All it takes is one GREAT IDEA idea to change or transform your life. If you can pick up this idea and motivate yourself into action — your entire life can change in an instant.
Pick Up the Torch Younger Generations
Some of you will read this article and say Cathy Harris has totally flipped her mind and others will say, she is a GOD for passing on this wonderful info and action plan.
As a #BabyBoomer (at age 62), and as an elder, I am trying desperately to PASS THE TORCH to the next generation as I advise them on some POSSIBLE OPTIONS for rebuilding their lives.
Therefore, stop and think logically and check out this ‘New Way of Living’. Many people today especially on social media are too opinionated and they ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’. They refuse to listen to any good ideas or strategies to move their family and communities forward.
Wake Up Before It’s Too Late
Hear me out on this NEW WAY OF LIVING that can enhance all our lives. I haven’t owned a TV in quite a while and this is why I have been able to make good decisions in my life.
Unlike most of you that watch TV and allow all that noise to get into your head, while you are bombarded with daily negative messages, I choose peace, harmony, and tranquility throughout my day.
Today we have to do more than just sit around hoping that Donald Trump get impeached or that we elect another president that will be about the people.
The way the world is going today, it’s about to be
#SurvivalOfTheFittest. We need to look within our ownselves for the answers and take PROACTIVE STEPS to build our own lives. For some, it will take #BabySteps so let’s be patient with each other as we embrace a NEW WAY OF LIVING.
My Story – Born To Be A Wanderer (aka “Nomad”)
To keep excitement and adventure in my life, I believe in change. This is why as I age gracefully, I keep exploring what life has to offer and keep reinventing myself.
On Jan. 2, 2013, I left Atlanta, GA after 20 years. Because I wanted to take advantage of my expertise, I created the”Cathy Harris Humanitarian Tour” and visited over 15 states.
I put my belongings in storage, packed my car up and got on the open road. I drove around the country exploring the sites, meeting wonderful individuals and groups I had met online over the years, and I held these exciting
workshops around my health and business initiatives.
I felt like I could no longer breathe in Atlanta. I felt like the city was taking my ‘creative juices’ from me and if I did not leave, it would take my very soul. You see — next to where I grew up at — 2 hours outside Atlanta for 19 years, it was the longest time I had stayed in ONE SPOT.
Ever since I was in the military, I have always had that #Wandering spirit inside of me. So my entire body was aching to leave, aching to explore and I was just aching to show up fully in my life.
The fact that I had already lost 15 of my closest friends at the ages of 45 and 46, including my ex-husband — my daughter’s father, I just knew it was time to close that chapter of my life and start another.
Because I had driven a government vehicle on my job for over 20 years when I retired in 2005, I was very comfortable behind the wheel of a vehicle and even had had these recurring dreams from time to time that I was a race car driver in another life.
Being on the road is the only thing that made sense to me. That year on the road was a great lesson in “humanity.” I realized because of my love for ALL PEOPLE — no matter what I did for the rest of my life — that I had to put #HumanityFirst.
So now in 5 months I will be leaving the Orlando, FL area after one year and going on to the NEXT STAGE of my life — which as you should have guessed by now — back on the road.
My New Lifestyle in 3 Phrases (Phase I, Phase 2, Phase 3)
My new priority will be teaching on the road so what I am promoting is a NEW LIFESTYLE, A NEW WAY OF LIVING, especially for the population that can be MOBILE.
In 6 months to a year, it is my ACTION PLAN to become a Full-Time RVer and travel and teach around the U.S., while I explore some great sites, see my family and old friends, and just gain the freedom that I so desire.
This is truly living “The Good Life.” You too can live
#TheGoodLife in a car, van, RV, bus, boat, etc. and travel around the world and back again.
As I present this #MinimalistLifestyle in 3 phrases
GMOs (aka “Processed Foods”), foods that have been altered from their original state or foods that you buy in packages, bags, cans, jars, etc. have completely devastated most cities today.
GMOs, which have no #NutritionalValue especially causes #BrainIssuessuch as mental health issues, autism and babies born with smaller brains, bipolar disorder, depression, Alzheimer’s, MS, Parkinson’s, etc. and many other issues including nutritional deficiencies, immune problems, food allergies, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, blindness, accelerated aging – just to name a few.
Even though at one time GMOs were mostly grown in the midwest, now they are everywhere. GMOs are grown in over 50% of America’s crops. Many, especially farmers, believe that figure can even be as high as 70%.
Not only are they on your plate, they are ‘airborne’, which means you are breathing in GMOs when you go outside your home every day. To counteract this or to keep these poisons and toxins exiting your body, it’s important to eat good, clean ORGANIC foods, drink good water, take daily supplements, exercise regularly and get plenty of rest, while you engage in a regular detoxification program.
Remember that EVERY CITY has a holistic or natural community. You don’t have to live in these areas, but it’s important to switch over to eating ORGANIC FOODS so look for these communities in your city or set these up your own self.
If you are sick – get better and get out here on the road with us and remember being out here will allow you extra funds to pay off bills — while you save money and eat #OrganicFoods.
New Health Risk Today – Mandatory Measles Vaccinations
Since GMOs are not taking families out fast enough, now the government (also the medical and pharmaceutical industry) is trying to make everyone take another measles’ vaccination.
First, it was announced a few months ago in several media outlets that social media would no longer educate anyone on vaccinations because they say the information being put out it is not correct.
Now you see they were setting everyone up for this NEW MEASLES’ VACCINATIONS to further take out the population.
The government is attempting to make adults born before 1989to take another measles vaccination.
This includes my two daughters and it could very well be ‘the end of the end’ for many people who are not paying attention.
I am pretty sure that the government (also the medical and pharmaceutical industry) are working to make these new vaccinations a requirement for those that receive state or federal benefits such as Veterans, Medicaid and Medicare recipients, etc.
When I left Texas 7 months ago, tons of folks were fleeing California to Texas because of their mandatory vaccination laws for children.
Texas has a strong advocacy group that advocates against vaccinations so EVERY STATEneed to form a group similar to — “Texans for Vaccine Choice.” They were successful many times in keeping politicians who were pro-vaccines off the ballot.
The government is even preparing to send nurses to vaccinate adults in their homes. Vaccinations contain heavy metals, which renders your ability to use your brain or render you #Brainless (the same as GMOs, which contains ‘heavy metals’ from pesticides and herbicides) so it’s important to understand how to remove these heavy metals from your body if you are forced to take these vaccinations. Read my informative article entitled “How To Gain Back Your Mental Clarity After Eliminating Heavy Metals.”
Plan for the Next Recession
We have all heard the stories about how Amazon.com, Google.com, and Facebook.com employees are sleeping in their cars because they are not being paid enough money to be able to afford a roof over their heads.
So know up-front that this article is not trying to glamorize sleeping in a car, truck, van or RV, especially if you don’t have funds to fix it up so that you can live there comfortably.
However, just know there are people sleeping in cars, trucks, vans, RVs, etc. that are traveling around the world and back again and building new #Minimalism communities so these individuals are quite happy and content with their lives. The goal is to always be planning for your future — not just for Saturday night.
For many of you who are not planning for another recession — you should be. Many believe it’s right around the corner. I witnessed the last recession first-hand in 2008, when I lived in Atlanta, GA and I will never forget the devastation and pain in the eyes of families — who had no action plan.
Many families never recovered from the 2008 financial crash. Our first way back to healing from this 2008 atrocity is to get Trump out of office — who has unleashed nothing but a trail of turmoil, which has sent families on a downward spiral of racism, depression, and hopelessness.
After many families received bank notices that banks were taking back their homes in 2008, instead of planning accordingly and putting their belongings in storage, many were so distraught and devastated that they just walked out of their homes leaving behind their beloved pets
(cats, dogs, etc.) along with other prized possessions.
On one side of the street there were lines of empty houses owned by banks and on the other side were tons of families sleeping in cars, parks, etc.
Because many families were so ashamed of their situations, they did not even bother to put their belongings in storage and reach out to family members and friends — until the turmoil passed.
When bank agents inspected the homes, there were tons of dead animals and personal belongings including memorabilia and other lifetime achievement awards including family photos albums left behind.
Banks then spent not just days, but weeks and months holding garage sales to get rid of these families’ prized possessions left behind. Unlike the people that I will discuss today in this article, who are living in cars, vans, RVs, buses, etc. and who have ACTION PLANS for their lives, these individuals and families had NO ACTION PLAN so many went straight from their homes to live on streets, park benches, etc.
Action Plan for Homeowners – 47% of Your Take Home Pay is for Rent or Mortgage
The average American spends 47% of their TAKE
HOME PAY for a roof over their head. Houses, condos, townhouses, duplexes, and apartments are TRAPSthat we fall into.
So if you can knock out that 47%and become
Full-Time RVers or even live in a Car, Truck, Van, Bus, Boat, etc., just think how great you can live and how you can see all the beautiful sites, make great friends along the way and have access to all the ORGANIC FOODS you want. Some RVers are even growing foods, especially herbs, which can take the place of toxic spices, inside their RVs.
Many have chosen to live this minimalist lifestyle after first being impressed with the Tiny House
movement. I know that’s what got me to this point. However, tiny houses are not built for extensive travel — and I want to travel.
If you own a home, then your NUMBER ONE GOAL should be to grow your own foods in front and backyard gardens, and/or in pots and containers on rooftops, balconies, patios, porches, in your kitchen and other rooms with grow lights.
Singles or couples should stop buying homes with
Homeowner’s Associations (HOAs)so they can grow foods in front yards also.
If you are underwater on your house and you are literally dying from the pressure to keep your home, stay on a job that you no longer enjoy, stay healthy, pay off bills, and/or to make it from day to day, then you are the group that seriously need to look at this NEW ACTION PLAN .
Living in Communal Houses
Also, check out Communal Houses as a place to live and educate your family and community. Sometimes these Communal Houses can hold up to 8 to 10 people or more at a time (not all family members).
Even if you don’t live there, many have rooms for rent to highlight your own natural and holistic products and services and many provide classes on what to grow and when to grow it. So if these are not in your community, you need to build them.
What Gentrification Taught Us
Gentrification should have taught everyone, especially African Americans, that the world cares nothing about the challenges and struggles of common people and this is why you need to get aboard with this NEW PLAN OF ACTION to live “The Good Life” in a car, van, RV, bus, boat, etc.
Gentrification has already displaced many black families in this country. Many people had to move across the country or even to another country after their communities were gentrified.
We no longer have communities that support us. We don’t know our neighbors anymore so why not give this new #Minimalist lifestyle a try? Let’s create our own ideal communities.
The Reality of Job Loss and Homelessness
There is no job security anymore. When many employees are fired from jobs, many don’t even know they can go to the Department of Labor (DOL.gov) offices’ in their cities and draw unemployment for 20 to 26 weeks in most states until they can find another job.
However, many states have stortened the length of time that they will give out these unemployment benefits, especially because of ‘anti-family’ politicians, which you need to vote out of office.
Because of the terminations, in many cases, #WrongfulTerminations, many will be evicted from apartments within 30 days and homes within 2 to 3 months.
Remember what just happened to federal employees when they had to go TWO MONTHS without pay. Many died and others who had disabilities, these disabilities went from being a TEMPORARY disability to a PERMANENT disability.
When many families lose their homes, they will go from their apartments or homes to living on a friend’s or relatives’ couch or even in a relationship with a man or women that they care nothing about — just to make ends meet.
Many will even turn to prostitution or selling drugs or start committing crimes. And many just END UP HOMELESS on the streets — unless they have some type of ACTION PLAN. This is the action plan!
Police Will Watch You Either Way
The police is watching black families whether they live in a ‘sticks and brick’ dwelling or is living in a car, van, RV, bus, boat, etc. so I am pretty sure that many black men or even black women don’t want to be behind the wheel of a vehicle because of racial profiling and police brutality.
However, it still beats ending up with mental illness, begging and homeless on the streets. Just know up-front that the police will target you if are a black male with long hair, especially locs and dreads, when your pants are sagging, etc. so make yourself presentable and know the CORRECT WAY to interact with the police. Read my book “Police Interactions 101: How To Interact With the Police in Your Car, On the Streets, In Your Home.” Every 10 to 13-year old black male especially need to read the book.
People Who Live in Cars Aren’t Always Homeless
Think about trading in your car for a van (minivan, cargo van, camper van or another larger vehicle, etc.) or buy an RV, new or used, from (RVTrader.com, eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or a dealership) and get a job on the road before it’s too late.
People who live in cars are not homeless – not always. Today college students live in cars and vans because they can’t afford to pay for housing. They wash up in dorms even though they don’t live there so why don’t we call them homeless?
There are avenues and ways that you can fix your car up, especially larger cars like SUVs, minivans, cargo vans and trailers, old bread trucks, old horse trailers, old semis, buses, boats, etc., and have ALL THE AMENITIES of an RV and you can live there while you pay off bills, travel the world, or just figure out your next move. You can also have a PROFESSIONAL Van Build and/or become a #VanDweller.
This is when you pay a carpenter and/or electricianto help you set up your van so you can live there. They have #VanBuilds all the time so look for these groups on facebook, youtube or at CheapRVLiving.com on youtube.com.
Many people who live in cars or are van dwellers are not homeless. They are living this way because they want to live this way. So don’t feel sorry for them. Instead, come out here on the road and join their lifestyle #Minimalism.
Many just want to live an #Adventurous and #Mobile lifestyle. They are ‘taking the bull by the horn’ (to do something difficult in a brave and determined way) and creating a life that they can truly love.
For the rest of their lives and on their death beds, they will have a brain bank full of memories with stories to share with the people they love.
Jobs and Businesses on The Road
What we are doing is redefining the “American Dream.” This is the American Dream on wheels. Not only do we need to redefine the American Dream, but we need to redefine #Success. Many of us are successful, but we don’t have to share it with the entire world.
What would it take for a person today to head out on the road and never work again? Well if you have some type of paycheck (retirement, Social Security, disability, savings, etc.) coming in, then you can do this very easily.
The RV, Car, Van and Bus Dwelling community is desperately seeking more carpenters, electricians, RV mechanics, RV Inspectors, etc.
You could make a killing in these fields by catering to the RV community, Car, Van, Bus Dwellers, and the Tiny House movement, which are EXPANDING
RAPIDLY every day as many families realizes this is the best way to live — #Minimalism, #Simplicity.
