Many RVers claim that much of the fun of an RV trip is the time you spend planning it, and I’d have to agree. It’s exciting to research and dream about future trips, plan the activities, determine where you’ll stay and what you’ll do when you get there.
Over the years, I’ve done this in a variety of ways — everything from not bothering to plan anything to using an old-fashioned day planner. One year, I even used a printed calendar and handwrote the itinerary, campground reservations, etc. into each day. This year, I’m using a different approach — I’m planning our summer trip by subscribing to RV Trip Wizard.
In the past, some of my trip planning has allowed for exhausting driving days, when I didn’t leave enough time to get from Point A to Point B. But all that’s changed this year, utilizing this web-based app. We’ve determined we don’t want to drive more than 250 miles a day. Thankfully, the “Wiz” keeps us in line —the map shows us if we’re planning too long a drive.
When it’s time to decide what campground to choose, all we need to do is hover the mouse over an area, and lo and behold, campground names and information pop up. There are 18,659 campgrounds currently in the Wizard’s database. The app can connect me with the park’s website and also allows me to read reviews of the park — which is really helpful and sometimes entertaining when making a campground selection. It also calculates and totals our fuel and camping costs as we move along.
Once I’ve finalized my itinerary, I can print it, e-mail it to my friends and family and even download it to my GPS system and Google Maps. My trip map is even on my cell phone, so I’m never without it.
RV Trip Wizard is part of Social Knowledge, soon to be rebranded RV LIFE Network. Social Knowledge consists of 32 websites, all managed by avid RVers providing specific information and discussions to more than 900,000 people each year. It’s the brainchild of an unassuming RV owner, Andy Rabinowitz who realized long ago that the best way he could acquire information he wanted was from other RVers through the Internet.
He started building his first website in 2002, and over the years has adopted other sites to add to the group. Today, Social Knowledge sites include online magazine RV Life, brand specific RV owners’ groups, from Winnebago to Vintage Airstreams, and IRV2, his first site. Literally, thousands of RVers are constantly posting information, asking questions and leading discussions, all about various components of the RV lifestyle.
“I don’t consider that we’re that big in the scope of the internet,” says Rabinowitz. “We’ve just always remained focused on consumers. I’m a consumer and I needed these sites to solve the problems I was having.”
Rabinowitz paid attention to what his followers were saying. When discussions in IRV2, his first forum, started talking about holding RV rallies, he added a calendar so people could post their events. Then he added an RSVP system because people wanted to know who was coming. Today, Social Knowledge is engaged with more than 900,000 RVers spread over their various sites.
In 2015, Andy acquired Campground Reviews, formerly known as RV Park Reviews. He recognized that people were using other people’s reviews to plan their trips, and Campground Reviews had incorporated an RV trip planner as part of their program. Over time, he has improved the user interface, and today nearly 137,000 RV owners have been using the program to plan their trips.
“Our users are doubling every year,” says Rabinowitz. “Once they start using it, they stay with us.”
Campground data is collected in RV Trip Wizard from consumer reviews and also by campgrounds when they claim their listing.
“We offer campgrounds the ability to claim their listing in Campground Reviews. Once they complete that, they can reply to the reviews they receive, change their hours, update and manage information about their park,” noted Rabinowitz.
There is no charge to the campground, and it’s easy to claim a listing just by going to www.campgroundreviews.com. Find the listing page for your park and click on the “Claim” link in the top right corner. More than 2,000 campgrounds have already joined.
Andy relies on his RV community members to share their knowledge and their passions for the RV lifestyle. In fact, most of his few employees are RVers who have been active in helping to develop the sites by posting in forums, offering advice and sharing their enthusiasm.
“I want to grow my company with people who are inspired by the same things which inspire me,” he says.
As for our plans, RV Trip Wizard tells us we’ll be traveling 4211 miles this summer, although I have yet to add the points of interest stops they offer along the way. We’ll be making 21 stops at various campgrounds in the northwestern United States and in Canada. And we can’t wait! The “Wiz” has just made this all so much easier and more exciting for us.