Time & Money Saving Tips for new full timers... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-15-2010, 08:28 PM   #1
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Okay, I hope this topic will merit a "sticky"!

Being that I just completed my first year as a full timer, and spent way too much time and money when not necessary, I thought I would start a thread for new full time RV-ers so that people can post their tips and the lessons they have learned in hopes to help the "newbies" out there.

My first tip...use Flying J truck stops! They are awesome and the only truck stop that has separate parking for RVs so you don't have the noise of the trucks first thing in the morning. They also have water for your rig, dump stations and sell propane. The parking, water and dump is free. They also usually have separate fueling stations that are easy to get in and out of for those that are towing, including diesel fuel. They have clean showers if you need them also. Also, sign up for their card and get great savings on fuel purchases. They are located about every 200 miles along most major freeways for convenient fueling stops, you can pick up a location guide that is laid out great for finding them when you need them. I love Flying J!

Second tip....I always travel with empty black and gray tanks and my fresh water tank is only about 1/2 full, not only for fuel mileage, but also for the "sway factor". A full water tank is a lot of weight on only one side of my trailer and can cause sway (even with a sway bar).

GET THE COMPLETE PACKAGE! I am talking about the weight distribution hitch and sway bar. I first thought that the trailer was so small and light I wouldn't need it all, boy was I wrong! I get two miles to the gallon more with the WDH, and I found that the sway bar helps to protect you if the winds are high, or you are going 60 in TX and the big rigs are going 80. There are too many variables not to have them, I highly recommend them both.

Also, don't make any large purchases your first year for your rig. I thought about solar panels and/or a quiet generator. In my first year I found I needed neither, it all depends on your lifestyle... so wait and see what that is. One year should give you a good idea of how you prefer to travel.

DO, by all means, go through your rig every six months and "lighten your load" by getting rid of those things you have not had a use for. There are many ways to donate them if you are not using them.

If you are a reader, I have found that every library I have visited takes donations of books and has a "sale" table or room where you can purchase books for almost nothing (many times for a quarter or less). With this you can donate books already read and not spend a fortune on reading material, everybody wins.

These are a few of the practical things I have learned, but keep in mind that there are many, many things that you can learn and find on your travels. Friends, American History, good food and good times among them. Keep your mind open, listen to the stories of the people you meet, find your comfort zone about the things you are willing to share with others. Above all, be safe, but don't be paranoid. Life is full of lessons and people and experiences and places. If you are full timing now, I hope you will be safe in experiencing them...I can't wait to find what my new travels and people and places will offer me. Happy trails! MM
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Old 04-16-2010, 05:58 PM   #2
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As younger RVers we were too ambitious in our goals. We wanted to see as much of the country as we could. A lot of miles went under our tires each day in attempting to attain the next horizon. Also a lot of gas and the money to purchase it also flew into the tank.

While we still have some of that old excessive ambition, we have learned to slow down and smell the roses at least some of the time. The pay off is, not only a pleasant experience, but more money left in our back pockets!
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:49 PM   #3
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So was I Loren! In doing it, I was foolish in stopping at campgrounds most of the time, in the evening, then back on the road first thing in the morning. I never hiked or did any sight seeing at these places, just ate and slept, then back on the road. This was not only a waste of money (see the Flying J remark above), but a waste of some excellent parks and experiences I am sure.
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Old 04-17-2010, 12:07 AM   #4
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The mistake for putting as many miles behind you as you can in a day is one made by many new fulltimers. We saw it a lot when we had the resort. You could always tell the oldtimers from the newly retired. I actually asked a new fulltimer one time if he worked that hard when he was employed? He looked at me a shook his head, then explained in the month in a half they had been fulltimers, they had stayed in 42 different towns/campgrounds etc. They had only spent a couple of nights in the same place. I asked him if that was fun? He shook his head and told me his wife hated their new life style and was sorry the had sold their home their stuff etc. I finally told him, fulltiming is suppose to be fun, not a dreaded experience. (of coures not everyone is cut out for fulltiming) But how would you know if you didn't slow down and enjoy the sights your seeing. He extended his 2 day stay to a week, the next morning he was in the office asking me if they could stay a month and check out the area.......


As for Flying J's that really is a traveling preference. I personally don't consider flying J camping but it has it's place for me when traveling to a destination and needing a place to get off the road. Though we are not fulltimers, we have extended rv travels, getting out of Montana winters we traveled and stayed in destination for 6 months at a time.

As for money saving (I am not good at this, but) even for short stays I sign up for the value card and the local grocery store. Of course I carry the big chain value cards all the time, but even when we are gonna be in an area for a week or two I sign up. If I think we will eventually return to the area I save the value card in my campground folder, if not then I leave it with the clerk.

Another money saving tip, there are websites that monitor gas prices from truckers, finding one that monitors the area you are going towards can help with fuel cost. Personally, I won't drive all over hell and half of Georgia to get cheaper gas, but I won't drive past a good deal either.


