Questions Answered Part 1
When we tell people we live on the road, we get, "That's so cool!" and then there's a flood gate of questions. Where do you stay? Do you have a route planned out? How long are you going to stay on the road for? What do you do for money/work? What did you do with all your stuff? Do you have any personal space? Etc.
Well, I'll try to start answering all your questions and help those who are interested in starting the nomadic life themselves.
As stated before, we did tons of research before fully committing to this lifestyle. We spoke with friends who had been on the road for months already (DNSadventures) and continued to pick their brain for months. Shane and Deanna are great people and never got tired or annoyed with us asking so many questions. They've been on a phenomenal adventure as well and have a great YouTube page documenting their excursions and expeditions. YouTube is a great place to learn pretty much anything you can think of. It's where we learned how to drain the black and grey tanks (plumbing on the trailer). Why its a great idea to have a surge protector. How to hook up the trailer to the hitch. You get to see how many other people are already doing this and it makes the idea seem less crazy.
We also searched the internet high and low for different trailers to see. Weighed all our pros and cons about Class As and Cs, travel trailers and 5th wheels. We decided on a travel trailer so we wouldn't have to worry about most underpasses on the highway, if the mechanics breakdown, we wouldn't be homeless, we could disconnect and still go exploring, we could only tow around 13,000 lbs with the truck we bought for this. Buying a trailer is very much like buying a home. Some look amazing, some are shabby but then there's the one. You just know its yours. That's our Bullet Premier. We got it used but the previous owners probably took it on one trip and after the first night decided it wasn't for them and returned it immediately. We got a great deal.
But alas, where do we stay. There are RV parks all over the country, nay, the continent where we can stay. Better yet, most of them aren't KOA or Yogi Bear owned. There's nothing wrong with these campground, at all. For our needs however, they are overpriced. Where we stay is usually paired with, "what's your plan? What's your route?" We have a loose idea of where we want to go, we have a spreadsheet of our must see destinations and I do my very best to match it up a best I can. Our initial plan was to leave Indiana and make our way up to Maine and meander down the coast to spend the winter in the South and then head West and eventually make our way back to Alaska. We fell in love with Alaska last year and have been itching to go back every since. With GenCon in early August, we needed to shift things around a bit. We made it as far as Vermont before swinging back around to head back to Indiana.
Finding and reserving our stays at the campgrounds is my job. There are tons of resources too to help. Google helps a ton with showing me the location of the parks and gives some honest reviews. Yelp also helps sometimes with letting me know if we should stay at a place or not. My favorite resource is still Passport America it's amazing! It gives you 50% off the cost of campsites. It tells you what the full deal is, what kind of hookups they have, what other amenities they have, if they're pet friendly or not and I for one love a good discount! By our second stay at a campground we already saved more than we spent on the membership. I love it! We are also members of another group called Escapees which give overall great deals on their campgrounds, its more like a co-op but we haven't stayed at one of them yet. But their community is great.
So the process goes as such. What direction are we going in? What is the main attraction in the area we want to see (this could be a national or state park, a town/city we just want to see, people we know and love and want to see, etc)? I'll search the state's park on Passport America for the closest park to the area. Check our their website, do a quick Google search on it and start making calls to find our a quote and availability. Best deal wins. Sometimes its harder than others to find the perfect place. Like the time we tried to stay close to my family on Long Island. Just being on an island makes it a premium rate. Being close to Manhattan makes it super premium. It's quite ridiculous. We ended up having to stay an hour and a half away. It's not always happy-go-lucky.
Also, when choosing where we stay, we need to make sure there is good cell reception. Working off a jetpack rather than a traditional router for internet, good cell reception is key. It's like a glorified hotspot you can get on your phone but it's its own device. We have a pre-pay unlimited plan through Verizon which is truly unlimited without throttling or you've-used-too-many-gigs slow down. Sadly, this plan has been discontinued for those looking to use it. Thankfully, we've been grandfathered in but now, we can never get rid of it.
The best tip I received about making reservations is to book winter in the South early. A lot of people are going south for the winter and have their seasonal spots. There are only so many open lots for nomads like us. Get in and reserve early!
Campgrounds operate differently too. Some ask for a 50% deposit upon booking, others just need a one-night deposit. Some may be cool with just our name and contact info while others need the reservation paid in full. Some campgrounds also include electric while some have it on top and you'll put a deposit down for that and either get refunded upon leaving for what you didn't use or owe more if that's the case. This seems to be more the case with longer term stays however, the month long ones or more.
Hope this helps answer at least a few of your burning questions for the curious folk and the ones just starting out. Feel free to reach out for more information!