A virtual cooking class on wheels, the RV Cooking Show takes viewers on adventures to some of the most sought-after or interesting but little known RV locales then creates a healthy, easy destination-related RV recipe in host Evanne Schmarder's RV kitchen. Tune in to our RV TV...it's always delicious!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mapping Your Personal RV Travel Pyramid

New to the RVing lifestyle or not, time is precious and every RV travel season counts

Options are good. Very good. But what happens when there are an abundance of choices. How does one decide which path to take? I love my life as a young fulltime RVer. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to crisscross the United States a number of times in the nearly 13 years living this RV travel lifestyle and let’s face it, none of us are getting any younger. With experience under my belt, fuel prices unsteady and rising, and an awareness of how finite time is, I am occasionally overwhelmed by the wide-open, no holds barred choices of where to spend my next two to five month “season”.

As I imagine you reading the paragraph above I picture two responses. “Are you nuts-o?? The open road beckons…take the reins and gallop.” Or are you thinking “me too”? I used to willy-nilly choose where I wanted to be without any thought to anything but my immediate whims (think Jimmy Buffett coming on the radio – the Florida Keys
that wasn’t a bad outcome). Maine in the summer, Arizona in the winter, Washington in the summer, Florida in the winter…I was all across the map.

Then the thrill of hauling my 5th wheel trailer back and forth, crossing the U.S. frequently just because I could, ceased and the desire to really hone in on what was most important to me kicked in. Now I do some thoughtful planning in advance without being too structured. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t change my wandering lifestyle one single bit but lately I’ve benefited from a slightly more reflective approach to ‘living the life’ that so many strive for.

Discovering What Matters Most

My husband Ray likens it to the now vanquished USDA Food Pyramid. Structured and supported on the wide bottom by what’s most nutritious, or in my case nurturing, sprinkled with a diamond dusting of very nice but not required on the narrow, pointed top. And the truth of the matter is that it took all these years to be able to identify what matters most and what is not absolutely essential.

We’re both healthy and active and enjoy being able to take advantage of what I call my ‘do-it-now’ adventure list. But I know it’s possible that this won’t always be so. Every summer that passes without a visit to a spectacular northern National Park is a missed opportunity. Every winter that doesn’t offer me get outdoors and go hiking, swimming and picnicking weather is one less winter spent living my dream.

While in the end it’s a gut decision, I rely on a number of factors when it comes time to decide where to roll the RV to next. True to the moniker our fulltime RV planning took on – Operation Sunshine – weather is one of the top considerations in my “where to next” formula.

As you might expect, the longer the intended stay the more important a majority of our factors are met. We have no children and very little extended family so visits (always during the nicest time of the year) are wonderful but not compelled. We are all about experiences and excellent fresh food options. In our eyes growing old together gracefully means plenty of outdoor exercise opportunities. The balance between financial reward and emotional well-being is shifting.

Our Personal Pyramid

It took many a bottle of red wine, long, aimless beach strolls and a notebook full of list making to develop our personal pyramid. Like most successful couples, but especially one that lives harmoniously in 240 square feet year-round, we are very respectful of each others' dreams and desires and are fortunate to be almost always on the same page. 

When it comes time to make travel plans we convene, lists in hand, toss out ideas and begin to debate the merits of each place that is on our individual minds. We’re not often far from one another's ideas and if one of us feels passionately about a particular place the other cheerfully agrees to give it a go. We’ve found some of our most beloved places that way and in a scenario like this everyone is a winner.

So what is our formula in building our personal pyramid? Have a look:

A Trending Concept

New to the RV travel lifestyle or not, fulltimer or part-timer, retired, on sabbatical or working on the road I see this decision making trend with many of our RVing friends. Time is precious and each one of us wants to get maximum enjoyment out of our destinations and seasonal stays. In my mind, nothing is worse than spending a significant amount of time in a place that doesn’t inspire or serve you in some other way. After all, we choose to live in a box on wheels. If you miscalculate, pick up and move on. There’s no harm – and maybe even significant good – in trying.

Whether your RV style is a full blown, settled in north-south situation, you’re looking for a winter roost and a free-for-all summer, you choose to spend a month here, a couple months there, you’re just testing the waters or in between situations, your personal pyramid is different than anyone else’s and is, well, personal.

I’d love to hear your deciding factors when choosing a roost. Leave a comment below.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

27 Lessons Learned Living a Fulltime RV Life


As my husband and I prepare to embark upon our 13th year of fulltime RV living combined with the gratitude of the holiday season and New Year resolutions, I’m inspired to share some our life-learned lessons about living the fulltime RV life.

So, in no particular order, here’s a partial list of the wisdom we’ve acquired over the years:

1.   No matter how long we’ve been RVing, we’re always in “RV school”.

2.   Even though we’ve seen so much of the country, there’s still so much to see.

3.   I can cook anything in my RV kitchen…though flambéing is not recommended.

4.   Maintaining our RV over the years has made a tremendous difference in the look and life of our rolling home.

5.   A smaller space can’t hold a lot of stuff so instead of things we collect experiences.

6.   RV parks and campgrounds are their own mini-communities…with all the good and challenges that go along with it.

7.   Conducting “Operation Sunshine” is much harder in practice than it is in theory.

8.   Our RVing friends come from all over the US and, instead of across the street neighbors, we meet up at parks across the country.

9.   Though we live in an RV – a typical vacation vehicle – we still have dreaded home duties to perform including laundry, dishes, and paying bills. We’re not always on vacation.

10. Just like living in a stick home, we still need an occasional vacation – away from the RV (see #9).

11. With the blinds closed we are “home” but open them up and we could be at a number of different locations with unique and different views.

12. The low cost of living the fulltime RV lifestyle coupled with being debt-free allows us an unprecedented amount of freedom.

13. (Almost) every item in our RV must do double-duty.

14. We live in a box on wheels and if we’re not in a good situation – be it work, neighbor or other, we can simply move along.

15. Driveway camping at a friend’s house is always a blast but our hosts are constantly baffled when we want to sleep in our own bed instead of their guest room.

16. Some people – friends and/or family – still can’t get their head around our lifestyle…and that’s okay.

17. A reliable mail service is critical to maintaining life on the road. 

18. PPO health insurance can be used all across the US but unless you return to the same location each year for your check-ups you are always a new patient.

19. You can work from almost anywhere thanks to technology.

20. The perception of RVers in general is not always positive – even though the gambit runs from pop-up to Prevost owners.

21. Staying longer than a few days in a single location allows a more enriching local-culture infusion.

22. Making our big purchases at national chain stores allows us to take care of product or service issues no matter where we are.

23. With the advent of credit union shared branching, we can bank all over the country just like we’re at our home branch.

24. Alone time is achievable…just take a walk.

25. Unless we have a specific time commitment, leisurely traveling is always more rewarding than rushing right along.

26. Keeping track of our travels gives us hours of pleasant walks down memory lane or good reference points for important dates/events.

27. People are always curious about our lifestyle and for many, we are living THE dream!

How about you? Do you have any lessons or words of wisdom to share? Leave a comment below…I can’t wait to learn from you, my fellow fulltime RVers. 


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