Volunteering can be a learning experience, rewarding and a great way to save money for the fulltime RV’er. Throughout the country and Canada there are public lands and campgrounds regularly looking for volunteers with RVs to help in exchange for a free campsite. There are a variety of opportunities available, many of which provide the volunteer with a unique and usually fun experience. The work is easy and the hours not too demanding. Some parks require little as 20 hours per couple a week, while National Parks often require 32 hours per person. In general expect 40+ hours per couple and a 3 month commitment.
Campground Hosting is the most common and available volunteer position. Host duties vary between parks. Most include campsite clean up, selling firewood, prompting campers to observe rules, and some mix of other maintenance or administrative duties. Some campground hosts positions can feel like a 24/7 job, since you are often the first person campers come to with an issue. It is very important to discuss and be clear about the duties with the volunteer coordinator prior to accepting the position. If something is not clear or sounds strange ask for clarification.
Interpretive Volunteering opportunities are available at historical sites, lighthouses, Fish and Wildlife and others. After a brief training, volunteers will conduct tours and provide information about the site. These usually include time at a visitor center and/or gift shop. RV accommodations are at either a nearby campground or somewhere on site. Unlike campground hosts, when you are back at your site you are 100% off duty. Interpretive Volunteering is a great way to do something tailored to your interests.
Everyone knows the three L’s in real estate: location, location, location. In choosing a motorhome, a different three L’s apply: lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle! The most common mistake in selecting a rig is not matching it with lifestyle, i.e. the highly mobile adventure seeker’s needs are completely different than a semi-permanent snowbird residence. Having spent nearly a decade in real estate and now living in a motorhome full-time, I am using this perspective to tackle the age old question in every new RV’ers mind: Which rig is right for me?
Less is more sometimes, and more can be limiting. The many cases, the larger the rig, greater the limitations and expense. Many of the National Parks and most scenic campgrounds were not designed to accommodate large rigs and do not accept them. In the west, it is frequent to find mountain passes with size limits. Some of the best nooks and crannies in cross-country road travel cannot be easily accessed by large rigs. Large rigs also have higher fuel and maintenance costs; tires to general service cost more. Smaller motorhomes can show up to most Jiffy Lube’s or service stations and get in and out quickly at comparable prices to a pick up truck. Large rigs, especially diesels, need a specialty shop generally by appointment, which can be a hassle. Smaller the rig the more easily it will handle two lane twisty roads and city streets, which is an advantage. Smaller rigs are less conspicuous for stealth camping* and to fit in a friend’s or relative’s driveway. More times than not, when we hear complaints about size it is because the person bought too big, not too small. Bigger may be better when stationary for long periods, large families, and stays at traditional RV parks and campgrounds.
The more Alayne and I travel around this country, the more I realize that there are many different Americas. As I write this we are in the town of Cedar Key, Florida where the local mantra is, “If it can go well, it will.” This is a very optimistic view for a town that most would consider sleepy with limited options. Yet, the residents and visitors alike smile, wave and laugh with regularity. This remote island town, almost an hour away from any “real” civilization, is contented to go its own way. In places like this that resist “Starbucking,” the homogenization of America, where the locals feel little need to keep up with the Jones’s or anyone else for that matter, feel authentic and real. The American spirit of freedom and independence is alive here. Often it seems the further one is away from “civilization,” the more civilized and community oriented the people are.
There is no need to ever stay in a unsatisfactory campground. With a little bit of online research it is easy to locate campgrounds that suit your individual tastes.
AllStays.com is possibly the most comprehensive list of both public and private campgrounds. It also includes places for overnight parking. Both the website and app allow the user to search according to tastes and specifications. If I were to use a single application this would be it.
UltimateCampgrounds.com is a site I found relatively recently and have been using it more and more. It specializes in public campgrounds, which we prefer, and is more comprehensive than allstays.com in this segment.
Life is too short to hang onto unpleasant circumstances that can be changed. While change can be scary and takes work, the willingness to do so often beats the willfulness it takes to remain stuck in state of familiar, yet comfortable dis-ease. In 2013, we stepped off into the unknown that we hardly planned for, and ended up finding adventure and making new discoveries along the way. I guess it could be said that 2013 was a pioneering year.
