As we approach Christmas and the new year – this this past year has been an exercise in flexibility; planning ahead and going with the flow. When we set-out on our adventure on October 1, we had meticulously planned our route and made several reservations. Along the way, we’ve met several full-time RV dwellers who have been living on the road for years. We are relatively new to the nomad lifestyle but have made enough vacation-length trips in previous rigs to be adequately prepared. The plan was to make 25 stops between Southwest Washington and points in Florida. We made it to 20 different places before an urgent family issue came up, causing us to alter our plans. We’re near the ocean, as planned. It’s just the Pacific rather than the Atlantic.
We took six weeks to travel from Vancouver, Washington to Orlando, Florida; and then six days from Orlando to Los Angeles. We spent Thanksgiving Day eating smoked turkey from Rudy’s Barbeque somewhere between Stockton, Texas and Deming, New Mexico. We didn’t have big plans for the holiday, but it was more extemporaneous than originally imagined.
Following a tech conference in Orlando, we were looking forward to visiting several colleagues in Florida, not to mention the week-long stay at Cape Canaveral to watch a space launch. When life gives you lemons, you make a lemon meringue pie!
Plans are still in flux. The awesome thing about being mobile is that you don’t really have to have a long-term plan. We’re in L.A. now. There is a lot to see and do, but this place is crowded and expensive. We’re headed up the California coast in a few weeks but have no plans after that – but we’re on the hunt for a house with property to spend either summers or winters in a place we can call “home base” and travel from.
Lessons Learned about Planning and Not Planning
In most areas of the country, you can get an RV park or state park reservation on short notice as long as that place is not anywhere in Florida during the winter. Most of the older and smaller RV parks don’t have sophisticated web site and reservation systems, as most are managed by resident retirees working from their motorhomes with a laptop. Reservations were easy to find in Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mississippi and Georgia. Calling Florida parks in August, we were only finding short-term availability at most parks that weren’t completely booked-up for the season. Some of the reservations we had were for crowded sites with limited hook-ups. One of our month-long reservations in Jacksonville had us moving the rig three times due to limited site availability. When I started calling Florida parks in July, there were a lot of openings for January-March. But when I called back in August, most were gone. This may have been related to news about the Canadian border re-opening after COVID lock-down along with the seasonal retiree migration. Either way, we learned to plan ahead when headed to popular spots like Florida.
Boondocking and Moochdocking
It isn’t hard to find a spot in most regions to park the rig for the night, but you can’t always control your surroundings. The recent increase in homeless populations has changed the boondocking game in more populated areas. Not long ago, you could pull into any rest area or Walmart parking lot and stay the night, but this isn’t an option everywhere you go.
Harvest Host is a great service for those who like a little adventure when stopping for a day or two while en route to a destination. We had joined both Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome before they merged into one service. For a reasonable membership fee, you can request to stay on private property. Most hosts are farms, vineyards and historic museums. We had some very peaceful stop-overs like the Vermillionville plantation in Lafayette, Louisiana and we met some great hosts like Barry in northern Florida. We also “moochdocked” with a few family members and friends who had space to park the rig on their property for a day or two. True boondocking is typically when you go off-grid and live complete self-contained. I made a point to upgrade to longer-lasting Lithium-Ion house batteries and install a directional LTE antenna. Although good investments, we have only used them for short stays. A class-A diesel-pusher like the Tiffin Allegro RED Data Bus is not an ideal vehicle for the kind of off-road boondocking that most 4-wheel drive Sprinter Van owners pursue.
Even though plans have changed, we’re still enjoying being on the road and having the freedom to travel and take care of business. Working from the road continues to go well. Connectivity is good and our living space is comfortable and adequate.