Friday, August 29, 2014

RV Travel and Choosing a Home Base

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 photo courtesy Winnebago

When you travel by RV you have a fully self-contained home on wheels

Where’s Home?
    Choosing an official “home” base is the most important decision to be made when you live and travel full-time in an RV. It’s also the toughest, most exasperating and most impossible decision to guess at, let alone to second-guess. It has nothing to do with where you actually spend your time.

You may rarely even see the state that is your “home” although it’s getting more difficult to avoid going back from time to time to renew a driver’s license or to serve on a jury. 

    When I first became a routeless, rootless wanderer it was easy to use my parents’ address as my own. Mother forwarded important mail, asked me what to forward, burned the rest. Then things got more complicated when Dad retired and my folks moved back to New York State, where taxes and fees are among the highest in the nation. Now that I had a New York address, I became subject to state income taxes, insurance rates, licenses, laws and all the rest. I wanted Out.

    I can’t speak for Canadian provinces but in the USA it’s mind-boggling to realize how
much one’s personal rights, costs and obligations are affected by state laws. As security concerns become ever more strict, it’s harder than ever to decide where to call home. For years, all a full-timer needed was a post office box. Now you need a physical address to get a bank account, a broker, a credit card, even some prescriptions.

    Here’s just one example. A woman I’ll call Wanda was RV-ing solo when she met a man
who was also traveling alone in his RV. She sold her motorhome, moved in with the guy we’ll call Steve,  and they drove off into the sunset on a cloud of promises and pillow talk. They did not get married.  She told me it had something to do with keeping her late husband’s pension and, “Besides,” she said smugly, “A wedding license is just a piece of paper. We trust each other completely.” Then Steve died.

    Wanda had no legal status with Steve and the RV was registered in his name in a state
Wanda had never seen.  He had no will. According to the laws of his “home state” his heirs were his children, parents and siblings.  Immediately they wanted to sell the RV and divide the proceeds. Wanda and Steve had considered the  RV to be her home too, but that was then. Now she had no legal status. Thanks to her savings and a loan from her folks, she was able to buy the RV from the estate. Otherwise she would have been out on her ear.

    Wanda’s situation could have been even worse. If she and Steve had joint bank accounts or a safety deposit box in some states, the accounts would have been sealed when one of them died. Only after it all went through probate, and Steve’s heirs got their share, would Wanda have had access to her own money.  In any case, her status and the status of her RV home would have depended on state law.

    Get the picture? State laws determine your privileges and burdens as an heir, as a
biological or adoptive parent, as a legal, common law or ex-spouse, and as a partner who is not legally related by blood, marriage, adoption or business contract.

    Here are just a few things that are determined by state law:  workman’s compensation,
traffic laws and tickets, Medicaid or other public assistance, death, inheritance and your rights if you are a crime victim.  State law determines the cost of licenses for your RV and other vehicles Insurance  rates are based on your “home” city or county. 

The profession you practice may also be governed by myriad state laws and license requirements.  Health insurance including Medicare supplement policies are priced according to your “home” city. The program is federal but identical Medi-gap coverage can vary by thousands of dollars a year from place to place. 

As a “resident” of a city or county you could be called for jury duty, and some places won’t take no for an answer.  Gun laws too vary state to state and according to the type of weapon. To carry a weapon in a vehicle is a felony in some states even if the vehicle is also your sole domicile and you have a permit to carry it in your home state! 

These books can be lifesavers.

Choosing your RV  "Home" State.

Living Aboard Your RV, a Guide to the Full-time Life on Wheels.

A Guide to Gun Laws in all 50 States


Friday, August 22, 2014

RV Women Drive in Style

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Clothes That Go the Extra
Mile in the RV Lifestyle

    What are your favorite double-duty and/or travel garments for RV travel?
    How do you get more wardrobe into less RV space?
    Beyond the little back dress and strand of pearls, how do you dress for a special night out?
    Do you join the rest of the world in wearing jeans only because they’re always safe?  

    Here are some of my favorite wardrobe stretchers:
    * A silk scarf, simple but elegant. I buy these by the half dozen because they are so affordable to paint with any pattern or color. If you are good with an artist's brush, they are also a nice gift or craft for resale.

    * Slacks with length options. Some can be rolled up and snapped in place. Others have
zip-off lengths. They can be worn with flats or let down to wear with wedgies that have a little heel. 

     * A sarong. In many parts of the world, it's the only garment for women and a shorter version is worn by men. Use it was a swim suit cover-up. Throw it on for morning coffee. Trick it out with jewelry for a night out.

    * Snap-on shoe bows carry in very little space yet they can transform your basic black
pumps into party shoes. Prim bows are good for daytime; shiny stones for evening.

