No matter what type of camping you enjoy, those three questions dominate your camping life. We have come to realize that we are not hardcore backwoods tent campers but kudos to those that are. We are a couple that enjoys RV Resorts. We also enjoy having the grandkids and their cousins tag along…NOT ALWAYS… but most of the time. We don’t have a big, fancy RV just a simple travel trailer but we like the big, fancy parks with lots of amenities.
The past 3 years, “has it really been three years?” We have focused on camping in the SE USA. Of course we were limited because of the pandemic but we have been to some great places in Alabama, Georgia & Florida so far. Recently, we spent our time in sunny Florida at Camp Margaritaville.
The main pool area and tiki bar reminded me of some of my favorite cruises. This place is great for families and for adults. We met young couples & young families that started full-time RVing last year and spent their past few months at Camp Margaritaville. We also met retirees that love to hang out at the Chill Bar and adult pool area and have camped for weeks.
If you like RV Resorts this is the place for you. I was a little worried when booking our pull-through site because of the lack of shade trees. However the weather was not super hot and we had mostly partly-cloudy skies (unusual for Florida). When we return, I will most likely book a pull-through site with a private tiki hut. They are fairly large and can at least offer some additional shade.
PROS OF CAMP MARGARITAVILLE
Location-Location-Location Very easy to get to and not far from all the tourist spots in Central Florida. It is located between Tampa and Orlando. We were traveling south on I-75 so we took the turnpike and exited to go through Groveland, Florida. Then it was a straight shot to Polk City and then Auburndale. Very little traffic and nice country views. I avoid I-4 like the plague!
Full Hookups & Big Rig Access There are gravel spots and back-in but it seemed like most of the spots were pull-through and not too close to the neighbors. Our site was a concrete pad with a large paver style area under the picnic table & where we placed our reclining chairs. If you don’t have an RV, no problem, rent one of their cute cabins. Since I work for York, my family quickly spotted our York Air Conditioning unit on one of the cabins. Good choice!
ACTIVITIES GALORE – Not just for kids but adults too. Activities are scheduled each day with fun activity directors. Too much to list but believe me they have so much to do. The mini-golf course is beautiful and nicely laid out and the best part is you don’t even have to pay to play! We also saw basketball courts and more. There is also a main pool area that reminds me of a cruise ship and in the back of the park on the lake is a Chill Bar and Pool area, mostly used by adults.. You can also relax on a covered deck by the lake with drink in hand and watch the sun set in hues of pink, orange, yellow and purple.
They also have a nice workout room and outside of the park there is easy access to a walking/biking trail.
THIS PLACE IS ALMOST SPOTLESS ! This park is extremely well taken care. Even the dumpster areas.
GOOD FOOD & DECENT PRICES By the main pool you can order food like burgers, pizza, etc. One day I had the daily special – conch fritters. No joke it was not crazy expensive. We purchased large reusable cups for around $15 that you could refill at the soda dispenser. On Saturdays they have a food truck.
LARGE SOCIAL FIREPITS, DJ NIGHT & HAPPY HOUR Enough said, “I am there”!
SPECIAL OFFERS FOR MILITARY, FIRST RESPONDERS & FLORIDA RESIDENTS – I think they should extend this to nurses. My daughter is a nurse and nurses work hard all the time but the past three years were brutal for them.
DILIGENT RANGERS & PLEASANT STAFF – When you arrive you will be presented with arm bands to wear during your stay. The rangers make frequent trips around the park checking for arm bands. A great safety measure. The staff is very helpful & extremely friendly.
DOG FRIENDLY – Great areas for dogs to stretch their legs
CONS OF CAMP MARGARITAVILLE
PRICEY – but remember it is a resort with a lot of amenities. And it doesn’t seem out of line with other RV Resorts we have stayed at and it is top notch.
HMMMM, I am wracking my brain here but I can’t really think of another con. Well, maybe live entertainment, like acoustic guitarists or 2 person groups back at the adult pool. It may be something they offer but not while we were there.
If you are looking for an RV Resort that is fun for all, you can’t go wrong with Florida’s Camp Margaritaville in Auburndale. We recommend ordering a cheeseburger and a margarita. It will feel a little like paradise.
What’s for dinner?I’m hungry! Is it time to eat yet? Those words can even be more aggravating when you are camping and you are the only one that cooks in the family.
Frequently I see people asking the same questions, and moms making the same comments over and over again on different social media RV Group sites:
“Can anyone give me some easy meal ideas?”
“What are some healthy foods that are best for camping?”
“Tired of hot dogs, burgers and steaks!”
“Tired of cooking & cleaning, no fun for mom!”
MEALS ON WHEEL 101
1. Make a menu. Design a menu that suits your family and utilize 30 minute recipes. Rachael Ray & Food Network has many 30 minute meal ideas.
Creating a menu can be time consuming but you will save time and money at the grocery store and you will know each day what you are making. It also helps you store your food in a way to access what you need first.
2. Save time at camp – Meal prepping will make life a little easier at mealtime. While I am a make it from “scratch” cook at home, I don’t want to spend all my time cooking when camping especially if our kids & grandkids travel with us. Meals on Wheels means sometimes my family will HAVE TO SUFFER as I utilize some packaged foods like Zataran’s Rice & Idahoan Instant Potatoes, Bob Evans Refrigerated Mashed Potatoes or Amy’s Organic Mac & Cheese.
3. Combine, condense and collaborate.
Combine & use the same ingredients in different ways. For example roast a chicken in advance or purchase a couple at your grocer and shred it. Vacuum seal part of it for nachos. Prepare a chicken salad with part of it and make chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. Use part of it in a pasta salad.
Condense items by VACUUM SEALING IN PORTION SIZES PER MEAL. For instance if you purchase premade hamburgers, take them out of the packaging and VACCUM SEAL to save space in the freezer or refrigerator. Same goes for anything that comes in a box like perogies.
Collaborate – If traveling in a group and you think you may end up eating together some evenings, talk among yourselves and decide what each person is doing on a given evening. Saves confusion and time.
