I shared the 10 Must Have Items for Full-Time RV Living in a recent video to help you prepare for full time RV or Van Life.
After living in an RV for nearly 4 years, I’ve learned there are some tools, services and products that I can’t live without. I share those with you and why they’re critical to successful and comfortable full time RV Life!
RV Living and Van Life Necessities
Here are a few of the must have items for Full-Time RV Living or van dwelling, I cover in the video. You can get the full list – and why they’re so important – in the video!
Good Road- Side Assistance. Not all RV Road Side Assistance plans are created equal – make sure you know what to look for! Watch now!
Nationwide Guarantees and Service Plans – don”t be stranded in Hell Michigan with a warranty only good in Texas! Here’s how to get the best service plans!
The Right Tools – I go over ALL the tools you need to take care of yourself in an emergency. There might be a few here that surprise you!
My full time RV life took me to a remote and free hot springs in Tecopa California recently. I enjoyed a relaxing dip in the natural warm waters and had the pool all to myself.
If you love nature and exploring remote places and hot springs, check out this video.
Tecopa is just about an hour west of Las Vegas and while there are pay hot springs just up the road at the campground and resort, this pool is free. It can get crowded, but I visited on a rainy day and had it all to myself.
In case you missed it, check out this abandoned hot springs resort I visited in Warm Springs, NV recently. This was one of my favorites.
Deciding to live a nomadic life can be as scary as it is exciting. Similarly, choosing the right vehicle can be intimidating. That’s why, in this blog, I give you my best tips for shopping for an RV.
Which vehicle is right for you? There’s much to consider! For instance, size, type and cost. Therefore, before you begin, I suggest watching this three-part video series I made covering the pros and cons of RVs, Motorhomes, Vans, Truck Campers, Trailers, Skoolies and more.
Craigslist: Craigslist is always my first choice for searching for most things. You can search RVs, Motorhomes, Vans, Skoolies, Minivans – or anything your heart desires on Craigslist. You can refine your search for new or used, private or dealer sales and you can enter other filters like price range, mileage and more. I like Craigslist because I can shop anywhere in the country and compare makes and models, prices by region and more. It’s also a great place to begin your research into the right home on wheels for you.
RV Trader: You can also sign up for RV Trader and other auto-sales online sites. I’ve found that most listings were out of my price range. If you’re on a fixed budget, your choices on these sites may be more limited than what you find on Craigslist.
Visit Local RV/Van Dealers: It doesn’t hurt to visit local RV lots, take tours, test drives and talk to the dealers to become familiar with RVs, Vans and Motorhomes. This is a great way to learn about RVs and Motorhomes and figure out what is going to work best for your RV Life.
Expand your Search: If you live in a large, expensive metropolitan area, I suggest expanding your search to another city or state to get more for your dollar. When I first searched for my RV to live in, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and therefore paid San Francisco prices. I got an $8000 lemon that probably would have been far less in another state.
Search Off-Season: Trying to buy an RV or Motorhome in Spring or Summer, during the height of the recreation season is going to limit your lower priced options. Demand will be higher when everyone else is shopping, driving the prices up. Buying in Fall or Winter can earn you a much better deal.
Take Your Time: Waiting until the last minute to shop for your RV or Van is a mistake. Do your research, take your time and wait for the right one to come along. I’d even start searching before you have the money. That way you’re already familiar with what’s on the market and the price ranges.
Other RV Buying Resources
There are other sources for buying RVs and Vans like Facebook Marketplace, local classifieds and more. I have given you the sources and tips I’ve used to shop for and buy two Class C RVs that I’ve lived in for three years. I hope you found this helpful.
Are you looking for a fun group of like-minded Friendlies? Join the Carolyn’s RV Life Fan Club on Facebook!
Carolyn’s RV Life YouTube viewers got together and decided to create a place to meet, share ideas, inspiration, stories and practical tips and tricks for living the an authentic life. That’s how the Carolyn’s RV Life Fan Club was born! The result is a strong community of like-minded Friendlies where the spirit of independence, free thinking and self-reliance flourish and kindness reigns.
If you’re looking for a place to hang out and meet people, join us!
Rejecting Beauty Standards at 50 Years Old Wasn’t Intentional!
