Saturday, January 12, 2019

We got A 5th Wheel

Well, it's been a while since I've posted anything here. It just seems to be never enough time to work on this. I am slowing things down a bit so I should be able to write again.

In our travels, we ended up buying a pre-owned 2017 Keystone Laredo 5th Wheel. It has definitely improved our quality of life. It gives us a lot more room and feels more like living in a small house. It also makes my wife much happier being on the road. We traded our old Keystone sprinter in on it.

If you would like to see it take the tour right here.

It was a big jump for us in size and money. It was well worth it though. The 5th wheel is easier to tow and manuever. It feels much more stable on the road (ie less sway).  The fuel economy is about the same as it was with the Sprinter which was 8 to 8.5 mpg.

Thats it for today.
Happy Camping!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Free Camping At "Casino And Hotel Resorts"

One way to reduce cost's on the road is to stay at Casino parking lots. Most will let you stay one or two nights. I always ask for permission. I did have one say no. Mount Airy Hotel and Casino in the Poconos, Pa. doesn't allow overnight stay for RV's. We recently stayed at two Casinos.

We had a great time at Dover Downs Hotel And Casino. They are located in Dover, Delaware. I found them on the free App. When we pulled in I went inside and found the security desk. I asked if we could stay overnight and they said sure and told us where to park. We were the only RV there. Because it is located so close to the ocean the evening was nice and cool.  They have an excellent buffet. Dover Downs is a famous horse race track. So during race season, RV parking is not permitted. As a courtesy, I always try and spend some money at these places. So we ate and then gambled. I ended up leaving there with $150.00 of their money, nice. It always good to get paid to stay somewhere.

We also stayed at Del Lago Hotel And Casino In Waterloo, NY. I couldn't find any free places to camp on our apps so I figured we would drive until we came across something. we were driving down I90 west in upstate NY when we saw a billboard for Del Lago casino. I had Cathy look them up online as I drove. She got the phone number and called them. She asked if they allow overnight RV parking. They said, of course, no problem. So we got off the Thruway at exit 41. They told us to park in the back by the buses. We were once again the only RV there. we got ourselves situated and went inside. We got ourselves the players cards. By doing so they gave us a buy one get one free buffet coupon on our player's card. The food was the best we've had so far. A fantastic value for $20. They also gave us a chance to win casino money. When you first insert your player card into a slot machine it brings up a spinning wheel. You hit the spin button to win casino money. Cathy hit $6.00 which she played and promptly lost. I won $5.00 and played it on one bet. The $5 bet won me $30. I ended up playing most of that evening on their money.  They did allow us to stay a second night. I ended up breaking even on the gambling after all was said and done. We ate two dinner buffets and a breakfast buffet on Saturday morning. Food was all excellent.

All in all casino parking can be a great way to reduce traveling cost's if you are careful about your gambling. I have gotten pretty lucky and have turned a small profit overall in the last month. Watch the videos for more information.

Until next time, Happy Camping!

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Travel trailer Vs Fifth Wheel

One of my YouTube viewers asked the question what size trailer would you recommend for only 2 people, yours is 30 feet and would you stick with it or go with a fifth wheel?

I think that's a great question but there's no real easy answer for it. I'm perfectly content to stay in the 30-foot travel trailer, we have a Keystone Sprinter 26rb  Which has one slide out has an outside kitchen and to me, it's perfectly comfortable. Its dry weight is only 6900 pounds. Fully Loaded takes us up to about 8,500 lb. It's an easy pull for my 3500 gas pickup truck. We are currently living in ours full-time. But the trailer being only 30 feet long, we can still get into most of the national parks and it's not very difficult to find places to camp otherwise. You start getting closer to 35 ft the amount of available campsites decreases. The plan is to use the travel trailer for a year to see how things go and then maybe move up to a fifth wheel. Why would we do that? Well, the floor plans of the fifth wheels tend to be nicer. Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of a fifth wheel versus a travel trailer.

Watch The Video!

Pros for the fifth wheel

More stable to tow. Part of the trailer weight is placed over the rear axles of the truck. This makes it more maneuverable and easier to backup, so it’s much less prone to sway. The floor plans tend to be nicer. The bedroom typically is isolated from the rest of the trailer like a real bedroom. That has a lot of appeal to my wife. Fifth wheels tend to feel more like an apartment rather than a trailer, giving it a more homey feeling. Also, the fifth wheel when hooked up to a tow vehicle is not as long for the same length trailer as a travel trailer because part of the trailer is over into the pickup bed. That shortens the overall length of the whole rig. So with the travel trailer being 30 ft long, and the truck being 20 ft long, the overall length of the rig is 50ft. Whereas with a fifth wheel, five or six feet of the trailer resides over the pickup bed so the overall length then becomes 45 feet for the rig making it a little easier to manage when towing and maneuver. Beware of 5th wheels that are labeled half ton towable. I think with a lot of the fifth wheels you'd be hard-pressed to tow them with a half-ton pickup truck. Fifth wheels do tend to have a lot more basement space. that's an important factor to consider if you're going to live in your trailer full time.