4. Tools of the trade. Figure out what items work best for you to quickly make meals. We utilize our grill most, but I also use an electric skillet, a crock pot, a small waffle iron and 1 iron skillet and 1 nonstick skillet. Others swear by the Instapot and Air Fryers. Figure out what works for you and how much room you have to store such items. Mini Waffle Iron is fabulous on Amazon https://amzn.to/3yNJKqQ – Food Saver Vac Seal is our favorite on Amazon https://amzn.to/3i19hWI
TIP:CREATING A MENU TAKES TIME – DON’T WAIT TILL THE LAST minute.
If you get stuck – design a menu using a theme or by specific cuisine.
TIP:DON’T DISCARD MENUS.SAVEMENUS for future trips.Tweak what you didn’t like and improve it if necessary
TIP: Use your menu & make a shopping list. If you hate making lists, use an online site to save your recipes and enter the list of ingredients first in the recipe and use it when shopping. Paprika App, Pinterist & Big Oven are just a few. My sister has used Onetsp.com for years.
Tip: Check yourself out and bag your food by meal day plan, dry & canned foods together and refrigerated foods together. Our camper sits in our driveway, when I unload the car I carry all the dry/canned bags into the camper. I store the last day ‘s menu food items in the back of the cupboard and work forward so on the first day, all your main ingredients are in the front and you are not digging around trying to find what you need to cook.
When it is just the two of us for a few days or a week, we typically eat a large lunch consisting of a grilled protein and have a salad. If you plan to make salads, prep before hand. For example, make your hardboiled eggs in advance. I also precook my bacon and then it only takes seconds to warm in the microwave for breakfast or add to a salad. When grandkids are coming, I make pancakes in advance & then it only takes a few minutes to warm them and add that already cooked bacon and serve it up. Look for creative ways to serve your food. Then it won’t look like the same ole thing!
MY FIRST DINNER MENU TRAVELING WITH FAMILY
Since our daughter’s family was traveling with us, I thought it would be best to utilize basic dinners and make sandwiches for lunch. Then breakfast could be a combination of cereals, muffins, yogurts and fresh fruits. Our campground had a great little ice cream bar so that took care of dessert each evening.
Sunday: Chicken Kabobs with Cilantro Lime Rice (Vigo or Zatarain’s) and Grilled Pineapple (Mojitos for adults)
Monday: Pulled pork Sandwich with cole slaw, mac and cheese & Watermelon slices (Jack & Coke for adults)
Typically I make pulled pork & freeze it for camping trips. Then I use it for BBQ Sandwiches or have it with rice and black beans. Or if I am pressed for time, I use Jack Daniels Frozen Pulled Pork . I prefer to make my mac & cheese from scratch but when camping we use Bob Evans Mac and Cheese or Annie’s Frozen Mac & Cheese depending on refrigerator space.
Tuesday: Shrimp & Crawfish Boil (Grilled Mahi for our daughter) (Hurricanes for adults)
Wednesday: BBQ Ribs, cole slaw, baked beans and Pasta Salad (Long Islands for adults)
Thursday: Filet Steak tips with onions and mushrooms with mashed potatoes. If I have enough space in the fridge I used fresh mushrooms but just in case I also buy jarred mushrooms & a jarred gravy if necessary. (Old Fashioned for adults)
Friday: Grilled salmon with grilled bacon wrapped asparagus and baked sweet potatoes/ baked Idaho potatoes (Chelsea Sidecar for adults)
Saturday: Chicken Alfredo – Prefer to make my own sauce but take jarred sauce just in case we are pressed for time.
(A nice bottle of wine….just for me!)
CHECK OUT MY FUTURE INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL MENUS BLOG
Coming Soon: Cool Charcuterie Boards, Which Hitch, Additions for Travel Trailers and don’t forget to subscribe!
After purchasing our new Apex, which in all respects is a very modest purchase, the real shocker is what we would need to purchase to actually use the RV. From basic items like towels and bedding; to water pressure meters and tire gauges (which requires changing the stems on our truck & trailer tires) and wheel chocks, etc……
Yes, this is only the beginning. (If you are a blog skimmer, if nothing else, pay attention to the items highlighted in Red.)
If you end up purchasing a travel trailer, the first big extra expense may be the HITCH. We researched for several months and made a decision that we were going to purchase a hitch that we felt would be one of the safest to pull with. Of course, it came with a high price tag but to us it is worth it. It required a conscious decision to be willing to sacrifice on other items. I would rather be covered up with a cheap blanket sleeping cozily in my bed, than covered up with dirt six feet under.
In a future blog we will focus on the hitch purchased and why!
We kept adding to our list and had to choose between “this” and “that”. My husband likes to go a little “over the top” in anything that has to do with tools, meters, gauges. So that means that in order to not totally go broke, we must make sacrifices, for instance, choosing between the coffee maker I really want and end up buying an inexpensive one from Walmart. It boils down to what is most important.
DO THIS FIRST: My first recommendation is purchasing the basics before picking up your RV. If you purchase from an RV Dealer you won’t necessarily get the best prices. Also, look in your house drawers, cupboards and closets for doubles of anything that you can utilize in your camper. Do this BEFORE you go shopping. Otherwise, you may see the latest and greatest gadget and decide not to use that old wine opener and leave it laying in the kitchen drawer to take up space.
LOOK FOR ONLINE COUPONS & COMPARE PRICES: Since we started shopping for items online due to the pandemic, we looked for coupons and compared prices. Although Amazon Prime is just so easy to use and purchase from and to RETURN if you don’t like something, I have found a few great deals at Camping World and E-trader. If retail shops are open where you live, look for clearance items. Don’t overlook stores like Homegoods, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Ross where you may find great deals on oven mitts and storage bins. One RVer said she bought her storage baskets at Dollar Tree. Another said Dollar Tree has all the common spices in light weight plastic containers.
If you have friends that own RVs, ask them for advice on what you need, and good places to purchase from. You may find that they may have an extra “something” that they purchased and never used and simply give it to you or give you a great deal.
The following is a COLLECTIVE LIST OF ACCESSORIES AND MUST HAVES from family and friends!
It is not totally comprehensive but will give you a good start.
