Over the 20 odd years we have been travelling and Boondocking we have learned “what to do and not to do“. I would like to say that the learning has come from our extensive reading and research but the truth is most of what follows comes from “Opps! I did it again” (my apologies to Britney Spears). I suppose it is a sad fact that I have met other Caravan travellers who have suffered one or more of these trip ruining experiences. In fact, YouTube is filled with videos of sorrow. But enough – here are my own top 10 whoops.
1. Don’t be in a hurry
This is probably the most experienced whoops that happened to us. The number one rule is “take your time” and be intensional. When you’re in a hurry you forget things and make mistakes. I have seen people leaving campsite with their awnings still extended, hose and electrical cables still connected to the services. I can remember arriving home myself after we had to rush leaving late from a campground to discovered I had forgotten to connect the “trailer emergency break-away cable” to the back of the truck. The list here is endless and can be costly. ?
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff
One of the things I have learned over the year is not become obsessed with little things that don’t personally make you a happy person. Letting small thing become blown out of proportion is one sure way to ruin a good trip. A very wise person by the name of Saul of Tarsus said that over the year of his travels he had learned the “Art of being content in everything“. My dad once told me that he learned to pick his battles with my mother. I must confess, I too have learned the same lesson ? (disclaimer: meaning the Boss not my mother).
3. Don’t over plan a trip
If you LIKE stress, then make sure all the T’s are crossed and all the I’s are dotted. I mean, who can possibly live with spontaneity! Right?? Does this sound like your planning, “Today we are going to stop here …. go there … do this …” Then of course it rains, you have a flat tire, the chosen campground is full and they lost your reservation!!! (see #2 above). Don’t get me wrong here, we do plan (see #4 below). However, there is a difference between planning out the needed stuff you’re going to carry for a 14 day boondock verses a cross country 6 month trip you’re going to take this coming summer. If you plan out every detail of an extended trip you have forgotten the basics of “Murphy’s Law” Sh_t Happens, and when it does your “plans of mice and men” just went into the Black Tank. ? So I hope you enjoy the stress. The boss and I have learned to plan in “general terms“. What does “general terms” look like? It looks something like this: we’re leaving today for (some place near here) with the “expected arrival” in (about this time period). Then we look at all the “possibilities” in the “how to get there“, and all the “possible” thing to do and see. BUT, we don’t set a schedule … we have learned to “go with the flow“. To have fun. To be spontaneous. Have nothing set in stone. ?
4. Do discuss / plan stuff with your travel partner
While this is in the middle of this posting, it could have been #1 or #10 because everything else written in this blog post really come back to “make sure you discuss and plan WITH your travel partner if you want to have a great trip“. Wow! that was a long sentence. However, I can assure you that it’s not as long as the sentence of sleeping on the dog house if you “surprise” you partner. ? Trust me, trip fun begins with the planning together. One of the joys we have is Boondocking on Vancouver Island. There are so many places to visit. We usually head off for 14 days at a time and this means 5 to 6 different trips between June and September (when we’re not travelling cross Canada). So before I make reservations at the different Provincial Campgrounds and Forestry Camps we “talk about” what we’re going to do and where we are going to go. The old saying “happy wife – happy glamping life” happens to be a truism. ?
5. Don’t drive too far – too fast
There are a couple of simple rule I have when towing – Speed – 100 kph max (65 mph) and distance 300-400 km max (250-300 miles). We like to enjoy the trip, see the country we’re travelling through and feel safe doing it. Even the Airstream manual recommends 65 mph as does the Goodyear tire guide. I can remember when I was in my early forties driving from Toronto Ontario to Vancouver British Columbia in 2 1/2 days in my 1984 Pontiac Fiero (FYI – 2841 miles / 4573 kilometres.) Hey! this was the poor man’s corvette back then!! ? Now at 75+ years young. I have learned the Art of Slowing Down. The objective is to get there, NOT how fast you can get there. When travelling we often plan to leave a campground before the morning rush hour or just after (say 11am) and aim for arrival between 3pm and 4pm, which often allows us to find a place to camp for the night. ?
