May 102016

 In today’s blog I thought I would answer a few questions that I seem to get on a regular basis. But before I do, let me say that my answers are what work for us. What works for you may be entirely different.

The first question is, how do we access Internet on the road, and is depending on campground WiFi enough. It all depends on your needs. We have an old Verizon 3G air card with an unlimited data plan that we use with a Cradlepoint router as a hotspot inside of our motorhome. I also have an unlimited data plan on my 4G smart phone and I use it for a hotspot as well. This serves us in most areas of the country, and when we are in fringe areas, we use an external antenna to try to bring in a distant signal. For the most part it works pretty well. Here is a blog link about that.

As for using campground WiFi, most RVers find it less than adequate if they want to do anything more than get on and check their e-mail. This includes both the free and paid WiFi access that different campgrounds offer.

Another question we get a lot is what kind of camera does Terry use for the great photos she’s always taking for the blog and the Gypsy Journal. She uses a Canon SX40 digital for most of our photo needs. We’ve also got a couple of small Olympus Stylus digital cameras that we use when we’re on our kayaks or doing something where the bigger, heavier Canon would not be convenient. And as a last resort, I also use the camera in my Samsung smart phone.

Several people asked us how we like our Night Therapy memory foam mattress now that we’ve had it a couple of years. We still really like it. It’s a lot more comfortable than the Sleep Number bed that we had before, and it cost a whole lot less money!

One question that I get over and over again is how much does it cost to live the fulltime RV lifestyle. The only valid answer for that is, how much do you have? We know fulltimers that are making it on not much over $1,000 a month, and we’ve met fulltimers who were taking in five times that much and had to get off the road because they couldn’t make it. A lot depends on whether or not your RV and tow vehicle or dinghy are paid for or if you’re still making payments on them. Other factors include how much you travel, the type of RV you have, what part of the country you are in, and what RV parks you choose.

A lot of people have also asked me what are the best RV clubs to join. We have belonged to all of them over the years, and as far as we are concerned, nothing comes close to the Escapees RV Club. Between their excellent magazine, their first rate mail forwarding program, their RV parks, their informative and fun rallies, and the fact that you become part of a huge extended family of like-minded people, what else do you really need? We have belonged to the Good Sam Club, the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), Bus Nuts, and some other RV organizations. We’ve let them all go, except for the Escapees, which was the first RV club we joined and the only one we have remained members of. In fact, we are proud life members!

Close on the heels of what is the best RV club is what are the best discount or membership campground programs. Any campground membership, no matter how much it costs or what it has to offer, is only a good deal if you use it. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of money.

Again, we’ve tried most of them at one time or another. If I only had one to choose from, it would be Passport America. It was the first one we joined, and we are also life members. Our membership gives us access to over 1,900 campgrounds across the US, Canada, and Mexico, all for half of their regular rate. Some people complain that there are restrictions in that they can’t just roll into a campground in say, Florida or Arizona in the middle the wintertime and find a site. That’s true, and it’s all explained in the membership packet. Every campground membership program has restrictions of some kind. Understand them and work within their parameters and they can be very good for you.

The other campground membership that we use and recommend is Thousand Trails. The problem with that is that there is no one particular membership available. There seem to be dozens, each of them giving you different benefits, depending on how good a deal one can negotiate when they sign up. We have a nationwide Elite membership, which gives us every park not only in the Thousand Trails system, but also their affiliates, such as Outdoor World, Mid-Atlantic, and Leisure Time Resorts. We spent about four months on the Oregon and Washington coast last summer, all in Thousand Trails system parks, we had a full hookup 50 amp site every night, and it cost us five dollars a night because we had already used up the 50 nights that come with our annual dues of around $560.

And finally, another question that I get all the time is whether or not one should have a firearm in their RV for self-defense. Instead of getting into all of the pros and cons of that, I’ll refer you to a podcast I did with John and Kathy from Living the RV Dream a couple of weeks ago where I talk about guns and RVs.

Thought For The Day – Givers have to learn to set limits, because takers don’t have any.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  6 Responses to “Internet, Cameras, And More, Oh My!”

  1. Thanks Nick. We are just starting out with our first RV, a Class B Winnebago Travato. Looking forward to learning how to boondock eventually with this small unit, but figure we’ll use many campgrounds along the way – especially while we’re learning the ropes. We were just talking about which clubs and membership campgrounds would be worth joining, so your info here today is very timely and helpful. I’m also retired military, so I’m considering the S.M.A.R.T. RV Club . Have you heard anything about that one?

  2. These subjects are great for you to post in your blog every once in a while. I read several rv websites and blogs daily and there are always newbies asking these questions. I would offer my 2 cent comment that if newbies want to purchase a camping membership like Thousand Trails, always buy a resale membership. Forking over $5k for a membership that you may or may not use is not a good idea.

  3. Jan, where do we look to find resale Thousand Trail memberships? Is that a generally accepted practice with that company? Just wondering if resale owners lose any privileges in the process.

  4. Roger, we don’t belong, but we know many RVers that belong to SMART and enjoy attending their rallies.

    We bought our Thousand Trails membership used. You will see them advertised in places like the Escapees RV club forum, online, and there are companies that handle campground membership resales. Depending on the individual contract, you may or may not be able to retain all of the benefits of the original owner. Always get the contract number check with the company first.

  5. Sounds like Escapees might be the best place for us to start. Our Travato is supposed to arrive in June or July from Winnebago. Can’t wait to get started! Thanks for all you do Nick.

  6. I’m one of the full timers who live with no pension on just over $1,000 per month social security. I do not travel extensively but base for longer terms at 4 or 5 campgrounds. I work at 6 or 7 rallies each year and only those that comp my fees as a presenter. While on the road I have never overnighted in a campground but always stop at highway rest areas, or Walmarts or similar jusd bet because I can and because I’m to frugal (cheap) to pay $40 or 50 for 12 or 15 hours lay over and I do not travel enough to justify a membership. I do not at this point belong to any clubs but am considering SKPs

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