RV Life – Prepare for Launch

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Prepare for Launch
Think like a traveler when Going RV.

As you prepare for launch into the RV Life, think like a nomad.

Imagine being always on the move, agile, adapting.

Travel light and come prepared.

Life on the road requires a new way of thinking. What I was familiar with was going away, so I had to adjust my expectations drastically. I had to imagine a nomadic lifestyle, always on the move, with no physical address and constantly learning how to function at each new location.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Prepare for Launch
So much to do.

Once I wrapped my mind around living like that, the reality of all the things I needed to do to prepare for launch into the RV Life felt a bit overwhelming.

In that moment, I remembered a wise old saying you may have heard before … “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.Philippians 4:6-7

By the time I decided to Go RV, picked out which model I wanted, and worked out the budget plan, I had a pretty good idea of the things I needed to accomplish before pulling out of my driveway for the last time. Let’s explore my long list, one bite at a time.

My Stuff

Clearly, there’s no way I could fit the contents of a 3-bedroom, 1500 square foot home into a travel trailer. I had some decisions to make on what to do with it all. Should I sell or donate everything? Maybe I should just downsize and keep only a few things? What about my personal items with sentimental value, or my collectibles? I don’t really want to drag a bunch of unused boxes around the country.

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Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Prepare for Launch
Indoor storage offers peace of mind for your personal treasures.

For me, the best decision was a combination of the above. I downsized considerably, but still had a lot of things to deal with.

I decided to rent a storage unit. I had some personal treasures I didn’t want to risk to the weather, so I decided to pay a higher rate for a climate-controlled unit.

I was also concerned about theft, so security was a deciding factor. Lastly, the threat of natural disaster (flood, fire, severe weather) prompted me to secure some insurance coverage. I chose StorPlace and rented a clean, secure, climate-controlled, 10×30 unit with an insurance package for about $300 per month.

The timing had to be well-coordinated, because we needed to stage the RV with things from the house before packing it all up and moving it to storage. We parked the Laredo in the driveway and spent a few weeks loading the RV with things (clothes, bedding, HBA, kitchen, tools, and various outdoor gear). With the house mostly packed and ready for the movers we had a week or so to live in the RV before heading out. This was a smart move because living and sleeping in it for several days helped us realize some needed adjustments before heading out.

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We also needed to think strategically about how we loaded the storage unit. For example, I knew it was unlikely I’d ever need my washer and dryer while on the road, so those could go to the back. However, I might need some of my clothes, tools, or linens, so I made sure to stage those items at the front in case I needed to access them. I also wanted to leave some open space in the unit to place things we collected while on the road, because I knew we’d be coming back to Tennessee a couple times a year.

My Mail

This presented an interesting challenge. Not only did I need a place for my mail to be delivered, I also needed a physical address to associate with my state residency. I learned that a mailbox at the local post office would not work, because the state would not recognize a PO box as a residence. I needed a physical street address that businesses and government would accept. Rather than burdening someone I know with handling my personal mail, I opted for a PMB (Private Mail Box).

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Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Prepare for Launch
More than just mail delivery, a PMB can provide a physical address.

There are many options on the market for a PMB, but I chose The UPS Store.

They provided me with a physical address and mailbox number, for example, 123 Main Street #99.

Most people will assume this is a building number and an apartment.

The UPS Store also provides a service where they will collect all the mail that’s been delivered to your mailbox, pack it into a box, and ship it to where ever you are. The mailbox cost me about $300 for one year, and the mail forwarding service is based on standard shipping rates.

Tip:  Convert everything you can to paperless, especially recurring stuff like bills, subscriptions, or newsletters. In today’s connected world, paper mail has become a commodity. Go digital!

My Bank

Since the RV Life means being on the move constantly, I needed a bank with a national presence. Many people use local branches, regional banks, or credit unions, that don’t have locations all over the country.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Prepare for Launch
Life still requires personal banking when Going RV. Choose wisely.

Fortunately, there are some good options if you don’t mind banking with the big guys.

Bank of America and US Bank are two that come to mind right away.

