The Pros and Cons of Living in an RV

by Christy on

Living in a motorhome for the past year has given us a unique perspective on the RV lifestyle. Before embarking on this adventure we had, of course, read up on what to expect, but we discovered life on the road was quite different from what our research had led us to believe.

Many of the most common RVing concerns have been addressed in Technomadia’s ebook Answers to the Common Excuses to Not Travel Full-Time (e.g. how do you maintain community on the road, are we going to be able to make everything work out financially, and what the heck do we do with all our junk!?), but we found a ton of other advantages and drawbacks that we hadn’t expected. Here’s a sampling:

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Pros and Cons of Living in RV

The Energy Issue

We work on our laptops a lot. In fact, it wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that our Macs (Minerva and Godric) are more or less just an extension of our wrists, so of course finding a way to power them was a huge priority for us.

Mayhem at White Sands National Park; Pros and Cons of Living in RVOur two 6-volt house batteries were great for our basic energy needs, but all-too-soon after powering up the inverter we’d hear the dreaded high-pitched squeal it used to tell us it couldn’t access any more charge. Our most disappointing realization regarding the RV was that the inverter stops working when the house batteries drop below about 3/4 charge… so even though they had great overall capacity, only a fraction of that was available for our computers.

We also had a generator available to supplement our batteries and charge them as necessary, but it was noisy and stinky and we were (perhaps somewhat irrationally) loathe to use it much.

These restrictions meant that we ended up spending way more time at RV parks and campgrounds than we had initially anticipated, because we just couldn’t get enough work done while boondocking. Paying campground fees every night was definitely a bummer, but we often found it to be the best option since it enabled us to work a full day.

Spending a week boondocking in the wilds sounded so appealing when we started, but unfortunately it was never really a feasible option for us. Instead of wilderness, our drycamping consisted of hopping between public libraries and coffee shops so we could use their internet and power outlets while still having a free place to park at night. Such an existence was, as you can imagine, quite harried and decidedly unproductive.

Suggestions: Two words: SOLAR. POWER. If you work online and want to live in a motorhome, put some serious consideration into rigging up a solar array. They can be quite pricy, but if it enables you to work more (thus making money) and boondock more (thus saving money), then in many cases solar power is well worth the initial cost.

Location Limitations

If your goal is to explore national parks or the rural countryside, you’ll find an abundance of places to park your RV. But if, like us, you prefer to explore cities, then trying to find a place to stay will probably, at some point or another in your trip, leave you screaming obscenities in frustration.

Most large cities have at least one RV park (NYC even has one that boasts a view of the Statue of Liberty!), but they’re frequently full, often prohibitively expensive, and always pack you in next to your neighbors like sardines in a can.

We prefer to exist in the heart of a city – frequenting coffee shops, going out dancing, leisurely walking around the various districts – so having to drive thirty minutes in from the nearest affordable campground has seriously hampered our mojo. We ran into this problem in almost all the urban area we visited (Boston, Miami, and New Orleans are a few of the more egregious examples), and it prevented us from exploring them as fully as we would have liked.

Suggestions: Buy a smaller RV (in the 25-foot range) so you can perhaps fit on urban streets… though watch out for street cleaning and local ordinances!  If your rig is more ample in size, I would seriously suggest towing a separate vehicle for those times when you’re eager to explore a dense area but want to avoid accidentally taking out a couple dozen parked cars while maneuvering the streets.

Maintenance Madness

Mayhem was the most expensive purchase we’ve ever made, so we wanted to keep it in perfect condition. Of course that’s impossible with a motorhome (even one purchased new!), though, and the stress of maintaining such a relatively-flimsily-constructed house nearly gave us ulcers. We felt personally affronted when anything went wrong – every small leak or random issue that needed to be fixed was taken as a direct indignity!

Like all owners, we wanted to preserve our new home’s pristine condition and do everything we could to maintain its value. We hadn’t fully prepared ourselves for the reality of life on the road, and we struggled to come to terms with these universal truths: screws will loosen, bikes will jab holes in the wall, and branches will jump out and attack the roof when you’re just trying to park — regardless of what you do.

Suggestions: Learn to be handy, don’t buy your RV new, and adopt a relaxed attitude about your new home. I guarantee you that stuff will go wrong – whether it’s scraping up your rig, facing avoidable black-tank catastrophes, or tracking down mystery leaks – so it’s all in the way you deal with it. And at the end of the day our RV was actually still in really good shape, so it’s worth keeping in mind that in the larger sense things that seem terrible at the time might not actually be that big of a deal.

Mayhem at White Sands National Park; Pros and Cons of Living in RV

The Urge to Hustle

Okay, so this one was entirely our fault, but instead of entering this adventure with a completely unconstrained timetable we started out anticipated living in Mayhem for only a year (or maybe two, tops).

We were open to extending that duration if we felt so compelled, but just having a time frame in mind restricted how comfortable we felt rambling leisurely about with nary a concern or destination. We felt, perhaps somewhat naively, that we didn’t have the luxury to take it slow.

Additionally, we’ve struggled over this past year to strike a good balance between working full-time and traveling full-time, and in the end I don’t know that we ever truly found it. This imbalance, perhaps more than any other aspect of traveling full-time in an RV, was a major contribution to our eventual burn-out.

