Tuesday, August 25, 2015

WORKSHEET - PLANNING YOUR ROUTE

During our recent trip from Florida to New York we tried out our newest worksheet - "Planning Your Route." When we move to a new workamper position, it is usually quite a distance or across the country so it takes a significant amount of planning of how long it will take to get there, what highways are best to travel on, and what we want to see along the way. For us, it is better to take our time and relax along the way so we aren't so exhausted when we get there. I made up a worksheet to document our plan of travel for each day including how many miles we would travel, the route we would take, and campgrounds to stay at along with contact info, etc.

Below is the first Planning Your Route worksheet we used as we traveled from Florida to New York. As you can see it has some scribbles and changes as of course you have to be flexible as you travel! We loved the first place we stayed in Alabama so much that we decided to stay two days and thus changed all my meticulous planning! But it was well worth it and we had plenty of time to make these adjustments.




When planning your own trip, of course the first thing you need to do is check out your maps, whether online or paper, to see the exact route you want to take, how long it will take to get you from Point A to Point B, and how many miles you need to travel each day to get to you destination in the allotted time. You can then also decide how much time you can take to sight see too. When you decide how many miles you want to travel each day start looking for nearby campgrounds comparing prices and amenities. We did join Passport America to try to save a few bucks on our cross country trips and it did seem to save us quite a bit on our spring trip. On the Passport America website you can check out the parks that are available and their fees. I also do extra research on a few review sites like Trip Advisor and RV Park Reviews to get some other opinions on the RV parks.

You can then document on the worksheet the amount of miles you want to travel each day and the exact route you will take. Also write down the campground you would like to stay at along with their contact information. We normally don't make reservations very far ahead in case our plans change. Also most campgrounds are not very busy in the spring and fall when we are traveling so I usually call them the day before or the day of to make a reservation. However, if you are traveling during the peak season, I would definitely call them ahead of time to check availability. Once you have decided on a definite plan, write down your plans for each day so you just have this one sheet to refer to each day as you travel. Of course, this plan doesn't have to be set in stone but it is a good guide to keep you on track to get to your final destination on time.





I also made a very simple spreadsheet to add your expenses for each day including gas, food, entertainment and camping costs. You can document your costs as you travel or at the end of each day you can simply check your receipts and write them down on the spreadsheet. Of course this step isn't absolutely necessary but if you want to track your expenses, this is very helpful. 

 
 
I would love to share my worksheets with you! Simply subscribe to my email list and you will receive a link to all my worksheets including the worksheets on "Interview Questions" and "RV/Camper Information" and "Vehicle Information."

It is that time of year again when we need to start planning our fall trip! This time we are headed to Texas but we should have enough time to take a little detour through South Dakota and Nebraska to see our kids, my mom, and other family. Yeah! Sometimes I miss them all so much - I wonder if this workamping and traveling is worth it!? Anyone else feel this way? I guess we will explore that in a blog post for another day! 




Want to Receive the Worksheets for Free? Sign Up With Your Email to Receive Updates from Sentimental Sue!








Monday, August 3, 2015

Hitting the Road to New York For Our Summer Job!

Sorry it has been so long since I have posted! This working is really getting in the way of doing this fun stuff! It is definitely the busy time of year for all campgrounds so we need to work when we can. I'm sure some of you are in the same situation. But fall is coming soon so all the campers will either head south or hibernate for the winter! Hope you are all enjoying your summer jobs!



We headed for our new job at Moose Hillock Campground in Fort Ann, New York on April 26, 2015!

Because we are workampers, we tend to only do extensive traveling when we change jobs. When we start planning for our trek to a new location for a workamping job, we start mapping out exactly how long it will take to get there, what roads we will take, where we want to stop to camp and sight see, etc. It is a good idea to take your time if possible, not only to see as much of the area as you can, but also to make the trip a safe one. There have been times we have hurried to the next job traveling 400 to 500 miles a day but it really is exhausting and when you get there you need a few days  to recuperate anyway. This time we traveled only about 300 miles a day at most and took in some of the sites. It took us 7 days but it was well worth the extra time. It is also a good time to check out possible workamping jobs and locations for the future. We also decided to invest in the Passport America plan to see if we could save some money on camping along the way.