For me, I was already a BoA member so this was an easy one. However, I chose to keep an active account with a local credit union as an added measure for proof of residency. I adjusted the payroll direct deposit with my employer to send funds to the credit union account on a regular basis.

My Internet & Phone

This was a critical point for me, because a driving force for being able to enter the RV Life was the ability to work remotely. In order to remain employed, it was imperative to have reliable Internet and cell phone service where ever I parked the RV.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Prepare for Launch
More bars, more better.

Based on my RV Life – A Trial Run experience, I already knew that campground Wi-Fi was unreliable.

I knew there were other options available. In particular, a cellular hotspot.

I needed a national carrier with a strong coverage map.

With a bit of research, it seemed like AT&T would be the best option for the areas I expected to visit. I bought an unlimited plan for our two phones and also purchased a tablet device that would serve as my Internet router, running a dedicated hotspot with an unlimited data plan. Between the 2 phones and the tablet I had over 100Gig of unlimited data usage available.

Note: “Unlimited” is a slight misnomer. Once you reach your assigned plan capacity, such as 50Gig, most carriers will reduce your speed significantly. This is called “throttling”. So, in my opinion, if you have a throttled plan then it’s not unlimited.

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Even with the best coverage map, I expected there would be some locations where signal would be weak. A strong signal would be necessary for video conference calls and for supporting a sufficient VPN connection to my company network, so I wanted to find a solution for a signal boost. I discovered a device called WeBoost.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Prepare for Launch
WeBoost can be the difference between working hard or hardly working.

Produced by Wilson Amplifiers, there are models designed specifically for RVs.

They’re a bit pricey, but proved to be a solid investment for me as I have encountered several situations where I boosted a 1-bar signal up to 3, or 2 bars to 4.

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You should be prepared to find yourself in a situation where even the booster won’t find a signal. This happened to me more than once. In those scenarios, one of my back-up plans was to visit a local library and use their Wi-Fi. You can often find a quiet corner of the library to conduct your business. I’ve also used a hotel lobby or business center where the manager allowed me use their facilities for a small fee. If you can stand the noise and distractions, you might also be able to get by at a coffee house or bistro.

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My other back-up plan was to simply drive the truck to a location where I could find signal and work from the vehicle. I did this when I found myself in a small town in the mountains of Montana (Essex) with zero signal. There wasn’t even a radio signal there! I spent 2 weeks driving about 30 miles every day to East Glacier National Park to find a sufficient signal and worked from the truck all day. It was a hassle, but the office view was spectacular!

My Health Care

How would I refill my medications while on the road? What if I need to see my doctor, or have an emergency? Will my insurance cover me in other states?

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Prepare for Launch
Remote healthcare is the new normal in a pandemic age.

The wonders of the Information Age provide a solution for some of these issues. Most doctors’ offices today offer a Patient Portal capability, where you can logon and schedule appointments, look-up medical records, request a refill, and even seek medical advice online.

And, of course, since 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has produced a massive shift this direction, leveraging services like TeleHealth and Zoom to conduct healthcare remotely.

When we started RV’ing in 2017, these services weren’t as prevalent as they are in 2022. But we did find a good local PCP (Primary Care Provider) in Tennessee who embraced technology and the Patient Portal concept. We also knew about Walmart Pharmacy, which is a great solution for travelers to acquire prescriptions since you can find a Walmart just about everywhere. Likewise, competitors like Walgreens, CVS, and RiteAid have a national presence.

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In situations where you need care right away, you can usually find an urgent care center nearby or a hospital. You might also be able to see a local doctor’s office as a new patient just long enough to address your need. For us, our insurance was a national brand that allowed us to extend our care to just about anywhere we needed. Using technology and well-managed communication, I was able to coordinate care across 3 states and providers in 2019 to successfully address an issue I was dealing with, including surgery!

These were our primary points of concern as we prepared for launch into a new lifestyle and adventure.

See the next article on how we finalized our preparations for The Maiden Voyage!

Psalms 91:11

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Steve Coryell