Note: In an effort to get into the fulltime RV Lifestyle, I started this blog and some of these links may be part of an affiliate program that may pay a small commission. To enable us to get into the RV World full-time sooner, we are hoping this blog will enable us to make a little extra income and reach our goal to GET & STAY ON THE ROAD and share our tips along our way. Thank you in advance for any that use these links and find them helpful.
Grilling equipment and accessories – Our RV came with a grill, however many RVers like the Blackstone grill. This is a small table top version: https://amzn.to/2Tvp3Rx Here is a nice little grill accessory kit: https://amzn.to/2TuQ73n
Mosquito repellent, citronella candles, wasp spray, ant traps – We purchased Thermacells which so far are working well. I purchased the one like a lantern so it is easy to carry and move around. We love, love, love these: https://amzn.to/3wiltHH Ants seem to want to inhabit our RV since our little outing last week. Personally we try and use eco-friendly repellents if possible but I purchased ant traps to keep on hand. Cinnamon is a strong ant repellent as well as other natural products that you may want to consider.
Camping chairs with cup holders and a bag. This is where you can choose “this” or “that”. We purchased Zero Gravity Lounge Chairs at the end of the season last year at Home Depot for $30 on clearance. Friends have purchased chairs for as little as $6 at Walmart anD others purchased PICO CHAIRS that cost in excess of $100. On my list of A FUTURE must buy is a rocking chair for camp since I have a beautiful grandbaby. I found this one and have it on my list! https://amzn.to/3xjDd6B
Camping Table – this is a recommendation we received from my niece an avid RVer. This is a nice ultra-lite option: https://amzn.to/3hisCDF
Picnic Table Cover & plastic clamps to hold it down in windy weather. These are an inexpensive option and also on my list to purchase: https://amzn.to/3hEID5E
Outdoor area rug for under awning. We purchased a few smaller rugs that were on sale. I wished I had purchased a much larger rug like this one that comes with its own bag! https://amzn.to/3wjR0ZC On one of our last RV trips we saw a neighbor with a rug edged in LED lighting which probably will reduce tripping at night (unless you are drunk and then that probably won’t help anyway). Found one that looks pretty cool: https://amzn.to/3wdQCfi
Water hose & filters (camping in cold weather – consider heated water hose) – We have never been disappointed with any Camco products so far. Here is a BPA & Lead free drinking water hose that is thicker and an Anti-Kink design: https://amzn.to/3yoXub9 The filter is also made by Camco: https://amzn.to/3xjz7LP
Water Pressure Regulator– Of course my husband did not want just a basic water regulator although many of our friends use this: https://amzn.to/3yqeY77 He wanted one that looks like he works for the Water Utility Company, but he is very happy with it. However, it is a little over $20 more expensive but gives him an exact measurement: https://amzn.to/2SNrs9B
EMS ELECTRICAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM SURGE PROTECTER: This is a must have. Any surges in power or lightening strikes around the area may damage your electrical components within the RV. Replacing electrical components or appliances can be very costly. Although this unit seems very expensive, it is a lot less expensive than replacing a damaged appliance or other electrical device or computers. IF YOUR RV REQUIRES 30 AMP PROTECTION CHOOSE THIS: https://amzn.to/3hfAWnE IF YOUR RV REQUIRES 50 AMP PROTECTION CHOOSE THIS: https://amzn.to/3jKGeck My husband with an electrical background chose this because it constantly monitors electrical activities with a security locking bracket. Although we have never had any issues with anything coming up missing when we camp, we do secure our EMS with a basic bike key lock to the electrical post. https://amzn.to/3AvB7ma
Wall mounted shampoo & soap dispenser – if needed – https://amzn.to/3hGj7wK I have not installed ours and I forgot to store the shampoo bottle and conditioner after our last trip. So what did we find when we stopped? Broken bottles on the shower floor with shampoo and conditioner everywhere. For us, this is a need!
Foaming Soap dispenser (I purchased a set of two and use one at the kitchen sink) https://amzn.to/3jSKQwW Just adhere these with museum putty and you don’t have to worry about them tipping over when you travel or remembering to store them away when you leave camp.
Waste basket, toilet bowl brush and BLACK TANK treatment – Each RV bathroom differs greatly in size so that will determine which waste basket you can use. This may be a good option for us and I am excited to try it: https://amzn.to/2VcaeUk There are so many black tank treatments but the one that we prefer to keep that stinky smell away without using awful chemicals is “Happy Campers” – https://amzn.to/3AvXGaw
Towels & Wash cloth – Our original purchase was Turkish Towels – the benefit is that they dry very quickly and you can purchase in multi-colors so each person knows which towel is theirs while traveling. These were recommended to us because they are softer and seem to be better quality than some of the others.…the fringe seems to stay tied better too. Just tug on knots before and after washing. https://amzn.to/3AvXGaw
OUR TOP CHOICE FOR BATH AND KITCHEN TOWELS AND WASH CLOTHS, LAUNDRY SOAP AND MORE:
NORWEX – This great quality microfiber with BacLock stuff is amazing. You can even wash without soap, using only a body cloth and you will not smell and you will be clean. You can simply hang the towel and face/body cloth after your shower and they dry quickly and do not have any odor. Read WHY the products are so great and to purchase: https://summerpinnock.norwex.biz/ But the TOWELS ARE AMAZING. They absorb all the moisture off your body and dry quickly and even have a built in loop to hang.