   



They first day we went from Fort Walton Beach, Florida to Gadsden, Alabama. We just picked Gadsden on a whim. We didn't want to go all the way to Chattanooga so we picked this little town in between there and Birmingham. Boy are we glad we did! We had planned to stay only one night but after we got settled and checked the place out we decided to stay 2 nights. We are flexible like that! Another reason to stay was that there were storms headed through Tennessee and we wanted to avoid those if possible. That is one problem with traveling in the spring, you really have to watch the weather forecast for thunderstorms and tornadoes! We had no problems going through the city of Montgomery, just lots of trees and wildflowers along the way. It was a little bumpy when we first got onto I-59 but smoothed out fairly quickly.

We stayed at Noccalula Falls Campground which is owned by the city of Gadsden. You have to wind through town a bit to find it but it was well worth the trip! It is beautiful with lots of grass and trees, hiking trails and of course the falls nearby. It had a full hookup including cable and great WiFi all for $21 per night! We really loved everything about this campground and would definitely recommend it!


Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, Alabama - This was just a short hike from our campsite!

Gadsden is really a great town with a cute downtown, lots of restaurants and all the big box stores you want. I recently discovered that the World's Largest Yard Sale either begins or ends in Gadsden depending on where you start. This is on my bucket list so we definitely need to stop there again!

Our next day of travel was Sunday and it was a sunny, beautiful day to head to Bristol, Tennessee. Doug is a huge Nascar fan so we wanted to at least go by the track to see what it looked like. Of course we were just a week late as the race had been held there the week before! We went through Chattanooga and Knoxville without too much problem - ran into a little traffic and a few bumpy roads but all in all a great day of travel. Doug is a great driver getting through all these larger cities and what did we do before we had GPS? Now he can listen to directions from the little lady in the box instead of me! The drive through Tennessee seemed right out of a postcard or movie with the picturesque green grassy meadows surrounded by white fences, horses and cows grazing and the Smoky Mountains in the background!



We stayed at the Shadrack Campground and were greeted by a very nice man at check in. The campground is only a mile from the Nascar track. It is grassy with some trees and has kind of an interesting entrance in that you make a fairly tight turn while going down hill but we made it just fine. There weren't many people there so we had plenty of room to ourselves. I'm sure on race weekends things get pretty tight here! It had a full hookup with WiFi and good antennae signal. Grocery stores, etc. were close by so all in all a good place to stay.  With our Passport America membership it was $20 for the night.






The next day our destination was only 215 miles away in Greenville, Virginia. Again the scenery was breathtaking with rolling hills and brick homes. The trees were not quite as green as we continued our trek north but the different shades of green as the buds were popping out reminded us that spring was here! I can see why they shut down the highways in the south when there is snow or ice because of the hilly, winding roads!  Greenville, Virginia is a gorgeous little town, so charming with manicured lawns, lots of flowers and great older homes. Some of the homes and businesses were right out to the street!


As we followed the curvy, hilly road to the campground I couldn't wait to see it as I expected it to be as charming and manicured as the town, but this was not the case. It was down a long rough gravel road leading to a campground that didn't seem to be kept up quite as well as the town. It was called Stoney Creek. Our site was gravel and not very level. We actually thought about leaving but since it was a Passport park and only for 1 night we stuck it out. We paid $22 for the night. It did have WiFi though and a pond. It looked like a lot of seasonal campers lived there.



Trying to get out of there the next day was a challenge as the road was very narrow. We had to take about 3 tries to get around one of the corners. Probably will not be back here again!


Next stop was only another 208 miles to Dillsburg, Pennsylvania. Our hiking mentors that we had met in Utah last summer had recently moved to Pennsylvania so what a great opportunity to meet up with them and share a few laughs and memories! The countryside was again very charming with round barns and lots of flowering trees. We drove through many apple orchards that were just starting to bloom. What a site they would be when they are all in full bloom! There were lots of purple trees blooming along the way. I'm not sure what kind they were but I couldn't get enough pictures of them!