Suggestions: Slow the heck down! You don’t have to see and do everything in one trip. And if you acknowledge the merits of that advice and yet still willfully ignore it like us, then just know that there’s always time to sleep later in life. ;)

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Pros and Cons of Living in RV

Not everything about living in a motorhome was bad, though! In fact, despite the many disadvantages I would say the rewards of full-time RV travel are well worth it.

Home is Where You Are

You seriously can’t overestimate the beauty of having your own home with you while traveling. It’s your own space, your own bed, and your own fully-stocked kitchen! You never have to unpack or live out of a suitcase. And you can sleep anywhere you want.

Traveling via motorhome takes away a lot of what’s stressful about travel… and living in a motorhome allows you to travel as you please.

Highly Cost-Effective

RV at Honeymoon Island State Park; Pros and Cons of Living in RV

Having an RV as your permanent residence can actually be quite cheap! If you want to stay in one location, it’s not unheard of to find monthly rent at some pretty nice RV parks to be $500 or less.

Even if you’re constantly on the road, though, it can still be way cheaper than traditional travel. You don’t have to pay for flights or eating all your meals at restaurants. Decent hotels are usually around $70-$100, so it’s possible to save loads on nightly accommodations since, as we explain in our article on the travel costs of living in an RV, it’s very feasible to pay $30 or less per night. We’re also familiar with tons of full-time RVers who rarely (if ever) pay overnight fees at all; instead they stealth park, stay with friends, or go the boondocking route.

Freedom and Flexibility

For us, this was the greatest part of living in an RV; you truly have the freedom to travel anywhere in the U.S. (or, if you’re adventurous, beyond).

This seems pretty obvious — your house has wheels, of course you have flexibility! — but on a day-to-day basis the freedom to change our plans at the last minute was incredibly freeing. There were times when we’d stop for lunch at a rest area partway to our destination, watch a show and play with Koa, then decide we were done for the day.

Don’t want to drive anymore? Not a problem! You’re already home, after all, so you can just stay where you are until you’re ready to hit the road again.

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Now that our time living in Mayhem is over, friends and acquaintances are all asking us “was it worth it?” Our answer is an unequivocal YES. Even with all the issues, the frustrations, and the annoying hassles of living in a motorhome, we’ve had an incredibly fun year.

Pros and Cons of Living in RV

Would we do it again? Probably not… at least not in the same format, and not any time soon. Kali dreams about creating a huge bus conversion like this one at some point, but for now those are vague thoughts about the distant future.

In the meantime we’ll continue our travels, just in a different way. We’ve learned that RV life is perhaps not the best mode of long-term travel for us right now, but of course we’re keeping our options open. And who knows what the future may hold… we haven’t ruled out the possibility of getting a camper van in New Zealand or a small motorhome for easy exploration of the E.U.!


What about you? If you live in an RV, what are some of the unexpected benefits and drawbacks you’ve experienced? If not, what are your dreams or worries about the RV lifestyle?


{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

jill- Jack and JIll Traveltwitter: jacknjilltravel May 16, 2011 at

Like I’ve mentioned, Jack and I have been talking about giving RV living a try after we get back from our trip so good timing on the post. My first inclination to living in such as small space is not to go for it – but thought well, might as well give it a try.
jill- Jack and JIll Travel recently posted: Looking for imperfection in Guatapé

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Christy May 17, 2011 at

Jill – we thought living in such a small space would be awful, but we were completely wrong! It wasn’t a big deal at all, and if that was the only “drawback” we could have done it for years. Granted, our RV was pretty large, but we spent a lot of time with our slide-outs in and we still managed okay. I was surprised by how much it wasn’t a big deal to have so little space. :)

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Land Yacht Ahoy September 27, 2011 at

Lauree and I are currently in our 4th month of a 5 month trial run at fulltiming and blogging in our Motorhome. Traveling across the USA. Ours is 33ft long and 96inches Wide with NO Slides. We did not want slides because of mechanical breakdown and expense. But after 4 months, we have decided the risk of mechanical issues with slides will outweigh having more elbow room inside. Our next one within a couple years will be 36to38ft long 102 inches wide and at least a large living room slide.

I am really looking forward to reading the rest of your blog, because some travel abroad for minimum 30 days at a time is in our sights. Just trying to figure out the best ways to go about it.

I tried to be a follower of your blog, but I do not facebook or twitter, so I opted to be updated via email and RSS when you have new posts.

Thanks
Mark and Lauree
Land Yacht Ahoy recently posted: El Monte RV | RV Hire USA | Look like Custome Motorhomes

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Christy September 27, 2011 at

I’m a big fan of RSS myself — it’s how I follow most of my favorite blogs. :) And I definitely agree with you about the slideouts; they provide so much more room and can really transform a motorhome! We had two and when the slideout in our main living area was open it pretty much doubled our floor space. We could function with them in (and we usually kept them in all the time if we were on the move and just boondocking for a night), but I couldn’t imagine not having them at all.

