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Old 01-25-2019, 03:07 PM   #1
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Default Planning our first trip...overwhelmed

My wife and I are planning a 10-day trip from Denver to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in a rented Travato K; this is a tryout to see if a class b is right for us. We are interested in a mix of RV parks and being out away from the RV parks. I have no idea where to start to figure all of this out. Hoping the seasoned veterans on this forum can point us in the right direction.

Thank you for any help you can provide.

Pat
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Old 01-25-2019, 05:20 PM   #2
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My wife and I are planning a 10-day trip from Denver to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in a rented Travato K; this is a tryout to see if a class b is right for us. We are interested in a mix of RV parks and being out away from the RV parks. I have no idea where to start to figure all of this out. Hoping the seasoned veterans on this forum can point us in the right direction.

Thank you for any help you can provide.

Pat
Do not fret too much. It will work out fine.

Basic RV 101:
Make sure your RV provider supplies a decent 30A power cord, water hose, and ask about leveling blocks (they may or may not provide). Blocks are not always necessary, but come in handy at times.

Take a small 16ga or 14 ga. extension cord and a 15A to 30A adapter in case you find a spot with only 15A service. You won't be able to run your a/c with it, but you can run everything else (even microwave briefly) and charge your batteries.

Make sure they show you dump procedures, breaker/fuse location, and general operation procedures. Maybe they'll have a checklist for setting up and breaking camp. Get their phone numbers and ask about who to call if you have a roadside breakdown.

Don't over pack clothes, food, etc. You'll find plenty of grocery stores and laundramats along the way. Most larger parks and KOA's have these essentials.

Travel 101:
Map out your trip, but allow flexibility for variations and delays. Use the vans' navigation system (if equipped), take a Rand/McNally map book, and get local guidebooks/maps at visitor centers.

I recently subscribed to "Roadtrippers" and like the fact it is easy to plot a custom route and the way it shows local sites/camping/attactions based on your preferences. Even if we don't visit them all on our next trip, at least we feel like we won't get home and realize we had driven within 15-30 mins. of something we regret not seeing.

Take some cash (just in case), but more importantly, make sure you notify your credit card companies that you plan to travel and where. Some are very quick to deny transactions as suspected fraud unless you clue them in on your travel plans.

Some people travel with advance reservations under pressure of having to stay on a strict driving schedule so they arrive as planned. We chose the travel under the pressure of having to decide daily where we'd spend the night. It was not as tough as we feared, and there were always the occasional Camp Walmart overnights that worked out fine.

Finally, get a Senior Lifetime National Parks Pass (or maybe in your case a non-senior one) for free entry and 1/2 off camping costs. And always seek out a "Park Host" in any state or federal park land. These are civilians who assist park rangers after hours in exchange for a free site and hookups. With a single exception, we found them more helpful and more knowledgeable than official park staff. They were especially helpful in finding us a slot in an officially "Full" park. We stayed in numerous "Full" parks that had many empty sites (sometimes as many as 50%).

Bottom Line:
We too (me actually, my wife not so much) obsessed greatly before our first trip. We wound up overstocking food and the fridge (as if we'd find no groceries on the way ) and found we only had to wash clothes once or twice on multi-week trips.

Don't overstress. After all, isn't that the point of rving.
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Old 01-25-2019, 05:29 PM   #3
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I'm looking at renting a B this year as well as a 'try before you buy'. When requesting quotes I saw a clause in the insurance coverage that you might want to be aware of if you plan on boondocking. Some rental RVs can only be driven on paved roads or gravel driveways. If you take them on BLM backroads and get stuck or break down, you may be on the hook.

My advice; read the fine print.

They also specifically exclude Burning Man. Even if you're booking a rig as far away as Halifax. I wonder why...
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Old 01-25-2019, 05:37 PM   #4
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We obsessed too, but most of it was unnecessary.


The only thing that is really worth looking at closely, IMO, is where you are going to stay, especially if you are going to a popular place in prime time. If that is the case, for a first trip, I would get as many reservations as you can ahead of time if you are the campground type. If you are learning how to find a place stay along with everything else, it make it tougher and you can't do as much about it once everything is full.


Don't obsess on what to take with, especially things that can be easily purchased or thrown out while traveling if you guess wrong. No matter how long you plan you will be wrong on a lot of it, we sure were. We still have two extra lawn chairs, a picnic table cloth, and a 6X9 outdoor mat in a cabinet that haven't ever been used!


Don't schedule too many miles a day to travel, on average. Some folks like to do the stopping along the way at attractions, which we do some of but not a lot, and others like us prefer finding a nice place to base camp and do sidetrips to attractions. Everyone is different. We average about 150 miles a day, but it will come in batches and we might not move for several days, or more. We have close to 1000 miles before we get to areas we like most so our average is much lower if you take off the 2000 miles of commute.



