1. Will You Be Mobile or Stationary? Remember there are several types of Van Dwellers and RVers. Some move every 2 to 3 days, which can be costly (gas). Others move every 2 to 3 weeks, and others every month or two or every 6 months. However, a large portion of Van Dwellers and RVers are what you call stationary. Many times they are stationary due to their health, to be around family or they might have a job that doesn’t allow them to be mobile, so figure out early on what type of traveler you will be. Personally, I enjoy moving every 2 to 3 weeks. I like exploring and checking out one area at a time to see if I can come back to that area when I need to relax.
2. Have Some Type of Protection With You: It doesn’t matter what type of background you have. It is not safe to be out on the road with no protection. You might need a taser, pepper spray, bear spray, gun, pellet gun, knife, whistle, jogger’s alarm, take a self-defense course, etc. Read the article I wrote “Keep Safe When Camping.”
3. Get Regular Maintenance on Your Vehicle: You need to get regular maintenance on your vehicle especially if it is new. This might just take paying attention and keep a maintenance log. This way especially if you travel a lot, you will have your favorite places to get maintenance on your vehicle.
4. Carry Emergency Supplies With You: I believe some people just forget to carry the orange cones in case they break down on the freeway, fire extinguishers (at least 2), CO2 detectors, and plenty of batteries. Many new van dwellers and RVers end up getting on the road without these.
5. Clean Your Van Everyday: Remember living in your van is just like a house so it is important that you clean up everyday so you don’t attract flies especially in the heat. Also, try not to park by a dumpster because this is where rats hang out at – which can also get into your van.
6. Park Your Van Level: Park your van level, otherwise, you will be rolling out of your bed at night. I did not invest yet in any type of levelers for my tires. I just make sure my emergency breaks are on every night and I try to park level on a flat surface.
7. Download Weather Apps: Monitor at least 4 or 5 weather apps such as #Weather, #TheWeatherChannel, #WeatherNation, #MyRadar, #Windy, etc. You never know how the weather will change from day to day so take advantage of nice, breezy day — days where you can be comfortable especially if you only have a temporary build. At month number five (5), I made the statement that I finally feel like I am on vacation and the very next day, I literally almost blow away in my van. About 3 times I got up to go and find a building to park beside off that could block the wind off. So you have to be on your toes living in this lifestyle. You want to especially be careful on BLM.gov or National Forest land. It can be problematic if you fall asleep on this land and wake up in the rain in mud, so again, you have to pay attention. Also, one of the reasons I have not utilized it as much as I should is that I like being somewhere where I can get on the internet.
8. Birds Chirp All Night: I have been woken up all times of the night by the birds chirping. I do believe because of what has happened, we are moving back to nature and this is why you hear birds chirping at all times of the day and night.
9. Keep Changing Your Temporary Build-Out: I believe everyone who has a temporary setup will continue to make small or large changes to it. However, at this point, I don’t plan on spending any more money on my temporary setup. I did, however, go ahead and buy the portable solar panels (100 Watts) to charge up my Jackery 500 power box. That way I do not have to idle my car or drive just to charge up my box.
10. Get Referrals for Your Permanent Build-Out: If you still have a temporary build-out and you do need others to help with your build then get around others that can give you referrals. Attend events such as the yearly Van Build in November in Parker, AZ, and the yearly Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR) in Quartzsite, AZ. Also, join caravans at www.Meetup.com/Caravans. The good thing about caravans and when you find your tribe. When you want to be alone, it’s easy to just get up and leave.
Many people on the road especially those that live in cars and van are viewed to be homeless. As a former veteran and a person that loves traveling and who has traveled quite extensively in the U.S., I feel quite lucky as a #VanLifer to have several residences that I can go to if I need to get off the road. First of all, my family owns over 30 acres in Georgia so I can always go back there or with other family members or friends in other areas.
