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.
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.