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Camp Helen State Park is located in Bay County, Florida. The park is situated between Lake Powell and the Gulf of Mexico, making it a great place to picnic, bird-watch, swim, beachcomb or fish.

For more information on Florida State Parks, visit .

You see a work-camp job ad that sounds too good to be true… you apply. A week or so later you get a phone call or email from that employer… and you find out what was too good to be true indeed was. In fact, they seem to have forgotten what their ad stated. Or, they apologize for their ad being wrong in the first place. Okay, it happens… but several times over a few weeks?

I have been chatting with other work-campers having the same increase in “bait and switch” offers this season.  Most of the jobs have either had a cut in weekly work hours (that minimize pay) or have increased the number of work hours needed to keep your camp site (and reduces the hours of pay received for hours worked over minimum site hours – if applicable). And a few have actually cut their seasonally help date from May to June and November to Labor Day weekend. This is definitely an inconvenience for those who gave notice to their current employer, only to find out they had nowhere to go for a month (or more) between jobs.

Unfortunately, the work-camp world is not getting any better. More folks are joining the ranks of work-camping only to discover jobs are not paying what they promised. And those who had previously only worked-for-site or volunteer opportunities have found their outside income stretched in these economic conditions and in need of some sort of stipend or wages to supplement the increase in food and fuel costs.

When applying for jobs or responding to employers it is necessary to double-check everything! Don’t assume you get a free site. Some employers are now charging site and/or electricity. Their park may offer WiFi or Cable TV, but don’t assume it is free for work-campers. Many still charge a monthly or weekly fee for these services.

Create a worksheet of questions to ask potential employers. See Know Before You Go for ideas on what you should ask and verify.

It is absolute vital you get a contract, signed by both parties stating the start/end dates, compensation (wages, site, cable…),  job/duties and anything else pertinent to the position. This not only protects the work-camper, but also the employer.  It gives them assurance that you will be there throughout the season or determined period.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be a little smarter in your search and you’ll find the right job situation for you.

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.

I just received an email from some Full-Timing friends who announced that this was their last year of work-camping. And this is not the first notice we have received from friends in 2009.

What has happened to those “living the dream”? A variety of things have changed this last year – one of which is the economy.

Many folks who live the Full-Time (or Seasonal) RV lifestyle saw an increase in the number of work-camp opportunities available (in fact, many places were begging for help by offering fuel/travel incentives or end-of-season bonuses), yet with the economic situation workers either could not afford to work these jobs or get there (fuel costs). And by “not afford” I mean that some employers have reduced benefits for RVers or cut them out completely.

It was an affordable lifestyle – living at your workplace or nearby for free. Now many campgrounds and resorts want you to pay a reduced or “nominal” (which appears to be a favored word for employers) campsite fee, in addition to working for them at minimum wage. And most of these offer low hours, not even guaranteeing the money you make working will pay for your campsite, electricity and other expenses.

And there are those who have the “work-for-site, extra hours paid” offer. These employers require you to work a certain number of hours per week (usually between 20-30) for your campsite. Any hours worked over that time are paid. So if you were to work 24 hours a week for your site and you worked 30 hours, you would only get paid for 6 hours of work. The problem our friends have had with this is that if you figure out the value of the campsite and hours worked, you are getting very well below minimum wage.

I recently did the math on a job advertised in a work-camping site and you worked for $1 an hour. Of course, this amount was not from their ad. They had a completely different “camp site value” in their ad than the one from the price listed for monthly rentals on their updated website. It was actually cheaper not to work there and just pay for a campsite!

And some employers are offering crazy deals. I actually received an email last week from one in Montana that said they needed help and “might pay” if we were “up to haggling” with them.  Then there was the one that said if you put down a deposit your site and worked the required hours to pay for it in trade for the entire season, they would give you a seasonal bonus.  No mention of what became of your deposit, but ironically, the bonus amount was the same! My personal favorite is the theme park which requires you to pay for your campsite and then gives you a bonus at the completion of the season which they even tell you can be used to reimburse your campsite. Not a true bonus, just a refund of what you have been paying them over the summer.

Another change is those who employee work-campers. They seem to have forgotten that those who work-camp are not only workers, but potential guests.

Employers are sending vague emails or leaving generic phone messages. If they come across your email or phone number they want all your information without telling you anything about the position. In several cases, we have received emails that do not even mention the place or location! Just a name and “I need help. Send me your information. If I like what I see, I’ll contact you.” One didn’t even include a name!

Now work-camping is no different when it comes to applying for any other job. If you walk into the local grocery store and put in an application, you know where you are applying to. Some employers now want to be secretive, either that or they must be collecting people’s personal information. I would not send any personal information to anyone who does not identify themself, their position, the name of the company they work for, the job location and the position. Furthermore, I want to know what I am being considered for before I send personal information. If you are a computer person, why send information to someone who wants you to scrub toilets everyday? Not only are they wasting their time, they are wasting yours. Unfortunately, this type of employer response has increased the last year.

A friend of ours received an email from a potential employer in Florida and the information did not mention if the job included pay and/or full-hookups (FHUs). It was a high-end park so she politely emailed back that they were interested; however, wanted to be sure the job included FHUs at the very least. The employer emailed back that was something to be discussed after being hired and if they hired them, they would then be told if it included compensation and FHUs! Later she found out through another work-camp couple that it was a volunteer job (36 hours a week, each person) and that you received a site at a “nominal fee” and you were required to pay utilities, plus you had limited access to the facilities, even though you worked and paid to live there!

Fortunately, our friends have been good at circulating information about these so-called employers and their “opportunities”. If the business is a campground or RV resort, we cross them off our Woodall’s and Trailer Life books. Why bother doing business with people like that? With the power of the internet, let the world know how unprofessional these employers are!

Many folks are giving up the work-camp dream this year. I honestly can’t blame them. Even some of the sites devoted to work-camp jobs have added sections on work-at-home (or RV in our case!) and other money-making schemes. If they have given up on living the dream, then maybe the rest of us need to wake up from it.


Well, it seems like only yesterday we pulled the rig into our winter home site… oh yes, it was only yesterday! 🙂

After a very very busy summer and a rather exciting haul to Texas, I find myself falling behind in everything from silly forwards clogging the inbox to posting here. I apologize to those who emailed me with “Where are you?” and “Did you give up RVing?” emails. It’s just been a rather busy year. Quite frankly, I’m surprised we are already headed for December and 2010!

So I promise to post more in the weeks ahead. After all, you need to know about our crazy search for RV tires, our disappointment in Camping World (the one in Roanoke), tropical storm Ida and all the latest campground news!

