So the plan is to spend the colder months in the southern US and the rest of the year in Canada, living in a 7’x16’ converted cargo trailer and roaming everywhere on 2 wheels. Am I nervous? You bet.
But we’ve been researching this for months now. Reports estimate that there are about 200,000 full-time RV’ers (those that actually live in their campers, no permanent fixed address)in the US alone. There are so many people already doing this, and some were kind (or entrepreneurial) enough to create videos and tutorials and blogs to show how they’re doing it. There are some that actually fund the full-time RV lifestyle with their You Tube channels. And there seems to be a strategy to suit just about any budget.
Are we going to go anyway? Absolutely.
The entire adventure hinges on the sale of the house. Without that, there is absolutely no way we could fund the plan. Once the sale is finalized, we’re planning on investing a good portion of it to use as a backup, and then adhering to a strict budget once we’re on the road.
We’re going to stretch the funds by ‘boondocking.’ The dictionary defines boondocks as slang for backwoods or about as far from urban as you can get. These days, the term boondocking, also known as dry camping, is used to describe camping without the use of commercial campgrounds and hookups. Some call it ‘off the cord’ or ‘off-grid.’ Basically, you bring your own facilities and camp for free (or almost free) on government land, or somewhere designated as ‘RV friendly.’
Wal-Mart is a good example of boondocking. Ever notice how the parking lots fill up on a summer evening with RV’s and trailers? That’s because most (but not all) Wal-Marts allow or even encourage campers to use their lots. Urban legend says that it’s because founder Sam Walton was an avid outdoorsman, and wanted to encourage Americans to get out and discover their country, but I think it probably has more to do with the fact that the campers are almost certain to enter the store and buy something before they leave. Which is only fair, after all they get a free night’s stay out of it.
There’s also Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Camping. Rules and regulations vary from
area to area, but in a nutshell, this is government owned (public), undeveloped tracts of land that you can camp on for a limited time for free or a nominal fee, or you can purchase a season pass and stay from September to April. There are no water or electrical hookups, so you must be self-reliant to be able to stay.
Because we will eventually need amenities, (laundry, hot shower, wi-fi, battery charge, etc.), we have been looking into campground packages as well, the two main ones being Thousand Trails and Passport America. Thousand Trails offers a couple of different packages that might work for us. Passport America is definitely cheaper than Thousand Trails, but comes with many limitations and conditions. We probably won’t be using campgrounds really frequently, but it’s nice to have options. Still researching this, may have more information later on.
Finally, we came across a site called BoondockersWelcome.com. For a yearly membership fee of around $30, you have access to a list of other RVer’s that welcome you to come and stay on their property, kind of like having someone camping in your yard. Every property is listed with available features like electrical and water hookups, dump stations on site, pets welcome and so on. There is also a review feature attached to each profile, so you can see if other campers enjoyed staying there or not. If you would like to reciprocate and offer your property for camping, the membership price drops to just over $20. Hosting members also have their membership extended for one year for every three positive reviews received. Their membership is extensive, covering all 10 Canadian provinces, US, Mexico, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Australia and more.
There are benefits and drawbacks to each of our options. Some will require planning ahead, some will be a financial expenditure, at least at the outset. But we’ll probably end up using several, if not all, of the examples above. Our plan, at least for right now, is to set up the trailer for 3 weeks to a month, and explore the surrounding area with Buddy, our bicycles or hiking. This timetable seems to fit well with most of the long term options available, and then we’ll fall back on Wal-Marts and BoondockersWelcome.com for single nights or shorter stays, probably while en route to a new area.
Yes, we’ll have to watch our finances very carefully. We’ll have to set a budget and stick to it if we really want this to work. It seems a very small price to pay for the experiences and memories we’ll be gaining in return.
So, hold hands, deep breath, and step forward.
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