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We hope to take an extended trip beginning in the spring of 08. We will be leaving CA and traveling to St. Louis for a reunion. From there we want to travel in the southeast, an area we have not been in much. I have created a general plan with an idea of some places we want to see. States include TN, SC, NC, and KY. Now I come to my problems. I'm not sure how to decide what to see and where to go. I am hoping some of you that have planned extended trips - in any direction - can give me some ideas of how to narrow down the options and how to plan our trip. I've gotten us to St. Louis but from there, I'm overwhelmed. We are thinking of taking 2 - 3 months.

Looking forward to suggestions. Thanks.
There is also Graceland just south of Memphis. I have been there last January and back in the early 80's when I was a kid and all I can say is the house tour and everything is nothing like it was then. I remember when all the cars were outside under the carport and now they are all inside a building across the street and now they even charge for parking.

If you go to Georgia a place that might be interesting is
I have not been there yet. I'd like to but the last time I went through there they were closed, it was January.

I'm sure you will come up with many great ideas with at least 9 months of planning.
I'd definitely put the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains either NC or TN side on your must see and stay list.
If you like music shows Branson, MO is just south and a little east of St. Louis. Silver Dollar City is a neat theme park in the area, and we also enjoyed the Titanic Museum in Branson.

I would definitely see the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Gatlinburg and Dollywood are both in Tennessee right by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which of course has many sights and trails.

If you go as far over as the east coast the Outer Banks of North Carolina are beautiful. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is there as well as Kitty Hawk.

If you go into Georgia, Stone Mountain, which is just east of Atlanta, is interesting.

We also enjoyed Graceland. We were there about 3 years ago. While in Memphis go downtown to the Peabody Hotel and watch the ducks march from the elevator to their fountain in the lobby. They do this in the morning and late afternoon. Itís really cute.

Also to answer your question about how to plan what to see; we usually decide on a main destination. Then I decide on a route, but I usually have several alternates. Next I research cities and sights along the way and make a list of all the things that appeal to us. I use the internet a lot to get information. There is never enough time to see everything so we make decisions along the way. Some things we cut out, and sometimes we find things that we didnít know were there. One tip: We always stop at each stateís welcome center and pick up a state guide, map, and tons of brochures. (We also do this for cities that we visit.) This is where we find information about things we hadnít previously heard of, and many times they have coupons which save us money. It has taken some practice, but we have finally learned not to be on a strict schedule. (We can do this because we are retired. I fully understand that many people do not have this luxury.) So if we are in an area and there is more to see and do we just stay a while longer. Likewise we can move on early if we finish seeing everything we had on the list.

Sounds like you have great trip ahead of you. The important thing is to relax and have fun and be safe.
Oops, I said Branson was east of St. Louis. I just checked a map (which I should have done first) and it is back to the west. Sorry about that. When you wander around as much as we do directions become a blur.
I agree with all of the suggestions so far. My own two cents worth are Myrtle Beach area, Asheville area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Charleston, SC, and, if you are interested in museums and want to go as far North, The Mall in Washington, DC. Also, variety is important. After a few days of nature we like to visit some urban area. But the most important is to find out your personal interests and build up from there. On my web pages I have some pics of the areas mentionned. If you are interested, go to;
and click on the links on top of the page. The albums that might be interesting for you are South Carolina, Huntington Beach, Brookgreen Gardens, Biltmore Estate, Blue Ridge Parkway and Luray Cavern.
I always feel that planning is half the fun, but you should never put yourself in a mindset where you absolutely have to follow your plans just because you planned them. Leave yourself open to all the nice surprises that life will bring you and give yourself the flexibility to get around bad weather for example.
Have fun planning!
Thank you for your suggestions so far and the website with the photo albums. They make me even more excited about the trip. I'm sure I will have more questions as I go along. The most difficult part for me is not planning too much. I'm not real spontaneous but we have also traveled on such a tight schedule that we couldn't do some things we found along the way - like a festival or centennial celebration. I want to have more flexibility than that. I like to know what we are going to be doing and most of all where we are going to be staying. Excluding holidiay weekends (which I know we need to reserve quite a bit ahead of time) how far ahead do you make reservations for the next campground? We are retired so we do have a little more time to take this trip. Nine months sounds like a long time to plan, but I think it will take me that long. I get distracted along the way.

Thanks again for your ideas.
Hi jperera,
Reservations are a tricky point. I only reserve during high season or on busy weekends, and I normally simply show up at the campground I want to stay at. This way, if I don't like the looks of a place I can simply go to another one. In many years of travel I have been turned away only twice, but they always gave me suggestions of other nearby parks. I also have to add that we have a small (22') travel trailer, we seldom stay more than 2 nights in the same place and we can go by with only 15 amps and no water or sewer if need be. Even the 15 amps are not always necessary. As you plan to travel in the spring, I suggest that you only reserve for holiday weekends. On our last trips in Oct/Nov and April/May we did not reserve anywhere and had no problems, but we normally show up at the campgrounds around 3 pm.
John S.
Well many have said where to stay and what to see but planning for an extended trip is different than a tight schedule. You will want to plan in travel days and build in breakdown day or extra rest day too. You will need reservations on the high demand days if they go over a holiday. Otherwise you will be able to find a reservation pretty easily. We plan a route that will allow us to see some sights on the way and will boon dock a day or too on the way too since it slows us down a bit. Then we get to a CG and try to visit the sights and then have a day or two around the CG to do laundry and to rest and then out again and then maybe move to the next one. That has worked for us and we just got back from a 6000 mile trip from VA to the Washington state.
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