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Mr & Mrs Globetrot

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I am so excited to introduce (for those not already smitten with them) Julia & Yuriy. He and I have been traveling the U.S. Despite having just lived the first part of our own road-trip journey.. we are supremely jealous of these two! Newlyweds that bucked tradition, took off, no major plan, no car (no airstream), one..ONE.. suitcase each and minds & bodies ready for adventure, except instead of our little corner of the world they went worldwide. Like I said, be prepared to be green with envy, we sure are!

They are professional photographers and if I lived in Seattle (their home base, another I’m so jealous moment…) I would be the first to sign up if they were willing to teach photography because their photographs are nothing short of amazing. Good news if you’ve been searching for some new artwork, they have an online shop, Handle with Care, where you can purchase various photos from their travels in a variety of sizes. Their photographs honest to goodness transport & inspire me in ways that no other travel photos have ever even come close to. I wish I could have grabbed a bag and tagged along….except I really don’t like to fly all that much so some serious hypnosis would have been in order (;

They’ve been to Hong Kong (their blog posts & photographs of this very lively city are so energized and capture the culture so well), Italy, Austria, Greece, Turkey, Indonesia, to name a few.. along with the place that is on the tip top of my list to see.. Montenegro. And this doesn’t even cover all the places they’ve been. Lucky for all of us you can virtually tag along to all of the spots they’ve visited on their website Mr & Mrs Globetrot, plus learn a little about each place along the way. Below you will see some of their photography mixed in with a big session of question and answer. Thanks so much Julia & Yuriy for taking time out of your busy schedules to “chat” with us all!! Oh! and if you want to hire them to photograph your wedding, that’s their specialty… click here for more info.

1. What do you love most about traveling?

The chance to step out of your daily routine and comfortable settings at home. It frees up your mind and time to learn, explore, and grow.

2. What were the challenges of traveling with just a suitcase versus traveling with a car or travel trailer, etc.? Benefits?

When traveling with just a suitcase and no car/trailer, you have to find a place to sleep and figure out the sometimes-crazy public transportation system in a new city. This is usually a benefit since you don’t have to worry about driving or finding/paying for street parking. Using the public transportation system in a city helps you get a better feel for the city and experience a local’s lifestyle. The subway is the best place to people watch– you’ll see people commuting to work in professional dress, school kids in uniform chatting or fighting, mothers feeding kids lunch on the go, etc.

3. With regards to the people you met, what did you find to be the most culturally different (from Americans) in the various places you visited?

We found in many countries that people aren’t too concerned about their appearance or belongings. In Turkey, a poor family invited us into their home for dinner. Their home was very simple, wasn’t cleaned, and they were eager to serve us dinner on the floor of their kitchen. They didn’t care if we judged them—they were friendly and welcoming without a second thought. In America, you don’t get invited to a stranger’s home, and if you do, it’s because they cleaned and prepared to impress. It was refreshing to put materialistic concerns aside and focus on the way you treat people instead.

4. If you could take one aspect of the attitudes you found and infuse it into Americans, what would it be?

Work less, live more. We’re so focused on accomplishments, getting promoted, buying bigger/better homes, cars, & stuff. Most cultures around the world work to provide for daily living and spend more time with family, friends, and enjoying the world. At home in America, people couldn’t understand how we took off to travel for 6 months, because they’re so used to getting just one week every year for vacation. We rarely saw American travelers abroad, but ran into so many Europeans & Australians traveling for months or even years at a time!

5. What things about home (besides friends & family) did you miss the most?

A kitchen—we got tired of eating out and not being able to cook. A few times we stayed in apartments with kitchens and that was such a luxury.
A closet— a suitcase wardrobe gets old pretty quick. Clothes were constantly wrinkled and smelled a little funny.
Our bikes—we missed being active. Our only exercise while traveling was walking, and that was usually through cities.

6. Our readers love travel, and although we are traveling across the U.S., many want to do just what you did.. what would your number one tip be for anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Save some money, quit your job if you have to, and go travel for an extended time at least once in your lifetime! You will regret purchases you make at home, but nobody regrets spending money on a trip. It’s experiences and memories you will treasure for the rest of you life. And please don’t put it off for retirement! We didn’t see any old people doing anything very adventurous. They were usually on a cruise ship, staying at overpriced hotels, and stuck in the tourist traps because they don’t like to walk far. It’s an entirely different experience to travel when you’re young. Not only will you be more adventurous and have more fun, but you’ll have this learning experience to live with for a long time.

7. Do you ever want to travel the U.S. in a similar manner? or will you stick to more traditional vacations when traveling here?

We’d love to see more of the US. Our traveling style stays pretty constant whether we’re far away or close to home. We don’t plan much in advance. We recently took some short trips to Denver, Boston, and New York City, and we got some last minute apartment deals online, and took public buses and trains between and around the cities. We walked a lot and explored funky neighborhoods.

8. Was it hard to adjust to spending money (amazing how fast it adds up!) while your money-making was on hold?

That is an adjustment for anyone traveling and taking a work hiatus and a huge point of interest for people wanting to take off and do the same.

The first month was blissful since we weren’t working and had a fatty stack of money in our savings. Oh yeah, and we were  newlyweds. The last few months were more difficult since our savings dwindled down and we wanted to stay away from home longer. We started with a mindset that if we ran out of money, we’d come home from our 6 month trip early. This pushed us to be wiser with our money, avoid shopping sprees, and bargain with anyone we could.

9. Now you’re home. Is it hard to adjust to a routine again? Do you feel more settled now that you have seen a good bit of the world and what’s out there…or does it make you less settled, wanting to be back in travel mode?

We were really looking forward to a routine when we made it back to the States—planning to wake up at 7am each morning, have a healthy breakfast, hit the gym, and get to work. Yeah right. It took us quite a while to break our habit of sleeping in, staying up way too late, and being way too spontaneous with our time. We still haven’t returned to the gym. Our trip was just a little taste of what the world has to offer. I wish we were satisfied, but we’re not. Our list of dream destinations has grown like crazy. But we’re still young… we have time to see more.

10. Home base is Seattle for you two, what makes you love it there?  Do you think you would live anywhere else? Have to ask.. do you mind all the rain we hear you get?

