Friday, October 19, 2018

RV Woman's Got to Florida Antique Malls

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An RV Woman’s Guide to
Florida’s Five Best Antique Malls


    Florida is RV country, so it's no surprise that 15 out of every ten RV women (joke intended)  here will hit at least one antique mall per RV trip. Some of us do  major antiquing, yard sales, rummage sales, discount malls and related moneysaving on our RV trips. Here are five must-see antique malls in the Sunshine State.

    Call ahead for directions and hours. Malls may not have websites, or sites may not be up to date. 

Dania, South of Fort Lauderdale,  Davidson Antiques and Collectibles. Dania is now part of the unbroken city between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Its old downtown strip malls make the perfect setting for antique stores. Browse from one wonderful shop to the next.  Although we’ve singled out Davidson Antiques, many shops are clustered close along Federal Highway. Reserve an entire day, preferably two, to discover this goldmine. Different shops have different specialties so you’ll find good selections in almost any category.  (954) 923-8383

Jacksonville, Fans and Stoves Antique Mall. To “do” Jacksonville’s best antique malls means seeking out the old neighborhoods such as Avonlea, San Marco and Riverside, where this antiques mall is found. With 35 dealers, this mall offers a tempting variety of items as well as experts in areas such as restoration or appraisal.  Locals come here often because of the ever-changing inventory and always the thrill of the hunt. (904) 354-3768

Madison, East of Tallahassee off I-10, Madison Antiques Market and Interiors. Built in 1948, when Madison was abuzz with tobacco auctions and downtown shoppers, this building is a treasure and it’s filled with fine furnishings, jewelry, high-end antiques and everything vintage. Take time to do the self-guided driving tour of this city’s historic streets. See the history of American architecture from the 18th century through the 1950s. (850) 973-9000

Micanopy, Near Gainesville. Dakota Mercantile. There’s a big antique store just off I-75 but to hit pay dirt you must come into the tiny hamlet of Micanopy itself. A half dozen small shops add up to a delightful travel experience in what is said to be one of the oldest occupied sites in the states. Native Americans thrived here long before Columbus. The Herlong Mansion, now a bed and breakfast inn,  is elegance itself and the tiny, walk-able village is an antiquer’s paradise. (352) 466-5005

New Smyrna Beach, NSB Antique Mall. This hamlet, settled centuries ago, is a community of culture and heritage, so the booths in this antique mall are likely to be stocked with caringly curated treasures from artisinal pottery to chamber pots, cachepots to potpourri pomanders.  The city’s location between a pristine Atlantic beach and the Intracoastal Waterway is just perfect for a weekend of beach camping plus strolling to restaurants, antique shops and galleries. (386) 426-7825. 

Do you dream of a full-time life of travel in an RV?  You don't have to wait for retirement. I lived ten years on the go, making a living along the way. You can too. Book tells. how.  Order in paperback or Kindle.

Could you support your RV travel lifestyle by buying and selling antiques?  Of course, but you have to know your business. Think small things you can carry on board, sell online and  ship at low cost. The more specialized your product and the better you know it, the easier to find a worldwide audience. Italian Cameos?  Art Deco brooches? Rare coins? Thimbles? Stamps? Miniature tools or toys? Antique postcards?

Once you establish yourself as an expert in, say, antique poodle collars or art nouveau letter openers, expand your income by offering to be a finder of these things for collectors. Or a curator. Or consultant or appraiser. Your mobile status is a plus once you have a wide network of followers.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Love Your RV, Hire a Pro

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When It Pays to Pay a Pro
    The name of our game, girls,  is INDEPENDENCE,  always and forever. A life of RV travel is the ultimate freedom but, as the old adage says, no man (or woman)  is an island. In  every lifestyle we must depend on others for some things some of the time. The wise woman knows when to call for help. Here are some of my favorite professionals. 

    Cleaning. Auto detailers and carpet cleaners have products and equipment that are more effective than you can do on your own. Periodically have RV carpets and upholstery professionally cleaned. Ask about protective coatings that can be professionally applied after cleaning.

    Tax Accountant. It’s possible that your RV has tax advantages. Do you use it in charity work? Do you travel on business? Make a living on board?  Use it as a “home” office?  Rent it out? A tax professional can sort it out.  

     Mail Forwarding. It’s easier and cheaper to have a friend or relative handle your mail when you travel but individuals get sick, go on vacation or get too busy to run to the post office with that Special Delivery letter you need forwarded to you NOW. And, if all your mail goes to New York or other high-tax state, their address becomes your address. You're now subject to their taxes, insurance rates, even to their jury duty.  I recommend getting a full-service mail forwarding service that is on the job 24/7 in a state that does not have a state income tax.