Cons of a 5th wheel

Fifth wheels are a lot taller than a travel trailer. It gives you the feeling of openness because of the high ceilings. Also, with such high ceilings, that tends to put more things out of reach. So that can be an issue if you're a little bit on the shorter side or vertically challenged. I think with such high ceiling it's it's a waste of space that you're trying to either heat or cool. But it also creates a lot more wind drag when towing worsening your fuel economy. you also have to be more mindful of low bridges and. Most fifth wheels are over 13 feet tall where is travel trailers tend to be about 10 to 11 ft tall.The height of the trailer can become a hindrance when trying to travel down Forest roads. There is a lot of overhanging trees that could cause a problem. A few years back I saw an older gentleman with a fifth wheel at Glacier National Park campground. He was driving through the campground loop when a branch from a tree that spanned over the road punctured a hole right in his roof. I can imagine that put a damper on their vacation. It also May limit you as to what gas stations you can pull into if they have low roofs. Fifth wheels also tend to be a lot more expensive than travel trailers. Travel trailers can give you a lot of bang for the buck.The fifth wheel equipment in the back of the pickup truck tends to make a lot of rattling noises when you're driving down the road so that might be an issue for some people. You also have to consider your tow vehicle.The 5th wheels tend to be heavier and I would definitely recommend going to a heavy-duty truck if you going to get a 5th wheel.There are quite a few 5th wheels out there that are labeled half ton towable but it is really stretching the imagination. A combination of half ton truck with the 5th wheel is marginal at best with a lot of these.To me, a 5th wheel that's 9000 or 9500 pounds dry weight is not Half ton towable.

So to answer the question how much space does two people really need and if you're going to live full-time in it or not. To me 30 feet is plenty but the wife would like something bigger. Bigger means more stuff course. But she could change her mind in the future after we've been doing this for a while, only time will tell. So if your budget is tight then a travel trailer may very well be the way to go. Personally, I like the fact that I can park this trailer almost anywhere. I think the 30-foot size fifth wheels are more or less just a waste of money. You start to see a real advantage with the fifth wheels when you get into the 30 ft plus.

Hope this at least gets you thinking about your actual needs and wants. Until next time, happy camping!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Living In Our RV For Two Months!

So now we've been living in our travel trailer for two months. We sold our house, and we sold Most everything that we owned. I quit work the week before Christmas, this way I could the be available to sell our household items. I used two apps One was called "let go" and the other one "offer up". Between the two, I was able to sell most everything. These apps were free. Now you could get premium advertising if you want to, but I sold most everything through the free ads. The garage was a real challenge, it was just packed full of stuff. So I rented a dumpster from a company called "Bin there dump that". So we dumped a lot of stuff. We moved into the trailer January 4th. And we still have too much stuff. The back of the truck was full of stuff and including the back seat. I have been slowly sorting through it consolidating down. I built additional storage inside the trailer by building steps for the two sides of the bed so the dog could get in-and-out. Inside the steps, I created more storage space. We bought a new bed to replace the Rv bed because RV bed was terrible. We bought a Novaform memory foam mattress. It is a 14" thick mattress, and so that is way taller than the original mattress. That's why I had to build the steps. If you are gonna live in an RV full time you need a comfortable bed, RV beds are just not going to cut it.

So we are still Sitting here in Manitou Springs. That is giving us time to continue to consolidate down and to continue to organize our things better. It's also giving us an opportunity to pay down our bills and get our taxes taken care of so all our financial things are in order before we start to travel. I'm trying to preserve as much cash from the sale of the house but we have to get rid of the credit card bills. The amount of interest that we pay each and every month is crazy. what a waste of money! I have paid off about half our credit cards so far. I started off by paying all the small balances first and have been slowly working up to the cards with the higher balance. I did it that way so it felt like we are accomplishing more. We had way too many credit cards which made it very difficult to keep track of it all. As I pay off these cards it will reduce our future monthly bill Obligations.