I also will try to get caught up on campground reviews and posting photos. And for those who wanted more “inside” information on workamping – I’ll be sure to post more pieces regarding the lifestyle.

Meanwhile, I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving holiday! 🙂

Every day there is a mention in the news about the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu). It has spread throughout the entire US and the number of cases is on the rise. Apparently the virus can linger on surfaces for five to seven days.

The past few weeks I’ve been seeing people allowing their children to run in-and-out of public restrooms bare-footed, snotty-nosed children touching everything in sight, adults sneezing into their hands and then open doors and a handful of unsanitary scenes.

Campgrounds, RV parks and resorts are not immune to the spread of disease. Here are some things you can do to protect your family from disease while staying at your favorite campgrounds.

First of all, don’t go camping if you or a family member is sick. Sleeping on the ground in a tent will not make them feel better. Or crowding them in a RV with others will only put the entire family at risk for sickness.

Use hand sanitizer!  Make sure you have a small bottle for each person. The best kind to have is the ones that require no water. Each time a family member handles public items (door knobs, trash can lids…), make sure he or she wipes their hands with sanitizer or a wipe.

Use facial tissue! When you are finished, make sure you put it in the trash. Don’t leave it lay on counters or throw it on the floor. Make sure it goes into the trash receptacle.  If it is your trash receptacle – remember to empty it regularly and spray the receptacle with Lysol or clean it with some disinfectant.

If you are a RVer try not to rely on public restrooms.  Some RVers don’t like using their own bathroom because of the size, the extra work required in dumping the tank or they don’t want to pay for sewer hook-ups. If this is the case, then make sure you are wearing shoes (surprisingly, most public restroom floors are not sanitary) and have your own handi-wipes in your purse, pocket or shower bag and use them. Do not rely on the campground’s restrooms to have filled soap containers or even hot water. I am surprised when I do come across a fully-stocked restroom these days.

And if you are using a campground’s restroom and shower facilities, don’t harass the folks cleaning it! If the building is closed for cleaning, ask them where other facilities are located. You wouldn’t believe what workampers and housekeepers put up with. Some Campers get rather rude when the restrooms are closed for cleaning. Yes, it may be a temporary inconvenience, but a person cleaning them is a good thing!

Another thing to watch the sanitation practices in the campground’s café, snack bar or restaurant. If your cashier seems sickly or is propped up on the counter picking their nose… If you see the cook walk out of the restroom wearing his or her apron…. Well, you’re better off eating in your camper or throwing some burgers on the grill. Keep your eyes posted for potential problems. And if you can, call them out on it. Alert the campground manager that you saw the cook going into the restroom wearing an apron or the cashier pick his nose and handle food, etc… It could save someone’s life!

Teach your children to use sanitizer, handi-wipes and facial tissue. Make sure they understand how important it is to prevent the spread of germs – especially in areas like restrooms, playgrounds, water parks and arcades.

A few days ago I was in a public restroom and a small child came up to me stating the sinks didn’t work. I had to show the little one that they weren’t “smart” sinks, they didn’t know we were there wanting to wash our hands. We often forget that children have learned to wave their hands and water or paper towels suddenly appear. They don’t know that not all public restrooms have “smart” technology. So make sure you accompany your children into the restroom to help them wash up properly.

These are just a few ways to protect your family while camping.  With reports increasing on those who will become infected (and die) from the H1N1 virus, we all have to use a little more common sense to stop the spread.

Campgrounds are fun and germ-y!

Campgrounds are fun and germ-y!

It’s been several weeks since I even had time to sit down and post anything new at THE MODERN NOMAD. Between all the activities and trying to get in some site-seeing, the summer has went flying by.

And most of our Full-Timing friends who are workampers have found themselves in the same situation.

Despite the recent economic conditions, people are finding the time to enjoy their local campgrounds. Unfortunately, most of us wish a few Campers would have just stayed home. 😉

There seems to be a new style of camping developing… Golf cart camping.  These folks bring their own golf carts (in pickup truck beds, in little cart trailers, rigged to the back of their RV or in  toy haulers) with them and before they even get their RV settled, they are driving around the campground in their golf cart. And if they have an underage driver or pet… well, they have them drive it!

Most of these “Cart-Campers” go by the rule that golf-carts always have the right-away and they don’t have to obey traffic signs or road rules. They drive them at night around the campground (most without headlights) and if they have a radio, they make sure to play it too.

A few of the campgrounds we have visited have strict golf cart rules or even “not allowed” policies. We have never experienced problems with golf carts until this summer. Several of our workamper friends have experienced this new trend over the last few months and have seen the craziness (ie. irresponsible usage) involved.

Another thing one of our workamp friends mentioned is variety of animals staying at her campground. She said she’s seen everything from rabbit hutches in the back of pickups to some folks who set up a tent and pen for their pot-bellied pig!

There have been similar sites here – including some folks who brought a dog house and erected a fence around it. They said their dog wasn’t a “Camper Dog”. Hmm… that would probably mean he shouldn’t spend a week at a campground.

A few weeks ago there was a dog attack and a child was bitten by a dog that was off leash. Despite the leash law signs and campground rules, the owner’s didn’t feel the need to leash their pet. If anything, the poor dog should have been leashed to prevent it from being run over by a golf cart!

So it’s been a summer of craziness at campgrounds across the country. Is it Labor Day Weekend yet? No? Well… one could hope it goes by quietly! 😉


I received a rather amusing email from a Full-Timing friend who has been workamping for several years. Her main grip was “everyone wants to be a vagabond now!”

Lately everywhere you turn there is an article popping up either online, in the print newspaper or even on the TV news, regarding living the RV or caretaker life. The reporters interview a few of us “houseless” folks and then manage to piece a story together on how their faithful readers or viewers can just give up everything and “live free” too.

These pieces promise that you too can be a vagabond. Honestly, I’ve been finding it rather amusing! 😉

One article I read said that there was no need to buy a new RV because they depreciate like cars. Okay, that is true… but did she mention that most campgrounds and RV resorts require newer models? Most places want workampers who have models no older than 8 to 10 years. I have heard of places even saying six years or newer. So before you rush out and buy that 1980s Trek motorhome that the guy “down the road” has for sale in his mother-in-law’s barn, you better do your homework on what types of workamping jobs you hope to get and what most employers require.

Another article I read said that this lifestyle was only for retirees.  Hmm… I’m not retired (or even close to it for another 30+ years!) and several of our Full-Timing and/or workamping friends are either too young to retiree or still have families of their own (who live the lifestyle with them). There is a growing number of younger folks and families who live this way and get along quite nicely. So don’t rule it out Full-Timing or workamping if you are younger than 65.