It is also good to schedule some rest days with nothing scheduled, if that makes any sense



Always remember there will likely be a Walmart around if you get out of whack and need stuff or a place to stay (except in some tourist areas where you can't stay in Walmart).
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Old 01-25-2019, 09:34 PM   #5
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US Forrest Service offices, when they are not shut down, are a treasure trove of info. Especially for boondocking. They will have free maps that show where it is allowed.

Free campsites.net, Campendium are quite helpful apps.

I mostly use Free Campsites. It also shows RV dumps.

My trip out west lasted over four months last year, not one night was spent at a commercial RV Park, just sayin'.
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Old 01-25-2019, 10:03 PM   #6
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Do not fret too much. It will work out fine.

Don't overstress. After all, isn't that the point of rving.
.
^^^^This is the key.

OP - Have you ever tent camped? If so, you can think of the 'B' as a big honkin' tent with a built-in cooler and potty, then pack like you were tenting. If you've ever road tripped in a car and stayed in motels, then you can think of this as a normal road trip except your motel room right behind the seats.

Either way, it'll be an adventure.
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Old 01-25-2019, 11:01 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ColoradoMTB11 View Post
My wife and I are planning a 10-day trip from Denver to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in a rented Travato K; this is a tryout to see if a class b is right for us. We are interested in a mix of RV parks and being out away from the RV parks. I have no idea where to start to figure all of this out. Hoping the seasoned veterans on this forum can point us in the right direction.

Thank you for any help you can provide.

Pat
Pat, depending on your trip date, you need to be sure the parks you plan to visit are open. As an example, we left from South Texas to Yellowstone this past April (after already experiencing a couple of hot Summer months - even though it was only Spring ).

Being newbies from the warmer climates, it never dawned on us there was still cold weather and snow in the areas we planned to visit. Yes, we planned on seeing snow on mountain peaks, but were surprised to discover Yellowstone had just opened for the season a little before we got there on May 18th. As it turned out, we were able to camp in the park at Bridge Bay campground because it just opened that day. Any sooner and we'd not have been able to camp inside Yellowstone. If we'd come a few weeks earlier, we might not have gotten into the park at all.

But things worked out for us in the end, and it was one of the nice surprises of the trip.
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Old 01-26-2019, 12:01 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ColoradoMTB11 View Post
My wife and I are planning a 10-day trip from Denver to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in a rented Travato K; this is a tryout to see if a class b is right for us. We are interested in a mix of RV parks and being out away from the RV parks. I have no idea where to start to figure all of this out. Hoping the seasoned veterans on this forum can point us in the right direction.

Thank you for any help you can provide.

Pat
Can't advise you on any RV parks, because we don't use them. But we like Dinosaur National Monument in UT/CO; Bakers Hole NF CG just north of West Yellowstone, MT (they have electric); Madison CG in YNP; most of the NF campgrounds between Cody, WY and the east entrance to YNP.
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Old 01-26-2019, 01:16 PM   #9
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I would suggest getting an app like allStays or Campendium so it's easier to find places. That said, we found a lot of places just using Google Maps.

If you stick with RV parks for your first couple of nights, there will surely be someone there who can help you. You also don't have to worry about power, water, finding a dump station, or leveling. It's more expensive but the peace of mind and ease of hooking up was priceless. Plus, if you have trouble figuring out your tanks, toilet or shower, you have one right there - stress-free learning.

There are LOTS of Travatos out there - we see one at every other state park we visit. Which means there's a wealth of help the next campsite over.

Make sure you can get where you are going at least 2 hours before sunset so you have plenty of time to deal with issues (if any) during daylight hours.

Have fun! Buying our van is one of the best things we did.
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Old 01-26-2019, 01:39 PM   #10
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Very helpful. Thank you for taking the time to write it.
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Old 01-26-2019, 01:45 PM   #11
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Thanks. Apps are downloaded and will dig into those this weekend.
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Old 01-26-2019, 09:30 PM   #12
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Assuming you're traveling in the summer when everything is open we've generally found the campgrounds inside Grand Teton National Park to be well cared for. Lizard Creek campground is particularly Class-B friendly with a maximum vehicle length of 30 feet and smaller wooded sites just off Jackson Lake. Colter Bay is the big campground near lodge and dining facilities if you prefer that.

Grand Teton campgrounds are first-come, first-served and usually start assigning campsites at 8am. If full when you arrive the attendants can tell you how quickly it's likely to fill the next morning, so you can retreat to less popular campground then return for a site the next morning.