There are plenty of jobs all over the U.S. If you own a car, van, RV, bus, boat, etc. You can travel around the U.S. to all types of jobs so stop being tied down to your city or a particular area.
seasonal jobs where you can work 2, 3 or 6 months out of the year and use the rest of your time to travel and see some wonderful sites and just have fun.
Don’t wait until your current situation (you get too depressed or sick to take action) get so serious that you won’t be in a position to set yourself up on the road. Check out these remote jobs and business links in my NEW BLOG at “SimpleLifeRVing.com – Phase 1.”
Bring Your Animals and Homeschool Your Kids On The Road
When you are on the road, the goal is to have all the comforts of home so feel free to bring your entire family and pets with you on the road. Your pets will feel right at home and will have plenty of room to roam free in nature.
Not only can you live in a car, van, RV, on a bus, boat, etc., but you can
homeschool your kids while you live out there and travel — with very little training.
Many use the Bob Jones homeschool program, but there are many other great homeschooling programs for you and your family on the road. Your kids will have first-hand experience because they are out there on the road with you — #Learning, #CreatingMemories, #HavingFun.
Plenty of FREE Land To Live On
Tired of driving – by the way there are plenty of FREE LAND in the U.S. (Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, California, and other states) to settle down on — where you can park your car, van, RV, bus, etc. for FREE, while you build a new life for yourself.
The land is called BLM.gov (Bureau of Land Management) land or National Forest land, which is owned by the government, however, you can live on this land for FREE.
A majority of the BLM land is in the west, but there is land in other parts of the country also.
Check out the website and today because of technology, they have apps to help you find this FREE LAND such as FreeCampsites.net, Allstays, RV Parky, Campendium — just to name a few(More at Phase3)
You can live on this land by yourself or park around others who have already chosen this type of lifestyle. There are plenty of caravans and convoys
all over the U.S. for women and men to be able to create their ideal communities.
SimpleLifeRVing.com – Phase 3 is the FINAL PHASE of our 3-step action plan to get you on the road living “The Good Life,” features a list of apps to use on the road to find this FREE LAND, RV parks and campgrounds with and without hookups, and other areas to park your car, van, RV, bus, etc.
Look Within Yourself for The Answers
Again, “We are the ones we have been waiting on” — and we need to look for our answers within. Life is about taking risks and chances. We, as a society, have become so complacent with our lives and even fearful of taking chances.
We need to stop allowing SOCIETY to dictate
how we live our lives. You are here for a reason and it’s not to hoard a lot of physical stuff so always be thinking #Minimalism.
I don’t know about you but I am ready to join
ANOTHER COMMUNITY, a #Kinder and more #Brave community of people who are truly living #TheGoodLife in their cars, vans, RVs, on buses, boats, etc. Just know up front that none of us are homeless, we just chose to live this lifestyle — #MinimalistLifestyle101, #Simplicity101.
Make sure you view his website and watch all his interviews on youtube.com with others embracing the #MinimalistMovement and truly living #TheGoodLife in their cars, vans, RVs, buses, etc.
Look for my upcoming youtube channel soon entitled “Simple Life RVing” with Cathy Harris. Also, look for another non-fiction book -#27- “Simple Life RVing: How To Embrace Minimalism and Live ‘The Good Life’ by Living in a Car, Van, RV, or on a Bus.”
Keep in mind if you attend the yearly RTR in Quartzsite, AZ, there will #WorkamperJobs that will be hiring on the spot so there is a good chance you will walk away with a job. Again, other jobs are posted in our FIRST blog post at – SimpleLifeRVing.com – Phase 1.
Cathy Harris is a soon to be Full-Time RVerliving ‘The Good Life.’ Her blog website is SimpleLifeRVing.com. She is also an Empowerment and Motivational Speaker, Advice Columnist at DearCathy.com, Non-GMO Health and Wellness Expert, Business and Love Coach and Self-Publishing Expert and the author of 26 non-fiction books at www.AngelsPress.com. Her books cover topics such as family and community empowerment, health, youth and adult entrepreneurship, writing/publishing, workplace discrimination, whistleblowing, government, law enforcement, domestic and international traveling, politics, media, beauty, car buying and selling for women, aging/retirement – just to name a few. She offers seminars, workshops, and consultations at www.CathyHarrisInternational.com .
List of Essential and Non-Essential RV Supplies for Newbies
New Bed for RV: If you purchased an older RV, no one really wants to sleep on another person’s mattress if they can help it or if you are not satisfied with the bed in your RV, many RVers have taken the bed from their homes. Also some of the beds RVers are buying include nectar, casper, etc.
Hypervent Moisture Barrier: Get hypervent moisture barrier to prevent moisture under your bed in cool or damp weather. You should not have an issue in the summertime.
Sick Pack: Make sure you have chicken soup, crackers, and other supplies in case you get sick, especially if you are a solo RVer. You probably won’t be in a position to go into town and get supplies so it’s important to have these supplies on hand as you take a few days to rest and get better.
First Aid Kit: Just like in a home, it’s important to have a good first aid kit in your RV.
Fire Extinguishers: Make sure they work well. Buy at least 3 and place throughout your RV.
Spare Fuses: When your fuses go out and you are out there all alone, it’s important to have extra fuses to replace them with.
Buy Items for Safety: Think about buying Guns, Tasers, Pepper Spray, and Bear Spray if you plan on venturing into bear country. The Bear Spray can even be used on people. Guns ARE ALLOWED on BLM land.
New Keys/Deadbolt Locks: Travel trailers and fifth wheels keys are very similar. Many of the baggage area keys, especially in older model RVs, use the SAME KEYS so it might be a good idea to have new keys made for your baggage area and front doors. Many RV doors today have a 4 digit code. To be on the safe side, you should get two deadbolt locks for your RV door, which locks on both sides.
New Tires: According to most RVers, the first step to take after buying your RV, is to purchase new tires for it. Michelin and Good Year are the best brands and they will run anywhere from $1,200 to $2,000 depending on your RV.
Mud Flaps for Tires: These front and back mud flaps can save the wear and tear on your RV.
Tire Pressure Gauge:It’s important to have the right air pressure in your towed vehicle and RV so check out this item. You also want to get your RV weighed at a weigh station after it is fully-loaded, to make sure it’s not overweight.
Automatic Tire Pressure Monitoring System: This $500 investment is well worth it according to many RVers, but for newbies, it might need to be added to the non-essential list.
Tire Extenders: Cost is $350. Add a valve stem extension and stabilizer to your inside dual wheel to make checking your air pressure or adding a tire monitor sensor easy.
Red Anderson Levelers and/or Level Mate Pro with the App (for 5th Wheels and Trailers): It’s important to level off your RV after parking so you don’t damage the refrigerator or feel uncomfortable inside when walking throughout the RV. It can be quick and efficient by using these items.
Wheel Chalk:Make sure you check out this item for your tires.
Wheel or Tire Covers: If you have a towed vehicle to travel back and forth in and your RV will be parked for a while, make sure you protect your tires with wheel covers.
Side Mirrors: You might need upgrades if you don’t have electrical side mirrors. They need to be electrical more than manual because on bumps they can get out of shape and it might be too dangerous, especially at night, to exit the vehicle to fix them.
Backup Cameras: Many newer RVs should come with a backup camera. The best backup cameras are wireless cameras. Some cameras can be added to your rearview mirrors and othersyou can lay in the middle of two front seats. It’s usually too big to place on the dashboard.
Emergency Orange Triangle Cones: In case of a breakdown, it’s imperative to have these orange emergency cones. They also have the collapsible cones for easy storage.
Garmin 770 GPS: Before you venture too far if your RV does not come with a Garmin 770 GPS so you can put the height and length of your RV in it to make sure you avoid low-clearance bridges and narrow roads, then you need to buy it. You also need to add the length of the tow vehicle. Cost is around $300. However, many RVers choose to use the Rand McNally Trucker’s App or the Co-pilot app, so check out all of these.
Auto Code Reader: It’s great to have one of these just in case your engine light comes on. We know that many auto supply stores like Auto Zones, will check your engine and give you a reading if your engine light comes on in your car, but for RVs, it’s important to carry this item with you.
Weather Radio: You need a good, quality radio with a weather band. The good thing about RVing is you can move around to avoid bad weather so it will be extremely important to keep up with the weather, especially during hurricane season.
RV Power Adapters: Always use these to protect your electrical system in your RV. They are also called “dog bones.” You will need at least 3 (20, 30 and 50 amp).
Surge Protector: Surge Guard 34850 Portable Model with LCD Display – 50 Amp. This plug into your electrical outlet before you plug in at RV parks so you won’t fry your RV circuit.
weBoost Drive 4G-X 470510 Cell Phone Signal Booster, Cell Signal Booster for Car & Truck:Boosts 4G LTE Cell Signal. If you don’t plan on being at libraries, coffee shops, and other places with wi-fi, then you want to invest in these. A 17 ft. antenna will go as far as 300 miles away. They also have the weBoost for home and office. However, before buying this expensive item, check out the section on Cell Phone and Internet in Phase 3.
MiMo Antenna: This antenna is by Netgear and it can be better than the weBoost package to help with your data when hooking up with hotspots.
Mr. Buddy Prophane Heater: This is a popular heater with RVers and Van Dwellers. Many RVers uses Mr. Buddy Prophane Heaters, especially if they are constantly in cold weather. It comes in 3 sizes. Sometimes RVers rather run these portable heaters than their inside heat, which sometimes goes out and can be quite expensive to fix. These heat up pretty quick, but make sure the RV is vented if you use this heater.
Olympian Wave 3 Heater: This heater will save money on propane. Some say they are better than the Mr. Buddy heaters because they space out your heat better and you can run them all the time. They also will shut off if they tip over.
Gas Leak Sniffer Detector: This is a methane propane combustible natural gas leak sniffer detector. This detector allows the detection of leaks in hard-to-reach and confined spaces. You need a carbon dioxide and a propane detector in your RV. This is a must. Many RVs might come with these detectors.
Rubber Gloves: You need these along with shoe covers and protective glasses for emptying your gray or black tank.
Bleach/Sanitation Spray: Use these also for black tank dumping. Sanitize the faucet with beach spray when dumping the gray and black tank.
Camco Sewer Extension: This extends the attachment height of your 4-in-1 adapter 3″ for recessed dump stations. It comes with one pre-attached lug and bayonet fitting with locking rings.
Drain Hose: Many times this comes in a kit with hose support.
Camco 20ft Sidewinder RV Sewer Hose Support:They are made with sturdy lightweight plastic that won’t creep closed. It holds hoses in place.
Rhino Blaster: Camco RhinoFLEX 20ft RV Sewer Hose Kit, Includes Swivel Fitting and Translucent Elbow with 4-In-1 Dump Station Fitting, Storage Caps Included, Frustration-Free Packaging (39742). This shoots water up to the black hose. Make sure you keep tanks closed until you are ready to dump because you can get a fly manifestation in there. Cost is $18.
Fresh Water Hose: Get the Zero-G 25 feet. Buy two of them — long and short in length. You should not use the popular green water hoses for gardening. Camco has a 50 ft. drinking water hose. It’s 20 percent thicker than standard water hoses.
Water Filters: Camco TastePURE Water Filter with Flexible Hose Protector greatly reduces bad taste, odors, chlorine and sediment in drinking water (40043). The water coming from city water has hard water so even if you buy your own drinking water, you really don’t want this water in your sinks or showers.
Pressure Regulator with Gauge: This connects to water pressure. Use a water filter and turn on water and flush it out.
RV Toilet Paper: You can’t use household toilet paper for RVs. You need one that will breakdown quicker such as Scott (Rapid-Dissolving) for RVs and Boats. Many RVers even chooses not to put their toilet paper in toilets after use in fear of having some type of septic issue.
Porta Pak: Get this dissolvent for your toilet to help everything break down quicker. It goes down your kitchen sink at least a day before dumping gray and black tanks.
Garmin inReach Explorer +:You can use this hand-held GPS when you travel off the beaten path when hiking. Cost is $449.
ResQLink: This is a ONE-TIME personal locator beacon. Some have a monthly fee, but you might not need all that. It’s made for ONE TIME USE only. They can see through the satellite and send out help. Only use in case of emergency (injury on trail, danger from an animal or human, etc.) Cost is $279.99.
Webetop Portable Power Rechargeable Inverter Battery Generator: This is 155Wh, 42000mAh, 100W. If when starting out you are not in the position to get solar, a house battery or generators, you can charge this rechargeable inverter while you drive and it will stay charged for several days for use with your computers, phones, and other household gadgets.
Solar Panels on Roof: Most Van Dwellers have 200 watts and most RVers have at least 400 watts. Remember these can go out and they have to be cleaned so it’s better to have different sets along with attachments. They are even starting to make solar panels that are 325 watts. Check out Wind & Sun in Arizona, which has some of the cheapest solar rates.
Portable or Mobile Solar Panels: You can place solar panels outside while placing your RV in the shade. Then plug it into your battery. It charges all day long in the sun.
Rechargeable Lithium Batteries: You can use it to run C-pack. It has regular ports so you can plug in regular items. Plug it right into the cigarette lighter while you drive. When it gets down to 8% an alarm goes off. It will recharge everything for a week before you have to recharge it again. It’s cheaper than having solar put on roof. It’s $299.99.
Motion Detector Solar Power Security Camera:This will focus on your front door and the surrounding areas of the RV and be connected to your cell phone.
Walkie Talkies: You need these if one person (a spouse or children) wander away from the RV so you can stay in touch with them. Or if you are traveling around with a caravan and you don’t have cell service.
Drone: These are great if you want to take shots of the area to use in your pictures and videos. Many RVers have the Phantom 3 Standard Drone. Try to use in an open field so they don’t crack on trees or fall in the water.
Peak Design Capture Camera Clip V3 (Black with Plate): This clip will make it easier to carry your camera.
Binoculars: It’s imperative not to miss a minute of the sites so buy a good set of binoculars.
Flojet Portable Waste Pump: If you can’t call the “Honey Wagon” or a “Blue Boy” and pay $25 at RV parks without full hookups to have them come and empty your gray and black tanks. You can use this portable gadget if you have room to store it in your RV. It has a pump that can pump uphill. You can put a clear 45-degree elbow on it and aim it to go down then check seals. You can hook up your garden hose and connect 12 volts to get everything working. Many RVers who stay in driveways or who do #RVDrivewaySurfing, also call “Driveway Mooching,” use this. It holds 27 gallons.