This same piece mentioned that the jobs were rather easy and required no effort. Well… I would love to drag this writer to a campground or RV resort and put them to work for a day. Yes, it takes no skill to handle 100+ check-ins on a Friday night during the summer or on a holiday. (Insert me rolling my eyes here!) Or how about cleaning several bathouses a day and operating a Kiavac machine. No skill? No effort? Okay, well then how about mowing several acres of lawn around a hundred RVs in 90 degree temps? No sweat! Yes, there are some easier jobs out there, but in outdoor hospitality – anything goes! So even a light Camp Host position may find you having to haul firewood, clean restrooms or help evacuate the campground during an emergency.

I could go on and on, as there have been so many “be a vagabond” stories lately. With recent economic changes and many people struggling to keep their home or in need of a new career, these articles and news casts offer hope and freedom. Don’t get me wrong, it can and it does for many, but before you make that leap you should do some research and speak to those who have (or are on) that road!

Everyone may want to be a vagabond, but not just anyone can be a vagabond and be happy with it.

Yogi BearFor those Full-Timers who would like to start workamping or those who haven’t workamped in a while – you are needed! Campgrounds and RV parks and resorts all over the country are still in need of help this season.

Despite the financial woes, Campers are still finding the time to visit their favorite campgrounds on weekends. In fact, a number of people have given up standard week-long vacations in place of just taking a series of weekend trips throughout the summer.

Instead of visiting expensive locations and attractions, many Campers are staying closer to home and enjoying local sites. With many larger campgrounds offering amenities such as fishing ponds, miniature golf, water slides, pools, game rooms and other activities, a family doesn’t have to travel far to make the most of their vacation time.

Since most campgrounds are seasonal or have peak-times in the season where they need help, it’s hard to find locals who are willing to just work a few months at a time. Yet for Full-Timers, it is a wonderful arrangement.

Jobs vary at each location, but many campgrounds are always desperate for office, maintenance, housekeeping and landscaping staff. Many require no or little experience and will train those who are willing to learn.

So start drafting that resume (or dust yours off) and start applying. If you are eager to work, there are places that are eager to have you right now!

With the economy the way it is, many folks are looking for jobs or ways to make additional income to make ends meet.

Recently the spotlight has been aimed at workamping. Even CNN ran a piece on workamping jobs ( Lots of Jobs for Workampers ).  Online searches for jobs and information on the RV lifestyle have increased. Many people are looking for options for working and living without a towering mortgage payment and other associated-bills.

Unfortunately, this has provided scammers more innocent folks to target. For those who use free work camp posting sites, they find themselves open to false “job opportunity” emails and phone calls. So how do you know what is legit and what isn’t?

If you have received an offer in your spam folder chances are that’s exactly where it belongs. Yet sometimes workamp employers do send out multiple emails and this could be sorted into your spam folder. So you’ll want to check to see what the email address is. Legitimate employers usually have an email address that makes sense (not some jumbled numbers and letters) and have their name or business name associated with the email. The email should provide (at the very minimum) basic information about the position(s). If you receive a phone call, the employer should identify themselves and provide you information on the position.

Genuine employers should not ask you for any personal information other than a standard resume and references. Do not give out your social security number, bank information or anything else. And do not even send your resume or personal information to employers who do not give you some information first. Anyone can send you an email stating “I have a job offer, send me your resume and personal information”. If they haven’t explained enough about the position and you feel uncomfortable, tell them you need more information about the position before you “formally apply”. A real employer will understand this and respect it.

And remember – no good job offer will ask you to pay money or put down some sort of deposit for the position. Now, there is one campground in Arizona that wants workampers to put down a $500 deposit so they don’t leave prior to their contracted end-date. This is absolutely ridiculous. If you are working a trade-for-site position you are already working weekly work hours for your site (week-by-week). They have no right to charge you $500 if you leave earlier. They are taking money from you from hours you already worked and were “owed” anyway. Yet some people have ended up putting the money on their credit card thinking this is how you get a workamp job. It’s not and you shouldn’t have to pay to work. If this employer has a problem keeping people, then that is a reflection on management and/or work conditions.

Some employers may ask for a deposit on equipment (such as radios or cell phones) used during the contract period. If this is the case, make sure you have something in writing to show what you were given and the condition it was in when given to you. Keep a copy of the check or deposit receipt to show the money to be returned to you when you return the equipment. Also make sure you get something in writing to show it was returned. If possible, take a photo of the equipment after it was received and right before it was return. Make sure your deposit (if taken) is returned promptly.

If you are looking for a workamp position without the hassle of scams, I recommend subscribing to the Workamper News and upgrading to “Workamper Plus”. This way only legitimate employers will have access to your information and if you have any serious problems with any advertised or subscribing employers, you can contact the Workamper News with your concerns. They also have a great forums and a community area to stay in touch with other workampers.

Another thing I would like to mention is upcoming changes to KOA’s (Kampgrounds of America) Workamper Program. As of April 30, 2009, to be a part of this program, you must pay an annual fee of $35. With this you can post your resume on their website and search for jobs at KOA campgrounds. Before this was absolutely free. Being a “member” of their new KOA Workamper Membership (as it is now called) includes a 10% discount at all KOAs. This is something you can get with the standard KOA card (only $24 annually) and if you work with KOA you are given travel vouchers between KOA jobs. So having to pay to receive a discount (which you shouldn’t need anyway!) and to apply for a position with them is rather ridiculous. Having participated in this program before, I have found that many KOAs do not update their job listings or respond to applicants. Save yourself the $35 fee and just subscribe to Workamper News. Many KOAs advertise through Workamper News anyway!

If you are searching for a work camp job, be wary of scams. Do your homework! Don’t send out personal information and never pay for a job. And if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is!


Workamping: Working in a RV

Workamping Pros and Cons

Is Workamping for You?

Know Before You Go


Support Your RV Lifestyle by Jaimie Hall



Exit signThe other night I awoke to a series of sounds that had me flying out of bed to see what was going on outside.

I looked out the living room window to see a compact car literally crawling down the road. A rather loud “flup flup” could be heard from its flat tires. The vehicle pulled into an empty campsite, turned around and headed back toward the exit.

With only one street light near us, I couldn’t recognize the model or even the color of the vehicle. It would have been rather interesting (okay, funny, I admit it!) to see where the vehicle ended up and how far it got on four flat tires.

The campground where we are currently staying has gator teeth at both exits. This eliminates the need for gates, while protecting the Campers from those who did not belong – such as the compact car!

