In the past year or so, we’ve met up with some of the cast members from the upcoming Open Road RV Nomads Movie Documentary; either one-on-one or at convergences. While we were living up the boondocking life (no utility hookups) at Quartzsite and American Girl Mine in January, we worked closely collaborating with
Large, deep and wide, clean space, own palm tree, beautiful view,
quiet yet friendly. Oh, and low cost is a biggie too!
Before you go onto reading this blog piece, please know that this is ‘our’ opinion and based on our experiences. We know that every RVers’, whether full-time, part-time or weekenders, have different needs or expectations. We‘re not expecting the Taj Mahal of RV Parks or Resorts. We know each has their own ideas of what Shangri La is to them and each has their own offerings all their own. What would be incredibly nice though, is if RV park and resort owners read this and heeded our wishes. We have needs as full-time, big rig RVers and hope RV park or resort owners and managers take into consideration of what we, and others like us, look for when making our choice to stay. In our three years as full-time RVers, we’ve feel we’ve become seasoned enough to give our assessment of what attracts us to certain RV parks, resorts and campgrounds. Consider this article as a ‘Letter to RV Park and Resort Developers, Owners and Managers’.
First, the differences…
Campgrounds – National Park, State, Corps of Engineers, Municipal and Private – Usually, these are more primitive than parks and resorts. Campgrounds may have electric and water; sewer on occasion or in updated campgrounds. To us, Campgrounds are un-alterable meaning, campgrounds will be in more natural settings; you get what you get. Though we do enjoy an occasional ‘camping’ feel, our visits to campgrounds will be minimal because of their site size constraints of not interupting natural habitats. In this instance, “size does matter”. Campgrounds were designed multiple decades ago when campers and trailers were much smaller. They weren’t planned for huge motorhomes, 5th wheels or travel trailers; therefore, they have tighter turns, natural obstructions, low hanging trees, etc. Unless fire bans are in place, they allow campfires, are very family oriented with no or very few restrictions on age or type of RV/Camper/Tent. Campgrounds may be near lakes and other bodies of water that host outdoor activities like fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, etc. Typically, they are less expensive than RV parks and resorts because their limited ammenities.
|This is a ‘campground’ – wooded and natural setting|
RV Parks and Resorts – Privately owned and operated; there’s more of a choice of what the developers and builders can do to make it appealing for their guests. Seriously, we don’t want to stay in a ‘parking lot’ otherwise, we’d just boondock at a big box store or mall but there’s got to be some consolation in our wishe. Unfortunately though, it seems that RVers are not being heard. We’re not saying they’re ‘doing it wrong’, it’s just, they could be ‘doing it better’.
So, if an RV park or resort builder were to seriously ask us ‘what would make RVers come to stay?’, this is what we’d (meaning us…Liberty Crew) tell them:
1) ACCESSIBILITY – Somewhat close and easy to get to from major highways and thoroughfares. Parks and Resorts don’t have to be ‘right off the interstate’ but we do appreciate not having to go through 50 miles of over the river and through the woods to get there. Roads and entrances into your establishment should be wide with very little curbing. We don’t want to rub and bruise our tires. We prefer wider turn radius and no sharp corners to turn. Oh and please, no speed bumps! Please post on your website “RV friendly directions” to your park or resort noting any low clearances, narrow passages, potential low hanging tree branches or impeding obstructions. Update your website if there are any recent road construction issues or detours.
|Great main road leading to a campground in Pennsylvania|
2) BIG RIG FRIENDLY – Today, 36-38′ foot RVs aren’t really considered the big dogs of RVing anymore. Newer motorhomes, 5th wheels and travel trailers have lengthened to 45′ and tower upwards past 13 feet tall. As well, new(er) coaches have opposing deep slides (24″ deep and deeper) and some even have ‘slide in a slide’ making site widths even more of an issue and let’s not forget that some are now being designed with side decks and patios. Some may be towing a trailer with toys or mobile offices. We prefer 80′ or longer. Please don’t state that you’re ‘Big Rig Friendly’ when you only have 3 Big Rig sites out of 50 or you’ve fibbed a little on your site lengths. Be honest in your advertising, phone reception and website or when guests ask. Know each of your exact site lengths from roadway edge to end of the site without him-hawing just to make a buck from us. Likewise, save your ‘big rig’ sites for ‘only’ big rigs. Nothing raises the hair on the backs of our necks more than seeing a small camper in a big rig site while we try to cram ours into a site meant for them. Notably, we don’t want to be passing the Grey Poupon, hearing our neighbor’s commodes or listening to their deep dark secret conversations. We should be able to enjoy sitting out at the picnic table for meals or our chairs without having to trip over the neighbors sewer pipe or smelling it. Our awnings shouldn’t be able to touch the neighbor’s RV, period. I’m willing to bet that RVers would be willing to pay $1-2 more for their site knowing they aren’t going to have to turn their tv volumes up to drown out their neighbor’s.
|Perfectly long site near Scottsbluff, Nebraska
to fit our truck, 5th wheel
with still room to spare for maneuverability.