The basics: Dishes, silverware, kitchen utensils, collapsible colander, thin plastic cutting board, steak & cooking knives, toaster, coffee pot, towels, wash clothes, can opener, hand mixer, blender, skillet, collapsible measuring spoons https://amzn.to/3dJyvaC, etc. For dishes we use Corelle. This is a neutral white set that could work for all decor: https://amzn.to/3hwuZS8 Although this is the set we have for our RV: https://amzn.to/2Twfr9a
Sink strainers – Collapsible strainers and colanders help save room. This set has collapsible spoons as part of the set: https://amzn.to/36h4Cdy
Pots and Pans – Nesting pots are a great choice with limited storage. They have removal handles and are stainless steel. This is a great choice: https://amzn.to/3xwqSvW and another less expensive option with an aluminum core is a 7 piece set by Camco is: https://amzn.to/3dLl228
Stainless steel mixing bowls with plastic lids can be used to mix ingredients, serve in and store food in the fridge. This set even has 3 grater options & non-slip bottoms! https://amzn.to/3jJr1ID
Glasses, coffee cups, pitcher. Experienced RVers have recommended Tervis Tumblers with lids as a good choice since they are lightweight and keep beverages hot or cold. Tervis (I use these for my cold drinks and coffee) A set of four gives us 2 for us and 2 for guests. We use multi-color lids so we know which drink is for each person. https://amzn.to/3dKPxp4 Clear Tervis 16 oz. tumblers & multi-color lids https://amzn.to/3AykRAQ My husband is a Steelers Fan (boo!) but I bought him this Tervis Coffee Cup anyway: https://amzn.to/3hkvCiV but I guess as a Brown’s fan I need to buy this for me: https://amzn.to/3AyE8SG
Cloth collapsible storage bins (For campers with limited drawers or clothes storage areas) We use these for our clothes and store them in the bin above our bed: https://amzn.to/36h6yTn
First Aid Kit – DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT A FIRST AID KIT. This 299 piece kit is easy to store and has the basics of what you may need. https://amzn.to/3AvLAOF
Meat Thermometer (Great for grilling & more) Lavatools PT12 is a great digital instaread thermometer. Check it out: https://amzn.to/3yv4Da7
Of course there are other items you will need, but if you are new to RVing, this list should help you save some time in your research so you can purchase some basics and get you well on your way in traveling down the RV Spiral!
Note: In an effort to get into the fulltime RV Lifestyle, I started this blog and some of these links may be part of an affiliate program that may pay a small commission. To enable us to get into the RV World full-time sooner, we are hoping this blog will enable us to make a little extra income and reach our goal to GET & STAY ON THE ROAD and share our tips along our way. Thank you in advance for any that use these links and find them helpful.
Technically speaking an expandable camper would include any type of tent or RV that is able to be expanded once it is set in place. For the purpose of this blog the focus is FOLDING POP-UP CAMPERS!
With a new interest in purchasing and renting RV’s because of COVID CRAZY 2020, camping has become trendy even among those that may have never considered it before. But now, it is considered an ideal way to travel and vacation. A very easy way to vacation while keeping a safe distance from others, it can be a very economical choice for a family – especially if they purchase a used Pop-Up Camper. It is lightweight and easy to tow, can easily sleep a family of four+ (even if they all look like they are professional basketball players), and can be bought used for under 3K, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
A few weeks ago glancing through my Instagram feed, I noticed a pic of a used pop-up tent camper. The person posting the picture is a very close friend of our family and is a successful reseller of vintage clothing and accessories. “Could she now be in the business of reselling campers?”…I wondered with furrowed brow.
Her husband who is the same age as my oldest son did not seem like the “camping type”. I have known him for years, just doesn’t seem like something he would want to do. I guess I didn’t really know him after all. They have a recently graduated high schooler and a senior in high school this year, surely they would be bored going to campsites I thought. Yes, I was convinced she was going to flip that camper! Then I saw another pic where she was starting to renovate the camper. Absolutely! She was going to live my dream, buy a camper on the cheap, fix it up and sell it and make some extra cash. I was so excited for her! So I called her and much to my dismay, she was not fixing it up to sell.
Like so many other families this year, they decided to try camping since it seemed like the safest alternative in Covid Crazy 2020. They planned to take short trips from home and get a change of scenery. They didn’t want to spend a lot of money and it had to be lightweight since they would be pulling with their SUV and it had to sleep 4 VERY TALL PEOPLE. The answer? An old, almost ugly pop-up camper! The model is an early 2000’s model, not very attractive but in decent shape. Our family friend who can see the beauty and value in a vintage piece of clothing that she purchases at a garage sale and then flips on Ebay or Poshmart for a hefty little price tag, can see the value and beauty of this pop-up tent camper.
New pop-up campers can range anywhere from $10,000 to more than $20,000. Of course with any type of purchase, you will have pros and cons. With a pop-up camper most would probably say the cons outweigh the pros, but not for every family. Some of the things to consider is that once you are at the campsite, you now have to expand it. Expanding it once it is at the campsite can be cumbersome especially if it is raining that day.
Many pop-ups can sleep up to six and the beds are large on opposite ends so that is great for taller campers or a way to sleep a few little kiddos in one bed. If it is a cold night, pop-up campers can be hard to keep warm and keep cold on hot summer days due to the canvas wall construction. There is also very little storage space and limited floorspace. On the other hand, I don’t know many campers that want to hang out in their camper day and night….unless you get consecutive rainy days and then you better hope you don’t have any holes that will leak. If you want a nice big shower and private bathroom, you better hope the Campsite facilities are top notch. However, the money you save with a pop-up during this pandemic can be used in the near future when eventually we can travel the world and go to a swanky hotel.
One of the pros of camping in a pop-up camper are the stories you will long remember. Family camping stories can be filled with fun and terror, struggles and hilarity. When I was a child our dad bought a pop-up tent camper. I have no idea why and I only remember taking it to my grandparents place in Pennsylvania sometime in the 1960’s. They had a berry farm on several acres and there were a couple family homes on the property. We were sleeping in my aunt’s house, but my brother and boy cousins were supposed to sleep in the camper. In the middle of the night we all jumped out of bed when we heard the boys screaming. The nightmare for me started when my dad ran out of the bedroom with not a stitch of clothes on but with a rifle in his hand. He and my uncle ran out into the pitch dark not knowing what they would encounter. The boys were screaming that a bear had been trying to get into the camper. I am pretty sure that if a bear was trying to get into a pop-up camper it would no doubt have been able to make one swipe with a massive paw and torn the canvas apart. Being a small child of course, I was convinced it was one of those scary black bears. Of course my dad and uncle did not find any evidence of any black bears but they did see some minor scratches on the camper in the morning. My mom and aunt thought it may be a bobcat. Other family members thought it was a racoon. But whatever it was, nobody ended up sleeping in the camper the rest of the night!