We have stayed at a few campgrounds and RV resorts that had no gate houses, gates, gator teeth or in even sign-in policies to control who was in park. These parks are prone to outside traffic – not all of which is good.

While workamping as Camp Hosts, we dealt with some issues with outside traffic. One RV resort we worked at had a shared entrance and exit and all vehicles had to check-in at the office. Campers or Visitors who had already been in the office were issued bright vehicle tags. This helped eliminate the outside traffic and kept the park safe.

One morning, during the Easter holidays, I decided to open the office earlier in anticipation of a busy day. I was just putting the key in the door when an old pickup truck filled with bicycles pulled into the park. Ignoring the check-in sign and STOP sign), the pickup continued into the campground. Fortunately my folks (and fellow Camp Hosts) were just getting on the park golf cart to do the morning rounds and heard me yell after the truck. ( By the way, if you are ever a Camp Host – yelling at fleeing vehicles doesn’t get them to stop! 😉 ) They took off after him in the golf cart and waved at him to go back to the office. He turned his pickup around in an empty RV site and pulled up to the office. Once he turned the truck engine off, the three of us walked up to the driver’s side window and asked if we could help him.

He gave us a story about visiting his local friend “Charlie”. Since I had been on office duty for several days, I knew every Camper in the park. Not only was there no one by that name registered, but every Camper during the time was actually from out-of-state or not even from the country! A handful of guests were Canadians who took their RVs across on the ferry. When I said he could come into the office and we could try to find his friend’s campsite number on the main listing, he said it “wasn’t important” and left.

We suspected he came into the park to steal bicycles, which is actually a common theft item in campgrounds. We recorded the license plate number and descriptions of the truck and driver. I called the park owner and alerted her to the situation. She figured our hunch was right and alerted authorities about the vehicle. Meanwhile, for the safety of our fellow Campers, we stopped at every campsite with bicycles, kayaks and other outside toys and reminded them to keep their items secure during their stay with us.

Gator Teeth

Gator Teeth

I know that some folks are terrified of driving over gator teeth – even the correct way. Our home camp in Florida had these for several years before a keycard entry was installed and one of my local friends refused to visit in her own vehicle for fear of  “the teeth”.

Although they may be nuisance or concern for some Campers, they really are for our protection. So the next time you stay in a campground or RV resort with gator teeth or other one-way obstacles, remember they are keeping outsiders flat-out! 😉

Gator Teeth Signage


Right now with the scary economic situation, many folks are looking into becoming RVers. The RV lifestyle is a cheaper way to live, yet there things to keep in mind before making that lifestyle leap.

Even if a Full-Timer doesn’t own a stick-house, doesn’t mean they don’t have monthly payments to make on their rig and/or tow vehicles, as well as credit cards, food and medical expenses and any other regular bills. Even used RVs can cost more than the average house. And unlike thirty-year mortgages  for stick-houses, you can usually only extend your payment to ten years on a RV.

Campgrounds or RV resorts vary in monthly or annual rates – some can be as low as $150 a month (in Texas, if you’re curious!) and exceed $2800 a month (Key West). Keep in mind this is just “rent” you pay to park your RV. It should include sewer, water, garbage service and electricity. However, electricity may be metered – so you may find yourself with a monthly electric bill. Extra amenities, such as Cable TV or SAT TV, WiFi and park activities are usually free, but many parks are now charging modest fees for monthly and annual stays. Always check into this before committing to a particular campground or RV resort.

And don’t forget you need fuel and propane. Right now the prices on both are going down, but that is always subject to change and does vary area-to-area. We paid $5.29 for diesel leaving California and are now paying $1.89 for it in Texas. Big difference! Propane in Washington was $3.50 and in Texas we have been paying $2.20. So it makes budgeting difficult.

Yet you can save money while RVing or living the RV lifestyle! The most popular is to be a Camp Host or work at a campground or RV resort to get a free (or reduced) site space and utilities. Often these positions come with additional perks, such as free Cable TV, WiFi, discounted propane, laundry allowances and even pay. This alone can say you hundreds to thousands of dollars each month and basically give you free living.

If you find a camp hosting position that provides discounted propane or provides a propane allowance (meaning you are allowed so many free fill-ups per month), then that helps reduce propane costs. Another way to save on propane is to shop around. Some campgrounds provide propane services and often this may be more expensive than traveling a few miles into town. If you have a motorhome and rely on a propane truck to come into the campground to fill your tanks, you should consider getting a spare that you can take elsewhere to refill until you can drive your motorhome to propane dealer. For example, our motorhome neighbors who have to rely on the propane truck are paying $3.50 for propane and we take our tanks into town (6 miles) and pay only $2.20.

Another thing to mention is if you are not paying for monthly electricity and have everything on propane (hot water heater, refrigerator, furnace) then you should switch it to electricity to save your propane. If your not in an extremely cold climate, consider getting a ceramic heater to help reduce use of the furnace. If you are paying for monthly electricity usage, then you may want to do the opposite and switch them over to propane. It depends on what it is costing you in the long run. Do the math and see which is best for your situation.

You can save money on fuel several ways. First and foremost – pay cash! Most fuel stops are now charging for credit card purchases. It may be faster to put your credit card in to pay, but if you’re barely making your credit card payment… the interest is going to increase your fuel costs even more… so keep this in mind when you pay at the pump. Secondly, consider joining frequent fuel-er programs. Many are worth the saving involved. Most larger truck stops and travel centers have some sort of program. And often there are additional perks to these programs. For instance, Flying J has a frequent fuel-er program, but if you upgrade to the RV card you also get a discount on propane! And the more you fuel up, the more savings you get. Some programs include other services, such as store purchases and restaurant visits. Nothing beats a fuel stop than the clerk telling you that you have a free pizza owed to you or you just saved $15 with your card! And if you are planning to make a long haul through remote regions, consider purchasing a few fuel cans. When you arrive at a place with cheaper fuel, fill them up. This way when you travel and see the insane “only gas station for 300 miles” prices, you can toot your horn and keep driving by.  Even if you aren’t making a long trip, filling up your extra tanks before prices rise (especially at the holidays) can save you a few extra dollars. Just make sure your extra tanks are secure and if visible, have some sort of chain-lock through them. If your rig or tow vehicles don’t have locking gas caps, you should look into that as well. While parked in the campground you can save money on fuel by car-pooling with a camping neighbor. This sort of arrangement is always appreciated and can be alternated between neighbors. If you’re close to town consider using local transportation, such as a shuttle or bus service or ride your bike.

