Everyone has different priorities, agenda's and interests when they plan or go on road trips or vacations. For me, I like to know where I'm going to sleep that night.
Everything else is icing on the cake, but the cake is knowing whatever the weather, the time frame, running early or late, humongous crowds or solitude... I know I have a place with my name on it to safely lay my head that night.
The reason this is a long-research style task for me is that I don't like campgrounds. I don't like crowds. I hate RV's. I don't like noise, screaming, unattended children running through everyone's sites, playgrounds, loud music, late night beer drinking sit around the fire parties, etc.
Although I like using an area deemed 'campground', I prefer out of the way, primitive, barely qualifies as a campground for most people type places. No bathrooms, electricity or water? No problem. It means it keeps most people away. I like that.
Knowing there are campgrounds with 'first come first served' sites causes me anxiety. I always envision worst case scenarios. We will be driving through a blinding thunderstorm, running late because of the weather, it's 9:pm, pitch black, driving rain, and we pull in to find all the sites full... never mind if the weather report says it's supposed to be 40 degrees and sunny and reviews say the camp usually has sites open that time of year.
I also know I can boondock and camp in national forests as long as I'm at least 1/4 mile from a highway/roadway - but for a few reasons that's not going to work for us this trip. So I am looking for tent camping sites that take reservations - even if they are quite primitive. No water, no bathrooms, no electric... no problem. Just make sure it has my name on it.
So where am I in my planning for this?
I have 3 destinations booked and 1 more reservation mid-week at a 'busy' campground that I only booked because it has pay showers and it may be our only chance at a shower that whole week.
Still looking and booking:
.... just rambling over morning coffee.