We adore Seattle. It’s got all the benefits of living in a big city and in the wild. We love that we’re close to the ocean and close to the mountains. We love to hike, kayak, mountain bike, camp, and ski/snowboard together in our area. Other times we like to dress up and go see a play, concert, or eat at a shnazzy sushi bar downtown. Best of both worlds. The rain only helps you appreciate the sun more, and those are the days everyone in Seattle is outside playing and in high spirits. We’d really like to experience living somewhere else, but trying to find a reason to move.

11. What did you (individually) learn about yourselves on this journey?

[Yuriy] I learned that the world is big. I wanted to see and do everything in each city, but didn’t have enough time and energy to devote to each. And I realized that I married a tough and patient travel partner.

[Julia] Traveling makes you feel small. Like a tree in a forest. The things I valued and spent so much time on back home (things like work & school) suddenly seemed so unimportant. I realized that there are so many people doing things differently around the world, and it is working for them. So often we think that our way is the best way, and if anyone is different, they aren’t doing it right. I realized that we can learn and grow so much by observing other people, appreciating their culture, and not being afraid of change.

12. Absolute favorite places you traveled to?

Everyone loves to ask this question and it’s impossible to answer! We loved driving down the Adriatic Coast in Croatia and Montenegro. It was dotted with ancient towns and castle walls. The scenery was gorgeous. We stopped to explore old cities, eat a slow lunch on the water, and pick wild pomegranates on the side of the road. Turkey had so much to offer—a mystical and vibrant culture, amazing food, ancient Biblical towns, and some of the nicest people. It was really hard to leave Koh Phangan, a small Thai island, at the end of our trip. It was the most relaxed atmosphere and a hippie’s dream. Sunshine, hammock, bare feet, and fresh watermelon smoothies almost everyday.

13. Words of wisdom for fellow (or wannabe) travelers.

Let your guard down. Talk to locals and ask lots of questions. You’ll learn more from them than from a guide book and you’ll feel closer to the people and culture of the country you’re in. It’s easy to ignore people around you (especially since you speak different languages) and be self-centered, but every time we took the time to chat with a stranger, we were so glad we did. Traveling feels more meaningful when you can relate to people instead of just visiting the tourist sights.

 

All photographs are the property of Julia & Yuriy, no copies please!


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home on wheels tour!

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Today a Home On Wheels Tour from Renee..(one of our blog readers)
See below for her tale about their super cute Airstream, it has a long history….
and a big thanks to Renee & her family for sharing their story and photos!

*love* a good Southern Airstream name.. moonpie roadhouse (;

Here is a brief version of “our story”:

In 1997 at age 35 my brother was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, a rare and terminal cancer. For Christmas the previous year the Neiman Marcus catalog featured a custom Airstream by Mackenzie Childs that intrigued my sister-in-law and she kept the catalog. When she was trying to think of something extra special to give my brother for Christmas she remembered the Airstream and got busy trying to locate one. She found a 1969 Safari and had it secretly pulled to Lubbock where they were spending Christmas with family. It was wrapped in a huge red bow and he was very, very surprised.

They got busy restoring the trailer, decorating it with the Neiman Marcus trailer as their inspiration. (if you google Neiman Marcus Airstream by Mackenzie Childs you can see photos of the original) Meanwhile, the nasty cancer made by brother more and more sick. By the time they finished the trailer the cancer had taken it’s toll and they were only able to go on a weekend trip once or twice before he died in 1999.

Sharon kept the trailer for awhile as she was trying to cope with losing her husband. I gently approached her in 2001 and told her I would love to buy the trailer if she was interested, she was and we made a deal. I pulled the trailer to my house and parked it for a couple of months. At that time I had personal problems and had to return the trailer to her as I did not have the money to buy it and had found myself single again. Sharon kept the trailer a little while longer and sometime along the way gave it to one of her sisters who had a husband and 2 boys that would enjoy camping as a family.

Absolutely unbelievably Sharon was then diagnosed with cancer herself. She had colon cancer and it took her life after a 3 year battle.

I had mentioned the Airstream many, many times to my husband over the years. Last year for Christmas he gifted me the beloved Airstream. He contacted my niece who knew exactly where the trailer was and they worked together to make it the most memorable Christmas gift ever! When we unwrapped gifts on Christmas morning I sort of wondered why I didn’t have a gift from my husband. He told me to put on my shoes so we could go outside. At that point I thought I was getting some live chickens because I had mentioned a time or two that I thought it would be fun to raise chickens. I was absolutely overcome with emotion when he lifted the garage door and I saw the Airstream. I knew instantly that it was my brother & sister-in-law’s trailer!

I’ve added a few of my own touches to the decor and it makes me happy knowing that I am able to carry on the dream that my brother and his wife were not able to complete. In one of the photos you will see framed pictures of them just inside the door, they go on every trip with us!


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a fellow airstreamer q & a…

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Today we welcome fellow bloggers and Airstreamers,  MaliMish (= little mouse) and the MaliMish family is Dan, Marlene & kiddos Ava & Mila. They went on a five month long cross-country journey this past year and have logged many weekends traveling the West Coast. They take full advantage of their Pacific Coast home and enjoy the beach, mountains and desert whenever their schedule allows. We caught up via cyber space and they did a fun question & answer for us all.. thanks Dan & Marlene. Be sure to pop over to their blog and say hello!

1. What made you decide to buy an Airstream?
We looked at some small trailers initially and bought a used T@B trailer first. While looking at the T@B at an Airstream dealership, we just knew one day we had to have one. Sure enough, when it was time to upgrade, we couldn’t resist.

2. You drove cross country for 5 months in 2010, what did you learn about the United States from your travels?
We had big plans about a tour around the country and had hoped to see as much as we could. One thing we suspected and found out for sure is that 5 months is nowhere near enough time to see the country. Not even in a year will we be satisfied in seeing everything.

3. What did you find challenging, and also not as hard as you thought, traveling with kiddos?
The most difficult thing was probably keeping them entertained. It’s not so hard when we are sightseeing because there is always something new to do. The hard parts are the transit days. They get restless and you do the best you can to prevent any major meltdowns.