     Personal Trainer. There isn't room in  the average RV  to exercise and, if you go to a different gym as you travel, equipment varies.  Have a personal trainer evaluate your condition and design a regimen you can live with anytime, anywhere. It may also pay to join a national gym network, one that  has the same equipment and philosophy throughout and allows guest privileges at each site. 

    Resume Writing. If you are a full-time RV traveler and work as you go,  you’re  constantly applying for positions in person and online. Invest in a clean, professionally prepared resume. Go to a pro who knows how  to present your skills in a readable format. Then put the master document on your computer and update as necessary.

    Storage Facilities. Do you need to put some things in storage so you can go full-timing? When you store things in a friend’s attic or garage, problems can arise. If there is a robbery, fire or flood, or if  their  cat decides to use your antique rocker for a scratching post, who pays?  If your friend moves, you have to scramble to move your things elsewhere. A professional storage facility  offers insured, secure, heated, dehumidified,  anonymous storage.  

    Upholstery. When updating an RV nothing makes it spring to new life faster than new upholstery.  Here’s where special skills, materials and equipment are worth the investment. You may need household upholstery specialists for the living area, auto specialists for the cockpit.  It will pay off in looks, comfort, long wear and resale value.


Friday, October 5, 2018

When Your RV Meets a Mandatory Evacuation

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    It can happen to anyone any time. Authorities tell you it’s time to leave your home or campsite and head for safety because of a storm, flood, fire, chemical spill or other  emergency. 

    Lucky you if you have an RV! It means you can take your family including the baby, the  aged and handicapped plus  pets, food,  your own water supply and much more for family comfort and safety.

    Here are some thoughts on preparing your RV for a quick getaway.


Always Prepared

 *Full tanks (water plus fuel for the engine, stove, heat,  generator ) Empty gray and black water tanks.

    * An ample backup of shelf-stable food supplies. Don’t forget pet food, baby food, diapers and foods for those people with life-threatening allergies.  You don’t have to spend a fortune. Survival Food Handbook has lists, tips and recipes for many types of emergencies.

    * Copies of important papers such as medical records, prescriptions, financials, ID and credit cards, insurances, home business, family contact information. All it takes is a thumb drive or two. 

    * Cash including change and small denomination bills. There are times when only cash will do. 

    * First aid kit kept fresh and up to date. Written prescriptions for eyeglasses and essential meds that you may have to pick up as you go. Oxygen tank? EpiPen? 

    * Basic wardrobe for keeping clean, warm, cool, dry

Nice to Have

   * Alternate means of communication such as a  cheap prepay phone, ham radio, CB and/or walkie talkie. Alternate means of charging, such as a solar charter for the phone. 

    * Empty jerry cans for water and fuel. (Collapsible water jugs take up little space). Pumps and hoses may not be available.

Grab and Go

    * Essential medications
    * Phone
    * Fresh milk and any other essentials from the fridge that time and space allow
    * Spare keys (house, outbuildings, RV, post office box, safety deposit box)
    * Valuables as time and space allow.
    * Count noses. In a panic you don’t want to forget anyone or a pet. Remember McCauley Caulkin? 
    * Firearms if you use them

Here’s a Tip
    We rely to much on our smart phones, we may forget that someday we may need a street address, mail address or fax number. Make it a goal to fill in the blanks in your address book.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Camping and Motorhome Memories and Traditions

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RV Life Should Have Traditions Too
    Call it habit, ritual, tradition or just OCD. We all  love our comfort zones at home and away. Cherished traditions are the touchstones of  our lives. Just as we remember old camp songs or college cheers or taps at sunset, we can create new traditions in our RV lives to remember and share forever.

    Here are some ideas. 

For You Alone

    You might start every day with a prayer or meditation in the driver’s seat with its  view of the outside world. Or do  a tai chi workout at sunrise. Set aside time each day for a  soothing cup of peppermint tea. Design a quilt with a new square for every special place you visit. Vow to learn a new French irregular verb each day, or a sonnet or Psalm.

      Start a diary devoted solely to times spent in the RV.  Join RV social networks on the Internet and/or ham radio. Never miss a full moon camp-out. "Collect" lighthouse climbs or cemetery rubbings. 

For the RV    

 Everyday habits bring sameness and sanity to life on the road. Food traditions are always good. Bean soup and cornbread every Saturday night? Celebrate the first Friday of the month with dinner and a movie? Set aside every other Tuesday for housecleaning and maintenance followed by a Chinese takeout dinner? 

