind of planning made it very easy when we had to leave Tucson to get to Phoenix for an art show, we were able to determine that our route into Phoenix was the reverse commute direction, so we weren't too worried when we hit Phoenix at 5:30 pm on a Wednesday.
I will say we follow the advice of many on this forum and try to drive thru big cities on Sunday mornings, but with the work and art show schedule we maintain that is not always possible.

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Bo and Rach,

Hey, we might have seen your trailer at Rolling Retreats a week or so ago.  Toy hauler right?

I've got a bit more advice for you.  Get the Rand McNally Trucker's Atlas.  Look in it to be sure that it has the section that lists the low overhead clearances.  Also, just because an 18-wheeler is on the highway you are taking, ask yourself it that truck is one that is 13' 6" high.  Many grain trucks and sand and gravel trucks aren't as tall as a semi with a box trailer or refrigerated box trailer.

Since we are planning a trip from Colorado Springs to Grants Pass, OR, I've been checking routes and watching Accuweather to be sure that there are any winter storms forecast into the first half of April.  Since we are going via I-80, I want to avoid having to stay along the route for a few days for the roads to clear and be opened.  I also judge about what we want to drive each day, because Jo is driving our Ford Expedition while I drive the truck and Mobile Suites.  She doesn't like to do much more than 300 to 350 miles if we can help it.

In our case, besides the trucker's atlas and Google Maps, I've also asked around to see if anyone has traveled the same areas before.  I'm totally comfortable with everything in the way of roads until I get to Oregon.  I've never driven those roads, let alone do it with a 55' 10" rig.

Oh, when you get to Rolling Retreats with your truck and hook up, see if Slade won't help you measure your rig's height with your truck hooked to the trailer.  If he happens to have his work building with a space, that level floor will go a long way with being sure of your height.

Terry



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Bill's expansion on our process is good…and a lot of that I actually do as well. In our case…we compare the truck GPS with what the Garmin app on our iPhones tells us and by and large they're pretty much the same. When there are minor differences before they join up again…we take a look ahead of time and try to determine what the reason for the difference is. Sometimes it's a bridge or low clearance…but mostly it's the old "truck route" method of routing to minimize traffic through the center of town. In those cases…sometimes we take the truck route and sometimes we drive through the center of town.  There have only been probably a dozen times that there was an appreciable difference in truck GPS vs regular GPS routing…and only 2 instances that I an think of when it was due to a restriction.

I also use Streets and Trips…but mostly for overall planning purposes, not for driving direction purposes. We've got a paper copy of the Trucker's Road Atlas (at least I think that's the name of it…but don't use it nearly as much as we thought we would.

Mostly…we are shorter and lighter than a semi truck…so anyplace they can go we can go. 

Connie drives our daily driver Mazda when we are  traveling and typically stays behind me on freeways and ahead of me on 2 lane highways. The former is because we're usually driving slower than most traffic…59-62…for fuel efficiency purposes and if she's a hundred yards or so in front of me the idiots on the road come up behind me and swing around then immediately back into the right line…then find out there's a slow car in front and crawl up her bumper. She hates that so stays behind on freeways. Two lane roads she stays ahead…feels safer that way and in addition we then have 2 sets of eyes looking at stuff. If she's behind…she can't see as much ahead so I'm the only one looking. In front she can see better what's coming up. 

As Bill said…I always read the clearance sign on the overpasses and she does as well if she's in the front…not to mention that most low clearances have signage about the numbers well before you get there.

If we were doing it again we would probably not buy a trucker GPS…but when we got it we were newbies and figured that the clearance/weight thing would be a much larger issue than it's turned out to be. That would be my key takeaway for you from this discussion…yes, you need to worry about height/weight and you need to stay attuned to your environment and read signs with clearance and weight limits as you pass them…but in actuality it's mostly not a real problem.

As I said…we've run into 1 clearance issue that we had to reroute around out west in some small town in Kansas or Nebraska or something…and the truck GPS was in error in that case and wanted us to take that road. Fortunately…at the last intersection before we got to the low clearance (some sort of hay/crop enclosed conveyer between a couple of buildings) there was a sign and I just turned left 1 intersection sooner onto a more bigger road then north 1 mile to the highway out of town…the GPS wanted us to go straight another intersection (past the conveyer) and then turn left. We ran into one weight rating on a bridge up in the upper midwest…and the way around was another 40 miles at the end of the travel day…we originally decided to ignore the truck GPS and take the shorter route as looking on google maps showed nothing. When we got to where the GPS wanted us to turn left to reroute onto the big square to the far side of town…again there was a sign that said 10 ton limit 12 miles ahead so we changed our mind back and went the long way.