    * All my travels are in moderate climates, so I carry only three-season garments.
My ace in the hole for an unexpected cold snap is dancer’s leg warmers.  They store in every little space yet can be slipped on  under a jacket and slacks as extra sleeves or legs.  

    * I love reversibles. Look for a reversible skirt, vest or jacket that is actually two garments.  

    * I wear a Medium but I keep a supply of XL tee shirts. They are ideal for sleeping, beach coverups or a painting smock. Souvenir tee shirts from my travels make good gifts for the home folks too.  

See Janet Groene’s shortcut recipes for RV travel, camping and boating at Camp And RV Cook.

Each week we present a pantry recipe for shelf foods. Use it for emergencies or boondocking. Go to Boat Cook. No fresh ingredients required.
Snack healthier, smarter for less cost when you make your own gorp. Package it by the cup for personal snacking and hikes; dump it into a bowl for the party or potluck. See Create A Gorp.

RV decorator tip of the week: When ordering a new RV, get the most neutral color scheme available. Then trick it out with colorful pillows, spreads, towels, accessories. Soft goods are easy and inexpensive to change at a whim. I have two sets of soft goods for my pearl gray bathroom, bright red and a soft,  seafoam green. Every other washday I can have an entirely new look. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

RV Life: The Costs

blog copyright Janet Groene, all rights reserved. To ask about rates for placing an ad or sponsoring a post email

Can you afford Full-time RV Life?

Copyright Janet Groene, all rights reserved

    The answer is probably YES, although some things about the budget may surprise you. 

    If someone asked  how much it costs to live in a Maine farmhouse or a condo in San
Francisco, you’re right that it’s a silly question. But, being a nice girl, you would smile patiently and reply, “Well, what kind of life are we talking about in that farmhouse or condo?”
    Do you buy only organic foods at a high-priced supermarket? Play the slots?  Have
weekly spa treatments or $100 haircuts? Buy season tickets for the opera?  There are no easy answers to the question of how much it costs to live in an RV. The rig itself is just part of the budget. The rest depends on personal habits, preferences, your management skills and luck.

There are hundreds of variables and unknowns, but let’s start with what you know now.
                   Expenses That Won’t Change
When you live in an RV you will probably spend the about the same as you do now for: 

♯ Banking, brokerage, other financial services
♯ Cell phone, ISP, domain
♯ Child support, eldercare or alimony, if any
♯ Debt service (credit cards, car/RV payment, student loans)
♯ Dues, church, charity
♯ Entertainment (movies, books, downloads, concert tickets)
♯ Food including restaurants
♯ Gifts
♯ Health needs such as dental and eye care, vitamins, birth control, memberships (gym,
associations, Weight Watchers)
♯ Insurances
♯ Non-food supermarket purchases ( greeting cards, magazines,)
♯ Personal care (toiletries, cosmetics, hair salon, bling)
♯ Pet care
♯ Retirement fund contributions
♯ Soft goods (wardrobe, shoes, household linens)
♯ Sports and hobbies (lift tickets, greens fees, court time)
♯ Subscriptions, publications   
♯ Other       
    Go through your records for the past year to get an idea of what you spend monthly,
weekly or annually. Be honest about where cash dribbles away on lattes or lottery tickets. No matter how good your intentions, it’s hard to break old habits. 
                Expenses That May Change or Stop
    Now that you know where your money goes, start a new list of expenses that will change or cease when you leave your present life. Later, this total will be subtracted from your bottom-line budget.   

♯ Bus fare, commuting, uniforms, other cost related to your present job
♯ Rent or mortgage, homeowner association fees
♯ Utilities, home maintenance, yard care
♯ Other   

Using the above figures as a starting point you can now look at known costs such as monthly RV payments, a budget for campgrounds, fuel depending on how many miles you plan to cover, insurances for the RV and so on.

Every journey begins with a single step. Knowing existing costs is one way to begin.

See Janet Groene’s camp and RV recipes at

Based on her 10 years as a full-timer, Janet Groene's book Living Aboard Your RV is now available in a 4th edition that includes information on how to make a living on the go and, if you have kids on board, how to connect with homeschooling.

To subscribe to Janet's weekly camping and RV recipe blog for your Kindle or other e-reader. Get a free trial here

Rave Review:  A new book, 150 Best Breakfast Sandwich Maker Recipes is just right for the woman alone or a couple. Every recipe can be made in a compact electric sandwich maker. Dozens of combinations can be made with different breads, different fillings to fill your menus for breakfast, lunch, snacks and a light supper. Just stack ingredients in the cooker, close the lid to cook, then eat sandwiches at the table or on the go, no plates required.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Women and RV Travel, A Winning Combination

blog copyright Janet Groene, all rights reserved. To donate in support of this blog, use your
PayPal account to send any amount to

No More "I Forgot" RV Insurance Claims

    Jim LaBelle of the International Insurance Group, Inc. ( knows RV insurance inside out. His “I Forgot” claims are insurance claims that start with “I forgot to unhook the power cord before I drove away” or “I forgot to lock the awning and it blew away when I got up to speed on the highway.” 