    Some traditions are best when the RV is at rest; others are best on the road.  One very practical habit to adopt is to walk completely around the rig before every start-up, even if you’ve stopped only a few minutes for fuel. From the safety standpoint, it gives you a chance to make sure everything is in order.  

    Did you leave your credit card behind in the gas pump? Did your wallet or phone fall out of your pocket when you used the rest room? You also use the time to put your mind in highway mode for  the serious business of highway safety.

    Old birthday and holiday traditions don’t always work in the RV lifestyle. Adapt them to create new traditions. Cupcakes instead of a big layer cake? Cornish game hens instead of a big Thanksgiving turkey?

    Start an RV-only Pinterest account. Or mount a cork board in the RV for photos and souvenirs. Start a Fun Fund where loose change goes at the end of each day. When the kitty is full, splurge on a special RV outing.  Always take your daughter,  granddaughter and/or nieces on Mother's Day.

    Decide on specific times when you will look back, take stock of your RV travel goals both good and bad,  and regroup as needed. These times might be only once or twice a year but stick to them. Think if them as promises to yourself, an escape hatch when you give yourself permission to  travel more, or get a larger RV,  or spend more time at each destination. Instead of chafing  over everyday annoyances, save your wants and gripes for these times, then take inventory.
For the Campground
    Could you adopt a tradition that others will remember you for? You might become known as the woman in the campsite who has tea daily at 3 p.m., everyone welcome to bring a cup and join in. 

    Everyone who has ever camped with him remembers the fellow I met at a campground where he played Taps at sunset every day. You might be remembered for your famous potluck dish or the homemade snack mix you take to the neighbors.

    Memories. The best ones will be made today and tomorrow.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Total Indepdence, Your RV or Motorhome

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5 Reasons to Invest in
a Fully Self-Contained RV

    All recreation vehicles have sleeping quarters and at least some cooking facilities,  but that alone doesn’t spell total  I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-C-E.
    When an RV is totally self-contained it can be a complete home that does not require you to use campground showers, or eat in  restaurants,  or (shudder) use public restrooms.

    What is “self-contained”?  In RV jargon, that means having the tankage, plumbing and electricity to operate your home, at least for some of the time,  without hooking up to campground utilities. Why is it a good choice? 

Just you, your RV and the great outdoors yet you have all the comforts of home
No packing and unpacking each night, and you sleep in your own bed

    1. It’s safer.  You have everything you need to get through the day (or night) no matter where you are. If you don’t like the looks of the campground bathrooms or you hate to go out after dark (bugs, animals, humans),  you don’t have to take the dreaded “path to the bath”.

    2. You’re independent on the highway. When you stop at a roadside park  for lunch or a nap, you don’t have to look for a public restroom or a fast food restaurant. We were once trapped in a sudden traffic tie-up on an Interstate for three hours while authorities cleared a major accident. We could cook, eat, turn on reading lights, feed the dog, watch TV,  use the bathroom and have all the comforts of home.

    3. You control your environment by having your own heating and air and the means of running them (generator, battery bank).

    4.  Travelers in self-contained rigs have more options at campgrounds. If you arrive late and no sites are available, you can ask for a “dry” campsite in an overflow area and still have access to campground security , recreation, camp store and facilities. You can also choose no campground at all. Where it is  permitted and safe, boondocking is an option.  

      5. Your RV will have higher resale value.  The trend in RV’s is to more conveniences, even in the smallest RV’s.

The Down Side
    Independence does have its price. Generators take fuel, oil, maintenance. Solar-charged battery banks need sunshine. Water tanks need to be filled and sewage tanks need to be emptied.

    The more complicated the RV, the more maintenance is needed, so  and the more
breakdowns can occur. Don’t over-do with conveniences. It’s good to have a flush toilet and hot and cold  running water but do you really need an electric step, remote control drapes and a heated driver’s seat? 

Are you thinking of making an RV your full-time home? I full-timed for ten wonderful years and tell about it in Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition. The book begins with making the decision, then takes you through buying and equipping the RV, living the roaming life, making a living on the go and going back to "real life" when and if the time comes. Order the book in Kindle or paperback at

Friday, September 14, 2018

RV Travel: Play for Pay

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Workamper, Still the Best Bet
Travel:  Play for Pay

    If you think you can’t live and travel in an RV until you are retired and collecting a pension, we have good news for you. Workamping has been the gold standard of camping jobs since the 1980's,  when a win-win-win partnership was established among RV travelers who need work, employers who need seasonal workers and the Workamper organization that brings them together.
    With Workamping you work only when and where you wish, for as long as you need to “feed the kitty”. Then you move on. 