May 4, 2020
My name is Cathy Harris and I teach Business Ownership through my line of Seminars and Workshops and I have two business books. I do believe these two professions, RV Inspectors and RV Techs will be in high demand especially after what has just happened in this country.
After the 2008 financial crash, many chose the Nomad lifestyle and turned to Car, Van, and RV living so I feel it will be the same this time, which will create many opportunities for RV Inspectors and RV Techs.
Many have said the Baby Boomer generation was the best generation. As a Baby Boomer myself, I believe this to be true. Some have regular monthly incomes so they have been able to go RVing with their grandchildren and other family members and just relax — as they see more than just their backyards.
Being stationary as an RV Tech has its perks, but so does being mobile. Marketing will be key for both of these professions. Not only should you market your business on the side of your vehicle, but also in local newspapers, RV radio shows and podcasts, but don’t forget to form relationships with Campgrounds and RV Parks, who can send referrals your way.
Let me know if you have any other questions on business ownership and don’t forget to check out my two business books “How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide To Starting Your Own Business’ (Series 2) and “The New CEO: 185 Easy-To-Set Up Businesses for Youth and Adult Entrepreneurs.’
Cathy Harris Celebrates Six-Month Van Anniversary – #VanLife, #StarShip
Videos of My Temporary Van Build – #StarShip
Part 1 – My Temporary #VanBuild – #CathyHarris, #VanDweller
Part 2 – My Temporary #VanBuild – #CathyHarris, #VanDweller
Changes I Made to My Temporary Build – #VanLife
What I Did Wrong
- Not Obtaining A Piss Container/Bucket Up Front: This should have been the first item that I bought — once I became a van owner. However, I still woke up some mornings in the beginning and tried to make it to gas stations. After doing this a couple of times, I quickly obtained a piss container and a $5 bucket from home depot and a plastic toilet seat cover from Walmart. Because I was raised in the country in rural Georgia and never had an indoor bathroom, I had no issue with relieving myself in this manner. I made it a point to buy garbage bags and double or triple them up and just dump every day or two. I use baking soda for the smell and have went up to 5 or 6 days without dumping because of it.
- Not Obtaining A Wash Basin Upfront: I can’t believe since coming on the road the last six months, because I go to gyms quick often, I haven’t had any desire to go to a hotel or a family member’s home to take a bath. Before coming on the road, I wasn’t a fan of showers and was taking 3 baths a day, but you will get used to your new lifestyle fairly quickly out here on the road. I feel really pampered when I go to the gym and as long as you feel you are nurturing and pampering yourself — you will be okay. After obtaining a piss container/bucket, buying a basin to wash up in will be essential. Having a clean body will make this lifestyle more doable. I did not go out and buy a wash basin until maybe a week. At first, especially when I traveled, I made it a point to use sinks in gas stations to wash up. I remember the first time I went 7 days without being in the gym or taking a bath. It was indeed a new day for me, but after growing up without running water and using a tin tub to wash up, I realized quite quickly that this lifestyle was indeed doable. I did not even want to take showers at truck stops initially, but now (at $8 to $15) — besides gyms, truck stops especially Pilots/Flying J’s, are some of my favorite places to wash up.
- Not Buying A Power Box (Jackery 500) Upfront: I had been looking at different power boxes for months, even before I got on the road, but I was overwhelmed with what to buy. The reviews on Amazon and YouTube.com was so confusing until I actually put my choice on the back burner — while I concentrated on other things. This was a big, big mistake that I would regret later on. After 90 days (3 whole months), I had no other choice but to make this purchase. I had the money from the very beginning, but just did not know which to buy. After the Jackery 500 went on sale on Amazon for $400 instead of $500, I jumped at the chance to buy it. It took me a couple of more weeks to test it to see if the two main appliances (a “Blender” I bought from Amazon.com and my “Steamer” I bought from Walmart) would work with it. I had my doubts after continuing to watch several more reviews. Both were very inexpensive so I felt I really did not have anything to lose, however, I knew I needed to change the way I was eating and eat more healthier. After trying both out I was quite surprised that they both worked and really happy that I would no longer have to depend on being around grocery stores at meal times and that I would be able to prepare my meals more naturally (juiced and steamed) on the road.