4. Do you have any wisdom to share with other families thinking of taking the plunge with their children?
Our kids are fairly young so we can only share information about kids in their age group. The single biggest thing for kids under 4 is to make lots of stops at interesting places. Even if its just for an hour here and there. They will appreciate it and likely have more fond memories of the trip later on rather than remembering being miserably strapped into their carseats for days on end.

5. Do you have plans to go out on another journey for months at a time?
We are going to Europe for a month and a half this summer so it would have to be after that. We had had plans to go out again this year but because of Mila turning 2 in September we wanted to take advantage of the free international flight for kids.

6. Where have you not traveled that you are anxious to go?
Basically everywhere else. We don’t even feel like we saw enough of the places we did go to. The only place in the U.S. that we don’t need to see any more of is California. We are very fond of the southern states mostly due to the warmer weather and we can go there more or less year round.

7. What do you love about Airstreams versus other RV’s? and what made you choose the model you own?
We think the 25 foot is about the perfect size for a travel trailer. It is small enough to take to pretty much every campground while big enough to house a family and a cat. There is no comparison between Airstreams and other travel trailers. They are so well constructed and designed to last practically forever. I hate to sound like an Airstream snob but I think people who have not owned one, or even been inside one, will have to see it to believe it.


8. Did living in the Airstream for five months change either of you in any significant ways?
We thought our house was small at under 1,000 sq ft. Now we are much happier with the size and sometimes think it might be too big for us. Actually we think we are ruined now because we are so unwilling to make long term commitments to stay in any one place,  just so we have the option of taking off whenever the urge arrives.

9. Favorite places you’ve traveled so far?
We both agree that the beaches of Florida are very nice but I think the south is where we really enjoyed as far as the environment and culture goes. Marlene loved Savannah, Georgia and I was a big fan of middle and eastern Tennessee. Driving through the Smokey Mountains was just an amazing experience. I remember being in Chattanooga and looking at the scenery all around us and just being awestruck at the beauty.

10. What do you love most about where you live and what would you say is a must do for people visiting your area?
Southern California is known for its mild year-round climate. That is obviously a great benefit of being here. It’s hard to say what is a must do because it really depends on what you are into. Most people come here in hopes to catch a celebrity in Hollywood while others want to spend time at the beach. I think some of the best things we have around here are the mountains and deserts. After all, all of southern California was originally a desert plain before we starting pumping water from the Colorado river into it. We spend a lot of time camping in the Palm Springs area and just recently went to Anza Borrego for the first time. We really enjoy going there but I think to each their own when it comes to that. I would say that the beaches are probably a bit over rated as the water is generally too cold to swim in even in the warmest months.

Thanks Mali Mish family!! Hope to see you on the road one day….


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a new airstream book & author Q&A…

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Welcome Rich Luhr, editor & publisher of Airstream Life magazine and new author of The Newbies Guide to Airstreaming. I recently had the opportunity to read Rich’s book and also do a question and answer with him. Before we dive in a few words from us about the book.

First off it is geared for new Airstreams (or relatively new) if you have a vintage Airstream like we do it has lots of info that won’t coincide, however it still has tons of useful information such as, hitches & weight distribution, backing up (which can be scary to newbies for sure), boondocking (which we are so anxious to do if we can just get that gray tank!), and tons of maintenance tips. Much of what intimidates new campers is universal and this guide covers all of that, for those with a new or newer Airstream it will prove invaluable and save lots of time and frustration…for just $9.95 you can’t beat it. Links below with buying info and a big thanks to Rich for taking the time to do a question and answer for us all!

 

1. Your new book, The Newbies Guide to Airstreaming, just came out.. Can you share a quick synopsis for those who haven’t read it yet?
It’s the first-ever “quick start” guide for people who are new to Airstream ownership.  I tried to take all of my experience and combine it with contributions by other Airstream owners, to help people get past all of the little questions and problems that newbies always have. Airstreams are a little different, and until now there really hasn’t been anything out there to help people get started.

2. How long have you been Airstreaming and how did you get started?
My wife and I bought our first Airstream in 2003.  It was a 1968 Airstream Caravel, which we still own.  We were tent campers for many years, but when our daughter arrived we decided to try a “camper.”  That led to the discovery of Airstreams, and after a few months of  traveling with the Caravel I was so hooked that I quit my job and started Airstream Life magazine.

3. When you first got started, what made you choose an Airstream over other travel trailers?
We thought at first that we’d want a pop-up, since it was the most like a tent, but after trying one out and trying to set it up in the rain with a three-year-old child, we decided we wanted something easier to deal with.  We walked a few RV dealer lots and saw all the white box trailers, and that quickly led us to desire something a little classier and more durable.  It wasn’t long before Airstream hit our radar, and after seeing the 2003 Airstream International CCD, we couldn’t take any other brand seriously.

4. What do you find to be the most common mistakes in newbies?
It really runs the gamut. I’m constantly surprised by the things that people ask me when we meet in campgrounds — things I would never have thought of.  But the most common mistake I see is having the tow vehicle and trailer improperly hitched.  The vast majority of travel trailer owners really don’t understand the basic principles and goals of setting up a weight distributing hitch.  I covered the basic elements in this book, but at some point I hope to do another book solely about hitching.

I also see a lot of people who are afraid to try camping without hookups, who overload their trailer, and never do any safety checks.  In the book I tried to focus on tips that would help people get more enjoyment out of their Airstream, and avoid potential disasters.

5. Do you have a number one tip that you think all future travelers should know?
Rather shamelessly, yes, I recommend that they subscribe to Airstream Life magazine.  I’m the Editor & Publisher.  We cover everything about Airstreams, like towing, destinations, time-saving tips, history, people, interior design, etc.  For $24 a year it’s a really cheap ongoing education.  I’m always amazed when people tell me “it’s too expensive,” and then go make an avoidable mistake that cost them $100 or $1,000.

OK, if that’s too self-serving, then I’ll suggest this:  Take the time to understand every system of your trailer before you go out.  It’s no fun trying to figure out how the propane system works, or how to change a tire, or why the shower won’t drain, during a camping trip.

6. What did you not know when you started that would have made the biggest difference?
Wow — there were so many things we did not know, it’s hard to pick just one.  I do wish that someone had given me the tip on the bottom of page 38 about sewer hoses … it would have spared me from a really bad experience!

