Enjoy Full-timing

The RV Lifestyle beckons and it might be for you!

One of the most rewarding adventures in life it to live full-time in a RV for a few years


Florida Hwy 19 (1)


Most Full-timers choose the 5th Wheel!

The 5th Wheel RV, unlike the Travel Trailer which is pulled or towed from the rear of the truck or car, is connected to the tow vehicle via a hitch mounted in the bed of the truck directly over the rear tires of your tow vehicle contributing to improved traction and handling. It is a trailer with a goose neck hitch that projects above the bed of the truck like the eighteen wheeler that is attached behind the cab of the truck you see on the highways. The hitch is identical to the ones that truckers use to attach and pull their heavy duty trucktrailers. All 5th Wheel RVs are towed by a truck with enough power to safely pull these large units. Most 5th Wheel trailers are large and it is recommended that a large truck be used for towing, but there are also small units that can safely be pulled by a half-ton truck.

Towing a Fifth Wheel is much easier and much more stable than towing another type of RV. The 5th Wheel is the largest of all RVs having the most available living space. The length of these trailers range between 20 and 43 feet and with the bedroom and bath above the hitch and four or five slide-outs there is lots of room for enjoying the living space. These fully self-contained trailers do or can have every amenity that you now have in your house.  It can weigh up to 18,000 lbs or more. Some fivers are close to 20,000 lbs and should be pulled by a two ton truck. The bigger the trailer, the bigger the truck you will need. That is why Fivers are popular with Fulltimers (a person or persons, who chooses to travel and live in their RVs permanently). If you want to experience the great outdoors and the great indoors at the same time, this is the RV for you.


A Joint Statement from RVIA, RVDA and ARVC: Why HUD’s Proposed Rule Redefining RVs is Critical to the RV Industry and RV Enthusiasts

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced a proposed rule that redefines the RV exemption from manufactured housing standards. This announcement and the proposed rule itself are great news for the RV industry and RV enthusiasts.

That’s because this proposed rule provides a critical solution to the regulatory uncertainty that has plagued RV manufacturers, dealers and campgrounds for decades. Without it, the entire RV lifestyle could be regulated out of existence. With it, RV manufacturers, dealers, campgrounds and RV owners get regulatory certainty that the RV lifestyle will remain the most attractive way to recreate in America.

To understand why this proposed rule is so critical, start by picturing in your mind a transportable structure which is three hundred twenty or more square feet, built on a permanent chassis and includes plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and electrical systems.

What are you picturing?  Is it a travel trailer? A fifth-wheel trailer?

Actually, that is the federal housing law’s definition of a manufactured home. And manufactured homes are required to be built to comprehensive housing standards set by HUD.

But the confusion is understandable. After all, manufactured housing and RVs share common DNA: they are both descendants of the so-called ‘mobile homes’ of the 1960s and 1970s. But starting in the mid-1970s the two products evolved along different paths. Manufactured housing became larger and more like a stick-built house. RVs became more mobile and more like a vehicle than a house.

So, given the language of the HUD law, why are travel trailers, fifth-wheels and park model RVs not required to be built to HUD’s housing standards (motorhomes, by the way, are not part of this discussion because they are specifically exempted from HUD regulation in the HUD law)?

The simple answer is because, due to the distinct evolutionary paths of the products, in 1982 RVs were specifically exempted from manufactured housing standards so long as they meet HUD’s definition of an RV which has been:

A recreational vehicle is a vehicle which is:

(1) Built on a single chassis;

(2) 400 Square feet or less when measured at the largest horizontal projections;

(3) Self-propelled or permanently towable by a light duty truck; and

(4) Designed primarily not for use as a permanent dwelling but as temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, travel, or seasonal use.

The fundamental difference between manufactured housing and RVs was, is and always will be their design intent: RVs are designed for recreational, camping, travel or seasonal use. Manufactured homes are designed to be permanent dwellings. This was the case in 1982, it is the case today and it will be the case in the future.

But as RVs continued to evolve down the vehicle path, the 1982 definition RVs became less clear and eventually unworkable.  Undefined terms such as “towable by a light duty truck,” and other technical issues around size limits given the advent of RV slide-out rooms were problematic for the industry, for regulators, and for consumers.  Meanwhile, the RV industry implemented a stringent standards, inspection and self-certification process around the NFPA 1192 standard for RVs and ANSI A119.5 for Park Model RVs.

