Holy cow, what just happened? How did an entire year go by of living in our RV? There were for sure times where days felt like weeks and seasons would never end, BUT! We have never put a time limit on our fulltime traveling but I can’t even imagine only doing this for a year, which is a typical goal a lot subscribe to.
If you’ve seen everything all in a year your moving super fast and man you must be exhausted! We took the Southern route from the Atlantic Ocean to Pacific Ocean and back and we still want to see so many things we missed along this route. The Grand Canyon for one, how did we miss that big hole in the ground? Well it was Winter and its snowy and cold that time of year so not ideal, at least not for us!So a year in and we have no future plans of stopping this life style. We’ve learned a few things and have tweaked a few of our travel norms as well. Plus we know that if we don’t adapt swiftly to change our lives will be pretty miserable. Everyday the road throws you a curve ball and if you don’t roll with the punches it will beat you down and your lucky if it spits you back out.
OK, so a few major things we figured out while traveling were
#1 – We bought a camp ground membership to Thousand Trails.
In a nut shell the Thousand Trails membership lets you stay at one of their numerous locations for cheap or free for up to 3 weeks at a time depending on your level of membership you purchased. I won’t go into the tricky ins and outs of it cause it’s kinda like buying airline tickets. We started out with their basic Zone pass and 6 months later we now have one of their highest level Elite memberships (bought used). The way we are traveling, this upgrade just made sense financially and it was a less stressful way to travel as well, here’s why:
- We gained access to more parks (81 nation wide).
- We can stay for 3 weeks at each location.
- We can move from park to park w/o having to stay out of the system.
- We don’t have to pay any additional fee per day unless we need 50amp at some of them.
- We can book out 120 days in advance.
- Discounts at more reciprocal RV resorts.
- It’s soooo affordable, it’s not a posh resort by any stretch. It’s like like Forrest Gump said about the box of chocolates, “you never know what your gonna get”.
- We’ve met a lot of great families at these parks and run into each other again at others across the country, it’s fun!
#2 – The weather isn’t something you will ever figure out.
We set out to stay the Winter in Southern California cause, well, it’s Southern Cali, mild and sunny, RIGHT? Sooo wrong, at least in our experience. It was a record breaking year for rain this past Winter where we stayed and man it was not awesome. So much rain and wind and cold that seemed never ending! I lived in San Diego a few decades back, I know what it’s supposed to be like, this was the opposite. Also the wind, who knew that the Southern CA/AZ/NM/TX region had a windy Winter season, yes everyone except us! We had an amazing week planned to visit several National Parks in New Mexico and had to make hard and fast decisions to divert while driving to get ahead of this front we were driving strait into. Where we were heading was reporting 30-50 mph sustained winds with 80 mph gusts, that’s Tropical Storm worthy. So back tracking through New Mexico is on our to do list cause we really still want to go to White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns National Park!
National Parks pass is our #3, it’s a must have!
It’s soooo amazing and a really cheap and amazing way to see the country. $80 for an annual family pass or cheaper if your a senior/military/disabled or like us next year we have a 4th grader in tow which earns us a free one for the year, thanks to the Every Kid In A Park program! It’s really easy to spend all the money sightseeing, but if you enjoy the outdoors, hiking & history then this pass is a no-brainer. We’ve come to realize these parks are huge and being able to go back multiple times is a huge perk. Trying to cram it all in one day is exhausting. Plus they have a really amazing Jr. Ranger program which gives our kids a chance to earn a badge or patch while learning about the park they are exploring. Its homeschooling made easy and personally I’ve learned more about these places just from visiting than I ever did in a school book. One of our favorite shows is Rock the Park on ABC as well as Netflix and Hulu. If you don’t get a chance to visit all the parks this show will give you a great overview of whats there to explore. #4 – Something we couldn’t predict, but it really was a possibility was that things would break and need fixing/replacing on our RV/Truck.
We bought new and a big perk was the warranty for this exact reason. However, once all your stuff is in your RV the thought of having to take it to a dealership for warranty work and either sleep over night in the RV dealership parking lot or get a hotel seems less than ideal. We picked a company that has built a great customer service reputation, Grand Design. Their stuff breaks just like all the other competitors, but the way they handle it is the big difference. Most parts/furnishings come from the same handful of distributors and quality control has a long way to go in this industry, sigh! To avoid the above mentioned scenarios we’ve had parts shipped to us, called ahead and had parts shipped to dealership and had Mobil techs sent out to fix the problem. I’ve heard of many horror stories of those spending weeks to months in a dealership to get warranty work done. RV dealerships are a major part of the RV industries problem as well regarding communication breakdown and lack of customer service. Choosing to repair things our self, sometimes even out of pocket was worth the money in exchange for our sanity. That’s why deciding to DIY as much as possible has made our lives way more easier to keep this journey going. So many things have broke and if you let it get you down you will miss whats right outside you door.
Take a look at our laundry list of repairs
Finally, #5 is taking time to enjoy the adventure.
It’s easy to swiftly move from one national treasure to the next and not even stop to smell the roses, just checking it off your sight seeing list. We have slowed down some and are trying to soak up as much of our surroundings as possible before we pack up and move on down the road. Everyone has their own path and feeling, sometimes feeling like your not living up to an expectation or feeling sorry or guilty for missing a must see spot.
Our journey is unfolding exactly the way it’s supposed to be. Do I get sad cause our rig is too big to fit into some really amazing camp sites, yes! But I’m thankful for all the things that rig does for us and it’s the right size for our needs at this exact moment. We’ve met a lot of people who have been doing this a long time and are moving on to new adventures like fulltime living on a sailboat, downsizing to a smaller RV, buying a campground, buying land to build a house on and the list goes on and on. It’s so interesting to watch all these stories change and unfold. We have no timeline as mentioned before, we are having a blast on this adventure and cant wait to see what this next year brings!
Check out our RV inside and out
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