What We Learned In 5 Years of Full-Timing

Welcome

We have been on the road full time for a little over 5 years now. We thought it would be a good idea to share some of our thoughts and observations of our experiences. If you are considering the full-time RV life we hope this helps to give you a little insight on what to look forward to/be aware of before you make the leap. If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave them down below in the comment section.

If you are full-time already, how do your experiences line up with ours? We would love to know. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Brief History

We officially hit the road full-time on April 23rd, 2016. For those of you who know our story you know although we hit the road on April 23rd, I didn’t retire until October 16th. You can read our story on our ‘About Us” page. We bounced from park to park to stay close to work until I finally retired in October and we peaced out of New York.

That first winter we spent in Lake Panasoffkee Florida. On the way down to Florida, we went to the “Workakamper Rendezvous” in Heber Springs Arkansas. It was about 4 or 5 days long and was packed with seminars about work camping and even featured some employers. We had a blast!!! We were retired and did not want a second career or so we thought. This was to be the way we would supplement our income while on the road. It looked like fun and we would be in different areas each season.

Tying Up Loose Ends

Our first year on the road we spent tying up loose ends, establishing residency, learning the work camping 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 full-timing was an understatement. 

Putting Up The Flag

Brief Work Camping History

During our first year of semi-retirement, we decided to take the first half of the year off. We went to the KOA in Lake Panasoffkee (no longer a KOA) and I did what I set out to do which was relax (and gain weight…ugh) but Chris got bored and found a part-time job on Craigslist. You can read about that job in our work camping series by using the following link.

The Click Chick

After spending the winter season in Florida we went to Amarillo Texas for our first work camping job in a campground setting. Texas in the summer? What the hell were we thinking?!!! Our first summer season was an interesting one. We completed our first work camping assignment, I paid a visit to the emergency room, and we did some great exploring and riding. We actually had a lot of fun in Texas. You can check out that experience by using the link provided below.

Work Camping At KOA Amarillo Texas

Back To Florida

From there it was back to Florida. The plan was to relax a bit so I took a “site only” job in Lake City. Chris said she would find something part-time locally. How quickly things change. That job did not work out and we went on to get a monthly site at another park on the other side of town. You can read about the failed work camping job and get reviews of both parks by using the handy links below.

Off To Mystic Connecticut

This time the idea was to be further north for the summer. We also wanted to be near our family on Long Island so we could visit. Mystic was only a ferry ride away from Long Island so it was perfect. 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 work camper experience well, not so much. You can read about that experience using the handy link below.

Work Camping At The KOA In Mystic

Coast To Coast!!!

Over the next few years, we have bounced from coast to coast. Starting with wintering in Arizona, summer in Colorado, over a year back in Florida (thanks to the pandemic), now in Montana, and then we will be heading back to Florida. You can check out our different work camping experiences using the handy link below. We will also put a link below to the “Cool Day Trips” menu if you want to check out some of the cool places we visited along the way.

So What Have We Learned After 5 Years On The Road?

Protect Your RV’s 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. Lightning is cool to watch but terrible for electrical systems. We have lost one EMS system to lightning and have seen other RVers fry their RV’s electrical system due to bad campground electricity. We have reviewed a surge protector and an EMS system. You can check them out by using the handy link below. You might also want to check out our article on battery backups. Again, we will provide the link below.

Know Your RV

It’s no secret RVs are not built well. You will save yourself a lot of money and aggravation by knowing/learning how to fix things on your RV. There are so many “how-to” videos on YouTube and blogs that are dedicated to this. You should have no problem being able to fix most issues with a set of basic tools and some knowledge.

We made the mistake of buying a hyper-lite RV. Although we absolutely love the layout it has not held up well to full-time living. I have made a lot of repairs and will continue to do so until everything is done. If I would have paid for everything I have done so far it would have cost me a huge amount of money putting a severe damper on my travels.

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft & Fraud

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. This also includes your internet. Remember that campground wifi is public wifi. Even if it’s password-protected it’s still not safe. Most campgrounds never change their password and just about everyone (locals) knows their password. If you just want to watch videos or stream a movie that’s ok. Never do any of your banking or any other “sensitive” work on campground wifi without taking your own precautions. At the very least get yourself a good router that you can create your own password.

