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RV Living in the 

21st Century 

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Fulltime RVing Basics - Part One 

An overview of this fantastic Lifestyle

Story Con't In Part Two.

                                     What is involved to be a Fulltimer?

TOPICS COVERED

 

     Those of us following the Fulltiming lifestyle enjoy a sense of freedom like no other.  Be aware it is a contagious way of life. The majority of Fulltimers we meet started out for a year or two while they downsize from a big house.  However many like John and I find those few years so enjoyable they soon stretch long beyond their initial time frame.  We originally set out for two years, but life was such fun, our Fulltiming experience soon extended to five, then to ten and beyond.  Twenty six years later a motorhome is still our only home.  Plus as our years accumulate we continue having a ball!  Many of the suggestions below also apply to RVers enjoying an extended getaway.

 

     During my early writing days, my by-line was “Goodbye Tension, Hello Pension”.  Those words describe this lifestyle to a “T”.  Although most of us still have an alarm clock, we hardly ever use it. Heck, many no longer wear watches either. Our daytime activities may consist of a drive, lunch with friends, relaxing on the patio with a good book or enjoying a swim. Competitive games, rounds at the golf course, card games, bingo, billiards or shuffleboard tournaments, craft classes plus monthly craft sales, dances and bike trips are only a few weekly RV Park events that will entice your participation. Scheduled activities at Snowbird destinations are so abundant it’s impossible to take part in all that are featured.  You and you alone chose what activities will ‘steal’ your time.  Do you like to be active and organize things?  No problem, simply volunteer and in most cases you can be as busy as you wish.

 

     En route to and from your Canadian Home to your winter getaway there are mega places to explore. As we cross the border into a new state, we frequently stop at the Tourist Bureau to inquire about local ‘must-see’ sites.  Since most of us have limited work commitments to return to, it is a joy to travel without a strict timetable. Reservations are important during busy travel seasons but in most other time frames, pre-booking a place to stay is not super critical.  Some Fulltimers also love to Boondock (park without amenities) in isolated areas or on Public Lands.  If laid back travel is something you would like to try, there is a wide selection of websites offering how-to advice plus numerous books written to ensure your experience is most enjoyable. Since John and I prefer the comfort to overnight at full service parks that offer level sites with 50 Amp power plus numerous extra amenities, I’ll leave specific Tips to enjoy Dry Camping up to the experts.  To find websites offering comprehensive info that highlights this form of camping – simply search the subject ‘Boondocking for RVers’ on ‘Google’ or ‘Bing’.

     On the other side of the coin, en route between A&B John and me frequently overnight at no cost places similar to Pilot Flying J.  That Truckstop offers special RV Islands featuring gas, fuel, propane, air, water and dump facilities, plus overnight RV parking is available in a safe spot at the front of the restaurant; directly beside the gas pumps.  Internet is available for a small fee plus tasty meals and a fully stocked variety store is located a few feet away. Some RVers also use the showers and Laundromat provided for the truck drivers.  Inquire at the cash for details.

    Additional popular convenient overnight stopping spots include Wal*Marts and Cracker Barrel Restaurants.  Be sure to always park with your door facing people and cameras. It is wise to verify with management that it is OK to park till morning.  Some stores must comply with local ordinance that prohibit RV’s from staying extended timeframes in parking lots. WiFi is not usually available at these stopovers.

     A major trap many Fulltimers fall into when they first start out is they try to see everything at once - mainly because they are still travelling in holiday mode.  Best advice I can share is to slow down and take your time. Try settling in for 4-7 days to tour the high points – save additional exploration of secondary spots for future visits.  It is a huge transition to learn how to be away for an extended continuous holiday.  Another trap is finding a spot that steals your heart so much so that you do not want to leave.  Try to remember you decided to become a Fulltimer to see what’s around the next bend.  Rest assured, no matter what place you find there will be numerous others that are equally compelling.  Fulltimers and extensive travellers live on wheels, so there is no reason why you can’t return to a favourite spot during a future trip. When John and I discover a new location, we do what we call a ‘Recce’ – short for a military ‘Reconnaissance Mission’. Space your travels out – you have the rest of your life to follow the road over that distant hill