When I moved into an RV I wasn’t thinking I’d make a statement about beauty standards and our obsession with youth. But here I am three years later, no red hair, makeup or expensive youth-preserving treatments, flaunting my natural, salt-and-pepper hair, laugh-lines, crows feet and full figured menopause-middle. And I’ve never been happier (or freer)!
I ran across this HuffPost article this morning. First it made me cheer. Then it caused me to reflect upon my own experience as a middle aged woman in America. The article, “Stop Telling Me I Look Younger Than My Age” was written by 30 year old Elizabeth Lavis, who, at the age of thirty started hearing , “don’t worry sweetheart you look ten years younger” (I’m paraphrasing).
Her experience as a woman in her thirties made me think about my own process of ‘going natural’ at fifty. How two years into my nomadic RV life I realized how ridiculous it was to keep up my Loreal Paris Superior Preference 5MB Medium Auburn colored hair. I was, after all boondocking on public lands for days at a time and rationing water! Besides, the fake red didn’t really match my new nature-immersed lifestyle.
Natural IS Beautiful!
In my old life, I spent hundreds each month on hair dye, makeup, anti-aging creams, gym memberships, manicures, pedicures, expensive haircuts. As a result, I constantly heard, “wow, you don’t look your age!”. I cringe now to think I took it as a compliment; not yet ‘woke’ to the idea that there is no shame in looking my age!
Now that I live in an RV and have made a conscious decision to stop conforming to America’s fake version of beauty (youth and thinness) I constantly read comments on my YouTube Channel like these: “Wow the road has really aged you, you look horrible”; “You’re 51? OMG you look 70!”; “You’ve really let yourself go, you look like an ugly old hag now”; “You really need to dye your hair red again, you look haggard” ; “The road has not been kind to you, you look so old!”
Of course, I laugh these comments off because I recognize what’s behind them; ageism and society’s fear of getting old.
Beautiful at Any Age
How did I go from looking 10 years younger to looking 20 years older simply by going natural? The answer is, I didn’t. It’s all how society views aging women. I find it fascinating that I went from “looking younger” to “looking old and haggard”. There seems to be no room for “looking my age”. Or even looking like me and how I’m supposed to look at 51!
This chapter of my life, as a menopausal 51-year old woman has been fascinating. I’m learning what it means to be invisible as an aging woman who doesn’t conform to society’s expectations of beauty. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it. But it certainly makes me question many of the mores and cultural messages I’ve lived with.
In the summer of 2018, as a solo woman RVer I took an RV road trip to Alaska via the Alaska Highway and the Cassiar Highway. I fortunate to spend 3 1/2 months touring the scenic, wild and remote state of Alaska!
RVing to Alaska
My solo RV Road trip started from my winter home in Nevada and Arizona. I drove through California, Oregon and Washington in the spring, crossing the Canadian border at the end of April. Alaska, here I come!
Traveling to Alaska with a dog took some preparation. Therefore, I took Capone to a veterinarian near Bellingham, Washington for a health check. The USDA verified vet examined Capone and issued a health certificate. This certificate is required to enter Canada and Alaska (I was never asked to verify I had it).
Crossing into Canada was so exciting! But as a full time RVer I had some concerns about telling them I was living in my RV. This caused suspicion and questioning by the Canadian Border Patrol. Boy was I nervous! However, after satisfactorily answering everything, I was flagged through. Hello Canada! (To find out all the questions they asked and why I got so nervous you can watch the video. )
Once I crossed into Canada, I found a beautiful free campground in Lillooet, British Columbia where I stayed a few days to acclimate. There was some gorgeous hiking in the area. The temperatures were warm, with daytime highs near ninety degrees.
As I traveled north toward Alaska I realized there were a few things I needed to know about driving an RV in Canada: how tall and wide my RV is in Centimeters and how heavy in Kilograms! There were some underpasses that scared me as I tried convert inches to meters in my head (and I had no cell signal).
I quickly got the hang of it and enjoyed my three week road trip across British Columbia and Yukon. Driving the remote Yellowhead Highway and Cassiar Highway, I visited Prince George, Hazelton and Watson Lakes’s famous SignPost Forest. Watson Lake also has a great Visitor Center where I learned the history of the Alaska Highway.