So if you are looking for an inexpensive way to try out camping, you may want to consider a pop-up camper. If you are thrifty like our friend and use a little ingenuity you can transform a used camper into something very cozy and useful for you and your family. It is amazing what a little paint, new fabric, a few cute pillows, new flooring, fresh bed linens and drapes can do. Our friend purchased the used pop-up camper for less than $2600 and she is not called thrifty for nothing. The best part is that she looked for great deals and was able to transform the interior for less than $400! I call this transformation POP-UP PIZZAZZ! Watch the following video to see the finished product:
After four years of looking and begging my husband, we went to the Tampa RV show in January with family and friends. There we found almost everything we were looking for in a travel trailer. If we had gone on our own we probably would have left without buying anything except some popcorn and beer. However, we succumbed to peer pressure. We even bought from a vendor we swore we would never buy from (General RV). We left excited and looking forward to picking up our new RV the end of February.
My list of must-haves were not many:
Length of trailer should be no longer than 30′
Lots of windows and lighter colored furnishings
A good amount of storage
A large bathroom
Must sleep at least 5/6 people
An outside kitchen
Two doors for entering and exiting camper
Ultra Light weight
A simple exterior without outlandish designs and a neutral color palette
Room for my husband to work with his multitude of electronic devices
Heated and enclosed underbelly
NO aluminum siding
At least one slide with a slide topper
The APEX 265RBSS met all of my wants with the exception of two. The RV has 1 door. I kept weighing the pros and cons and decided I could live without the extra door. It has one nice slide, but no slide topper. That I didn’t think I could do without.
My husband had other items that were important to him as far as the construction and features were concerned. He was happy with the overall construction, however he was adamant that we have two air conditioners. So, we agreed to pay extra for the slide topper and an air conditioner and negotiations began.
We picked up the RV the last week of February and then camped at Lazy Days for two days with our granddaughter. With four years of watching countless videos on camping and RVs, writing posts and interviewing experienced campers you would think we would have this RV camping thing down. HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA
So we thought, no problem, we will take a few short distance trips over the next few months before we hit the road for a long trip. Then Covid-19 happened and we were told to stay in our homes. Yes, we are in that age group, you know, the 60 and over group. One more challenge to our RV dream.
But maybe this is not a bad thing after all. Why do I say that? Well, my next post will address that subject.
This weekend we traveled to Conyers, Ga hoping to live stream this event. Somewhat of a disaster to start. First and foremost, internet service was awful. Evidently while Verizon is easily accessible everywhere else in this country, we were not able to live stream and go online. We talked to attendees about our website and when they would try and access the internet to visit our site to subscribe, they were unable to. It just wasn’t Verizon customers either, many with other providers were complaining as well.
Friday was a complete rain out and too cold to traipse around and look at RVs. I felt bad for the vendors thinking they wouldn’t sell a thing this weekend. However, what a surprise. The next two days were chilly but tolerable. The sun was out and all I saw was shiny new RVs everywhere, and on Sunday all we saw was SOLD. All sizes and types being purchased by all different ages of people. Many families with animals and kids, seniors, young couples and individuals… get this…many with the hopes of living full-time and traveling in their new purchase. Yes!!!! Camper Crazy people just like me.
Lots of people!!! All ages from babies to seniors were roaming in and out of the RVs, signing up for the driving class from Camping World and attending the seminars from an RVSEF instructor.
RVSEF provides training for wannabe RVers or those seeking more education concerning RV safety and assisting people learn how to operate their RVs. We attended two of the seminars and found them to be informative. To learn more visit their website to find out more about online training and their conferences. Visit https://rvsafety.com/
The highlight of the weekend was my husband actually driving a motor-home!!! Never thought I would see that happen. Camping World offered show attendees the chance to drive a small Class A with an instructor. The nicest part was it was just that! No high pressure sales person saying, “BUY TODAY AND SAVE BIG.” Plus my husband didn’t crash so that was a big plus as well!
We stumbled into a nice Entegra Qwest Class C and there were many families that fell in love with it too. Currently I am trying to talk my husband into just buying a travel trailer and using it with our current truck until we retire. That way he can become accustomed to the RV lifestyle and will be happy to live full time in one after we retire. We looked at three different trailers that could be possibilities from the lowest cost spectrum up to the Lance 2985 Roadster to the more expensive Airstream Flying Cloud. If nothing else you gotta love that name!
Watch our video to see how Mark expertly learns how to maneuver the motor-home with great tips from the instructor and how he is slowly becoming Camper Crazy too! Check out our video on the 2020 Airstream Flying Cloud, Entegra Qwest and the Lance 2985 Roadster while we check them out at the Great American RV Show in Conyers, Georgia.
As always, thank you for reading, subscribing and commenting on our blog and youtube channel! We appreciate your support.
Living full-time in an RV after selling your home can present some challenges. These are challenges that will take some strategy and good planning.
Personally we have lived for over 20 years in Florida and will maintain our residency and domicile, IF…I mean when we pursue my “Camper Crazy” dream of living full-time in an RV and traveling. We have already started planning so the day I retire, we can fill up the tank and go!
Some full-time travelers will purchase an RV lot much like Debi and Joe in our previous blog, however, we are not sure we will go that route. We know for certain that our home base will be Florida in some form. Some travelers will use a family member’s residency in the state they want to consider their permanent residence. There are those that live in states with taxes that highly impact retirees. In that case, they may look for residency in a state, like Florida, which will have less impact and seek to change their domicile.
We really had no idea what we should do once we start traveling full-time. Then we thought about missionaries, doctors without boarders, traveling nurses, cruisers and those in the military. What do they do? How do they handle being away for long periods of time, and what do they do about the items mentioned in the title? First, what do they do about their mail?
One way of handling the mail is to use a mail forwarding service. There are several that you can find online, however, many may be drawn to Good Sam’s mail service. Many full-time campers already have a membership with Good Sam, so they will get a discounted price to use their service.
Basically you will get a physical Florida address that you can use for more than your mail. That address could be the beginning of setting up your residency. It may be able to help you obtain or maintain a driver’s license, get your auto/RV tags and insurance, and setting up bank accounts. You can view the details at https://www.goodsammailservice.com/faq
Domicile in and of itself is basically your home or where you intend to return. From our research simply owning a home and spending most of your time in a state is not enough to prove domicile. Where you consider your permanent home and where your important activities take place is what can help you establish your domicile. This is especially important if you want to establish a new domicile.