So…think and be careful but it's mostly not a big deal…and if you see trucks going the other way you're almost always going to be just fine. We do always look at the route on the GPS ahead of time and have been known to put in intermediate points via coordinates for turns…and depending on how far it's out of town I lean towards coordinates for campground entrance over street address for the arrival point…but when you do that you really don't need 6 digits of precision behind the decimal point…a degree is 60 miles roughly so if you have 22.123 degrees then the difference between 22.123 and 22.124 degrees is only 400 feet…which is really plenty precise enough for the GPS…I usually put in 22.1234 degrees and forget about the last few numbers from google…they're overkill for road navigational purposes. 

Like Bill…I approve all the campsites via google satellite view once she picks them…more than once I've told her to change because I didn't feel comfortable getting in or out. Like Bill I try to pick sites that have satellite visibility…but at least in my view…in most cases it's not really necessary to use web sites like dishpointer.com unless the campground is mostly wooded. In my experience…pretty much anywhere in the lower 48 you need a southwest view for DirectTV and the angle is high enough that as long as there are no trees within say 30-40 yards in that direction then we'll have visibility. If it looks iffy then I'll use dishpointer.com. If north of say Chicago then the angle starts to get a little lower and I'm a little more selective…and if in the northeast the angles are more towards the west southwest than southwest. After a year or so of doing it you'll be able to pretty much pick out sites with satellite visibility just from the satellite and experience.



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To add to my reply above, you might consider an app for GPS if you have a tablet.  We were in town today to update the wife's phone, and in our visiting with each other and the manager of the store, that idea came up.  As it was, Samsung's Galaxy Tab E (mini) was on sale with a $50 rebate.  That will end up being a LOT less than what I was figuring for a regular GPS unit.

Terry



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Our photos on Smugmug

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Thank you, everyone! I'm feeling much less concerned (Bo says I'll have to find something else to worry about!).

Ruth, thank you. I'll definitely check out Allstays and Copilot. I'd never thought of Google Maps in the way you suggest. I'll do that, too. Since I still work a 9-5, too, I think a lot of our travel will be on weekends so hopefully we won't have to contend with too much commuter traffic. But being from northern California, and living in DFW for the last 15 years, I'm definitely accustomed to near-commute traffic levels at all times :/

Terry, yes, that's ours. (I don't think Alicia and Slade have another Full House yet.) We probably only missed you by a couple of days - we were just there the weekend before last. Hopefully our paths cross soon. I believe we'll be in Oregon sometime late this summer. Funny you mentioned the trucker's atlas - I found them online but didn't want to wait and Barnes and Noble only had the regular ol' atlas, so I went with that. I have a feeling I'll have quite the arsenal by the time all is said and done - the tough part will be determining what works for us. I have a reputation as a not-so-good-navigator, so I'm trying to improve that status!

Neil, thanks for expanding on your process. I definitely like the idea of adding way points and intermediate coordinates. Even close to home, it's so frustrating when our GPS sends us on a ridiculous route when there is much better way to get to the same place! Also, great info on the GPS coordinates. I've only ever used street addresses, but it sounds like lots of folks use a combination of coordinates and calling ahead to get the right info.

I really appreciate all the feedback and advice. Thank you so much!

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We use a Garmin RV specific GPS that had the height, length and weight of our rig in it. Sometimes it does send us a crazy way, we used to try and figure out why - we gave up. I have gotten in the habit of comparing the GPS directions to the directions on the CG website and if there aren't any, or if they are different, I will call and verify the best directions. This is usually only from the main road to the CG, not the entire route. It has helped, as a few times the GPS wants us to go someplace else, sometimes it's where the CG main office is vs the actual CG location and/or its where the mailbox is, or sometimes we just don't know.

For routing through completely new areas, I will try to speak to someone who is familiar with the area if at all possible. I find that very helpful.



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Along with all that was noted above we also use RV Trip Wizard for planning, and The Next Exit as we travel.



