Hoff's Aliner Travels
A Travel Blog for US and Canadian Parks with Geological Notes

Planning and Safety

Safety
Keep in the mind that you may be far from home on lonely roads or hiking where things can go wrong. Cell phone coverage may be non-existent and you may be on your own. More on Safety

Where to Go
Where you want to go on your trips is highly personal. After my first long trip proved I could do it, I decided to visit as many National Parks as I could. On further study, I found out that there are a lot of National Monuments and some of them rival the National Parks. To further confuse matters, I found that there were also National Lake Shores, National Memorials, National Natural Landmarks, National Ranges, National Recreation Areas, National Reserves, National Scenic Areas, and National Wilderness Areas. Not to mention that there are many outstanding state and provincial parks that are worthwhile visiting. More on Where To Go

Where to stay
Having stayed in 43 states in National Park camp grounds, State campgrounds, and private campgrounds, I have my preferences. I now try to look at park reviews before I choose a place (e.g. RV Park Reviews online). More on Where To Stay

Time
I was surprised how long it took me sometimes. That is the reason that I use 350 miles a day or less as a rule of thumb, since I am the only driver. Driver fatigue can sneak up on you. For the 34 days in which I wrote down the times I left and the time I arrived on site, I averaged 40% over the time predicted by Mapquest. Included in this time were short lunch breaks and bathroom breaks but no days with longer stops. There are multiple reasons for the overage – weather, traffic, road construction (common in northern states and mountains during the summer), back up due to accidents, etc. Also, Mapquest assumes you will be driving the speed limit. The speed limit may exceed 65 mph in some states out west and but almost all trailer tires are limited to 65 mph. Another problem was finding the camp ground (GPS was not accurate for more than 10% of the campgrounds. You could get close but then had to hunt). I found a solution for this in 2017 by looking at Google Earth and finding the GPS coordinates for the entrance to the campground before I left home and using that on my car GPS. It worked great (but do not use the GPS coordinates for the actual specific campsite – this may send you down a road next to the park – it happened to me).

Costs

Summary of costs for each trip

Costs depend on many factors. Especially how far you go (fuel costs), how long you stay, and where you stay at.

Dry camping, boon docking, or independent camping can save you money.
Independent camping is camping without electricity, water, or toilets. If you are at a camp ground without any of these amenities you are dry camping. If you are out in the open on BLM land or National Forest or your buddies farm, I would call that boon docking. There is a lot of information on this type of camping on the web (especially on boon docking).

BLM land is much more common west of the Mississippi but National Forest can be found in many states. The northeast has a shortage of both unless you go to Maine.

I do not boon dock much because I usually prefer a place with showers. If swimming was available, I would be fine with being without electricity for a few days. I start missing it after two, though. I take a few cheap power banks to recharge my phone and tablet when I am off the grid.

Campers discounts: I use Good Sam’s. I have used Passport America which has a big discount (50%) but there are fewer choices than for Good Sam’s and I don’t find the choices as desirable (some are fine but others seem to be low rent trailer parks).

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