While you can own more than one home or residence, you can only have one domicile. If it isn’t clearly apparent which is your domicile, then you must take the right measures to establish your new domicile and give up the old. This is important due to legal issues that could arise. For instance after your death, if your survivors have to file probate court proceedings, it must be done in the state of your domicile at time of death.
One of the most important factors is your intent. No one can read our minds or hearts, but they can see the evidence. Where do we maintain our memberships? Where are the financial institutions that we deal with? Where are you registered to vote? What address is on a driver’s license and passport? What address is used for filing taxes? All of these things can be evidence that we are domiciled in a specific state. Additionally, a person can file a Declaration of Domicile.
For anyone considering selling their home and living full-time and traveling in their RV, planning is necessary. It means making some serious decisions so you effectively identify your intent of domicile and residency. Our research has merely skimmed the surface of the topic, so take the necessary steps to learn about a state’s domicile and residency requirements, and if necessary, contact a local attorney to fully understand the law.
Once you get to the point where you can have the freedom of travel, you may want to have everything in place so nothing slows you down on the road of a Camper Crazy life!
A few weeks ago I received a text from a family friend and it said “you may want to read this“. I immediately went to the website and started briefly scanning the article. Then a wave of nausea hit me like a tidal wave. A panic attack…could it be? My immediate reaction was to quickly turn off my computer and hide it under the bed. There is no way my husband could see this. It would support every negative feeling he has about my Camper Crazy dream. He will say, “see, everything I have been telling you is confirmed in this article” and with a quick chuckle finish with a “I always knew you were crazy.”
A few days later peeking under the bed, I stared at the laptop and wondered if I was emotionally strong enough to confront the dreaded list. With sweaty palms and a racing heart, I summoned the courage to reopen that link and start reading. To be honest, I could not read it all at once. It took me a couple days to finish it. It was like trying to choke down a plate of broccoli, brussel sprouts and sauerkraut accompanied with a glass of buttermilk. I could not like it!
Should I just give up on my dream based on this article? At first, I was almost convinced that I should. The article was based on interviews of people that decided to live my dream and their valuable personal experiences, which remarks did not coincide with my dream.
Then my more rational side kicked in a couple of my brain cells. I decided that I would take one item at a time and analyze how it applied to us and how we could overcome. I started with what I felt would be the easier items to confront first.
I had to skip down to Slide 8 before I found a comfortable area to start. Not that dealing with your own waste is easy! However, in our previous article “To poop or not to poop” we confronted that topic with experienced campers. I feel like my husband will be more than capable of taking care of that part of the mess. He is an electrician by trade. That is close to a plumber, right?
Slide 9 discusses how small the living quarters are and how it can create issues between traveling companions. That seemed plausible. We have been married 45 years and there are times I would just like to have the house to myself for an afternoon and have a “Calgon” moment. Is that enough to not follow my dream?
I sent a message to my friend Debbie. She and her husband sold their home and living full-time in an RV for over a year. When I asked her if she thought spending all her time with Joe caused issues, she laughed. Her reply was: “When you retire with your spouse what difference is there between hanging together all the time at your house or on the road in a camper? Either way you are together, so why not spend the time enjoying journeys?” Boom! Good Answer. Two down, eleven to go.
Slide 10 deals with the challenge of driving an RV. It is one of the things that sort of scares me. Not that my husband is a bad driver. But, lets face it, when one retires and ages, you look forward to losing your hearing and your eyesight. Uggg!!! It is always easier to drive when you can see where you are going. One of the things we learned from Dan & Mary Ellen, (the owners of the Pleasure-way) is careful planning helps. They plan their trip each day so they are only driving six hours a day. They can start after rush hour and arrive at their next campsite in late afternoon. A great plan!
I realize it is best if I learn to drive whatever camper we purchase in case of emergency or when my husband just doesn’t feel like driving. However, if we purchase a fifth-wheel or a travel trailer, I have zero experience. A Class C is not as scary to consider since I have driven the largest U haul trucks packed with furniture across the country.
Shanna and Brent ended up getting a fifth wheel to replace their totaled trailer. (refer to “Griswold’s in the making” article). Today she drove through Fancy Gap, VA on I-77. She said it is much easier towing a fifth-wheel than the previous Grey Wolf trailer.
Driving through Fancy Gap in a car scares me, so I am pretty impressed that she drove the F-250 with the new Elkridge. I was even more impressed that Brent wasn’t on his knees praying the whole time she was driving since the F-250 is his pride and joy.
Lynette and Mark from one of our previous posts drive a Dodge dual wheel pickup with a Jayco fifth-wheel. She tells me not to worry, it is easy. So I guess, if nothing else, I have Shanna and Lynnette to give me driving lessons if we buy a fifth-wheel.
Slide 11 discusses problematic overnight parking but gives suggestions on some apps you can utilize to find overnight parking. Easy enough we can do that. Note to self: download apps. 4 down!!! My blood pressure is now normal!
Slide 13 made me sigh. I am not a hoarder exactly, but very sentimental and like to keep things, that in all honesty.. I don’t need. However, I feel that someone close to me may appreciate the fact that I kept something that they may appreciate in the future. My husband on the other hand loves tools and wire, and nuts and bolts. We have made great strides in reducing the stuff we have over the past year. It is just stuff that will rust and deteriorate over time. For those things like old photos and letters and cards that are so dear to my heart, I am hoping my children will help me scan and maintain electronically and maybe keep some of the originals. Renting a storage unit is an option but costs extra money. We can’t forget that once we retire we are on a fixed income. A difficult obstacle for the emotional side but we can overcome!
Slide 14 deals with the fact that it is not easy to pull up your roots and leave friends and family. There is absolutely no way I can go for several months and not see my kids and granddaughters. We would both go insane. Another tip I learned from the glampers Dan and Mary, is when they owned their Class A is to invite others to join you along the way. Often they would have their kids, grand-kids and other family members and friends fly to a city on their journey. They pick them up at the airport and they travel together in the RV for a week or so and then drop them off at another airport to fly home. That way they continue their travels but share their journey with the ones they love. That can work for us as well.