     Many Fulltimers and Snowbirds find a spot in the south to stay for 1-5 months plus enjoy 1-2 months travelling north and south. In the summer they search for a convenient seasonal site up north for another 1-7 months. Regular nightly costs range from $25-$60, of course weekly and monthly rates are lower – some parks offer low off-season fees as well. Settling into a campsite for an extended time frame also helps to stretch camping costs.  In most cases extended RVers choose lengthy northern stops near family and doctors appointments. That does not mean during summer many of us do not leave our sites to take short trips to club rallies, family reunions, gatherings with friends or just a trip to see something down the road. If you are fortunate enough to only have minimal work commitments to deal with, the majority of travel plans come down to costs associated with your time away.

 

     Another group of Fulltimers work as they travel - especially at RV Parks to do odd jobs or work in the office.  As a rule Canadians can not work in the USA without a special work visa but some have found a way to work around this ruling. Just make a point to fully understand associated regulations with working in another country. Quite a few Fulltimers do some kind of work during times they are in Canada to supplement their winter ‘play money’.  Payments for campground workers may include either free rent and/or salary.  

     One way to save on camping fees is to become a member of Discount Camping Clubs such as Passport America 50% camping. Memberships are available in the Club magazine – savings from a stay of four-nights, will cover the cost of your membership. From then on all stays in PP parks are half price.  Some campgrounds do have blackout dates during peak times but travelling off season, RVers will find many savings waiting. Most RV clubs are connected with a series of RV Parks – Club savings are normally 10% – which offsets the tax.  KOA offers a different form of club - their members save 10% at KOA’s high-end parks. Discount RV Club rates can be as low as $10. per night – but this level of park is slowly disappearing.  Many Casinos in the USA include campgrounds in their multitude of amenities.  Parks are usually reasonable priced and shuttles transport campers to the actual casinos.  However most Casinos in USA and Canada also encourage overnight stops in the parking lots. At times the Casino may close at 4AM which means although you may be isolated for a few hours, RVers will not be asked to leave.  Books are available from places like the RVBookstore.com that provide listings. Membership camping clubs offer a different dimension of inexpensive camping, but RVers must pay a costly up-front fee to reap the benefits of the low overnight rates and you then must settle into the parks that are part of their system.

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BUYING YOUR RIG TO GO FULLTIME

     The transition from selling your home to life on wheels can be a major undertaking. Will your unit be motorized or towable or big or compact? Large RV’s are comfortable to live in but they may restrict travels to some quaint laidback stopping spots. Buying too small may limit space to carry sufficient necessities for a fulltime home.  Changeable climate frequently restricts enjoyment of extensive time outside. However there are numerous ways to increase liveability. Peruse the Internet for ideas, or when camping try to manoeuvre an invite into the rolling homes of other Fulltimers to see their modifications.

    When you do find what you think will be your dream home on wheels, make a point to go through an imaginary live-in session.  Ask the salesman to leave you alone inside for an hour or two. Cook an imaginary meal, lie down on the bed, stand in the shower and sit on the toilet to check if sufficient space is provided plus pretend to entertain in the living area. If the unit has slides, pull them in and see how much living space you have if you’re in a spot where it’s not possible to extend your walls.

     Many RVers already have an RV by the time they decide to go Fulltime, but if you’re not in that category make a list of things you may want to consider. Read as many RV magazines you can find, maybe visit an RV park to glean ideas from Fulltimers and/or camping neighbours as to what they like and dislike about their unit.  Visit several dealers and shop on line to find your dream machine. For instance, we love our washer dryer and would hate to be without it.  Although chatting with acquaintances we’ve met in laundry rooms definitely added to our early travels – on the other side of the coin, the convenience of doing a wash in our motorhome adds a definite plus.

 

     Your RV will be your home even times it does not move.  When John and I bought our first unit we began our search three years before our retirement.  But even with all our research we were only 90% satisfied with our first purchase.  One thing is certain; RV’s have improved 1000% since we began our adventure. Do not become discouraged – everything will fall into place when the time is right.