To respond to the inapplicability of the 1982 definition to modern RVs, RV manufacturers, dealers and campgrounds put their heads together with the manufactured housing industry to propose new language to clarify that modern RVs are not manufactured homes.  All parties agreed that RVs should be built in accordance with NFPA and ANSI RV standards, not HUD manufactured home standards. All parties agreed that the key distinction continues to be that manufactured homes are designed and built for permanent residency while RVs are designed and built to be used by families as a recreational, camping, or seasonal accommodation.

Eventually an advisory panel to HUD came up with a consensus proposal to define and exempt RVs from manufactured housing standards based on the objective fact that they are built to the standards for RVs:

A recreational vehicle is a factory built vehicular structure designed only for recreational use and not as a primary residence or for permanent occupancy, built and certified in accordance with NFPA 1192–15 or ANSI A119.5–09 consensus standards for recreational vehicles and not certified as a manufactured home.

In the newly proposed rule, HUD accepted this consensus proposal with the additional requirement that park model RVs contain a consumer-facing notice that the manufacturer certifies that the structure is a recreational vehicle designed only for recreational use. The RVIA PMRV seal applied to every PMRV already contains this notice, so it is not an additional burden to industry.

So this proposed rule gives RV manufacturers the critical regulatory clarity and certainty they have long sought:  so long as they build to the nationally-recognized RV standards, the modern RVs they are building do not and will not fall under HUD’s jurisdiction.

The proposed rule gives RV dealers additional critical regulatory clarity they have long sought: the proper paperwork, forms, and disclosures the RV dealer needs to provide during a sales transaction are based on the design intent of the recreational vehicle.

The proposed rule also gives RV campgrounds the critical regulatory clarity and certainty that they have long sought: in many cases the business license for RV parks and campgrounds only allows them to accommodate recreational vehicles, not manufactured homes, so under the proposed rule they would be able to accommodate any unit that is certified to an RV standard without running afoul of local regulations.

Under this proposed rule, the modern RV lifestyle cannot be regulated out of existence. Great news for anyone involved with it.

But what else does this mean for RV owners specifically?

From the consumer’s day-to-day perspective the proposed rule changes nothing. HUD sets standards and regulates what happens to manufactured housing. This regulation makes it perfectly clear that RVs designed as RVs and built to modern RV standards are, in fact, RVs.

The laws and regulations governing the use of RVs are set at the state and especially at the local municipal and county levels, not by HUD. So the new rule does not affect full-time recreational RVing in any way.

At the same time, localities that set 6, 8, 10 or 12-month limits for an RV stay in a campground will continue to have those regulations. Finally, although RVs have always been specifically designed for recreational purposes, some states and localities do nevertheless permit people to live in RVs as a permanent residence and will continue to do so. HUD’s proposed rule will not change that.

Anyone who cares about RVing and the RV lifestyle should be rejoicing at the publication of this proposed rule and advocating for its adoption as proposed. It will keep our RVs rolling for the foreseeable future.

BACK TO TOP OF PAGE…


 

How much does it cost to full-time?


Two Weeks in Our Motorhome…

By -M.C. Pletcher praxis15501@yahoo.com Blog http://musingsonentropy.com/about/

Yes, it’s finally happened.  After months of waiting for an RV park space to open up, we’ve finally done it; we’ve moved into our motorhome.  I thought I would be nervous.  I thought it would be nerve racking and stressful.  Maybe a little stressful, but for the most part, it was easy.  Perhaps, the best thing I’ve ever done.  I wish I hadn’t waited so long.

BIgfoot New Home image-wp

In order to get to the point where I sit, a great purge took place.  This purge of un-needed items began back in Pennsylvania two years ago and accelerated when we decided late last year to purchase an RV as our first home.  By far, the downsizing was the hardest part of the process of Squatching our life (It’s a Bigfoot Motorhome).  Really, it wasn’t the difficulty of parting with things, it was the trouble of selling, recycling, and giving things away that was hard.  Towards the last few weeks, I just wanted to come home from work and find that our apartment was broken into, and the thieves stole the massive pile of crap in the middle of the living room.  But, between Craigslist, the local consignment shop (The Village Merchant in Portland, OR — You MUST GO!!!), Goodwill, and a the magic street corner where everything disappears, we were able to minimize our possessions down to a manageable level.  So much so, that we actually have room to spare!  Seriously!  We have extra basement storage, as well as empty cabinets inside!

