When we announced our ten year anniversary of fulltiming, a blog reader wrote to ask me what we would do differently if we had it to do over again, but knowing what we know now about the fulltime RV lifestyle. In thinking about it, there are several things that would have made our lives easier and saved us a lot of money and frustration in our early years on the road. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20. So here’s my list of things I’d do differently.
1. Do more homework. I thought that I’d done a lot of research before we hit the road, but looking back, we sure had a lot to learn. I read several books on fulltiming, as well as all of the popular RV magazines, and learned quite a bit. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. If I were planning on becoming a fulltimer today, I’d read even more, spend a lot of time reading the various internet forums on RVing, and attend a couple of RV rallies as part of my research.
2. Join RV Consumer Group. The independent RV Consumer Group rates all RV makes and models for highway control, reliability, and value, and provides a wealth of information on what to look for, and what to avoid when making an RV purchase. I have had some people tell me that they don’t trust the RV Consumer Group’s ratings because they do not actually buy and test each individual model of every RV made. Instead they rely on a formula developed by their research. My feeling is that until somebody builds a better mousetrap, they are a valuable resource for RV shoppers. If we would have known about their material beforehand, we would have never purchased our first motorhome.
3. Buy a diesel pusher. There is no one best RV make or model to meet everyone’s needs. We all have different RVing styles and priorities. For our needs, a 38 to 40 foot diesel pusher by a quality manufacturer such as Allegro, Winnebago, or Newmar would have served us much better than the 36 foot gasoline powered motorhome we originally purchased.
4. Not buy a campground membership. Within our first month on the road, we purchased an expensive campground membership, which turned out to be a total waste of money. I always advise new fulltimers to wait at least a year before they buy a campground membership. It takes that long to develop your traveling style.
5. Join the Elks and Moose. My memberships in these two organizations have provided us many nights of free and low cost camping. Our membership dues and the donations we make to the lodges where we spend the night help them with their many good works in their communities, so it’s a two way street. I wish we had not waited several years before joining.
6. Avoid Camping World. It took us a couple of years to realize that just about anything we can buy at Camping World can be found for less money at many other retail locations and online.
7. Not join Good Sam Club. From the day we joined the Good Sam Club we were flooded with junk mail wanting us to upgrade our membership and buy some other product or service they offered. The small discount we got on camping at Good Sam parks was not worth the cost and hassle of the junk mail they sent us.
8. Buy a Blue Ox towbar. When we started fulltiming, we purchased a Roadmaster Falcon 5250 towbar, and fought with it for years. The release buttons were very stiff to push to disengage the arms, and if our dinghy was not perfectly straight , we could not unhook it. A few years ago we upgraded to a Blue Ox Aventa tow bar, which releases with levers, and we have found it to be a much more user friendly product.
9. Research health insurance issues. When we changed our legal domicile from Arizona to Texas, our insurance agent assured us we had full coverage, and we took his word for it. Eighteen months into our fulltime lifestyle, Miss Terry was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, and our insurance company denied the claim. As it turns out, there was a 24 month exclusion for cancer, and even though we had the policy long before we started fulltiming, the clock started ticking all over again the day we switched addresses. A bridge policy to cover the gap would have saved us a fortune.
10. I would have started a blog earlier. I’m a dinosaur, and when people first started talking about blogging, I did not pay any attention. Since then, my thinking has obviously changed. Blogging has become an important part of our income stream, and the commissions we receive from those little ads you see on the blog help us pay our bills. But even if we did not have a business, or any ad income, blogging is a great way for RVers to stay in touch with their family and friends, and to record their travels.
So there are my Top 10 Things I’d Do Over. I’m curious, what would you experienced RVers do differently if you could start all over again?
Thought For The Day – Don’t go to bed angry. Stay up and plot your revenge.