At every seminar I did on fulltime RVing at rallies and shows nationwide, I always got the same questions from new and want to be fulltimers, and I get the same questions by email all the time. So today I thought I would try to answer some of them for you.
How much does it cost to fulltime? – How much you got? This can be either a very expensive or a very inexpensive lifestyle. We know fulltimers who get by very well on $1500 a month, and we know one couple that got off the road because their $5000 a month income just wasn’t enough to make ends meet. If you boondock, use free campgrounds and memberships like Passport America, and if you don’t go out to dinner several nights a week, it can be a very affordable lifestyle. On the other hand, if you like to play golf every week, go out to dinner often, and stay in “RV resorts” it can cost a lot of money.
How much do rising fuel prices affect fulltimers? – In our days on the road we saw prices at the pump that were every where from not bad at all to “Are you kidding me?” Either way, your only two choices are to pay it or park it. Some RVers travel less and stay longer in an area. Many have found ways to offset high fuel prices, like using free campgrounds and boondocking that I mentioned above, while others just moan and groan and pay the price.
Am I a fulltimer if I still have a house but don’t live in it? – There are lots of ways to define a fulltimer. I consider someone who lives in an RV all of the time and moves at least occasionally a fulltimer. Whether they own a house or a dozen houses someplace does not change that. Your definition may be different.
How do you get your mail? – Most fulltimers use one of several very good commercial mail services, many of which are operated by RV clubs for their members. Some good mail forwarding services include the Escapees RV Club, Good Sam RV Club, Bee’s Mail Service in Boulder City, Nevada, and Dakota Post in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. There are others available who also do a fine job.
What are the best cellular telephone plans for fulltimers? – Most fulltimers we know use either ATT or Verizon. Both have very good nationwide coverage. Consumer Cellular is also a good option. Their customers can choose either ATT or Verizon towers with the same coverage for less money.
What is boondocking? Is it the same as dry camping? – We used the terms dry camping and boondocking interchangeably. Whenever we were parked overnight without hookups, be it in a roadside rest area, a WalMart parking lot, a friend’s driveway, or a patch of desert far away from the nearest campground, we were boondocking.
How many solar panels do we need on our RV? – It depends on how much you plan to dry camp. As few as none or as many as you can carry. We had five on our bus, for a total of 540 watts. Solar panels will only supplement your power supply, not replace it.
What roadside service plans are best for fulltime RVers? – Good Sam Club offers a good roadside service plan tailored to fulltimers. We used Coach-Net, and there are several others available.
What RV clubs should we join? – Some good RV clubs include Escapees RV Club, Good Sam Club, FMCA, Family Campers and RVers, and SMART (Retired/Former Military). The Escapees RV Club is the best of the best in our opinion and we are lifetime members.
Which is better for fulltime use, a motorhome, travel trailer, or a 5th wheel trailer? – No one style or model of RV will be right for everyone. Many people feel that a motorhome is better if you move around a lot, while a fifth wheel offers more living space if you stay put for weeks or months at a time. Travel trailers are usually the least expensive option.
Is a gas or diesel motorhome best for fulltime use? – The break-even figure I have heard from many RV mechanics and long time RVers is 10,000 miles a year. If you plan to drive more than that, a diesel rig is usually your better choice. A diesel motorhome usually offers more cargo carrying capacity and can usually tow a heavier dinghy.
Is it better to tow a dinghy on a dolly or 4 wheels down? – I am not a fan of tow dollies. Once you arrive at a campground it can be difficult to find a place to put the dolly, and they can cause extra problems when things like wheel bearings go bad.
There seem to be dozens of holding tank chemicals on the market. Which is best? – We’ve tried most of what is on the market, and we have found that a product we purchased at WalMart called Doctor Drain gave us the best value for the money.
Is the expensive RV toilet paper I see at RV stores really necessary? – No, it is not. We used two-ply Scott from any grocery store and never had a blockage or problem.
How do I prevent a blockage in my black water tank? – The secret to a healthy holding tank is to use enough water to break up the solids and dissolve bathroom tissue. Never leave the black tank valve open until you are ready to dump. We never dumped our black tank until we were at least ¾ full. Follow that rule and you should never have a problem.
Why don’t holding tank monitors seem to be very accurate? – Gunk and toilet paper hang up on the sensors inside the tank and it stops working right. We have never found an RV with accurate holding tank monitors, nor have we ever found a solution that really works. Over time you will learn how close to full you are by the sound when you flush the toilet. Or follow your old Uncle Nicky’s rule – if you flush the toilet and your butt gets wet, it’s time to dump.
Are campground memberships a good investment for fulltimers? – They are if you use them. I always advise new fulltimers not to buy into an expensive campground membership until they have been on the road for at least a year and have some idea what their travel style will be.
Are discount campground programs worth it? – Again, they are if you use them. We are lifetime members of Passport America and it saved us thousands of dollars over the years.
How much cash should we carry with us? – Even in this day of using plastic to pay for everything, there are still times when you are going to need some cash. We seldom carried more than $200 in cash with us. If we needed more we could always hit an ATM for cash, or get cash back at a grocery store, WalMart, post office, etc.
Is it dangerous dry camping at truck stops, WalMarts, rest areas, etc? – Not if you use common sense. We have dry camped at all of the above many times and never had a problem. Just exercise good judgment, and if it doesn’t feel right, leave.
Should we carry a gun in our RV? – Only if you are properly trained in gun safety, tactical firearms use, and have made the mental commitment to use deadly force and if you can live with the consequences. Your chances of being in a traffic accident, having a fire in your RV, or getting hit by lightning greatly outnumber the chance of being a victim of violent crime. That being said, we carry insurance on our vehicles, keep fire extinguishers handy, and we don’t play golf in thunderstorms. We also exercise our right to carry a firearm or two. But it is not a decision to be taken lightly.
Thought For The Day – I am not insulting you, I’m describing you.