Filed under: Preparation & Readiness, Traveling Tips
To Reserve or Not To Reserve
Now that we are well into Spring and moving toward Summer, it is time to begin the Summer travels. For us, this involves a detailed planning process where we determine where we want to be when and then finding the appropriate RV parks, resorts, and campgrounds that will meet our criteria. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, we are full-timers so do not take a lot of trips to get away from it all; we look for other criteria (for example, since I work online, I always need to be connected).
The big question, though, is whether we should spend our time making plans, identifying parks, and making reservations or just wing it and enjoy what comes. When we mentioned that we had made our reservations at a get-together of people about to leave on their own travels, it seemed fairly split on whether reservations were a good idea. For example, one couple mentioned that they were going to be at an RV park about the same time we were going to be there—just a few days earlier.
We let them know that when we called we had to postpone our arrival because they were completely booked by a rally. The couple said that they would go ahead and call, even though they normally do not make reservations. It turns out the park had openings for the days they wanted to be there, but then were completely booked for a few days, then had openings again when we would arrive. So, they would have had no problem arriving without reservations, unless their plans changed and they arrived one day later; which is what would have happened to us with our original plan.
Now, maybe our desire for reservations started because of when we purchased our motorhome. We bought our motor home in Albuquerque on the first Friday in October. For anyone familiar with the major events that occur in Albuquerque, you already know where this is going. For the rest of you, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is in Albuquerque the first full week in October every year.
This means that the kickoff day for the Fiesta was the day we were to take delivery of our motorhome. So, when we tried to find a place in Albuquerque to stay, we were out of luck. Fortunately, we found a lovely park in Santa Fe (Trailer Ranch RV Resort) that had an opening—and on a deluxe site, no less (since it was our “maiden voyage,” the owners presented us with a bottle of sparkling grape juice when we arrived). Speaking of Trailer Ranch, they have a policy of no check-ins after 5 pm; if we had not called ahead, we would not have known that. Also, every now and then when we call for reservations we are given hints about the best way to get to the campground—which is always appreciated.
So, with the Balloon Fiesta as our first experience, it is understandable that my wife is a bit worried about us arriving somewhere and not finding a place to park. Once, just outside Houston, we were checking in and heard the clerk turn away a couple who just showed up—because the park was completely full (reinforcing her concern). Over the years we have had to change our plans twice on July 4th (Massachusetts and Oregon), once on Easter (Myrtle Beach), once on Memorial Day (New York), and once on June 7 (Texas—no holiday, just a rally); and a number of times we have settled for sites that we normally would not accept because of how crowded the park was. Have we traveled without reservations? Yes, a few times; and they have always worked out fine (for example, twice we’ve traveled on I-40 in December—little need for reservations then).
We have heard stories, though, about people who drive until they feel like stopping and then are not able to locate a place to stay (in some communities you cannot even stay at WalMart!; and rest areas can fill up quickly and have short limits on how long you can stay—it is good to know the rules ahead of time). My wife said that if this ever happens to us, she is through with the full-time RV lifestyle. So, to make sure that she does not lose interest in our nomadic life, we choose to make reservations; sometimes a year in advance (like our reservations for the International Balloon Fiesta later this year to see Ham-let)! So, let me know—do you make reservations or do you just head out and enjoy the adventure?