One day, I was having lunch at a roadside pull-out and a man stopped, got out of his car and started lurking. After some awkward silence, he asked me, “are you traveling alone.?”. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I grabbed my lunch and went inside and locked the door. It wasn’t until later that I realized the stretch of highway I was on is notorious for women disappearing. Yeah, that realization really struck me. But overall, I felt safe traveling alone, even in the most remote areas.
I spent the rest of July and August traveling to Homer, Soldotna, and Valdez. In Valdez I boondocked near the Valdez Glacier and took the LuLu Belle Cruise to the Columbia Glacier where I got to witness some Glacier calving. It was a rare sunny day (it was a wet summer in Alaska that year) and a gorgeous day on the Prince William Sound. And oh, the views!!
RVing the Dalton Highway to the Arctic Ocean
I topped off my summer by driving my RV on the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay. Prudhoe Bay is a giant oil field on the Arctic Ocean. From Prudhoe Bay you can shuttle through the Oil properties to dip your toe in the Arctic Ocean. You’ll have to watch the video to find out if I was brave enough to go in!
The Dalton Highway is 415 miles of remote rugged road. Also called the Haul Road, it’s mostly driven by big rigs that service the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay. There are few services, no hospitals and almost no cell service. The Haul Road takes you along the Alaska Pipeline through the Brooks Range and over Atigun Pass, the tallest driveable pass in Alaska. It took me two weeks to drive the road (at about 30 mph the whole way) with no troubles. I only carried one spare tire and didn’t even need that. The wild remoteness of the tundra in the fall is breathtaking. With wild caribou, muskox and bald eagles roaming the wilderness. It was amazing!
Goodbye Alaska (for now)
I fell in love with Alaska and wanted to stay. However, as summer came to close, days were getting shorter and the nights cooler. I knew it was time to say goodbye. With a heavy heart, I pointed my RV nose toward Canada and the lower 48.
When Capone was diagnosed in Yukon a week after leaving Alaska, the trip back to the U.S. became a race. I wanted to be near friends when it was time to say goodbye to my best friend.
My summer in Alaska is a time I will never forget. It was the trip of a lifetime, I highly recommend anyone who has an adventurous spirit and a love of nature to make the journey. You won’t regret it.
I recently soaked in some luxurious hot springs at an Abandoned Resort and Ghost Town in Nevada!
As a solo full time RVer I’m always on the lookout for cool, off-the-beaten-path places to visit. In November, I found an Abandoned Hot Springs Resort in Warm Springs Nevada. The Hot Springs are located at the intersection of the Extraterrestrial Highway (Nevada State Route 375) and US Route 6. Warm Springs is in Nye County, about 60 miles east of Tonopah, Nevada.
After I lost my dog Capone to Cancer in October of this year, I traveled south toward Arizona with a giant hole in my heart. The healing waters of the hot spring soothed my soul. Plus, a little adventure is always a good way to take my mind off my troubles.
Real Nevada Ghost Town
I loved this area because of its remoteness and ghost-town feeling. Nothing remains of this old stagecoach route but a couple of abandoned buildings and a restaurant that closed in the 1970s.
” Private Property” and “No Trespassing” signs are posted. However, it seems the owners don’t mind visitors. Just please, respect it and keep it clean when you visit!!
Big Horn Sheep
A large group of sheep hunters were camped inside the fenced area during my visit. Next time I hope to have it all to myself so I can explore the grounds and peek inside the old buildings.
While I soaked in the hot springs, a herd of Big Horn Sheep wandered into the foothills above and drank the hot water from the trench feeding the pool. To watch the entire video on YouTube click here.
According to Wikipedia, ” The first white settlement in Warm Springs was in 1866, when it served as a stopover for stagecoaches and other travellers. Never more than a tiny settlement, Warm Springs’ population dwindled until it became a ghost town. All that remained was a single streetlight, a telephone box, and several huts built over pools filled by the warm springs that give the town its name. ”
If you enjoy off-the-beaten-path spots and hot springs, I highly recommend visiting this one! You can also enjoy nearby Area 51 and the Extraterrestrial Highway!
To read more about my adventures as a solo woman traveler, click here.
