Friday, June 12, 2015

Two Years In the Tank: Lessons Learned

June marks my second anniversary of being a full-time RV'er.  I'm a little surprised at how normal living in a 130 square foot camper seems to me.  Having left a 2400 square foot house it seems like a 95% reduction in the living space I occupy should feel claustrophobic, but it really doesn't. In this post I thought I'd list five of the more important lessons the last two years have impressed on me, maybe someone else just starting out can pick up some insight and make adjustments faster than I did.

Boondocking.


1)  Running out of gas just sucks:  I now operate under the assumption that the Tank doesn't have a 26 gallon fuel tank, instead I assume it has a 13 gallon tank.  Having foolishly run the Tank out of gas (and come perilously close in some really remote locations) I start the gas hunt when the Tank's needle hits the 1/2 mark.  This has a secondary advantage of allowing me to drive by stations with outrageously high prices.  Gas Buddy is a really useful app for locating the lowest local prices.

 2)  Nobody ever complains about having too much solar:  Early readers of the blog know that I originally started out with a single solar panel.  I fairly quickly added a second 100 watt panel and that's the current solar configuration charging the Tank's battery pack.  Having now camped during winter months where, even out west, the Sun never gets too high in the sky I probably would go back in time and recommend to "2 years ago me" something approaching 400 watts, either two 190 watt panels or four 100 watt panels.

I think I could have squeezed 2 more on the roof with a little planning.
3)  Stay fit:  One of the smartest things I did in getting ready to hit the road was to join a health club. In reading a bunch of full-timer blogs I found that many of the more experienced RV'ers were members of Anytime Fitness, which has over 1500 locations nationwide, so I joined that one too.  It's $30/month but I find the price worth it in that almost any decent sized town I pass through has one of their franchises and I can get in a real workout on well maintained equipment AND get a shower in.

4)  West is the best:  For boondocking at least.  There is so vastly much more BLM and US Forestry land in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado than all the rest of the lower 48 combined it isn't funny.  You can, generally, camp for free for up to 14 days on some of the most beautiful land in the US if it's BLM or US Forestry administered.  Go West young man.

I never did find out what was in that cave.
5)  Bring family and friends when you can:  I lived alone in my sticks and bricks dwelling prior to heading out so I knew solitary RV living wouldn't bother me.  Still, it's been great when either my daughter Nickelle or Camping Buddy Becky can join me (Becky will be joining me in July for some Michigan camping).  Introduce your family and friends to RVing, they'll thank you and you'll have a blast.

My daughter where we camped in Colorado.

I still learn tons about full-timing from reading other RV'ers blogs and I would highly recommend anyone considering this nomadic life doing so.  Those are probably my top five although I've probably not listed some that I should have.  It's been a great two years and I'd absolutely do it all over again, given a chance.

Thanks for reading!