- Not Buying Lights Upfront: Before getting on the road, I had given away several lamps (small and large) before leaving my apartment because I did not know that I would be able to use these with my power box (Jackery 500). Not having a power box for 90 days also gave me a reason not to purchase any kind of lights. I had to literally depend on my phone flashlight the first couple of weeks of van life so I was fumbling around in the dark most nights and even tried to get everything done before dark. Eventually, I did go into Walmart to the camping section and found a great selection of camping lights that I put throughout the van. These looked just like regular socket lights back home on the wall so I was quite pleased with my purchase.
- Not Buying Containers or Plastic Drawers Upfront: I was inundated with so many decisions that I did not want to buy anything for the van until I got my bed in it. That decision put me back several days. I eventually had to make a decision and was just hoping it was the right one. Because my bed was so low to the floor, I would have had to buy special containers to put under my bed so that lead me to just purchase plastic containers and dressers to put upfront, until I was ready for my permanent build. This left nothing under the bed so luckily that space came in handy when I had to store more supplies for #Corona (toilet tissue, paper towels, more food, etc.).
- Getting Gas When Tired: One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was to pay attention to what I was doing especially when I got gas. Most RVers and Van Dwellers should get gas the night before if they plan on having a big trip the next day. So after I took a nap at a grocery store and was about to go into my #StealthCamping spot for the night, I got gas. Because I was tired, the backside of my van scrapped against one of the yellow barriers at the gas station. Again, the van was so big and long and it stuck out everywhere, so initially, I had trouble parking it. But after that fiasco, I paid more attention especially when I was around gas stations. Luckily the damage was not that bad.
- Not Knowing My Van Height: Well like most RVers or Van Dwellers, until I bought my van, I never paid attention to signs that tell you the height when you can drive. These signs are not just posted on freeways before you get to low hanging bridges, they are posted on most places where there is some type of cover — even at fast- food driveways and car washes. I went into a car wash one day and realized the top of a pole that they had there was scraping the top of my van when I came out. I got out and look around and figured out the last time I was there, I actually went in another side — that was higher. Luckily, it was a low-hanging pole that I don’t believe did any damage up there, but I won’t know until I have my Maxx Aire Deluxe fans or solar installed and then hopefully they will cover the damage.
- Not Knowing Tag Procedures in My State: I bought my van in Atlanta instead of Texas, but had my #HomeState address in Texas so that posed a big issue for me enjoying my van life initially. The tag office gave me the run around from the very beginning and because the car dealership where I bought the van in Atlanta had horrible customer service, my tag experience was not very well. The car dealership had to send temporary tags to me twice. The first time I ended up driving without tags (expired tags) for a few days so I was at risk to get a ticket. After I finally received the tags, I found out from the tag office that they would have mailed them to me if I had to move on to another state, but yet even after going to this office and calling on the phone, they never told me this. After spending 80 days in Houston waiting on my tags, which was the closest big city to Livingston, TX, where my address was located, I just wanted to be out of Houston.
What I Did Right
- Bought the Right Vehicle: Many RVers and Van Dwellers have regrets after purchasing either a van or RV. Many go on to another vehicle within the first 1 to 2 years, however, up until 1 to 2 months of getting on the road full-time and ‘teaching from the road’ in my new youtube platform, I was #TeamRV (Class C) instead of #TeamVan. I am very satisfied with my purchase. Many times I #StealthCamp and there are so many vehicles out there that look exactly like my commercial Dodge Promaster 3500 Cargo Van. So unless they are writing down tag numbers this has allowed me to be able to park at many more places.