Slides 2-6 &12 is what stresses me out. Those items started the heart palpitations and doubting my sanity. According to the article, RVs can be expensive, can cost a lot to repair, they depreciate, get bad gas mileage, can cost a lot to update if you buy used, and insurance can be a pain (see our blog on things you need to know about RV insurance).
While at face value those are accurate statements, what about the flip side? If you sell your home and purchase a condo to retire in, you may have huge assessments that come along as the association implements upgrades. Or like many that retire in Florida, they purchase mobile homes in 55+ communities. What happens when the AC goes out or the hot water tank breaks? Those repairs are not cheap either. Plus the lot rental can be increased every year. Stick and brick home renovations are expensive as well. In either case, if you live in an RV or a regular condo or stick and brick home – any type house repairs are going to be needed and will be expensive unless you know someone that can make the repairs for you.
I have a sister that lives in Ohio, in the same home she and her husband purchased back in the early 1960’s. If she only used her fuel oil for heating and not her wood-burner too, her heating bills in the winter would be astronomical. She would probably be better off driving a gas guzzling RV to Arizona to spend the winter. So saying that RVs are expensive may be true, but one would have to consider the alternative costs of whatever other living arrangements you make in retirement.
After reading the whole article I reached back out to our friends Debbie and Joe. Debbie made the point that after selling their home they purchased an RV lot where they spend the winters. However, after raising a family in a “bricks and sticks” home, they were happy to buy an RV even though they realized the RV would depreciate. Debbie said, “who cares? the experience is worth it”. Just look at this picture, you can see how the RV life suits them.
Slide 7 deals with something we basically have little control over, Health Care. It makes sense that when you travel continuously it could be a hassle. While doctors may be everywhere, we prefer our regular doctors. That can be a real challenge.
My husband had major back surgery a few years ago. If by chance he has a similar issue while traveling that requires additional surgery, there is no way we will want some random doctor performing the surgery. Not knowing how the whole Medicare thing works is also a little nerve-wracking but we have some time to figure that part out.
For employed people that have the option of participating in an employee sponsored HSA (health savings account), it may be something to take full advantage of, especially if planning on a “Camper Crazy” lifestyle after retiring. We realize we must have something set aside to help pay for costs not covered by insurance.
While there are downsides to retiring in an RV, there are also upsides. The 13 reasons mentioned above are things that we feel can be minimized with knowledge and planning.
Unfortunately, we should have actually started planning for this lifestyle even sooner. However, my husband’s hesitancy is actually a good thing because it offsets my crazy “jump right in and do it” personality. With planning and the right strategy… hopefully… we will NEVER regret living full-time in an RV in retirement. That is, if my husband can be persuaded to be Camper Crazy too!
The video above gives just a small glimpse of this amazing Disney RV resort
Trying to convince a man that living full-time in an RV after retiring will be exciting and fun has been a challenge. The challenge is REAL, especially when this person does not enjoy vacations, hates cruising, refuses to fly and has little interest in hobbies. So, slowly through the course of the past few years I have dragged him to RV shows and RV showrooms, and he finally consented to earnestly try and consider the idea. Together we watch youtube videos and read blogs about RV life and are now sharing our thoughts and information through Camper Crazy Buzz.
However, he is still not totally convinced. I decided to try another tactic. I would introduce him to an over the top style of camping that may seal the deal. You see, this guy who hates anything to do with fun and vacationing (with the exception of going to see the trees change colors in the fall)… he has a specific weakness for the Wonderful World of Disney.
In the mid 90’s we moved to Orlando and he enjoyed watching the fireworks from our living room window at night. He loved walking through what was known then as Downtown Disney, and even enjoyed occasionally going to the parks. Something about the place…get this….makes him happy! He has even suggested that after retiring we should just move back to Orlando.
My plan… take him to Fort Wilderness. However, my plan backfired. We had been busy for many days helping family pack up to move. We were tired and I wanted to take a break, but he refused. He said he could not do anything related to my “camper crazy” dream and suggested I take our eight year old granddaughter on a “camper crazy” adventure.
I think he imagined that at eight years old she would be really bored looking at RVs and that would burst my camper crazy bubble. Our granddaughters are the center of our world and the main reason he is even considering that maybe, just maybe he will buy an RV. He has said that it “may be fun to take the girls on road trips in an RV”.
He just did not realize what I had planned. Surprise!!! Our granddaughter had a phenomenal time. We met up with some family staying at Fort Wilderness. Although, I had only planned on staying a few hours and look around and visit the pool, we stayed the night, thanks to a flat tire. My granddaughter experienced her first night in a “two-story camper”. “What is that?” you ask. It is what my granddaughter called the fifth-wheel camper we stayed in.
Of course, like anything Disney, Fort Wilderness is beautiful and designed in a charming, fairy tale frontier style. You can almost imagine walking the grounds, as you round the bend, you will run into the Seven Dwarfs or Winnie the Pooh and his gang. Needless to say, it is not your run-of-the-mill campground.
Fully equipped campsites can accommodate anything from tents to large Class A motor-homes. Finding your spot is easy since the sites are setup in loops. There is plenty of room between each site and designed in a way that features the beauty of Florida’s great outdoors and without feeling like your privacy is jeopardized. Your basic hookups are available at most sites along with cable TV, a picnic table and a grill.
Woof Woof! Many of our family members and friends that camp like to take their dogs with them. Many of the sites at Fort Wilderness are pet friendly with the exception of those camping in a tent or a popup style camper. As expected, there will be an additional charge to bring your pet, currently posted as $5 per night, but many find it well worth the added expense. Well behaved pets can be taken on the pet walking trails as long as they are on a lead, or they can play off leash at the Waggin Trail’s dog park. What if you want to spend the day at one of the parks and don’t want to leave Fido in the camper all day? Disney has an answer for that. Day and overnight care is available at the Best Friend’s Kennel Care.
