In this episode of the Roadtreking RV Podcast we answer some questions from listeners who want to embrace the RV lifestyle but have concerns because they are not mechanically inclined or good at “fixing stuff.” They wonder if they'll be able to cut it as an RV owner.
I do my best to assure them, with Jennifer chiming in. Bottom line is if I can do it, they can. I am not a Mr. Fix it.
We share the tips and suggestions needed that will let anyone take to the road in an RV confident that, whatever comes up, they can handle it. And no, you do not have to roll up your sleeves and do-it-yourself. Help, we assure everyone, is easy to find, as we share our experiences.
Complete Shownotes for Episode 74 of the Roadtreking RV Podcast
As Jennifer joins me, we update the audience of our whereabouts and our rough travel plans for 2016, both confessing that we have a bit of cabin fever and are soon planning to hit the road.[2:30]
JENNIFER’S TIP OF THE WEEK
Let’s face it, sometimes those long drives in our RV to get to all those great places out there can be…. Well, a pain in the…. Glutes. [4:30]
Both Mike and I have had it. And while our Roadtrek seats are very comfy and have great lumbar support, all that sitting puts a lot of pressure on your butt and the back of your thighs.
And that took us to a store near our house called Relax the Back. Actually, there are about 100 of these around the U.S. and each one specializes in products aimed at people seeking relief and prevention of back and neck pain.
It was there that we found the Travel Lite Cushion by Lifeform, a seat cushion made with pressure sensitive memory foam that conforms to your body and then regains its shape when not in use.
The sales person at the store took it out to the parking lot so we could try it in our Roadtrek. He explained that it is desiged to help correct our pelvic angle and sitting posture while maintaining the natural curve of the spine.
By reducing pressure to the glues and the back of the thighs, it helps improve circulation to the legs and feet. We couldn’t be happier with these cushions. We carry it between our RV and our personal car and I even bring it in the house and pur it on my office chair when we’re home.
They are exclusive to the Relax Your Back stores and cost $145 each. That’s a lot but we think they are really worth it.
Oh yeah, one other related tip we picked up from our Relax the Back store consultant that is for you men. And this tip is free: Don’t sit on your billfold. Do not keep your billfold in your back pocket while you drive. Even if you have one of these skinny billfolds like Mike has, siting on it makes an unnatural tilt and that will always result in back pain after a long drive.
LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
Two of our listeners have questions this week that expressed their eagerness to hit the road in an RV but were worried at their lack of mechanical skills.
Listener Brian is a Texas attorney about to retire and hit the road in a Class B campervan. But he worries that his lack of fix it skills will leave him in a bind. [10:00]
A listener asks about traveling to Alaska in an RV and seeks advice on what to see and where to go. Mike refers her to the Alaska Tourism office and their excellent book Milepost 2016, which details literally every single mile of the Alaska Highway. [18:35]
And Listener Dan, whose looking to buy used class B, also has concern's about not being good at fixing things and wants to know where he can find one for about $30K. Mike and Jennifer suggest he try Roadtrek International or RV Trader for used RVs, besides calling various Class B dealers around the country and ask them. Jennifer warns him that because they are in such high demand, he should be prepared to go on a waiting list with others seeking used Class Bs.[22:28]
And a listener named Tim is planning to downsize from a 40 Foot Tiffin Phaeton Diesel Class A to a Class B Roadtrek. He asks what the trade offs are and Mike and Jennifer share their experiences of living in a Class B. [28:11]
RV NEWS OF THE WEEK
The National Park Service (NPS) this week released its Fiscal Year 2015 deferred maintenance statistics for national parks. The $11.93 billion nationwide total is a $440 million increase from the previous year. [36:20]
Deferred maintenance is necessary work – performed on infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, visitor centers, trails and campgrounds – that has been delayed for more than one year. Aging facilities, increasing use of park facilities and scarce resources contribute to the growing backlog.
“While Congress provided increases this year, the annual bill for maintenance in America’s national parks is still almost twice as much as is appropriated,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.
Congressional funding for the National Park Service in 2016 includes an additional $90 million for non-transportation maintenance.
Congress also passed a new highway bill which will provide a $28 million increase for transportation projects in parks this year. Funding for transportation-related maintenance and construction will continue to rise, by $8 million per year for five years, until it reaches $300 million per year in 2020.
Nearly every unit in the National Park System has maintenance items that have been deferred. Regions regularly evaluate and prioritize project submissions to ensure available dollars make a difference, and will be using the new funds to address the highest priorities. Even though more maintenance items had to be deferred in 2015, these increases from Congress are welcome. Jarvis said they are part of a multifaceted approach to end the growth of deferred maintenance and eventually have enough resources to keep pace with annual maintenance responsibilities.
“We have a lot yet to do but I think everything is moving in the right direction,” Jarvis said of the deferred maintenance issue. “Congress has pitched in with base funding and with additional funds for the Centennial Challenge – a program that enables us to leverage private and non-profit partner contributions to complete important projects that improve visitor services in parks.
There is more Congress can do through the Centennial Act now under consideration including short-term mandatory appropriations.”
TRAVELING TECH TIP: Apps to keep track of your finances
This week we have three apps to help you keep track of expenses. [43:34]
The Goodbudget app sets a budget for spending on specific categories like dining out and groceries. Easy-to-read graphics show you where your money is going. And you can share it with others so that you all stay on the same page when it comes to spending. The app is free for iOS and Android with paid, premium versions with more features available.
Mvelopes is a simple-to-use app that categorizes and tracks spending. You can even take pictures of receipts with your smartphone or tablet for quick and easy access. Your set budget will update as you spend and Mvelopes is able to download transactions from more than 14,000 financial institutions. The app is free for iOS and Android with paid, premium versions available.
Wally is one of the most well-known finance management apps. Wally’s clearly laid out interface makes it easy to input your spending. It even uses your device’s location settings to make identifying where you are easy. If you have specific savings goals in mind, Wally has the ability to help with that, too. The app is free for iOS and Android.
RV CALENDAR – Roadtreking Gatherings
We have a bunch of Roadtreking gatherings planned this year. [49:59]
The first, a Photo Safariat the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, was announced this week but sold out in 10 hours.
Among other place we plan Roadtreking gatherings this year are Oregon in August, Northern Ontario, Canada in September, and the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan in October . We’ll be releasing details on these other trips soon on the Roadtreking.com blog.