Plan for 'Plan-B' to Keep Memories in the Making
By: Lynn Burkhead
As you and your family travel around the country in an RV, knowing how to deal with unexpected changes in a schedule is a must; here's how to plan for memorable, alternative activities
We all long for the perfect vacation, the RV trip of our dreams, the one where everything is just right, the weather is "Chamber of Commerce good", problems never materialize, and we return home with a pile of memories and photos.
Trouble is, that’s seldom the way that life – or RV trips – work out. And when perfection fails to come our way, the key is knowing how to do the proverbial work of turning lemons into lemonade.
Anticipating that there will be the occasional hiccup on an RVing trip, then being prepared to do what you can to implement “Plan B,” can go a long way into turning what could be a disappointment or a disaster into something else – a fond memory that lasts for years to come.
The first key here, is the realization that just as in life, on any given trip, there will be things that don’t go according to plan. Accept that, and as best you can, plan to overcome it, and you’ll often end up pleasantly surprised how good “Plan B” can evolve.
“You’ve got to learn to go with the flow on an RV trip,” says Iowa resident Tiffany Lakosky, who along with her husband Lee, co-hosts a popular outdoor television show. “In our travels, we’ve learned that you have to adapt and adjust, sometimes more, sometimes less, on any given trip.
“Also realize that on an RV trip, you’re giving up some of the comforts of home to get out on the road and go someplace,” she added. “Accept that every once in a while, things will go wrong. But also remember that sometimes, that makes for the best times and memories.”
A second key in all of
this – planning
for a “Plan B” moment – is to create a sense of
ownership in your RVing plans, particularly when kids are involved. When others
are invested in the trip and its success, there’s a better chance that
unexpected hiccups will be shrugged off.
“The first thing that we do for an RVing trip is that we go through our trip itinerary and do our research together,” said New Hampshire’s Gregg Ritz, father of three daughters and host of his own outdoor adventure television show.
“There are so many good websites out there,” he added. “One is certainly the GoRVing.com site – it’s a well-developed, fantastic organization. We’ll go to a site like that, and depending on the time of year that we’re going to go RVing, we’ll figure out what the area has to offer. Things like water sports, scenic opportunities, fall colors, mountain climbing, etc.”
As Ritz and his family do their research, they’ll get excited about what’s to come.
“It kind of whets (the girl’s) appetite for the adventure,” he said.
A third key in planning for “Plan B” moments is to have the right gear available to handle unexpected changes to the schedule, something that can be particularly true with clothing.
“Mother Nature, she always wants to throw you a curveball with the weather,” laughed Ritz. “When that happens, you want to take along the right clothing to handle any temperature changes, rain, etc. When our family goes leaf peeping in the fall, for instance, there’s a variety of conditions that can occur, from warm and sunny shorts weather all the way to needing a down vest or jacket and some rain gear. If you don’t have the right gear packed, unexpected weather can leave you cold, wet, and miserable. And when my girls are miserable, I’m miserable, too.”
A fourth key in planning for “Plan B” is to create a few different options in case something like the weather does go awry. If the sole purpose of your trip is to climb to the top of a mountain or to go offshore on a fishing trip, an unexpected storm, dense fog, or unsafe conditions might threaten the outcome. But with several other options waiting in reserve — say a trip to a nearby state park to see a waterfall or a paddleboard adventure in a protected inlet — the trip can be saved and still become memorable.
“When the unexpected happens, it can all come down to the other activities that are available in an area,” said Ritz. “If we’re going to a water type of destination, I want to have several options available. I want to understand what all I can rent there, things like canoes, paddleboards, etc. By knowing that, I can bring things along that tie into the activities that we’re doing – or might do – things like hiking, going into a park, going backpacking and remote camping, and whatever else the trip may bring up.”
An extension to that idea brings up a fifth key consideration here, the dividing up of the trip into different attainable goals.
“I try to break things up into smaller pieces,” said Ritz. “On a typical day, we’ll do different things like have lunch at a local café or a spot that the region is known for, enjoy a fun activity or two throughout the day, and then maybe have dinner back at the RV around the campfire.
“What you don’t want to do is to make the day too long, to bludgeon your kids with too many activities and stops,” he added. “Instead, try breaking the day into small, achievable little buckets.
“Things like taking three hours to climb the mountain, an hour or two to have lunch, an hour or two to hit the shops, some unwind time to get on social media and hang out with friends, etc. I’ve found that half-day and even smaller duration activities work well with my kids.”
If small, attainable goals are one key to a day’s success, so too are small little extensions of home that can be enjoyed at various times throughout that day.
“My girls are like a lot of other girls, they are all for adventure, but they also want to stay clean and look pretty,” said Ritz. “Because of that, I try to ensure that our RV is a base camp that in some small way, feels like home. When the girls feel like something is their home, and they have things like their favorite pajamas or slippers, they are willing to stay longer. You want to make the RV environment as much like their bedrooms and the family room as possible.”
A sixth and final key is to never be afraid to involve others in the process.
“The part of the world I live in here in New England is world famous for how gorgeous the leaves get by the end of September and the first of October,” said Ritz. “People literally come from all over to leaf peep. If we’re going on an RV trip of our own to soak in the fall colors, I’ll often let the girls invite their friends so that there are anywhere from four to six people jumping into the RV.”
While there is an increase in logistics with such a move, it can pay bigtime dividends, particularly when things don’t go exactly as planned.
“The RV gives my kids a way to interact with their friends on a trip without feeling like they are bolted down to a seat,” said Ritz. “They end up treating it more like a train ride than a car ride. They’re talking, laughing, and having fun as we stop, hike, make little side excursions, shop, find little café’s and diners along the way, and things like that.”
All of which can lead to an outcome that makes Ritz – and any other parent for that matter – smile big at the end of an RV adventure, even if the unexpected has occurred.
“When things don’t go according to plan, you’re still able to pull a ‘Plan B’ off,” said Ritz. “And when you do, the trip still has a way of ending with the kids saying ‘Dad, do we really have to go home?’”