Friday, June 23, 2017

Top 5 Motorhome Mishaps and How to Avoid Them

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Five Motorhome Mishaps
You Can Avoid

    Here from Shield Total Insurance, a British company, are the five mishaps that are most responsible for  motorhome insurance claims.
   1.  Motorhome windshields are large, odd shaped and costly. “Windscreen/glass damage accounts for a massive 46% of all insurance claims," finds this insurer. Damage ranges from chips, cracks and scratches to full blowouts. Here’s where it pays to be insured because a replacement MH windshield can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars. 

    Stuart Craig, of Shield Total Insurance recommends, “Always report a chip immediately to your insurance provider and get it repaired as quickly as possible. From a cold snap to a bump in the road, a chip can easily turn into a crack, increasing the cost of repair. 

    “Keep your windows and wiper blades clean because stones, grit and sand can scratch your windshield, reducing visibility. Close all windows before you hit the road. Leaving a window open even slightly can result in a crack or a window blow-out due to high pressure when traveling at speed.

2. Road accidents are responsible for 19% of the company’s claims. Of these,  24% were from vehicles that were hit while parked, 14% from collisions from ahead and 14% from being hit in the rear . Accidents when reversing came in with 12% ;  incidents when pulling out accounted for 9% of all road accidents.

    Stuart recommends parking outside big cities and taking public transportation where possible.  He finds that multi-story parking garages may not be able to accommodate large rigs or may charge extra.  When parking on the roadside, be aware that your wide width  could invite a sideswipe.”

 3. Third party and impact related claims account for 12% of  claims made by this company’s customers. Says Stuart “Expect the unexpected. The beauty of a motorhome is having the ability to go anywhere, but not every place can accommodate a large rig. Don’t rely on your sat-nav. Buy a good map and take time to look at the roads and consider if they are (suitable for RV travel)”. Janet adds: also know the exact height of your rig and beware of low bridges and drive-throughs.

4. Theft accounts for only 6.5% of all motorhome insurance claims says this company.  The good news is that 40% of stolen  motorhomes are  recovered. Most thefts occur from home, so increase security there. There are a number of excellent security products on the market such as trackers, immobilizers and alarms. The investment is worth the extra peace of mind.  Adding security devices can also reduce your insurance premiums, Stuart says.

5.  In addition to the tips above from Stuart Shields, I’ll add that right turns can turn and bite you. Whether you’re in a motorhome, car or truck with a trailer in tow or any oversize rig, you can hit the curb (or, heaven forbid, someone or something)  if you make a right turn too early. Worse still, the tail might swing and hit something roo. Know your pivot point and the point at which you can safely turn.Practice in an empty parking lot.

Are you a slow walker or know someone who is in a wheelchair? My friend Candy Harrington is a leading authority on travel for people with physical challenges. Her newest book outlines everything you need to know about travel in three fabulous national parks: where to go, where to stay, where to rent specialty equipment and  much more.  Go to to order Barrier Free  Barrier-Free Travels; Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for Wheelers and Slow Walkers Look for a dozen other locales in her Barrier Free Travel series too.
See Janet Groene's easy recipes for camping and RV travel at

Friday, June 16, 2017

Breaking In: Full-timing by RV or Motorhome

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Going Full-timing by RV?
Don’t Break Those
Bonds Just Yet

Are you thinking of ditching your present job, home or lifestyle to go full-timing in an RV? I did it at age 31 and can say now that it was a good decision. But it wasn’t a quick decision, nor an angry one. The old expression, “Don’t burn your bridges behind you,” makes excellent advice. Here’s why. 

    * Remnants of the old life  could be solid currency to you in the future. No matter how bitter your divorce, how grief stricken you are over the death of a loved one or how much you hate your job, there may be things worth hanging onto.

    Another old saying is, “Keep your words sweet. You may have to eat them later.” Memories fade. Tempers cool. Forgiveness happens. Always leave a door ajar. Impossible as it seems now, you may need a reference someday from former coworkers, landlords, neighbors, spouses or roommates. 

    * If your parting with your employer is amicable, ask now for a letter of reference and carry it with you. 

    * Keep memberships in your professional associations, at least for now.  Dues may be high but it’s usually easier and cheaper to stay a member than to get in for the first time.

     * If your career requires a professional license, try to keep that current too. Some licenses (masseuse, nails, many health care professions, beauty operator) are issued by states, so  that makes them more difficult to use as you travel.  However, many states have reciprocal agreements and in others you can get a new license just by passing a test.

    An instructor’s or commercial pilot’s license is portable because it’s federal, but to keep it current you need regular physical exams and periodic rides with check pilots. A number of women also have marine captain’s licenses, also federal. With a small-boat commercial license you might skipper a nature cruise for six people or less, or work as a fishing guide. 

