Thursday, December 20, 2012

Parting Thoughts on Living Fulltime in an RV

I feel compelled to share some reflections, food for thought if you find you are seriously contemplating this lifestyle.  These are not in any particular order, rather just random musings that you may find worth considering.

  •  Know your motivation.  The reality is, this is still life, with both ups & downs.  If you know the true reason you are pursuing this, it will help you ride the bumps & not be deterred from turning your dream into a reality.
  • If you have not previously owned some sort of camper or do not have experience towing a trailer of any sort, be aware that there will definitely be a learning curve!  Yep, you can count on it being challenging, and you can also count on making mistakes.  Make sure you’re mentally prepared for that, and also make sure you’re financially prepared to fix your mistakes!  In short, if you don’t have the experience, it would be an awesome idea to vacation in a rig of sorts prior to moving into one full-time; if not, know that others have figured it out and you will, too, eventually!   
  • Know that while little kids—babies and toddlers—are really quite portable, they also tend to be “easier” with some sort of routine.  Maintaining routine while on the road was definitely challenging for us.
  • Know in advance how attached you are to the internet, and make appropriate plans to tend to that during your time on the road.  Honestly, given the fact that I had been living in a “technology-at-my-fingertips bubble,” I was genuinely surprised how many places we stayed had no wifi.  I was also surprised how many places advertised wifi, but in reality, it was either intolerably slow or simply did not work at all from our campsite.  If you’re relying on the internet to plan your next stop, campgrounds, as well as what to do while you’re there, this can be a real pain!  And if you’re relying on internet for blogging, well, you’re probably going to be perpetually behind, lol!  Seriously, although we did use Steve’s phone to tether, at various points, it simply didn’t work, so we were forced to do all of our research on his phone, and wait to blog until we had wifi again.  If you, or your spouse, is a research guru or needs wifi for work, this can be challenging.  Also, along these same lines, discuss whether one smart phone is sufficient for your family.  If one spouse has access to the internet for information, staying in touch with loved ones, etc., and the other spouse does not (but was used to that access formerly), well, it could cause conflict…don’t ask me how I know that! ;)
  • Either take time before you start your adventure to thoroughly discuss each family member’s goals for your time on the road, or make sure you make time at the very beginning for that.  Each family member needs to know that his or her needs and desires are heard and valued.  Once you’ve determined what your goals are, discuss how you plan to fulfill them!  Trust me, especially if you’re doing this for a limited time, you’ll be amazed how quickly the time flies, and how incredibly full your days are with all of your driving, sightseeing, hiking, and taking care of meeting basic needs like laundry, meals, dishes, etc.  Add homeschool to that mix, and rest assured that what you have not developed a plan for in advance will not get done!
  • If you already run a business together before doing this, you have a bit of an advantage; you’re likely already used to being around each other all the time!  I have to admit that over a year of being around each other nearly 24/7 was a big adjustment.  I have discovered over the last year just how attached both Steve and I are to the idea of being in control, haha!  Previously, I was the decision maker for most of the hours of most of my days, schooling the kids at home, and Steve was used to managing his own schedule, separate from the rest of us.  Suddenly, he was thrust into the throes of trying to comprehend what it really takes to get 6 people out the door by a certain time each day, and I was struggling to comprehend exactly what the word “submit” really means, day in and day out!  Wow…lots of room for growth there, but hopefully, we’ve made some progress! 
  • Despite all that time together, it is challenging to find time “alone” together.  And, no matter what your rig looks like, I’m pretty sure that intimacy is always a bit tricky.  Enough said.
  • Speaking of being together most of the time, know how much “alone time” you personally need to be the best spouse/parent you can be, and be assertive about making that happen.  Trust me, with packed schedules and just one vehicle, it can be challenging to make that happen.  Also trust me when I say that if you don’t, everyone will suffer!  Not only that, but it is important to know how much down time each of your kids needs to thrive, too!
  • Mentally prepare yourself for the economic/financial climate to change from what it was when you formulated your plans for your adventure.  For example, the price of diesel skyrocketed from what it was when we decided to do this; that definitely cut into our “fun money” budget.  Sure, we still had lots of fun, but it did affect our ability to do things like eat out/sample the local fare of an area, or do something for just the sheer fun of it, unless it was either free or held some sort of educational significance. 
  • Chances are that you’re tougher than you thought you were in ways you didn’t know, and you’re also probably softer than you thought!  Chances are that your spouse likely has different tolerances in these areas than you do, and you’ll have to figure out how to reconcile them!  I discovered that I’m pretty attached to water, showers, electricity, and my oven!  I also discovered that I'm okay with reduced access to those same things if carefully interspersed with great access to those same things.  In other words, it got to me when we dry camped for too long (or without enough water in our tanks), but if we dry camped for a few days followed by staying at a place with either full hookups or water/electric with a great bathhouse for showers, I was still a happy camper! 
  • Community is more important than you’ve probably given it credit for.  It’s still possible to have a sense of community on-the-road, but it does take some effort.  We found that national and state parks are fabulous for beautiful surroundings and more space, but community is often found in RV parks.  We spent most of our first half of our adventure staying at state parks, COE parks, and national parks, and we stayed at several Thousand Trails (TT) parks during the second half of our adventure.  I can’t say that I’m in love with Thousand Trails, but I can definitely say that we met more people that we now call friends by staying at TT.

