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Old 02-02-2014, 11:23 AM   #1
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Long RV Trip Advice - Mi to Yellowstone and Back

Planning a 2 1/2 week trip to Yellowstone this year. I'm new to TT camping as of last fall. Given the West is soooo big, there will be days of driving where we only get a CG for 1 night to sleep and keep going the next day. I'm interested in any advice as to good points and procedue for a long trip like this. I'm concerned about the time it will take to set up / break down the campsite every day.

Points I'm interested in are:

- how long is too long for a day of towing? I have some days with 500 to 600 miles (DW + 3 kids)
- For a 1 night stay....full hookups??
- Do I travel a few days then dump the black tank even if I have full hookups and/or a dump station?
- Fresh Water in the tank vs hooking up each night? Adds weight, but may save a little time in set up / break down
- General advice for a rookie going on a long trip
- Trip planners (online or purchased software)?

I am going to try and pick a CG in the middle of a few attactions so I can stay in 1 place for 2 or 3 nights and drive a little each day. Plan on min 5 nights in Yellowstone...actually just outside due the the restrictions inside the park.


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Old 02-02-2014, 11:28 AM   #2
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It would be so much easier if you just picked me up here in West Michigan and I will just go with you and show you the ropes.

If the trailers a rockin, dont bother a knockin, just come on in and make yourself a drink. We wont be long.
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Old 02-02-2014, 01:35 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Locky66 View Post
It would be so much easier if you just picked me up here in West Michigan and I will just go with you and show you the ropes.
Believe me, I've got a waiting list!!

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Old 02-02-2014, 07:54 PM   #4
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We traveled last July from Calgary Alberta Canada to minniapolis Minnesota roughly 5600km round trip... We hauled with water spent the travel nights going down at walmarts spent 2 nights, coming home stayed at 2 CG.... I have a 5 year old who has been used to travel for long trips and as long as she has stuff to do and DVDs to watch we can go 10-12hr days! I found it was very nice to have the water for showers and toilet even though it was extra weight and fuel but well worth it for us........ We basically mapped out the route and started looking at CG on the way...decided to save the cash and just stop at Walmart...... But after those 2 nights we were ready to dump so I'd go with a full hookup site after 2-3 days personally..... The only advise I can give is just take your time and enjoy the time with your family..... I used to rush to get to my destination but have learned to slow down and take it as it comes.....
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:11 PM   #5
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There are a lot of variables in deciding how long to drive and stay on a trip like this. Lot has to do with how do the kids travel. Our son has been traveling his whole life, and does great. Last year we did a similar trip from the Twin Cities (MN) to Custer-> Yellowstone -> West Glacier, back home in 19 days. When planning the trip my DW wanted to leave early in the morning. I suggested, because the TT could be and would be fully packed to leave the night before, so we decided to after work we would travel 150 or so miles. Just to make the next day shorter, we ended up doing 250 miles that night, I was so glad we did. If you’re only going as far west as Yellowstone, you should have time to explore in-route. I strongly recommend at least a one night stop in the Badland NP, at BL NP bypass the site seeing at first, roll in, setup, have an early dinner, then go out and explore. It will be cooler and the crowds have all gone home. Two nights will let you explore more of the park. Custer SP is also one of my favorite parks, I can spend a week there with no issues. Again lots of things to see and do in the area, with a great wildlife drive each evening.

1) 500-600 miles is doable, but It can be a long day with kids, it really will depend on your family dynamics, can they handle sitting that long, and if so bring lots of things for them to do, movies, Ipad, music, books, small games, etc…… If we did a long days travel, 600 miles or more we stayed in a parking lot like Walmart or Cabelas. No showers on those nights. With rest stops and fueling that will be 12+ hours of traveling (65 mph max).

2) 1 night with hookups? That is personal choice, me no hookups (cheaper) and it does not take much time of effort to dump on the way out of the CG.

3) I empty my tanks almost daily. As for traveling; I like to run with my tanks empty. I kept a 2 gallon water jug full. I store it in shower.

4) FW in the tank or hookups? I try to run empty, and will fill up as I pull into a CG with just enough water for the night. I do not need a full tank for a night.

5) General Tips, Have fun, make sure to stop and smell the roses. There are a lot of interesting things to see between MI and Yellowstone. If you have a day or two that is longer, make sure to follow it up with a day or two that is much easier. Do not schedule things for every day, and do not have a reservation for every night, this will allow for flexibility. The only reservations we had was at Custer (SP), Cody WY (KOA) and West Glacier (KOA).

