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RV Living in the 21st Century
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UPDATED 4 Oct 04
of Tr to USA
Southern Destinations for RVing Snowbirds
Year after year many RVers return to their favourite utopia in the sunny south. Although for those new to this lifestyle and those of us who like to move around, determining where to go each winter can become a major decision. The choice is so vast and deciding where to spend three to six months of our valuable RV travel time away from the cold takes some planning. Yes there are a group of RVers who simply turn the key and point their RV south to no where in particular, however many of us prefer to have some plan in place before we begin our journey.
When you leave Canada in the cold winter weather a number of parks en route will be closed for the season. Don’t despair there are numerous free places to stop for the night till the days become warmer BUT NOT AT REST AREAS. The majority of truck stops provide a safe overnight parking spot however the Flying J stations encourage RV’s to park overnight away from the trucks. Call 1 800 438 3537 www.flyingj.com for a brochure listing their North America locations. (Flying J's and Pilot have merged). These RV friendly truck stops now have locations across Canada. Truck stops of America are also RV friendly plus several others.
Wal-mart stores (their locations are listed in the back of the Wal-mart atlas). HOWEVER IN ALL CASES ALWAYS ASK IF IT IS OK, some counties have by-laws against overnight parking. For added security BE SURE TO PARK WITH YOUR COACH DOOR FACING THE CARS AND CAMERAS. These places know most of us will spend money by shopping or have a meal before turning in. One other option RVing friends from the Maritime provinces use is to pull into hotel and motel parking lots---frequently for a small fee they can plug into an electric connection designed for cars to plug into in the winter. Plugging in is a wise move if you plan to use your furnace during your trip south.
One word of caution, the majority of resorts, private parks, state and national parks in sun country are very busy places from mid January to the end of February. Yes you possibly can find a campsite in a large park but it may take some looking to find that special place to settle into for a few weeks or longer.
Texas offers a little more leeway in the reservation end of thing. All parks will not be over booked all winter.
to find an enjoyable extended winter home from a distance!
Look for a winter getaway with features that appeal to your desires --- Remember you are shopping from a distance so you must ask questions.
The above tips cover most questions RVers need to know for long-term stops, but if you have any other concerns ask them up front. This way you will not arrive at your park faced with several surprises.
NOTE: If moving around is your preferred form of travel then staying at membership parks or camping clubs is an economical option.
This is an interesting rewrite of a story I wrote about Five Star Campgrounds---I used a park in Rio Grande Valley in Texas as an example but resorts such as this punctuate many locations in the sunny south.
MANY OF THE ABOVE SUGGESTIONS ARE PART OF THIS STORY
designs appeal to a wide variety of interest groups. Provincial, State
and National Parks along with Conservation areas feature natural outdoor
In one Canadian province, gravel pits are popular no cost
stopping spots and in others no cost isolated camping utopias near
beautiful lakes or mountains or beaches are the getaway of choice.
Numerous RVers enjoy extended dry camping in the Arizona Dessert and
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) destinations scattered throughout the
USA--- low cost permits are available in the vicinity. On the other hand
a variety of private campgrounds, elaborate membership resorts, cost
saving camping clubs and intimate RV parks add even more camping
choices. These days every RVer has a perfect opportunity to find a place
to suit their budget, their wishes and their desires to a ‘T’.
we have found that the Ultimate RV Getaways are the popular full service
RV Resorts scattered throughout southern sun country. It is
mind-boggling to see the abundant activities offered at these parks
simply for the pleasure of their visitors who are wintering away from
those dear to them, time simply won’t allow participation in
everything. Yes, many quality parks located in Canada and Northern USA
also promote an extensive calendar featuring a variety of fun things to
do but the mindset of the RVing population
is different in south.
In the North the majority of long-term summer residents consider
their RV a home or cottage where they are comfortable near family and
friends. This usually translates as less participation in park
activities for seasonal residents although overnight guests still enjoy
many Five Star Resorts, permanent ‘park model homes ’ and less
elaborate stationary ‘park trailers’ intertwine with all types of units
on the move from faraway places. Spacious streets and manicured grounds
enhance the overall appearance. Although some resorts include on-site
rental units as part of their amenities, in most parks when an owner
can’t use their unit, the office staff will frequently make it
available as a winter rental.
To find one of these elaborate winter paradises, peruse the
International RV directories such as Trailer Life or Woodall's. Locate a
place you want to spend a few months and call several resorts to request
a package that includes rates, rental availability, activity schedules
the schedule to be busy in the larger parks but this may also translate
into higher monthly rent. Central and south Florida, Rio Grande Valley
in Texas, southern Arizona and California are the most popular winter
destinations however over the years we found monthly campground costs in
south Texas to be the most reasonable.
It goes without saying that the climate in the parks located in
the northern portion of these states and their neighbouring states on
the same horizontal plain could have cooler temperatures from mid
December to late February. Although these parks generally offer many
amenities, they may be smaller and more relaxed with lower monthly
rates. Remember the further south you go, the more appealing the weather
should be, although no one can guarantee a perfect climate
Note: Expect rates to decrease the longer you call the park home.
For example, fees for one month stops are usually higher than the per
month rate of a four month stay---each park will have different rates.
During the 99/00 season we spent the winter at a park in the Rio Grande
Valley with1000+ sites, rent for four months was $1185.00 US$, our
friends paid $1100.00 US$ for a spot in a similar park in another area.
However during our travels we found several smaller intimate (150 sites)
resorts nearby with scaled down calendars that only
charged $700.00 US$
for the same time frame. One
winter we went to a park where our friends spend the winter
and cost is $200.00 per month plus electric. There are also
several parks in the south, especially Texas, that may offer Canadian at Par
rates. Reservations are important; nevertheless empty sites may be
available January to March at elaborate and immense parks but frequently smaller ones
will be booked by mid November.
at our park were diverse including most of what is mentioned below but
the same type of events happens at RV parks everywhere. They could include tennis and shuffleboard courts, volleyball, horseshoe
pits, table tennis, billiard/pool hall, large pool(s)--some with open
roofs, immense hot-tub(s), exercise room(s), library, card rooms and
much more. Competition between parks adds intrigue.
parks also care about your health. In the Rio Grande Valley and several
other snowbird locations, a motorhome converted into fully staffed
walk-in Medical Clinic makes weekly visits to each park. The ‘Mobile
Clinic’ becomes much more convenient than visiting a doctor or
hospital for non-critical procedures. Weekly blood pressure screenings,
heart attack warning services and health-wise seminars were a regular
part of the activity schedule.
Although much of the above activities were part of the schedule
at our park in the Rio Grande Valley, John and I found similar amenities
at large parks everywhere throughout sun country. For instance in
Arizona a few years ago our park hosted several mega parties from
December to April. Christmas wagon rides, gift exchange, RV decorating
contests, dances, extra special family style dinners and New Years
dances were seasonal highlights but the Spring Fling Fashion Show, St
Patrick Party, Pet Parade also added variety to the calendar.
Each spring the park owners sponsored a visitor appreciation day
in the form of a Mexican Fiesta Extravaganza extraordinaire.
What a party, the owners even added an extra large tent for the
occasion. The entire event including drinks and a tasty meal was a no
cost day for all park visitors. The joys of this wonderful RV lifestyle
never cease to amaze me.
your travels take you, enjoy the journey; with a little planning you too
can have a fantastic Ultimate Winter Getaway.