RV Podcast 188: Finding places to boondock and RV downsizing

In this week’s episode, two topics that always have a lot of interest. First, we’ll offer up a list of resources to help you find places to boondock or stay overnight for free or very low fees.

Then, we’ll talk about a big trend driving record sales for smaller Class B RVs: Downsizing. You’ll meet an RVing couple who have done just that. In a matter of a few years, they went from a Class B to a Class C to a Class A motorhome but then, gave up all those big rigs and downsized back to a Class B. They’ll explain why they have gone full circle and how that’s working out for them.

Plus we have much more for you, including RV tips, RV news and a great place to visit if you’re traveling anywhere near Atlanta.

Click the player below to Listen Now or scroll down through the show note details. When you see a time code hyperlink, you can click it to jump directly to that segment of the podcast.

Shownotes for Episode 188, April 18, 2018

WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK [2:17]

That's us, out at the Super B RV Shwo in Phoenix

We’ve been out in Phoenix, Arizona at the Super B RV Show. Had a great time meeting lots of people and learning all about what’s new in small motorhomes.

We’ll have several videos over the next few weeks on our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel showing the latest RVs we saw.

We left 90 degree sunny weather in Phoenix to return to an ice storm in Michigan. Spring sure is taking its time coming to the Midwest, where temperatures are 20 degrees below normal.

Meanwhile, here’s the RV news of the week:

National park day fee to rise $5 starting in June

Heading to a national park this summer? Starting in June, getting in will cost a little more. The daily per vehicle or in some cases per person entrance fee at the 117 fee charging parks will rise by about $5. The price hikes were announced last week to help with the maintenance backlog. This does not apply to seniors who have the lifetime annual entrance pass. The increased fee is predicted to raise $60 million annually. To read more click here or here. To see the list of fee increases per park click here.

Visit the national parks for free this Saturday

Speaking of national parks, this Saturday April 21, there is no cost to enter any of the nation's national parks in honor of National Parks Week. Many parks throughout the country will be holding special events from April 21-29,  though only on the first day, April 21, is entering free. Park entry is free only four days this year, with the next free day September 22.

Tree falls on sleeping family in trailer, kills girl

Severe weather swept through northern Louisiana early Saturday morning, causing a tree to fall on a travel trailer, splitting it in two, killing a 20-month-old girl inside. The family was apparently sleeping when the storm blew through bringing with it strong winds and heavy rain.

This portion of the Podcast is brought to you by Campers Inn, the RVer’s trusted resource for over 50 years, the nation’s largest family-operated RV dealership with 19 locations and growing

 JENNIFER'S TIP OF THE WEEK [11:04]

While we were in Arizona over the weekend we met a lot of wonderful people and picked up lots of tips. One of the best had to do with monitoring the temperature inside an RV so you can make sure your pets are okay while you are out hiking or eating in a restaurant or otherwise away from the RV for a while.

We’ve talked a lot about various gadgets and gizmos that do that in past podcasts. Most of those require a wifi network and can be challenging to set up.

But a listener named Deb told us about the device she uses, which may be just the right solution many of us have been looking for.

The device Deb is talking about is the RV Pet Safety temperature alarm from a company called Nimble wireless. They have several different models and subscription packages to choose from depending on whether you want coverage in just the US, just Canada or both countries.

Be sure to send me your tips and suggestions for the RV lifestyle. You can use the “Leave Voicemail” link at Roadtreking.com. Just click it and then use the built-in microphone on your computer or mobile devise to record a message to me. You can do it over as many times as you want, until you are satisfied. And then you just click a button and it comes right to my email inbox.

I love hearing from you!

Jennifer's tip of the week is brought to you by RadPower Bikes ,an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping

LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK [18:00]

QUESTION

A caller asks for info on an app for finding places to boondock.

OUR ANSWER:

  • For starters, check out the app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices by AllStays (allstays.com). They list more than 22,000 commercial campgrounds, state and national parks and boondocking spots, everything from KOAs and Walmarts to state and federal forests, military and BLM land. This is my favorite app and website, offering the most detailed information of any app I've yet found on places to stay.
  • Free Campgrounds for RVs (http://www.freecampgrounds.com) has a big database, sorted by state, of state, federal and county land open to camping, most without hookups or services.
  • For boondocking and camping information about National Forests, check out the very useful U.S. National Forest Campground Guide (http://www.forestcamping.com). Much of the research was done by Fred and Suzi Dow, a couple of avid RVers who have spent the last 17 years visiting 155 national forests, 20 national grasslands, 1 national tallgrass prairie and 2,383 developed campgrounds.
  • We also like the Free Campsites website (http://freecampsites.net). There’s an interactive map as well as comments and reviews of boondocking spots.
  • You can also check the site http://boondocking.org. It’s a database of free boondocking spots based on GPS coordinates. Enter in your location’s latitude and longitude and it will tell you whether the closest boondocking spot may be.
  • If you are looking for places to boondock on private land, you'll find no greater resource than Boondockers Welcome
  • Then there is Harvest Hosts, a membership service that allows RVers to camp overnight for free at wineries, farms and special attractionsWhile there is no charge for camping, you are asked to purchase a bottle of wine or some produce or items grown on the property.More than 540 beautiful places around North America are part of Harvest Hosts, located in all the lower 48 states, Canada, Alaska and Baja California.

QUESTION:

Debby asks us about a service we once featured that would let you tell them about a campground you need reservations for and they would keep calling and notify you when there was a cancellation.

OUR ANSWER

We are unable to find any such services anymore. There used to be one but we couldn’t find the name, either.