Read more here  http://musingsonentropy.com/2014/09/20/two-weeks-in-our-motorhome/


Snowbirds… follow the sun. The RV lifestyle is just right for you.

One of the best ways to “follow the sun” is to travel in an RV. Many retirees have the opportunity to travel and stay for extended periods where they can find  the weather to their liking. Snowbirds leave their house up north and head south for the winter. Some enjoy living the RV lifestyle permanently. RVers refer to these “gypsies” as full-timers.

Northerners who spend the winter in the Sunbelt are called “Snowbirds”.  Florida, Texas and Arizona are the most popular states for snowbirds, but very good deals and less crowed places found in other states are becoming more desirable every year. Another turn of events occurs when southerners go north for the summer. What are they called?  Sunflowers!? or Polar Bears!? or maybe Hotcakes?

Snowbirds can easily turn into fulltimers. They buy an RV lot in the sunbelt where they spend the winter and another one in the mountains for the summer. Another idea is to own Park Models in both areas and travel by car back and forth.


Lynne and Millie are full-timers.

Lynne and Millie at the summit of Engineer Pass on the Alpine Loop 4WD trail, San Juan Mountains, Southwestern Colorado. Summer, 2011

This is her story…My family didn’t camp much when my brother and I were kids.  There was one miserably memorable attempt when we were chased by mosquitoes all day, and in the evening, each given a spoon and a lunchbag and told to go into the woods to hunt for small white rodents called “snipes.”  Returning empty-handed, we were given S’mores and cups of hot cocoa, and sat around a cozy campfire listening to my stepdad tell us all kinds of tall tales of the “snipes that got away.”

There were a few other camping weekends with the Girl Scouts, and a couple in college, but that was about the extent of our encounters with nature.

Fast forward a couple decades…. a workaholic tech career had me traveling frequently.  Lots of airports and hotels, flight delays, lost luggage, uncomfortable hotel beds, and noisy hotel air conditioner units.  I had just turned 40, and wondered how my “always connected” work had left me so disconnected from life.
Vacations were more difficult to find relaxing– the thought of boarding another airplane to go to yet another hotel, regardless of how exciting the destination, just didn’t seem like a vacation to me…it still felt like work.  So the summer of 2003 arrived with yet another decision on where to spend my summer vacation that would attempt to make it a true vacation.
Then, my stepdad passed away.  Within a few weeks, my vacation plans changed and now, suddenly, made all the sense in the world.  I’d go camping….alone….in the woods.  It was a way to grieve, but also a way to discover a whole natural world that I’d been missing.I discovered the sound of loons on a northwoods lake, the serenity of paddling a canoe at dawn, photographed spectacular sunsets, and fell asleep to the sound of gentle winds rustling the tree branches over my tent.   I was now hooked….and have been camping, paddling, and photographing ever since!
In 2005, an adorable little yellow Labrador Retriever puppy came into my life. She was a golden yellow color like Miller beer, so Miller (and soon after, just “Millie”) became her name.  I had grand ideas that she’d love to go camping and canoeing with me, and while she’s loved the camping part, she preferred swimming rather than trying to sit still in a tipsy canoe.  She swam in both oceans, the Gulf, the Sea of Cortez, 3 Great Lakes, and dozens of rivers and lakes throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico.

Ah, have I mentioned lately how much I love being retired with nothing better to do than go for nice quiet afternoon walks,
smell the pine trees, and admire all the nature that surrounds me?  Lynne

BACK TO TOP OF PAGE…

Lessons for the new RV full timer…

This is the result of a question asked by one of my readers. It seemed appropriate to share these lessons for those considering full time living in an RV. (These are the lessons I learned; other full time RVers would report other lessons.)

…The first year is a learning experience. Be prepared. That first year may also be more costly than subsequent years.

…With all the free time to vacation, you will find yourself in “vacation mode” — trying to do it all. Don’t frustrate yourself. For all your working years, vacations were limited to one or two weeks and you filled each day from rising sun to setting sun. As a full time RVer, you have lots of time. You can take days off from exploring — and vacation. Do the laundry. Go for a walk. Go to a movie.

A word of caution. You can’t do it all. You never will. It will take twenty life times — and more — to see and experience all the world has to offer.

…Don’t make reservations or commitments. If you do make commitments, say something vague like you “will be at X place sometime in the summer.” Or specify some month. I do make reservations once in a while. However, I find it very stressful to meet those commitments. On some rare occasions, I’ve made reservations over major holidays. Most frequently, that is July 4th.