As a non-retired couple living and travelling in an RV fulltime, we are bucking convention and it has allowed us to have an outsider’s view on ourselves and the culture we live in. We have been able to recognize the many good hearted, creative and adventurous people doing inspiring things, and have seen cultural ills too. There are many different Americas, each is unique and worth taking the time to appreciate.
The Full-time RV lifestyle can cost a lot less than traditional living if one is mindful and budgets accordingly. To be truly frugal, one would have to keep traveling at a minimum, as RV’s are not known for fuel efficiency. This is one of the reasons we volunteer and stay stationary for 1-3 months at a time. It allows us to be of service and trade time and labor for our campsite. Since we own our motor home, we essentially have no housing expenses during our volunteer stints. Given our set expenses, ideally our monthly total is less than $2000 per month, not including taxes.
Welcome to South Carolina! This is the home of the Palmetto and Spanish moss, Antebellum history, southern hospitality, and Charleston.
We have settled into our second workamping gig at James Island County Park, and we could not be happier. The park is only five miles from Charleston’s historic district, and is about the same distance to laid back Folly Beach. The park itself is the jewel of the local park system and is 600 acres of loveliness. The campground is luxury compared to our site in the Outer Banks. We especially enjoy the hot showers, nearby laundry, and the fast, free WIFI. The park has 6 miles of newly repaved trails that meandered through the semi-tropical foliage and marsh, two lakes, 50 ft. climbing wall, kayaks, fishing pier, play grounds, water park, and a lot of places to find solitude. This is a beautiful place to be.
Full-time RVing can be a great lifestyle, especially if you crave new experiences and a sense of adventure. While most full-timers are retired and have the luxury of pensions and Social Security, the lifestyle is still within reach for many “non-traditional” younger wannabe RVers.
The first step is realizing this lifestyle exists and is an option. For us, it seemed like we stumbled upon a secret, and in some ways, it is. It bucks convention in that it promotes living simply, and works a lot better with less debt and “stuff”. This lifestyle will not work for people who desire prestige and a gain in material wealth. Less is more seems to aptly apply.
Most people can quickly determine if they are in the position to set off on the road in short time. Debt is probably the largest obstacle. A modest amount may be acceptable for the frugal, but for those up to their eyes in student loans, credit card debt, and excessive car payments will have to eliminate these before pursuing the idea much further. Medical insurance can also be an issue, for the time being there are some affordable options for folks willing to ride with a high deductible. Houses can be sold or rented, and things can be stored or sold. We have modest car and student loan payments, and “catastrophic” type health insurance. We rented our properties and have a property manager, and sold just about everything that would not fit in our RV.
Life is always changing. Cling on to things as we may, inevitably change occurs. In Buddhism it is called Impermanence, and understanding it is a way to reduce suffering. Simply, we must accept that things change and be willing accept it. The more we try to hold on and capture relationships, glory, wealth, beauty etc., we find that when they are gone, change, or no longer ideal this creates pain and yearning. Instead, it is better to understand that things come and go, life is constantly in a state a flux, and it is better to savor each moment rather than trying to capture it. The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a place of constant visible change and demonstrates the temporary state of things.
The Outer Banks are a geological case study in impermanence. The forces of erosion do not take decades or years to observe. In the course of hours, on a windy day, sands can cover roads, dunes shift, and three feet of beach is swept away. During large storm events the islands will reshape dramatically. Land is constantly being taken away from one location and redistributed else where, as the islands steadily march south and westward.
Maybe it was turning 40 last year or a period of expanding awareness that encouraged me (us) to step off into the unknown. Looking over the past decade, while filled with events and changes, I felt as I had slept through several years on automatic pilot. Much of my life was filled with only semi-conscious hours and it was moving quickly. Life had developed a predictable rhythm; it was comfortable and easy to keep in synch. I had routines to fill the hours and the same thoughts filling passing days.
There is no escaping it, 40 is middle age. Though I still feel young, approximately half the time I have been given has been used up. Dreams have come and gone, success and failures too, none of it quite working out like I had thought it might. Even the moments of great ego satisfaction were so transient they did little to erase the feeling I was missing something, a subtle underlying discontentedness. I felt like a passive observer, instead of an active participant. The culmination of feelings resulted in my ability to listen and trust that we (I) get what we need, not always what we want. I took my fingers off the microphone and listened to the receiver.