To Reserve or Not to Reserve? With apologies to Shakespeare, that is the only real question. Remember, I am a planner? What you didn’t know is that a planner married someone with a free spirit. A person who hates rules and loves to be spontaneous. (Oops, did I say Spontaneous was for dummies?)
While Glen is not a dummy, we have often clashed when “planning” a vacation. After a few family vacations where I created a schedule of events and locales and Glen chaffed at the presumed restrictions, he took matters into his own hands. We were going on vacation, and I was to make no plans. Pack a variety of clothes and get in the car. I hadn’t realized how much my attitude affected our kids until our youngest son, about age five, started crying worried about our lack of reservations. “Where we will sleep tonight?”
Everyone was happy when we ended up at the beach and found a hotel with vacancies. Occasionally since, I have allowed Glen to “not plan.” That does not prevent me from studying before we go. Isn’t it convenient that we arrive at a destination at meal time to already know of an excellent restaurant in the area? What about that hiking trail that rated five stars? Wasn’t that a delightful find? Who would have thought that tiny town had a motorcycle museum? We may not have reservations, but knowing the lay of the land makes me feel better and the trip goes smoother.
“Unplanned” excursions are always fun if not fraught with a touch of anxiety for me particularly when we are camping. In Florida, where we live, state parks are available for reservation 11 months in advance. Due to the popularity of our state parks with residents and our winter visitors, if you do not make reservations when they first open, you’ll be camping at Wal-Mart.
On a camping road trip which always goes much slower pulling a trailer than just travelling by car, Glen argues that he does not know when he will be ready to stop. If we have reservations and he is tired of driving before we get there, he has to keep going. A few months ago, we travelled from South Florida to Georgia without campground reservations, and it worked just the opposite for him. He was ready to stop, but there was not a campground along our route within three hours that had a vacancy. We found a state park in Georgia that had just had a cancellation and drove on into the night arriving after dark. That experience convinced Glen that reservations might not be such a bad thing after all. And I continually remind him that reservations can be cancelled at the last minute but it is harder to make them “spontaneously”.
National Park campgrounds are even trickier. The most popular campgrounds seem to fill up even in the off season. Reservations at National Parks are available on line six months before your arrival date at exactly 10:00 AM Eastern Standard Time. Not a minute before.
I generally study a campground map and a website like campgroundreviews.com to find the right campground or location within the campground. I also read reviews and check the fine print to make sure big dogs are allowed. But, I have missed out on getting my preferred campsite in some National Parks because I was not ready to push the reserve button on time. Once, we got the last site available-six months before we even planned on arriving!
For other popular, commercial campgrounds, I set the alarm to get up when reservations go on line depending if it is central, mountain or pacific time. It’s almost becoming a game to see if I can beat the clock (or the other campers) and get that spot with the view on the river or lake. I hope I am not disappointed when we finally arrive!
All of this to say that I have reservations for almost all of the 200 plus days that we will be on the road. Will we end up feeling restricted or relieved? Time will tell. I am a planner who knows how to be spontaneous after all! Wink, wink. Subscribe to our journal to see.