Instant Pot: Many RVers use these to prepare meals.
Air Fryer: Many RVers also like this item to prepare meals.
Blackout Curtains: You can use these to keep out light in the area that separates the front of your vehicle and/or just put on your windows.
Bottle of Rechillable Gel Ice Cubes: When you want to have a cold drink, you can just get it out. It’s only $4.99 for 12 cubes.
U.S. Sticker Map: It’s 11 inches by 17. You can track your travels. It’s 14.99.
A Cup Cozy: You can use it like a little pillow or hold your cup. You can put behind your neck. It’s $26.99.
Solar or LED Lights:These lights can be used for reading. They are also called a “globe light”. There are different patterns available. It has a solar panel. It gives you the prettiest ambient lights at night so make sure they are in sunlight during the day recharging. It can last up to a year and half for $18.99.
Ferry Light (Rechargeable): This is a long string of blue lights. You can put in driver side window during the day to receive sunlight and charge up. They are only $12.99 and can last a year and half.
Neck Light: It has a battery. It goes around your neck and lights up if you have to go out at night or read a book. It has different speeds. It’s good for stealth camping. Cost is $13.99.
Plastic Bark Lighter: You charge it on a USB port and it stays charged for weeks. You can light the stove, campfire, etc. with it. It’s $16.95.
Rechargeable Hot Water Bottle: It’s full of a gel. If you have a sore knee or back or want to put something behind your neck, it stays warm for 8 hours so it’s good in cold weather. It has a little plug on it. After 15 minutes, it stays warm until it builds up memory. You can put it in bed at night. It’s $29.99.
Blowout Adapters to Winterize RV: If you don’t become a Snowbird, know what you need to winterize your vehicle with these adapters.
Reflectors: Camco SunShield Reflective Door Window Cover. This helps protect your RV from harmful UV Rays and regulates RV temperature 16 x 25 ” (45167). Cost is $40 at Lowe’s.
RV Mat:Mat to go in front of RV ($34 Amazon) ($48 Walmart).
Chairs:Get the chairs that have cup holders and placement on the sides.
Flag for RV: This flag can help you identify the location of your RV when you are in crowded RV park or campground or out hiking or boondocking.
Box Fan: Many RVers said these box blow fans work great for blowing away bugs when sitting outside the RV or inside for cross breezes when windows are opened.
RV Oil Based Paint: If you have an older RV and would like to paint it, try to use an oil-based paint.
Oxigenic Flower Head Shower: This will help you conserve water because it will give your shower slower water flow.
Rechargeable Desk Fan: This is the Opolar Battery Operated Rechargeable Desk Fan for Home Camping Hurricane, 9 Inch Battery Powered USB Fan with Metal Frame, Quiet Portable Fan with 5200 mAh Capacity & Strong Airflow.
$8 Homemade Air Conditioner: If you do van life or even in an RV until you can afford more solar, another air conditioner or willing to chase 70-degree weather, this is a great cheap idea to keep cool.
Tents: Genji Sports Instant Camping tent has quality ‘pop-up’ tents. Springbar.com has the best quality of tents that lasts a while. Ozark Trail tents are another good tent, but it was made in China, which means it might blow away in high winds. Another tent is Kodiak Canvas tent.
Camcorder with Screen by Canon: It has an SD card and scrap. You recharge on 110 plug and get 200 hours. You can purchase a wide angle len. It will zoom in and zoom out.
Camera:Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera Kit w/EF-M15-45mm and 4K Video – Black.
Gorilla Tripod: JOBY GorillaPod 3K Kit. Compact Tripod 3K Stand and Ballhead 3K for Compact Mirrorless Cameras or Devices up to 3K (6.6lbs). Black/Charcoal.
Smart Phone Tripod: Vastar Universal Smartphone Tripod Adapter Cell Phone Holder Mount Adapter, Fits iPhone, Samsung, and all Phones, Rotates Vertical and Horizontal Adjustable Clamp.
Camera Microphone: TAKSTAR SGC-598 Interview Shotgun Microphone Universal Cardioid Mic Compatible for Nikon/Canon Camera/DV Camcorder + extra furry windshield cover BLACK.
Smart Phone Microphone: BOYA BY-M1 3.5mm Electret Condenser Microphone with 1/4″ adapter for Smartphones iPhone DSLR Cameras PC.
Smart Phone Light: Arkon SPLEDRING Rechargeable LED Clip On Selfie Ring Light for Live Streaming Video Retail White
Laptop Microphone (for Audacity): Fifine USB Podcast Condenser Microphone Recording On Laptop, No Need Sound Card Interface and Phantom Power-K669
How To Live ‘The Good Life’ in a Car, Van, RV, Bus, Boat, etc.
After getting the right mindset in Phase I and purchasing the RV in Phase 2, the ONLY STEP LEFT is packing the RV and getting on the road. Here is where you need to engage in #BabySteps.
For many who still have homes, buying the RV and going back home to pack it up will be much easier than those who have traveled cross country to pick up the RV, and will have to figure out how to pack up the RV on the road.
If you bought the RV at a dealership, it’s important before receiving your RV, that you were given a demonstration by a salesman or RV mechanic that is familiar with your type of RV.
For many new RVers, you might need to do this twice so you might have to come back to the dealership for a second time. Just remember that dealerships are extremely busy, so once you drive away, they are not beholden to you whatsoever.
Many people will purchase an RV and go to the closest RV park with hookups, to make sure everything in the RV is working okay. They don’t feel comfortable taking the RV out of the area until they are sure that everything is working okay, however, you should be given instructions on everything before pulling off in the RV.
Whether your RV was shipped to you, you picked up the RV and is taking it back home or you are on your way to an RV event, your first RV park, or parking on FREE Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or National Forest land, or some other FREE spot –only buy the things you will need right away because many of these RV ESSENTIALS can break the bank.
You can also park your RV at homes of relatives and friends (called “Driveway Surfing” and “Mooch Surfing” for RVers), while you load up your RV. It all depends on what comes in your particular new or used RV.
Many of these essential items you might need to purchase before leaving the dealerships so know upfront what ESSENTIAL ITEMS and NON-ESSENTIAL ITEMS you will need for your RV.
Meanwhile, continue to get rid of stuff that you have packed in the RV, because many of the RVs, especially the Class C, can become overweight pretty quickly.
Where To Buy Essential and Non-Essential RV Items
I will break down a list of essential and non-essentialitems you will need as I set up my Amazon Affiliate’ page for full-time RVers so that you can buy directly through my page. It will be strictly up to you to purchase these items as you start your new RV adventure.
Many of you will want to go ahead and purchase some of the items in the non-essential list from the very beginning. Just remember to be careful that you don’t end up stranded out there without the basic essentials of RVing.
Most RVers buy most of their items from the following:
Items from Walmart and Amazon.com are probably going to be CHEAPER than RV stores. They have a Walmart in every area except in rural areas. There are many RV stores throughout the country. Beware of stores like Camping World, who is days away from bankruptcy. Their supplies in stores are extremely high.
It’s important to have an Amazon Prime account so you can receive items quickly in one to 2 days from Amazon. The cost is around $117 a year or you can pay monthly payments of $12.99.
Many of the RV parks will allow you to receive mail there especially if you will be there for an extended amount of time, more than a few days, but check with them beforehand.
You can also receive Amazon packages at UPS stores in the area or when ordering from Amazon, it will provide a list of their locker/boxes in your area. You have 3 days to pick up these items when you order them, otherwise, they will be returned.
This is just a rough estimate for just some of your monthly bills living in an RV:
$400 on Groceries: Depends on how many are in the family.
$150 on Gas: It all depends on where you go. If you stay stationary you will save on gas. Many RVers wear themselves out after the first year from moving every 2 or 3 days. Many just stay 2 weeks, one month, 3 months or 6 months in an area.
$200 Camping/Dumping Fees:You can go to these RV parks and campgrounds just to dump black and gray tanks for $5 to $10. You don’t have to stay there. There are other places also to dump your black and gray tanks.
$30-$50 on Propane: If you are in a colder climate and need to run your furnace, it will be higher. It will be higher if you have to run your generator. If you have solar panels you can save money in warmer climates. You can chase 70-degree weather around the country and be a “Snowbird” to save on propane.
$95 RV Insurance: With Progressive. Get only liability on your car at home if you leave it behind or in storage.
$70 Car Storage: Monthly fees.
$140 on Cell Phone and Internet: With hotspot, it should be around $140 a month.
Entertainment: $30 on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and Amazon Music.
Vehicle Maintenance: $25
Cell Data Providers and Internet
It’s extremely important that most RVers be able to make a phone call, especially in case of an emergency. Many will be working in remote jobs so internet service will be key for them.
There are 4 cell phone providers today in the U.S.:
In 2018, T-Mobile and Sprint announced plans for a $26 billion merger combining the two companies into what would be a bigger No. 3 network, behind Verizon and AT&T, but the merger never happened, Supposedly, it is still in the works.
Most RVers seem to have Verizon cell service and everyone has talked about having good service with it. Many use Verizon for their Data Plan and other companies such as ATT, T-mobile, Sprint, etc. for their cell service.
All the cell phone providers also offer data access by cell phone signal. You can get a data plan for your cell phone, or you can get a data plan that works just on your laptop and doesn’t have a voice plan at all.
It has the advantage of being cheaper. You can get a friend and family plan for your cell phone, and a data only plan for your laptop.
There are two ways to get the signal into your laptop:
MIFI, this is a credit card sized device that receives the cell data signal and rebroadcasts it as up to five WIFI signals. That means that up to five other devices can use that data signal. For example, your laptop, Kindle E-reader, Apple iPad, etc. can all be connected at the same time and you can still invite two family members or friends to use it as well. The cost is around $50 a month for 5 Gigs of data, but they also have an $80 a month plan for 10 Gigs.
Another device to get data into your laptop is a Data Stick. It is used for only one laptop at a time and most often connects by the USB port of your laptop, but you can also get them that slide into a slot in your laptop.
Both of these work well, but I think the MIFI (also called “Jetpack”) is a much better choice because it offers you a lot more flexibility. Try the above before going out and buying the expensiveweBoost cell phone system that can cost more than $400.
The reason weBoost is not as effective as an external antenna is the “Boosters” also add noise to the signal being boosted. This is not an issue with voice, but can severely slow down data transmissions.
Remember that you can get better connections over “HOTSPOTS”. The weBoost is for sure better than nothing, but a very good MIMO antenna (cost is around $30), which most hotspots can handle, will typically yield BETTER RESULTS with your data needs.
Some RVers have added MIMO antennas, which allows them to use multiple carriers such as Verizon and AT&T. Even though Verizon is good for overall coverage, most RVers are reporting that Verizon and AT&T are better in the west and T-mobile and Sprint is better in the east, but many are using at least TWO cell and data services in order to be hooked up to cell and internet while RVing full-time.
RV Parks Cell Service
Many of the RV parks or when boondocking, you will have a WEAK cell phone signal. Remember that cell phone bars don’t matter but speed does when it comes to making a call or using data.
Some of the campgrounds might charge you $8 a day for faster cell phone service, but it still might not work. When boondocking especially, if you don’t have cell signal, go somewhere where you can hike out at night in case something happens. And always point your vehicle toward the exit in case you have to jump in the front seat and exit the area.
If You Have A Tight Budget
You can use FREE wifi hotspots all across the country. There are businesses that offer free WIFI in order to get customers to come to their place of business (coffee shops, malls, whole and health food stores, libraries, book stores, etc.). So if you have a TIGHT BUDGET, that’s the way to go.
Usually, it is a very fast internet connection but also remember that it is not completely secure and can be hacked and your data can be captured. And there is not always FREE wifi nearby, you may have to drive some distance to find it and burn the extra gas or do without the internet.
How To Care for RV Tires
RVs can sit in storage or RV yards for months or even years before purchase so the sun can break them down. Make sure you use wheel covers if your RV will sit for a while.
When purchasing a new or used RV from a dealership or a personal seller, you still need to do your due diligence to find out more about your RV tires.
Most of the time you need to buy new tires as soon as you purchase the RV from dealerships, especially if you are planning a long trip because the tires on the RV are usually of low quality unless you were able to put this into your packet upon sale.
Tires are coming in this country from Vietnam, India, China, Taiwan, Brazil, and Mexico. There are 3 name brand tire companies.
Michelin and Goodrich are the same company.
Bridgestone and Firestone are the same.
Goodyear has 2 or 3 other brands.
Michelin has the Michelin Advantage Program for your tires. In Redlands, CA, they even have their own RV park where you can stay at while your tires are being worked on. They will even come and pick up the RV from the park. Now, this is service!
When you have work done on your tires, make sure your gray and black tanks are empty so they can access the proper weight for your RV, which will be key in putting on the right type of tires.
Your RV tires could cost anywhere from $1200 to $2000. Replace RV tires every 3 to 5 years. Some might last for 7 years. I believe Michelin recommends 7 to 10 years, but they might be only referring to their tires.
It’s important to keep a record on all your tires. Know when to rotate them versus getting rid of them completely.
Check the tires for quality. RV tires AGE OUT before THEY WEAR OUT so wear and tear won’t be a good tool to see if your tires are okay.
What to look for:
Look at the ‘date’ on the tire. Tires should have ‘4 digit date code’. First 2 numbers will give you the MONTH and second two — the YEAR.
Then look for ‘load range’. There is a rating on the axil, wheel, and tire. Make sure you have the right load range for your RV and the maximum PSI especially when it’s cold and especially if you have a Class C and A. Look on your rim for the PSI. What is the proper PSI? Try to go to a scale and measure. Add correct PSI that the RV suggested. You can also shift things around in the RV to balance out your load. Class C’s can become overloaded pretty quick.
Look at the sidewall and tread depth. Just remember a blow out can injure the RV like a “China Bomb.”
Truck tires and trailer tires are different. A sidewall of a truck tire is not as good or strong as sidewall as a trailer tire. Trailer tires have a speed restriction of 65, which means you can go that fast. If it has an L or M, this is a higher range of speed.
Towing a Vehicle
If your motorhome and toads (towed vehicle) are over 26,000 pounds, you might need to take a driver’s test in some cities. One of the pros and cons of driving a motorhome is that you don’t have to tow a vehicle behind you.
The benefit of this is that it’s easier to drive a motorhome than tow a trailer. The downfall of this is that if you want to go somewhere outside an RV park or campground, you’ll need to rent a car, take a shuttle or taxi, or use Lyft or Uber.