    To avoid forgetting important items, here’s an easy checklist to print out or upload to your smart phone. Pilots use a checklist for every start-up. Why not us too?
1.      Check all fluids and tire pressure on your tow vehicle.
2.      Check your battery charge.
3.      Check RV wheel lug nut torque and tire pressure.
4.      Check propane tanks and generator levels – fill if necessary.
5.      Fuel tow vehicle before hooking up.
6.      Items inside camper secured, counters cleared, and cabinets latched?
7.      TV Secure?
8.      Roof vents and windows closed?
9.      Air conditioning off?
10.     Awning stowed and secured?
11.     Slides checked for water and debris?
12.     Inside RV clear of items in slide path?
13.     Slides closed and locked?
14.     Refrigerator off or running on DC?
15.     Black and gray takes empty?
16.     Black and gray tank valves closed?
17.     Treatment chemicals and small amount of water added to black tank?
18.     Cable/phone, electricity, sewer hose, and water hose disconnected and stored?
19.     Water pump off?
20.     RV lights off?
21.     Propane tank valves closed?
22.     All trash removed?
23.     Stabilizer Jacks raised or removed?
24.     King pin lock removed if applicable?
25.     RV breakaway switch, umbilical cord, sway bars, and safety chains attached where
26.     Tongue or leveling jacks raised? Leveling blocks stored?
27.     Chocks removed and stored?
28.     All doors and panels on RV locked?
29.     RV and tow vehicle lights working?
30.     RV brakes checked?
31.     RV brakes checked?!?
32.     Walk around RV complete? No items left behind? Jacks up?

blog copyright Janet Groene, all rights reserved. To donate in support of this blog, use your PayPal account to send any amount to

See Janet Groene’s RV-ready recipes at Camp And RV Cook.

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blog copyright Janet Groene, all rights reserved. To donate in support of this blog, log into your PayPal account to send any amount to

Friday, August 1, 2014

Make the Most of Your RV Freezer

blog copyright Janet Groene. For permissions or to ask about rates to place an ad or sponsor a
post email

 Slide a camper on your truck and go camping in comfort. 

 Managing an RV  Freezer
    If your RV is like mine the freezer is never large enough. Let's make the most of what we have. 

       * Don’t waste space on scraps and wraps. Ask the meat manager to skin, bone and portion meats and wrap them in freezer wrap without plastic trays. She may even agree freeze your order before you pick it up.
    *  Pre-chill foods before freezing them. RV refrigerators, especially absorption types,
can’t recover as quickly as home freezers.
    * To freeze foods at home, pack them into boilable bags (roasting bags, Seal-a-Meal
bags) and use a soda straw to suck out as much air as possible. To serve the food  in camp thaw the bag, cut a slit to allow for expansion and drop it into boiling water until it’s heated through. No dishes to wash!
    * Use rice flour to thicken gravies and sauces for freezing.  It isn’t as likely to separate as gravies made with flour or cornstarch.
    * Allow expansion room when freezing soups and other liquids. If the container
is too full it can split or shatter. 
    * Marinate and season meats after thawing, not before freezing.
    * For safety’s sake, thaw foods in the refrigerator. Don’t thaw meats on the counter-top. Outer layers could spoil before the interior thaws. Baked goods should be thawed at room temperature in their original wrappings to prevent loss of moisture.
    * If you have a large family that is in and out of the RV freezer all day to get ice cubes for drinks, consider getting a small, separate ice chest that you replenish once or twice a day. Your RV fridge may not be able to keep up with frequent door openings on hot days.    

       Better still, get a portable icemaker to plug in at the campsite. Simply fill it with water, turn it on and have ice cubes anywhere.
    * Save room in the freezer by removing bulky boxes and packaging  before storing frozen foods. If added protection is needed, slip them into plastic bags. Freeze dough, not puffy bread. Pre-cook hamburger, sausage and bacon before freezing so excess grease can be discarded.  Buy boneless cuts,  not bony chicken or turkey.
    *  Read labels. Some frozen convenience foods just need heating but others need to be
cooked thoroughly.

Janet Groene’s weekly blog of galley-easy recipes for camping, RV travel and boating is available for your e-reader by subscription. Click here for a two-week free trial.
The healthiest snacks are those you make yourself. Save money, shave calories. See easy recipes at Create A Gorp.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Smart RV Women Refuse to be Victims

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 When replacing RV furniture, buy from manufacturers that specialize in right-size, highway-tested furniture designed for RV use.

