On Monday, August 2nd, Sarah, my father, and I packed up our Volvo and began the long trip south from Liberty, Maine to Ruskin, Florida. We needed to make a quick detour to drop dad off at his vehicle in Philly (though, we didn’t make it down there early enough for some Cake), but other than that, we had a pretty straight path to follow. 1550 miles worth of highway actually. It gave us plenty of time to reflect on the trip, and even learn a thing or two about covering so many miles in such a short time.
1-Make a Plan
Sarah and I knew we would be in a car for over thirty hours during this trip. If you aren’t used to it, that can be a daunting task. So, contrary to our typical nature of “we’ll figure it out,” we decided to make a plan. Not an elaborate plan with every gas station and meal preplanned, but we did look ahead at our route. Most RVers do. Hell, almost anyone that’s going any distance over 150 miles probably does. Examing the route revealed a lot of I-95 once we got down into North Carolina. Nice, smooth driving.
But where was a good place to stop along the way? We had the natural stop in Maryland to pick up the rig and cats. But from Pocomoke to Ruskin, there were plenty of options and not much clarity.
Does it make more sense to stop halfway? Should we try to get a little further the first day? How many contingency plans should we make in case we can’t make our destination?
We decided to keep it simple, but we made a plan to head for Savannah, Georgia. After calling around to a few places–Wal Mart and Camping World–that sometimes allow overnight parking for RVs with no luck, Cracker Barrel finally told us we could stay there. Nothing complicated, but we also tried to decide when we would hit the road, roughly how many stops we would take, and set a target time to land in Savannah. An easy, stress-free plan.
Our truck has a 36-gallon tank. That’s pretty damn big. And if we aren’t towing, it lasts us between 550-650 miles. Not bad. While towing, we get about 9-10MPG. You do the math. That means we had about 350 miles before we ran the truck out of fuel and screwed the engine. So, it’s easy for me to say that I was cautious everytime the fuel needle neared the halfway mark.
What this caused us to do was stop often. And it worked out. We found the breaks from the stress of driving really helped make the drive more manageable. Sarah and I didn’t cramp up as bad, our butts didn’t hurt, and we felt like we weren’t just trying to get the drive over, instead we were making the most of it.
If you find yourself traveling 1550 miles or more, stop often and drink plenty of coffee.
When you’re pulling 13k pounds behind you, your ability to stop is vital. The faster you go, the longer it’s going to take you to slow down your load. Duh! Seems basic, but having a safe following distance can mean the difference between a good trip and an accident.
When we had the RV towed to shoot Tiny House Hunters, the driver, Hank, seemed to take his sweet time getting from Philadelphia to Pocomoke. He must have known I was curious because unprompted he told me “I always keep it about five miles per hour below the speed limit.” That seemed like sound advice, especially if you are hauling about 1550 miles. We listened to Hank and never really went over the speed limit and kept a generous following distance behind other vehicles.
People can be assholes and will cut you off, especially if you are hauling your home.
4-Don’t Count the Miles
If you are new to towing, or just traveling long distances, it’s easy to find yourself counting the miles. This can be maddening. Every mile marker, road sign, and exit become another indication that you aren’t there yet. Can you imagine counting down from 1550 miles to 0? Doesn’t sound fun.
Try to utilize some of the other tips we gave you. Don’t rush and stop often. It will help you with not counting the ludicrous amount of miles you’re traveling. Unless you really enjoy signing “99 bottles of beer on the wall.”
5-Enjoy Your Meals
A lot of times when you’re road-trippin’, to keep the wheels turning you pull through a Mickey-D’s or Burger King, grab a Big Mac or Whooper, and scarf it down while chipping away at the miles. Though it’s not illegal, eating while driving is a distraction just like using a cell phone (though not as encompassing as a cell phone). Not only is stopping to eat in a restaurant a break from the road, but it’s safer. Besides, you might come across a hidden gem of an ice cream place like Salisbury Scoops.
Bonus-Little Tips We Learned from 1550 Miles in 3 Days.
What is an STAA vehicle?
Surface Transportation Assistance Act. (STAA) In 1982 it was formed to help form weight and size limits to help the roads from being torn up from trucks. You might come across this sign.
Always go to the widest lane, even if there are signs saying trucks only. The Bay Bridge heading south toward VA Beach is a bad place to back up an RV (but we made it through that mishap).
Enjoy the journey and be safe.