Camping supplies can be costly, especially if you buy them from a camping store. Shop around! For instance, those quick-flick lighters RVers love to ignite their gas stoves can cost $5 in a camping supply store, $3 at Wal-mart and only $1 at the Dollar Tree. It’s pretty much the same thing – may not be the designer color you want – but still fits the same purchase. If there is something camping-related you need – such as a folding bike or lounge chairs – check your campground bulletin board. Often RVers upgrade (or downsize) and have items to sell or even giveaway. If you need some sort of part for your rig – contact your RV dealer and see if you are still under warranty. You would be surprised how many people forget that certain items are guaranteed longer. If not, ask the dealer about a customer discount. Sometimes they will take a percentage off your bill for purchasing a RV through their dealership. They recognize your patronage and want to keep you as a customer.

Campground pecans - free food!

Campground pecans - free food!

Food expenses have been a recent concern for folks as fuel prices have fluctuated. Many campgrounds offer coupon exchange areas (usually located in the laundry areas). Don’t be too proud to use coupons! And if  you have extra, share them with your fellow Campers. If you belong to a wholesale or discount club, make sure you really are getting a deal. Sometimes you’ll find that they are actually higher on bulk items. If bulk is a better deal, but you have no extra space, consider going in with a neighbor on the deal! Most Full-Time RVers belong to either Costco or SAM’s Club and love sharing deals with other Campers. And sharing a meal or having a weekly potluck with your camping neighbors is a great way to help cut food costs.

Also, take advantage of local farmer’s markets and flea markets. If you are getting ready to move on, stock up on the local fare. While in Washington we bought twenty pounds of potatoes for only $2. Before we moved on, we made sure we had plenty. Our next stop we found that twenty pounds potatoes would cost us $6. When we left California, we made sure we had plenty of citrus and olives on hand. Before our next move we will have about five pounds of Texas pecans (free for the picking here in the campground) ready to go with us.

Living the RV life can be more affordable if you keep your eyes on the road ahead and wisely manage (and limit) your expenses.


Great Blue Heron along the river.

Great Blue Heron along the river.

A number of folks think only retirees are Full-Timers and, of course, that’s not the case. There are many who families, younger couples and singles who enjoy the RV lifestyle. So what do we do when we aren’t workamping, volunteering or traveling? Pretty much anything people with stick-houses do!

One of the things we enjoy is hiking and walking. I make a point to take the digital camera along every time – I love to take photos. The photo above was actually taken on my walk along the river earlier today. You never know what you are going to see. The other day I saw my first Coypu, but it went under the water before I could snap a photo.

Of course, when you are staying in an area  for a short or limited period of time, you have to make the most of it. I remember getting up one morning to a nippy 32 degrees and hiking through old growth forest to Sol Duc Falls (Olympic National Park). By the time we got back it was snowing and very slippery. We could have postponed the hike for another day, but if we kept doing that, we may not have gotten to see it and experience nature in such an amazing winter setting. So we always make a point to make the most of our time in an area. I have found this creates richer memories.

Bicycling is another popular hobby among RVers. We have folding bikes we purchased from a marine store. They only weigh about 15 pounds each and fold into a travel bag. They are great for around parks and designated bike trails. One place we workamped, I even road my bike to the entrance gate each morning (to unlock it). Although I was startled one morning when two coyote darted in front of me! I hit the brakes and looked up the hill to see them chasing two deer. I would have missed that if I drove the noisy company car down to the gate.

Reading is a big hobby and most campgrounds and RV resorts offer either a lending library or a place to leave books, magazines and directories. A few we have been to even have places to swap jigsaw puzzles, road maps, coupons and catalogs. We have made a lot of new friends just by sitting outside in our lawn chairs. There is just something about reading a book outside that attracts folks!

Larger campgrounds and RV resorts usually have a number of social activities – so there is always plenty of opportunities to make friends “at home”.  We have stayed at parks with golf clubs (they had a golf course right there at the park), computer clubs, Red Hat Ladies, monthly or annual potlucks, choral groups, bingo, art and craft clubs, tennis clubs and other activities. One we stayed at had French classes (which I enjoyed) and even karate classes. So it is very easy to socialize – even if you are only staying a few days. I think I know more about Campers I’ve played bingo with than my friends!

My pressed penny and quarter collection

My pressed penny and quarter collection

Individual hobbies are the same for Full-Timers, except on a smaller scale because of the storage space and transportation issues (nothing too bulky or  fragile). Personally, I collect travel-related items: postcards, pressed pennies and quarters (from a machine at an attraction – some folks refer to them as “squashed pennies”, “souvenir pennies” or “oblongateds”), campground maps (not as popular as collecting restaurant menus), souvenir tee shirts and unique travel mementos. In my free time, I enjoy origami, kirigami, making ningyo dolls and Sumi-e painting. These items take up little space and keep me out of trouble. 😉

Many RVers enjoy the internet and email. It not only allows us to stay in touch with friends and family, but interact with other RVers and plan our routes. A number of Full-Timers have blogs, websites and photo galleries to maintain.

There are numerous things to keep us Full-Timers on the move, even when we’re parked!

We have a sheet of questions to ask each work camp employer either before or during the interview process. These questions  not only aid us in our decision, but also alerts us to what we will encounter during our new work camp position.

Type or neatly write a list that pertains to you and have copies made of it. Keep the copies on file with your resumes so that they are always handy.

If a phone interview has been arranged, take out your questionnaire and fill in the information you have already learned (from the advertisement or perhaps emails or calls already from the employer). This way when you are on the phone you can say, “As stated in your ad, you have laundry privileges. Does that include free laundry or a laundry allowance?

Here is our questionnaire for a sample. Items in italics are our “reminders”. Remember to keep enough space between each question for you to write the answers provided.







Arrival / Start / Departure Dates?


— Electric (30 or 50 AMP; metered; allowance)?

— Adequate Site Size? ( 4 slides – 1 room doubles )


— Duties(s)?

— Work Schedule / Hours?

— Wage / Salary?

— Hours for Site (If applicable)?

— Uniforms / Dress Code?

Benefits / Perks?

— Laundry (free; allowance)?

— Propane (allowance; discount)?

— Cable TV or SATV (free; discounted)?

— WiFi (free; discounted; park-coverage; speed)?

— Store / Cafe (discounted?)

— Seasonal Bonus?

— Travel Allowance?

— Others?


If we applied to an employer through an advertisement (or if they contacted us and we are aware of their ad), I tape the ad to the bottom of the questionnaire for exact wording.

