UPDATE: While I still love the Good Sam Trip Planner tool, which I highlight below, I recently learned an important lesson.
DO NOT LET YOUR MEMBERSHIP EXPIRE! I did and I lost all of my saved trips. I had to completely re-plot our West trip in the program once I renewed our membership. Kind of a pain–and a lot of wasted time. So if you read this post and like what I have to say about the Good Sam Trip Planner, then make sure that you don’t let your membership expire or you will lose all of your planned trips. Lesson learned! Happy planning! (To renew your membership NOW click the ad bar below.)
On New Year’s we announced some really big plans for 2015. This is the first in a series of posts that will give you insight into how I began planning our massive West trip.
Before our South Carolina and Georgia trip in early 2014 we had purchased a Good Sam membership. We purchased it for the benefit of the emergency roadside assistance, but later I discovered a huge perk that comes with this membership–access to the Good Sam Trip Planner. If you are already a Good Sam member, you can access this free trip planning tool, too. If you are not a member, I hope this post will convince you to go sign up by clicking on the Good Sam logo at the bottom of this post.
To begin, let me give you a short tour of the Good Sam Trip Planner. You can watch this short video (4:34 minutes) and then scroll down to where I will explain step by step how I got into the details of my planning.
I actually started planning this trip using a spreadsheet and Google Maps. I began using The Reader’s Digest Most Scenic Drives in America and linked together a series of drives that took us to many of the western national parks. In our original trip I had Colorado and Glacier National Park in Montana, but I quickly realized that there was NO WAY I was going to fit it all in and still keep within our time limit. As I started looking for campgrounds along our route I quickly realized the Good Sam Trip Planner was much easier to use than just Google maps.
The trip planner has two functions that I used to develop an itinerary. The campground search function and the distance between points function were absolutely key. The following video demonstrates how I use the Trip Planner to locate and pick campsites. As I will explain in the video, this trip did require some specific parameters for planning stops. Due to my dad’s health and having kiddos with us we purposely have no long drive days that are back to back. And since I will be setting up and tearing down two rigs throughout the trip we decided to only stay at campgrounds with full hook-up so we could avoid having to spend time at the dump station.
Good Sam Trip Planner In-Depth Video Part 1:
Good Sam Trip Planner In-Depth Video Part 2:
Once I had narrowed in on what we were going to tour and where we would stay I created a document that had the campground contact information so that I could begin the reservation process. (More on this document in the next post.)
So that’s the overview of how I used the Good Sam Trip Planner. It’s a great tool that made my planning process a lot easier. In the next post I will share more about the additional calendar, documents, and spreadsheets that I used for planning.
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