7 Perfect Pairings for an RV Caravan
7 Perfect Pairings for an RV Caravan
How to plan and thoroughly enjoy a wonderful road trip with friends!
By: Noel Fleming & Chris Miller
After two successful caravanning trips with friends (one pre-COVID and one during), we’ve gathered some great insights on how to plan an RV caravan road trip, overcome challenges along the way, and strike a good balance that will make the experience enjoyable for everyone. For us, it's all about creating the perfect pairings...
Pairing #1: Tacos and Taps
The tacos were served and the beer poured. Dining in the shade of the restaurant’s outdoor patio, our group of five friends raised our glasses to the upcoming adventure - an RV caravan trip - our first together. The dinner conversation recapped the start of our friendships. We recounted the RV rallies and meet-ups we had attended together. Those gatherings, organized by Winnebago, the Winnie B subgroup, and individual Travato owners, had connected us to like-minded individuals.
Soon our table banter turned from reminiscing to the important work ahead, planning our road trip. We needed to lay some ground rules for motoring together. Understanding each other’s travel styles would be fundamental to a successful adventure. And so began the conversation game we fondly refer to as, “I Really Like It When...”.
The discussion volleyed around the table many times as each person took turns sharing some insight into her caravan needs. One person said, “I really like it when I have 30 minutes notice before we leave.” Another friend stated, “I really like it when I know the next day’s game plan the night before.” Another posse member chimed in, “I really like it when we balance staying at Harvest Host sites and campgrounds.” Around and around we went, until we had exhausted our revelations and drained our glasses. These seemingly small details provided insight into how our friends wanted to travel and gave us a starting point for planning an itinerary.
Pairing #2: Leaping and Logistics
Eager to hit the road and blaze off to far away destinations, our excitement needed to be tempered with reality. Establishing a feasible timetable when traveling requires consideration of many factors.
Of course, the complexity of logistics is multiplied with each additional member of the caravan. Each person may have family needs, health considerations, work obligations, pet care needs, and additional responsibilities at their home base. All of these factors played a role in determining the overall length of our trip and the specific start and end dates.
After agreeing on a timeline, we reaffirmed our understanding that the unexpected was always possible. Indeed, we had each travelled enough to understand that the unexpected was expected. If any situation arose during our travels that required someone to veer off the schedule and head back home earlier than intended that would be accepted and supported by the group. After all, we had each other’s interests at heart. Our philosophy of travel aligned; people are always more important than timetables.
Pairing #3: Decisions and Destinations
Having a timeframe for travel, our self-named group “The Fab Five” chose our destination - Big Bend National Park, deep in southern Texas. This location had been on a member’s bucket list for many years. Her passion and knowledge about the area made it an easy sell to our group of national park enthusiasts. We would begin our trip in St. Augustine, FL.
However, there was much work to be done before our caravan trip. Planning a travel route is both an art and a science. Weather conditions, road construction, regional activities to avoid or enjoy, and nightly camping options all come into play. Doing such work for a caravan requires a bit of extra finesse. A team of planners can be efficient or cumbersome, depending on the approach.
Pairing #4: Spreadsheets and Spontaneity
Caravanning with friends, as opposed to strangers, has the advantage of familiarity with each other’s individual strengths. Some people are wired for spreadsheets; others are wired for spontaneity.
Some people travel with accoutrements to prepare culinary delights on the road; others come equipped with apps to locate the best local food and brews. One of our members was a pro at setting up an outdoor movie theatre; while someone else was a pro at building stellar campfires.
The safety conscious members in our group traveled with windshield chip repair kits and extra headlights. The member of our group most concerned about constant communication provided walkie-talkies for the caravan. We wisely divvied up roles that played to our strengths.
On a daily basis, we found ourselves in awe of our differences and how much we benefitted from each other.
Pairing #5: Calculations and Recalculations
Even with all of our due diligence when planning, the days on the road required checking in with each other at regular intervals to assure that everyone was getting what they needed from the trip. We considered a balance of time together, time apart, and freedom to make activity choices that best suited each person’s desires.
Some people attached solar panels, while others water colored. Some people hiked, while others played frisbee. We were a group, but we were still also individuals. Our plan was always intended to be a work in progress, a draft that would forever be open to revision. Knowing that we could easily veer off the plan provided great comfort and joy.
Pairing #6: Precautions and Pandemic Travel
We have done one caravan trip pre-COVID and one during COVID. When traveling in the midst of the pandemic, our routes were considered very carefully. We researched the ever-changing current health conditions along our journey and made group decisions regarding everyone’s comfort level.
Our plans regarding entering national parks, enjoying hikes, ordering food to go, and social distancing while camping were all done with great intention and care. If any situation caused someone to feel uncomfortable or unsafe, we rolled on. Plain and simple.
There is so much of our great nation to appreciate and experience. The initial stops we had planned could easily be passed up for another time.
Pairing #7: People and Places
One of the greatest assets of caravanning, regardless of the size, is that your posse is there for you when you need them. We replaced headlamp bulbs, experienced a flat tire that required a flatbed tow, and dealt with black tank issues demanding immediate attention. Of course, these challenges could have been handled alone, but how much better when handled alongside seasoned travelers, friends with good humor, and a dependable support crew!?!
Caravanning has many big payoffs for us. What did we gain from these caravanning experiences? Not only did we get to share our experiences and life journeys with others, we got to deepen relationships and strengthen bonds.
Campfire chats and vertical hikes allowed time for us to learn each other’s stories. We had conversations that were unrestricted and found connectivity that we likely would not have discerned had we merely met up for dinner somewhere. Spending sequential days together offered us time to grow both individually and as a group.
Would we caravan again? Absolutely! And would we recommend caravanning to others? Absolutely!