    *  Don’t be too quick to sell everything you own. If your RV sojourn will be for a set period and you’ll want to reclaim your furniture after a year or two, it can be put in a storage facility. If you’re hanging onto, say, a coin or art collection because it’s growing in value, put it in a  fireproof, insured safety deposit box or  vault. Get adequate insurance from your own insurer. The standard coverage offered by the rental facility is rarely enough. 

    *  You may decide to keep your apartment and sub-lease it, especially if you’re in a rent-controlled unit. You might also decide to rent out your house rather than sell it, at least for the first year. If so, hire professional management to collect the rent and take care of maintenance. Even the most willing neighbor or relative may soon weary of midnight calls about leaky roofs and clogged toilets. 

    * Sometimes it’s possible to tap a retirement fund early but don’t hatch that nest egg if you can help it. The younger you are now, the more important it is to keep feathering your nest.  Money continues to grow tax free in your IRA.  It’s insurance against the day you can no longer work or travel or both. 


Learn more about the full-time life on wheels. Order Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition.

Friday, June 9, 2017

RV Llfe and a New YOU

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Reinventing YOU

Do you yearn to take to the open road in a home on wheels, free as the wind?
You don’t have to wait for the magic age of 65. Chances are you can “retire” now, head out on the highway and support yourself by doing what you love to do.
     Here are just some of the passions and profits that might work for you.

* Writing is extremely satisfying for many women and it can also have a profit motive. Some romance writers earn thousands of dollars a year selling fiction, chapter by chapter,  through Amazon or a personal website. No longer do you have to pay a lot to have a book published and sell them yourself. E-books cost little to set up and a smart marketing program can go viral. 
Blogging is another way to make money with writing, photos or videos. Collamer points out several ways to monetize blogs. Podcasts are also rising in popularity.

* Collamer points out that a love for pets can take you into many careers such as doggie daycare, dog walking, pet photography, pet grooming or selling pet paraphernalia.  Of course, some of her career suggestions  require adapting for RV travel and life. You may have to outfit part of your RV as a mobile grooming studio. For some careers a license may be required. 

* One of Collamer’s chapters explains traveling as a tour director, an ideal choice for women whose passion is to travel and get paid for it. In the world of RV full-timing, this could mean staying in one place long enough to work as a step-on guide or perhaps a tour director in a large resort campground. You might also organize RV caravans and lead groups of RV-ers caravan style. 

* Want to be an entertainer? Get into the fashion industry? Become a sports groupie? Work as a tutor? The sky’s the limit but first you have to know yourself, then know your field, then know how to turn it into income, the author points out. 

In Second-Act Careers the author explains about the kind of training and commitment  that are required, ways to turn a profit with your talents and strategies for living by your wits.

   The book's final pages are a workbook to be filled in with honest answers. Once you have the big picture before you in black and white,  you can stand back and see if semi-retirement, and the roving life, are for you. 

These books will help you decide if there is a second act ahead for you. 

Second Act Careers,

Boomer Reinvention How to Create your Dream  Career After 50

Second Acts: Creating the Life You Really  Want, Building the Career you Truly Desire

The Encore Career Book, How to Make a Living and a Difference In the Second Half of Life

Friday, June 2, 2017

Better Bed for your RV, Motorhome, Camper

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BEDazzling RV Beds 

    It’s likely that the bed in your RV is built into the rig, probably on a plywood platform. That’s a good thing. A foam mattress provides comfort. Space under the bed provides storage room. And you aren’t hauling around the dead weight that goes with the steel springs and heavy wood frame of a conventional mattress-box springs set-up.

   On the other hand,  you don't have the same bells and whistles now that you can have in bedding made for homes such as built-in temperature control, posture control,  firmness control for both sides of the bed, even snoring control.

    If you are usually off grid and have enough battery storage, you can find 12-volt electric blankets, mattress pads and air mattresses. Know what energy you’ll need and how you will supply it.

    Here are some other RV-friendly  products that can make your RV nights more comfortable.

    First, consider whether you want to add gadgets that use energy, especially those that require constant power all night. If you have the juice it’s wonderful to have Never Flat technology in an air mattress that inflates as needed through the night to keep a constant comfort level. This queen-size mattress by Serta is a fine example of the Never Flat air mattress feature, which is also available on other brands.

    Mattress Genie Lift System 
Using the remote control, raise the head of the bed for reading or sleeping comfort with the Mattress Genie Lift System. It’s simply an inflatable wedge that slips under the mattress. Add it to any bed or bunk. It comes in twin and queen sizes, inflates in one minute and can be deflated by using your body weight. 