I can't wait to start traveling. We should be able to hit the road end of April. The first trip will be to South Dakota that's where we are going to domicile. First order of business will be to get new drivers licenses. I already have a PMB in South Dakota. A personal mailbox becomes your legal address.We signed up with America's mailbox because they offer a lot of services. I'm currently working with them to register my car. They will mail me my plates. It's definitely nice to have someone in South Dakota to do the legwork for you. Once the car is registered in South Dakota I can get auto insurance in South Dakota. Auto insurance is way cheaper there.

 If you decide to sign up with America's mailbox please use me as a Referral. Tell them Syd Robinson #9435 sent you. You will get a $25 Gift card good at 15,000 restaurants around the country

Cathy's already collecting her social security retirement and mine begins this month. Between the two of us, we will have a decent monthly income. Fortunately, Social Security is not our only resource. even though we retired early we can still make extra income through various work opportunities. We won't lose any benefits as long as we keep our earned income below $17,020 each. As long as we continue to make some extra money we should be able to do pretty much what we want. I plan on trying to keep as much money in our retirement funds as possible by not using them. It will be good to continue to allow the retirement funds to grow until age 70. At that time you have to start withdrawing money from your funds or you will be penalized.

While we continue to prepare to travel I will continue to keep you updated with these blog posts. So until next time happy camping!

PS: Check out my youtube channel! RV Tips And Trips!

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Preparing to retire into an RV part 3: Money and Social Security

How much money are we gonna need each month to live in our RV? Where is the money going to come from? Well, the main source of income is going to come from our social security. Even though we are retiring early you can start to collect your social security benefits at age 62. You can apply for your benefits at age 61 and 9 months old. Both my wife and I will be collecting our social security benefits each month which gives us a nice steady income. Will it be enough to cover the expenses of what we want to do? You are allowed to supplement your income with work and earn up to $16920 a year each without penalty.
Only actual wages earned are counted. Unearned income does not count against your social security retirement benefits. So we could do some odd work here and there as we travel. Perhaps run a small eBay business from our RV. Other sources of income will be coming from affiliate links.
We won't have the expense of a mortgage anymore along with associated bills for it.Still do have a truck payment and a trailer payment though. It still ends up being less than a mortgage payment and no utilities. In 2017 income earned prior to your 62nd birthday is not counted against your benefits.
Beginning in 2018 any income you receive that year prior to your 62nd birthday is counted against your annual allowable earned income. Any earned income over $16920 reduces your benefit by $1 for every $2 earned.Earned income is income derived from a job or self-employment. Unearned income is things like investments, withdrawals from 401k’s, and interest income.So if you earned 26920 from a job for the year it would reduce your benefits  $5000.Even if that happens you really don't lose that money. Because it may increase your monthly payments later when you reach full retirement age.Even though you're getting reduced benefits because you retired early I feel that it's still worth it over the long haul because you're not giving up that much.I calculated the difference in income from early retirement and full retirement age over a 20 year period, And it only amounted to a $12000 difference for me.So I might as well take the early retirement and if we choose to work here and there and end up making more money than we are supposed to you still don't lose any benefits overall.
You can make as much unearned income as you want it will not affect your benefits.  But of course, you may increase your tax obligations.
My plan is to keep our income in the 15% Federal tax bracket. There is a huge jump when you go over. The next bracket is 25%. We, unfortunately, don’t know what the 2018 tax brackets will look like. When the tax laws change I will adjust our income targets.
We are banking on selling our house and paying off debt. If we do that, our cost of living will be rather small. The freedom of being debt free will certainly reduce a lot of stress. Who knows, maybe we will live longer as well. Our quality of life will definitely improve. To be able to travel as we wish will be a wonderful feeling, I'm sure.
The downsizing has begun. Next item to research is Health insurance. That’s for another article, till then, Happy Camping!

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Monday, October 2, 2017

You can install solar on your RV

Solar is a great way to keep your RV batteries in Tip top condition. The controller has a program that conditions the batteries. About once a month it intentionally overcharges the batteries for about 2 hours. This blows off any sulfate deposits of the plates in the cells. Is it worth installing solar on your RV?.
If you go camping a lot then the answer is yes. It's not that difficult to install.  you can do-it-yourself and save a lot of money. My biggest fear was putting holes in the roof of our travel trailer and having it leak. One of my other fears is that the panels on the roof are not secure enough and having them rip off the roof as I'm driving down the highway. Well, I've traveled coast to coast with these and that hasn't happened. I had gotten the basic 100-watt Renogy kit to start off.  I went with monocrystalline because it is slightly more efficient than the polycrystalline and the cost difference is negligible. The kit came with a PWM controller. The Mppt Controller is more efficient, but on small setups, the cost difference isn’t justified. The PWM is simpler, and so less to go wrong. The MPPT works better at a higher Panel voltage. When the voltage output of the panels drops below a certain point it reverts to PWM style of charging anyway.
We took a short camping trip after I installed the panels period of solar panel stayed on the trailer in high winds sigh of relief. I found that the 100 W panel made the battery last longer but the battery eventually still depleted. So I bought another 100 W panel and connected it in parallel.i also installed a Renogy 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter. It will run sensitive electronic equipment with no problem. I also love the wireless remote to turn it on and off. Shortly after we went on a 2-week vacation we found that when we boondocked the batteries lasted much longer. But still eventually would deplete. We added a 3rd 100 W solar panel on the roof and put that in parallel with the other 2. We took A weekend trip and we were able to watch TV for 4 hours, our furnace all night without a problem, never ran out of power. We have a mini fridge in the outside kitchen and it was able to run that too.