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Scott - Quirky Travel Guytwitter: quirkytravelguy May 16, 2011 at

My dream RV would have solar power – as you mention, it would be a huge help for work and also help reduce the environmental impact of the vehicle!
Scott – Quirky Travel Guy recently posted: I see dead people in Los Angeles

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Christy May 17, 2011 at

With you 100%, Scott! Solar power is a major win for work capabilities and the environment. That was one of the reasons we were so hesitant to run the generator – it smelled like gas and made us feel like we were single-handedly destroying the earth. :P

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Christy @ Ordinary Traveler May 16, 2011 at

My parents have a motor home so I hear about the unexpected expenses that come with owning one. I’m not sure I want all that stress. I think I could live in a camper van for a little while though. We drove one around Australia for a couple of weeks and it was pretty cool. I would probably want something slightly bigger than what we had though. I wouldn’t want to set up my bed every night and tear it down every morning. That got old really quick. My time could be better spent exploring! :)

I can’t believe you guys have been doing this for a year. I bet it feels odd to have it gone now.
Christy @ Ordinary Traveler recently posted: Adelaide Hostel – San Francisco- CA 2

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Christy May 17, 2011 at

When we first started looking at RVs over a year ago, my two biggest stipulations were that it had to have a toilet and a bed that didn’t need to be put away in the morning! Although I think if we were only using it for a few months to explore, I would be okay using a little van that had neither. We actually saw one in Austin that had hanging hammocks inside instead of a bed, so that would be fun. :)

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Camels & Chocolatetwitter: LunaticAtLarge May 17, 2011 at

Good timing on this post, as we’re on night two of living in RV parks! Actually, night one was spent in a Wal-Mart parking lot, which everybody told us was the way to go for efficiency and to keep costs low, and we were booted by security at 4am! Did that ever happen to you guys?

And holy cow, we’re only traveling for six weeks and feel like we’re cramming everything in, though I feel like I’m probably the type of traveler who is going to do that regardless of her timeframe. I probably would have felt I were hustling if I’d had a year like you two did, too!
Camels & Chocolate recently posted: Away We Go!

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Christy May 17, 2011 at

Wal-Mart parking lots are so hit-and-miss. We started calling them ahead of time and asking if it was okay, because some cities have no overnight-parking ordinances that apply to parking lots (particularly if the lot is still owned by the city, which is surprisingly common). If there is a security guard on duty they’ll almost always kick you out, and if there are “no overnight parking!” signs then it’s more likely you’ll get a ticket. We only got one ticket (taught us not to ignore those signs…) but were kicked out in the middle of the night dozens of times. It is one of the least fun parts of drycamping!

I’m so excited you’ve started your trip, though!! I can’t wait to see all the cool places you go. :)

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Cherie @Technomadia May 18, 2011 at

Wow.. surprised to hear you’ve been kicked out of WalMart lots. In 5 years on the road and frequently using Walmart lots when enroute, we’ve never had a problem. Of course, we always choose lots that are listed in various databases as allowing it.
Cherie @Technomadia recently posted: And the bus hunt begins

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Christy May 18, 2011 at

We never looked at the databases, so I think that was part of our problem. We just got unlucky with the ones of stumbled on! I think part of the problem was also that we stayed at a number in Florida, where it seemed like there were so many more restrictions in place to discourage RVers drycamping overnight in the cities.

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Dalene - Hecktic Travels May 17, 2011 at

Awesome wrap-up, as this is something Pete and I discuss doing all the time. I wonder though about gas costs – that could quickly make it uneconomical, right? Especially right now?
Dalene – Hecktic Travels recently posted: Funny Google Searches

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Christy May 17, 2011 at

Ugh, yeah – gas prices are a huge bummer! Traveling slowly drastically cuts fuel costs, and we also found that drycamping whenever en route to a new destination really helped as well. So the more we paid in gas, the less we paid in camping fees (which also worked the opposite way).

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Cherie @Technomadia May 18, 2011 at

We always relate our gas and camping fees to being equivalent to our rent/mortgage when RVing. The cool thing about RVing is that you have control over how many miles you cover in a given time period (assuming you’re not on a whirlwind 1 year tour :) ). Folks who have to commute to work have no control over this as gas prices fluctuate.

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Andrea May 17, 2011 at

Other than the costs, I don’t have any qualms about travelling in a RV. We’ve never seriously thought about getting one for a trip, other than perhaps a hire to do a cross-country US trip (which is somewhere on the very far horizon). I hadn’t thought about many of the things you mentioned. This is a fantastic post for those who are interested, though, with great tips!
Andrea recently posted: The Argentine Steak Challenge

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Christy May 17, 2011 at

Thanks, Andrea! There are definitely some unique costs involved with living in an RV, but not as much as one might expect. There are a lot of people really living off the grid, and spending so little in living expenses that they don’t have to work much.

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Michael Figueiredotwitter: struxtravel May 17, 2011 at

Great list of Pros & Cons! I’ve only been on an RV vacation once (to Yosemite when I was a teenager) but had so much fun! I’d love to drive cross-country someday in one.
Michael Figueiredo recently posted: Spotlight On- Renee King from “A View To A Thrill”

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Christy May 17, 2011 at

Aww, we missed Yosemite! But having the freedom to explore the whole country was amazing. :)

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Adam May 17, 2011 at

What a great and honest post. This is the first time I’ve come across your site (found it on the TBEX forum), and what an awesome adventure it looks like you guys had. The only motorhome experience we have had was in New Zealand. And it wasn’t really a motorhome, basically just a pimped out minivan with a tiny little fridge, some storage, and a propane stove. We had it for 5 weeks and we LOVED our time in it. I don’t know that traveling around the US in one for a long time like you did would be feasible for us though. I am the least handy man in the history of mankind (though my wife is quite handy), so that would be my biggest concern. I can’t fix much of anything. It is still very intriguing though, and I am eager to poke around your site more. Good stuff!
Adam recently posted: Nelson Mandela- Picasso- and Dot Com

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Christy May 17, 2011 at

Hi Adam, glad you found us! :) We’re incredibly un-handy as well, but that certainly changed after some trial and error. We successfully tracked down (and fixed) two mystery leaks on our own! But yeah, aside from that we were/are a little clueless. :)

We’ve heard a lot about how New Zealand has tons of campervans that you can buy for cheap and sell pretty easily (because there are so many travelers interested in them as well). That’s definitely on our list of things to look into more!