- Do a Temporary Build First: Some people are fortunate enough to be able to obtain their van then build it out permanently before getting on the road, but I did not have this luxury. Despite conducting 7 months of research on youtube, google and reading books, I just did not have all the pieces for the puzzle to be able to build out my van permanently upfront. I needed more time to think about what I really wanted to include in the van so I am glad I waited.
- Bought the Hooks and Bungee Cords from Walmart: My expertise was never building anything out so I knew when it came to building out my van, there wasn’t much that I would be able to offer. However, one of the best — if not the best choice I made was buying the hooks and bungee cords from Walmart and putting them throughout the van. Because it was a Promaster Cargo Van, it already had the holes to place the hooks in so until I can get a permanent build-out (hopefully, by fall 2020) or a next stage setup — including 2 Maxx Air Deluxe Fans, Controller, 2,000 to 3,000 Watt Inverter, 2 AGM Batteries, and Refrigerator — my temporary setup will work just fine, however, I will need to follow 70-degree weather around the country.
- Bought the Jackery 500 Power Box: There are all types of power boxes out there. It was a great decision to buy the Jackery 500 power box as my first power box. However, if I had waited I would have been able to buy the Jackery 1000, which would have been even better.
- Did Not Use Propane: I knew from day one that I did not want propane in my van. However, I just did not know how I would stay warm or even eat without it. It took 90 days for me to figure out the best and correct way to eat without propane when I bought my powerbox (Jackery 500) and I told you above how I spent many nights freezing because I refused to put propane in my van. Unlike other van lifers who use propane to cook with and to keep warm, many buy the Mr. Buddy Heaters (that comes in 3 sizes) or the Olympian Wave 3 (or 6) Catalytic Heaters, I wasn’t certain if propane actually leaked off some type of poisonous heavy metal. If you have to crack windows and let air in when you use propane and these types of heaters then naturally there is some type of toxin or poison in the air so this is what I was trying to avoid. My goal was to look at my new lifestyle and still incorporate my healthy habits and to me having good air quality around me was very important.
- Put Reflectix Around My Ice Chest: Putting reflectix around my ice chest was indeed one of the better decisions I made. Now instead of getting ice every 3 to 4 days, I can actually do this every 6 days.
- Put a Comfortable Bed in It: One of the first things a car dweller, vanner or even RVer should look at is their bed and ask themselves — “Will It Be Comfortable?” I am so glad I was able to bring my bed with me. I thought about it for months and had I gotten the type of RV (Class C) that I wanted, there is a good chance that I would have had to cut off the ends of my mattress. Once I went #TeamVan, then I had no doubt that I could bring my comfortable bed with me.
- Bought A Sleeping Bag/Long Johns: Because my lease at my Senior Apartments in Orlando ended on October 1, I had no other choice but to start my journey off in cooler weather. However, I do prefer cooler weather over hotter weather any day so I have no regrets starting out in the Fall/Winter months. The only time I really remember camping out was in the military over 40 years ago so because I was very inexperienced when it came to camping, I had no idea that a Sleeping Bag and Long Johns (Cuddl Duds) should have been one of my first purchases. It took almost freezing to death in Houston — to realize that so again if you decide to get out here on the road, a Sleeping Bag and Long Johns (Cuddl Duds at Walmart) are quite essential to this lifestyle especially if you start your journey off in cooler weather.
- Used the Verizon Mi-Fi (Jetpack): There were several options on the table for me to be able to get on the internet, but this one seemed fairly easy. My goal was to always be around an area (city or rural), where I could get online so I am satisfied choosing this option. I have had very little issues with not being able to use it with my laptop, tablet, and phone.
- Stockpiled Supplies: Even before Corona hit on Mar. 3, 2020, I was pretty much stockpiling supplies especially water, toilet tissue, paper towels, baby wipes, garbage bags, detergent, bath cloths, batteries (double and Triple A’s), healthy foods, packaged foods for emergencies, vitamins and supplements, etc. so it is always good to have a fresh, supply of goods on hand.
Mar. 26, 2020
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 part or full-time adventures is not what RV, van or car dwelling is about.
