November 24, 2018 • Issue 873
With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
Welcome to an abbreviated edition of the RV Travel Newsletter. We’re posting it this week on our sister website NewRVer.com because RVtravel.com is still offline (as of Friday afternoon) while we perform a major makeover to make your reading experience far more enjoyable. As soon as we flip the switch, I’ll let you know here.
We expected to be offline on Tuesday and maybe Wednesday. But here I sit four days later and the site is still unavailable. Whatever could have gone wrong with the switchover has gone wrong. Oh, we’ll figure it out. In the meantime its been a frustrating time for our staff.
So this issue is from only one person, me — spending my Friday afternoon updating you on what we are doing at RVtravel.com and reminding you of our goals.
Why the new website?
•The old site was poorly organized. It was hard to locate articles on specific topics. The new site will be far better organized and will feature a powerful search tool.
•The old website was not mobile-friendly. Forty-two percent of our readers now read on a mobile device. About 19 percent read it on a tablet, with only 39 percent reading on a computer. We must do a better job serving our readers who visit us on their tablets and phones.
•Even though we do not actively solicit advertising, we often get inquiries from companies that offer a quality service. Our new website will allow us to fully automate the advertising process — freeing up our time to devote to editorial matters — and will even include an option where ads for local or regional businesses can be shown only in a particular area. We will continue to refuse advertising from major RV manufacturers and most dealers so we can write freely and honestly about their products without fear of becoming dependent upon them, and then losing their support by saying something that offends them. (We’ll gladly accept ads from the “little guys” who concentrate on quality, not just profits.)
•And perhaps most important, the new site will allow us to provide exclusive access to special articles and videos for our members only — those readers who have voluntarily subscribed and who increasingly fund our most important projects. The soon-to-debut members’ edition of the weekly RV Travel Newsletter will contain only a sprinkling of ads plus original content not available in the free edition. If you are not a member but are interested in learning the options, please click here.
We consider this website a magazine, not a blog. We do not speak in one voice like bloggers, but in hundreds, even thousands of voices. That includes me, our staff writers, freelancers, and all those readers who comment on articles or participate in our forum discussions. We moderate everything closely, insisting our readers treat each other with respect.
Summed up, our goals are to promote:
•Safer RV parks. So far Mike Sokol’s “Stray Voltage Patrol” (made up of nearly 400 RV Travel readers) has identified dozens of potentially dangerous power pedestals at RV parks across the USA and Canada. Early next year we will post a directory of where they are and what action has been taken to fix them. Over time, we will save many RVers from serious shocks or even electrocution (which happens!). We have created the website RVelectricity.com to help educate RVers about the safe, proper use of electricity. We have funded the website ourselves with only token industry support. We thank our members for making it possible!
•The creation of more RV parks. A half million new RVs are being sold every year, and the industry is stepping up its efforts to increase that to 600,000 or 700,000. Where will all the newbies and the rest of us stay with virtually no new campgrounds? Anyone who travels much in their RV today knows that reservations, not commonly required even 10 years ago, are now a “must” during the travel season in popular parts of the country. The RV Industry Association (RVIA) is doing practically nothing to help promote the creation of new places to stay. It provides lip service, but its members don’t care. They are happy just selling RVs left and right with practically no concern about where their buyers will stay with them afterwards.
•We will continue to promote the idea of inexpensive self-service overnight stops for RVers, where for $15 or $20 a night they can stay safely, with a 30- or 50-amp electrical hookup. We will promote such low-cost parks at no charge to them to help get the word out. Free stays at Walmart, we believe, will be banned before long, leaving a severe shortage of places to hole up for a night’s rest.
•We will step up writing original, investigative articles about subjects that matter to RVers. The fact that we do not rely on advertising for our main support means we can speak honestly, unlike most other websites and periodicals, which can’t afford to lose their advertisers by criticizing their products. We will continue to plow our profits back into this website.
•We will do all we can to influence RV manufacturers to build better products. We created the Facebook Group “RV Horror Stories” for frustrated, sometimes angry RVers who bought lemons but are given the runaround for months, even a year or more by RV manufacturers and dealers about getting them in running order. All the while, the owners make payments and watch their warranties expire. This Facebook group has grown to nearly 10,000 members, including several RV lemon law attorneys who chime in regularly with valuable advice.
•We will continue to educate prospective RVers about buying the “bling” (RVs that look good but are not) and then ending up with a flawed vehicle they are unable to use. We will scream from roof tops that financing an RV for 20 years is madness when most of those RVs (generally cheap ones held together with staples and glue) will be junk in 10 to 15 years. Money-grubbing Camping World pushes these 20-year loans, which we believe will lead to great financial grief to buyers in the years afterwards.
Why we care
I just came off two years of full-timing. Through the years I have spent as long as four months at a time on the road. But full-time RVing, without a permanent home to return to, is a whole new ballgame. In the last two years Gail and I had great fun, but like many others who choose a life in an RV we experienced the downsides. In the end, we decided we needed a home base. I am not finished RVing, but I am finished with full-timing.
I moved into our newly purchased home with a lot of pent-up frustration, and it surfaced in my writing. In those two years on the road I was forced at times to stay in ghetto RV parks because there was nothing else available. I was sometimes squeezed so close to my neighbors that I could hear them snore at night. I was awakened countless mornings by motorcyclists heading off to work, revving their engines as they passed. I lost count of how many times I was awakened at daybreak by a dump truck banging around a dumpster. And, of course, there were the obnoxious neighbors who enjoyed sharing their music with the entire RV park.
And, no, I could not boondock for most of this time as many of you constantly advise. That works fine for me in the desert Southwest, but it does not work for me in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Georgia, or most places east of the Mississippi. Also, frankly, I did not work my behind off for most my life to end up staying nights in Walmart parking lots. I know many of you do, and that’s fine: It does make traveling without reservations easier. But after RVing for 40 years I am done with parking lots (I stayed in plenty early on when I was poor).
I did enjoy the many people I met the last two years and the many wonderful places Gail and I visited. I loved the small town cafes where the ham and eggs were heavenly, and I’ll treasure memories of many sunsets. Gail and I laughed so hard at times that I would almost get sick. I am lucky to have a partner with a sense of humor as wacky as mine.
BUT AFTER TWO YEARS ON THE ROAD, I yearned for a quiet place, where the scene did not change all the time. Yes, sometimes where I stayed was magnificent — in a beautiful forest, by a river, or in the desert with spectacular views of red rock mesas. But all too often, the view out my window was my neighbor’s sewer hookup.
Am I negative? Yes, and I believe too often in recent times I have vented my frustrations in this newsletter. A few weeks ago I spent some time thinking about this. I concluded that I needed to change my ways, to be more constructive and less whiny. By nature, I am not a pessimistic or angry person — just the opposite. But those two years were a perfect storm of often maddening experiences that finally got to me. Although I plan to calm down, I will continue to battle for what I believe is right for you, me and other RVers.
I have lived modestly most of my life, and in the last couple of decades have put away as much money for my old age as I could afford. Now, at age 71, I do not need to work to live comfortably. But I want to work. I want to continue because I feel compelled to help other RVers. And, okay, I’ll be honest, I’d be lost without my talented, dedicated staff of friends (and family, now that my daughter Emily has joined the team).
Hopefully, we’ll be back next week with our regular newsletter. And there is much to come later that will set us apart from the other RV news media, which will do anything to avoid saying anything that would annoy the mouths that feed them, RV manufacturers and big dealers. We, on the other hand, will say what needs to be said, and we’ll name names.
Thanks for reading. My staff and I appreciate it very much.
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Camp free at farms and wineries
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