Another thing to remember is key words used in employers ads and on their website. You may learn you receive free laundry as a benefit, but the ad may read “limited” laundry. Yet “limited” could be anything. It could mean there is only one washer and one dryer for several work campers. It could mean that it is the business laundry area and that it is only available to work campers at scheduled times. Or something you may not even think of. We recently experienced a “limited” laundry. The employers used this term since the washer had no hot water – it was a cold-wash only. Indeed, it was limited!

Most employers will discuss these things prior to the phone interview, so you should be able to fill in most of your questions. If you do have a concern about something, it is best to bring that up before you get to deep into the interview. There is no sense wasting your time or the employer’s if you feel this isn’t the right position for you.

If you have limited skills, disabilities or prefer not to do certain tasks – make sure you add those to your questionnaire. If the job calls for working in the camp store and the ad state it involves some “cleaning” and you can’t lift over 10 lbs. or refuse to clean toilets, then you need to find out if the employer means sweeping the store and cleaning the windows or something else more physically demanding. There is nothing worse for an employer to have an employee say “I won’t or can’t do that” and it is equally frustrating for the work camper finding themselves in a situation they can’t or don’t want to do – especially if they drove a couple thousands miles for the job.

Take a few minutes and create your own work camp employer questionnaire. These questions  will not only help your decision, but will also let you know what you’re getting into. Our motto is “know before you go!”

Campers placed hot coals in a garbage barrel
Campers placed hot coals in a garbage barrel

Anyone who has workamped will admit that there are pros and cons to this type of work-lifestyle. 

Most workamp positions often include free (or reduced fee) campsite and or some sort of housing (i.e. park model, villa, cabin) either on-site or nearby. Usually this includes water, electric (or an electric allowance), sewer, garbage and amenities. 

One of the obvious pros would be the affordable living and the location to work. No need to spend time commuting to work when it’s right there! Yet a downfall is you are living at your workplace, most often, with your boss and coworkers. There is no way to “escape” from them. You need to be a professional at all times.

Some workampers may disagree with this and may feel that after they are off the clock, they can do what every they want. It may be okay to kick back a few brews with your coworkers, but keep in mind that you need to keep work and your social life separate. If this isn’t balanced carefully, you’ll find yourself at odds with your friends and coworkers for the season. This can really make a good workamp experience go bad quickly. A good rule to have is not to say or do anything you don’t want getting back to your employer or shared with your coworkers. So if you think your boss is a jerk and a coworker is fat, keep it to yourself!

If you are workamping at a campground or resort, you will be surrounded by guests. With every new arrival you find new “stories” and experiences to share. Yet once some guests know you work and live there, they may bother you on your time off. I have spoken to other workampers who have had serious problems with this. One said he received a knock on the motorhome door at 11 PM from a guest declaring that he had to open the camp store so they could buy some marshmallows to roast that evening!

As with your boss and coworkers, you should remain professional around the guests. Again, this can be a pro and con. If the guests staying near you break the rules and you are the one to call them out on it, it may cause additional problems. Most people are apologectic in situations like this, but a handful can make life difficult.

 Like any job you will have good days and bad days, especially if you are dealing with the public.

Most workamp positions are seasonal or temporary. For those who like short-term work and moving on to other locations, this is ideal. It also means that you have to constantly search for another position and set aside funds for traveling to it.

Usually workampers who apply for jobs have never been to that location or area. They rely on information from others, the employer and the internet. You may ask questions during the employer’s phone interview, but the answers may not be as detailed as needed. And, quite frankly, some business websites tend to be misleading.

For example, you may tell the employer you do have a big fifth-wheel or travel trailer and need a larger site. They may say that there is no problem, they can accommodate any size rig. Months later you arrive at the job to find not only does your rig barely fit, you have to park your tow vehicle a mile away in an a visitor parking area. A series of “little” things can add up quickly, making you dread your decision to work at that location. Although you may arrive to find that not only the site is big enough, but that your boss neglected to mention you had the best site in the park!

My advice on this is to create a list (and copy it off for each job) of what to ask employers during or before the phone interview. And review their website, especially if it is a campground. The amenities page and site map may generate more questions. Ask questions! This can help prevent a lot of problems.

Another possible problem with workamp positions is the lack of work. You may drive several days for a position only to get there and find they didn’t need your help or a change in management happened after you were hired and they immediately say “Who are you?” It is best to get a written (and signed) contract or agreement that outlines the important information. Having a contract is also a plus because even if business is slow, they must keep you on until the end date stated in the contract.

There are many more pros and cons of workamping; however, these are probably the most important ones. As with any job, you will have good and bad work experiences.

With rising costs and the economy in a slump, many folks have been  inquiring about becoming Full-Time RVers. It makes a great deal of sense not having to worry about a large mortgage and all the extras burdens that come with maintaining a house.

And this slump also has Full-Timers and Seasonal RVers who normally do not work (because of pension, social security or savings) looking for positions that pay and/or provide a free site space to help stretch their income.

Workamping can be any type of job and any type of position – paid or volunteer. You do not have to travel around to workamp and it does not have to be an outdoor hospitality job. Yet most prefer an outdoor hospitality (i.e. campgrounds, RV parks, RV resorts, etc…) positions because they usually provide a minimum of a free site (with hookups).

Although most of these types of jobs require no or limited experience, there are are many that do (especially computer skills if working in an office). Applications and resumes for campgrounds and RV parks are generally submitted online or by standard mail. Employers usually arrange for phone interviews for those who they feel are qualified. When a decision has been made and both parties agree, often an agreement or contract is made. This covers what the workamper receives (full hookups, Cable TV, etc…), commitment dates, job or position details and any other pertinent information. A signed agreement protects both parties as it assures the workampers that a job will be there when they arrive and the employers will feel confident knowing they have help during the commitment period.

Having worked with other campground workampers and being around them as a campground/RV resort guest, I know that workamping in an outdoor hospitality setting is not for everyone. 

If you are looking for a position in a campground or related venue, then you must realize that you may be called to work at different areas or positions during your commitment period. If someone is sick or does not show up, the public restrooms still need cleaned and the garbage still needs picked it up. When you work at a campground you must be a team player.

Unfortunately, we have arrived at many jobs, only to find our coworkers either padded their resume or puffed themselves up at the interview and would not or could not handle the positions they were given. If you do not want to clean restrooms, if you cannot lift propane tanks, if you cannot operate a computer, etc… then do not apply for a position that may require it! You may think “Oh, I got the job. They won’t care what I can’t or won’t do when I get there.” Well, you are wrong! It is not only frustrating for the employer to find you have limitations or falsified your abilities, but it is a generally a nightmare for your fellow workampers. Be honest!