    A wide choice of 12-volt car blankets. They are powered by the RV's  batteries even when you don't have electric hookup. However, they’re all sized more as throws than as bed blankets, so you may need two. Because of the smaller size, they're ideal for a couple when only one wants extra heat.

       I prefer an electric mattress pad to an electric blanket. Turn it on before bedtime and get into a toasty bad. Heat rises, warming you through the night. They’re available in standard bed sizes and also for pet beds. 

    Bedding that promises to make you cooler gets mixed reviews.  There are several technologies available including mineral-infused sheets and fabrics said to wick moisture away from the body. The best technology I’ve found for use without electricity a gel mat that absorbs body heat, making you feel cooler. It’s available in a frosty pillow mat and also as a frosty gel mat mattress protector. 

New each week.  Easy recipes for the camper and traveler. Included are a Campground Potluck Recipe of the Week and camp cook tips galore. See


Friday, May 26, 2017

Money and the RV Travel Lifestyle

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You May be RV  Richer 
Than You Thought

    Last week’s post asked  Can You Afford RV Living? Now let’s look at the black ink side of the ledger. What money do you have? Where might new money come from? How can you make your RV dream come true?
    Get out a pencil and paper, literally or digitally.

Sources of Income in the RV Lifestyle
    Many RV travelers work as they go but here are some other ways you might have money coming to you.

    * Will you rent out your house or sublet your apartment?  How much money will be left over after paying the mortgage, rent, maintenance and management costs? 

    * If you are not going to sell your home, but will rent it while you travel in your RV, can you earn more by renting it piecemeal? For example, you may rent out empty land to a neighbor to garden or rent out an extra garage or outbuilding. 

    * If you own a campground lot that is in the rental pool, how much can you expect it to bring in per year? (How many nights a year will you be there yourself,  and what average occupancy rate can you expect when you’re gone?)

    * If you’re leaving your present home, are you due a refund of the utilities or damage deposit you paid when you moved in? 

    * Are you due money for alimony, inheritance, royalties or structured settlement?

    * Whether you are retiring or just leaving your job at a young age, meet with the Human Resources staff at your company to see what benefits are available. Even if you don’t have a pension, there may be funds  waiting for you in unpaid overtime, expense account refunds or sick pay . Important! Can you get a leave of absence or sabbatical that will allow you to keep some benefits while staying away for six months or a year?

    * If you’re going to travel by RV and have the discipline to handle a credit card without going into debt, forget cards that rebate in airline miles. Pay off the balance every month, get a no-fee card and elect the cash back option. Then charge everything, from fuel and food to campground fees. When you need the money, claim the accumulated rebates. They usually range from 1% to 3%. 

    * Review your life insurance situation. What do you have now? What do you need now? There may be accrued funds, such as interest, that you can withdraw now without reducing the death benefit. 

    * There is a penalty in closing a Certificate of Deposit before it matures but in a pinch you may be able to withdraw accumulated interest. 

    * Did you leave behind any items for sale in a consignment shop? You may be owed money.  

    * Every few years check for Unclaimed Assets in any state where you have ever lived or had financial dealings. You may have forgotten a bank account,  or a check might have arrived after your forwarding address expired.

Friday, May 19, 2017

What Does RV Life Cost?

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What Does It Cost in 2017 to Live and Travel in an RV?               

    Whoo, boy, that is a tough one. When I’m asked what it costs to live full-time in an RV, I have a question of my own. What does it cost to live in a farm house? A condo? A co-op?  Let’s think it through.

     The answer, is course, is HOW you live in that RV or condo or apartment. Do you eat your crackers with caviar or Cheez-Wiz? Do you take a fitness run every day or work out in a fancy gym?
    Do you play the Lotto? Have a $6 latte every morning? Do you have debts, such as student loans, that will follow you no matter where you go?
   There’s no substitute for making your own list of your OWN income and expenses.

Ongoing Costs
    If you have these expenses now, you will have them when you move into an RV.

 + Banking, brokerage, other financial services
 + Cell phone, ISP, domain
+  Child support, eldercare, alimony
+  Debt service (credit cards, car and/or RV payment, student loans)
+  Dues, church, charity
+  Entertainment (movies, books, music downloads, concert tickets)
+  Groceries, restaurants
+ Gifts
+  Health including insurance, co-pays, dental and eye care, vitamins, birth control, memberships or subscriptions such as a gym, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, )
+  Non-food supermarket purchases (paper goods, cleaning products)
+  Personal care (toiletries, cosmetics, hair salon, bling)
+  Pet care, food, supplies
+  Retirement fund contributions
+ Soft goods (wardrobe, shoes, household linens)
+  Sports and hobbies (lift tickets, greens fees, court time)
+  Subscriptions, publications (magazines, newspapers, online newsletters)    
+  Other obligations   

PROBLEM SOLVER: Sticky windows work easier, last longer when lubed with the new 3-In-One Window and Track Dry Lube. It's from the people who make WD-40, the RV woman's best friend. Windows glide open and shut,  yet this lube doesn't leave a sticky film that collects dust and debris. Love it! 