…Be prepared to be lost. Full time living on the road and arriving in a new town is like going into a different grocery store. You will have no idea where anything is located. Where is the post office. Where is the cheapest fuel. Actually, you don’t even know where the grocery store is located.

…It is less expensive living the nomadic life than retiring to the home in Denver.

…The most expensive thing about retiring early (I was 60) to hit the road is the cost of health insurance (actually it is estate insurance). However, several of my under 65 road acquaintances manage to live without health insurance.

…Investments that allow alternate camping options will prove financially beneficial. A rig that is self contained with solar power and/or generator will allow extended camping on government lands for free or very little cost. A self contained rig is also essential for overnight camping on concrete parking lots such as Wal-Mart. Additional ways to reduce camping costs can be done through campground memberships such as Passport America, a SKP membership, Good Sams (even though they send lots of junk mail), AAA, etc. An Elks membership will allow RV camping at those Elks Lodges where there are RV facilities available.

Finally there is the “time share” solution to camping. Buying new campground memberships can be pricey. There are also used Campground Memberships For Sale. All of the mentioned options have advantages and disadvantages.

Do the research to determine which of the options may be best for your traveling style. To round out your information, talk with other full timers to find out how they address the costs of RV camping.

These aren’t lessons, but I have found that…

Nomadic traveling is more fun than I thought it could be. The fun is exploring where ever I am; meeting and talking to people; walking streets looking for photos; checking out local wineries; find that off the beaten path eatery (not a chain restaurant); National Parks; etc.

Retirement to that Denver home would have been a boring existence. I would have gotten a job or found some volunteering position.

All that stuff that was in my home is not missed. In fact I recall little of what I had. And I certainly don’t miss being a slave to a home or even home ownership and its attendant issues. Considering my home was built circa 1890, I was nothing more than a caretaker for the short time I lived there.

by Lloyd Treichel, http://www.wandrin.us/blog/index.php?/authors/1-Lloyd-Treichel


Back to Top of Page

The perils and pitfalls of living in your RV

Mark started out with a 5th Wheel setup back in 1997.

Mark Nemeth started out with a 5th Wheel setup back in 1997.

The following information and humor came from Mark Nemeth who retired from his job to spend a few years on the road in his RV. Eventually he went back to work. In the meantime he built a website called Marks Fulltime RV Resource at http://www.marxrv.com/index.htm He gave me permission to use the following content. Please visit his website for more tidbits and information.

Mark Nemeth Class C Motorhome came after the 5th Wheel.

 

Presented here in a humorous way are some of the little known “benefits” that are included as part of the fulltime lifestyle. I’m sure that some of you fellow travelers will relate to some of these. For you wanna-be fulltimers, don’t let these scare you off!

Bugs

Let me tell you…. You are going to discover insects in a totally new and personal way! I have seen bugs that not even the most adventuresome bug-ologist has ever attempted to identify. And they’re not just on the windshield! You find them in the most amazing places… in pockets of your clothing (surprise!!), swimming in your drink (doing the backstroke, usually) and in every conceivable nook and cranny in your RV. There are bugs out there that can shrink themselves down small enough to pass through any screening you can devise and then return to their normal size once they’re inside. Most of these bugs consider insect repellants to be a big joke….. I can hear them all laughing every time I get out my can of “Off”. I have found that, when in heavily insect-populated areas, it’s best to just ignore them as much as possible and try to breathe through your nose a lot! And try to ignore the fact that your scrambled eggs are “crunchy”. (ICK!)

Ants

I can hear you all saying that ants should have been covered under “bugs” but you’re wrong! Ants are way too smart to be considered mere bugs…. try to deal with them as insects and they’ll walk all over you! Ants are busy organizing a raiding party minutes after you back into your campsite and I am convinced that they can simply jump onto your rig directly from the ground. Or maybe they can levitate… I’m not sure. I am still providing free transportation and room-and-board for ants that I picked up in Florida last winter! My attempts to get them with bug spray have been more life threatening for me than for them, and they sneer at ant baits and poisons. They are those little “sweet-eating” ants, and as I type this, I see one running up the screen of my computer display… AAAHHAAA! (squish) GOTCHA, you little #@%&%$!. I can’t seem to beat them, and the war has occupied a lot of my “off-hours”. Probably the only way to win this war is to detonate a small nuclear device inside the trailer and then buy a new trailer.