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Joe Pritchard May 17, 2011 at

Great article! We’re currenlty 9 months in, full timing with 3 kids around Europe. I totally agree with your cons, maintainance hasn’t been too bad on our RV (apart from some leaks over the winter – fairly easily fixed), but we also tow a car and the maintenance on that has been – well, you probably wouldn’t appreciate the string of expletives in your comments! Location limitations!! we’re 40ft long and can’t reverse with the car on the back – yup! location limitations – I should coco.

But as you say the pros are worth the effort (most of the time).

We RV’d across Canada and around NZ a few years ago, I hope you do get to RV NZ, it was awesome, also if you come to Europe, you’re quite right, small is better!!

Happy travels (and thanks for a great post)
Joe (Rachel, Rowan, Rhys & Jenna)
Joe Pritchard recently posted: 5 things to REALLY bother taking …

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Christy May 17, 2011 at

Hi Joe, thanks so much for the comment! I had no idea you were RVing around Europe – that’s our next RV interest, so I’m definitely going to check out your site more. :)

And I hear you about the hassles of towing. Not being able to back up is such a huge pain in the rear (ha! literally!) and we got stuck in so many situations where we had to unhook, back up, and re-hook again. So awful! We also pulled two u-turns (once off the road and onto a grass embankment, the other time across five lanes of traffic), so the hassles of driving a huge RV is definitely a “con” of its own… :P

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Sophie's Worldtwitter: SophieR May 17, 2011 at

Never thought about living in an RV, though it does sound nice being able to get up and take everything with you at the spur of a moment. A bit like living in a boat.

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Christy May 17, 2011 at

One of Kali’s dreams is actually to live on a boat at some point…. something I’m not quite 100% behind yet (I have a strong distrust of large bodies of water). It would be a lot of fun, though, and I imagine many of the pros and cons would remain the same.

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Matt May 17, 2011 at

Hi Christy-

Great post. It’s interesting to hear your take/experience on the RV lifestyle – technosyncratic style. I think you made a lot of really great points and suggestions that could help others out if they read this before deciding on a rig and a game plan.

Bree and I have often commented how happy we are to have a rig that we can (for the most part) park on a street or in parking lots with end to end spots. I couldn’t imagine having something longer. The scooter on back makes it a bit of an issue at times but overall it’s been IDEAL!!

Sad to hear your journey is over and we won’t be able to meet up again on the road but sounds like you guys have more adventures ahead. Have a great time wherever you end up! We’ll be following along.

Tally ho…

Matt

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Christy May 17, 2011 at

If we were doing this year over again our two biggest changes would be a smaller rig and solar power! With those two things you have so much more freedom… which of course we’re all about. ;) After talking with you two (and a few other RVers in Austin that park almost exclusively on the street), we were quite jealous and gave it a shot ourselves. Not so successful, lol.

Cheers! :)
Christy

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adventureswithben May 17, 2011 at

I love how you named your computers!

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Christy May 17, 2011 at

LOL. They’re like a part of the family! :P

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TEC Drew October 3, 2011 at

LOL. I name my computers too. Every one at work thinks I am crazzy for doing that.

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Christy October 3, 2011 at

Niiiiiice. I don’t think you’re crazy. In fact, it’s perfectly sane to name your computers! Right? Right??? Well, whatever. It’s still perfectly awesome. :P

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Eileen Ludwigtwitter: eileenludwig May 18, 2011 at

Amazing to read the pros and cons. Having driven with a tent around the country for three months many years ago and the rest were fly to the area with a tent and rent a car. Or other road trips. When I though of RV’s I would go look at them and they were a lot of money for cheap workmanship. Driving them with the crazy people on the road who would kill for 5 feet of concrete or blow their horn because you are going too slow —-

Prices of campgrounds have gone up considerably since I went. Ok hotels can be gotten in the 40 to 80 range and if you get on a plan where they give free nights, you can move in and out of hotels in the same city to rack up points and then stay in one place for a week. Takes some planning.

I like the idea of having your own space but the trade off of driving and being out far and no Internet. Knew one couple who had solar but it still was a challenge.
Eileen
Eileen Ludwig recently posted: Web Design Interlink Pages

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Christy May 18, 2011 at

Hi Eileen – you’re right, there are definitely a lot of challenges. We bought the RV in San Diego, where traffic is awful – the first time we drove it we spent almost a mile just trying to merge over one lane, but everyone kept speeding up to pass us instead of giving room for us to get over!! It was the same in Miami, but except for in those two places most of the time people were actually really nice and driving wasn’t much of an issue. :)

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robin May 18, 2011 at

A fantastic insight into the ups and downs of RV living. It’s not something I’ve ever done and I wonder whether I ever will but it is definitely attractive to me!