Expenses That May Change or Stop
    If you have these expenses now, they could change or stop if you hit the road with an RV as your only home.

+ Bus fare, commuting, uniforms, other costs related to your present life
+  Rent or mortgage, homeowner association fees
+ Utilities, home maintenance, yard care
+  Other

Expenses You’ll be Adding in the RV Life
    This involves from guesswork but start this list anyway. 

+ Any car,  truck or vehicle you’ll have in addition to the RV itself
+  Campsites
+  Furnishing a new RV (a one-time expense) plus regular additions to a replacement fund
+  Fuel, oil, propane, dump fees
+ Insurances specific to this new life
+  Mail forwarding service
+  Medical insurance (rates may change depending on your “home” state)
+  RV payments, maintenance, repairs, license
+  Satellite TV, Internet, radio. Phone
+  Storage unit, safety deposit box   

    By putting these items in black and white you have the big picture. Can you make it happen? It may be more possible than you think. 

PROBLEM SOLVER: The squealing and grating sound made by RV slides when they open and close is an increasing problem in campgrounds. It's annoying and it's also a sign that your slide's guts are suffering. Get 3-in-One RV Care Slide-Out Silicone Lube  It actually extends the life of the slide by protecting against water, abrasion, wear and corrosion. 

Next week: income to balance the expenses listed above. What resources do you have now? The answer may surprise you.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Real Stories from RV Full-timers

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Hot Flash: If you're on the road and need work, Amazon CamperForce is hiring in Kentucky.  Hookups available. Work this fall through December 23 at a fulfillment center,  filling Amazon orders. Then move on.

Facts from RV Folks
    Do you yearn to go on the road full-time in an RV that will also be your home? Here from my mailbox are frank comments from people who are living full-time in a motorhome or travel trailer. Some are singles, some couples. They asked to be anonymous. 

    Janet: What’s your plan for later, when you can’t handle full-time travel any longer?
    Fulltimer #1:  “ When I hang up the keys  I intend to buy a park model in an RV campground. This is the lifestyle for me for good. “

    Janet: Tell me your story.
    Fulltimer #2: I’m 34 and have been full-timing for two years in a Class C motorhome I bought used.  I work in campgrounds and Amazon fulfillment centers as needed to keep up with the payments. I’ll have more free time next year when the RV is paid off but for now it’s fun to travel to different jobs around the country. I have loved RV camping since I was three  years old and our family camped in a converted school bus. Now I’m living my full-timer dream and loving it .” 

    Janet: You two say you are 82 and 87 years old. Do you know what you’ll do when you have to give up the full-timing lilfe?
    Fulltimers #3. No but we are looking into the Escapees program in Livingston, Texas.
 This is our life. We will be RV-ers until we die.”

    Janet: You two have been full-timing 30 years now and your current RV is 19 years old. Tell me about your travels and your plans for the future.   
    Full-timers #4. Well, we’re now 72 and 80 years old and plan to move to an assisted living facility when we have to. For now we move on every one or two weeks. Our home base is Florida because we like the weather and we have relatives there. Our next purchase will be a new dinghy. That’s a car we’ll tow behind the motorhome. 

    Janet: You say you’re full-timing but find it hard to get by on $30,000 a year.
    Fulltimers #5. We love the motorhome but it’s time to settle down. We’re building a house in Florida and we'll get jobs there. We may go full-time again someday. Who knows?

    Janet: Tell me how you’re doing in your 38-footer on a budget of $50,000 a year.
    Full-timers #6. “We love our unique,  custom designed RV and have no plans to replace it but we couldn’t afford a newer model anyway. Ours is a diesel pusher with four solar panels on the roof to power our inverter. We survived a summer in Alaska and have seen much of America, with many places yet to be explored. We are trying to put something away for a rainy day. Our present motorhome was paid for through the sale of our home.”

    Janet: You two also live on $50K a year and your RV is a nine-year-old 35-footer. How is that working out?
    Full–timers #7 We will leave this life only when it’s time to go into a nursing home. Meanwhile we stay in one spot for six or seven months, then move on every three days or so for the rest of the year. Our most vexing problem is finding good motorhome service.

    These snippets are just a peek into the full-time RV life. It begins with making the decision and ends when you’re ready to move on to the next adventure. Want to go  NOW, not wait to retire?  I full-timed for 10 years, making a living as a freelance writer and author. My book Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition tells you how.