There are 4 options to tow your vehicle:
Flatbed Trailer or Enclosed Trailer: A flatbed or enclosed trailer is one of the easiest ways to tow behind larger motorhomes and fifth wheel RVs. This offers a larger space to bring a car, off-road vehicles, or even add more storage to your existing rig. This method will offer full support for your vehicle, along with its brake and light system. You’re able to bring a variety of vehicles this way. Being able to take any vehicle will set you back financially as investing in a flatbed or enclosed trailer will be more expensive.
Tow Dolly: U-haul has a tow dolly that they rent out to new RVers who need to get their cars to certain areas. ‘Acme’ (cartowdolly.com) and ‘Demco’ make tow dollies with advanced braking systems on them. Most tow dollies range from $1500 to $3000 so check for used ones on facebook marketplace, e-Bay, craigslist or buy from Amazon, Walmart, etc.
Flat Tow or 4 Downing: The best vehicle to tow behind an RV is lightweight and can be towed with its wheels on the ground. Some RV dealerships are set up to fit your car for a flat tow when you pick up your RV. This will run anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000 (click here).
Chasing: This is when someone is driving the tow vehicle. If you are not driving too many hours in a day, chasing works for a lot of RVers.
The disadvantages of chasing:
You can’t experience the view together.
You can’t be in the front or back getting work done.
You can’t take a nap.
Sometimes the pets are separated.
You put extra mileage on the vehicle.
The advantages of chasing:
You can listen to what you want to on radio, podcast, etc.
Your drive partner in the car can also look out for you in the RV.
The car can drive ahead and get food at the next rest stop and be waiting for you.
You can save gas by not pulling a car.
You can save stress on the engine of the RV by not pulling a car.
You don’t have to unhook when you reach your location.
You don’t have any tow or dolly maintenance.
Cleaning Your RV
When it comes to cleaning your RV, you can use dawn dishwasher or a natural RV washer from RV shops, auto stores, Walmart or from Amazon.com.
RVs need to be cleaned especially when they start bleeding down the side. Just keep in mind that many RV parks do not allow you to wash your RV.
Three (3) Types of RV Maintenance
To keep your RV in tip-top shape there are 3 types of maintenance:
First of all, if your RV needs to go into the shop for maintenance, make sure you take it there yourself. The key to having an RV in top condition is to watch for problems and get them repaired as soon as possible.
Getting in the habit of taking care of these maintenance tasks will be well worth your efforts and lead to good benefits. If you don’t keep up on this, then issues can become quite expensive, dangerous and potentially undermine your living experience.
Regular inspections are perhaps the most important thing so make sure you check or inspect your RV on a regular basis — no matter where you’re at.
Walk in and around your RV, climb up on the roof and check underneath the chassis on a regular basis to look for any problems that need your attention. This will help you discover issues and deal with them promptly before they get worse.
Noticing some of these flaws can be an easy repair, but others can be serious and require major repairs. After you’ve done your inspection, continue to eyeball everything.
They say you are supposed to bring your RV in for oil change at 20,000 miles, but many RVers say you should get it changed at 10,000 miles.
Look at manual especially the troubleshooting list. Might sure you have the 800 number readily available if you have issues or questions. Change the oil, windshield wiper blades, hoses, tires and check tire pressure, etc. Clean vents, test propane alarms get secondary backups, etc.
Goodyear and Walmart will check tire pressure for free. Lead-acid batteries need to be checked. Check oil level in the onboard generator. Protect rubber around window or slides.
Watch youtube videos to see what you need to check. Join facebook forums for your type of RV. Ask a neighbor. You can hire someone for RV maintenance. Just google “Nearest RV Mechanic” or “Mobile RV Repair Services.” There are deals in the fall and spring and make sure you have your own tools.
Have an app on your phone. Have an 800 number. Look into roadside assistance, etc. Make sure your RV insurance stay up to date. Look for ‘Mobile RV Repair Services’. Look at google.com, yelp.com, etc. They might charge $40 to $250. Try to know your general location. If you breakdown use flashes, deflective cones, flares, etc.
Know your emergency exits in your vehicles, which are usually doors and windows. When driving at night, make sure headlights are adjusted so they won’t shine directly into the driver’s eyes in front of you.
RV Repair Shops
If you are not taking your RV into the dealership where you bought it from, many RVers will recommend places to have regular maintenance performed on your RV.
Just some of the services and training that RVers have recommended include:
RVStation.com has 7 dealerships in Texas and they give RV classes every Wednesday.
How To Stay Cool in An RV
The reason many people buy an RV instead of becoming a car or van dweller is so they can have more space and all the comforts of home. Not staying cool while you are out there on your full-time adventures is not what #RVLife is about.
Tips to keep RVs cool include:
Point RV west when you pick a spot especially when boondocking.
Try to park near grass versus near blacktop.
Install a second air conditioning unit and make sure the air conditioner is tuned up.
Avoid opening the door as much as possible.
You can camp by the ocean and get the breeze coming off the ocean.
You can camp in the mountains where there are higher elevations and you will be cooler.
Use a humidifier. Remember that humidity is the enemy of RVs. It destroys RVs.
Use more ventilation. The more ventilation — the better.
Run a fan (or two) as well. It makes a big difference.
Get ahead of the heat. Keep windows opened at night if there is a breeze and run a fan before it gets too warm in the day. This could trap cool air in an RV.
Use blinds, curtains especially blackout curtains, and day-night shades and/or black out your windows with reflectix. Home Depot has some foil lined bubble wrap that works extremely well at blocking heat and sunlight or use the silver insulation from Lowe’s to cover your windows and keep the heat out. You have to cut it to size and it will make your RV dark and much cooler. Works great in cold weather too. Also, get reflectix for your skylight.
Use blackout curtains to separate the cab from the rest of the RV.
Always cover the windshield.
Put aluminum foil in your vents on your roof, which will reflect the heat.
Take a garden hose up on top of your rig and wash the radiator inside and out and remove all debris from your unit.
Ask to park in the shade at campgrounds and parks. Park your RV in the shade when you can, unless you need the solar on top to power your RV. If you have portable solar, park RV in shade and place solar panels in sunlight.
Try to get in a pool at campgrounds and parks or go to local gyms, LA Fitness, YMCA, etc.
Use RV awnings to block out the sun and add more awnings by using shade-cloth. Put a second awning on the other side of RV and small awnings on windows. You need an awning on the side where the refrigerator is located to keep cool air in the refrigerator.
Don’t cook indoors. You can use a butane stove outside.
Use micellular cleansing water to keep cool. Keep it in the fridge and use it on arms and legs.
Use freezer ice cubes.
Until you can buy enough solar to run one or two air conditioners, become a Snowbird and chase 70-degrees around the country.
RV’s Electrical System
DC vs. AC Power
Try to understand your electrical system. RVs will have 2 different sides of the equation — the ‘DC side’, which is the 12 volt where you can turn on your lights and the ‘AC side’ where you can plug into sure power, through an inverter.
The 12-volt is wired from your house battery and it handles:
fridge (electric and propane)
water pump and heater
110 volt power – must go through an inverter/generator and it handles:
fans for heater
You will need all 3 of these power adapters.
20 amp (standard household amp)
Some RV parks might sell them or lend them out, but it’s important to have your own up-front. Some of the power adapters are called “drybone” adapters because they look like a dog bone.
The electrical pedicle will be on driver’s side of RV and will run down to a grey box and you will have 30, 50 and 20 amps. You should have a 30 amp unit.
Make sure you have a surge protector to test before plugging in your RV to a power source at parks, campgrounds, or someone’s home (“Driveway” or “Mooch Surfing/Docking”).
Plug your power cord to a surge protector and you can run a hair dryer, TV, microwave, toaster oven, etc. Your air conditioner and hot water heater can overload a circuit.
Your breaker might say 50 amp. If you have an issue like a blown fuel, go to the fuse box. You have the AC side and the DC side. The fuses will be on the DC side. Make sure you take extra fuses with you.
How To Charge RV House Batteries
If you are going to be camping for long periods of time, you need to know how to get power. You still need to have power to get things done.
Inside the car, van, or RV, you will have a car battery. In the van or RV, you will have 2 batteries, which are ‘house batteries’. You need to monitor the house batteries.
These are 4 ways to charge house batteries:
They will charge while you are driving.
Run your generator. If you charge for a couple of hours, you will get a good charge to run the blender, pressure cooker, blow dryer, microwave, etc. A generator sucks up your propane and it’s noisy so in many places don’t run the generator (be kind to your neighbors).
The best way is to have solar panels. You can mount 400 watts on the roof or get a mobile or portable solar panel that you place in the sun during the day.
You can charge house batteries with a hookup at an RV campground or park.
Never waste any power. Plug everything in while you are driving. Then plug in devices that can charge everything. Try to get away from a single-stage converter, which is bad for batteries. It will boil them if you leave them in the converter too long.
Get a smart converter, which can charge batteries faster and will keep you from overcharging batteries. You can then charge a leaf blower, electric toothbrush, etc.
When you are done driving everything should be charged up. Get some battery banks for $10.00, which is a good backup. Always go for products that are rechargeable.
Types of RV Batteries
Make sure you have a good “battery monitor.” A good battery monitor can tell you how much power you have left. SG 200 battery monitor is around $200. There is another one for $18.
A lot of equipment in your RV runs on batteries. This is why you want to update and maintain your batteries regularly. It is important that you keep notes of the dates that batteries are installed and keep an eye on how they function and how well they work.
If the lights start to dim or have problems then you need to look at the water levels on the batteries. If they are not okay, then you need to consider getting new batteries. However, not all batteries require water so make sure you know what type of batteries your RV has.
Batteries without water are known as ‘closed batteries’ (or lithium batteries), which can be more expensive, but last longer and don’t require as much upkeep.
What are the options for batteries?
12 Volt Batteries: You can buy from Walmart. It’s easy to buy inexpensive batteries around $75 with 75 amp hours. Don’t let these batteries get below 50% before recharging. Many RVers buy 2 batteries. They are lead-acid batteries so you have to keep these batteries in a position to be vented and you need to keep the water level going.
6 Volt Golf Cart Batteries: They are taller batteries. Don’t take these batteries passed 50% before recharging. The cost is around $125 for a 235 amp hour. You need to keep the water level up and these batteries need to be vented.
AGM Batteries:They are sealed and don’t need any maintenance. You can mount in other positions so they store better and charge faster. Don’t let the battery depth go down below 50%. Try to keep it at 80%. Cost is around $250 a piece for 1000 cycles.
Lithium Batteries:These batteries have 100 amp hours. Get two of them. They are lighter around 29 pounds each. You can stack them on their side and they require no maintenance. You don’t have to vent them, but you don’t want them getting too hot or cold so they can’t be on the outside of the RV. They will last for 3000 cycles and charge 4 times faster. You can take them down to 100% before recharging. They cost around $1000.
If you are off-grid a lot, you should buy lithium batteries. Lithium is the best battery. You don’t have to check the water level, but many RVers go with AGM batteries probably because of the price.
The best inverters are the pure sign wave inverters at 3000 to 4000 watts. However, 1500 watts might do the job you need. Everyone will have different needs.
A generator isn’t needed if you have solar unless there are many cloudy days. People will steal generators and don’t forget you have to carry gas for generators.
Popular RV generators are Yamaha, Honda, and Champion. To keep your generator running functional, you need to run it at least twice a month. Don’t run your generator all day or night.
Benchmark has a Honda generator for $1000. A 2000 watt generator is $430. It is easy to handle. Some air conditioners will run on it and some will not.
There is a Champion generator, which has a similar engine to a Honda 3000 inverter for about half the price. A Honda generator can jump-start your car or RV engine, if you don’t have another car and/or jumping cables around.
Pros of a Honda generator include:
It one of the more quieter generators under full load.
It’s doesn’t lose voltage.
It’s RV ready and does not need an adapter.
It’s super easy to start with a push on button.
It has a 30 amp plug.
It has a place for 12 volt and breakers.
It is easy to change the oil.
If it gets cloudy or rainy, it will affect how you live in RV. If you don’t have solar panels, you might need the generator to run for an hour or two, which can be noisy for you and your RV neighbor.
RVs have an onboard generator, but sometimes these end up going out. Even though lights inside don’t use a lot of energy, always be charging and try to use solar at night instead of inside RV lights.
People love solar panels because it’s silent (unlike a generator). There is a lot of competition today with solar. The solar panels come with mounting brackets, wires, fuses.
Most charge the controller with their blue tooth. Make sure you have a good “battery monitor.” The solar panels do good in Arizona and other sunny climates because it’s sunny.
Turn off every possible thing you can turn off and just use solar lights. You can use solar lights and put up black-out curtains. You can then listen to music or have your computer going.
Solar panels will be extremely expensive. You don’t need to buy these up-front but you do need to have a set of good batteries and an inverter to run your appliances.
Until you figure out which type of RVer you will be, you can buy the portable solar panels in a suitcase and put them directly in the sunlight, while you park your RV in the shade, if you plan on boondocking mostly.
You must recharge batteries everyday. Let solar recharge batteries during the day and use generators during the night if you need too.
Now you can get 320-watt panels by Sun Power. Just make sure you buy monocrystalline solar panels. You need 600-800 watt solar to run an air conditioner, but more is better.
Most folks purchase at least 400 watts, but to run your air conditioner and be comfortable you need at least 1000-1200 watts or more. Minimum 600-watt can run air conditioners with a good battery, but you can’t run anything else.
With 750 to 800-watts, you can run your air conditioner and everything else. 750 watts can run one air conditioner and 1185 watt will run two air conditioners. So this is my goal.
I might choose to buy a second air conditioner. There are portable air conditioners or window air conditioners. Walmart has a window air conditioner – Frigidaire 5000 BTU for $178. You can use it with a low surge generator at 800 watts.
Check out www.JimDenver.com or “Solar Boondock” on youtube.com for help with installing solar panels. You can buy the Inverter/Generator by Sportsman 800/1000 watts at Home Depot and run it from 11:00 a.m. in the morning to 7:00 p.m. at night. It will take a half a gallon of gas. But buy the Honda 1000 generator if you need to run it more.
Propane is a lot cleaner than gasoline. It has cleaner emissions and sounds a little quieter. Propane won’t produce as much power as gasoline. You have to get propane during regular hours. It’s easier to store propane than gasoline and gasoline has to be treated.
