Carolina: Cruising Past 70: WOW: Following the 10 Commandments of the Full Time RVing Lifestyle

Monday, January 28, 2013

WOW: Following the 10 Commandments of the Full Time RVing Lifestyle

our favorite campsite...beside the ocean, under palm trees!

In just four months we will have been RVing for four years! We were newbies then and all of a sudden they now call us old-timers (emphasis on the old!). We have been to 49 American states, 9 Canadian provinces, and 6 Mexican states. Those of you out there who are contemplating on joining the 1.3 million of us, Bill and I have put together these 10 Commandments of Full Time RVing. They are borne out of lessons learned from financial, social, and housekeeping situations and, of course, the ultimate goal of RVing, the maximization of enjoyment in cruising.

1.       Don’t trade your home for an RV!
True you are gung-ho about this cruising lifestyle but what if something happens and you have to go back to staying put? You may no longer have the funds to buy a new home! We chose an RV that we can pay with the cash that we already had so we didn’t have to sell our condo(s) and incur new debt at this age. Those three condos are now being rented out and managed by property managers and personal friends, Don and Susie Karstedt, who are unbelievably gracious to do it for us! But if you have qualms about the deterioration of your home, then maybe full time RVing is not for you. Might as well live in your home part of the time!

2.       Always travel light!
This was our motto when we used to do a lot of business travels. But in this lifestyle, this is the golden rule! Remember that you are moving your home constantly so only the barest minimum should be stored there. We really had to downsize ten times over and have had to learn to not buy anything new if we are not throwing any old thing out in exchange!

3.       Choose an RV and dinghy for the most basic needs!
MPG rules! With the price of gas or diesel, we have to choose the right size of an RV, balancing the space we need for a home and the money we want to spend for fuel month-to-month! The same thing goes for the dinghy which we use for the sight-seeing trips. This is the reason we did not opt for a fifth wheel which has to be towed by a pick-up whose mpgs are usually low. Imagine if we used that for the trips. Besides the dear wife (that means me) would not be able to drive a pick-up, even if only at the campground!

4.       Become a member of a campground network!
We are members of Thousand Trails which is a network of 80 campgrounds in North America. We paid for a 13-year plan which, if we use at least 6 months a year, makes camping fees (includes power and utilities and all amenities) at about $3/day. We have used it for 21 of the past 24 months which means that it is even less than this. But we intend to use it less now that we have covered most of North America.

This membership also allowed us to also be members of Resorts of Distinction which is a network of 128 campgrounds, extending our choices of absolutely no-charge sites. We have not had to camp in other places except for rare instances like when we wanted to stay at the Florida Keys (we used an Encore Resort which is also affiliated with Thousand Trails for a discounted rate of $20/night). Another affiliate of Thousand Trails, RPI, also gives us a discounted rate of $10 (instead of maybe $25 to 65, depending on the place) per night. At National Parks, our Senior Golden Pass gets us in free and 50% off for campsite!
5.       Use the best mailing address/forwarding service!
The mailing address we use now is my daughter’s home in Kent, Washington. In the beginning this is just fine as we are just getting adjusted to the lifestyle. But we may have to change this to take advantage of lower tax rates at other ideal mailing address boxes for full timers (like South Dakota, Texas, Arizona, Florida, etc.). However, we have to still study the report that voting is not possible without a physical home address. Anyway, our son-in-law Deejay does a pretty good job of forwarding our mail to us at least once a month.

6.       Use nationwide services and local resources as appropriate!
When you have something that needs to be done on or bought for your RV or dinghy or any appliance, it is best to use nationwide chains that honor the quality of their service or product anywhere. We have been satisfied with Camping World which worked on our heating/cooling system through three centers in Arkansas, Washington, and Ohio until it was finally running to our utmost satisfaction. But for the simpler jobs and lower value goods, it is really good practice to contribute to the local economy…especially flea and farmers’ markets that sell the season’s best produce, the town's best crafts, and the country's goods at rock bottom prices!

7.      Build healthcare into your itinerary!
      Make sure you are monitored by one family doctor whom you can visit at least once a year for consistent healthcare. If possible, his clinic should have an online site where all your health records, queries, and other information are stored and can be accessed anywhere you may be. They should also have a simple system of replenishing any prescription.

8.       Stay connected to friends and family!
Don’t be afraid…use technology (Please see my post on Utilizing Technology on the Go) ! The hardest part of this life is being apart from your loved ones. Technology bridges the gap. Thank goodness!

9.       Plan and document your trips well!
A third of the fun is enjoying the places and activities. Another third is in planning. The other third is in documenting. Then the enjoyment can be relived again and again! Just like #8, technology is a must!

10.   Follow the Sun!
For maximum enjoyment, don’t forget that you do not need to shiver in the cold nor blister in the sun! This is the main reason for cruising in an RV! So this is the most golden of the rules! Spend summer in the north and winter nearer the equator, that is, in the northern hemisphere. And exactly the opposite in the southern hemishphere!