6. Don’t arrive in the dark
This you could say this is part of the rules of #5 but I thought I would mention it separately for a reason. Unless you’re a Vampire or wear night vision goggles, arriving at a “Black as Night” campsite happens to be no fun at all. Why you ask? Well, if you have to ask that question, it tells me you have not experienced the joys of inspecting a campsite for hazards, backing a 50’+ rig into a 35′ x 40′ tree-lined campsite, levelling, unhitching and so on – in the dark (even if you have a super-duper LED head lamp). Also, remember that during the summer, dark is about 10:30pm and the neighbours, all tucked in their beds just love late arrivals – don’t you? It’s also a surprise in the morning to discover you’re right next door to the “public pit toilet”? (don’t you dare ask!) .. just saying. Night landings do not inspire joy. ?
7. Don’t wait until you “need” to find a gas station
I was watching a YouTube video where this chap wanted to see how far his F-150 ecoboost could travel when the gas tank empty indicator light came on. Surprisingly, he was able to travel an additional 80km (50 miles). I would not recommend this – goes without saying. Let’s just think about this. When we were travelling (cross Canada for example) I never let the truck go below 1/2 a tank. The reason for this is simple. I like to be in control of where I fuel. I like gas stations on the same side of the road that I am travelling on. I don’t like the worry and stress about “needing” to fuel up. Think about the fact that our rig (F-150 SuperCrew + Airstream) is just over 50′ long (15.5 metres). So I like to fuel at stations that are easy to pull into and out of. I also prefer to fuel in the suburbs rather than “in the city“. Gas stations are larger in the suburbs – I like space. So my rule is fuel when convenient NOT when I need to. ?
8. Don’t wait until tomorrow to fix an issue today
That may seen a bit pressing. However, if you put off attending to those small problems they may explode into a much bigger issue. Owning a caravan is like owning a vehicle, it requires maintenance to run right and enjoy. We own an Airstream, which while beautiful, has seams that require inspection so you ensure they don’t leak. Every year I work out a “project list” to stay ahead of any potential problems. Last year we replaced the tires. They still had “good tread” BUT they were 5 years old. Sure they “could” continue in service. However, a flat on the road could be a costly adventure. Not only in lost time but also the $$$$ repair bill as the shredded steel-belted tire beat the crap out of the Airstream’s wheel well. The YouTube videos are scary! ?
9. Do plan in advance for Boondocking
We boondock 95% of the time. From the very beginning of our camping life we never went to “serviced campgrounds“. When we had our T@B, Boondocking was simple. The T@B was simply a “tent” on wheels. We could actually move it around by hand! When we picked up our Airstream life became a bit more complicated. We quickly discovered that the tanks (fresh water, grey water, black water) required managing. How we managed the “flow” determined the length we can stay at our boondock campsite. Power – wow – we started out with 2 basic 12 volt batteries which we killed the very first week out. So we added solar, 160w suitcase. Then added 2-6v Trojans which barely did the job even with the added 200w solar on the roof (did I mention BC has trees?). Now we have lithium batteries and run 360w of solar. This is just a small example of the understanding that it takes to spend 14+ days self-sufficient in the middle of nowhere. I use this as a example for those who usually “camp” at full service campgrounds. Boondocking means having the ability to be complete self-sufficient and this does require first and foremost an understanding of your caravan’s limitations. Then there is food, refrigeration, clothing requirements etc. Also important is the ability of your rig (vehicle and caravan) to go to those places that are NOT paved roads! One does not boondock on a whim – just saying.?
10. Do have your first meal planned and/or ready for when you arrive
All the years we’ve been camping the one thing we plan out and have ready before we head out is the “arrival meal“. For us it’s something simple to throw on the BBQ. Whatever is your liking, make sure it’s thawed and ready to go, because you will be tired and hungry when you arrive. ?
Not done yet, there is a Part 2 (Go here) … Yep, we experienced lots of them OOPS over the years … just saying. ?