7. Do you see any major benefits to one style of Airstream over another (for ex. a Safari vs. an International)?
No, choosing the “right” Airstream is really a very personal thing, and that’s why there are so many styles and floorplans.  Almost everyone I meet is convinced that their Airstream is the best one ever made.

8. Do you travel full-time?
Right now we travel about four or five months a year.  We take a few short trips in the winter, and are generally traveling from mid-May through mid-October.  We log about 12,000-15,000 miles of towing per year these days.

From 2005 to 2008 we traveled full time, and visited 48 states (just missed North Dakota and Alaska).  It was the most wonderful experience of our lives, and great for our daughter (aged 5-8).  I kept a blog of the entire adventure, which you can still read online.  It has over 800 entries and thousands of photos.  See it here.

9. Favorite places you’ve been?
National Parks are our top picks.  We have visited over 130 of them at last count, including several in Canada.  My daughter has over 50 Junior Ranger badges earned in the parks, and we are on our second National Parks Passport stamp book. We’ve still got over 200 more US national park sites to visit, so we expect to be traveling to them for many years to come.

We have several favorite spots that we return to periodically:  Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Big Bend National Park, central Florida, northern Vermont, California.  We love the desert southwest.  We also love camping at the ocean, and we have done that in ten states plus Sonora, Mexico.  Another big draw for us is great culinary experiences, meaning local flavors and cuisine, since my wife is a chef and I love to try new food.  We find great food everywhere.

10. What is the best way for someone to buy your book?
Right now it is available through the Airstream Life online store and in Kindle format at Amazon.com.

Airstream is now including a free copy of the book with every new Airstream sold, and sells it at their service center in Jackson Center, Ohio.   I just heard that Colonial Airstream (the largest Airstream dealer in the US) will have copies in its store in Lakewood, New Jersey in a couple of weeks, and I hope that other Airstream dealers will pick it up as well.


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2 adults, 3 kids, and a pop-up!

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We finally had some neighbors to chat with a bit, in between child wrangling (3 boys do keep them busy!) Mike & Vesna are on the road full-time having sold the majority of their possessions back home (in Canada) and are now cruising the United States for awhile. As of right now they too are sticking to warmer weather but are headed East versus West. Not having children I wanted to get the lay of the land on what life is like with 3 boys and a pop up. You can read more about their adventures on their blog Mudakiller. Thanks Mike & Vesna for sharing and doing this Q & A for everyone!

1. First things first. You are traveling with three!! kiddos, were you apprehensive about this at all?

Not really. We sort of cocooned after our first big trip with our first born. We took him to visit family in Serbia when he was 18 months old.  The toddler and I were both quite sick for the entire two week period. After that, all we did was our annual driving trip to Treasure Island in Florida. Last year (6 years later) we were finally able (financially) to visit my family in Serbia again, and since my family hadn’t met the other two kids, we just bit the bullet and went for three weeks.  It was an amazing success and all we needed to know and believe that we *can* do this!  I think the fact that we were no longer new to parenthood helped too.

We’re also very used to long road trips with the boys – 24 hour drives to Florida, weekend treks camping, visiting grandparents and family, etc.

The only thing we were a little apprehensive about was them leaving their neighbourhood, school friends, etc. We have that at the front of our minds at all times and are making as much effort as possible to keep them connected (via Skype, email, etc.) to existing friends/family, and meeting as many new ones as possible.

2. Ok, now that you have answered that…. how are you finding it works with three kids on the road?

It’s only been just under 6 weeks, but we (and they) seem to be adjusting well.  Just as at home, there are awesome days, and some crazy days.  We spend a lot of time assessing our innate reactions (good or bad), keeping our stress in check as pro-actively as we can.  The traveling part has been great and has worked well so far.  The kids are really taking to it.  We love not being tied down to one particular location and being able to up and leave.

3. Can you summarize what made you want to go on the road full-time?

Our 2010 trip to Serbia proved a few things to us 1. We can indeed travel with the kids and 2. Our remote business can actually be more remote than we ever thought.  We were able to service our clients whilst overseas.  We spent three weeks on a continent that doesn’t do things to excess the way we do here in North America. They buy what they need and use everything they have.  We came home to our mortgage (bank ball & chain), a large (for us) house that we used very little of, and a house full of junk that we never use.  We realised that we never used the back yard, or a good percentage of the house itself.  Ever. We were wasting our time on maintenance, and money on upkeep for a place we barely lived in.  We’d also been going through some life changes/paradigm shifts and figuring out how much time we spend sleeping, watching tv (which we’d quit a while ago), and doing all those things that we didn’t find important.  I did a big write up of the calculations in my blog recently, but the numbers are scary. Dropping our sleep time from 8 down to 6 hours gave us back 1 ½ months of *awake* time each year.  One and a half MONTHS of awake time more every year!! Not watching tv for 2 hours a night gave us back ONE FULL month back – so just by doing those things, we got back 2 ½ months of awake time!  Then we counted up house maintenance hours, etc. – another huge number.  We’re not talking a few hours here or there….we are talking MONTHS of living.  So we started looking at what is important to us.  Stuff? Or experiences? No brainer! With the mortgage and house we had stuff and an opportunity to travel 2 to 4 weeks a year.  This is not at all what we wanted.  We just finally put our life into perspective and decided to make the absolute most of our days for us, for and with our kids.  Originally we looked at purchasing condos in key spots, and then the trailer thing hit us.  Then we found there are others doing it (and they weren’t all snowbirds either!), so it really nailed it.

4. You’re from Canada… did you camp much before heading into The States?

Yes – pre-kids we did quite a bit of hiking/portaging and ‘real’ camping.  I was a skydiver for 5 years and spent that entire time camping on dropzones.  When we hooked up, we bought a 1976 Westfalia and camped in style J When the kids came along, we went back to tent camping, but drive up camp sites – again only in Provincial Parks though.  Never at rv campgrounds, etc.  We wanted to be around nature.

5. Are there RV parks, and Canadian parks similar to the U.S.? Any tips for those of us who plan to travel Canada?

We never camped at RV parks in Canada, so we don’t have a clue.  We’ll find out soon enough in the spring however J  I’m not sure about tips – I suspect it’s all pretty much the same.