Where to buy propane:
Tractor Supply Stores
Google “Propane Refill Stations Near You”
Propane is used for:
refrigeration (Most RV refrigerators use both electric and propane. You can also have a regular home refrigerator installed in RVs).
cooking (top burners and ovens)
hot water heater
Most RVers air on the SAFE SIDE when to TURN OFF the propane. Many turn off the pilot light on stoves every day and many don’t.
RVers should turn off propane when:
When they are driving.
When they get gas.
When they go on a ferry.
When they go through a tunnel.
However, many RVers do keep their propane on as they drive, but I will be turning mine off. Most RVers got 20 pounds tanks, which holds just under 5 gallons. Two 30 pound tanks can hold 7 gallons of propane.
You need to learn how to monitor your propane:
If you have a Class A and Class C RV or motorhome, you have to DRIVE to get your propane tanks filled up. Many who drive these types of vehicles, usually don’t like for it to drop below 50%. Class C and A will have a gauge to monitor how much propane is in there.
If you have 5th wheelers and travel trailers, you can TAKE YOUR PROPANE TANKS with you in your car, truck or another vehicle to have them filled or just buy other propane tanks at Walmart, U-haul stores, hardware stores, RV stores, etc. With 5th wheels and travel trailers, they have auto switches, which switches over when one tank is empty or owners can do it manually. They are simple to change out.
Many RVers unless they are staying in extremely cold weather, forgo using the inside furnace. It seems that eventually many of these furnaces go out and are extremely expensive to get fixed.
Many RVers use these two portable heat sources instead of the inside furnace and heater.
Mr. Buddy Propane Heater
They come in three (3) sizes — small, medium and large. The medium size (4000-9000 Btu) is almost perfect for a van.
If your van or RV is well-insulated, after about 30 minutes, you will probably have to turn the heater off because it gets too hot. But for most non-insulated vans, it should be just about right.
They are cheap, light and easy to start. They work off the little green propane bottles or you can buy an adapter hose and connect it to a 5-gallon propane bottle, which makes it tremendously cheaper to run. You are not supposed to leave it on at night but many people do. Just make sure the van or RV is well-ventilated.
Olympian Wave 3 Heater
Another option is the catalytic heaters made for camping by Coleman. Many people are very pleased with these heaters. If they are tipped over, they will shut off automatically.
If you carefully follow the instructions in the owner’s manual you will be safe. It will tell you exactly how much ventilation you need and what to leave for clearances around the heater.
Read those instructions carefully and if there is anything you don’t understand, call the 800 number provided and ask for clarification. Then enjoy your heater with a peace of mind and safety.
RV Water Heater
Your water heater is heated by propane and electric. It heats quicker with propane than it does with electric. The size of hot water heater matters so if you travel with a big family, you should get a bigger hot water heater installed in your RV.
Don’t plug up pores on the backside of the refrigerator and hot water heater. You don’t want bugs getting in there either. That’s where the exhaust is coming out. You can put a screen on it to keep bugs out.
Every campground has different water pressure so you’ll want to ALWAYS keep a regulator on the spigot to help avoid coming home to a flooded rig.
Many folks debate on forums whether or not to leave the hot water heater on all the time. I don’t know if there is any real reason other than to conserve electricity and maybe help to prolong the life of the heating element, but I will probably cut mine off as needed.
It just seems silly to have it running when we’re away from the camper exploring for hours. It will help you decide when you end up in an RV park with only one 30 amp plug and have to pick and choose when and what was using electricity.
Also, another hot water heater tip, if you drain it make sure you give it time to fill back up before turning it on or you’ll fry the heating element.
Many RVers drain every bit of water out of the camper before they move to lose as much weight as possible. So, therefore, you have to give the tank time to fill back up before turning it on.
When you first buy your RV, just make sure you turn the refrigerator on for 24 hours before stacking it with food. This should give it time to cool off. Your RV refrigerator is TWO WAY, which means they run off both electric and propane.
Every 4 to 5 months you have to clean your RV fridge. Most fires are started in the RV because of the fridge and if you have a travel trailer or 5th wheel, this is why it’s important to LEVEL YOUR VEHICLE at the end of the day, otherwise, it will cause refrigerator issues.
Your foods in your refrigerator should still stay cool even if you are traveling for up to 10 hours a day, however, many people do use their generator while traveling, especially if they have a family in the back of the RV when driving down the road. Running your fridge off an inverter is doable also.
As soon as you stop for the night, if you have full-hookups, switch the refrigerator to the electric side. Don’t waste your propane if you don’t have too.
It took many RVers a few months before they realized they had to actually open the vent for the microwave hood on the OUTSIDE of the camper for it to work right.
They would turn it on and it made the fan sound, but it wasn’t sucking the air out at all. You have to turn the little tabs or slide them (depending on your model) to allow the vent to open. You can leave it opened until a windy day, which might make a lot of unnecessary noise.
Many complain that RV ovens don’t work properly and many forgo using RV stove tops and ovens to prepare foods period. Many RVers are afraid to use propane for cooking so they will prepare foods in other manners such as using:
induction plate (might cause cardiac pacemaker issues)
butane stove (to cook outside)
Make sure you have a propane detector. It should be low to the floor. Keep your family safe from the potential harm of carbon monoxide with an RV carbon monoxide detector also.
RV Newbie Rules To Follow
Just a little bit on RV etiquette for newbies.
#1 – Don’t cut across someone’s else campsite.
#2 – Never interfere with others’ peace and quiet.
If you see RVers sitting in chairs, ask if you can come over to their campsites. Just remember that a lot of RVers like the isolation so maybe they just want to be out there and read books or engage in some type of other activity, especially with a spouse, partner or mate. You can respond to others with “Maybe later — I am working on something.”
People do like to do a lot of things alone. You might just get together at night around a campfire or just get together for coffee in the morning time. If they say they are going to play cards just say “No thanks.”
Other RV campground etiquette:
Never fail to read campground rules.
Never spread out your traveling group.
Never overflow your space.
Never block the roadway longer than necessary.
“Nevers” for RVers camping with dogs:
Never let your dog loose.
Never leave a loud barking dog behind.
Never leave a dog waste behind.
Never leave waste in a fire pit.
Hooking Up at Campgrounds or RV Parks
Rigs are getting bigger and most need 50 amp service. Many parks, especially state parks, don’t always have 50 amp hookups, but will probably have two 30 amp plugs.
Many RVers uses a pigtail, it is two 30 amp plugs that connect to a 50 amp plug. This allows you to hookup just as if you had a single 50 amp outlet. At only $40 I think it should definitely be part of your must-haves.
Setting Up and Packing Up
Eventually, everyone gets their own rhythm or routine down when setting up or packing up.
Some of the reminders can include:
Be sure to double-check that you have room for your slides to extend before leveling and unhooking. You can just use tape measure if you are unsure if there’s enough room. Measure it twice and unhook once.
Take the time to sweep off the roof and slides before packing up especially every few weeks if you don’t move that often.
Have a routine (and even better a checklist, specific to your coach) when getting ready to pull out and even while setting up.
Before you pull out of the campground, stop and just do one more double-check that everything is how it should be, especially if packing up felt rushed. Remember it’s better to take an extra 25 minutes to make sure everything is done right than to pay dollars down the line for your mistake.
Apps To Monitor Gas
You will save gas as long as you stay in one location so if you stay weekly or monthly, you will save gas.
Apps to help you monitor your gas include:
Other Popular RV Apps
Many RVers and especially truckers don’t trust GPSs. They have even told stories about how they had to back up on highways to keep from going under bridges that they couldn’t fit even after posting it in GPSs.
So your best bet is to use one of the other two apps below by putting in your height and length:
Trucker’s App by Rand Mcnally
Windy.com (gives you 3-hour updates, wind speed, wind directions, wind gust, and Hurricanes forecasts)
AllTrails (To find hiking trails. Subscription is $29.99 a year).
If you are RVing full-time or for an extended period of time, you quickly learn that RV parks and RV campgrounds can get PRICEY. Add in a financed RV and a financed car and you’ve got yourself a mortgage payment!
If your RV and vehicle are already paid for, that is awesome and is hopefully a great example of keeping things within your means and being smart with your money #Minimalist101.
If you are traveling to the east, it might help to get a pass so you don’t have to wait in line. You can park for one night, week, or one month with full hookups (electric, water, sewage dump, etc.) in RV parks ranging from $200 to $1200 a month with SHORT and LONG-TERM parking.
The longer you stay the cheaper it is. They have RV parks throughout the U.S., but because many are getting OVERCROWED especially on holidays and in the summertime, many are choosing other ways to camp out when RVing full-time.
Before making reservations at these RV parks make sure you read reviews. There is a place you can park for 30 days outside Sedona, AZ for $350 a month with full hookups. Who would not want to stay in the Sedona, AZ region for 30 days to explore? Again, parks and campgrounds like these are all over the U.S.
Many chose to utilize RV parks and resorts 100% of their time if they are full-timers. Many of these parks might be populated and will have other designated areas to send you, so make sure you make your reservations on time just as if you were staying in a hotel.
And if you can’t find your destination or will arrive late, make sure you reach out to the RV parks or campgrounds to let them know. You will be penalized like hotels for not showing up when you said you would and might get charged anyway.
Also, just like a hotel, if you are staying only for one night, you will have a check out time for the next day usually around 11:00 a.m. or 12:00 noon.
Remember you can still go to all the RV parks and campgrounds even if you are not staying there and pay $5, $8 or $10 to dump your black tank (sewer) and grey tank (dishwater and shower water) and get fresh water for dishes, shower, and toilet.
Where To Get Water for an RV
Instead of drinking water from an RV sink, many RVers choose to buy their own drinking water because you really don’t know what you are picking up in the water systems in RVs around the U.S..
In the U.S., most of us call an indoor valve (in the kitchen or bathroom) a faucet, and the outdoor one a spigot. A spigot is a faucet or a device to turn the water on and off.
Before you connect your water hose in any new area you are staying, you want to turn on the main faucet and run water for a minute or two. Then put some water in a paper cup so you can smell it and look at the color before taking a small taste.
Make sure you get an expansion ($8.00) to hook on. You should also have a smaller (short) water hose along with a larger (long) one to reach the spigot. This will help your RV reach spigots at different locations.
Places to fill up include:
Fill up at an RV campground or park. You can pay at RV campgrounds and parks for a hookup to get laundry done, and get water, etc.
You can go to gas stations and look for a spigot. You should ask inside if you can top off your water. They will say go ahead but don’t block any traffic.
You can go to U.S. Forest Campground. When you go near bathrooms, you will see a spigot. These campgrounds are everywhere in the mountains.
You can obtain water in State Parks. You can get a State Park pass for $60. They have campgrounds there.
You can go to truck stops to get water. Go to the commercial truck area. Just wait for truckers to leave. It’s right next to a gas pump. If you have a gas engine, go ahead and fill up then get water. The water is potable (fit or suitable for drinking) and it’s free.
You might find a spigot outside of a laundromat also.
City parks and businesses might have that spigot outside of a building so just ask. There is water everywhere.
You can obtain water at U-Haul businesses. Just ask them for water when you fill up with propane. Ask if you can top off your water. It might be well water so you can only use for baths.
FREE Places to Park RVs
Most folks will be parking at RV parks and campgrounds, but today they have become overcrowded.
Warehouse districts are great. Some people feel comfortable around truckers. To find google warehouse spaces.
State, City or Community Parks (Look for signs that say 24 parking)
City, County or Regional Campgrounds
BLM.gov (It’s everywhere but mostly on the west coast). Camp on BLM land with groups of 20 or more people to be safe especially if you are a solo female traveler.
You can do “Driveway or Mooch Surfing” (also “Couch Surfing” — staying on someone’s couch) in a family’ member, friend or someone’s driveway as long as it is approved by city/county, Homeowner’s Association (HOA) and neighbors. Cars and van dwellers can do this easier than larger RVs.
Medical Offices Complexes
Strip malls in big cities. Strip malls or shopping malls that are opened 24 hours, but they might have security guards and will probably kick you out.
If you live in a car, van, or even RV, you can go on Craigslist and run an ad that you will pay $100 a month to park in someone’s driveway. Tell them you will only show up at dark and leave during the daytime.
Where Not To Stealth Camping
Respect “No parking signs.”
Do not park on private property. Somebody is always looking.
Avoid residential neighborhoods.
What You Need To Know About Parking An RV at Walmart
The app “Allstays” will list Walmarts that allow RVers to stay overnight. Because of the homeless situation, some car and van dwellers and RVers are actually living in Walmart parking lots.
Parking at Walmart is a “Right of Passage” for RVers. Walmart parking is called “Lot Docking.” It might be noisy on Friday and Saturday night.
Many RVers have stayed at a Walmart at one time or another especially when:
They are traveling continuously and it will be easier to get back on the freeway.
When they don’t reach their RV parks or campgrounds before dark. No one wants to try to go to an RV park or campground after dark especially when they are miles off the highway. You never know what might be lurking around if you try to hook up after dark (snakes, alligators, strangers, etc.)
When they run out of funds for the month and need to park somewhere for FREE.
Many truckers have already stopped parking at some of the Walmarts. Walmart is redefining their space. Some Walmarts are no longer allowing RV parking so look at signs then talk to managers or call managers ahead of time. Over 50% are still allowing it but still obtain permission.
They might have local ordinances and many are being passed not to allow parking at Walmart for RVers. The tow signs are the ones with ordinances. The further you go out in the country, the less they would have passed these ordinances.
Because boondocking on WalMart’s parking lot is a hot issue in many towns, following the below simple rules, which will help keep these places open to travelers who want a good night’s sleep before moving on.
Disregarding them, especially making your area look like you’ve moved in for a lengthy stay, is what gets local RV park owners up in arms. They see RVs in a Walmart or other parking lots as revenues they should have had.
Below are Do’s and Don’t of Walmart Parking
Purchase items from Walmart.
Pick up after yourself.
Pick up after pets.
Do park far away from each other.
Don’t stay for more than one night.
When you stay overnight don’t take advantage so be kind to neighbors and don’t run your generator.
Don’t set up camp or have a party.
Don’t pull out your slides.
Don’t pull out your awnings.
Don’t put down hydraulic jacks.
Don’t park crazy.
Don’t pee in a bottle and leave it.
There was an alcoholic family member that ended up killed by the police after camping out in a Walmart parking lot and getting into an altercation.