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Christy May 18, 2011 at

Thanks, Robin! If you’ve never done it before and aren’t sure if you’d enjoy it, renting a small RV for a short trip would be really enlightening! And hopefully quite fun as well. :P

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Jimtwitter: LiveWorkDream May 18, 2011 at

Nice write-up, just shared it over at NüRVers!
Jim recently posted: 14 Years of Marital Bliss

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Christy May 18, 2011 at

Thanks!! :D

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Akilatwitter: theroadforks May 18, 2011 at

Wow, this is a great, great post. There are so many things here that I’ve never thought about. We campervanned for one month in New Zealand but it was quite cramped — not nearly as luxurious as Mayhem (it didn’t even have a bathroom in it). But, it was small enough that we could easily park in all of the major cities easily — so not being able to stay in center city is a huge deal, as is the electricity issue. Really great post, guys!

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Christy May 18, 2011 at

Glad you found it helpful, Akila! If you can handle the lack of space and amenities, I really think getting a super small RV is the way to go….

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Cherie @Technomadia May 18, 2011 at

Great wrap up of the pro’s/con’s of RVing, guys. So glad you had the experience and it was a net positive. And thanks so much for the shout-out of our little eBook.

1 year is a great length of time to see a lot of stuff, but it is also a bit of a whirlwind. Even our past 5 years on the road has been way too chaotic and we’re aiming to slow down the pace (and integrate in other modalities of travel)

Solar power is definitely and highly recommended to make RVing sustainable. All of our rigs have been solar powered, and our next (likely a bus conversion similar to the one you linked too) will be too. Not only is is great environmentally, it definitely increases your flexibility of places you can stay. Sometimes it’s not just about saving money either, but about really being able to take advantage of some amazing scenic spots. So many of our greatest stays have been out in the boonies with amazing views while soaking up sun power and cell phone signal to get work done.
Cherie @Technomadia recently posted: And the bus hunt begins

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Christy May 18, 2011 at

You two have definitely been a huge source of information for the RV community! :)

We didn’t really consider solar power with any seriousness until we started reading your blog and realizing how many totally stellar places could be explored if one was living off the grid. Of course, by that time it wasn’t super economical for us to pursue solar, but at least we’ll know for next time….

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Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelistatwitter: eurotravelista May 18, 2011 at

I’m not sure how long I would live in an RV. I have taken a short trip in an RV which was extremely nice and think a longer trip traveling around exploring would be equally nice. I would probably start with 30-60 days to see how it went before jumping into longer living arrangements!
Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista recently posted: Bamberg plus Beer equals Dilemma

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Christy May 18, 2011 at

That’s definitely a good idea, Debbie. If you’re not sure that living in one is the best idea, then getting started slowly seems like a great way to ease into it. Living in an RV isn’t necessarily for everyone, but I suppose you’ll never know until you try! :)

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Nina May 18, 2011 at

I have to admit we absolutely love the RV lifestyle, but we take our time and spend most of our days in nature. It’s definitely more of a journey than a destination in our case, and our journey is 2 years…with no specific end in sight. I do think it’s tougher when you’re mostly looking to visit cities and limited on time. Glad you guys enjoyed it overall, and maybe you’ll come back to it one day. Enjoy your next adventure.
Nina recently posted: Going Native and Getting Dirty – Manzano Mountains- NM

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Christy May 18, 2011 at

I think if we did it again in the U.S., we would deliberately give ourselves no time limit! I’m sure that would have helped a lot. :)

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Jeremy Branhamtwitter: budgettravelsac May 18, 2011 at

I love the idea of RV travel. However, I have to admit I didn’t think of all the cons so this is a good list. I definitely see the pros but realize now that this could be more costly than I think. Still it’s a great way to explore the country but it seems being handy and being willing to spend a little more than planned is important.
Jeremy Branham recently posted: Slovenia sets the standard for Green Tourism in Europe

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Christy May 19, 2011 at

It can be more costly than anticipated, but on the other hand living in an RV also has the potential of being a really cheap lifestyle! It’s kind of strange like that. :P

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Ayngelina May 19, 2011 at

Gas prices have been terrible lately, I’m scared to go back home to Canada. Have you seen the solar power cubes for travelers? I heard they are fantastic – small, light and don’t cost too much.
Ayngelina recently posted: Is gluttony really a sin

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Christy May 19, 2011 at

I haven’t seen those solar cubes! What a neat idea, though – I’ll have to look them up.

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crazy sexy fun traveler May 19, 2011 at

Never really lived the experience, but at least now I know what to expect from it :) Thanks for your opinions ;)
crazy sexy fun traveler recently posted: PHOTO OF THE WEEK- SEAGULLS IN HOLBOX ISLAND

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Christy May 19, 2011 at

Of course, glad you enjoyed it! :)

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Grace May 19, 2011 at

This is such a great adventure. I actually have never been on an RV and really curious to experience a road trip in one!
Grace recently posted: 8 Things I Love &amp Hate about America

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Christy May 19, 2011 at

We had never been on an RV before all this, either. It was definitely a huge learning curve, lol.