3) OBSTACLES & PRUNED TREES – You don’t know how many times we would approach our site only to be faced with a tree, permanent grill or picnic table, light post or sign post that we must swing around; at the same time, trying to not hit something on the other side. Please appreciate that RV’s today need wider spaces. If you want to number your sites, please paint the site numbers on the site pad or make the posts easy to remove/replace; having an in-ground sleeve that the post sets in. Again, no curbing (read above in ACCESSIBILITY). We’re not asking to park in a flat parking lot nor do we wish to be fighting our way by avoiding obstacles . We just ask that your developer or planner take great consideration of RV needs and specifications in the layout of the park or resort. If your park or resort does have these obstructions or impedements, minimize them, replace them or make them movable.
|Perfect! Nothing impeding our parking, awnnings, etc.
Nothing beats having your very own palm tree!
Notice the built in grill is set back away from where
the RV would be or is parked.
Again, typical newer RV’s are now towering over 13 and a half feet tall. No RVer wants tree branches or low hanging cables/wires scraping roofs, air vents, awnings or the sides of coaches. Likewise, consider when it gets windy and those will swing, sway and bounce which could potentially poke a hole in the rubber roof membrane, scrape the awnings or puncture a slide or topper. Also noting that trees invite critters and creepy crawlies. We don’t want bugs or birds taking refuge in/on or soiling our coaches. If and when your grounds-keeping employees prune, instruct them to cut all the way to the joint leaving no sharp ends sticking out. Please keep an eye on insect infestations.
|As you can see, this tree is impeding our wanting to use our awnings.
The branches were touching our slide. We prayed for no wind.
We were nervous for our full-body paint, slide and roof.
5) AMPLE PARKING – This goes for RV toad vehicles or trailers if we need to detach. Please don’t charge us extra for parking in a separate lot; especially if you don’t offer long sites to accomodate big rigs or towables.
6) LEVEL – Nothing is more frustrating than being told on the phone, on your website or resource that your sites are level only to pull in or back in and find our tow canted so much that it’s painful or even dangerous to disconnect or unhitch. We shouldn’t need to stock a lumber store full of leveling blocks.
7) FREE WIFI, AMPLE AMMENITIES & FREEBIES – First, WiFi is extremely important as is electricity and water. For some of us, it’s our life-blood for communicating with family and friends. Some full-timers work on the road and young families may be home schooling. Advertising ‘Free Wifi’ yet not having simple access to check our email will entice bad reviews which will impede profitable business for your establishment. Spend the money to get a viable system that accommodates and supports the entire park and users. Monitor streaming abusers by shutting them down for 24 hours (this also goes under ‘rule enforcement’).
Please provide pet-friendly doggie park(s) or exercise areas for Fido and Fifi to play and relieve themselves and we ask that it be routinely cleaned and disinfected. Reading various RV forums and social media outlets, dog owners not cleaning up after their dogs is one of the top complaints and abuses. Nothing is worse than going out in our own site to sit or enjoy an outdoor meal and stepping/seeing/smelling dog doodoo. Please invest in dog waste recepticles with bags so dog owners can’t use the excuse, ‘well, I forgot my bag’.
Having two washers and driers for a park size of 50 sites isn’t really accommodating;; please look into having more and perhaps in different buildings throughout your park. Provide a separate washer/dryer for pet bed use only. Being frank, it sucks having our clothes come out of the washer loaded with pet hair and smell. Bath houses should be clean and safe with lockable doors. Oh yes, please put benches and chairs in each shower area…a shelf and plenty of hooks too!
If your park or resort is in a heavy storm or tornado area, it is imperative that there be a safe evacuation building.
|130 sites at this resort with two laundry rooms identical to this.
Is it enough? Do the math.
Your park’s workout gym should be accessible for all hours of the day/night. We all have different schedules.
|We couldn’t use this gym between the hours of 5:00pm-9:00am.
Seriously, who does that?
…and FREEBIES! Always offer BOGO deals, honor rewards programs like Passport America, Escapees, etc., restaurant discount coupons, free Taco Tuesday or Ice Cream Sundays, a free round of golf, etc. Offering military, veterans and first responders discounts is nice too.
