Camping World

Day Vs Night Driving

Welcome

Since going full time in 2016 we have traveled in many different ways. Each way has its pros and cons and we will share with you our thoughts on each one. At the end of this article, I will tell you which is our favorite (if we do have a favorite) and why.

Method 1/ Booking Ahead

When we left Long Island back in 2016, even though we were already RV’ers, we were a little nervous that we would not be able to find campgrounds along the way. We were heading for the workamping rendezvous in Heber Springs Arkansas and did not want to be stuck with no place to park for the night.

The Most Expensive

Based on that we meticulously planned for our entire route, we located a campground approximately every 250-300 miles. This guaranteed us a place to park each day along the way. While you think this is the most stress-free way to travel (and probably the most expensive way too) it did not alleviate all stress. In some ways, it brought more stress.

More Stress!!!

Let me explain. While we had a guaranteed place to stay for the night, we did not take things like traffic, roadside emergencies, or bad weather into account. You see, we do not like pulling into campgrounds after dark. So as soon as we hit traffic or weather (thankfully we had no roadside emergencies) we would start to panic. We actually gave ourselves more stress by preplanning our stops. Now we would have to get to our location or risk losing our deposit. We were such rookies… lol

Pros

  • A Guaranteed Safe Place To Park For The Night
  • You Will Have A Site With A Minimum Of Electric & Water
  • Off The Road, Early Enough To Get A Good Night’s Rest

Cons

  • Added Pressure To Arrive Before Dark
  • If We Didn’t Make It Or Decided We Wanted To Drive Further We Would Lose Our Deposit

Method 2/Booking On The Fly

This next method is similar to the first one. We decided that while we still only wanted to do between 250 and 300 miles we did not want the pressure of having to make a specific campground each day.

No Vacancy Fear

It was time to let go of our “no vacancy” fear. So that’s what we did. We would travel by day until we felt we wanted to come off the road and then Google “campgrounds near me.” We were hoping with all the apps we loaded on our phone and good ole Google we would find a place.

Who Doesn’t Like Half Price?

Guess what. We always did!!! Usually, we could always find discounted parks too. It was during these travels that we added our Passport America membership. That’s when the savings really took off!!! While our KOA and Good Sam memberships provided 10% off, Passport America was 50% off!!! That’s right, I said 50% off!!! Half price!!! Woohoo!!! Who doesn’t like half price?!!!

***Update***

Since the pandemic campsites are becoming harder & harder to find. The RV industry went crazy with sales as people felt more comfortable traveling in RVs than staying in hotels. This might not be as good an option as in the past.

Passport America Is Our Favorite

If you are unfamiliar with the Passport America membership, check out our article on it. We explain everything in detail. We also have articles on KOA, Good Sam, and Escapees memberships. Passport America is the one that has saved us the most money and is by far our favorite.

Pros

  • A Guaranteed Safe Place To Park For The Night
  • You Will Have A Site With A Minimum Of Electric & Water
  • You Will Be Off The Road Early Enough To Get A Good Night’s Rest
  • You Will Not Have The Stress Of Making A Specific Campground

Cons

  • Might Not Be Able To Find A Park With Vacancy (Especially Since The Pandemic)
  • You Might Have To Travel A Little Further From The Interstates To Find A Spot

Method 3/Afternoon & Overnight Driving

We totally went against all advice when we tried this method. We actually tried this based on weather conditions. As we were on our way to a work camping assignment, we checked our weather apps and noticed it was going to pour almost the entire way to our destination. After doing some research we noticed that most of the campgrounds along our route were under flash flood warnings.

Are We Nuts?

We started thinking about whether we wanted to chance staying in a campground with flash flood warnings. Would we even get any sleep or would we stay awake all night worrying about the warnings? Hmmm, how crazy would it be to travel straight through the night without stopping? It was time to try it out. So here is method 3. Leaving the campground and driving all afternoon & night stopping only for gas. So we hit the road with the intention of driving all night.

Actually Quite Relaxing

Believe it or not, it was actually quite relaxing. We found traffic to be much lighter and best of all it was super easy to get into gas stations. Being that we pull a 35-foot travel trailer and our truck is gas, we have trouble finding gas stations that we can fit in. Most of the stations have lots of room at the diesel pumps but apparently assume only small autos use gas.

Room To Maneuver At The Pumps

Traveling through the night we found the gas stations to be mostly empty which afforded us the room to maneuver around the pumps. Score one for night driving!!! So far we have less traffic and less crowded gas stations. Two very big pluses. As with anything, there are always downsides. There is a lot of night construction that includes road closures and detours. Although an inconvenience, we did not find it terrible. Then of course there’s the tiredness factor.