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Stan May 19, 2011 at

After retirement, we spent a year traveling across the US in a VW Westy. Loved it! Our friend said our marriage would never survive the small space but we felt it made our lives together even better. We spent most of the days outdoors, lots of space! We started loaded to the brim with our stuff in those plastic storage boxes….hobby stuff to keep us busy. We could easily store them on the floor and stack them as we drove, then carry them to the picnic table or set outside as we needed to. Weather proof, animal proof etc. At our first stop at my mothers 5 days into our trip, we discarded over 200 pounds of stuff we realized we didn’t need. A week later, another 200 lbs were left at my daughters. We never missed all that “stuff” we thought we needed. Our gas mileage went up and the less we had to load and unload was back saving (we were in our late 50′s). We could set up/tear down camp in 10 minutes! The small VW could go anywhere with great mileage. It did break down and getting parts in the wilds of TX caused two weeks in a motel Now we are ready to do it again. This time we are looking at a class B or small (17trailer) which seem like a palace after the VW. We want a bathroom and table/kitchen space. A small electric heater was a life saver in the high mountain areas when at campgrounds. We learned to not travel more than 4 hours a day as we became a bit testy with each other at the end of long driving days. We learned so much about us and our country. I recommend it to all. Just do it. There will never be a better time! Toward the end, we did look forward to coming home and nesting.

How do I find the locations of boondocking sites? Thanks for this website!

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Christy May 19, 2011 at

Wow, what an experience! How funny that you just kept discarding stuff; we did something similar, but not to the same extent. It’s just so hard to realize how much we don’t need everything we haul around. And we did the same thing with driving – 4 hours was our happy medium, and anything more made us too grumpy and tired. When you’re traveling so frequently, being constantly grumpy and tired is not an ideal situation. :) Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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Stephanietwitter: Findthefreeway May 19, 2011 at

Fantastic article! Thanks so much for all this information. It really added to the items we are considering in choosing our own method of travel. We found ourselves reading it going….”ahhh, right, I didn’t think about that!”. This is exactly the kind of information that should be shared so that other folks considering doing the same thing can take into account when making their decisions and choices!

Thank you…thank you…thank you!
Stephanie recently posted: Rhythm At Sunset- The Drum Circle

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Christy May 19, 2011 at

Yay, I’m so glad this was helpful for you, Stephanie! Isn’t the power of the blogging community great? :)

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Hitekhomeless (jenn) May 22, 2011 at

What an excellent write up. Your cons are definitely important things to to consider when contemplating this lifestyle.Solar panels have been a life saver for us. We have to laptops that run 12hrs+ a day. We always boondock(without cost 99% of the time). The first two years on the road, we used an external honda generator to charge daily. It was a hassle. We got a solar panel and more batteries this past winter. Since then we have only used the gennie to charge up once. However, solar introduces another problem. You have to worry about being able to get sun where ever you park.

Smaller = better for so many reasons. We would love it if our truck camper was smaller.

If we could do it over… we would have bought a used rig even if we had to fly cross country to get it.

This lifestyle is definitely for us. I can’t imagine ever going back…. ever.

I am glad that you guys had a great time on your journey. It’s a shame that I found you right as you are ending your trip. Best of luck in your future.
Hitekhomeless (jenn) recently posted: We Are Still Floridians

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Christy May 26, 2011 at

Same here, Jenn – I wish we had discovered each others’ blogs months ago! I very much agree that we would buy used if we went this route again, and we would definitely search out a smaller rig. And you have a really great point that solar power only works if you have sun to provide that power. That would probably be okay most of the time, but might also be limiting. There are just so many factors to consider! :)

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Reneetwitter: aviewtoathrill May 22, 2011 at

I’ve often wondered about RV’ing….I’ve seen several cool RVs at Travel shows and knew that I would be very comfortable traveling in one, but never pursued it. There are quite a few RV parks close to where I live and they stay full all of the time so it’s obviously very popular. Thanks for sharing your experience, Christy….it definitely sheds more light on this aspect of traveling.
Renee recently posted: Following your heart doesn’t mean leaving your brain behind

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Christy May 26, 2011 at

I appreciate your comment, Renee. I also never realized how popular RVing was until we got into the lifestyle… and then we found other RVers and RV parks everywhere we went!

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Erica May 24, 2011 at

We were considering doing this for a while – Shaun was a mechanic and a handy man all around so the repair thing didn’t bother us – the gas consumption did. We’re still trying to figure out how to make money on the road and the gas thing is a huge turn off.
Erica recently posted: Getting a Bit More Intimate with Puebla- Mexico

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Christy May 26, 2011 at

I definitely hear you about the gas issue, Erica. Mayhem’s fuel mileage was ridiculously awful, and towards the end of the trip we were facing gas prices in the mid-to-high $4 range. With a fifty gallon gas tank, filling up always made us freak out a little. We just paid how much on gas?!?

I think the best way to save money on gas while RVing is to travel really slowly. Instead of zooming across states, taking a few months in just one state would cut down the costs a lot. Of course we never actually did this, even though we always said we needed to slow the heck down.

