Filed under: Traveling Tips
We’ve been full-timing a few years now and have begun to feel pretty comfortable in the lifestyle and cannot imagine not being full-timers. We spent several years planning for the change in lifestyle—doing tons of research. Even with all that, we still ran into some surprises.
Here is a list of our biggest surprises:
- You have to have a schedule
- All ads for campgrounds are not completely accurate
- All campers have different criteria for campgrounds
- Not all campground employees have actually stayed in an RV
- Doctors, dentists, and vets want long-term patients, not “transients”
- RV repair centers act like doctors, dentists, and vets
Schedule: When we checked into our first campground they asked, “when will you be leaving?” I had not decided when to leave yet because we had not thought that far ahead. They refused to let us check in without giving them a check out date. We have learned to be comfortable with changing our dates to meet our needs and most campgrounds have been excellent about working with us when we make changes.
Campground Ads: The first “resort” we stayed at was exceptional, so we thought that resorts were the way to go. The next resort we stayed at was not-so-good; that is when we learned that the labels campground, park, resort, village, etc. actually have no definite meanings. We rely on descriptions from multiple sources rather than only the ads. Word of mouth is best.
Campers are Different: What we look for in a campground is quite different than what others want. For some “lots of activities” means horseshoes and dominoes. For others it means hiking and biking; or close proximity to shopping; or maybe an area with community arts programs (like plays, museums, or concerts). So, it is important to find out what people enjoy doing to determine if the campground they recommend is a match.
Campground Employees: We discovered that the person giving you directions to your site or the campground may have never actually driven a diesel-pusher with a tow vehicle. For this reason we get a view of the campground before attempting to drive to our site; sometimes (in larger or heavily wooded campgrounds) this means walking the route.
Doctors, Dentists, and Vets: We have run into difficulties with these services because they do not want new transient patients. For example, it was difficult to find a dentist willing to clean our teeth or a vet willing to perform basic tests for our dog. They wanted full exams to even see us. Even getting flu shots was difficult because of trying to find out who accepted our insurance. We’ve found that persistence is the only solution—just keep trying until you find the one willing to provide the service.
RV Repair Centers: RV repair centers seem to be similar to doctors, dentists, and vets. They want the lifetime customer instead of the person just passing through and needing some work or maintenance. They want to build a relationship so that we use them every time. We have not found a solution for this one yet; it continues to be an issue and is a catch-22 in that the repair centers with the least business are the most willing, but there might be a reason they have less business.
We continue to learn new things and meet new people as we travel. I’m sure there will be more surprises for us; however, even with all the surprises, we are happy with the full-time lifestyle.