Tips to keep RVs and Vans cool include:
- Point RV or Van 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 or Van dark and much cooler. It 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 or Van.
- 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 RV 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, 24 Hour Fitness, Anytime Fitness, 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 or Van 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.
Cathy Harris Educates on Staying Healthy on The Road – Van Life Health Playlist
Don’t Go to the Gym – Do a Detox Program First!
Did you know that many people will start the New Year off by joining a gym and by the month of March (some by Valentine’s Day) they will already be out of there?
Why You Should Engage in a Detox Program?
If you are apparently overweight with very low energy, then don’t go to the gym but instead engage in a detox program first. This process will take anywhere from 1 to 2 to 3 weeks depending on the type of detoxification program you choose from a health food store.
Remember your health begins in your colon so a colon cleanse (detox) should be a priority while you work your way up to a liver and kidney detox.
Detoxification (detox for short) is a natural healing process needed more than ever in today’s toxic world. Just as the outer environments in which we live can become polluted with trash, violated with industrial chemicals, our inner environments (our bodies) can become filled with toxic garbage as well.
Many of these toxins come from our diets, drug use, and environmental exposure. By engaging in a detoxification program we are actively assisting and supporting the body in its own natural cleansing actions to help in ridding the body of substances that may be detrimental to our health.
Learn how to find all the health food stores in your neighborhood and the type of detoxes you should purchase by reading the article at the end of this article or the health book.
Couch Potato Lifestyle
It’s estimated by many experts that this will be the first generation that WILL NOT outlive their parents. The main reason is Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) found in 90% of foods in grocery stores which have no nutritional value and leading a sedentary (sitting posture) lifestyle.
A sedentary lifestyle or “the couch potato lifestyle” has contributed to over 200,000 PREVENTABLE deaths a year. The leading causes of death for people with heart disease, cancer, stroke, kidney disease, liver disease, and diabetes are most strongly influenced by lifestyle.
What to Do Before Starting an Exercise Program
Before starting any type of regular exercise program see your doctor first to make sure your body can take working out. Remember to always start off slow (start off walking) then work yourself up over the next few weeks and months to a more intense form of working out, if and only if, you are in shape for that type of workout.
If you have been sedentary for some time, try exercising in water. Water aerobics are excellent for those who are overweight or who find walking or running difficult.
Some easy ways to add physical activity to your daily routine include:
- Park the car farther away from your destination.
- Get on or off the bus several blocks away.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
- Take fitness breaks instead of cigarette or coffee breaks. Walk, stretch or do some office exercises.
- Perform gardening, yard work, heavy house cleaning, or home-repair activities.
- Exercise while watching TV. For example, use hand weights, a stationary bike or treadmill, stretch, or perform body-weight exercises such as crunches, push-ups and squats.
- Keep a pair of comfortable walking or running shoes in your car and office. You’ll be ready for activity wherever you go.
- Walk while doing errands.
Know the Dangers of Working Out in a Gym
Many people will start the New Year off by joining a gym and by the month of March they will already be out of there. Why? Because they should have engaged in a detox program first so they could gain the long-term energy they will need to pace themselves.
Did you know you can freeze your membership at most gyms if you don’t plan on attending for a while? Fitness gyms have memberships for $20 or $30 a month and you don’t have to sign a contract (LA Fitness, Gold’s Gym, YMCAs, etc.). But be careful when working out in a gym.
Some of the dangers of working out in a gym include:
-Underqualified staff or physical trainers (untrained staff members pretending to know what they are doing)
-Bacteria on equipment (including exercise mats so bring your own or clean off mats) and in showers (always wear shoes)
-Faulty equipment (many persons have been paralyzed from using faulty equipment at gyms so pay attention and don’t exercise when you are sleepy or too tired).
Wear the Right Equipment to Work Out
It’s very motivational to have on the right equipment when you are working out especially your shoes. If you plan on starting a walking program then invest in walking shoes.