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Don’t be a Crime RVictim

    Modern women know it’s no longer unusual, or even exceptionally risky,  to travel alone in an RV. Still, there are new and unique dangers out there. 

Personal Travel Plan: Before You Go

    * File a travel “flight plan”.  Privately let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, when you plan to arrive and how to contact you. Let them know when you arrive or if you deviate from the plan. This information should be private between you and a trusted homie, never shared on social media.
  * Have a big, bright,  distinctive number or symbol painted on the roof of your RV. If you call for help you can be spotted from the air.
     * Make your RV look lived-in no matter where you park. Close curtains so crooks don’t know if you’re inside or not. Lock all doors and windows. Run a light, TV or radio if you can do so without depleting the battery when you’re at the mall or on the hiking trail.  
     * Don’t give thieves a place to hide out.  In shopping centers park in well lighted areas away from  shrubs and other hiding places. Try to park among cars, not other tall vehicles that form dark canyons where crooks could lurk.   
     * Invest in  alarms. Keep them armed and powered. Even in a secure campground, don’t open the door to strangers. Speak through a window.

Driving: On the Road Again

    * Always lock all doors in the RV, tow car or dinghy including trunks and basement (except the propane compartment, which should not be locked.)  You may also want to add a locking gas cap to prevent fuel theft.  Keep valuables out of sight. It may take a few extra minutes to close cockpit curtains, but there are a lot of tempting goodies there for a smash-and-grab thief. 
    * Never pick up hitchhikers or stop for what appears to be a woman and baby in distress. Stay inside, leave the area and use your cell phone to call 911 on their behalf.
       * Park in well-lighted areas and close to the building or shop.
        * Unless you have no choice, don't stop alongside the road. If you are bumped from behind or if someone signals you to stop because there is something wrong with your vehicle, continue to a service station or a well-lighted, populated area.
    * Fill the fuel tank before dark. Lock all doors and close windows if you step away from the RV for any reason.

Travel Destination: Checking In

    * When checking into a campground, ask what security features are in place. You may need a code to get into the gate at night. Know where to find the campground host’s site and how to get help if you’re in a zone without cell phone reception.
   * Invest in a safe that can be bolted to the RV frame so it can’t be removed.
   * When away from the campground, be wary about telling strangers  your 'home address", i.e. the name of your campground and number of your campsite.

Personal Safety: On the Town

    *  Take only the cash you need in your purse or wallet. Bring only the necessary credit card(s) with you and carry money separately from credit cards. Women should keep purses closed and snuggled tightly against the body.
   * Know your route and stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets. Select ATM machines in visible, well-lighted locations.

Friday, July 18, 2014

RV Travel: the Ultimate Freedom

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place an ad email


 photo courtesy Shasta

RV Furniture
    * Are your dinette cushions looking grotty? Know the exact measurements, then check
the outdoor furniture departments at stores and catalogs where end-of-summer sales at this time mean big savings. Many colors and patterns are available in high quality cushions that are  UV resistant, water shedding and durable. Look for tough construction in fabrics such as Sunbrella and Bella-Dura. I just found 40% off cushions for less money than having the old cushions re-covered.
    * Never again will I order slip covers from a catalog. The covers for our matching
chairs looked great in the picture and they fit like a glove too. Then we sat down and found when we stood up again that the slipcovers had, well, slipped. Now I’ll either have to throw them out or yank, stretch and tuck them back into place every time someone sits in them. I'm totally bummed. 
RV Tools 
    * What tools come in handy when you’re a solo woman in an RV? Here are some to

    * A hatchet and small saw for wood for the campfire (where allowed) and fire pliers for
handling hot logs or coals.
    * A folding shovel is a must for many chores such as digging your wheels out of sand or
snow, digging a gopher hole where allowed and snuffing a campfire by shoveling dirt over it. Trust me, you’ll someday be glad to have a shovel on board. 
    * A clothesline and spring clothespins. Even though many campgrounds prohibit outdoor
clotheslines, rope comes in handy for many things indoors and out. Clothes pins do pinching tasks such as closing the potato chip bag.  Get the old-fashioned wood ones. Plastics break and some fancy designs don’t hold tight in high winds.
    * A manual tire pump or small compressor for bicycle tires and other inflatable items such as an
air mattress or inflatable boat. 
    * A sturdy broom is handy for sweeping the cement pad that comes with most campsites. A short-handle broom made for RV life takes up less room yet is a serious cleaning tool.
    *  If you have room for a metal garden rake  (not a flimsy leaf rake)  , it’s a nice tool for raking out the fire pit and cleaning up the campsite .

See Janet Groene's camp and RV recipes of the week at 
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