I Started Getting Sleepy

Since we did not plan on driving straight through originally, we did not plan our sleep very well. As the morning was still a few hours away I started getting really sleepy. Luckily we pulled into a rest area and found an open spot. I was able to fall asleep for a couple of hours and head back onto the road. A short time later we were at our destination.

Pros

  • A Good Way To Cover A Lot Of Miles
  • Gas Stations Are Not Crowded Making It Easier To Maneuver Around The Pumps
  • Less Traffic
  • Save On Camping Fees

Cons

  • Might Be Tough For Those Who Have Trouble Seeing In The Dark
  • Tiredness Is a Factor
  • Possible Sketchy Individuals Lurk At Night/Must Stay Aware Of Surroundings When Stopping
  • Breakdowns Could Take Longer To Receive Help
  • Gas Station Coffee At Night Is Horrible!!!

Method 4/ Modified Night Driving

This method is very similar to the above one. It takes the above method and modifies it a bit to take out the sleepiness factor and make it a bit more realistic. You won’t cover as many miles but you will still cover more than if you just drove during the day.

After using the method above we decided we really liked driving at night (the above method) but leaving a campground at 11 am-12 pm (normal check-out times) and driving the rest of the day and night was too much. We found even stopping at a rest area for a few hours and moving on was not enough time to rest.

Hmm, How Can We Tweak This?

So we set out to come up with the perfect solution to combat the tiredness, bad coffee, and other fails that can pop up from driving at night. We still had some fails when we tried this the first time but I think we finally nailed it.

Combat Tiredness

To combat the tiredness problem we decided to leave the campground at checkout and find the first rest area along the interstate. Once there we would spend the afternoon and early evening there relaxing, sleeping, Geocaching (there are always caches at rest areas…lol), and working on the laptop. This way we would be able to get some sleep before we set out for the night.

The RV Interior Was Too Hot & Quiet

The first time we put this idea to work we ran into another problem that we had not thought of. We have no a/c when we are unplugged from shore power. I guess a generator would have solved the problem but we do not have one. We have no problem accessing our bedroom and bathroom without opening the slide so that was no issue. Each time we tried to grab a nap at a rest area, we found the inside of the RV way too hot. We also can’t sleep without fan noise. Yup, we’re addicted…lol. To solve this we bought a battery-operated fan that makes a lot of noise (Ryobi) and works with our batteries and we sleep in the early evening before we set out so it’s a bit cooler. Problem solved.

Lousy Gas Station Coffee

It seems since there are not too many customers coming into the gas stations overnight, they don’t seem to make fresh coffee. Every time we got coffee when we were driving overnight it tasted like it was in the pot for weeks. I know, slightly exaggerated…lol. The point is it was horrible. To fix this problem we bought a stovetop coffee percolator. It’s awesome!!! Now when we stop for gas and we want coffee, we turn on the propane for the stove, set up the percolator, and within minutes we have great coffee!!!. Problem solved.

Pros

  • A Good Way To Cover A Lot Of Miles
  • Gas Stations Are Not As Crowded Making It Easier To Maneuver Around The Pumps
  • Less Traffic
  • Save On Camping Fees
  • You Can Relax, Work, Or Geoacache All Afternoon
  • Great Coffee

Cons

  • Might Be Tough For Those Who Have Trouble Seeing In The Dark
  • Possibly Sketchy Individuals Lurk At Night/Must Stay Aware Of Surroundings When Stopping
  • Be Very Carefull Where You Park In The Rest Area. If A Truck/RV Parks Next To You And Runs A Generator With Thier Exhaust Pipe Pointing To Your RV, Fumes May Enter Your Rig. Ask Us How We Know!!!

Final Thoughts

As I said earlier, each method of travel has its own positive and negative features. Only you can decide which method is best for you. We realize that many RV’ers spend the night at Walmart, Cabellas, or Cracker Barrels but we do not feel comfortable doing that. For us, we like to combine all the methods listed above.

Each time we travel we decide what is going to work best for us. We take into consideration our commitments and how much time we have before we need to be in a certain place. Since I do the driving I must say that having the ability to take my time driving and not be tailgated (night driving) and having empty gas stations to maneuver around is a big plus!!! That being said, we have no definitive favorite. We use all but the 3rd method.

How Do You Travel?

Of course, these are our opinions. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and we respect that. How do you like to travel? Are you like us and like to combine different travel methods or do you primarily pick one method and stick to it?

Let us know by sharing your opinion in the comment section below

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