8) ADULT AREAS – Some may disagree but designate ADULTS ONLY areas please. We love kids but there’s also a time and place. A lot of us work, exercise, go on long hikes or just had a long stressful day. We really enjoy using the jacuzzi but seriously, not when there are children present. Its our ‘down time’ to de-stress, want a therapeutic soak or simple adult time to talk and enjoy the quiet. Speaking honestly, children aren’t the most cleanliest in such settings. In otherwords, save the jacuzzi’s for “adults only”. Please post the rules and remind parents of children of these off limits areas upon registration. Don’t just list it in your sheet of rules; tell them.
|This jacuzzi was an ‘adult only’ area at a resort in Texas.
It was nice and relaxing. The lighting at night was just right and safe.
|Unfortunately, this jacuzzi had no rules posted.
We couldn’t use it because even at 10:00 pm
as children were swarming it…with no adult supervision.
9) RULES & ENFORCEMENT – You can have rules but come on, please don’t be overzealous with them. Make the print easily readable that don’t require microscopes or magnifying glasses to ‘read the small print’. On the other hand, there’s nothing more frustrating than guests not reading the rules or totally ignoring them. Upon registration, go over the most important rules or ones that may apply to your guests (ie. if you they list a dog, tell them where the dog park is…if they have children, tell them when quiet times are and to stay out of the jacuzzi)…and then, seeing no rule enforcement.
Please post speed limits and expect guests (AND EMPLOYEES) to adhere to them. There are walkers, hearing and sight impaired guests, and children. We ask to not allow golf carts, RZR’s, scooters and 4 wheelers to race up and down the park roadways. Please don’t look away if there is rule infringement. If you’re going to have rules; enforce them…for ALL.
10) KNOWLEDGABLE STAFF & VOLUNTEERS – Did you know that the reputation of your establishment is set upon the first 20 seconds of staff-guest interaction? Your first impressions are always lasting; whether it’s on the phone, social media, website or in person. Please be approachable, available, accommodating and friendly to your guests. Your first reaction to a question, comment or frustration could make your or break your establishment. Realize that social media is a powerful tool amongst your patrons. We share our experiences globally; albiet social media, phone apps, blogs and websites like RV Parky and RV Park Reviews. If we are in front of you at the desk, please finish with us before reaching for the phone. Know and honor the hospitality code of ethics. Show that you appreciate that WE CHOSE YOUR PARK or RESORT…money walks and talks.
|Perfect site spacing and length for our former Cyclone
even with our truck parked.
Loved that the concrete pad extended to a nice size patio.
Totally level too! The picnic table was light enough for us to relocate.
BE TRUTHFUL on all venues (i.e. website, phone, etc.). It’s been said, “a picture says a thousand words”. That said, pictures could also be very deceptive. When posting photos on your website, please show what the sites look like with appropriate sized coaches actually in them with slides and awnings out. Show photos of your facilities and ammenities on a busy day or season. Show us the views we will see on the busiest days. Again, we do not want to stay in ‘parking lots’. We do enjoy nice landscaping, green grass, pretty gardens, clean sites and grounds, and something nice to look at instead of a bunch of parked vehicles.
So, do you still want to build or manage an RV park or resort? OF COURSE you do because it’s a lucrative business now. RVers are getting younger in age which means they will be patrons longer. As in the movie ‘Field of Dreams’, Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) heard voices ‘build it and he will come’.
COMING SOON!! Our 10 Favorite RV Parks, Resorts and Campgrounds! Watch for it!
We’ve lived and traveled in our RV for going on 3 years and absolutely wouldn’t trade it for the world. Our lifestyle is incredibly amazing. We’ve been told people want to ‘be us’. While we adored our previous sticks and bricks home, we love the tiny-house simplicity, liberation and freedom to go when we want and where. We are blessed with so many people who come into our lives through our travels and remain friends for life. But that doesn’t say there aren’t things we’ve missed or day dream about that we had living in our former ‘S&B’ (sticks and bricks) home. We’re being honest here. In this lifestyle, you trade one for another.
This lifestyle brings a whole new set of challenges. That military mantra ‘overcome and adapt’ has followed us. It’s okay though, it’s what makes us stronger to enjoy the reason why we are doing this whole nomadic lifestyle. We consider ourselves lucky to be doing this but that doesn’t erase some disappointments or things we’d wished to keep. This is a brutally honest, hearts-on-our-sleeves blog piece. Don’t think for a minute that we’re complaining but, if you’re ever contemplating a nomadic lifestyle whether it be RVing, sailing, backpacking across the country, etc., you might want to know before cutting the cord:
- Soaks, Salts & Suds – I miss my big jetted tub! I used to take 2-3 baths a week with my favorite soaps, salts and essential oils; whether it be therapeutically or simple relaxation. Now, I’m lucky to get one every 2-3 months. If I visit a friend or relative, I always ask, ‘may I?’ and when we get a hotel room, I splurge and get one with a big soaking tub.