    “Many people didn’t quite get it,” admits company president Steve Anderson, who  holds seminars to educate employers about the Workamper model. “Our Workamper members aren’t looking for jobs as jobs. They are looking for a job as part of the total RV full-timer experience. ” 

    The average Workamper gig lasts three to four months. Then the RV-er moves on with no  ill feelings on either side. Of course, some campers do establish relationships with employers and take the same jobs each year. Still, the best thing about Workamping is that is temporary, no frills, no promises.

    Anderson finds that employers are astonished at his members’ work ethic.  Most Workampers are reliable, able and hard working. The organization now has thousands of  members, about half of them future full-timers who may be as much as five and even ten years from living their dream. 

    Little Heber Springs, Arkansas has always been the home of the Workamper family. Now the community has built a meeting center where Anderson gives seminars for Workamper employers and Workamper wanna-bes. He also holds festive “jubilees” for dedicated Workampers.

    Why are you, as a full-time RV traveler, an employer’s dream employee?  For one thing, you bring your housing with you. For another, you’re not climbing a career ladder. You want a temporary gig, then wanderlust kicks in and it’s time to move on. 

    Since its founding, big changes have come to Workamper  due to technology and also to the migration of jobs to business-friendly states. Amazon, for example, has huge new shipping centers in many states.  Where Workamper jobs were once heavily dependent on vacation seasons (theme parks, campgrounds) jobs in these Amazon centers are now strongest during the Christmas holidays, back to school and other brisk buying seasons. The company installed hookups at some of its centers and it loves Workampers.

    The other big change is in communications.  Workamper jobs were once advertised in the organization’s snail-mailed newsletters. Now an employer can post a job opening online on a Workamper Hot Line in early morning and have half a dozen applicants by noon.    The Workamper News newsletter is free and a good way to get acquainted with how things work.

    If you are an RV-er who needs to work at least part of the time, may just be the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow


After full-timing for ten years, and making a living along the way, I wrote Living Aboard Your RV, now in its 4th edition. It covers the RV full-timing lifestyle, from making the initial decision through living the life, making a living and hanging up the keys when and if that time comes.  See the book in paperback or Kindle at

Friday, September 7, 2018

Drive for Independence: Women, RV, Motorhome

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New to RV-ing? Afraid to move up to a bigger rig?

Things Women You Need to
Know About Driving an RV

    Even if you’re a seasoned driver, some of these may be new to you.

    * Afraid to take the wheel? Driving a motorhome is easier than you think. You’re sitting higher and can see farther ahead and on both sides. Good mirrors and/or closed circuit TV give you a birds-eye  view to the rear. Power assists let you adjust your seat exactly to achieve the best control of your hand and foot controls and your  mirrors.  

    * Other drivers can see you better too You’re a big target, so drivers can see you sooner.

* Know your rig’s exact height in feet and inches (including rooftop AC or pods) so you’ll be prepared to go under bridges and through drive-thru’s at banks and McDonald’s. 

    * Eyeball the length of the overhang of your RV behind the rear wheels. This determines how steep an angle you can drive over (such as a culvert or steep driveway)   before some part of the overhang drags.

* Tire pressure is crucial, especially if you have duals. (With duals the driver isn’t always aware if one of the duet goes flat). 

    * Get acquainted with all means of escape from a motorhome including all door(s) and any emergency window exits.  In an accident the rig could land on one side or the roof .

* Everything should be stowed and secured before the vehicle moves. Forget to lock the fridge, the door flies open and you’ll have broken eggs all over the  floor. If you forget to stow the step,  it could collide with something or someone such as a bicycle rider.  If you forget to lock the awning, wind could catch it and tear it up. In a panic stop, any unsecured object, erson or pet behind you could whack you in the back of the head. Checklists can be life savers for yourself and others.

    * A walk-around check before every start-up is good practice, even if you’ve just stopped for fuel. You may have forgotten something in the campsite or left a door ajar. You might spot a soft tire or a leaking liquid that should be investigated. If you have a damp rag with you, this is a good time to take a quick swipe at mud-splashed light lenses.

* RV Driving schools are found all over the country. Take a course, seminar or safety refresher. Find locations at  It’s also reassuring (and loads of fun) to take a winter driving school such as the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs CO.  Slick conditions can occur anywhere.

    * Even the most experienced truckers can be surprised by RV handling and other quirks. Motorhomes, especially RV trailers, are light in weight while presenting a very large expanse of area to winds and gusts.