Questions, Questions, Questions

When we made the decision to share our plans with friends and acquaintances, we had no idea that the news would spark such interest and curiosity. Almost everyday, we either run across someone who has a question or someone who is just outright confused about what we’re doing and how we plan to do it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to provide some answers and/or some resources that will be helpful in having a better understanding of how we plan to live our dreams “on the road”.

There are some who don’t quite understand what we mean when we talk about an “RV”, a Recreational Vehicle. According to the definition provided by the PRVCA (Pennsylvania Recreational Vehicle and Camping Association – www.prvca.org),

“An RV is a vehicle that combines transportation and temporary living quarters for travel, recreation and camping.

Two main categories of RVs are motorhomes (motorized) and towables (towed behind the family car, van or pickup).

Type A motorhomes are generally the largest; Type B motorhomes or van campers are the smallest; and Type C motorhomes generally fall in between.

Types of towable RVs are folding camping trailers, expandable trailers, truck campers, conventional travel trailers and fifth-wheel travel trailers. Sports utility RVs (also sometimes called “toy haulers”), which feature a built-in garage for hauling cycles, ATVs or sports equipment, are available in both motorhomes and towable RVs.”

As you will see from our previous post, our choice of vehicle is the fifth-wheel travel trailer that will be towed behind a pickup truck.

The plan is not to drive for more than two (2) hours per day, if at all possible, recognizing that some trips may be a bit longer while some may be a bit shorter. In making that statement, we’ve had people stare at us like “deer in headlights”. Drive for only two hours per day? Then what? The preference is to park at an RV Park/Campground at a site that we’ve been able to reserve. A what? There are places like that? Yes, there absolutely are. There are thousands of RV parks and campgrounds in the US alone. They come in all sizes, many with all different types of amenities. Ultimately, we’ll be looking for the following:

Full hookups – water, electric (50 Amp preferred),  sewer

Pet Friendly – we’re traveling with our family pet, Snowball

Wi-Fi – we’d like to be able to have internet service whenever possible, especially for e-mails and, of course, the blog

Pull Thru site – prefer not to back in, if at all possible. (Maybe that will change as we become more experienced with driving our rig!)

A visit to  www.gorving.com, will lead you to this statement:

“RV campgrounds can be as small as a few dozen sites to booming resorts with hundreds of sites, catering to RVs of every type and size. Some RVers prefer the simple solitude of campgrounds that provide merely the basics of electricity and fresh water at the site. Others prefer full-service options with electricity, water and sewer hookups for each RV. Electronically dependent travelers appreciate the Wi-Fi service provided at many campgrounds.”

We are not your “back to nature” campers, at least not yet, anyway, but there are options galore for those who want to really experience nature with your RV.  There is quite a bit of information to be found by visiting the following:

www.NPS.gov or www.reserveamerica.com for information about camping in one of the 401 National Parks.  You will also find information concerning National Wildlife Refuges where you can learn about the more than 150 million acres, 555 national wildlife refuges and other units of the Refuge System, plus 38 wetland management districts.

http://www.americasstateparks.org/Find-A-Park  will give you the opportunity to search out the 7,800 state parks and the 221,000 campsites within the 50 states.

http://www.forestcamping.com takes you to the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide. Within the 155 forests are more than 4,300 campgrounds.

http://www.blm.gov is the Bureau of Land Management website. They are responsible for overseeing 264 million acres of outdoor sites located in the western United States, including Alaska.

http://www.usace.army.mil, the website of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, will direct you to the 2,375 parks near the lakes created through their projects.

But aren’t the RV parks expensive to stay in? That depends on where you are and when you stay. We’ve noticed that prices are higher during “peak times” – standard vacation times, summer, holidays, etc. And rates can also differ dependent upon the length of stay.  For us, we will probably choose a weekly rate more often than a nightly rate, not just for the economics involved, but also as a way for us to explore the area as well as rest. If we choose to stay in an area longer than that, we’ll certainly be looking at a monthly rate, for sure.  After all, we really won’t be in a hurry!

We’ve also joined a few RV Clubs that offer discounts for many of the parks.

Escapees RV Club offers discounts that range between 15% and 50% for their members at select parks.

The Good Sam Club offers 10% discounts on the nightly rate at their selected parks.

Kampgrounds of America (KOA) also offers 10% discounts at their parks.

Passport America offers the best – 50% at their nearly 1,900 campgrounds.

All of them have some restrictions, perhaps a limit on the amount of days/nights, or a restriction on weekends/holidays.

There is also the option to park at a Walmart store that permits overnight parking, for free.  Their website, http://www.walmartlocator.com, will direct you to the stores that allow parking as well as to the stores that do not allow parking.  The statement on the website from their corporate offices states:

“While we do not offer electrical service or accommodations typically necessary for RV customers, Walmart values RV travelers and considers them among our best customers. Consequently, we do permit RV parking on our store lots as we are able. Permission to park is extended by individual store managers, based on availability of parking space and local laws. Please contact management in each store to ensure accommodations before parking your RV.”

Proper etiquette would suggest that one first seek and receive permission from the store manager, and then be sure to make a purchase to be supportive and thankful. In the case of a trailer, you would not unhook, nor would you lower your levelers, nor would you “set up camp” in the parking lot. Your overnight stay would be for sleeping only. This video from Chuck Woodbury, Editor, RV Travel.com (http://www.rvtravel.com) explains the matter extremely well.

https://youtu.be/heh-KyvfL54

So, yes, we’ve given this decision quite a bit of thought, and we continue to research and ask questions to get answers from people who have been living this life for many years. The more we ask, the more we learn, the more we’re sure that we are going to enjoy living our dream, on the road.