Coin Laundromats

OK, I admit that I’m not real fond of doing the wash, but what choice do you have? If you don’t wash your clothes, the neighbors tend to avoid you. Even when everything goes well it’s no fun, but nothing compares to the joy of a washer that won’t drain or a dryer that won’t dry. It’s just my luck to pick the washer that someone else just used to wash their horse’s saddle blanket or their collection of oily rags. Time spent in a Laundromat seems to go by slower than just about any other kind of time… and no matter how good a job you do, you’re just gonna have to do it again in a week or so.

Grocery Stores

Every time I go to the grocery store, it’s a different store. I spend a lot of time wandering around lost, looking for something that should be easy to find, but isn’t. There’s no rhyme or reason to the layouts of most stores, and sometimes they put stuff in the strangest contexts… (Hey, excuse me, where can I find the Cheeze Whiz? It’s in the Pet Food aisle??? Well, OK….)

First Names

I don’t know how I do it, but I have the amazing ability to instantly forget the name of someone I’ve just been introduced to. This is a real liability when you meet a lot of new friends all the time. I’ll walk over to someone and introduce myself: “Hi, I’m Mark”, they’ll say “Hi Mark, I’m John” and an instant later, their name will make a whooshing sound as it departs my brain… usually permanently. I don’t know what to do…. If it were up to me, everyone would be required to wear name badges at all times! It’s even worse when you get introduced to a whole group… they only have to remember ONE new name, while I am required to forget a whole bunch of names all at once! …Just doesn’t seem fair….

Getting Mail

We take so many things for granted when we live in a house that doesn’t roll. Getting your mail usually means a short walk to the mailbox. For a fulltimer, getting the mail can be a source of much amusement… or angst! Most fulltimers use either a forwarding service of some sort, or a friend or relative to deal with their mail. This means that you will either have a professional or a friend/relative sending your mail to the wrong place. There’s nothing like calling the forwarding service and telling them to send your mail to general delivery in Gargantua, IL and then discovering that the post office there is only staffed from 11 to 11:15 on alternate Thursdays. Or that the old post office burned down last month and your mail “should be” at the main post office 175 miles away. Another fun thing to do is to get your package successfully, only to discover that you just paid express postage on a phone book and three Sears catalogs that you neither want or need. Actually, mail forwarding works just fine 99% of the time…. it’s that remaining 1% that gets you. I once had a package make the rounds of three different post offices in Little Rock, AR and I contrived to miss it all three times. The package wound up being sent back to the mail service in South Dakota and then sent out again to Tennessee, where I finally caught up with it.

Some Campgrounds

Hey, I like campgrounds! I spend a lot of my time at them…. It’s just that sometimes I wonder about the folks that lay them out… Most of the time, it’s no problem but once in a while….. Like the campground that has a vicious “S” turn that you have to negotiate to get in or out. What.., are they trying to test our driving ability? Or the place with no signs and no obvious way to choose between the dirt road I’m supposed to drive down and the one that dead-ends at the ravine. Or my personal favorite: the place that has gravel roads with tight turns and 50% grades conveniently hidden way in the back. I stayed at a place once in a site at the bottom of one of those steep gravel turns and it was exciting (terrifying?) to watch big class-A motorhomes slide down that hill directly towards me. I’m also fairly fond of the places with really low-hanging trees, or with trees strategically placed to make my pull-through a pull-in-back-out. I guess it’s all part of the adventure….

Vehicle Maintenance

This is a tough one for me. I would rather walk up to a stranger on the street, hand them a scalpel and say “Go ahead, take out my appendix!” than allow someone else to work on my vehicles. It’s not that I don’t trust other mechanics…. well, actually I guess it IS that I don’t trust other mechanics. I do most of my own maintenance while on the road. This can sometimes lead to angry confrontations with campground managers, so I try to be as discrete as possible when working on things. The problem is that without a garage of my own, I wind up working in less than ideal conditions. Laying in the mud, on sharp rocks, or on top of an anthill tends to remove some of the joys of doing it yourself! And nothing hurts me more than to have to go out and buy a special tool to do a particular job when I know that I already own one…. only it’s in California and I’m in Tennessee.