We found another Passport America campground online and decided to stay there for 2 nights - total cost $36 - I love finding a bargain!  The name of the park was Walmar Manor. It wasn't real fancy but it was in a quiet neighborhood. It was maybe about a third full and had trees and green grass. WiFi was good and we had a nice fire one night totally relaxing. We would definitely recommend it!




We had an amazing time with our friends learning about their move and recent trips. We feel so fortunate to have met them and many other workampers around the country! Since we were near Hershey, Pennsylvania, we decided to take in the Hershey Chocolate Tour. We just did the free tour and of course had some samples. They have absolutely anything Hershey you could think of and there is also an amusement park there but it wasn't open yet as it was early in the season. 


Love the vintage feel of this wall mural!




On day 5 we were on Interstate 81 heading toward Wilkes-Barre and Scranton for another 250 miles of travel. We were a little nervous about this stretch as we heard it was hilly and could be a challenge with the camper. We decided to give it a try rather than worry about the traffic further east. The traffic through Harrisburg was pretty busy and again a little bumpy but we got through there just fine. As we continued north it did get quite hilly and curvy but really did not slow us down too much. Of course there were the usual construction zones! At Binghamton we continued on Interstate 88 toward Oneonta, NY. 

We had to do a little research to find our next stop as many of the campgrounds in the area do not open until May 15th. We could have actually traveled further than 250 miles but Susquehanna Trail Campground was the only campground I could find open until we reached our destination in Fort Ann. It is a small campground just off Interstate 88 and the cost was just $22 a night. The owner was interesting to talk to as she had an English accent and her husband had passed away within the last year. She was trying to run the campground by herself and we both felt the urge to pitch in and help her! We had a pull through site that was good enough for one night. Some of the back-in sites looked nicer and if you were staying a few days would definitely suggest that. We drove through the town and it has a very historic downtown with restaurants and shops. Of course we found Walmart and called it a night to rest up for our final leg of the trip!

Our final day had us traveling only 181 miles to Fort Ann, New York! We continued on I-88 to Albany where the traffic picked up and we entered a toll road. We were a little nervous going on a toll road with the camper and were unsure of what the costs would be. As it turned out we were only on the road for a few miles so our cost was $0! One thing I noticed at the New York rest stops was that they were also called "Text Stops" - great idea of reminding people to stop there to text. We also saw one rest stop that had flowers that spelled out "I♥NY." We were finally in NY! On our last day of travel, we arrived at Moose Hillock Campground and were ready to begin our new adventure of learning a new job, meeting new workampers, and exploring an entirely new area of the USA!



As far as our expenses go, you definitely need to plan ahead for a trip to your new workamping job. Our gas costs were approximately $370 and camping for 7 nights cost approximately $142. It was definitely worth spending $44 for the Passport America membership as I believe we would have paid at least $30 to $40 per night for a total of  $210 to $280. Some of the places were a little further off the main road and one was not very desirable, but all in all it was a great experience of finding these campgrounds that we may not have normally visited. I know some people like to spend the night in Walmart or other free locations but we prefer to get to our campsite at a reasonable time so we can relax and enjoy the area we are traveling through. All in all it was a very relaxing trip and we got to see and go through some states we have never visited before!


This is our actual "Planning Your Route" worksheet that we used to plan out our exact route, campgrounds, and stops along the way. Please excuse all the scribbles and scratches as we made a few changes along the way! We like to plan ahead so we know which highways we want to travel on, but we also can be flexible enough to change our route if we necessary along the way! Hence all the changes!



For each day of travel it lists the date, destination, miles and route of travel, campgrounds including contact information and details on costs, directions, etc. This will be a work in progress but of course will be a worksheet that I will make available to you! Look for the details in an upcoming post!

Safe travels! How do you plan your trips? Do you have a document you use or just fly by the seat of your pants!? Feel free to share in the comments!