6. You are in a pop-up currently, what would you tell people thinking of traveling in one?

If you are in the least claustrophobic, beware of your limitations and get out into open space as much as you can.  Especially on rainy days.  If you plan on doing this full time, make sure you have a furnace and running water – especially if you have kids.  The small space took a bit of getting used to.  We were supposed to have our 5th wheel and were not prepared for this small space.  Definitely get a potty for the middle of the night runs (again – especially with kids).

7. You are switching over to a 5th wheel in the fall, what made you decide on this versus a travel trailer, etc.?

We went back and forth for quite a while between 5th wheel and travel trailer.  At first we were stuck on travel trailer because we wanted three rows of seating in the tow vehicle.  Once we broke out of that paradigm and figured out we could get a truck and all three kids can fit in a large cab, we moved over to looking at 5th wheels.  Mike is 6’ 2” and fell in love with the ceiling height and full height showers.  He really does take up a lot of space in the tent trailer! The layouts in the 5th wheels with bunk houses and extra space for our office sealed the deal.  We also eat raw, so space for a sprouter, dehydrator, and our Vitamix is important.

8. What has been harder than you expected? Easier?

Harder: The claustrophobia and keeping kewl under stress makes it more difficult than before. Sometimes you literally have to just stand in place until the other four people get situated.  There literally is no place to move out of anyone’s way.  You just have to stand there and wait for people to figure out where they’re going next.

Easier: The kids sleeping together has been easier than I expected.  I really thought there would be craziness around that.  We have three amazing sleepers, but they have all always had their own rooms, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  They’ve been amazing!  We have a good 3 – 4 hours of alone time after they go to sleep and hang out at the hot tubs, etc.  So, it’s been really nice J

9. Do you have a set game plan for your travels?

Not specific ones, or ones that can’t be changed on the fly.  Right now we’re heading east from San Diego. We want to be in Florida for the final Shuttle launch on April 19th.  We’ve been getting some awesome ideas from people we’ve met (thank you!) about places to see between here and there.  We’ll check those out and write the others down for when we’re back in the fall.  We’ll head up the east coast after the launch and back to Canada.  We plan on taking off to Europe in June.  We’ll spend one week in Germany with a cousin of mine, and spend until mid-August in Kragujevac in Serbija.  Then a month in Greece before we head back to the Toronto area for the fall.  At that point we’ll get our tow vehicle and 5th wheel and start the trek either south or west again and hit all the places we missed this first time.  After that, we plan on repeating that until we’ve seen the things we want to see.  At that point (5-ish years?) we’ll look at doing the same on two other continents.  Rinse and repeat.  For anyone that knows us though – our plans change constantly, so who knows!

10. What do you find to be the biggest differences between Canada and the United States?
Anything we have you wish Canada had and vice/versa?

Biggest differences? Better access to healthy food here for sure – especially in California.  I do wish that Canada had California and Hawaii.  It would be nice to have that as a choice to move to or live at for part of the year (without worrying about citizenship, etc.).   Also – I wish Canada had better technological  ‘things’.  Hulu, cheaper cell rates, better packages.  Canada is, as I understand it, the most expensive on the planet for voice and data packages.  It’s pretty sad.  The CRTC/Canadian Networks have also done quite a good job at stopping services like Hulu, previously Netflix, and other things that are available just south of the border. We’re forced to pay through the nose for content and internet access.  Pretty backwards.

11. Final words of wisdom?

Facing your fears (and overcoming them) is the greatest thing you’ll ever do.  Being raw, true and honest with what is truly important in your life.  That is huge.  Look in the mirror.  Look deep in your eyes.  Love yourself – like *really* love yourself. Stop running away and embrace who you are.  Live your passion.  It IS possible.  Set your ‘buts’ and fears aside and imagine it being possible.  What do you want to remember on your death bed? The big LCD tv? The color you picked for your living room?  For us, it’s relationships and experiences.  No more, no less.  Everything else is just noise.  ‘Love is the answer’ – Weezer :)


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meet…. BIG RED!

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Meet Big Red, Chelsea Ann & her husband Jim…
Chelsea Ann & I met via blogland.. she’s super creative.. (take a looksee at ittybittybirdy)
I love her personal sense of style, her love of Japanese kitschiness and of course…Painted Airstreams!
Thanks Chelsea Ann for sharing your photos and for the great Q & A.

1. The first question HAS to be… the fabulous red!
How did you decide to paint it this color?

You know honestly I don’t think we ever really had much debate about it.
Both my husband and myself loved the idea of a fire engine red trailer.
If we were going to invest in a paint job we wanted it to be flashy.
Since then we have discussed other ideas such as Hello Kitty Pink, baby blue, and yellow.
I for-see that if there is another trailer in our future that choosing the next color wont be quite so easy.

2. What was the process to get it painted?

Lots and Lots of prep work.
My husband paints cars as a hobby but we decided to source out this project just based on the scale.
I didn’t think it would’ve been very good on our marriage to have my husband try to do it in our garage.
The most important thing is you want to choose quality paint.
It’s not an inexpensive endeavor but the maintenance and up keep of an exposed aluminum airstream was just not for us.
We ended up backing the corner of Big Red into a tree branch our first trip out.
If we had a traditional airstream we would have had to replace an entire panel,
but because the trailer is painted we just pulled out the dent just like you would with a car.

3. What made you decide on an Argosy?

It really came down to getting the most bang for our money.
I also didn’t like the idea of paining over a beautiful airstream body,
but I wasn’t up for the task of polishing the aluminum every 6 months.

4. What year is Big Red and although no interior pictures this time around…
do you have specific plans on what you want to do with the inside?
And will you two be doing the restoration?

We have gotten so many requests from people wanting to see the interior.
Big Reds insides are in great shape, that is if you are into the 1978 faux wood look.
However, with each trip it seems to take a toll on the old boy.
Our hope is too completely gut the interior… all the way to the exposed aluminum.
Not sure yet if we will just polish him up or paint the inside much like we did the exterior.
We really haven’t given much thought to the project,
but I think we both like the idea of making it somewhat patriotic with lots of electric blue and red.