Sports Authority has a great selection of workout clothes and tennis shoes for under $60. If you have a foot injury then chances are you will stop working out altogether so invest in expensive socks so your feet can feel comfortable.
If you plan on starting an aerobic program then buy cross-trainer shoes. If you plan on running everyday then invest in running shoes.
Don’t forget that water bottle so you can sip water throughout your workout. Wearing the right equipment will help you feel good about yourself and will help you get results even sooner.
Warm It Up
Make sure you warm-up before exercising. Your warm-up is just as important as your workout, however, with busy schedules, people forget to stretch and heat up their bodies. Many just settle for a few toe-touches which can leave them in pain or injured.
A good warm-up will provide increased flexibility and will activate the necessary muscles for training and competition. It also speeds up your blood flow and causes your core temperature to rise, which will prepare you to train at your highest levels. Good preparation makes for a great workout.
Preventing Soreness When Exercising
Getting sore after exercising will not only keep you from continuing to exercise, it might make you stop all together. Therefore, to prevent soreness remember to use natural remedies for soreness versus the over-the-counter creams that can leak into your blood system and cause your body to become toxic.
For instance, always keep Epsom salt by your bathtub to use when you go home from the gym and for muscle cramps rub pure, unprocessed olive or flaxseed oil into your muscles before and after strenuous exercise.
The Right Way to Lose Weight
In order to lose weight, you must exercise. When you look at the people that are successful at losing weight and keeping it off, they are active, plain and simple.
Being overweight is caused most often by overeating and under-exercising. Excessive weight can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer, diabetes, and gallstones.
Get Some Type of Cardiovascular Exercise
The more fit you are, the longer you are likely to live. Being fit usually means you engage in some type of “cardio” or “cardiovascular” exercise. Cardiovascular exercises are any type of exercise that gets your heart rate up and keep it up for at least 20 to 30 minutes.
Everyone should be engaged in some type of cardiovascular exercise (fast or power walking, running, aerobics, swimming, bicycling/spinning, etc.) at least 3, 4 or 5 days a week for 30 to 45 minutes.
Learn more by reading my health book “How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide to Becoming Healthier Over the Next 30 Days” (available as an e-book or paperback book at www.AngelsPress.com) or read the e-article below.
How To Engage in A Complete Detoxification Program
– E-article by CathyHarrisSpeaks.com
Van Life Health Videos
Van Lifer Educates on How To Stay Off Medications
What You Need To Know About Water, Dehydration and Alkalinity
Why You Can’t Breathe – #VanLife
Van Lifer Healthy Food Choices on The Road
How I Eat On the Road To Stay Healthy, #VanLife
New Nomad Introduces Health Food Stores to Nomadic Community and YOU
New Nomad Explains Natural Healing – #HowWeThink
Cathy Harris Share Her Health Journey/Testimony with the Nomadic Community – #VanLife, #HolisticHealing.
- Trucker’s App by Rand Mcnally
- Copilot GPS
- GPS 770
Websites Not Apps
- Google Maps (Google maps might send you to low clearance bridges so be careful).
- Allstays (They have a page listing Walmarts you can stay at).
- Park Advisor (RV parks and campgrounds)
- TollGuru (Trip & Toll Calculator – car, truck, etc.)
- Ultimate U.S. Military FAMCAMPS (For active duty military, military retirees and 100 disabled vets only)
- Army Corps of Engineers Campgrounds (These campgrounds are for everyone).
- Free Roam (Boondocking campground locator)
- KOA (Kampgrounds of America, Inc. – Search for campgrounds)
- The Dyrt (Find campgrounds and reviews by states)
- iOverlander (Browse places on maps and update your travel history)
- RV Dump Sites (Free campsites with dump stations)
- Pilot Flying J
- Love’s Truck Stop
- USA Rest Stop Locator
- iExit (Your roadtrip pitstop finder)
- Good Sam Camping Club (They have camping discounts and tow services)
- RV Checklist (A checklist of steps to check upon arrival and leaving parks or campgrounds)
- FindFriends (An app to help you can keep up with friends in RVs).