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Linda and I use Good Sam's Trip Planner, by Rand McNally ( a GPS unit ).  It does a great job mapping your route with the ability to drag and drop the route to change it to your liking.  It also lets you adjust speed warnings, tells you about upcoming steep down grades, sharp curves ahead, low clearances, and much more.

So far we've used it to go across country in both directions without issue.  Of course we also use Google Earth to verify RV park sites before we book.

Gary



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Bo and Rach,

For the Trucker's atlas, look in any truck stop, including any Love's, Pilot, T&A, or whatever truck stop.  I'm not sure the smaller Love's stores will have them, but the "travel centers" should.  If I remember right, the overpass information is in a section in the front of the atlas and they are listed by state.

Terry



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2010 Mobile Suites 38TKSB3
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2014 Ford Expedition 4X4 as Tag-along or Scout

Two minor works in progess....pictures taken over the years and a webblog:

Our photos on Smugmug

Ignoring the Barking Dogs  -  Terry's Blog



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Best recommendation I ever got was to use Google Street View to "drive" the route the day before getting behind the wheel. I don't follow every mile, mostly the mountains, the highway changes, and most importantly the turns to get to the actual campground. It has saved me many a "mis-guided" GPS instruction. I also use campendium.com for finding parks and campgrounds - not a lot of reviews yet, but at least they're current. The more popular review site is often years old.

We have the Rand McNally GPS which is accurate about 85% of the time, even after regular updates. But I really like the routing tool so the street view trick is a great help.

Enjoy!

Jodee

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Hey everyone! Thanks again for all the great advice. Tomorrow is the big day. Making the trek up to Elk City, OK to pick up this monster. Super excited and more than a little nervous. Double-checking all the great resources to make sure I didn't miss anything.

Thank you again for all the great info. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your willingness to share all your experiences and knowledge.

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I'm interested to see what your weights are. Axles and pin on the DRV.

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Adding my 2 cents regarding low clearances -- in addition to an RV version of a GPS, I also use "Route 1", which can be found at www.lowclearances.com. It is a full database which can be imported into many GPSs as a POI (we have found several times while driving, we get a voice message from the GPS telling us there's a low clearance in the area. We can then look at the GPS to see if it's just nearby or actually on the route). There is a fee ($15/year or $45 lifetime) but I think it's well worth it.

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Alie and Jims Carrilite wrote:

I'm interested to see what your weights are. Axles and pin on the DRV.


Hey there Jim and Alie,

 

I'll be glad to let you know as soon as we load up and get her weighed.

 

Rach 



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2016 DRV Full House JX450

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cherylbrv wrote:

Adding my 2 cents regarding low clearances -- in addition to an RV version of a GPS, I also use "Route 1", which can be found at www.lowclearances.com. It is a full database which can be imported into many GPSs as a POI (we have found several times while driving, we get a voice message from the GPS telling us there's a low clearance in the area. We can then look at the GPS to see if it's just nearby or actually on the route). There is a fee ($15/year or $45 lifetime) but I think it's well worth it.


Hey Cheryl,

Thanks for the suggestion. I happened to find and purchase Route 1 this weekend. I'm not sure if it works with the standard UConnect GPS that came with our truck but I imported it into Google Earth (which I'm not entirely sure how to use yet, LOL) and was sort of able to figure it out.

On our way to pick up, we found a route (U.S. 281) that we thought was going to work for us to bring back, but as soon as we got off U.S. 287 we ran into a 13'9" bridge. Yikes! For the route back, we traveled part way on U.S. 180 and thanks to Route1, we are able to (mostly) figure out that there weren't any low bridges on that road. And thanks to other advice on here, I was on the lookout for big rigs coming from the other direction.

We made it home!

 

Thanks,

Rach



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2016 DRV Full House JX450

2016 Dodge Ram 3500 Laramie

"But where were they going without ever knowing the way?" - The Way, Fastball



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Bo & Rach, the Allstays app lists low clearances.

Enjoy packing your new home, always fun to figure out where everything needs to go☺☺

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2010 38TKSB3 DRV Mobile Suites

2012 Ford F450

 

Dale and Ruth Travelling with Tazzy Kat!

 

IMAG0142_zps070d30d8.jpg

 

 

 

 

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