5. When you renovate, will you be sticking to the vintage theme or going in a new direction?

We’ve talked about purchasing a wrecked airstream and simply transferring the innards over,
but no matter what it won’t be like anything else out there on the road.
Unlike our home, where I get to make pretty much all the design choices,
Big Red really is more of my husbands domain.
It’s a fun project for him, and if I get too involved with the design..
I don’t think he’ll be quite as passionate about spending his weekends renovating it.
The most important thing is to design in a way that makes every square inch usable space.
I’m by nature not a very utilitarian designer.
I’ll throw away a perfectly good oven mitt just because it’s ugly.
With the trailer I have to realize that some times good practical design has to come before aesthetics.

6. You use your trailer for short getaways, what have you learned on your camping voyages so far?

Pack paper plates.
LOL
I know that sounds silly but honesty try making life as easy on yourself as possible.
Instead of bedding use sleeping bags for example.
You want to be out exploring new places, not stuck inside cleaning up after every single meal.

7. What has been your longest trip thus far and where did you go?

Gosh all of our trips have probably been just about on the 4 day mark.
Probably the best trip was late last fall we went to Yellowstone on the last weekend they were open.
It was great because it seemed like no one else was in the park,
it felt like we had the entire park just to ourselves.
It literally started to snow the moment we left the park!
We’ve been planning on going to Mt. Rushmore for about a year,
and I’m really hoping we can finally make that trip a reality this summer.
I love traveling through America and just seeing her natural beauty.
I love meeting new people, and believe me when you drive up in a bright red trailer,
you get a lot of attention.
We get honks and waves, and people stop us and want to know more about our trailer.
It’s exciting to be part of something new and exciting in the eyes of so many people.

8. What do you pull Big Red with?

We have a 1995 Chevy Silverado named Randy.
We would love to get an old Jeep Wagoneer someday,
but they are such gas hogs that we would need to convert the engine to something more efficient.
We are just about to become foster parents and plan on taking in 3 children,
so we will be looking to upgrade to a 7 passenger vehicle in the near future.

9. Do you take your dogs with you when you go and if so how does that work?

Our dogs are like our children, and we take them on all our trips.
They love to travel, although they aren’t always the best road companions.
They get territorial and if fellow campers have a dog we might as well forget sleeping.
We hope with time they will settle down, but it’s understandable that they would be curious
and excited about every new smell and critter that comes along.

10. Any advice for young people thinking of getting a vintage travel trailer?

Do a fair share of research.
Everything from size, make, and condition will really affect
how much enjoyment you will get out of owning your own trailer.
It’s also good to go into it knowing you are going to make a lot of mistakes,
things are going to break, unexpected costs are going to arise,
and tight quarters can wear on the best of us.
But in the end the adventures are what you will most remember,
won’t be so much be the destinations but the road in between.


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welcome fellow travel lover.. gabby!

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Welcome fellow traveler Gabby from Gypsy Diaries. Gabby is way ahead of us on the world map, she’s already lived in 4 countries, 6 cities and has visited 4 continents and 20 plus countries. That is a lot of flying y’all. (And you know me, I like the ground)… pop over and read about her adventures on her blog Gypsy Diaries. A big thank you for sharing with us today!

1. When did your love of travel begin?

Hmm… at birth???  Since I can remember the only thing I wanted to do is travel the world. I used to go to travel shows, collect the info packs, cutout pictures and plan my dream vacations.  I spent my first salary on a plane ticket and even these days there is hardly a month when I don’t go somewhere at least for a weekend. It’s also fair to say that most of my friends are abroad and my boyfriend’s family lives in Italy so most of the time I travel to visit someone I know.

2. You have lived in 4 countries.. how has adjusting to cultural differences been?

Different in each country. In the Netherlands I was a student surrounded by other international students, so there was no cultural shock. In Spain it was easy breezy, I love the country, the people, the culture, and I spoke the language when I moved there which helped a lot. Germany was different… much harder.
The people are more reserved and harder to warm up to. I’m just in the process of moving back (from Hungary) and while I was not thrilled at first, I am becoming excited again. Now that I speak the language, have some friends, and a new goal (to become a photographer), things will be easier I hope!

3. When living abroad, what did you find you missed most about “home”?

Food!!!!! Sure I really missed my family as well, but we talk on the phone and skype a lot, while unfortunately there is no substitute for my favorite dishes.

4. Of the 20+ countries you have visited what are some of your favorites and why?

Spain is one of my absolute favorite countries. It’s really hard to define why… I just love the weather, the people, the smell in the air, the easy going attitude… I hope I’ll have the chance to live there one day!
My favorite vacation has been to Zanzibar, Tansania. Untouched paradise!!! While I was fortunate enough to visit some amazing countries like Egypt, Thailand or Tunisia I find that the usual vacation spots are spoiled by scammers and by the abundance of tourists. In Zanzibar I really felt like I had landed in another world and could get a glimpse into a whole different life. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and I advise everyone to go before the rest of the world discovers its beauties!

5. Have you found more differences or similarities in people as you travel the world?

Difficult question. I think more similarities! I have danced with masai soldiers to the Macarena, which has highlighted that at the end of the day, we are all the same. We all drink Coke and dance to the same music! Not that I’m crazy for the idea that one day globalization will take over and masai soldiers will dress the same as the Western World. It might sound a bit cliche but the beauty of traveling is seeing different things and meeting different people. I hope that we’ll be able to preserve what’s unique in the different countries and cultures for the next generations. It would be a shame not to.

6. What have you experienced in your foreign travels that you don’t see as being prevalent in the United States?

Well, I don’t live in the States but I guess Western culture can be brought under one umbrella…and my answer is appreciation. People in developing countries can appreciate and be thankful for the smallest of things. Our consumerized world has no appreciation for things anymore, we want more, we want better, and we are never satisfied. One of my new years resolutions is to appreciate the little things!

7. What travel tips can you share that you have learned?

Planning and organization is key. Be prepared, read articles about the place where you’re traveling, and know what you want to see or do, otherwise you can easily get overwhelmed.
Also, book well in advance to save a ton of money!

8. You recently shared on your blog that you took the leap of leaving your job to pursue your love of photography…
Do you plan to travel just as much while pursuing this, or are you taking a break from travel?