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THE HOUSE DILEMMA – SHOULD IT STAY OR SHOULD IT GO.

     Should you rent your house or sell it?  This was my biggest decision mainly because I bought my house before John and I met. Renting seemed a good option at first, until after lengthy discussions with Real Estate Reps, they relayed that in reality we would have to provide insight in the rental managing end of things. That would be a difficult undertaking from a distance – so for us it made sense for us to sell. Mainly because the thought of dealing with problems such as tenants moving out or maintenance concerns or correcting destruction while we were many miles away was over powering. 

 

     Our next huge decision was what to do with our ‘stuff’.  In this situation we screwed up royally – and made mega mistakes due to lack of experience. Two years before we hit the road we had renovated our house including the addition of new furniture. Plus we had only been married 4-years earlier and we didn’t have the heart to sell our wedding gifts.  Although we held a huge very successful garage sale we still stored way too many house belongings.  Considering we only planned to travel for two years, not eliminating everything made a lot of sense.  Nine years later our quality furniture had drastically deteriorated due to lack of care. At that point we made another major mistake; we transferred our classy pieces to an auction house with unsealed bids.  It continues to upset me when I reflect on the low amount it sold for.  It would have been so much more gratifying to sell it piece by piece or at least with sealed bids. Even if we had given it to family or good friends we could have at least appreciated our furniture during periodic visits. 

 

 

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Our Site in Braemar Valley RV Park Woodstock On

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Story Con't In Part Two.

 

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WHERE WILL WE ESTABLISH AN OFFICIAL HOME?

     The thought of going Fulltime with no ties or need to belong anywhere is an overwhelming urge.  However the only resident of our country that has no fixed address is a criminal. Everyone must establish an official address for provincial medical, taxes, census application, passports and most of all your drivers licence.  When you cross the border ALWAYS provide your official address and NEVER relay you are a Fulltimer.  For the most part many of us use 1-5 addresses – official home; mail address (most government agencies allow you to add both addresses to most application); summer residence; winter residence, plus an American mail forwarding location.  So if you ask us where we are from, the answer depends on who is asking.  Just for info, a campground location in most of Canada (BC accepted) cannot be used as a permanent residence – the majority of Canadian RV Parks allow residency from 6-11 months but even if a park is open year round it is not generally possible to stay on your site indefinitely.  Many of us use the location of a friend or family member as our official home – we refer to that location as if we are renting a room at their home.  Occasionally Fulltimers store their belongings in a kid’s basement – so referring to their address as your official home is an easy transition.

 

     There are also many major benefits associated with establishing a USA address - ours is with FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association). It comes in handy when subscribing to things like inexpensive American Cell phone packages or obtaining a USA Credit Card complete with ZIP Code, plus its a place to send the appliance warrantee of a new purchase as well as a way to receive US based mail plus so much more. These days we only request our USA based FMCA mail be forwarded twice every second month – the first and fourth week. 

     NOTE: Fee is $8. for  every month sent.   Mail for letter ‘M’ is posted each Thursday whenever we provide an address.

     Since thanks to the Internet we no longer receive mega US mail, bi-monthly delivery saves extra fees and postage – works good for us. FYI, most major USA RV Clubs offer mail forwarding services as do additional companies advertised in RV Club magazines.  In Canada our permanent mail forwarding is a UPS store.  During our early years we asked family members to send our mail, but overtime this became a real chore even though we paid them for their service. Now whether we are on the move or we are stationary in the USA, UPS will forward our mail whenever we provide an address.  If we’re travelling, we ask UPS to send it to FMCA who in turn forwards it to us by 3-day Priority post. By sending it to a USA mail forwarding service – there is no need to delay travel plans waiting to receive a package.  Mail coming to & from Canada usually takes 10-14 days but it can take 2-3 weeks to reach destination.  Delays at the border contribute to the problem.