And with that...we hope you've enjoyed reading our blog.   We tried to write in a way that would be helpful to others who might follow in our footsteps.  We really gained a lot of knowledge when we were in the planning stage by reading others' blogs!   If you are interested in this lifestyle, then please check out Fulltime Families, which is an excellent resource.   They also have a very active Facebook group which we highly recommend joining, both for enhancing the community aspect of fulltiming and for great advice and wisdom regarding the fulltime lifestyle.   

We might occasionally add posts here and there, but they will just be about regular life here in Salt Lake City.   We don't know what the future holds, but we might continue adventuring again at some point.  Who knows??   If you have any fulltime RV related or travel questions, please feel free to email us at for Steve or for Linda.   

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Best Campgrounds

Camping among the tall pines at Clear Spring COE

Top 3 COE Parks

1)      Clear Spring Park, Texarkana, Texas -- The tall pines here were amazing.  The sites were super spacious, and there was a beach to play on at the lake, as well as playgrounds.  

2)      Taylor Park on Granger Lake, Texas -- This was a super clean, well-maintained campground with spacious, easy-to-get-into sites.  There were also hiking/biking trails and a playground.

3)      Potters Creek, Texas -- This campground had easy-to-get-into sites, with lots of wide open space and a great view of the lake.  The bathhouse here was awesome, too!

Fun times at Hillshade RV Park in Gonzales, Texas -- Yes, this is January.
Top 5 Private RV Parks

1)      Small Country Campground, Lousia, VA -- We loved this campground for its reasonable rates, nice owners, spacious sites, a jumping pillow & a pool!
2)      Little Farm on the River, Rising Sun, IN -- The kids really enjoyed the playground, the basketball courts, and the little pond for fishing.
3)      Creekwood Farm, Maggie Valley, NC -- This park was in a great location, super close to Cataloochee.  There were clean, private bathrooms, and the rates with Passport America were good.  The trout stream--and the snakes in it--were a point of fascination for the kids!
4)      Hillshade RV Park, Gonzales, TX -- The owners are what make this a great place to stay.  The Moers  are super nice, and their homeschool kids befriended our kids and had a blast together.
5)      Big Pine Campground, Custer, SD -- This is a very pretty, wooded campground.

This amazing playground was right behind our site in Moscow, Idaho.
Top 5 Municipal RV Parks

1)      Pilot Knoll, Highland Village, TX -- We loved the setting here.  It is beautiful, and the staff was always nice.  

2)      Tapo Canyon Park, Simi Valley, CA -- This is a very nice, well-maintained campground with a great playground.  Watch out for ants though...

3)      Lewisville Lake Park, Lewisville, TX -- We stayed here a lot while we were still living & working in the area.  It's right on the lake, although your sites aren't.  The far bathhouse was great - clean, hot showers. And, the advertised wifi actually works and is super fast!!

4)      Victoria City Park, Victoria, TX -- If you're looking for a super cheap place to just hang out & catch up for a week, this is it.  This is a first-come, first-serve campground with full-hookups in a nice little town.  

5)      Fairgrounds, Moscow, ID -- The sites here are super close together and are also first-come, first-serve.  However, we had great neighbors, and there was an incredibly awesome playground right there.  The supermarket right across the road was pretty handy, too!  This is also a great place to just hang out & play catch up.

Saturday, December 1, 2012