The answer is that I’m planning to travel more!  I’m hoping to become a photographer without borders! My absolute dream would be to have my own little business where I’d do travel photography all over the world for magazines and websites and I’d do wedding and portrait photography all over Europe.
Plane tickets within Europe are very cheap so I don’t think it would make my services too expensive, in fact I think I’ll be able to offer more affordable rates than if someone would have hired a local photographer in let’s say France, or the UK.

9. What places are on your must-visit list that you haven’t crossed off yet?

Too many to list! The number one on my list is New York right now. I cannot believe that I’ve never been! I’d also love to travel to South America, especially to Brazil and Argentina and I’m really interested in Indonesia and Japan as well.

10. Do you ever plan to travel the U.S. extensively?

I’ve had a road trip with my family for 5 weeks in the US. We started in Phoenix, Arizona and we made our way through San Diego, LA, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Yellowstone Park, Bryce Canyon and The Grand Canyon. It was truly one of the most exciting trips of my life! However I’m an East Coast virgin which I’m hoping to change soon!

11. A popular question we get asked is how we can afford to take off and travel full-time. Although your travel is not full-time it does require a great deal of airfare, and concentrated spending, do you have tips on how to country hop like you do on a budget?

Traveling within Europe is really cheap these days. With low-cost airlines such as Ryanair, Easyjet or Wizzair I hardly pay more than 100 euro for my return tickets. I normally stay with friends or family which eliminates the accomodation costs. I usually only have one or two bigger trips in a year for which I save up.  What I really want to start doing in the future is home swapping (like in The Holiday) so if anyone is interested in a trip to Berlin, let me know and let’s swap! I have friends who have done it and they had an amazing experience. I really believe home swapping is the future of traveling on a budget, as I’d personally rather stay in nice homes than boring, ugly, hotel rooms.

12. Parting words of wisdom???

Life is not measured by the number of steps we take, but by the places and faces that take our breathe away!


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meet scampers… stephanie & taylor!

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Stephanie & Taylor evaluated things in their lives, considered a year long journey on the open road and due to the economy… hesitated to make the leap. A visit with friends pondering life, love and everything in between…and they were ready to jump. And they did, for a whole year… in a tiny little Scamp. They designed the renovation and Taylor did all of the work himself …see the massive list.. and thank goodness after seeing these before photos (this is where you remember that little tip of evaluating your time and abilities.. see here).

Exterior: brand new axle, wheels and tires, new spare tire and rim, fiberglass shell made water tight, fiberglass shell re-enforced around frame door was re-fabricated and sealed, semi-primed and ready for paint job, new door locks all new exterior outlets and connection (city water, electrical, etc), new plug for exterior power chord, new trailer lighting harness, bumper re-painted, new reflectors on all sides… includes hitch with double bike rack, trailer tongue lock, ball lock and hitch lock with master key.

Interior: brand new faux hardwood floors, new vintage color green upholstery, new curtains, new paint everywhere, custom cabinets and new hardware, new table top, customized temper-pedic bed topper, installed window ac unit, plug-in space heater, camper toilet (stows in built-in cabinet), electrical wiring completely redone, new GFCI outlets (4 outlets total), new plumbing including faucet, sink drains to grey water tank, city water connects to faucet, new electrical fridge, 18″ flat screen HDTV with AV connections for laptop or DVDs, track lighting with dimmer and frosted glass shades over kitchen, coat hooks, closet refitted with drawers for storage, new bungees for securing doors while driving
new Coleman propane stove, for use indoors or outdoors

1. What made you decide on a Scamp?

We discovered travel trailers on Craigslist while searching for an RV. These egg campers were so cute and affordable, we began searching for Casitas and Burros, but never found a used one in good enough condition. So we began thinking about how to go about renovating one. When we found our Scamp on Craigslist, it was totally trashed, used first as a hunting trailer (it had camo EVERYTHING inside) and then as a band’s gear-hauling trailer. We knew we’d found our trailer, ripe for the renovating and cheap to boot! It took us 6 weeks to renovate that thing, but we love it now!

2. Were you worried about being in such a small camper for both of you for a year?

YES! Everyone who hears about our year in that tiny space marvels at how we didn’t kill each other! Ha ha! But it actually forced us to learn to work together as a team better. Our very first night Scamping, we quickly realized that only one person at a time could stand up in that thing! That really changes how we do things- we had to take turns!

3. What are your top loves about your Scamp and what would you change if you could have?

Oh my gosh, I love our Scamp- it’s like our baby. I don’t ever want to get rid of it! I really love the colors and patterns we picked for the interiors. The bed is remarkably comfy! I think Taylor would say he loves the flat screen TV on an adjustable arm. We watched a lot of late night movies in bed while we camped!

4. Did you follow any sort of daily routine?

Well, it depended on where we were (mountains skiiing, redwoods camping, or in a city sight-seeing). Generally, we’d wake up, get ready and start cooking breakfast. We’d leave the Scamp at the campground and drive to whatever we wanted to see or do that day. By the time we came back for the evening, usually with some dinner groceries in tow, it was time to start making dinner and snuggle back into our Scamp for the night.

5. Did you stay mostly at state parks, private, or both? And do you have a preference? If so, what & why?

Well, we thought the Walmart idea would be a cool/free way to camp- but it was creepy. We only did that twice. We stayed at a couple private RV parks, but preferred state parks. Especially Oregon state parks- they were incredible! Great amenities and beautiful scenery!

6. Was the switch to using campground bathrooms a hard adjustment? Any tips to make the transition easier for those not on the road yet?

Some are better/cleaner/nicer than others. If you can choose your campground based on the bathroom, do it. Have a bathroom kit (kinda like a college dorm bathroom kit)- toiletries, shower flip-flops (A MUST!), scrubbies, etc… we learned to shower without touching anything but the water in those public bathrooms. Eeew. You just have to do your best.

7. For your year long journey you stayed primarily on the western side of the United States, was that intentional?

NO! ha ha, we wanted to do most of the U.S and then leave the Scamp in Texas and backpack Europe, but we ran out of time! Besides enjoying the West so much, my dad was in a pretty terrible car accident, so we spent 2 months during the summer back in Texas with my family. He’s ok now, but it was a pretty horrific scare! Family crisis aside, there’s so much to see and do- we decided to enjoy ourselves and not follow a strict schedule but just travel where we want and stay as long as we want. It made everything so much more easy going.