300 W of solar seems to be sufficient for our needs. The battery bank consists of 2 12 volt batteries in parallel and they are 94 amp/ hours each. The batteries should be of same age and type. This way they will charge and discharge at the same rate.
You should never run your batteries below 50% of their capacity. So total capacity of our system is 94 amp hours. Max charge rate of our system in full sun is 15 amp hours. So the panels should be able to fully recharge the batteries in a little over 6 hours.
Of course, there are many environmental factors that would affect the charge rate such as elevation, clouds, and time of year. For example, in winter the sun is less intense giving you less power output. Also the further North you are in the country the less solar output as well. So to compensate for this one more solar panel may do the trick.
One would ask “why didn’t I install the system all at once?”. Two reasons, 1) it spread the cost out over time 2) if I created a leak when installing I would know which panel was the culprit.

I will write a second article detailing the installation.

Until next time, Happy Camping!
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Monday, September 18, 2017

Preparing to retire early and Travel in the RV full time

This is the first article in a series of preparing for full-time RV life.
Well, retiring at 62 is that really early? Who the heck wants to wait until 70 to retire, I want to have fun and enjoyment now while I can.
I'm sure Thomas, our miniature dachshund, will enjoy having us full-time.
To live full-time in the RV means we would need to sell the house and get rid of almost everything that we own so we can scale down to live in the trailer.  We are scaling back from a 2600 sq. ft home to a 30 ft travel trailer. Do we keep some of our furniture and put it in storage in case we decide to come off the road? Is it worth it paying for storage? Then we need to apply for social security retirement money. What do we do about health care for me because I would only be 62?  Should I chance not having health insurance and hope I don't get sick? Maybe I should establish residency in a state that has lower health care costs. What about voting? Where do I get mail? What about income tax and sales tax, drivers licenses, auto registration, auto insurance? What state has the best deal overall?
Do we use the money from the sale of the house to pay off bills or do we try and conserve the cash and pay down the bills as we go? Both my wife and I will be collecting Social Security benefits early, but she's closer to the full retirement age than I am. So we will have income from Social Security and perhaps we can make some extra money while on the road to help supplement it.
So the plan is, after taking care of all these miscellaneous items, to travel in our current travel trailer for one year. If we decide that we like it then we will upgrade to a 5th wheel. The trailer is set up with 300 Watts of solar panels on the roof so we should have plenty of power while boondocking. We also have a 1000 Watt pure sine wave inverter to run all the electronics. The plan is to boondock for five or six days at a time and then one day at an RV park. That should help reduce our living expenses quite a bit. Certainly not having a mortgage payment and utility bills anymore will save a lot of money each month. It's certainly a lot of things to consider and to prepare for.

So the smaller items, we will try and sell on eBay and then the rest of stuff try and sell in yard sales. We will have to do a couple yard sales until it is all gone.
So in preparation for all this, we purchased a new truck that has better towing capabilities than our previous one.  We had a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 truck and now we have a Chevy Silverado one-ton truck.  I decided to go with the gas 3500 because I can't justify the cost increase for the diesel.  Also, only 50% of the gas stations across the country carry diesel so it's a lot more convenient using a gas truck.
We switched our cell phone carriers from Sprint to Verizon because Verizon has much better coverage which will be important when we start traveling. Having unlimited internet access will be important because we watch a lot of YouTube, Hulu, and Vudu.
I'm sure this is going to be a lot of fun but it's also kind of scary.
Our preparations begin now. They say you need to have a date set to commit to, or it may never happen, so we need to have all tasks completed by June 2018. The clock is running! I will write updates as we plan and discover new ideas on how to do this.
If you have any thoughts or ideas that will help as we move forward, please feel free to comment.
Watch for my next article on why I decided on the truck that we bought.
Until next time, happy camping!


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