 

Why A Fifth Wheel

We’ve run into so many of our friends and colleagues that are intrigued by our decision to live “on the road”. As mentioned in our previous blog, we have chosen to live in a fifth wheel trailer as opposed to the Class C, which many seem to think of when they hear “RV”, or a Class A Motorhome, the one that looks like a bus.

Why? Well, we’ve rented two Class C’s. Even though it will just be the two of us and our dog, Snowball, a Catahoula Leopard mix,

we both felt that the space would just be too tight. It was fine for the two trips we took, but we don’t think it would suit us for full-time living.

The Class A, Motorhome, would certainly provide much more space, and we did consider the purchase, briefly. However, a motorhome, as well as a Class C, would require that we tow a car if we plan to get around outside of any campground or RV park. We really didn’t think we liked the idea of driving our house everywhere we went and recognize the issues with finding parking or navigating through some areas not suited for large vehicles.

After visiting some RV shows and the RV-Dreams.com Fall Rally, we decided that the fifth-wheel, or 5-er, (fiver) was more to our liking. At that point, we then had to decide which floorplan we preferred. We looked at the rear living and the rear entertainment, and didn’t like the look and feel. The living area appeared to be just one big room because the kitchen/dining area also seemed to be a part of the whole scene.

When we walked into a front living fifth wheel, we knew there was no question about it. This is just what we were looking for. The floorplan makes it seem like we have a one-bedroom apartment. The particular make and model we selected, the Jayco Pinnacle 38FLSA, has the front living room, which is very large and roomy, a lovely kitchen complete with center island, a cozy dining area with windows surrounding it, a nice sized bathroom with a large shower, and a good size bedroom with plenty of closet space. It also sports a front door that gives you access to the living room/dining room/kitchen area and a back door that gives you access to the bedroom/bathroom area.  We think we’ll have enough space for us and, there’s always outside.

Certainly, another plus is the slideout set up.  There are five slideouts — two in the living room, one for the kitchen, one for the dining area, and one in the bedroom.  That setup makes the rig very spacious. And, although the kitchen is on a slide we’re not worried about a weight issue there.

2015 Pinnacle 38FLSA Floorplan

One thing we’ve learned is this: there are tons of choices for everyone’s tastes. Just as some may choose apartment living over home ownership, and some may like co-ops rather than condos, and some may like motorhomes rather than trailers, there’s something out there for everyone. Our decision is based on what we like and what we believe will work for us. We just know that we’re looking forward to this new chapter in our book of life and we invite you to continue to follow us as we live our dream – on the road.

 

Are You Really Sure?

Since we’ve made this decision and have begun to share it with others, we’ve been getting some mixed reactions. On the one hand, those who know us recognize the excitement that we’re feeling as we talk about our plans. Yet, on the other hand, we’re noticing that some people are having difficulty understanding what we’re actually doing.  We’ve been asked, on numerous occasions, some of the following questions:

  1. So, where are you going to live when you’re not on vacation?
  2. How long do you plan on doing this?
  3. What if you don’t like living in a trailer? Will you buy another house or get an apartment?
  4. Are you really sure you want to do this?

Well, maybe it’s appropriate for us to try to answer some of the questions at this point. Here goes…

Because we’ll both be retired when we get on the road, some might say that we’ll be on a “permanent vacation”. It is not our plan to locate and/or commit to another full-time job. If we decide to do something, we’ll possibly look into workamping for site fees.

Our home will be our 42.2 foot fifth wheel (pictured at the top of our website page) which will be towed by our RAM 3500 diesel dually. As we choose where in the 49 states we’d like to go (Hawaii would prove a bit difficult), we’ll travel there, either parking in one of the thousands of RV parks available to us, or parking at one of the thousands of beautiful public parks around, or maybe stopping overnight at one of the available Walmart stores. The possibilities are endless. We just know that, for us as well as the thousands of RV full-timers, “home is where you park it”.

Our plan is to live this lifestyle for as long as our health allows us to do so. When and if the day comes when travelling is no longer an option for us, we’ll find a location that we truly like and park the rig. Because it will hold everything we need, there will be no need to look for another house or apartment.

We’ve discovered, in what seems to many to be a brief time, that the RV community is filled with some of the warmest and friendliest people we’ve seen. There is a wonderful sense of community. So many people are willing to share information, suggestions, and advice. Whether it’s through face-to-face conversations, discussion forums, websites, blog sites, or social media, there is never a drought when it comes to getting answers to the never-ending questions that come up around RVing. Whether it’s choosing the best type of vehicle, or which state to select for your domicile, or who has the best mail-forwarding service, or how to select a health insurance plan, or how to travel with pets, or which parks are the cleanest, or whether or not to have RV Club memberships, or who has a recipe for something, there is always someone (or even quite a few someones) who are there with the answers. And, there are so many opportunities to get first-hand answers at one of the many RV rallies that offer educational forums and seminars. If there’s one thing we’re very sure of it’s the fact that we will never feel alone or at a loss for help if we need it.

Are we sure we want to do this?  Absolutely! We have no doubts that we have made the right decision for our future. Of course there will be challenges. But that’s true about any major change one might make in life. But along with the challenges come the amazing rewards. To experience some of the most beautiful places and sights this country has – amazing reward. To have the freedom to choose where you want to be and having the time to do it – amazing reward. To share it all, each day, with someone you love – amazing reward. To give up the work week stress, rush hour traffic, and the hassle of snow shoveling and lawn care and maintenance – amazing reward.

Yes, the countdown has begun to the closing of this chapter of our lives and the beginning of the next chapter – living our dreams – on the road.