One of the main problems I have encountered with workampers is the refusal to work the office and / or a computer. A RV park we worked at had a very basic computer program. If you could send an email, you could take reservations. Very basic, very simple. We had one workamper that was deathly afraid of it and had nightmares about it. Her husband said she was having anxiety attacks over it and that after a few days they decided to leave. It turned out that her husband was fine on the computer and she took over his duties (housekeeping and maintenance), while he did hers (office and store). Ironically, she had put on her resume that she was computer savy and had office experience!  So if you do not like computers or are uncomfortable handling money, tell the potential employer you prefer not to work these areas. And if you can work a computer but are very slow, explain that to the employer. I spoke to one employer who said she had one woman who took 45 minutes to check in a Camper! She said she did it correctly, but the speed of the transaction was just not acceptable. The office is a crucial position in a campground and employers need workampers who are comfortable in this area.

We worked with one set who thought they were above working period. They said they knew how to do everything (yet really did not know anything) and quite openly did not want to do anything. They just wanted to sit in their motorhome all day. This meant work not getting done during an already busy camping season. This added more work to the rest of us and finally seeing how this was dragging us all down, they were fired (and given very short notice to leave the property).

Although the campground office may close at 8 PM, that does not mean that things will stop happening! An emergency may occur or other problems after hours. You have to remember that not only are you temporarily employed there, you and your coworkers also live there. If there is an emergency going on, do not hide in your RV and say “I’m off the clock”. It is unfair to the others who work there. You need to be flexible and help keep things run smoothly.

We were working as Camp Hosts and were managing a RV park for 72 hour shifts. We would work the standard office hours and be on-call after hours. If there was an emergency or a serious situation going on, we would come to the aid of our fellow Hosts and they would come to ours. Again, you are not only coworkers, you are neighbors!

Another thing to keep in mind is that you must deal with the public. You may think working as maintenance or housekeeping are jobs were you can “hide” from the public and not have direct contact such as the  campground store or office, but that is not the case. Chances are you will have just as much, if not more contact with the camp guests and visitors.

If you are not a people person then you should give careful consideration to an outdoor hospitality job. It is probably not for you!  And believe me, some people should not be dealing with the public. I worked with one man who insulted a first-time guest at check-in. The workamper told him he thought his Class A was recalled and that he should have bought a better one! How he got through that without a broken nose is still beyond me!

For those that do enjoy working with the public, there are many options. Age restricted or 55+ parks or resorts are great for those who enjoy interacting with older folks. These parks often offer classes and schedule activities. If you enjoy being around families, especially those with young children, consider a family campground or RV park. These campgrounds usually have regularly childrens’ activities and family events. Some RV parks and resorts are more inclined to nightly visitors, while others are more for extended stays. If you like to get to know folks, consider applying at one with seasonal or annual residents. 

 If you are interested in workamping at an outdoor hospitality venue, you should consider whether or not you can be a team player, flexible, honest about your abilities and limitations and deal with the public. If you cannot deal with any one of these things, then working a campground may not be for you.

NOTE: This prompted me to outline the pros and cons of workamping. So look for that being posted soon.

Here are a few of the most memorable campground office conversations I have had. Obviously it’s not verbatim, but you get the idea of how the conversation went.


  • “Before you run my credit card, I need to pay the bill. Can you wait a week before you run it, but go ahead and make the reservation now?”
  • “I don’t have a credit card.” “Do you have a checking account that we can use to hold the reservation?”  “No, but I have a Visa. Will that work?”
  • “Please don’t send  me a reservation confirmation letter. I don’t want my husband to know about it.” ( I didn’t ask for her to elaborate!)
  • “I don’t want to make a reservation, but if my wife calls, can you tell her you’re full that weekend? I want to stay home and watch the game.”


  • “What time does the gate close?” “Midnight tonight.” “My beer-drinking buddies won’t be out of the bar until 2. Can they crawl under the gate?”
  • “If we left the dog at home, would we have had to pay for the dog now?”
  • “Do you have a groceries in your store? We didn’t bring any food.”
  • “What’s the latest we can check-out Sunday without you calling the cops?”
  • “Quiet hour? You’re kidding, right?”
  • “If it rains tonight, can we get our money back?”


  • “Who do I pay for the coin-operated showers?”
  • “This campground is clean for being in the woods.”
  • “Do the rustic cabins have maid service?”
  • “My campfire won’t start.  Do you have any old motor oil?”
  • “I left my shampoo in the shower and now it’s gone. Can you tell whoever took it to stick it back in the first shower building when they realize it’s not their shampoo?”
  • “You said there is a free ice cream social, but you didn’t say how much it was.”
  • “If I get attacked by a bear, can I shoot it?” “Sir, you can’t have firearms in here and if you do, I have to report you to the sheriff.” “Oh, I don’t have a gun, I was just wondering what to do if a bear attacked me.” “Here’s a brochure on how to avoid bears.” “You serious? You do have bears?” “Yes, sir.” “What kind of campground has wild animals?”
  • “Can I cancel my mother-in-law’s reservation?”
  • “My son didn’t pack his shoes. Is there anyone camped here with children with size 5 feet?”
  • “You have too many squirrels.” “Probably because we have so many nuts.” (Yes, I said that with a straight face!)
  • “I don’t know about this dog policy. How can I pick up pee?”
  • “If I get a tent site and have visitors with a motorhome, can they just pay the extra vehicle fee?”
"What kind of campground has wild animals?"

“What kind of campground has wild animals?”


I received numerous emails regarding “Campground Living: Better than Reality TV” ( ) and will definitely be posting more crazy, zany and just plain odd things we have seen at campgrounds throughout the years.

Yet some of the “best” experiences have actually come from working at campgrounds. If you think living in a campground is better than reality TV, then let me tell you, campground working is better than a talk show!

The field of outdoor hospitality (sounds fancy, huh?) includes working in campgrounds, parks, resorts and marinas. There are numerous areas to work – from office work to housekeeping to maintenance.

We have worked (workamped) at campgrounds and boating resorts. We have done everything from be Camp Hosts to work every area of the resort. Each experience has added another funny story to share.

What type of Camper will get this site?

What type of Camper will get this site?

The majority of memorable moments that I have had come from working the office. The great thing about the office is you get to interact with the guests more. It also takes a seasoned person to work the front desk or main check-in of a busy campground or resort. Some guests are just not happy Campers and it can be emotionally draining.

