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I took these photos while sitting in my lawn chair the other day… just goes to show you that sometimes it’s worth paying for a premium campsite! 😉

PHOTOS: The Guadalupe River (Texas) is a great recreation spot for toobers (that’s how they spell it here!), kayakers and rafters. As you can see from my photos – be prepared to see anything! 🙂

Rest Areas are a much needed break after several hours on the highway. They provide adequate parking, restrooms, and, well, a place to rest for an hour or two. And those which offer Welcome Centers can also save you time and money.

Freebies  – Most Welcome Centers offer free coffee, tea or juice. Some even offer in-season fruit or fresh popcorn.

Coupons  –  Many lodging and attractions will offer special discounts, special deals or even “free gift” coupons in  brochures, coupon booklets and travel magazines. Ask at the information desk for additional coupon books they may have behind the counter. If you are an RVer, ask if their state has a camping guide. For example, Texas offers a camping guide with discount card (Texas Saver  or “T.A.C.O.”card) which offers 10-15% off daily rates at many Texas and New Mexico campgrounds.

Maps – Not all of us depend on GPS – especially those who have had to back their RV down a mountain road. A road atlas is great, but doesn’t always provide enough detail. So ask at the information desk for a free map. Most Welcome Centers will ask that you sign the guest register or provide your home state and travel destination for a map.

Updates – A few minutes viewing the Welcome Center’s construction map can save you a great deal of time and aggravation. If the Center doesn’t have a construction map, they may have a wall chart or list of road work and delays posted. At the very least they should have a website, local radio station or a phone number you can call for updates. And if there is severe weather in the forecast, ask at the information desk for local updates. Many larger Welcome Centers have TVs in the lobby with the Weather Channel or CNN on. We have even hunkered down at them during severe storms (especially high winds and blinding rain) and changed our travel route around tropical storms.

Overnight Parking – Most have limited the parking time or banned overnight parking. However, those which haven’t can save you money on campground or dump station fees. Just remember to follow the RVer rules regarding Overnight Parking.  Do not put out your slides or awnings. You are parking, not camping. And if you Overnight, be alert and cautious. NEVER open your door. If someone knocks on your door, flip on your scare lights (if not already on) and open the closest window to the door. Ask the person at the door who they are and what they want. Even if they appear to be some sort of authority figure – ask them to hold up I.D.

And don’t forget to fill out a comment card or sign their guest book. Let them know what you thought of their facilities – especially if you appreciate it. Your comments may help keep it open for future travelers.

If you place an online ad for a work-camp position, you are bound to get responses; however, not all will be as you desire! Be cautious when responding to replies from public and private websites. If you don’t use common sense, you may find yourself wasting time and losing your personal information.

With the state of the economy, more and more employment opportunity sites are popping up -especially websites which cater to work-at-home, travelling sales or work-camp opportunities. Remember, placing an ad at a free (and visible to the public) website is going to attract spam, scams and those who are trying to get more information from you.

I shouldn’t have to mention this, but I will. Just this morning I saw an ad that posted too much information. I mean, literally TMI! Do not write your ad like an autobiography. This ad posted the couple’s complete birthdays, pet names, several cell phone numbers and other information that is probably used for their passwords or security information.

Keep your ads simple like: Couple seeking FHU and wages for weekly work hours. Previous campground experience in computers, snack bar and housekeeping areas. Great references. Non-smokers. One pet. Email us at: dadada@ fakeemailaddydotcom

That is adequate information for any genuine employer to take notice of you. They don’t need to know that your pet Fluffy loves cookies, what brand of RV you have or the fact you make your own clothes. Additional information (about your skills and needs) should be for follow-up emails and phone calls.

Typical spam and scam emails might contain subject lines like “workers wanted”, “job opportunity” or “employment offer”. And when you open the emails you will find the job is a hotel in the UK, a foreign textile mill ‘check casher’ or someone wanting you to help them claim money from a sweepstakes.