By comparison we're not big fans of the campgrounds inside Yellowstone. However there are excellent Forest Service campgrounds just outside the west and northeast entrance areas. Then just get up early and beat the crowds into the park the next morning.

Renting is a great way to try out the Class B lifestyle and design features before you buy. We rented from Campervan North America before buying our unit and it was money well spent (and a fun trip too!).

Happy travels!
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Old 01-26-2019, 09:59 PM   #13
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Another issue with Grand Tetons / Yellowstone is they're farther away from full service grocery stores than many National Parks. If you're coming up from the Denver Front Range area Rawlins will be the last major grocery before departing I-80, or Casper if traveling via I-25. There is a Safeway in Lander if you miss those although it's not as well stocked.

During our 10 day Yellowstone/Tetons loop we began to run a bit low on fresh foods towards the end in Tetons (coming south via Yellowstone). There's a decent little store in Colter Bay but with limited fresh foods that often sell out early.

The park concessionaire restaurants were pricey and disappointing. For a quick prepared meal the Colter Bay store deli was actually better, although the deli items also tended to sell out early.
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Old 01-27-2019, 01:50 AM   #14
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Another issue with Grand Tetons / Yellowstone is they're farther away from full service grocery stores than many National Parks. If you're coming up from the Denver Front Range area Rawlins will be the last major grocery before departing I-80, or Casper if traveling via I-25. There is a Safeway in Lander if you miss those although it's not as well stocked.

During our 10 day Yellowstone/Tetons loop we began to run a bit low on fresh foods towards the end in Tetons (coming south via Yellowstone). There's a decent little store in Colter Bay but with limited fresh foods that often sell out early.

The park concessionaire restaurants were pricey and disappointing. For a quick prepared meal the Colter Bay store deli was actually better, although the deli items also tended to sell out early.
There is an Albertsons and Lucky's in Jackson, WY.
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Old 01-27-2019, 06:30 PM   #15
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We purchased our Travato G last summer. For our first van trip, we had a trip planned to Canada from Tennessee in mid August. We had reservations at a couple CG in Quebec and Montreal. After we looked at the weather forecast (flooding and rain) we altered course and went west with zero reservations. Went to Sante Fe, Taos, Durango Ouray, Telluride, etc. it was an amazing road trip (3700miles) and I can’t wait to do our trip this summer to Glacier and Yellowstone. However we do have a few KOA reservations booked now as a backup. I prefer to boondock but I’ve heard it’s not as easy to boondock around Glacier and YS. Never been to these areas. Anyway as the others have said, don’t overpack and relax. It’s going to be amazing and you won’t have that first 1000 miles we had to drive to get to the real beginning of the trip! I think you’ll love the Travato!
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Old 01-27-2019, 08:49 PM   #16
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There is an Albertsons and Lucky's in Jackson, WY.
Good point. We're usually traveling either from the North or Southeast entrances, where services are slim. It would make sense to jump down south to Jackson if needed for provisions.
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Old 01-31-2019, 04:15 PM   #17
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Hi Pat,

Wow. lots of GREAT advice from other members!

I live in Greenwood Village (not far from you) and have an older Pleasure Way Class B parked in my driveway. You and your wife are welcome to come to my house to see how I have stocked my RV and I can answer any questions as I have many years of all kinds of camping.

Let me know and I can send you my phone #.
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Old 01-31-2019, 04:46 PM   #18
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Hi Pat,

Wow. lots of GREAT advice from other members!

I live in Greenwood Village (not far from you) and have an older Pleasure Way Class B parked in my driveway. You and your wife are welcome to come to my house to see how I have stocked my RV and I can answer any questions as I have many years of all kinds of camping.

Let me know and I can send you my phone #.
I never get tired of replies like this from the helpful folks on this forum. I also never get tired of some of the err, umm ... strange User names.
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Old 01-31-2019, 06:55 PM   #19
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I would try a simple overnight trip in a nearby campground (or even your driveway) just to get the feel of driving the Travato and setting up the privacy curtains, etc. Also - you can make sure the water system works OK, and the house batteries hold a charge (unless you are always going to be plugged in at a campground). The first time I used my Travato I thought the water heater was broken until I realized I had to turn on the propane.

Don't take duffle bags with lots of clothes; everything should fit in the cabinets or you will be forever moving stuff around in the RV. Same goes for food and cooking gear.

Don't over plan the trip and driving, unless you are going to popular parks during peak travel season. Except for the first day of our trips, my wife and I keep our driving to less than 100 miles. There is always something to see! Be flexible.

Since this is your first trip, it's worth finding a park with no hookups, one with full hookups, etc., just to try everything out.

Enjoy!

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Old 01-31-2019, 07:38 PM   #20
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I would plan a shorter trip for my first time out.
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