- Endless Hot Water – It goes with the bathtub soaks. Admit it, long showers rock…where it meant using the entire water heater tank in our former sticks and bricks, that we could stand in the shower for a good 30 minutes of pulsating hot water on my back and shoulders, but I digress. Now, our showers are limited to about 5 minutes unless we use the bathhouse where we are parked but then there’s the whole privacy thing. We sacrifice one for the other.
- Down The Drain – Doing dishes back then was so much simpler with one less step. Now, we scrape our dishes well or wipe them with a napkin before washing them. Weird I know, but we watch everything we put down our plumbing and tanks. If not, we’re in big trouble…perhaps bigger and more costly than when we had our S&B. On the same note, if we’re not hooked up to sewer, we then are very conscious of how much we put in our gray tanks. So, even that five minute shower gets cut to about two.
- Friends and Family – This is probably the biggest ‘low point’ but we try not to dwell or think about it. Our families are in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and elsewhere and Lisa’s best friends are in Florida, Maine, and Kentucky. We make it a point to fly or drive to see our families and friends. It takes extra planning because of where we may be parked, who will care for our nomad cats and how we get there.
- Forever Neighbors – We knew exactly who had coconut sugar or special spices to borrow from in our former neighborhood. If a neighbor needed a babysitter, we were always there to help them. The Early Wyne Ladies gathered every month for Bunco, baby and wedding showers, cooked for sick neighbors, and took care of each other’s neighbors and pets while we would step away on vacations or trips. We miss the annual Kentucky Derby parties, Halloween Parties at Kim & Jim’s, Christmas Parties at Amy & Paul’s and New Year’s at whomever was bold enough to volunteer. We’ve even hosted a few. We miss the neighborhood community we had. We knew we could depend on each other without worry.
- Butcher, Baker and Candlestick Maker – It might sound like a fairy tale we lived in however, this part was important to us. We got our meats and groceries from our small Kentucky town Country Mart, our pastries and baked goods from The Tea Cup and whatever handcrafts, I bought from locals I knew. We don’t have that anymore. I miss it. But it won’t keep us from not finding the best in the places we visit. We make talk with the locals wherever we go to find their recommendations. We enjoy visiting Farmer’s Markets everywhere to compensate.
Dave & I chatting at our favorite bakery
the Tea Cup in Taylorsville, Kentucky
- Girlfriend Dates and Outings – nothing like all my peeps packing into our former home in funny themed pajamas to scrapbook until 4 am, lunch dates at the local cafes, and ‘playing the ponies’ at Churchill Downs with ‘da girls’ at Kentucky Derby time. But on a good note, I’ve met some fabulous lady friends whom I’ve gotten to know to do ‘girlfriend things’ with on the road. Some of us have grown extremely close because of what we have in common.
- Doctor, Dentist & Chiropractor – They knew us and our health like their own familys’. They knew our stories and personals. The knew how to treat without having to go through continuous comprehensive exams every visit. Our military medical care is perhaps, one of our biggest challenges on the road, but we make it work. We have to.
- Our Nomad Cats’ Veterinarian – As with our own Doctor, our fuzzyheads miss Dr. Shelley and the staff at Elk Creek Animal Hospital. They know them well and have been their patients since they were frisky kittens. Doc Shelley diagnosed Kandi’s Feline Hyperesthesia and understands her need for separate visits to get her immunizations because of her allergic reactions if taken all together. He also knows that Krissie is a Prima Donna, loves to be held by him but hates opening her mouth for him. On a good note, each year we return to Kentucky to get their well-kitty checks and to play with the staff.
- Home for the Holidays – Most look at this as a heartbreaker but we make the best of it. I can honestly say, ‘we’re used to it’ because of our former military lifestyle being stationed away from our families. We love the holidays and we love our families. But because of where they weather, location and time of year, travel is most times difficult, especially when we are parked a couple thousand miles away. We try to situate ourselves where we may meet with other RVers in the same situation or choose a location near(er) to other family or friends. Its hard to be alone but really, we’re not.
Our ‘RV Family’ OwnLessDoMore‘s Emily & Tim and son, Dane
joined us for Christmas dinner at Wine Ridge RV Resort
in Pahrump, NV