I think many people make the mistake of thinking that it's cheaper to live on the road. Traveling from town to town, one beautiful destination to the next. But in fact it can get spendy, but finding what works for your budget/lifestyle and enjoying it, is what it's all about.....
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Old 04-17-2010, 11:48 AM   #5
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I am at a Flying J right now. I spent the nite, all I needed to do was sleep so no facilities were needed. Its a good thing, the motorhome won't start and its a great "Have everything" and safe spot to wait for Good Sam.
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Old 04-17-2010, 01:15 PM   #6
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So sorry to hear about your problems, Gina. Hope it's a quick and fairly inexpensive fix.

Keep us posted.
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Old 04-17-2010, 01:59 PM   #7
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Awww, Gina hope they figure it out for you. Glad to know your safe.
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Old 04-17-2010, 04:15 PM   #8
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The carburetor took a dump.. they are trying to find one now. Ugh!

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Old 04-18-2010, 12:28 AM   #9
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One of our ways to save money...

After being third generation Californians, one of the first things we did was to change our Domicile to South Dakota. We use a mailing service in Rapid City, SD. We drove up there and got SD drivers licenses which took 15 minutes and no test, well there was an eye test.

We have found that there is NO state income tax in that state. Also, trailer licenses and insurance are much cheaper. The mailing service forwards any mail we get to where ever we ask them to. We do most things online.

We were fortunate to have great medical insurance from Lori's retirement plus SS.

Our Goal is to follow the weather and find interesting festivals and events. We are learning to be hard core Boondockers. There are a group in Escapees that never pay for camping. The group cost $6/yr to join and help teach you the ropes. The group is called Boondockers BOF (Birds Of a Feather).
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Old 04-18-2010, 06:31 PM   #10
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For us finding an RV Park all depends on where we are going and what we are doing. If we are on the move and trying to go some where, then it is all about price, convenience, feeling secure, and hook-ups. If it is for a longer stay, then it is all about the activities, cost, weather and amenities.

For travel, I use these sites to find a place to camp:
<blockquote>Flying J Truck Stops - RV section, FREE
Army Corp of Engineers - Golden Pass, 50% Discount
Elks Clubs with Members RV parking - Low rates
Passport America - 50% Discount</blockquote>
I hope this helps.
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Old 04-23-2010, 11:51 AM   #11
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Sometimes we've spent a week or more at an obscure town that has a nice city park. Often these close at night, but there is a Wal-Mart or mall parking lot that can be used during the off hours for sleeping.

We did that recently in Victoria, TX where there is a large city park/golf course situated along the river for about a mile. It even has an overnight camping area with full hookups that we paid $12 on a daily basis. Again, another in Laredo, TX.

Then there are county parks, many not even shown on maps. Some are day use only, and others have overnight camping, usually at a budget price.

We met a couple full-timing in a raised top van/utility trailer that had been on the road for over 5 years. They had a laptop with a huge data base of low price or free day and overnight parking that they had generated. He was willing to share it with me, but I have never carried a computer traveling, so couldn't accept it. However, being organized in that fashion can save a huge amount.

In their case they quit their jobs as soon as their kids left home, sold the home but still had acreage in a northern state. Since they were not of age to collect SS or their retirements yet, they were pretty much living on the sale of their home. On their acreage they had a small cabin and a shop building where they spent much of their summers. Great couple and very savvy on budget full-timing.
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Old 05-26-2010, 11:45 AM   #12
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Are stays at Flying J free? I can't figure that out from the link you provided.

thanks!
charlene

Quote:
For us finding an RV Park all depends on where we are going and what we are doing. If we are on the move and trying to go some where, then it is all about price, convenience, feeling secure, and hook-ups. If it is for a longer stay, then it is all about the activities, cost, weather and amenities.

For travel, I use these sites to find a place to camp:
<blockquote>Flying J Truck Stops - RV section, FREE
Army Corp of Engineers - Golden Pass, 50% Discount
Elks Clubs with Members RV parking - Low rates
Passport America - 50% Discount</blockquote>
I hope this helps.
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Old 05-27-2010, 05:32 PM   #13
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Yes, they are free.

Most I've stayed at have an RV section which are simply elongated parking spaces. Others simply allow you to park anywhere or maybe back where the Semi's park.
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Old 05-27-2010, 06:58 PM   #14
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Another method is to look for off-the-beaten-track places that have campgrounds. Often they will have full hookups, recreation center and other amenities, but will be older mom/pop operations, clean but certainly not fancy or upscale.

Also the type of campers at these places are usually the "regular folks" who are also on a budget, repair their own rigs and generally great fun to be around.

At one campground in Pt. Mansfield, TX last year our neighbor decided to replace the brake pads on the front of his Dodge diesel pickup. He did alright for a time, but he was an old fellow and ran out of strength before he got the job done. The campground owner came over and helped him finish the job.

Later the owner told me the old fellow has been a regular spending 3 - 4 months every winter and in years past had helped with the lawn mowing and trash pickup. So he was happy to return the favor.
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