Road Construction

Surely the bane of any traveler’s existance, road work can offer you some impressive challenges! Such as: the uneven pavement zone that empties the contents of the fridge onto the floor , or the freshly gravelled road where oncoming 75 mph semi’s are throwing up rooster tails of gravel, or the detour that takes you and 75 semi’s onto some farmers tractor path for 15 miles, or my personal favorite.. the squeeze play. That’s where they set up big concrete barrier walls on both sides of a single lane and you are expected to drive in this narrow corridor for several miles. Then, as you are driving down this narrow path, the barriers slowly get closer together. AAAAAA!!! I tell you, it’s not a passtime for the faint at heart! Most of the roads that they are working on surely need the repair… I just wish they’d wait until after I pass through to do the work.


Back to Top of Page

Camping

Now here’s an expense that you can really control! All the above is just diddly compared to the cost savings possibilities available to the dedicated frugal camper. This is the one category that you have maximum control over and can really make a huge difference in your overall expenses. Defined simply, this is what you pay to park your RV each night.

Boondocking

The best way to save money is to not spend any at all. There are a lot of great scenic places to camp for free. Called Boondocking, this kind of camping can be found in some of the most beautiful spots in the country. Here are some ways to find a spot.

Invest in one of the several books on free camping available from any of the camping retailers. These books have info on the free spots to be found in each state and will pay for themselves the first time you use them.

There are several lists of prime boondocking spots available online. The Escapees club publishes a list that is very good. Check them out online at www.escapees.com

Boondocking is an art form and some fulltimers are true artists when it comes to finding free camping. Many of your fellow campers can tell you of excellent spots if you just ask.

Check with local BLM (Bureau of Land Management) authority in your area for info on free camping on BLM properties.

Many State and National forests have ‘dispersed sites’ that are free for use. Ditto with many reservoirs and Corps of Engineers projects. Again, the best way to go is to inquire locally about free camping areas.

Many popular State and National park campgrounds offer free camping during the off season. There are no services or water available during these free periods, but there are no charges either!

Most, if not all, boondocking sites have no hookups or facilities of any kind. Some may have a source of water available seasonally. All require you to take advantage of your RV’s self-contained capabilities. Remember to pack out all trash and never dump sewage on the ground.

City Parks

Almost as good as boondocking, there are many small towns and cities that offer free or very inexpensive camping spots inside of their municipal parks. A lot of these are scenic and quiet and offer a pleasant camping experience.

There are books, such as the ‘Camping on a Shoestring’  guide, that list a lot of very low cost municipal camping spots.

It can really pay to drop in at the local Chamber of Commerce and inquire. Alternately, you can stop in at the local Police station and ask. Many towns have such camping available, but it isn’t advertised anywhere.

Check out the local fairgrounds…. many have parking spots for RVs and some even offer hookups!

State and National Parks

Definitely consider a Golden Eagle or Golden Age card. These cards waive the entrance fees at any National park and also provide reduced camping fees for seniors. The Golden Eagle passport is $50 and will easily pay for itself in a year of use.

If you plan to spend some time in one state, look into their available camping passes. Most will waive your entry fees and can be a good bargain if you will be staying a lot in one state’s parks.

Asphalt Camping

This is my term for camping in parking lots. A useful way to save bucks, but the scenery is somewhat lacking. Also, if you camp in public parking lots, it’s best to be as inconspicuous as possible. That means no tables, BBQs, awnings etc. Even with those restrictions, it’s still a great way to stay a night or two at no cost. Here are some possibilities to consider:

Wal Mart:  Many Wal Mart stores welcome overnite parking. Check with the store manager for permission first.

Truck Stops:  Can be noisy, but are usually safe and truck stops are everywhere. Park out of the high traffic areas and never block access roads or scales. Some Truck Stops are beginning to cater to RVers and even have propane, dump/fill stations and partial hookups (there may be a fee).

Police Stations:  Parking behind a police station is a pretty secure spot. Sometimes it’s your best bet inside a large city where RV parks are few and far between. Ask permission first!

Public Schools:  In the summer and on weekends, most school lots are empty. This can be a good spot, but remember that some classes start as early as 7 am.

Museums, churches and visitors centers: Often, you can overnite in their parking lot if you get permission first.

Campgrounds

When staying at a private campground, consider staying for a week instead of a few nights… weekly rates are often much lower than overnite rates.

Consider workcamping…. many RV parks are chronically in need of workers to do light maintenance and misc. duties. You’d be surprised how easy it is to find a brief workcamping job and usually you will get your site free.