Sponsoring this part of the podcast is Van City RV  Bringing You the largest Inventory of class B’ RVs with locations St. Louis, Missouri; Las Vegas, Nevada; Kalispell, Montana and now… Colorado Springs, Colorado..

INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK [28:34]

Jim Van Heule has gone full circle in his choice of RVs over the past few years – from a Class B to a Class C to a Class A and then, all the way back to a Class B again.

Jim Van Heule and wife, Kris

We met Jim and his wife Kris at the recent Super B RV Show in Phoenix and asked him to share his experiences with the different sized motorhomes and what caused him to finally downsize.

Jim shared the reasons that led them to upsize and then downsize and, based on their experience, who he thinks each different class of motorhomes re best suited for.

From top left to bottom right, here are the VanHeule's four RVs: a Roadtrek ETrek Class B with a tow car, a Coachman Freelander Clas C, A Winnebago Visa Class Aand their current model, a 2017 Roadtrek CS Adventurous Class B

The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country

TRAVELING TECH TIP [43:00]

By Steve Van Dinter
Verizon Wireless

Steve Van Dinter

Did you know that each year, roughly 17 million Americans will lace up their shoes and participate in an organized race? An additional 48 million decide in spring it’s time to give their couch a break and participate in recreational running. So if this sounds a lot like you, listen up because tech can help put some pep in your step!

When it comes to sustained success, many find other people can be a motivating factor. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily need a buddy along on the journey.

Wearables like the new Fitbit Versa can do just the trick. Compatible with third party running apps like RunKeeper, this sleek looking, waterproof device, will give you a quick glance at how far you’ve run, it’ll help you control your music, and it’ll track your pulse at the same time. Then, following your run, you can share your stats to social and show the world your progress!

When you’re running out of steam, the perfect pick-me-up song can give you the extra burst of energy you need. So you want to have some nice sounding headphones that won’t get in the way. The Bose Soundsport Free are a great choice. These bluetooth headphones seriously cut the wire. There’s nothing connecting them to your phone or each ear. And with five hours of battery life they’ll last you your entire run. Not to mention sweat and water resistant so you won’t have to worry about the weather.

Another great option is the Plantronics BackBeat Fit Wireless Sport Earbuds. These lightweight bluetooth headphones use bluetooth to connect to your phone but do have a wire keeping the two earbuds themselves together. Because of that they come in well under half the price. But they still last for hours and are sweat and weatherproof.

Tying everything together on your run is your smartphone – it’s probably how you stream your music to your headphones and use its GPS to track and time your runs. But you certainly don’t want to hold it the whole time or have it flopping around in a pocket. That’s where the Incase Active Armband comes in. This sturdy and comfortable armband keeps your phone where you want it and provides access when you want it. Plus its touch sensitive screen cover means you can even touch apps or notifications without having to remove it from the protector.

Lastly, if you’re training for a long race, like a marathon, you’ll be out on the road for hours. Keep track of who’s visiting your home with the Nest Hello Video Doorbell. This new addition to the Nest Family will let you know anytime someone shows up on your doorstep – even if they don’t ring the bell. You get a crisp live video stream day or night and can even talk to the person on your porch straight from our smartphone!

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 112 million retail connections nationwide.

DESTINATION OF THE WEEK –  Georgia Aquarium [46:34]

Right off I-75 in downtown Atlanta is the Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere with 10 million gallons of fresh and marine water and tens of thousands of animals.

We've heard great things about it for several years now but never had a chance to spend time there until just recently, when we took our 10-year-old grandson Jacob, for a visit. We were blown away by the quality exhibits and size. For RVers, the only downside is parking. The parking deck attached to the aquarium is enclosed and too low to accommodate even Class B RVs. There are a couple of open air street lots within an easy walk that will do just fine for Class B and C units. None can handle Class A RVs.

Opening in 2005. It's origins go back to November 2001, when Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus announced his vision of presenting Atlanta with an aquarium that would encourage both education and economic growth. After visiting 56 aquariums in 13 countries with his wife, Billi, he donated $250 million toward what was to become Georgia Aquarium. Corporate contributions totaling an additional $40 million allowed the aquarium to open debt-free

The most notable exhibit is the massive 6.3 million gallon tank containing four whale sharks, taken from Taiwan's annual fishing kill quota, under which they would have been eaten had they not been purchased by the aquarium. Since 2007, a ban on whale shark capture has been in effect, making the Georgia Aquarium the only institution outside of Asia housing the species.

The whole aquarium was built around whale shark exhibit, with tunnels, walk-in windows and a huge 30 foot high plexiglass wall allowing for very up-close observation. The whale sharks cruise with giant manta rays, sharks and dozens of other species.

Another exhibit and another tank holds several beluga whales, distinctively white and as long as 11 feet.

Plan on spending at least four hours to take it all in.

And plan on spending lots of money. Adult tickets cost $36.95. Seniors are charged $32.95. Kids are $30.05. If you order online you can save $3 a ticket.

Expensive it is. But it's worth it. We'll be back. Several times. It's that impressive. If you've never been there, put it on your bucket list

Here’s a link to a full blog post on our visit, with lots of photos: http://roadtreking.com/rv-sidetrip-georgia-aquarium-atlanta/

This part of the podcast is sponsored by Steinbring Motorcoach, Roadtrek’s newest dealer and a third generation family business in Minnesota’s beautiful Chain of Lakes region built on quality motorhomes and excellent pricing and service.

RV SHOWS THIS WEEKEND [51:49]

RV SuperSaver Show

April 20-22

Century Link – Lee Sports Complex

Ft. Myers, FL​​​​​​​

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