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The End of Summer? Labor Day and Full-timing

September 7, 2010 by · 1 Comment 


As I enjoyed a quiet day celebrating the American worker, I cannot help but realize that it is appropriate that so many people celebrate by going camping—a popular past time for American workers since there was an America.  Some might say that “RV camping” started before the automobile (a covered wagon?).  When the National Parks Service created “Recreation Demonstration” areas, which became campgrounds, camping as we know it today really took off.  Of course, the RVs of today are quite different than what was available even a few years ago.  I know my wife and I feel quite put out today if we don’t have 50-amp service and we are really upset if we cannot get our satellite tv and wi-fi.  I guess it all depends on why you are camping.

As full-timers we are focused more on seeing what all this country has to offer than on getting in touch with the great outdoors.  For example, we just enjoyed our stay at the Phoenix RV Park in Salem, Oregon.  For us it was an ideal place because it was in the city where we could walk to many restaurants and stores, and the bus stopped within a block of the gate.  It allowed us to enjoy Salem from the RV. 

No Vacancy

No Vacancy over Labor Day

So, why is Labor Day significant for a full-timer?  Well, the first reason is that we have to make our reservations well in advance because everyone seems to go camping on Labor Day.  As full-timers, we try to keep a flexible schedule, but we learned over the past few years that especially during the spring and summer, we have to prepare for the holidays and get our name in early.  Which can be difficult at times since we often do not know exactly where we’ll be next month, let alone 3 months from now.  We learned at our first campground when we became full-timers that we might need a schedule.  We moved into our free life as nomads, and went to check into our first park.  We were new at this, so had not made any plans, but knew we would stay at least a month in this location while we ensured we were ready to wander.  We checked in and asked for their monthly rate.  The first question they asked was “departure date?”  I responded, “I’m not sure.”  I was told, “you cannot check in unless you provide a departure date.”  I was crushed!  Here I lost my free lifestyle on the first day!!  I had to create a schedule, or would not be allowed to check in.

Leaf Colors

Changing colors in fall

From there we learned that we would always need to create some type of schedule—early reservations are required for the best spots during the most popular times (spring and summer holidays and “down south” with the Snowbirds).  Our first lesson around this one was when we arrived in Myrtle Beach and after a few days decided we wanted to stay longer.  When I asked if we could extend our stay, I was told, “No. That is Easter weekend, so we are booked solid.”  We see Labor Day as the end of summer, in two ways.  First, we see the leaves changing color, telling us it is time to start moving South again to stay with the warmer weather (well, after a quick trip to Gig Harbor, Washington).  Second, it means we have “free time” between now and our winter destination where we do not have to worry about making reservations in advance.  We know that the campgrounds and resorts will be less crowded.  While this means our schedule is more flexible, it also means we do not meet as many new people.

I guess the point is that Americans are always going to camp out in their RVs.  And there will always be plenty of great locations for every type of camper (roughing it, outdoors, and even full-timers who want the comforts of home).  But there are certain times when you need to plan ahead.


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