Have you ever wondered what full time RV Life is really like?
As a solo woman and full time RVer life may not be what you expect. I still have to work, shop, pay bills and run errands. It’s not the permanent vacation many think it is. Especially for those of us who aren’t retired yet! Join me on an average day of full time RV life.
As I pack up my dry camping spot outside Zion National Park in Utah, I take you along with me as I do my full time RV Living errands. Join me as I empty my black and gray water tanks, get gas and do my grocery shopping.
Dumping your black tanks isn’t as easy or yucky as you may think. In fact, I did an instructional video on it that shows how easy it is!
I also show you how I shop and store my vegan food for dry camping on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands for extended periods. It’s not as hard as you might think to find vegan staples at stores across the country. I was even able to find healthy, organic food in Valdez Alaska! It wasn’t cheap, but at least it was available.
If you’d like to learn more about how I eat a vegan diet on the road you can visit my YouTube Channel by clicking here.
When my day is over, I treat myself to a Thai food lunch in St. George Utah, before I go off again to explore public lands in search of my new temporary home. After three years of full time RV living, finding camps has become second nature. If you’d like to see how I do it, watch this seminar I gave at the 2018 Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR) in Quartzsite, Arizona.
And for more about finding amazing free dry camping for RVs and Motorhomes click here.
I hope you’re enjoying my videos and information on this blog!
Full time RV Living in winter cold is a reality for millions.
If you live in a cold climate you know winter can get downright miserable. RV living in winter cold is a reality for millions of Americans. How do RVers and VanDwellers avoid freezing in the winter?
Not everyone who lives in a Van, RV, School Bus (Skoolie) or car has the luxury of moving when the weather gets cold and nasty. The shrinking middle class, income inequity, shortage of jobs and dismal social security benefits have forced millions to retreat into their vehicles for shelter.
That means during the frigid winter months, vandwellers and full time RVers run the risk of being immobilized by snow and cold. And thousands run the risk of death.
There’s a ton of information on the web showing expensive and labor intensive RV winterizing products and processes. However, the point is, millions of home-on-wheels dwellers don’t have the means for expensive RVs or winterizing products.
So What Can Van Dwellers and RVers Do to Avoid Freezing in Winter?
In this YouTube video, I show some super easy and inexpensive things you can do TODAY to make your RV, Van, Car or Skoolie warmer and safer for surviving Polar Vortex, Blizzards and sub-freezing temperatures. Simple things like using extra blankets or clothing to block drafts. Or how to use Reflectix to cover windows and block off your RV cab to keep out cold air. You can use rugs purchased at thrift stores to block vents. Even how you cook in your RV can help you stay warmer! There are simple things you can do now to make RV Living in winter cold more comfortable and safe.
I created the FIRST easy-to-understand explanation of how RV electrical systems, deep cycle batteries and solar systems work. I break it down in the simplest form. No more confusing electrical-speak about converting amperage to voltage or voltage to wattage. I also give a super-simple explanation of A/C vs D/C power and why it matters.
This video finally gives you the basic understanding you need to live in your RV, Van or Motorhome. It will give you the knowledge you need to extend the life of your deep cycle batteries and easily install solar.
About My RV Solar Set-Up
I also demonstrate my RV Solar System which was professionally installed. I use a Blue Sky converter to convert 360 watts of solar energy into two 6 volt golf cart batteries to power my RV Coach.
I’ve been living in my RV for three years and until I worked on my electrical systems, installed solar panels and replaced a few deep cycle batteries myself I didn’t full understand how any of it worked. By working on my own systems, I was able to comprehend the basics. As a result, I have all the knowledge I need to use and maintain my RV electrical system.
And now I share my learning with you, in real-talk (not electrician speak) so you can understand it too. As a result of this no-nonsense approach to RV electrical, RVers are calling this the best, simplest explanation of RV electrical systems on the internet.
Watch the video now: “My RV Solar Set Up: Finally an Understandable RV Solar & Electrical Explanation!”
Be sure to leave your questions and comments below and let me know if this video helped you understand your RV Electrical system a little better!
Shop all my favorite RV things, including flexible solar panels and other battery and electrical system hardware, click here.
Never miss another RV Lesson or Adventure! Click here to subscribe to my channel!