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TravelingOnTheOutskirts May 24, 2011 at

You’ll be back, they always come back. ;D Seriously though, when we had to throw in the towel for a while we had convinced ourselves we’d be happy living in a “regular” house for a year and after about 3 months we were stir crazy. Now that we’re back in another rig I’m stressed but I’m also full of excitement and chutzpah for RV life again! I have to second and third and fourth “it’s all in the way you deal with it”. That is NUMBER 1. Understand that shit will happen and while you’re cleaning it up, some more shit will happen. CLING to that “moment of zen” memory of waking up in the middle of nowhere and watching the sun come up from the window of your rig in complete silence. Sorry to hear you guys got burnt out and I hope you come back to this crazy lifestyle one day! :D
TravelingOnTheOutskirts recently posted: Back in a Rig! – Season 3 Episode 4

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Christy May 26, 2011 at

“Understand that shit will happen and while you’re cleaning it up, some more shit will happen.”

LOL, that’s just so true. I think if we settled down now we’d definitely get a little stir-crazy, so traveling in other ways has a lot of appeal. But I’m curious to see what decisions we come to in another year or two – maybe we’ll find that we actually do prefer RV living over all the other options and look for another rig! The beautiful thing is that that option is always open for us when we’re ready again. :)

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Jilliantwitter: ishouldlogoff May 24, 2011 at

Missed this one last week. My parents are considering getting an RV next summer when my Dad retires. I’ll have to send them your article. I have a friend whose inlaws live in her driveway- in their RV. Not sure how that works out…

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Christy May 26, 2011 at

If your parents have any questions, we’re more than happy to help answer anything we can. :) There are also a number of active RV forums that we’ve found helpful – I like http://www.rvnetwork.com/ because the members are very responsive and know just about everything.

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Cathy Sweeneytwitter: TravelingWithS May 24, 2011 at

I’ve been on a few RV vacations, but never spent a long period of time actually living on one. Nice list of pros and cons. I think that freedom and flexibility is certainly a big plus. Your photos are awesome — makes me want to get out on the road.
Cathy Sweeney recently posted: Feel Lucky

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Christy May 26, 2011 at

Thanks, Cathy! :)

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Anne May 25, 2011 at

We are planning on spending a month on the south island New Zealand with our 2 kids (ages 10 & 12) as part of our family world trip. Thinking that renting an RV is the way to go. Has anyone heard of these “Spaceships”? http://www.salamandatravel.co.nz/campervan-hire-brand-spaceships.aspx
They seem like an economical option — but would love to get the “real” story . . .
Anne recently posted: Join Us!

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Christy May 26, 2011 at

That sounds so fun, Anne – Kali and I are interested in doing something similar, so we’ll enjoy reading about your experiences there. :)

I’ve personally never heard of those Spaceships, but they look really interesting. However, I have heard a lot of anecdotal stories from folks who said that buying a used campervan (instead of renting) was the way to go in NZ because there are so many travelers doing so… which makes it easy to find one in decent condition and then easy to sell it again quickly for a good price. :)

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Laureltwitter: ExpatGermany May 27, 2011 at

What an interesting post. I love how you listed solutions to the cons, especially the one about using solar power for your laptops.
Laurel recently posted: Plansee Photo

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Christy May 28, 2011 at

That was probably our most helpful suggestion, lol. Solar power would have saved us!

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Schelby June 27, 2011 at

I just came across your site and found your story fascinating. We hope to give the full-time RV lifestyle a chance one day. Thank for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

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Christy June 27, 2011 at

Thanks so much for the comment, Schelby. The full-time lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but it’s a blast for those who are into it. :)

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Steve Sheldon July 22, 2011 at

Hey Guys,

I really appreciated reading your blog, we got a lot of insight out of it. My wife and I are considering starting this in a few months. I think we learned a few lessons from reading this already, take it slow, put our work first so we can pay to keep doing it :)

Like yourselves, I work from a computer, I am a programmer and have to be online every day during the week and have internet fast enough to run skype while sharing my screen with other people on conference calls… In your experience is the internet in camp grounds fast enough for this?

Kind Regards,
Steve

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Christy July 22, 2011 at

Hi Steve, I’m glad you found this helpful! And congrats on maybe full-timing soon…. I’m sure you two will have a blast. :)

In terms of campground internet, unfortunately I wouldn’t recommend that you rely on it. The signal is often SUPER weak and sometimes completely unusable. We would only use it on occasion when our personal internet didn’t have a strong connection or we were trying to stream a show, and even just using it on those occasions made us frustrated. Since you’ll be working online so much and even trying to have frequent conference calls, I would strongly recommend getting a mobile broadband device. We actually wrote an article about mobile internet options a few months ago, which explains the most popular options, our recommendations, and what we use.

We ended up going with Verizon 3G through Millenicom (a reseller) and had a month-by-month plan with 20GB for $60/month. Verizon has the best coverage for traveling all over the U.S. and most of the time it was fine, but in a few cases we had bad reception and ultimately had to move on so we could get more work done (Cape Cod was a particularly bad spot). And for our purposes, 20GB was more than enough (though we tried not to use Hulu too frequently).

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions… and good luck!! :)

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Mary July 27, 2011 at

One of my favorite “pros” – I could clean the whole RV in 5 minutes! Inside, I mean. Outside is another story. Also, I am a Southern girl who grew up cooking and always had supper on the table even tho I worked full-time. Not so in the RV. I quickly learned to simplify and we all survived just fine. One more tip – when you are looking for something in the cabinets, don’t leave one open while you are searching another. Limited space guarantees a bump on the head.