- RVillage.com (To find other RVers in your area).
- RVTravel.com (RV magazine with recalled RVs)
- RVLife.com (RV magazine and campground reviews)
- RVTrader.com (To find used and new RVs)
- US Public Lands (Worth the $2.99 cost).
- Ultimate Public Campgrounds (Over 40,300 in U.S. & CA) (Cost $3.99).
- OvernightRVParking.com (Subscription is $24.95).
- AllTrails (To find hiking trails. Subscription is $29.99 a year).
- Windy.com (gives you 3-hour updates, wind speed, wind directions, wind gust, and Hurricanes forecasts)
- The Weather Channel
- My Radar
- Weather Bug
Apps To Monitor Gas
- Gas Buddy
- Gas Guru
- Gas Cubby
Just some of the Memberships and Apps for RV and Van Dwellers include:
- 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.
- Happy Camper Half Price Camping Club: $39.99 a year and you get 50% off 1200 camping grounds in the U.S. and Canada.
- Explore RV Club: $60 a year and you get a discount on your insurance and roadside assistance.
- Recreational USA: $44 a year and 10% off camp grounds.
- 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.
- HarvestHosts.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.
Most folks will be parking at RV parks and campgrounds, but today they have become overcrowded.
- Rest Areas
- Truck Stops
- Truck Weigh Stations
- Gas Stations
- Sam’s Club
- Home Depot
- Ruby Tuesday
- Brass Pros Shops (also own Cabela’s)
- Cracker Barrel
- Casinoes (Also check out CasinoCamping.com)
- 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)
- National Parks
- 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 (or less) to park in someone’s driveway or on their land. Tell them you will only show up at dark and leave during the daytime.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Go to Freecampsites.net
- Google Earth (Zoom in to look at the spot)
- US Public Lands App (Then look for U.S. Public Land for 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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 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.
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.
There are many people who will rob or harm you in the wild. There are bears, cougars, boars, wolves, snakes, and gators that are hungry.
- Get a Concealed Weapons Permit (if required in your state) and carry a small pistol in your pocket at all times. A .22 will make enough noise to make someone run, but you will need a 9mm or .40 with a well-placed shot to kill a criminal or wild animal. Get trained and practice on a regular basis. This can also come in handy if attacked by a bear, wolf, snake, or cougar. A pistol will cost $150-$500.
- If you are on a low budget, you can get a scary looking pellet gun at Walmart for $20- $80.
This will not kill anyone but you could blind an attacker if you were good enough to shoot their eye. The hand cockers are fun to shoot, but may not scare a criminal away. I would go for a $50 CO2 model and keep in pocket.
- A $1 folding knife from Dollar Store.
- A $10 Pepper Spray on your key ring or in your pocket from Walmart.
- Several $1- $10 flashlights. I have one shaped like a billy club that is by my driver’s seat at all times ($24 Walmart). Lights in the eyes at night will confuse a criminal or animal. Go for the brightest ones.
- A $1 whistle on key chain or in pocket will confuse a criminal or animal.
7 A $15 compressed air horn on key chain or in pocket will confuse a criminal or animal. These can be found in the Walmart Boating department.
- Take a self-defense course or Judo. Sometimes it’s free in local communities.
- Use an ink pen or screwdriver. If you thrust into the neck or eye can slow down a criminal or animal.
- A double sock full of $10 worth of pennies or nickels (or a $10 hammer) can do some damage when swung to hit the head of a criminal or animal and the impact does not hurt you like hitting them with your fist.
- A $15 jogger’s alarm allows you to set off a loud noise.
- Many electronic remote key fobs have a panic button on them.
- A dog can be worth their weight in gold.
- A $15 Solar powered motion detection light for your home can sit on you dash or hood and may scare off a criminal or animal if you are in the woods.