6) Trip planning, we determined the highlights that we absolutely wanted to do, planned our route and rough timing based on how long we wanted to stay at each of those locations. Then I used Google maps to see how Google thought I should travel. If you have not used Google maps you can add multiple destinations, you can also change the routing by dragging on the white dots, then email the map to yourself so you can continue working on your plan later. When you are all done can send it to your Smartphone and use your phone’s GPS to keep you on track. There is an app on my DW phone that helps RVer find CG, fuel, supplies, etc. She is out of town and I do not recall name of it right now.
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Old 02-02-2014, 09:43 PM   #6
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One suggestion.. if you are able to dry camp at some point while in Yellowstone, there are some really beautiful sites that are unserviced. Also,there is one pass into the park that is super extreme.. right over a mountain, really scary especially pulling a trailer.. so make a careful decision on whether you want to do that. We have travelled as far as 12000 miles on a trip with 4 kids. We find that if we make good stops for lunch and breaks stretch our legs etc. we actually can do longer days without it getting too tedious. One last thought.. a couple of times we overestimated the distance we would be able to travel in a day and lost out on reservations that we had paid for in advance.

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Old 02-02-2014, 10:05 PM   #7
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We bought our TT last year after we had booked campsites and found that we couldn't drive as fast as we would have if we were just tenting. The thinking is long days and few stops because tenting is a lot of setup and the fewer single night stays the better. We have had to adjusted our mindset now since we can set up the bare minimum we need to sleep in about 20 minutes.

So in my long winded ramble I will say we try to stick to 6 hours most days with longer days on the first and last days since you don't set up at home. I dump holding tanks every chance I get because having to find a dump station when you are filled to the brim is never fun or easy in accordance to Murphys law.

Hooking up to water is faster than filling the tank IMHO.

As for advice for someone new to tt life from someone who is also new is: you won't use half the stuff you pack and you will have to figure out how to make due without half the stuff you forgot to pack.
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Old 02-03-2014, 03:31 AM   #8
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We are looking to do a similar trip in the spring of 2015 and are only planning one long day of 10 hours so we can relax a little. We're also retired and going before school gets out so the campgrounds will not be as crowded.

A couple 12 hour days in a row will be tiring on everyone but it is possible.

Look at this thread for what we are doing and use what you want.

Have fun and leave possibilities to change the schedule if you find other things to do.
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Old 02-03-2014, 06:48 AM   #9
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We always carry some water in the tank for bathroom breaks but hook up water when it's available on overnight stops. If we stay at a campground we usually do full hook-ups, if we stay at a rest stop or Wallyworld, we just do the bare minimum.

5-600 mile days are possible, but 400 is better most days.

We look for a place to stop the next day and that usually determine how far we drive. You can also drive more miles when it's really flat as compared to the mountains haha.

We never plan more than a day out for stops to keep our options open.

We only dump grey water tanks for the most part, black tanks don't see as much action on the road and take longer to dump.

Make a few easy to reheat meals in the fridge in case you can't find a good restaurant on the road
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Old 02-03-2014, 06:54 AM   #10
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I gave up my CDL a few years back, but you need to understand the statistics regarding long periods of driving each day. We max out at 6 hours a day. At that point in time, I am still comfortable and DW is fine, not to mention the 2 pups, and we then get to sit next to the TT and enjoy a good cup of coffee at around 3-4 PM, and get a good nights rest.
Here are a few facts based on hours driving a truck/trailer each day, which I believe can be carried over to towing/driving an RV:
FMCSA report:
  • There is a consistent increase in the likelihood of a crash beginning with the fifth hour through the 11th hour behind the wheel.
  • The highest crash odds are in the 11th hour of driving. However, there is also a significant increase in the danger of a crash when comparing the sixth hour of driving to the first four.
My point is that the truck drivers are out there driving 60 - 70hours a week, RV'ers travel no where near that much and it is more difficult for an RV’ers to recognize when fatigue is setting in. Of course taking breaks will extend the amount of time you can drive, but the amount of time before fatigue starts setting back in is short.. add those long driving hours to mountain driving and you have a prescription for disaster... I prefer to limit my day of driving…
Just my thoughts!!

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