I am pretty seasoned in hospitality and can just glance at Campers coming in and know how their trip has been up until the moment they stepped through the door. I can tell if a husband and wife haven’t spoken to each other for several hundred miles, if they had their RV or tow vehicle break down en route, if they don’t get along with their children / grandchildren who tagged along, if they are really frugal Campers, if they are newbies (new to camping) or if they are Full-Time RVers.

I could tell you how I can identify these Camper from within a few moments of contact – that alone is worth a few laughs – but like a magician, I can’t reveal all my secrets!

One of my favorites is the frugal Campers. They are what I call Counter-Slappers. They are the ones who come into the office, scrutinize the surroundings and then ask you how much it is to spend the night. After you tell them, they slap the counter and loudly proclaim, “I’ve been to every campground in this country and I have never paid that much to spend the night!”  If it’s not the nightly rate, they grumble about something else – extra person fee, Cable fee, dog fee, you-name-it… Counter-Slappers find any reason to make a fool of themselves. If these folks appeared on a talk show, they would be the ones throwing chairs or flashing the audience.

Full-hookups usually means "full-hookups".

Full-hookups usually means “full-hookups”.

It wasn’t until I worked at a RV park in the state of Washington that I had to add a sub-category, which I call extreme Counter-Slappers. These are the Campers (or Day Users in the case of two ECSs I encountered) who slap the counter and then pronounce that everything is a conspiracy or some sort of personal plot against them. These are the talk show type that make you shake your head and say, “Where did they dig this guy up?”

One of my favorite types is the new Camper. There are three types of Newbies: Questioner, Know-it-All and the Helpless. These are the folks you would roll your eyes at if you saw them on a talk show.

The Questioner obviously questions everything. My favorite has been the woman who asked, “Does full-hookups mean we get full-hookups?”  I like this type – they create some humorous table-conservation that evening!

Now the Know-it-All really tests my patience. These are new Campers who have either spoken to someone who told them things about camping or they read a book or magazine article about camping and are suddenly experts. Like the man who told me that no hookups (it was a dry camp) was okay for him and his new 40 ft. motorhome. He was adamant he didn’t need hookups. I gave in and registered him. Twenty minutes later he came back and said, “You said you had no hookups, but where is the electricity and sewer?”

Although they can be tiring and needy, you have to love the Helpless Newbies! My personal favorite was the woman who came up and told me “My toilet stinks!” I asked her if they had dumped their black water tank (sewer holding tank) and she told me they didn’t need to dump “any black water”, just get rid of their toilet smell. 😉

But these are just a few Campers you encounter working in the office. There are other types and you encounter several more types working outside in the campground! Some can be rather annoying, but again, it makes for great story-telling when it’s all over. Who needs talk shows when you work in a campground?!

As you begin to downsize, you have to do some serious thinking. Here are some of the main questions you need to honestly discuss with your spouse and/or family.

1) If you become a Full-Timer (or even Seasonal) can you deal without being around your other family and friends for long periods of time?

2) Can you deal with your own spouse and/or family in a RV 24/7? Just because RVers appear to always be on vacation – we aren’t. It takes a close, understanding family to live in a small area day-in-day-out. You will need to create “zones” or “spaces” for everyone to hangout when they want some privacy or some alone time.

3) Do you have what it takes to be independent? You don’t have to know everything about RVs, but basic repair, set-up, maintenance, towing and/or driving are things you need to know before you head out on that highway. You will have to do your homework if you are inexperienced in RVs. However, there are many wonderful books, videos, online forums and even “schools” (ask your local RV dealer) on RVs and related topics. And, if you have never even been in one and are considering this lifestyle, I seriously recommend you rent one for a week or two! See if you can handle it.

4) How will you earn an income? Even if you have a nice pension and/or social security coming in, you can’t rely on that to stretch far in today’s economy. So you need some sort of income. If you have an internet or computer-related “business” – then you are free to work anywhere you want. If you do not have another source of income or feel you need more to supplement yours, than you can work while on the road. Work-campers are folks who work or volunteer while living in a RV. With so many areas short of workers, we can go wherever help is needed and move on when the work is finished. For now just think about how you are going to pay for your RV (if you haven’t paid it off), insurance, fuel, food, propane and camping fees while you are on the road.

5) Are you going to keep your house? If so, you have a great deal of things to ask yourself – such as who will manage things like yard work and utility bills while you are away? Are you still paying a mortgage on your house? Will you be paying one on the RV as well? There is a lot to think about if you are going to keep your stick home (That’s what us homeless RVers call “houses”).

6) Although RVs have modern amenities – washer/dryer, microwave, ceiling fans, SAT TV, Cable TV, regular TV antennas, air-condition, central heat, generators (propane and gas), ice makers, etc… Sometimes you may have to do without. Not every campground you pull into will have Cable TV hookup or maybe even enough amps to run everything. There may be times when you won’t have water, electric or sewer hook-up. You may have to dry camp or boondock. If you have to have A/C all the time or other special needs, then you will have to make sure you find only campgrounds or travel resorts that can accommodate you. Sometimes that means you have to stick closer to the highway – which often means missing those hidden gems along the back-roads.

7) Where do you want to go? Are you a comfortable driver? Can you manage a long-distance drive in a RV? Or do you just want to go from point A to point B every couple months? Do you want a home base or “camp” – one that you go to every year for a certain period of time? Pulling open the map and heading out is great, but the uncertainty of it can be stressful to some people.

8 ) If you do this, you will need to find a RV and that is not something you take lightly if you decide to go long-distance or go Full-Time. You have many things to consider – things that you probably won’t think of until after you are on the road with it and grumbling that you should have bought something else. Such as storage! Many people forget that if everything you own is in the RV, than you need storage space – but not just any old storage space – you need smart storage space. It’s not smart to go outside to get your frying pan or to have your bath towels under the dinette table. And that’s just one factor to consider. I will go into detail later about what you should look for in a RV – things that dealers don’t know because they don’t live in them!

9) And back to the spouse and/or family issue! This lifestyle requires an understanding on everyone’s part. Even though typically one person does the outside stuff (ie. hookups, jacks, awnings) and one does the inside stuff (ie. slides, setup) – you all need to know the basics. In case of an emergency, you all need to know how to break camp, hookup and head out. So your family needs to be a “team” when it comes to RV know-how. I’ve seen too many people end up having their RV towed because a family member was ill (or worse) and they remaining member(s) didn’t even know how to crank down the TV antenna!

These questions are crucial – you have to seriously think these things through with your spouse and/or family. Everyone has to be honest or you may make the wrong decision.

If you think you have what it takes to be a Full-Timer, the next step is looking at your future income on the road.

UPDATED: February 13, 2012

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