Kira gets to write about all of the “fun” stuff… I thought I would share some of the logistics of our trip.
We began planning this trip nearly three years ago (after our Yellowstone trip in 2018) We really got serious about a year ago. We started making some reservations, and made some comments to some of our friends…. they decided to tag along with us! The more the merrier in my opinion. We love encouraging people to get out and enjoy our great country and the RV lifestyle. Plus it’s always more fun to travel with people that you love! We took 12 other people along with us for a total of 17 and we were gone 17 days.
Let me ask you something… Have you ever been on a vacation and forgot what day it was? Or when you returned home someone asked you “where all did you go?” and you can’t remember every place you visited? THAT’S a good vacation!
We visited six National Parks, one National Monument and one National Historic Landmark. Lost one bicycle, had one flat tire, and had to use a tow truck once. Our truck is fine by the way… it just needed a forced regen at the dealership. I drove it to Glenwood and back on my lunch break yesterday, and the check engine light never came on.
Here is a map of our route with every campground and fuel stop that we made. We towed the camper 3,874 miles across the western half of the country and back.
We stayed at a total of ten campgrounds (including the tent camping night in Yosemite) and fueled up at 20 locations along our route. The total miles on the truck was 5,108.2, which makes this our longest trip to date. (Our “Great American Adventure” trip to Yellowstone in 2018 was 5,075). The total fuel cost was a little over $1,500 and we used 429 gallons of diesel.
There are a few things that are helpful on a trip of this size. Here some things that I recommend if you are planning on heading out in your RV across the country. This is by far not an all inclusive list.
The first, and arguably the most important is tires! I run (and highly recommend) the Goodyear Endurance Trailer tires on my rig. Matter of fact, all three of us on this trip ran these tires. We didn’t have any issues whatsoever directly related to the tires. The only issue we had was related to a valve stem, which the TPMS (I’ll talk about TPMS in a minute) alerted us to. They managed the heat very well, and are extremely reliable. Please don’t hit the road on a long trip with three or four year old tires that have sat out in the sun. Especially the tires that came on your rig when you bought it; also known as “China Bombs” (most likely manufactured in China). We see way too many rigs on the side of the road with blow-outs, or even rigs in the RV parks with damaged side skirts and fender flares because of a previous blow-out. Please please please, look at your tires. Also, speed is a big factor in blow-outs. Essentially low air pressure builds up heat in the tires because you are traveling too fast causing the tire to explode. I normally don’t travel faster than 60 mph on the interstate when I’m towing our rig. I also travel with two spares. Not necessarily because you will need both at the same time, but more likely that if you have to use one, you still have another one. You never know where you will be when you have to find a replacement spare tire. Two spares is just peace of mind for me, and it doesn’t necessarily turn having to repair or replace a tire into priority number 1.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Secondly is a TPMS unit. TPMS stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Think about how your car alerts you when your tires have low air pressure on your dash board. This is the same type of device, but for your trailer tires. You can find these on amazon for as little as $75. The incident that I referenced above with the valve stem… the driver of the rig was alerted that they had a tire loosing pressure. We pulled over on the shoulder and had the tire changed in less than 30 minutes with no damage to their rig. Depending on your model, you can set audible alerts for pressure and temperature. Kira is my “tire checker”, she monitors the TPMS for me and keeps me informed of pressures and temps of each tire.
Third is some form of communication devices other than just a cell phone. We use GMRS/FRS radios when traveling with a group. Multiple reasons for this:
- They are faster to communicate with everyone than texting or calling.
- You don’t necessarily always have service.
- It makes us feel like big truck drivers :-). Especially when the Smokey and the Bandit references start coming out.
Seriously, communications is a big key when traveling with a group. You can get the little handheld units at Walmart or Amazon fairly cheaply, or I have in my truck a Midland MXT275 Micromobile, which is a 15 watt radio, compared to the little handhelds that are around a half a watt. It just means that I can talk farther away, but I also like it because it’s hooked directly to my battery in the truck. I don’t have to remember to charge my handhelds every night, or carry a bunch of extra AAA or AA batteries with me.
Finally, the last thing that I’ll talk about is our bike rack. No, it’s not a necessity, but it sure is convenient! We get a lot of questions about our bike rack. Matter of fact, all three of us on this trip had the exact same set up. I did a lot of research before I landed on this option. I needed a bike rack that could carry five bikes, and still give me truck bed space for my other gear. I did not want to put the bikes on the bumper of the camper, for multiple reasons.
- It’s very bouncy back there. The bike racks that you can buy that go into a hitch and could possibly mount on the back of the camper aren’t very sturdy.
- The bumpers on these campers are not very sturdy. They’re nothing more than thin walled square tubing spot welded to the frame. Those welds can easily snap off and there go your bikes bouncing down the interstate, causing damage to not only your bikes and camper, but more importantly to other vehicles (potentially).
- What are you going to do with your bikes when you get to your destination? There have been multiple occasions where we wanted to ride our bikes a few miles away from the campground where our RV was parked. The option that I went with allows the bikes to be transported by the truck, rather than by the camper.
What we have is the Yakima Bed Rock System with as many Front Loader Bike Racks as you can fit on there. I created a shopping list in Amazon with all of the components that you would need. Whether you need one Frontloader, or five Frontloaders, this rack is perfect. Like I mentioned before, it still allows me to use my truck bed for other gear. Here is the link if you’re interested.
I’m so happy that we decided to go on this journey. I know a lot of people think we’re crazy for traveling this far, but it is something that we deeply enjoy. It’s important to us to expose our kids to as much of this country as possible before they’re out of the house. I have tons of footage to edit and upload to YouTube, so be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel for new videos over the next several months.
I may offend someone here, but I have to say… that we enjoy the beach as much as anyone. Matter of fact one of our favorite places to travel is to Gulf State Park, but please listen to me. This country is HUGE and there is a LOT to see! Get out and enjoy it! Hopefully we will see you on the road somewhere!