Shop around… most campgrounds located near a major access road or highway will be more expensive (and loud!) than the smaller, older park located a few miles out of the way. Best source for information would be either the Trailer Life Directory or the Woodalls Directory. Both books are worth having and list thousands of campgrounds, including amenities, rates and directions. Both are also available on CD ROM.

Always ask if the campground takes any type of discount card. AAA, Good Sam, Escapees, these can often get you a 10% or 15% discount.

Consider taking a site with only water and electric… most parks charge more for full hookups. Many offer a great rate for drycamping…. if you don’t have to have hookups, this is a good way to get a better rate.

Memberships

Consider joining Passport America. They are a great value at only $39 a year and have a directory of parks that offers members camping at 50% off regular rates.

Consider joining one of the other discount camping clubs. There are always ads to be found in camping magazines and many offer significant savings. Be careful and read the fine print!

The Escapees club should get a look from anyone who is a fulltimer or wants to be. They are a club that offers fulltimer specific support services and they are real nice folks besides.  They have their own 15% off camping directory and a network of member parks that offer very good rates.

You may want to consider one of the big resort membership organizations like Coast to Coast, RPI or Thousand Trails. There are always ads for these organizations in camping magazines. You can often buy a resale membership at a significant savings, but be sure to do your research carefully before signing on the dotted line. Despite their larger buy-in expense, these memberships can be a real money saver for a full time traveler.

If you are an Elk or a Moose, many of your lodges all over the country offer RV parking, of either the Asphalt or Boondock kind. Some even have full up campgrounds with hookups and everything. Prices are always reasonable and there are added benefits. Contact your local lodge for more information.

Driveways and Unique Spots

Never pass up a chance to park in someone’s driveway! It’s a great way to visit friends and family and it’s easier than being a house guest. You have your own space and don’t disrupt your host’s household routine too much.

Some privately owned businesses will let you park on them. I have stayed at a sawmill, a farm museum, an internet service, a cafe and a gas station. Get creative! Make some new friends and see some unique places while parking on the cheap!


Food

This category includes, well, food… I also include those non-edible items that are needed to keep house when I budget my expenses. Things like cleaning products, paper plates, napkins, toiletries and the like. Since these things are often bought at the same time as food supplies, I just find it easier to lump them together. Also included would be money spent at restaurants and cafes.

  • Groceries

    • Everyone knows how to save money here. Be a smart shopper and watch for sale items. You can’t stock up the way you might like due to limited storage space, but try to take advantages of good deals when you find them
    • Take the time to fill out the application and get a savings card if the store you’re in offers them. Do it even if you don’t expect to be back this way anytime soon. This costs you nothing and can save you some bucks. I have quite a collection of savings cards from all over the country!
    • It can be a paying proposition to pick up a newspaper and clip coupons. The savings will offset the cost of the paper and you can read the funnies, too! 😉
    • Take a look at some of the membership stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. They are all over the country and offer some great deals, but you have to pay a yearly fee to get a card.
  • Cleaning products, etc.

    • Take a look at restaurant supply stores like Smart and Final. You can get great deals on paper products, cleaning stuff and some kinds of food at these stores. Check the local phone book under Restaurant Supplies.
    • Consider browsing through ‘dollar stores’. These are places that advertise “everything’s a dollar”. Many offer non-name brand cleaning products and such at significant savings. There are also several chains found all over the country like “Family Dollar” stores. Check these places out!
    • Flea Markets. Not just for junk anymore, many Flea Markets offer a wide array of consumer products and you can save some $$ here. Plus, it’s fun to look at all the junk, too. Be sure to curb your collector’s urges, though…. remember that your storage capacity is limited!
  • Eating “out”

    • Save a lot by cooking your own meals most of the time. Your RV has a kitchen…. use it!
    • Take advantage of ‘early bird’ specials when you do eat out.
  • Paper plates and misc.

    • Use washable dishes and utensils whenever your water situation allows it. I only use paper and plastic when I absolutely must conserve water. It’s lots cheaper to wash dishes than it is to throw them away.
    • Save money on bottled water. Keep a few gallon jugs handy and when you have good tasting water available, fill a few jugs for making coffee and drinking when the water from the tap is icky.
    • Don’t spend a fortune on “RV” toilet paper…. just buy the cheapest single-ply tissue at the supermarket. It works just fine and costs 1/4 as much.
    • Minimize your use of toilet chemicals. Dump your tanks more often when it’s hot and you won’t have serious odor problems. Cut way back on chemicals in the winter, when cold weather reduces the odors anyway.

 Back to Top of Page