Our full time RVing journey began on November 1, 2003 in our 1997 33′ Rexall Aerbus. We’ll never forget that special day. We were really doing it … following our dream of full time RVing in our new home on wheels. It really wasn’t too big of a change for us because every weekend and holiday since we started RVing back in 1995 we were on some sort of adventure in our RV. We always talked about how we dreaded going back to the same old boring stick built house with all the never-ending yard work … and especially the dreaded unpacking of the RV. Now we never have to unpack again!
Our new Home on Wheels at our Favorite RV Camping Spot on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon
After our first couple of years of full time RVing and traveling around the country in the Aerbus we decided we needed a little more room. So, we started our research of diesel pusher type motorhomes. For our budget, we bought a 2003 Alfa See Ya 40′ motorhome and decided it was time to move to Southern Oregon to our all-time favorite RV spot, where we worked and lived in the Alfa for another two years. We had vacationed there and dreamed of staying there someday. So, off we went to a little town called Shady Cove, Oregon, where we stayed at Fly Caster’s RV Park. We were lucky enough to set up camp at our favorite Site #44, which is right on the Rogue River. Staying there was our full time RVing dream come true!
Full Time RVing in the Winter
One of the benefits of full time RVing in the winter is that you can start the motor and head south when it gets cold. Unfortunately for us, we were working in Oregon and that kept us there through two winters. What an experience that was. If you cannot head out to a warmer area in the country then the RV really starts to feel a whole lot smaller because you’re often stuck inside because it’s just too cold outside.
Our Winter Full-Time RVing Solution
So, what were we to do? Our solution … we bought a portable jacuzzi, which was our Christmas present to each other. That was a great 104 degrees of hot water to relax the old bones in. Let it snow, I said!
Note: Many folks have asked us how we liked our portable spa and where we bought it. Here is a link to where we bought the spa:
Comfort Line Products Spa-N-A-Box Portable Spa
However, based on our experience with this particular spa we’re not comfortable recommending it to others. It is way more expensive than others out there. Even though we’ve had some good times … we’ve had nothing but trouble with it and when we called the manufacturer they would not help us. The pump leaked water and the lining fell apart. There are many other ones on the market that are half the price and much better quality. We would recommend this one by Coleman:
Coleman Lay-Z Spa Inflatable Hot Tub
One big concern of Terri’s when we decided to go full time RVing was not having a big house to celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, birthday parties, etc. Terri LOVES the holidays and LOVES entertaining. Well, as you can see below, going full time RVing didn’t stop her from throwing her parties.
During Christmas we did the same thing we did in the stick built house – just on a smaller scale.
Where we Stay Between Destinations
We rarely make any reservations along the way to some destination. That way, we don’t feel rushed and can change our mind on where we want to go at the last moment. That is one of the big benefits to full time RVing. No more hotels, airline connections, rental cars, etc. We go where we want … when we want.
When we are on the road traveling we usually try to find a Wal-Mart to stay the night rather than pull into an RV resort and have to go through the checking-in stuff. We usually just need a place to park for a few hours sleep. Wal-Mart is a great resource for full time RVing because most stores welcome RVers to stay in their lot overnight for free. They usually have some sort of security and some are open 24 hours. When we get within 100 miles of where we think we will be staying we’ll look up the Wal-Mart Store in our GPS and call to make sure it is okay to park there and get any special parking instructions. Some cities do not allow overnight parking at Wal-Mart, so it’s a good idea to check first.
It is really funny when we wake up in the morning after several nights on the road. We’ll look out the window half asleep and and ask ourselves “where are we today?” Most Wal-Marts look the same and it always makes us laugh. After a moment or two and a hot cup of coffee we realize where we just spent the night.
Also, when traveling we like to check out the casinos in the area. Most of them welcome RVers and don’t mind when you stay in their lot somewhere. Some will even pick you up at your RV and bring you back from the casino for free. It’s a blast … especially when you win!