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MAINTENANCE

 

     Every RVer – Fulltimer or vacationer – should travel with a quality ERS program.  If a tow is required, expect these programs to send a compatible tow truck – two if required. Ensure your plan covers a tow to compatible service with no mileage restrictions. The occasions when RVers simply require service, Fulltimers have the advantage.  If you take an RV to a shop for routine maintenance and leave it with instructions you’ll be back in a week or a specific date – your service requests will frequently not be completed, mainly because a Fulltimer like us will show up. Because we’re visible, we occupy the techs time while your unit sits idle – they want to get us out of the shop so they can work on other units.  If you must leave it while you return home, call them each day to see how the progress is going.  It also helps if you come in with a defined list of problem areas, including VIN # plus mileage, make and model year. Try not to disappear until you drive your completed coach away.  At times it may be necessary to stay in the coach overnight in the dealer lot, even if they must move it outside of their enclosed area.

     Before we began travelling I read an article suggesting that everyone should have ready access to a $5000 Fund to cover unforeseen emergencies. Ours is a zero balanced credit card. If we run into a costly repair on the road, the card allows us to deal with it until we return home in the summer to shift funds around.

      When crossing the border it is a good idea to have emergency repair receipts accessible to present to the agent – even for something as simple as an oil change or new tire (one tire-not four).  Agents realize if you are away for a length of time, some maintenance will be required.

 

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GENERAL SITE CONTENTS:  

RV WebLinks  Updated May 2014: Meet Your Hosts;   Getting Started;  Articles;  

Destinations-(Canada, Mexico, USA);     

Many Recent Updates - Advice and How To;  Book Nook; 

(As of Oct 10) RV Shows;   Travel to Canada:  Travel to USA; (Oct 10);  

  Q&A;   Contact UsSite ContentsGallery Picasa Web Albums:

 

______________________________

 

Story Con't In Part Two.

 

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DEALING WITH HOMESICK BLUES

 

     Deciding that extended RV travel is for you is a great idea but, when it comes down to the crunch, inevitably there's a cry, "But I don't want to leave my family!" The homesick blues  have struck even before you've left the driveway. 

 

      Most Fulltimers and extensive  travellers reluctantly leave the grandkids when they retire to ‘play on the road’. But enjoying your new life doesn't mean you must cut all ties with the folks back home. Instead, look for unique ways to stay in contact.  Sending Dollar Store souvenir treasures or sea shells and/or pictures along with a story where you found things may help ease the fact than Nana and Poppy are not around.  Give each Grandkid a map of your proposed route and send a postcard of places you stopped.  How about recording a bedtime story on a CD or subscribe to Skype to ‘talk’ with family frequently. 

     Many times the kids suggest places Mom and Dad should travel to each winter so the family can visit during Christmas and school breaks.  During summer time up north, Grandma and Grandpa can invite one child at a time for an extended RV visit.  Driveway parking with family and friends also works well. Frequently, work commitments move adult children to distant cities. Parking your RV in a driveway provides an opportunity for the older RVers to enjoy daily quiet time away from family hustle and bustle.  Before long it will be evident that RVing enhances family time instead of contributing to painful distances from those you love.

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IN CLOSING

 

     Keeping busy doing what you wish to do is why RVing seniors remain so young. There are people in their 80s still roaming and calling all of North America their home. However, by that time, many RVers trade their home‑on‑wheels for Retirement Phase 2 in a home on some kind of a foundation, but they still continue to enjoy life at local festivities without travelling to new horizons.

     Whether you get away for the full year, the winter or for a few months please travel safe. Remember, occasionally we all go through less than perfect times, but overall the good days well overpower any less than perfect ones.  Have a safe trip wherever it takes you.    READ More in Part Two

 

 

Story Con't In Part Two.

 

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GENERAL SITE CONTENTS:  

RV WebLinks  Updated May 2014: Meet Your Hosts;   Getting Started;  Articles;  

Destinations-(Canada, Mexico, USA);     

Many Recent Updates - Advice and How To;  Book Nook; 

(As of Oct 10) RV Shows;   Travel to Canada:  Travel to USA; (Oct 10);  

  Q&A;   Contact UsSite ContentsGallery Picasa Web Albums

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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