What You Need To Know About State Parks
You pay $225 for a New Mexico State Park pass for an entire year. It is a hot state so in the winter it will be in teens. However, you can get 7 good months of nice weather. You can stay for 14 days at one site then leave for 6 days then come back to that same site. Some of the sites are right next door to each other.
You can pay $4.00 a day for electric, $8 per day for full hookups (sewer, water, electric, trash, showers, etc.). Out of 30 state park campgrounds in New Mexico, 25 have FREE showers. Nevada also has state park passes.
RV Club Memberships and Apps
Escapees/Xscapers: Escapees is the popular mail forwarding services for RVers. They have several big events a year so subscribe to their e-newsletter and join their group. Membership fees are around $39 a year and they have a $10 sign up fee. Escapees is more about community than it is about savings. This RV club offers get-togethers to help RVers connect. It also offers ongoing education courses, a job board for finding work on the road, and, of course, discounts at about 1,000 parks nationwide. This membership is best for retired and full-time RVers. You need to be staying at RV parks for a good chunk of the year to get the most out of its benefits, as the majority of what you’re paying for are community-based activities and not discounts.
Good Sam: $27 a year with $10 off. They have 26 campgrounds. Good Sam is the biggest name in the RV industry, with over one million members in The Good Sam Club. It includes a 10% discount on over 2,000 Good Sam parks. In addition to its RV club, Good Sam offers roadside assurance and insurance programs (sold separately). Like many larger organizations, however, its reputation is a bit tainted. The reason mostly concerns the legitimacy of its famous “Good Sam Rating” it gives each of its parks.
Passport America: $44 a year. You get 50% off 1600 campgrounds in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico and they have a referral program. Passport America partners with campgrounds willing to sell campsites at half price during non-peak seasons in order to maintain capacity year-round. With most RV sites in the US costing over $30 a night, it only takes a couple of stays a year using this pass for it to pay for itself. The downside to this discount camping club is that most of the parks willing to sell sites half off aren’t exactly the best kept. This is exacerbated by the fact that Passport America has no user reviews for listings, so choosing a park through them can be a leap of faith.
RV Golf Club: They have over 400 locations so you pay $99 bucks a year.
Thousand Trails: Thousand Trails membership is $575 a year. It takes a fresh approach on how RV clubs operate. Instead of requiring a small annual fee for discounted rates, it asks for a significant investment of nearly $600 in exchange for free camping at their parks all year. Similar to the KOA Value Kard, this membership is only really worth it if you love Thousand Trails campgrounds, which tend to be more luxurious (good for glampers). With just 86 parks across the country and reviews being hard to comprehend, however, staying at a Thousand Trails campground can be hit or miss. This group can bring down the cost of campsites.
HarvestHost.com:These are winery, farms, breweries, etc. Memberships are $50 a year. (Owner name is Joel). They only take up to 5 RVers a night so you need to make reservations. You need to buy wine, cheese, and other products, while you are there.
Unique RV Camping: Membership is $49.00 a year. You sign up one time for a year. Then you get another list and app for wineries, organic farms, and museums where you can stay overnight for FREE. Some take two to four RVs a night and this place is great. It will help you see more places and see more people.
Army Corps of Engineer Camp Grounds: You get 84 to 100 ft long camps at Army Corps of Engineers. There is a one to 2 weeks max in each park so stay there and move on. It gives 50% off for Seniors and is opened to everyone.
KOA Value Kard Rewards: They are $40 a year. As the oldest campground network in the industry, KOA is known for its family focused parks available near basically every metropolitan area. KOA parks generally have more amenities than the average campground. Though its campgrounds are normally expensive, their discount card allows you to stay at upscale parks for more affordable rates. However, with a discount of only 10% off, it can take a while to pay this card off unless you’re staying at KOA campgrounds exclusively or are RVing full-time.
Specialty RV Clubs: These RV clubs differ from the traditional models above, offering alternative ways to save money.
–Boondockers Welcome – ($30/year). This membership, as the name entails, is built for RVers who prefer to boondock, or camp without hookups. By paying the annual fee or hosting yourself, you can request to stay at private residences across the country for free. Local hosts that share their properties also tend to know the top attractions in the area. Spots are generally in the driveway of homes, although some are even larger.
–RoverPass Unlimited – ($50/year, $30/month). The newest membership for RVers, Rover Pass Unlimited is the perfect pass for RV renters and full-time RVers alike. The pass earns you free bookings through our reservation software with over 6,000 campgrounds across the US. RoverPass was made particularly for RV renters who aren’t necessarily as familiar with the process of reserving RV sites. Our software was made to alleviate a lot of the frustrations they commonly experience, like playing phone tag with front desk employees and, in the worst case scenario, never hearing back at all.
Disability Pass: Get an “Access Pass” from “America The Beautiful” website. Cost is $12 a night. You need a disability rating. So show proof especially if you are a Veteran. You can save 50% at National Parks, State Parks and Army Corps of Engineers Parks.
Senior Pass: You can get an “America The Beautiful” pass. It is no longer FREE. You must pay $80 for a lifetime membership. If you can’t afford lump payment, just pay $20 a year.
“Boondocking” means camping in your RV with no hookups. You can boondock as long as your on-board resources hold out. Boondocking is also called “Dry Camping” and “Disperse Camping.”
There is basic equipment for dry camping (without hookups) and adding a few optional items can extend your boondocking stays.
US Public Lands App (Then look for U.S. Public Land for Boondocking)
Two Types of Boondocking
One type is parking in more out-of-the-way places, usually for several days or even an extended period of time. Public lands offer many opportunities for boondocking.
The other type of boondocking is often referred to as “blacktop boondocking.” That is when you camp overnight on a Walmart or shopping center parking lot or in a truck stop. Some call it “dry camping” since you are not in the “boonies.”
RVers choose to spend the night on parking lots because of convenience. They don’t have to drive miles off the highway to a campground. Other RVers boondock because of budget reasons.
Many can’t see paying $20 or more a night to stay in an RV park or campground when they are traveling from point A to point B and won’t be using the amenities the park has to offer.
Whichever type of boondocker you are, these guidelines will help you (and your neighbors) have a better experience.
Get permission from the manager.
Purchase dinner, fuel or other items as a thank you.
Park away from other vehicles, along the sides of the parking lot. In a truck stop, if there is no designated area for RVs, park off to the side or to the back away from truckers. Truckers will appreciate you not taking their spaces, plus it will be less noisy for you.
Do not get chairs and barbeque out, nor put out your awning. Avoid using your slideouts if possible too.
Stay only one night.
Pick up any trash you have generated.
Escapees.com RV Club provides “Boondocking Etiquette Cards.” You can download and then leave on an individual’s windshield who is not following these guidelines and jeopardizing the rights of other RV travelers as well.
Boondocking in the “Boonies”
When we think of regular boondocking, we think more of camping in wilderness areas, often on public lands. Campgrounds in public lands generally do not provide hookups. The USDA Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) also allow camping outside their designated campgrounds.
Serious boondockers modify their RVs so they can take advantage of free camping in pretty places. Solar panels and an inverter keep batteries charged. A catalytic or ceramic heater is more efficient than the regular RV heater and doesn’t draw down the battery.
Boondockers may have a Blue Boy®, a portable waste holding tank, so they can take blackwater into a dump. They carry water jugs to haul water to their fresh water tanks.
Boondockers learn how to conserve both power and water so they can extend their stays and may even use solar ovens for cooking and heat water with the sun.
Most campers are here for a wilderness experience. They enjoy the peace and quiet. Following these guidelines will help all enjoy their stay as well as protect the environment:
Park in previously used areas. Do not create a new road or parking spot or run over vegetation.
Park away from other RVs so each can enjoy the peace and quiet. If you do have a generator you plan to run, park far away from other RVs and limit your use to an hour or so in the morning and another in early evening. Generator noise carries and is not part of the wilderness experience.
Respect quiet hours. Do not run generators or play TVs or radios loudly after 10 p.m. or before 7 a.m. (RVers Quiet Hours). Some areas may have different quiet hours so check with the agency.
In some areas dumping grey water on the ground is permissible. Always check with the agency first. Dumping black water on the ground is NEVER PERMITTED.
Leave the area cleaner than you found it. Dispose of trash in a trash container after you leave.
Read and follow the agency’s rules regarding fires, collecting firewood, and quiet hours. Respect time limits, which are typically 14 days.
RV groups meeting on public lands should choose an area large enough to accommodate their group without damaging the environment and should respect the rights of nearby campers that are not part of the group.
They should also educate their members, who may never have boondocked before, on ways to extend their battery power without constantly running their generators and on ways to conserve water.
For many RVers, boondocking is the true RV experience. The ability to camp without hookups is one of the advantages of RV ownership. You can camp free of charge and use the systems that were designed to be self-contained.
Using courtesy and common sense can make your boondocking experience, whether on black top or in the wilderness, a good one for you and other RVers.
BoondockersWelcome.com (You can join them for less than $40 a year. Some have land and full hookups or you stay in front of someone’s home. If you have a place for RVs to park, then you should become a host).
Look at their websites for rules. Every region might have different rules. They might not enforce it.
Dos – 4 Rules:
Know rules, areas and time limits.
Obey “No Trespassing Signs”; respect the land; there are hunters, hikers, RVers, etc. so stay on road, don’t mess up vegetation, leave no trace, don’t chop down trees; leave only footprints, etc.
Pack in what you pack out. Don’t leave your mess for someone else to clean up.
Go out and have fun and explore. To help find your RV in parks or while boondocking, many RVers choose to put a flag on their RVs.
Don’t 3 Rules:
Don’t ever block a dirt road. Try to point your vehicle toward the exit and try to reach your site early.
Do not dump gray water. Most gray water is 20 to 30 gallons and it will be going in ONE SPOT. Don’t dump it while boondocking. It will change the eco system. It’s illegal and not good for the environment.
Don’t rely on cell signal. If staying in touch. Get a personal locator. There is Inreach, Spot. etc. Have a paper map to maneuver out further when boondocking because your GPS might not work. Print it out ahead of time.
When you shower you use a quarter of a tank so take “bird baths” or “sponge baths” when boondocking. If you run your generator for 3 hours a day, you should be able to work on a computer for 8 hours. You need at least a 200-watt solar system to start.
Plenty of FREE Land To Live On
Tired of driving – by the way there are plenty of FREE PUBLIC LAND in the U.S. (Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, California, etc.) to settle down on where you can park your car, van, RV, bus, etc. for FREE, while you build a new life for yourself.
The land is called BLM.gov (Bureau of Land Management) land or National Forest land, which is owned by the government, however, you can live on this land for FREE.
A majority of the BLM land is in the west, but there is land in other parts of the country. Check out the website and today because of technology, they have apps to help you find this FREE LAND (See above app section).
You can live there by yourself or park around others who have already chosen this type of lifestyle. There are plenty of caravans and convoys all over the U.S. for women and men to be able to create their ideal communities, especially on this land. Check with Bob Wells on CheapRVLiving.com on these caravans and convoys.
Many Snowbirds, people who follow the weather, put solar panels on Vans or RVs and use the good weather to totally power their vehicles, while they live their daily lives and travel around the U.S..
You should consider leaving cold climates and become a Snowbird and see what it is like to always live in good weather as you travel around the world and see some great sites and meet some great people on the road.
It’s time for us to think as pioneers did back in the day when many people went out west on wagon trains to Oregon, California, etc. to make better lives for themselves.
Just some of the places to live include:
Quartzsite, AZ: Quartzsite, AZ is the home for RVers. The month of January RVers converges onto the area for 3 BIG RV events which last all month — the Women Rubber Tramp Rendevous (RTR), Rubber Tramp Rendevous for men and women, and a big RV show afterward. The group Escapees.com celebrate a big New Year’s celebration there.
Some of the places might be limited to a 14 day stay, except LaPosa long-term stay in Quartzsite, AR, where there is a fee. However, for that fee of $180 a year (or $40 for two weeks), you can stay from September 15-April 15. After April it gets too hot so many RVers head back home or to higher elevations to stay cool.
Yuma, AZ: You can pay $80 for the year in Yuma, AZ. Depending on what area you are in, after 14 days
you might have to move. In the state of Arizona you need to move 25 miles away from that spot after 14 days.
Colorado: In the state of Colorado you need to move every 14 days at least 45 miles away. But after 14 days, you can go back to that SAME CAMPSITE or area.
New Mexico: In New Mexico you can pay $225 a year for up to 7 months of nice weather. They have 25 shower facilities on the land so if you live in your car or van, that’s all you need.
Like other BLM or National Forest land, you just need to move around every 14 days in some cases. Some of the spots might be right next to each other.
Why, AZ: You can also pay $550 a year to live in a place two (2) hours outside Tucson, AZ called Why, AZ. You can stay in tents, cars, vans, RVs, on buses, etc. on BLM or National Forest land.
You will have access to FREE water, FREE showers, FREE wi-fi, and trash pick up. There is a dumpsite or you can use a portable ‘blue boy,’ to dump your gray and black tank. There are also services that can come out and dump for you.
From September to April the temperature can be bearable in Why, AZ. There are no FREE power hookups and temps can get up to 110 degrees so everyone usually has at least 200 watts of solar or they run generators to keep cool. Remember in RVs at least 25 feet long, many do install a second air conditioner.
Too Old To Travel
If you get too old to travel, Livington, TX, the home of Escapees.com RV mail forwarding services is offering Assisted Living for RVers. I suspect many of these services will pop up as many car, van, boat dwellers and RVers embrace this minimalist lifestyle.
Cathy Harris is soon to be a Full-Time RVer. Her blog website is www.SimpleLifeRVing.com. She is also an Empowerment and Motivational Speaker, Advice Columnist at DearCathy.com, Non-GMO Health and Wellness Expert, Business and Love Coach and Self-Publishing Expert and the author of 26 non-fiction books at www.AngelsPress.com. Her books cover topics such as family and community empowerment, health, youth and adult entrepreneurship, writing/publishing, workplace discrimination, whistleblowing, government, law enforcement, domestic and international traveling, politics, media, beauty, car buying and selling for women, aging/retirement – just to name a few. She offers seminars, workshops, and consultations atwww.CathyHarrisInternational.com.
How To Live ‘The Good Life’ in a Car, Van, RV, Bus, Boat, etc.
Now that you have the right mindset as discussed in Phase 1 of Full-Time RVing, follow me along to the next step, which is PHASE 2, “Purchasing The RV.” Figure out if you will be a Full-Timer, Seasonal or Weekend Warrior.
