Over 18 months ago I began using a spreadsheet to keep track of places Karen and I might want to see once we hit the road. Here is a link to the April 2015 update post. Once we are retired it will be nice just to move around the country in directions that have no destination. However, we expect there will be times when we are heading to a specific location because of a workcamping job, to escape the weather, family visits and more. Reading all the wonderful blogs others maintain sure is providing a great list of sites we don’t want to drive past.
Karen sends me links to places she is reading about. We both have different interests at times so that adds to the list. The spreadsheet has been a great place to park our dreams for now. Don’t worry, I’m not planning out every stop we will make three years from now and over the course of our travels. We get enough of that here in our working years.
When someone writes or tells us about their favorite campsite of all time, that goes on the list. When we learn about an out of the way special place, that’s going to make the list. When we research the top 10 places, such as civil war battlefields or dog friendly beaches, that’s going on the list. I think you get the idea.
I decided to include zip codes, city names and state because this can be imported into Google Maps and sorted. A location in the country with a lot of pinned spots will be a target destination, perhaps to find a volunteer or workamping position so we can stay and explore. To learn how to import Excel Spreadsheet data into Google Maps I suggest searching YouTube for a video.
Imported stops from the spreadsheet to Google Maps.
Thanks to you more experienced travelers, our family and friends we have been able to add many locations. I decided to have a column with links back to where we heard about the information. Bloggers do a great job of describing their visit, places to see and eat, roads they travel and other important information they learned while in the area. Again, don’t worry, we are leaving much up to our own future explorations.
I played with the settings in Google Maps and figured out how to change the colors of the map pins to display our ratings, one through three, in different colors. I use a zero for miscellaneous locations such as good winter spots and RV repair places others have highly rated.
In this example yellow are our must see places.
Here is what you would see if you moved the curser over an individual marker.
Or you can even ask Google Maps to display your data table and select a location from the list.
Of all the blogs I’ve read and follow, I have to give Living Our Dream Blog top prize for organization of places to visit. If you’re not into making lists, then just bookmark Paul and Margery Zeller’s blog. On the right sidebar can be found the most amazingly detailed information about their travels. Dee, over at the Tumbleweed Blog, kept track of their travels in a spreadsheet which included actual campsite numbers. I downloaded her spreadsheet for future reference. I also included links within my own spreadsheet of remarkable destinations such as Camper Chronicles’ detailed descriptions of what Quartzite (the Q) is all about. I looked nearly 10 minutes for their blog post on Surviving the Q then recalled I had the link in my spreadsheet.
The spreadsheet evolved into a rating system that can be sorted based on our must see locations down to sites to see if we have time. I’m also using it as a place to store potential winter/summer spots as well as RV parks, repair locations, BLM and free camping areas of interest. So far, I’ve added 204 locations that made the list. That’s over thirteen months of travel if one was to simply stay two days in each location. Wow, this is a big country. We plan to move around slowly, yes even the first year. I could see the current list alone providing more than two years of ideas for stops. I read a forum post from someone I trust who made an educated guess that only 20% of full time travelers remained on the road after five years. We hope to be one of the 20% and run out of places to put on the list, if that’s possible.
For kicks, I imported the Tumbleweed Blogs spreadsheet, changed the markers to include displaying the date of the stop and the marker colors to show how long they stayed. I may add a few columns to my own spreadsheet once we start traveling. I liked how Tumbleweed had notes for wifi connection, views and more. They also listed the site number they stayed at. I could see importing data by year into a map in order to post a photo of that years travels. I had left Dee a comment on her blog where she said it was okay to post information from her spreadsheet.
Please let us know if you have any one place that is a must see so we can put it on the list. For those writing blogs I want to say thank you because your trail blazing is making this dreaming stage move along and are providing wonderful ideas. I am listening when you say this is a lifestyle and not just a long vacation!
On a family topic, Karen made it back from her two week stay visiting her family in Michigan. She tells me she does not want to leave town without me ever again. She had lost her phone (in her luggage) so I was not able to check on her during the trip home until her overnight stop near Amana Iowa. I also was not able to tell her to take the exit at Bristol Indiana and visit the Augusta RV factory. It’s good to have her home. I cleaned the house, washed all the laundry and went grocery shopping so now I’m on her good boy list for awhile!