8. How did you spend your time when you were caught in inclement weather?

Um, we kept traveling. SCARY! And maybe not the brightest idea. We actually pulled the Scamp through a blizzard near Wolf Creek in Colorado. Taylor will tell you it was the scariest time of his life driving that. Oh, that and driving the treacherous mountain roads near Durango CO. Colorado has scary roads, when it’s cold!

9. What comforts of home did you miss the most? the least?

Did NOT miss TV, oddly enough. I mean, we watched movies some nights, but we didn’t have cable and we didn’t miss it. I missed having a bathtub- I love bubble baths! And of course, I super missed my mom.

10. Can you share your top tips for future and wannabe travelers?

If traveling with a husband/friend/other, learn to cooperate early! Traveling can be stressful when you have to share a vehicle, camp spot, schedule, etc. So work towards always pursuing peace rather than getting what you want.

Sight-seeing is great, but don’t forget to visit places where you have friends. Some of our favorite places that year weren’t because of the place but because of the people we met up with, like old friends we hadn’t seen, etc. That makes a great visit!

Be friendly wherever you go- you never know if you’re going to make a friend!

Financially, we didn’t have enough money to last the whole year, but felt like God would take care of us- and He did! But it was scary. If I had to do it again, I would have trusted so much more.

Trust. A good lesson for all of us. Thanks Stephanie & Taylor!


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meet the brave. from delightfully tacky.

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I am so excited to introduce Elizabeth from Delightfully Tacky and her absolutely fabulous 1973 Winnebago Brave. In Love. Elizabeth is out there living the dream for everyone, she took stock of what would she do if she could do anything she absolutely wanted to and it was an easy answer, find a vintage 70′s Winnebago and travel the country. Instead of just dreaming she found the Brave and saved the ever necessary cash and has been on the move ever since. Her Winnebago is vintage heaven, if we had been wanting an RV to drive versus a travel trailer to pull I think we would have gone the exact same route as Elizabeth, you just can’t help smiling when you see the Brave, it seems to take on its own personality in photos. She is documenting her journey on her blog and sharing lots of photos, plus fun fashion shots and more. She took time out of her travels to do some Q&A with us so let’s get started!

1. How did you decide on a Winnebago?

I fell in love with 70′s Winnebago Braves about three and a half years ago.  My family had just returned from a 2 and a half month RV trip from Alaska, to Washington state, to the east coast (new york/cape cod/etc), and then back through Kentucky/Kansas/Colorado, and for some reason they just caught my eye and never let go.  I don’t even remember seeing many of them while we were on the trip, but when we returned and I went back to school, I would see vintage RVs quite frequently and the 70′s Winnebago’s just were my favorite.  They are so un-aerodynamic and boxy, and their architecture is just so … emotive.  They seem to have emotions and expressions, and they kind of crack me up.  The Brave, especially, became my favorite- probably because it’s the smallest model and their tininess just adds to their character.  Little, stout, angular boxes on wheels.  I painted a 72 Brave that year for my Painting II class, and that painting is nearly the exact model of Brave I ended up buying 3 years later (mine is a 73).

2. Did you have any apprehensions about setting off on this adventure by yourself?

Not really.  I knew a lot about RV travel from going on the trip with my family 3 years ago, and driving in general doesn’t make me nervous.  I know a lot of people were concerned about me traveling alone, since I’m a young woman and there are creeps out there, but I mean, all I can do is be smart and safe.  I’m not going to let “what ifs” keep me from doing something I want to do.

3. Were you nervous when you first started learning to drive the Winnebago and any tips for the first time driver?

No, I’d driven our much larger 35 ft. class C, and I’ve always been a competent driver so I knew it’d only really be a matter of learning how wide I was, what kind of turning radius I got… stuff like that.  Also, one of the previous owners smushed the front “eyebrow” of the Brave into his house, so watching out for things above and knowing my height was another important thing to learn.  You just have to know that you’re kinda huge and ungainly, and drive like it.  You can’t drive an RV like a car.  I only push the Brave to 55, maybe 60 mph, simply because that’s where she feels most comfortable.  It’s all about finding where your rig feels most comfortable.  I don’t mind being a slowpoke.

4. Any advice for the young and adventurous who want to take off on the road full time like yourself?

Get KOA, Good Sam and AAA+RV memberships.  Also, get a copy of Woodalls, it’s a great campground resource.  Get an iPhone too.  I never had one before and I got mine specifically because of my trip.  It’s been really helpful.  You have a gps, campground apps, internet, and a whole bunch of other useful apps.  If you’re a blogger or frequent internet user, like myself, I definitely recommend getting a wireless internet thing that you can plug into your USB and get internet wherever you have cell service.  It’s been a great little tool.  A lot of campgrounds have WiFi, but sometimes it sucks or doesn’t reach your RV.  Either way, for the web savvy traveler, one of those is great.
Work hard and save a lot of money, or have some way to make income on the road.  I lived with my parents for a year in order to afford my trip.  Research the rig you want.  And make sure the one you get is solid mechanically.  The last thing you want is to be breaking down in the middle of nowhere all the time.  If you’re traveling during peak seasons, make sure to call ahead and reserve a spot at a campground.  Conversely, if you’re traveling in the off season (especially in more northern areas) make sure the campground you are planning on staying at is open all year.  Some campgrounds close for the winter.  Also, some attractions are closed in the winter months.  But the nice part about traveling in winter is that the tourists are quite minimal.  I was at the Grand Canyon a couple weeks ago and I was the only person camped at my campground.

5. Do you keep any type of schedule or routine from day to day?

Not really.  I really like to drive, so I’ll often drive for at least 4 hours a day.  It’d be different if I wasn’t alone, I’d probably stop and do things and visit more touristy stuff, but for just myself, I like to just keep driving.  I sleep in till at least 10 (because I’m usually online till like 2 am), so I probably get a later start than all of the retired, early-bird RVing folks.  My schedule is kind of just drive until I get where I’m going or till sunset.  I don’t like having to find a campground after dark, it gets a little frustrating.

Thanks Elizabeth for sharing all of your great tips and pictures! You are an inspiration to all wannabe travelers and fellow travelers alike!

(all photos used courtesy of delightfully-tacky.com)


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