I am a week late but Happy Anniversary to us!!! The 23rd of this month was 2 years on the road full time. If you have read our story you will know we jumped into full-time life before I retired. We bounced from park to park to stay close to work until I finally retired in October and we peaced out of New York.
Our first year was an interesting one. We completed our first workamping assignment, I paid a visit to the emergency room, and we did some great exploring and riding. Our second year brought us some big changes and adventures.
Our first big change is that our summer workamping assignment started earlier than usual and much further north than the previous year. It started out to be cold and rainy but when the warm weather hit it turned out to be an exciting season at the KOA in Mystic CT!!! The campground itself was awesome but the workamper experience well, not so much. Read about our workamper experience here.
West Coast Here We Come!!!
Our second big change is that we will be headed out to the west coast for the first time. Starting with wintering in Arizona followed by a summer in Colorado we wound up exploring some of what the west coast has to offer. I had zero experience with the west coast so it was a great experience.
Our first year on the road we spent tying up loose ends, establishing residency, learning the workamping ropes, trying to find cool stuff to see, and kind of fumbling around. I have been camping recreationally for years but Chris not so much. There is a bit of a difference between weekend camping and full-time RV’ing. To say we were a little green at this was an understatement.
So what did we learn in our second year on the road? A lot actually but we will give you our most relevant lessons
1- Protect Your RV electrical system. Never trust a campground power pedestal. These things get used over and over again and there will eventually be problems with them. Make sure it stays the campground’s problem, not yours. See my posts on “Electrical System Management” and “Battery Back Ups”
2- Protect yourself from fraud and identity theft. These are real and escalating problems. Being on the road can make you more susceptible to this. See my post on identity theft and fraud.
3- Don’t push yourself on travel days. We find the optimal travel times are between 10 am and 2 or 3 pm if you are either pulling or driving a large vehicle. Summertime brings out the crowds. This means you have to stay sharp on the road. We like to get up, have our breakfast, pack up and hit the road by 10 am.
This way you are refreshed, had your coffee and breakfast, and the morning rush hour traffic is over. If you push for too many miles by the time you get to your destination you will likely be overtired, cranky, and more prone to damaging your RV or yourself. We like to be off the road by 4 pm at the latest. No one operates well if they’re tired. If you hit traffic you will most likely wind up pulling into a campground after hours. Nothing worse than finding your spot and having to back into it in the dark. I did a post on pulling into a campground after hours. If you have not read that one you can read it here.
4- If you are traveling near any holidays, make a reservation. Most of the time we wing it between stops. When we get ready to pull off the road (usually around 2 or 3 pm…see the above tip), we google “campgrounds near me” and head to the closest one. The problem with this (we found out), is when it’s near a holiday most good campgrounds are booked solid. We learned that one on our way from Texas to Florida. We stopped in a KOA in Oklahoma after a particularly trying day due to heavy traffic and as we walked up to the office door observed the big note that stated there were no available RV sites.
What? Oh crap! Not knowing what else to do, we walked in any way to see if they had any recommendations of where we could find a nearby campground. That turned out to be a great move on our part. He wound up squeezing us into a full hook-up overflow site!!! Nice!!! Thank you KOA Oklahoma!!!
5- Know your gas (or diesel) limits. I am pretty good at figuring out how far I can go. I pushed the limits on this last trip of ours. I was trying to avoid having to stop 2 times. I usually start to look for a station between a half and a quarter tank. This way if I pull off the exit and can’t fit into the gas station (it happens more than you think) I can bypass it and go to the next one without having to worry.
This last trip I went to below a quarter of a tank so I wouldn’t have to fill up anymore before I got to my destination. It was all working perfectly until I took a wrong turn and wound up miles away from the nearest gas station. I wound up just about making it and had to do some fancy driving to get out of the gas station without hitting anything.
6- Keep records as you go. This is another thing I am usually pretty good with. I use an app similar to Quicken to track my expenses. I also use spreadsheets. I usually add any expense we have right away on my phone app so we have it all done when we get to our location. For whatever reason, I did not do it this time. I wasted almost a whole day entering gas, food, and campground transactions. Not a great way to spend your first day off…lol.
7- Watch the weather- I can’t stress this one enough. We have dodged some nasty storms including tornados just by following the weather and radar apps. This last trip up was no exception. We were in South Carolina at a state park and were supposed to leave on a Sunday. We had been paying attention to a storm that was heading for the east coast. Our next stop was supposed to be in the Virginia area and we saw on the radar that the storm was heading right for that area. We decided to book an extra day at the state park.
When the storm hit we got a little thunder and lightning and lost power for about 4 hours. Between where we were and our next destination was hit with 3 tornados. Stormy weather is no joke. Please pay attention to the weather and radar apps. I wrote a 3 part weather series. If you have not checked that out, you can read part 1 of the series here.
8- Have easily prepared meals or order out on travel days. We very rarely eat at restaurants or fast food places. When we travel, that changes. Any day we travel, we pack lunch and snacks but dinners are bought. We started RV’ing to destress and enjoy life. No one wants to prepare a big meal after being on the road all day.
9- Do visual checks at your stops. This may sound silly but every-time we pull off the road whether it be a rest area to eat or a gas station, we walk around the truck and RV. We have the motorcycle on the back of the truck so we always check the straps. I also check for anything that may have come loose on the truck/trailer, tire temperature, and pressure.
By checking tire pressure I don’t mean with a gauge because you should have done that when the tires were cold. I visually check to make sure they don’t look like they are losing air, peeling apart or bubbles. I also have an infra-red thermometer. I make sure all tires and hubs including the truck are within the same range.
10- Change your water filters regularly. Different states, different counties, different areas have different standards for water. Even if you drink bottled water, you should at least have 1 filter on your RV to prevent sediment build-up in your plumbing. If you drink the water (and you’re like us) you should have a couple of different filters. We use 2 outside filters and a Brita for the final process.
We did a review of the above filter a while back. Click here to check out that review.
There are some other filtration systems that you might only need one filter system but they are expensive and will involve installing it directly into your RV’s plumbing system.
Hopefully, you can utilize some of these tips. This next year will undoubtedly bring us more experience which will mean more tips for you. Whether you are a full-timer, part-timer, or weekend warrior, enjoy your summer season and safe travels!!