Nuts And Bolts Of RV Living #4 – Keeping In Touch

Before we jump into our topic I’d like to say thanks to everyone who follows our blog or who finds us via a search. As of yesterday we have reached 10,000 views! Last year when we were setting goals for 2013 we hoped we’d reach 5,000 views. To have doubled that amount in less than a year is far beyond our dreams. This blog started out as a way for us to record our adventures and stay in touch with friends and family. It has grown and has pushed our learning curve along with it.

Here are some of the ways we stay in touch:

1) Cell phone of course. We have Verizon and it has worked well although we do hit areas where there is no service for anyone and poor Verizon coverage (near Chambersburg, PA when we visit family and near Zion NP for example). Generally we keep just the North American plan but did add Canada when we stayed there this summer. We also found out the hard way that if you are near the border you may want to add it to avoid roaming charges.

2) Verizon Jet Pack – This is what we use for our internet connection unless a park has it’s own wifi. It works wherever we have cell signal. No cell means no internet. Again, crossing into Canada, we put it on hold as the cost jumped to an ridiculous level. When without our own wifi we use free sites at restaurants, rest stops, campgrounds and libraries.

3) Mail – “How do you get your mail?” is probably one of the most frequently asked questions. We didn’t want to burden family or friends with forwarding mail although some full timers do have them handle it. Most RVers use a mail forwarding service. We have used a box at a UPS store. About every ten days to two weeks we call and have them send it to the campground via UPS Ground. It generally takes 1-3 days depending on where we are. We’ve found most campgrounds are willing to accept the UPS package. Some have even delivered it right to our trailer site. Occasionally, there have been times when the package was misplaced after delivery but we’ve always traced it down. Again, our only major problem was in Canada and no fault of UPS. In 2014 we will be changing our residency (that’s another topic) and will switch services then as well.

4) TV – When we had our vacation trailer we didn’t have TV. We went for over two months at a time without it and didn’t miss it. We knew it was a short period change. That’s one of things to consider on many fronts when thinking about full timing. This is your home. What you’d want in a traditional home you’ll want in the RV just on a smaller scale. We opted for the carryout Winegard satellite receiver with the automatic locator. Granted this was much more expensive than the manual one. We’d be setting it up each move and the time involved was much shorter this way. Steve looks up the settings for each new stop and has a compass preset. This way he knows approximately where to place the receiver. There are times when our site is too wooded and blocks the device but overall it works well. When we were in the northeast the satellite was much lower in the sky so this made it more likely we’d have obstacles in the way. When we don’t have reception we use DVDs and shows we recorded on the Directv DVR unit.

One thing to note if you plan to move around quite a bit or stay away from your home base for extended periods is to apply for the FCC waiver and pay the extra fee to your provider to get the network feeds so you can have local channels wherever you are. This would include PBS channels. Contact your satellite provider and they should be able to send you the form to complete. The process takes about 6 weeks. We didn’t know about this until we wandered away from our “home” after our first 3 months on the road and all of a sudden we couldn’t get local channels. Now when we’re east of the Mississippi we get the New York station feed and when west we’ll get them from Los Angeles.

There’s nothing like visits to family and friends or having them spend time with you enjoying our wonderful country. We are thankful to be RVers at a time when technology makes staying in contact so easy.

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