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Christy July 29, 2011 at

Haha, yeah – having so little space definitely helps with cleaning! Although our dog sheds like whoa and it’s so much more annoying in an enclosed space… we always felt like we were eating dog hair and we had to clean it constantly. But the outside is a completely different story; it took us hours to clean the whole thing (and not very well)… so we only did it once, lol.

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COD Guy September 16, 2011 at

I have been contemplating living in an RV for years… especially with gas at the price it is now though it makes it a lot more expensive than it probably was in the 80′s or 90′s to live in an RV.

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Christy September 17, 2011 at

That’s definitely true, especially since gas is one of the major expenses of this lifestyle. But traveling slowly helps reduce the burden and keep your costs down. I just wish that had really sunk in for us sooner! :)

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Hampers September 19, 2011 at

Honestly, the pros will always out weight the cons for me. I love my RV and I wouldn’t want to live in anything else now.

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Christy September 19, 2011 at

That’s awesome – I think if we had done more to minimize the cons, we might feel the same. Well, we also just wanted more flexibility to travel abroad as well, but we keep finding ourselves coming back to the beauty of an RV.

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Rick Smith February 7, 2012 at

Hey guys, my wife and i took a two month “camping” trip in our SUV andnow we are thinking of buying an RV and living in that. We both work online and love to travel. We also have family on both coasts, so it would be nice to stay on either side for the “nice” seasons. Thank you for all your posts i thoroughly enjoyed them.
Rick & Kirsten Smith

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Christy February 8, 2012 at

Thanks so much for the comment, Rick! RVs seem really great for folks who have family and friends spread across the country.. and of course for those who work online. ;) I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the blog, and if you ever have any questions let us know!

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Jeanette & Dennis February 26, 2012 at

Hi! Loved reading this post – it’s a very real gimps into full-time rving for working people like us! We just started our third year of full-timing and we still really do love it. The burn out you speak of happens to us every now and then… so we just have to slow way down at that time. We haven’t stayed in a Park/space for a whole month yet… some day!

The major drawback is that our list of must see places just keeps getting bigger making it hard to slow down – even after 2+years. Plus our families now expect us “home” more often then when we had only 2 weeks vacation – we try to be everywhere for everything but it’s not possible.

There are so many perks – Traveling all the time and waking up in new cities weekly – being able to make less money and have more freedom. The flexible lifestyle is genius in my opinion. Our only change would be a smaller motorhome… we currently have a 27′ Class C and get motor- envy every time we see a 20 footer in a regular parking space.

I think it’s great that you didn’t totally give up and decided to travel world-wide instead. Rving abroad is also on my list… and I’ll be able to leave my U.S. based “home on wheels” easily. No worrying about house payments/utilities etc. Not to mention I’m already a light packer!

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Christy February 27, 2012 at

Thanks so much for the comment, you guys! It’s great to hear your perspective on this, with you being successful long-term RVers and all. :) We’ve tossed around the idea of buying a campervan and maybe RVing around Europe, but it’s so hard to commit to again – living in an RV offers so much flexibility in some ways, but in other ways it’s also limiting (in that you have to keep track of it, lol). It’s been fun traveling anywhere we fancy in the world, but there are a lot of times that we do miss having our own home tagging along with us. There are just so many compromises! :)

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lakota August 13, 2012 at

I’m a full timer Rv’er. Have been for 7 years and I won’t go back to apartment or house living again. I got tired of having to *mow* my yard on a certain day at a certain time and expected to compete with the *Jone’s on everything. I owned my first NEW 5th wheel and it had everything you could imagine,, including things that go wrong. I will never buy brand new again, they are poorly built fake junk. I settled back and bought a nice 27 year old 5th wheel 24 footer. All hardwood flooring and REAL wood cabinet doors. Solid as a tank. Ive worn out 4 pick-ups and the trailer still looks like new. Over a half million miles and only 6 sets of tires on a 2 axel trailer isnt bad I don’t think. I did add solar panels to keep batteries charged up, (I have 4 cabin batteries with a dual isolator). I can dry camp for 5 weeks before going back to population to drain tanks and restock potable water supply. I learned from the military a quick 4 minute shower CAN get you clean. And I shower EVERY day. My potable water holding tank is 47 gallon. Half of my lighting is customized to reduce to 6 volt from its original 12 volt supply line. Same brightness, less battery drain.
Ive found it is less hassle and cheaper to live in an RV and I dont collect as much JUNK. And I dont have to deal with rising property taxes and HOME maintenance. Rv maintenance, IS COMMON sense. Everything has its place and give it a bath when it gets dirty Including the roof,, nothing is worse then a Green moldy yucky roof. (My roof is still original with no leaks because I wash it clean to when the rv gets a bath.)

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Clyde Andress December 28, 2012 at

Just read the article for the second time, and learned more than I thought I would. Also read the article on house sitting in London. Who did you find out about house sitting in another country?

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Web Marketing NZ February 12, 2013 at

There’s no doubt RV’s are a great way to spend some time away with friends and family as I own one,
The energy issue can be taxing but me and my family carry two small generators with us which negates any issues with having to “dock” this may be of value I personally have never looked back :)

Regards

Dion
http://www.yourturn.co.nz
Web Marketing NZ recently posted: Google Drive, is it for me?

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