Others may appear legitimate work, yet are too vague to be sure. Such as the “Where are you now?” or “Can you deliver this for me?” emails. These emails generally want all your information without providing any to you. Those you should just delete! If you’ve followed some of the articles I’ve written for a few travel websites, you’ll know that delivering items for anyone is not advisable. Leave that to the professionals.

Private employment opportunity websites – which either charge a fee for posting an ad or require some sort of subscription service – can be just as bad for scams and solicitations. You will be surprised to find emails asking you to sell products (ie. Direct TV, Avon, Christmas candy) and you may even find yourself solicited to buy a campground or a timeshare unit.

I have one email that even stated, “You should give it up and buy my campground and run it the way you want it.” He found my information from a private site that I pay nearly $50 a year for and only paid employers who subscribe can view the information!

If you are planning to post your personal information at a private site, there are a few things to keep in mind. Just because the site is private, do not reveal all your personal information. Why? If you walk into Walmart and fill out a job application you know Who, Where and What-for you are applying. If Walmart calls your references, you know it’s for the position you applied for.

But if you post your personal information online, anyone can call up your references. It may be for a job you wouldn’t even want to consider! By posting all your personal information, you lose control of it.

You might think this is a time-saver – having employers you don’t know have your information. It may be, but it also alienates your references. Imagine your references getting calls and emails on a regular basis for jobs you aren’t even interested in or from employers who don’t even follow-up and contact you about the position. It does happen!

I know several people who have had this happen. And one lost a “dream job” because of it. The reference told the employer she thought the couple had accepted another job because of another call she received. The dream job employer emailed the couple a few days later saying she hired someone else, since she found out they were unavailable. They weren’t. By posting their information, another employer (who never contacted them) actually lost them the job they wanted.

When responding to replies from your private ad, keep in mind that if the job appears too good to be true, it most likely is! Make sure to ask questions in the follow-up email or phone call.

If you receive an email that states, “I need a work-camper. Send me your information and references,” do some research on the company.  This type of email tells you absolutely nothing. Quite frankly, it may be a legitimate job offer / employer, but how do you know?

If the email appears to be from a company website, check out the website. An example of finding the site would be looking at the email address. For example if it was jonnydoe@ areallygoodcampgrounddotcom – then look up the website listed after the “@” symbol. This way you can gather some information about it. If the email address is generic (Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo) then it could be from anyone.

If you choose to reply to a vague email, do not give them any personal information. After all, you could be sending it to anyone in the world. If I feel it is a legitimate employer, I liked to send out what I call a “reverse inquiry”.

It may read something like: Dear Sir or Madam; Thank you for contacting me regarding your work-camp opportunity. I am interested in knowing more about the position before I formally apply. If qualified, I would be happy to submit my resume, references and photo to be considered for the position. I look forward to hearing back from you regarding your job position.

If it is a genuine employer, they will be happy to tell you more about the position. If they aren’t – you’ll never hear back from them. I did have one actually email a note back stating they understood but would “really like” to view my information before telling me about the job, company and even where it was located. All I knew was that “Joe” would “really like” my information. Well, he didn’t get it. I’m not into secret jobs from secret companies at secret locations. 😉

If you do begin an email correspondence with a potential employer you should save all the emails. An initial email may state full hook-ups included, but when you speak on the phone he may say you have to pay for electricity or that your site will be “discounted”. If the employer contacts you regarding your ad, all you have to go on is what they told you in emails, unless they had a written contract or agreement to send you. If that is the case, make sure it includes arrival/departure dates, hours, wages/salary, position(s) with duties and any other perks included (FHU, seasonal bonus, laundry allowance, free Cable TV). And it should be signed (with copies) by both parties – not just you.

If you follow common sense when responding to your ad replies from public and private websites, you can save yourself valuable time and prevent your personal information from being misused.

IN MY SITES: A Campground Mystery (Book #4)

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THE PROPANE GAME (Book #2)

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