With a resort boasting 750 acres of lush wilderness, you may want to explore the resort by renting a golf cart at the reception outpost. It is a great way to get the kids back to the RV after their hard day splashing around in the pool, canoeing, or galloping along the happy trails on horseback. If you are not up to riding the trails, catch a wagon ride or take a carriage ride. Don’t fret there are plenty of fun-filled activities for adults and children. Even though the horse and pony rides, wagon ride, carriage ride all comes with an additional cost, you may find that this is the best vacation you have taken in a long time.
Evenings offer activities such as gobbling up roasted marshmallows at the “campfire sing-along”, having fun watching a Disney film at the outside theater, enjoying dinner and a show at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, or finding delight in the beautiful boat parade with all your favorite Disney characters, and then ending the day with breathtaking fireworks.
So now you are like, “I wanna go there but I don’t even own an RV” 😦 sad face, pout, tears in your eyes!!! Never fear…Disney wants you to feel like you are a happy camper too. SHHHH, do not tell my husband but there are log-cabins nestled within this wilderness with a private patio and a modern kitchen. But don’t worry, you don’t have to wash those dishes, housekeeping will do it for you. I know what you are thinking, ‘who wants to go to the grocery store on the way to a resort cabin?” No worries, pre-order your groceries long before you arrive. Make your list and then email, fax or snail mail to Disney. How great is that?
As you probably realize, the cost for campsites and cabin rentals within Fort Wilderness will not be your typical campground cost. But then again, this is not your typical campground. In fact, my little great-niece said it was the best vacation she has ever been on. When her dad asked, “better than when you were kissed by the dolphin, and you shook the hand of the sea lion and fed the sharks?” With a big smile she answered with a resounding, “yes”.
All I can say is, the visit to Fort Wilderness heightened my “camper craziness” and made my granddaughter a little “camper crazy” too. Hopefully my fairy tale dream will come true and our family will be camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness very soon.
RV insurance is offered by many of the names we recognize, such as Progressive, Farmers, Allstate & Geico. It is also offered through partner companies associated with AARP and Good Sams. Depending on the type of RV you own, there are various options to choose from. Different circumstances require different needs regarding insurance and the cost will be based on your specific needs. Living in an RV full-time is much different than only using an RV for vacation travel a few times a year, so of course full-time RV coverage is somewhat similar to insurance you would purchase for a primary home insurance policy.
A popular option is that of full replacement insurance coverage. Most people may think that they will get the amount needed to purchase a comparable new RV if theirs has been stolen or totaled, especially if it is brand new and the damage is not the result of negligence. You may think you would not have to come out of pocket at all except for the deductible, if for instance it was totaled by weather damage within a month or two of purchase. However, that may not the case, at least with Shanna and Brent, the couple that traveled with their new Grey Wolf travel trailer this summer shortly after purchasing their 2019 RV.
If you remember from previous blogs, they suffered hail & wind damage that ripped off the awning, damaged the roof and air conditioner, and completely damaged the whole side of the camper siding. After the damage we asked if they were concerned about replacing the RV and what it would cost them, and their reply was, “we have replacement insurance, we are all set.”
They purchased the insurance through an agency associated with Good Sam, a premier company that has the largest RV club membership. They offer everything from discounts on RV accessories, roadside assistance, RV loans and more. Their website boasts providing and servicing the insurance needs of RV owners for over 50 years. They state that their goal is 100% customer satisfaction. Unfortunately at least for Shanna and Brent, they are not 100% satisfied.
Is that the fault of those selling the Good Sam insurance, the Camping World salesperson, or the buyers not reading their policy carefully? If you go to Good Sam’s website and read their reviews, it seems like they are “God’s gift to the camper”. So, I went to Consumeraffairs.com where they have a comparison of a few RV insurance companies. There is also a link provided to an expert review and it references the following Good Sam list of statements. Notice the first bullet point which states:
Full replacement: Customize your RV coverage by adding full replacement cost coverage. This way you will receive a comparable new RV if yours is stolen or too damaged to repair.
Okay, so easy to understand why Brent and Shanna would believe they would get the equivalent amount of money from the insurance company to put towards a new RV with no issues and no extra out of pocket expenses. Like anything “insurance”, it isn’t always clear cut. For example, yesterday they picked up a new 5th wheel RV, and although they returned from vacation in July with their damaged camper, it is now almost mid-September and they still have not finalized everything with the insurance company. Their complaint is that the insurance company is almost impossible to get in contact with.
When they purchased their 2019 camper in late spring, they paid a fair price and put down a substantial down payment. Then they added extended warranty but then Camper World hit them with an ugly high dealer fee that was all rolled into the financing. When returning with the damaged RV and finding out that it was totaled, they decided it may be better if they upgraded to a 5th wheel with different siding that may hold up better in harsh weather. They anticipated getting the full value of what they purchased minus the deductible of course. But this is where it gets ugly.
When they returned from vacation with the damaged camper, the 2020 models are now for sale and the 2019 models of their RV are selling for substantially less than what they purchased the camper for. In fact, the insurance company found the same RV selling in Ohio for $6,000 less than what they purchased their RV for just a few months ago. So, at this point it looks like that is going to be the cost basis the insurance may use for the replacement price, which could leave them upside down. This is one of the ugly reasons this may potentially cost them an arm and a leg (seriously did you see the pics of Brent’s leg in the previous blog) to replace their unit
Assuming they simply replaced their 2019 Grey Wolf with another 2019 Grey Wolf, they think they would come out a little more whole. However, although they worked out a fabulous deal on the new 5th Wheel, which by the way they also purchased at Camper World and this time not paying an astronomical dealer fee, since the 2019 Grey Wolf is now highly discounted at dealers across the nation, it ends up being a disadvantage in this situation.
Although only owning the trailer for less than six months, the bottom line is that with replacement insurance, you only get back what your camper is worth at the time of the loss. The only silver lining to this story is that they did purchase GAP insurance which hopefully will help close the gap between what they are paid by the insurance company and what they owe on their original loan.
However, GAP does not cover the down payment they paid or the cost of the extended warranty, even though the insurance customer service rep did assure them that GAP would cover the down payment. Where is that is that in the fine print? Make sure you read that is Shanna’s advice.
But, will they ever hear back from the insurance company? You know that ugly little saying, “timing is everything” and it certainly applies to the world of RV insurance.