Before purchasing your RV you first need to figure out how you will travel using it. For instance, figure out what type of Nomad you will be?
Here are a few of the many types of Full-Time RVers out there:
Singles or couples that stay constantly on the move and seldom stay over a day or two.
Then there are the ones that set up camp and stay longer periods may be a month or so or even longer.
Then there are the seasonal retired full-timers that travel weather patterns and just enjoy the journey.
Then you have the permanent or stationary full-timers.
Next, you will find traveling Nurses traveling from job to job similar to contracted workers in the construction industry.
Then lastly there are the very wealthy that travel anywhere and stay forever at anyplace they chose. They more than likely still have a home, but do have a full- time residence in their RV.
What type of Full-Time RVers are you? Also, look at where your HOME STATE will be as a Full-Time RVer and if you will be a Snowbird. All of these will help you figure out WHAT TYPE OF RV to purchase.
Gasoline is also a major expense. Some RVs and motor homes get just a few miles per gallon, so you’ll spend a lot of time and money at the pump. You’ll also need to budget for regular maintenance, tires, and insurance.
Become A Member of a Nomadic Tribe
Now that you are preparing to buy your RV, first figure out how you will live your NEW FOUND FREEDOM. Will you become a member of a nomadic tribe?
Remember that SOCIALIZING is important for your health and you can be isolated anywhere — even in a ‘sticks and brick’ home. If you don’t have a rich built-in social structure, you might need to go out and build it.
It can be a little isolated RVing around the U.S., but some people want peace and travel solo because of this, while others may want to follow a group of people or other Nomads.
A lot of people are part extroverts and introverts and this is how they live their lives. How much interaction you need with others varies by person. You can have a couple of people you talk to every day. Others you talk to every so often.
The good thing about going Full-time RVing is if you get lonely, you can pack up and go and meet people. You will have more of an opportunity to meet people who have SIMILAR INTERESTS when you go Full-Time RVing or live in a car, van, bus, boat, etc.
And don’t forget — you can also start your own TRIBE. A lot of women meet every week or every quarter and travel by caravanstogether. Some meet every day and have lots of fun.
RVingWomen.org is a community of women, 18 and older, who travel independently. Some of them are retired and travel full time, while others are still working so you can join them for weekend rallies or other gatherings.
Remember, it’s a million RVers out there. If you are in a tribe don’t be offended if people have to go. You get to decide how often you are with a tribe — how long you stay there and when to go.
Become a Snowbird
Snowbirds move south in the winter and then north in the summer to avoid temperature extremes. The problem with that is you may have to drive a long way to get to better weather.
Much better for the environment and your checkbook is to go up in elevation in the summer and down in elevation in the winter. For every 1,000 feet of elevation you go up, the temperature drops 3 degrees.
For example, the temperature at Orlando, FL may be 100 degrees, but if you drive 500 miles north to North Carolina, the temperature will be 80 degrees because it is at 6,000 feet.
Or, if it is 100 degrees at Quartzsite, AZ, if you drive 250 miles north to Flagstaff, AZ, the temperature will be 75 degrees because it is at 7,000 feet. And, of course, in the winter it is just the opposite. When it is 30 degrees at Flagstaff, it will be 55 in Quartzsite, AZ.
Many RVers, car, van and bus dwellers live in the western states in the winter because they have a GIGANTIC amount of public land, which is called BLM.gov (Bureau of Land Management/BLM Land) so they can live on it for FREE while they are following mild weather.
The southwest is mostly desert land owned by BLM and is opened for FREE dispersed camping (also called “dry camping” or “boondocking”) in the winter. There is an equally large amount of National Forest at high elevations you can disperse camp on for FREE in the summer.
Of course, many (maybe most) of us can’t leave where we are. We have family, friends or jobs that tie us down to one place. Unfortunately, most of those places have hot summers or cold winters, or maybe both. In this case, you need to work on making your RVs, cars, vans, and buses as comfortable as we can in the heat and cold.
Decide on A ‘Home State’ for RVing
The next BIG STEP after deciding if you will be a Snowbird, is to decide where your HOME STATE will be to see where you will register your car and RV, receive mail, go for regular health physicals, and just call HOME ON THE ROAD.
Most RVers use the below states, which has NO STATE TAXES and all of these states have great mail forwarding services specifically designed for RVers:
Florida:Escapees RV Club and the Good Samaritan Club is a famous group for RVers and they have a very popular mail forwarding service.
Texas: Texas is the home of the Escapees RV club, and it has a very popular mail forwarding service.
South Dakota: The state actively pursues Full-Time RVers to make it their home state so many very well-known mail forwarders have sprung up to service them.
I feel so lucky because I have lived a total of 8 times (4 times each) in both Florida and Texas, so both of these states are very familiar to me, but I selected Texas as my HOME STATE instead of Florida.
The reason for this is as a Veteran, I just feel the state of Texas will offer me more opportunities to take better care of myself as I AGE GRACEFULLY, even though I plan on spending more time in the state of Florida than Texas.
Best Time To Purchase An RV
Best time to purchase an RV is in June or July when the model year changes (new RVs arrives) or Winter when it’s dead — in ‘off-peak’ travel seasons. Spring is the worse time to buy when everyone is looking forward to their Spring and Summer adventures.
Where to Buy an RV
Check RVTrader.com. Used and new RV dealerships also advertise on there too.
Check out RV forums on facebook and other social media.
Do your research ahead of time and understand how dealerships and an RV salesman work. Be careful of the information that you are actually sharing with the salesman. Don’t trust the sale’s person. They are not your friend. Be nice to them, but don’t be afraid to WALK AWAY from the deal.
One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of homeowners make is not buying the RV before they sell their homes or move. You need this ‘permanent address’ for the application at an RV dealership.
Many people choose to keep their status of ‘Full-Time RVing’ a secret because many banks won’t finance you because of this, but many will though. Many banks do believe you might just take off in the RV and skip your RV payments, especially retirees because this is another trend that is happening today.
Again, don’t give the salesman too much information — ‘online’ or ‘in person’. Never say the following when you go to a dealership to buy a new or used RV:
I really love this RV.
I don’t know anything about an RV.
My trade in is right outside.
I don’t really want to get ripped off.
My credit is not good.
I am going to pay cash.
I really want to buy an RV today.
I need to have a monthly payment below $500.
You are a doctor, lawyer, engineer or in some other career where the salesman perceives you make a lot of money.
And don’t ask crazy questions such as ‘where is the cup holder’, especially when you can be using this time to ask good and relevant questions.
RV Loans – What You Should Know
According to the IRS.gov, you can write off your interest on your RV as a second home. For you to take a home mortgage interest deduction, your debt must be secured by a qualified home.
So, if your RV has these three (3) categories that make up a home (sleeping, cooking and toilet facilities), you can deduct your interest paid on your RV loan.
The goal is not to buy the wrong RV the first time. Buying an RV or motor home is an enormous expense. An RV can be more expensive than some houses.
RV Industry Association (RVIA.org) reports that a modest camping trailer can cost $22,000, while a motor home can cost as much as $500,000.
Since few people have that much cash, they turn to motor home loans and other RV financing options. You should get 30% off MSRP price. But before you head to the dealership, make sure you know what to expect.
If you don’t have that money saved in the bank, you’re risking thousands. Even with RV financing options, interest rates and other fees will cause your balance to balloon. If you still dream of hitting the open road, consider renting a vehicle (but it can also be very expensive) or start saving to pursue your goal.
Buying an RV is a recreational loan so unlike a car or house loan, you need to walk in there with a credit score of at least 700. However, a 750 might be borderline so it’s best to have a credit score of at least 800.
Raising your credit score will be a plus and remember that medical bills are the most forgivable on your credit file when trying to get a loan.
The lowest interest rate will be 4%, but if you have good credit, you might get away with 5, 6 or 7 percent. Just remember credit unions will give you the SHORTEST TERM of maybe 8 years and banks will give you the highest interest rate, but LONGER TERMS anywhere from 10, 15 and even 20 years.
RV Financing Options
If you’ve decided that owning an RV is right for you, but don’t have the money in the bank, there are THREE (3) financing options to consider:
1. Dealership Financing
Like car dealerships, most RV and motor home dealerships offer on-site financing. Depending on your credit and the type of vehicle you’re purchasing, you could qualify for a rate as low as 4.99%. In most cases, you can choose a loan term as long as 20 years. However, opting for a shorter term often results in a lower rate.
2. Bank or Credit Union Loans for RVs
You might be able to get a better deal from a credit union or bank than you would at a dealership. However, you can’t just apply for a car loan. Instead, you’ll have to apply for a recreational loan or specialty loan. Because RVs and motor homes are luxury vehicles, the lending criteria tend to be stricter than they are for a typical car loan.
If you have good credit and a stable income, you could qualify for a loan with an interest rate as low as 3.99% and a repayment term of up to 20 years.
3. Personal Loans
If your credit or income isn’t good enough to qualify for a dealership or recreational loans, applying for a personal loan is another option. Personal loans are offered by banks and other financial institutions.
Some lenders will work with borrowers with credit scores as low as 580, so you might be more likely to get approved for a personal loan than other forms of financing.
As you decide whether a personal loan is right for you, it’s important to know the downsides. There are limits to how much you can borrow. Most lenders have a maximum of $100,000 or less, which might not be enough to cover your RV purchase.
In addition, the repayment terms tend to be much shorter than they are for other loans. You might have only five years to repay the loan. Finally, the biggest drawback to personal loans is the interest rates.
If your credit is less than stellar, you might not qualify for a low-interest, personal loan. Instead, lenders might offer you loans with interest rates as high as 35.99%.
For example, if you bought a $50,000 RV and qualified for a 3.99% loan from a credit union with a five-year repayment term, you’d pay $5,236 in interest.
If you instead took out a personal loan for $50,000 and qualified for a five-year loan with a 20.00% interest rate, you’d pay $29,482 in interest charges alone.
Some dealerships want you to put down at least 10% of the price of the RV. But some will allow you to make the final deal with $0 down.
Putting money down might not work in your favor sometimes. Take a loan for more might give you a better interest rate and you can pay a lump sum on the end.
Avoid Multiple Credit Polls
Be careful and avoid multiple credit polls. Some dealers will shop around, which means they will run your credit more than once, which might hurt your credit score. This is called “shot-gunning.”
If you decide to take out a loan, compare offers from multiple personal loan lenders to ensure you get the best rates. But you will need to do this at the same time because it will affect your credit.
Other Costs of Owning an RV
Besides the cost of financing an RV, there are other expenses you’ll need to remember. In addition to the purchase price and interest fees, you’ll have to account for sales tax. Depending on the sales tax rate in your state, taxes could add thousands to the RV’s cost.
Whether To Buy Used or New
Check your ego at the door and be willing to learn all about RVs. Some of the best deals might be on the lot. If a 2014 is still on lot remember that it has seen 3 years of snow and the tires might have dried out. Just because it is new doesn’t mean its ‘new’.
Also. be aware of “Demos.” “Demo” models mean “demolished” so don’t buy these RVs. They are display models and they have been through the wringer.
The main reason to buy USED is that some might have already broken and been fixed by the last owner. So it’s great to find an RV with a one or two person owner, who has kept good records on repairs.
The only thing I see so far that might keep me from moving forward purchasing the right RV — is repairs. Most RVers are saying it doesn’t matter if you get a NEW or USED RV because they will all give you problems because of how fast they are coming off the assembly line. That sounds about right.
Therefore, many are choosing to purchase a used RV, so they will have needed funds to fix things as they come up. Many RVers, who purchased a used RV, should have an emergency fund of at least $5,000 in the bank.
Some who have purchased USED, has said they had smells that were hard to get rid of and others have had bed bugs and soft areas on floors, which is water damage.
Remember that many RVers have pets, which you might be allergic to so in this case you might need to buy ‘NEW.’ The fabric holds odors so get an RV with leather and hardwood flooring.
You need to consider up front the things you would need to have a comfortable living environment. Do you need a larger shower, a bigger eating area, a larger bed?
Some RVs don’t have a pantry. When slides are in, you can’t get into RV pantries, bathrooms or even bedrooms so check this out ahead of time.
If you need any of these things, then be sure to find an RV that meets your physical needs when purchasing. Never cut corners when it comes to comfort, that is a sure way to become miserable when trying to live out of your RV.
RV Warranties (Regular vs. Extended Warranty)
Most RVs are manufactured in Indiana. Understand upfront that RVs are nothing but earthquakes rolling down the road, which means many will have issues.
They are driven or pulled to dealerships so they might have some miles on them. And the dealers won’t fix the small things until they have a sale. Some are just cosmetics and they will fix these ahead of time.
Remember up front that the RV industry is like nothing you have experienced. It might take days, weeks or months for parts to arrive from the manufacturer.
Where will you stay? Some dealerships might allow you to stay in your rig on the lot — but not for too long and — not always.
RV service shops are busy and you have to get in line. You really need to learn to do the simple things yourself or bundle up problems and to take in at end of the season.
There are very few places that take RVs so it might take two weeks or even three to get an appointment for repair. Try to google a ‘go-to’ mobile repair person or google “Mobile RV Mechanic” near you.
If you start having issues with the RV, you want it to be covered under a warranty. New RV warranties might cover structures, but not mechanics so you will need to read the warranty to see what it covers. Take your time and read the FINE PRINT. Don’t just sign anything.
Most warranties only cover maybe up to 2 to 3 years. But you can get an Extended Warranty for another 2 or 3 years. Most of the time at the 5 or 8-year mark, you might start having issues so you will have to take care of that yourself if you don’t have a warranty on it.
If manufacturers agree to fix something, for instance, the refrigerator. But if the island needs to be removed to get to the refrigerator, you will need to pay for that ‘out of pocket’.
Parts might need to be ordered, which might take 2 days to 2 weeks or even longer. If you have an issue with your RV, sometimes it best to just take it somewhere to get it fixed, or call a mobile mechanic or fix it yourself.
Of course with an extended warranty, you should be able to have repairs completed anywhere. Be prepared when it comes to parts and services. Again, service is one of the biggest problems in the RV industry.
Remember if it is under warranty, you can only bring it to an AUTHORIZED REPAIR WARRANTY DEALER to get things fixed, which might be way across the country and they might not be able to get to you right away.
Like the car industry, the RV sale process is STRUCTURED. You have to take control to save the most you can. Don’t be afraid to walk away. Make them feel uncomfortable so be ‘armed with knowledge’.