Flying J Truck Stops
These are a little noisy for sleeping, but sometimes it works out for us. We usually fuel up at Flying J. They are RV friendly and most have a dump station, fresh water, and propane. Best of all they are usually pretty big so we can get in and out without being a ‘curb killer.’ (My secret nickname!)
Where we stay when we reach our destination
The Corps of Engineers are usually less expensive compared to many RV resorts. They have some beautiful parks and most are very nice if you like a more rustic look like we do. Staying at a Corps of Engineers park is a little more like camping. They usually have water and electric. Typically there’s no dump and usually they allow 14-day maximum stays. You can pick up a book of the their locations at any Camping World or the RV Book Store.www.campingworld.com
Discount Membership Parks
If you are full time RVing and have investigated all the different RV memberships you know it can be a daunting task. But …. with a little patience it will pay off in the long run. We found some great deals on Ebay.
We have a Coast-to-Coast (C2C) membership that has worked out real well and saved us a lot in camping fees. We have saved thousands by using these memberships. However, if you don’t use them they are a waste. I would recommend researching the web as much as possible before buying because there are some great deals on used memberships. The key to many of these memberships is the “Home Park.” You must pick out a home park. Supposedly, a park you are going to use a lot. During our research we discovered that some home parks cost $200 up-front and $30 each year to renew, while other home parks can run as much as $10,000 up-front, plus $800 to renew. Big difference.
Since we’re on a budget we picked the $30 a year home park that we rarely visit. We were more interested in just getting into the membership system so we could make reservations at the other parks and take advantage of the discounted rates. The ‘home park’ is how the memberships make money and that gets you into all the other parks in the group/network for a discounted nightly rate of usually $9 – $10. That’s much better than paying the normal $35 – $50 nightly rate. Below are some links.
These are the memberships we use:
Coast to Coast http://www.coastresorts.com/
RPI Resort Parks International http://www.resortparks.com
AOR Adventure Outdoor Resorts http://www.aorcamping.com/
Staying Connected on the Internet
In the past we used a satellite dish for our internet connection and that was a real pain to set up. With the significant improvements that have been made with high-speed air cards we recently switched to a Verizon Air Card and a Cradlepoint Router. We have a booster antenna on the roof that works really well. The router allows us both to share one internet connection. The best part is we’re able to access the internet while driving down the road, too. It really helps with finding a place to park for the night, etc.
Mail and Paying Bills
We switched all our bills to online with direct payment from our checking accounts.
We use Escapees Mail Service out of Livingston, Texas. They are one of the oldest RV Clubs around and provide many more services other than mail forwarding. We highly recommend them. They are located at: 100 Rainbow Drive Livingston, TX 77351. Phone: 888-757-2582, 936-327-8873. Fax: 936-327-4388 …www.escapees.com/
Domicile – What state do we use for residency?
One of the many benefits to full time RVing is that you can call anywhere ‘home’. So why not use a state that will be the least costly to reside in. We first used Texas as our state of residency and recently switched to Florida since we seem to be spending more time there.
Both states have no state income tax. Both states are great to use and are RV friendly.
Getting Rid of the Stuff
This was a tough one for us. We put all the things we just had to keep but couldn’t bring ourselves to give up into a storage unit (like all my yard tools). We had garage sales to get rid of the rest, or just gave stuff away. After full time RVing for several years we realized we didn’t miss all those ‘so-called treasures’ we had been paying storage on. In fact, we had forgotten about most of the things in there. We still laugh when we think about how much we paid for two years of storing a bunch of shovels and rakes. When we decided we were tired of paying for storage we ended up giving away most of the ‘stuff’ and reduced it down to our family pictures and that’s about all we decided to keep. The cost of storage was probably ten times the value of everything else, so it eventually got tossed and/or given away. Guess we just couldn’t part with everything at one time when we first got into full time RVing. It took a couple of years to ‘let go of it all.’ In the end we both felt like it was sort of a freeing experience to get rid of everything. We don’t miss a thing.