Full-Time RV Beginners: Top 15 Things We Learned On The Road – Part 2 of 3
–> Click here to catch up on Part 1
If you’re thinking or wondering about going full-time, keep reading! These are the top 15 things we learned in our first five weeks on the road as full-time RV beginners.
After buying our first Class A Motorhome in September 2020, we traveled part-time and worked from home (in the RV) for eight months. We were complete beginners.
We started our adventure with a three-week road trip, bringing the RV home from Des Moines, IA to Seattle, WA. Through the winter and spring of 2021, we alternated two weeks out in the RV, and then we’d be in town for two weeks to catch up on laundry and life at home.
In May 2021, we went full-time, moving from our high-rise condo downtown Seattle into Charlie The Unicorn, our 40-foot 2016 Entegra Aspire Class A Motorhome.
For the first five weeks, we “circled the harbor” in the Bellingham, WA, area, to get ourselves settled in the RV and ready to set forth across the country.
In order to make this full-time RV dream a reality, we had to solve immediate challenges in those first weeks (part 2 of 3 – click here to read part 1):
- Learning more about memberships and programs
- Understanding different types of RV living & lifestyles
- Settling into a new community every other week
This post is all about our full-time RV beginner experience and the lessons we learned that could help you make the leap, too.
Here we go–
Full-Time RV Beginners: Top 15 Things We Learned – Part 2 of 3
Week 3 & 4 – Birch Bay Thousand Trails RV Campground – Blaine, WA
6. Thousand Trails – another membership?
There are several campgrounds in this area that participate in the RPI Membership program, where we can stay for $10 a night with full hook-ups (electric, water & sewer).
They tend to be Thousand Trails / Encore properties, which offer a whole ‘nother type and various levels of membership.
When we arrived at the new campground, we listened briefly to another presentation on the benefits of Thousand Trails membership.
Thousand Trails started in Washington State. They have a lot of properties in the Northwest, California, sprinkled across the south, and on the East Coast. Not much in the middle of the country, where we’ll be traveling back and forth, up and down, in the year ahead.
Because of various limitations and restrictive “zones” of membership, we decided to stick with our RPI access for $10 per night.
$140 for two weeks is phenomenal for a nice place to park. We’ve paid that much for two nights at other campgrounds and resorts.
7. Full time RV travel vs. stationary RV living
There are thousands of people hitting the road this summer, traveling in their homes on wheels, like we are.
There’s also a big wave of people, at all different economic levels, who are full-time RV living, but staying in one place, for different reasons: local employment, retirement, or economic hardship. Sometimes people live stationary in an RV while they are relocating or building a house.
There can be a mix of people in any RV campground. Generally, more permanent, stationary residents stay in residential parks where monthly rates are considerably less expensive.
Membership campgrounds sometimes have an interesting mix of travelers and longer-term residents.
We have seen many of the same RVs and people we saw at Beachwood, here at the Thousand Trails.
A new campground friend who works at a little store in Blaine told me how they manage their memberships between Beachwood Resort and Birch Bay Thousand Trails (about two miles apart):
Alternating two-week stays at both campgrounds, and able to travel when and where they want, their annual base rent is $500. (Annual renewal fees for both memberships. Free camping, full hook-ups, so utilities are included!) As long as they keep moving back and forth between the two campgrounds, every two weeks.
8. Ebb & Flow
Just between two campgrounds so far, we’ve noticed different patterns and different types of people and RVs, coming and going throughout our two-week stays.
The campers tend to be more local to the area at a place like Beachwood Resort, more “Weekend Warrior” RVs. Traffic comes in heavy on Thursday and Friday, and clears out by Sunday afternoon.
Thousand Trails is a national membership program, serving all kinds of travelers. The traffic is more constant throughout the week.
We noticed license plates from California, Montana, Texas, Alabama, and Florida.
All types of RVs: from tiny, little one-person sleeping capsules — the Jeep she was towing it with was twice the size of the little trailer! — to huge, shiny, upscale Prevost buses. And everything in-between:
- Class A motorhomes (both gas engine and “diesel pushers” like ours)
- 5th Wheel trailers (with the hitch that is set down in the back of a truck)
- Travel trailers (hitch pulled behind a smaller truck or car)
- Pop-up tent trailers
9. Around the campfire.
People tend to keep to themselves in a campground, especially if they are traveling in a group. Even so, you can’t drive or walk through a campground without almost everyone you pass waving or calling out to say hello.
Our camp host at the Thousand Trails (who, granted, also wanted to sell people Thousand Trails memberships) was very friendly and outgoing. An older, single retired man, he seemed to be a matchmaker, of sorts, in bringing people together.
We spent a fun evening around the campfire, with our single-lady neighbor one night, talking and sharing stories. Turns out, she got the RV in a divorce last year and she’s figuring it out on her own. She’s one of the people going back and forth between the two campgrounds every two weeks– $500 a year for rent is a great deal!
10. The most walkingest couple.
Living and working full-time in the RV, with work stations set up at the loveseat and the dining table booth, we quickly realized we’d need to get out every day for health and exercise.
For us, hiking or walking is the easiest exercise, where we can get out and explore, without any special equipment. Walking also gives us a chance to talk and dream and plan for the future.
From our first day full-time in the RV, we’ve walked and talked every day, even the rainy ones! We’re up to 3 miles per day.
Sometimes there are walking trails nearby, or parks and other places to explore.
Sometimes, there’s only the campground roads and paths…
Which is actually cool. We like walking around and around (and around) the campground, looking at different RVs, checking out different outdoor set-ups (we’re working on ours), and seeing where people are from.
After making the rounds for a couple of days, you start to recognize the RVs, and the other campground walkers: who’s new in the neighborhood, who’s been around for a while.
You can also generally see how long people are staying, because you’re supposed to have your car tag hanging on your rearview mirror and your campground reservation paper, with last name & departure date, posted in your RV window.
Anyway, by the second week of our stay at Birch Bay, we had been around enough times for one couple to call out to us as “the most walkingest couple,” in the campground.
Not a bad thing to be known for 😉
After two weeks at Birch Bay, and a busy Father’s Day weekend, it was time to explore a little further, to Grandy Creek Thousand Trails/KOA in Concrete, WA, for one week.
Once again, more lessons to be learned in our first five weeks of full time RV living…