They are not your friend. Be nice because they can get you a few discounts and will fight for your deal, but don’t trust the salesperson.
They are overwhelmed so check the specs. They change things so much in the RV industry that most salespeople don’t know everything. And remember most of these salespeople don’t even own an RV.
Other Tricks of RV Dealerships
Some of the tricks of RV dealerships so be ready:
We Won’t Work on RVs Unless You Buy It Here: Because the RV industry is so busy, most dealerships will tell you they will ONLY WORK on your particular RV if you buy with them. But this is usually just a dealership ‘scare tactic’ to get you to buy there.
Bait RV: If you see an RV that you really want when you arrive at the dealership, you might want to put down a down payment to hold it. However, that particular model might not even be available. When the paperback is all completed the salesperson might come back to you and tell you, that that unit has been sold in order to get you to buy a newer unit — to get more money out of you. It was probably some type of “BAIT RV,” which was NEVER available for sale in the first place.
No Longer Available: What they do sometimes also if someone don’t take possession right away — once they see an RV they want — is they, RV salesmen, will tell you later on by phone that the unit is NO LONGER AVAILABLE and that you have to pay more for another unit.
Bring It Back In: Another TRICK they do is give you possession after buying or especially when you do a SPOT DELIVERY (have them deliver, which you have to pay for), is tell you to bring it back in – in 2 to 3 weeks (after you have fallen in love with it) because your financing fell through. Then they try to get you to pay more. They do this with cars also.
What Else You Need To Know About Buying An RV
Depreciation: Think about selling it when you buy it. How you get into it will dictate how you get out of it. RVs depreciate — maybe up to 50% in 2 years. Once it has been purchased and titled, you can’t just swap it back in because then it’s considered “USED.”
Seasonal Vehicles: RVs are not meant to be heavily used. They are a seasonal recreational vehicle so this is why you will have issues with them especially if you move around a lot.
RV Differences: RVs are much more similar than different. No RV is exactly alike even if it came from the same manufacturer. They might have run out of parts from one vendor, so they might change something when building it. They all add features from a SMALL GROUP of vendors. For instance, they choose from three (3) RV air conditioner vendors.
Regulating Temperature: When shopping for RV, understand up front that to regulate the temperature in the RV will be a challenge. It’s not like a home. The RV is one and a half to 2 inches thick so pay attention to the season you camp in. You might have to become a ‘Snowbird’ to live comfortably, buy a second air conditioner or follow 70-degree weather around the country until you can afford solar panels.
Fix Everything Before You Take Delivery: Make sure they plug up everything and fix everything before you take ownership even if you have to go back home or wait around a few days. If you purchase at an RV show, it might be 30 days or longer before they can find the exact one for you.
Check Out Manufacturers: Make sure the manufacturer stands behind the plan. GOOGLE THEM. Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB.org). Check the ‘ownership side’ and the ‘seller side’. Will you get service from the independent dealer? Find all of this out ahead of time.
Spot Deliveries: Always remember if they still have ownership, it’s THEIR ISSUE. If you have taken ownership, it’s YOUR ISSUE — so slow down and keep this in mind. Slow down and don’t be so quick to take delivery. It’s best not to do a “Spot Delivery.” Keep in mind, they will charge you for this too. They will do this once they know you have GOOD CREDIT. Make sure you have someone who understands your unit show you around or wait around for this person and make sure you understand everything before leaving. You might need to do this a couple of times.
What To Look for When Buying An RV
You want to visually look at it before you buy. Look at ‘attention to detail’ within the RV? Is it going to hold up or is it cheap looking? Many new RVs like new cars, uses cheaper material so unless you are buying a name brand like Winnebago, Tiffin or Airstream then you can buy an older RV.
Look at the roof and make sure it’s arched.
Is there a full plate outside of the RV where the furnace is available? Furnaces will go out in cold weather. Labor is expensive so if you have to fix something, it will be more expensive. Many RVers just use a smaller heaters (Mr. Buddy or Champion) instead of the furnace unless they live in extremely colder weather.
Look at the frame and chassis of the RV. All chassis are made by Lippert. Is it for off-road? Do you have shocks on axil? Many RVers end up adding more shocks to their RVs so it rides better.
What about insulation. There is quality material used for insulation. Your walls will probably only be 2 inches thick. Some companies use fiberglass. You should use the high-density foam or styrofoam over the pink stuff. The pink stuff is sheets of fiberglass, which can sag over time so you will have no insulation toward the upper part of RV.
Is there insulation in the slideouts? Many slideouts have issues with leaking and letting air in so again try to check this out.
What about storage bay doors. Look to see if they are well-insulated. Is it keeping the bedroom warm? How well have they treated that area?
Is the shower door or outside shower door insulated? Is there an outside shower?
Look for an electric awning so you can shut it quick. Make sure the awning cover the slide so you can’t get debris at the top of the slideouts. Never leave the awning out when you leave.
Ask how many thousand-pound axil and compare to specs.
Look on the bottom. Is there obvious signs of rust. If you buy in coastal cities (Florida, Michigan, etc.) or colder climates where salt is laid out on roads, there might be signs of corrosion or rust on the bottom or sides of RV so look for this.
Walk with your shoes off to see if the floors are foamy, which means it could be signs of water damage
There are surely PROs and CONS to each dealing with wholesalers or regular dealerships. This wholesalers prices might be cheaper than regular dealerships or even personal owners that you can find through facebook marketplace, on eBay, Craiglist, etc.
One RVer said this about wholesalers. “I have noticed some wholesale RV dealers with what on the surface looks like good deals. In one case I saw a $14 K difference in a very solid brand from the wholesale place compared to the dealer in a neighboring town. Problem is the wholesale dealer is 1000 miles away so it’s hard to put your hand on the product, plus there’s another $1500 to deliver. But still on the service looks like a good deal. But I still don’t know really if I’m comparing apples to apples or apples to lemons as in lemon law type rejects. Plus a dozen other issues have me second guessing what looks like a sweet deal. Plus the financial side of me is saying, ‘relax, wait until you are ready, there will be other opportunities when you are truly ready next year. Stay with the plan.'”
List Of Pros and Cons of Cars, Vans, and RVs
How much you spend on an RV depends on its use. Decide if you are going to go Full-Time RVing or travel by car, van, RV, bus, boat, etc. There are plenty of articles, books, videos on google, youtube.com, etc. on everything about how to camp out in these.
If you plan to use it for occasional weekend trips, you can purchase something smaller and cheaper. However, if you plan to make it your primary living space, you’ll probably need to spend more so it meets your needs.
The key issues are whether you have a shower, flush toilet, air conditioning or heating. If you need these, then a Class B or a larger RV is your best choice.
But if ‘stealth camping’ is your highest priority (where you can fit in with all the cars and hide out in your car or van) and comfort is a very close second, then a box/step van would be a better choice. It will give you great stealth and enough room to add all the comforts you need.
On the other hand, if you can compromise on room and comfort, then you may be okay in a van. You might be saying I want to get the heck out of dodge.
Remember, if you are transitioning into that life — you are not tired to a rig — you are tired to that life. Why it comes to buying an RV, the main consideration with RV’s is their terrible fuel economy. This is why many just choose to become a car or van dweller.
Also, remember you can pull an economy car behind the RV. A towed car gets better fuel economy, but now you have more tires and two vehicles to maintain and pay insurance on.
A diesel pickup is noisy and smelly and generally doesn’t get great fuel economy and sometimes diesel is hard to find.
Pros and Cons of Different Type of RVs
Many RVers chose their RVs for specific reasons. Many women who will be traveling solo, rather have an RV that they don’t have to get out and hook it up — apparently for safety reasons. If they feel threatened by another person, a bear, mountain lion, or some other animal, they can just hop into their front seats and drive off.
Some RVers would like to be able to take a break from driving and pull over and walk into the back of their RVs and make a sandwich, instead of locking the vehicle and walking into the back. So you see many RVers have different reasons for choosing the type of RVs they chose.
Van or Class B Van
You can strip out a van.
Better gas mileage.
Great mobility so you can get up and go.
Great for stealth camping.
More affordable than a Class B plus, Class C and Class A.
There is a demand for a smaller type of RVs that can go more places.
It can go into the back country and woods and stay there for weeks.
You can get a used van for $3000 t0 $5000.
No shower. It might have an exterior show or you can buy a shower tent or take a shower on campgrounds, at fitness clubs, etc.
There is not a big refrigerator. If you are a foodie and like to cook that’s a con.
Don’t have a lot of room. They don’t have as much room as a Class C and Class A.
There is stress to have to move every night if you go into cities (stealth camping).
They can get hotter than RVs so you can’t or shouldn’t leave animals in vans or maybe even some electronics unless you find a way to keep it cool.
Class B plus (also called Class C)
You can take into cities.
Better on gas mileage,
You can take in campgrounds like national parks where they are required to be 25 ft.
Resale values are higher.
They can be pricey.
They can’t go down every road because they don’t have clearance.
Class C also the ‘Super C’
They are 22 up to 30 feet.
They have a cab that extends over the cockpit with a bed.
They are generally roomier and more comfortable.
You can have a bed, dinette, kitchen, and shower.
It’s obvious that there is someone sleeping in there so you can’t stealth park in cities.
They might have leaking problems.
There are so many, they depreciate quickly so you will lose money if you sale.
You will need to tow a car to save money on gas and not have to break camp for day trips.
Cost is $50,000 to $100,000.
Great for those who want more convenience, features, and comforts of home.
They don’t fit in regular campgrounds so your camping options are limited. Many campgrounds have a 25 feet limit.
They are hard to maneuver.
They get bad gas mileage.
You will need to tow a car to save money on gas and not have to break camp for day trips.
They can cost up to $500,000 or more.
5th Wheels Trailer
They can be quite roomy.
They are much better than travel trailers and are easier to drive and back up.
Once you have set up camp, you can drive the tow vehicle on day trips without breaking camp.
Gas mileage is bad.
They are in campgrounds, but not in all places.
The hitch in the bed of the pickup takes up much of its storage space.
Hooking, unhooking can be a hassle.
Leveling can be a hassle.
You might want to buy a backup camera if they don’t come with one.
Unlike most other RVs, trailers must be towed by another vehicle.
They’re smaller than other options, but also cheaper.
Older ones can be bought very cheaply and have all the comforts of home.
These trailers hook up to the trailer hitch of a pickup (or SUV with the smaller, lighter models), leaving the bed of the truck available to carry more stuff.
Once you have set up camp, you can drive the tow vehicle on day trips without breaking camp.
Leveling can be a hassle.
They are not as easy to drive as a fifth wheel and are unstable at high speeds.
Many can flip over in high winds.
Truck with Camper
It’s a small place.
You can go into back country and set up outdoor space.
If something breaks — camper and car can be separated to get fixed.
You can get a used camper for $1000 on craigslist.
You cannot take your camper to a city park or you can’t stealth park because you have to walk from the car to camper.
Not tied to your car.
They can be very affordable.
You can take the car to lots of places and go sightseeing.
They can get wind gust and jackknife so the RV can be trickier to drive.
School Buses, Horse Trailers, Boats, etc.
You can make a schooly (school bus) and make it into a camper. You have to have an artistic vision.
You can make a semi, horse trailer and boat into a camper.
They might get bad gas mileage.
Also, there is upkeep, especially if they are older.
You can’t stealth camp in a city.
RV Makes and Models
Below are the makes and models for RVs:
Canterbury Park Models
RV Dealerships To Avoid
These are just some of the dealerships to avoid when buying used or new. They all have major complaints in the RV world.
Just some of the dealerships to avoid include:
Forest River Violations: Remember that most RVs are made in Indiana so naturally the big brands like Forest River will have more violations. Violations top $250,000 in Elkhart, IN. They were hit with thousands of dollars in safety violations. Workers blame drug use and poor safety practices (click here).
CampingWorld.com: They have the worst Customer Service on the internet, especially in facebook forums. I even read they are looking at filing for bankruptcy. Many RVers trade in their RVs every 32 to 40 months. And that’s when many RVers at Camping World, find out how they were cheated by them.
GanderOutdoors.com: This company is Camping World sister company so naturally the association can’t be good.
Lazydays RV: They have a bad reputation.
Leisure Travel RV: You have to get parts in Germany so they have bad customer service.
Thor: This company has a bad reputation and also owns Jayco RVs, which also have a bad reputation in the RV industry.
To obtain a list of all the RV recalls subscribe to RVTravel.com.
Thor recalls motorhomes for loose bolts that could affect steering – Apr. 19, 2019
Jayco recalls some trailers: Fresh water tank could fall off – May 14, 2019
REV Group recalls some Flair, Holiday Rambler motorhomes – May 23, 2019
Livin’ Lite recalls some RVs for blocked escape windows – May 24, 2019
3 Top and Best RVs To Purchase
These RVs were top brands years ago but of course today RVs are made with cheaper parts.
The top 3 RVs include:
Family run business
Tiffin’s warranty covers 10 years on the frame construction, five years on fiberglass delamination or wall separation, one year or 12,000 miles comprehensive coverage, one year of 24/7 roadside service and ongoing owner support for as long as you own your RV.
Most Class and Size Options
Class A, B, C and travel trailers available
WIT Social Club
If you’re looking for a broad selection of RVs to choose from, Winnebago has nearly 30 models. Winnebago RV models include Class A, B and C RVs, travel trailers, and a fifth-wheel RV model. Prices range from as low as $21,153 to over $250,000.
Most Customizable Options
Custom configuration options
The aerodynamic design saves up to 20% on fuel costs
Known for their sleek, silver design, Airstream offers nine models of fifth-wheel travel trailers ranging in price from $37,400 to $152,000. It also makes five models of Class B touring coaches costing around $149,240 to $221,000.
Cathy Harris is a soon to be Full-Time RVer living ‘The Good Life’ and her blog website is SimpleLifeRVing.com. She is also an Empowerment and Motivational Speaker, Advice Columnist at DearCathy.com, Non-GMO Health and Wellness Expert, Business and Love Coach and Self-Publishing Expert and the author of 26 non-fiction books at www.AngelsPress.com. Her books cover topics such as family and community empowerment, health, youth and adult entrepreneurship, writing/publishing, workplace discrimination, whistleblowing, government, law enforcement, domestic and international traveling, politics, media, beauty, car buying and selling for women, aging/retirement – just to name a few. She offers seminars, workshops, and consultations at www.CathyHarrisInternational.com.