Travel The Way That Works For You

We were always told (by other full-timers and travelers) that the best way to travel was to hit the road around 10 am and be at your location by 3 pm. They even taught that in some of the seminars we attended. We have tried that and other numerous ways to travel and each one has its advantages and disadvantages. We have learned to just use what is best for us at the time. Sometimes that means combining methods. Everyone has their own travel style and/or unique situation. Do what works for you. We will put a link below to our article on “day vs night” driving below to explain some of the different ways we travel.

Day Vs Night Driving

Consider Making A Reservation

When we first started traveling we combined making reservations and just winging it between stops. When we were traveling and were ready to pull off the road, we would google “campgrounds near me” and head to the closest one. Most of the time we would get a spot with no problem. The exception to that was when it was near a holiday. If it were around a holiday, It seemed that most good campgrounds were booked solid.

The pandemic changed a lot of things. There was a huge increase in RV sales which means a huge increase in RV spots filling up fast. It is also a different “type” of camper we see coming into the parks now but that is another whole topic/article. The bottom line is if you are traveling in the summer season or near a holiday, you may want to make sure you have reservations. Make sure you have a copy of that reservation.

Know Your Gas (or Diesel) Limits

I am pretty good at figuring out how far I can go. I pushed the limits on some trips but I don’t recommend it. 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.

We have also become big fans of an app called iExit. It’s a free app that will locate you on any interstate. Once it locates you it will show you all the upcoming exits & rest areas and what services are at each one. Like any other app, it’s not 100% but it is pretty accurate. Although it’s an app for your phone, we will leave a link below to their website so you can check it out. It has worked great for us.

iExit

Keep Records As You Travel

This is another thing I am usually pretty good with. Get Receipts for everything. Skimmers at gas pumps & ATMs are increasing in use. If you have to dispute any type of charge it’s always easier if you have the receipt. I am a number and spreadsheet geek so I also use spreadsheets to track travel expenses. Even if I have no problem with any type of fraudulent charges it’s still fun (at least for me) to see what we spent our money on while traveling. It’s amazing to see how much we spend on snacks. Our favorite was when we found a Cinnabon at one of the gas stations. Definitely not Keto!!!

Keep An Eye On The Weather

We have dodged some nasty storms including tornados just by following the weather and radar apps. On one trip 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 by 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.

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.

Infrared Thermometer
The Infrared Thermometer I Use To Check Temperature

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 if they formed any bubbles. I also have an infra-red thermometer. I make sure all tires and hubs including the truck are within the same range. A tire pressure monitoring system is also a good idea.

Change Your Water Filters Regularly

Different states, different counties, and different areas have different ways of delivering your water with different standards of what they consider “acceptable” levels of things in that 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. 

Last But Not Least

This one might cause a commotion but remember this is our opinion only. Other people have a completely different point of view and that’s ok.

Work camping (at least at a campground) is a lot of work!!! It’s just like you’re corporate job but only pays less…lol. While some co-workers are nice others are “clicky” to downright mean to each other at times. We have witnessed some unbelievable scenarios. When we decided to try this we thought this part would be different. We figured people are older, had their careers, and were there to have fun, well as much fun as you can have working. We were wrong.

You are also dealing directly with the public which at times can be difficult. I am generally a people person but am shocked at how some people act at campgrounds. It seems it is progressively becoming worse. Don’t get me wrong, we still feel most RVers are still some of the nicest people we meet.

We wanted to give it a while to make sure we didn’t base it on one or two experiences. After 5 years we have made our decision. We will be finishing our assignment and will be finished with work camping in campgrounds.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you can utilize some of these tips. With regards to the last section on work camping, please don’t think we are complaining. We are not. It is just not for us. Some people have been doing it for many years and love it. We have just decided to go in a different direction.

This past year we have lost two family members. It has made us really think about family. We are going to head in a direction that will not lock us into one area for any length of time so we can focus more on family.

This next year will bring us big changes. We are super excited about our new game plan. We will update you as soon as everything is finalized. No, we are not coming off the road!!!

Whether you are a full-timer, part-timer, or weekend warrior, safe travels!!

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