- Put a Marine or Army sticker on your front and back bumpers. No one wants to pick a fight with a well-trained VET.
- A $330 Taser or $40-$120 Electric Shock Flashlight is a non-lethal way to stop an attacker.
- Know your environment and neighborhoods. There are parts of some towns I would not drive my vehicle through in broad daylight, let alone overnight. There are some places in the wilderness that are frequented by some people that may not be friendly.
- Park in a manner that won’t allow you to be blocked in by another vehicle. Be able to drive fast in forward or reverse to rapidly escape. Know your surroundings and escape routes. If you feel uncomfortable, listen to your gut. Lock up at night and have a designated place for your keys. While stealth is great, don’t park in a hidden place. Put gear away in the vehicle when not in use. Have defensive tools accessible.
- Bear Spray can be used on both 4 footed and 2 footed predators.
Remember, the average response time to a 911 call is 30 minutes or more.
The average response time of a pistol is 1400 feet per second. You can stop an attacker in less than 5 seconds.
The bottom line, you have to be able to protect and defend yourself when camping.
(Wasp Spray is only a defense against Wasps not attackers – google it)
Practice using all the above so you are comfortable, prepared, and are safe camping.
I am not paranoid but I also believe in being prepared. Google the following:
– 11 campers have been murdered on the Appellation Trail.
– A man was murdered in his tent with his 2 little girls watching and 10 other campers shot.
Whether you are in the woods or the city, there are still some crazy people in the world that will rob, rape or murder, regardless of the location.
It is better to have something, and not need it than to NEED SOMETHING and not have it.
I carry a can of Fix-a-Flat, spare tire, and fire extinguisher for the same reasons.
WHAT PRECAUTIONS DO YOU USE?
LIST BELOW FOR OTHERS TO LEARN.
Happy Trails to YOU!
Car, Truck and Van Camping, Livin https://www.facebook.com/groups/vehiclecamping/
Read These Articles:
Top Mistakes I Made Starting Out in #VanLife https://cathyharrisinternational.com/vanlifemistakes/
How To Successfully Live in a Car or Van https://cathyharrisinternational.com/carandvandwelling/
The Truth About the RV Industry – What You Need To Know About Camping World – https://cathyharrisinternational.com/the-truth-about-the-rv-industry/
Cathy Harris Celebrates Six-Month Van Anniversary – #VanLife #StarShip
I love this time of year around my birthday, October 6, (63) and other holidays, especially when all the leaves start changing colors. You got all the holidays back to back – my birthday (Oct. 6), Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. I absolutely love it!!!
I go into some type of #HappyTrance during this time of year. The weather cools off and it’s also time for #BootSeason. I love wearing boots in cool weather. It’s also cool enough where you can wear a wig with comfort.
Despite being born in and living in the state of Georgia for 40 years, Florida will always be my #GoTo state. As most of you know I have been living in the Orlando, Florida area for one year after living in Austin, TX for 3 years and Dallas for 1 year.
Because I love to travel, I always wanted to call at least 3 to 4 states #MyHome. After driving around the country for a year in 2013, I had decided on Florida (Orlando), North Carolina (Charlotte) and Pennsylvania (Philly) – to be my #HomeStates.
- Eat good, clean, organic foods.
- Drink good clean water.
- Take daily supplements.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Engage in regular detoxifications.
My first health book mentions many of these above #ActionSteps and how to get there. The name of the book is entitled “How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide to Becoming Healthier Over the Next 30 Days (Series 3).”
I had two injuries while living in Florida during the past year and I am grateful and thankful that I had these injuries at this time in my life.
These injuries were nothing but lessons and a #WakeUp call for me to do what I needed to do, #StayOnTrack and pay even more attention when it came to how I treated my body.
The last time I was here in Florida in Tampa, FL for 6 months in 2014, I wrote the book “Golden Years: How To Age Gracefully and Take Care of Seniors” because Florida is FULL OF SENIORS.