While many travel with dogs and cats, those of us that bring pet birds along for the ride are a rare breed. We travel with a twenty-three-year-old male blue and gold macaw named Bandit. We consider him to be part of the family, or we a part of his flock from his perspective. We also travel with two dogs, an eighty-pound Flat Coat Retriever and a thirty-pound rescue mutt. As odd as this menagerie may sound, it all works out.
Life with Bandit
As parrots go, blue and gold macaws are among the largest. Overall length from beak to the tip of the tail can be more than thirty inches, with a wingspan of up to forty. Their physical size belies the fact that they only weigh about two pounds.
Typically, folks want to know if he can talk. Bandit will blurt out the occasional “hello” or “goodbye,” however, he only does so when he wants to. He does make various sounds, and we have been asked more than once if we had a goat in our coach! He is also capable of screaming loud enough to wake the dead. We learned to make sure the shades are drawn when we leave to walk the dogs, if not, Bandit will “ask” us why he is not included.
Lifespan is between thirty years for wild macaws, and up to about sixty for well-cared-for pets. Owning a macaw, or other large parrot, is definitely a long-term commitment. And doing so in an RV presents its own challenges.
Luckily, parrots are very intelligent animals, and Bandit seems to thrive on the mental stimulation he gets while on the road. However, it did take some planning and special considerations to make everyone comfortable.
Setting Up a Bird-Friendly RV
Bandit had a prior relationship with my girlfriend when I met her, so I quickly realized our RV lifestyle (which includes full-timing for part of the year) would include the parrot. There was no doubt we had to select an RV with enough room for all of us to coexist. We knew we wanted a smallish size coach. But, we had to rule out the smaller Class B’s due to our pet “payload” requirements. So, we ended up with a Winnebago Spirit Class C (model 22R), which nicely accommodates us all. And at just under 24 feet, it’s relatively easy to maneuver.
In order for Bandit to travel with us, we had to have a cage inside the RV for him. So, we decided to use a collapsible dog crate with a piece of PVC pipe inside which serves as a perch. While we are traveling, the cage sits on a padded plywood base on the bed in the back of the RV. Before we go to bed, we pick up the cage, holding the base, and transfer Bandit to the dinette area for the night.
We have to be careful to keep our fingers away from Bandits reach during the transfer. His idea of playing, can lead to a painful bite!
We also carry Bandit’s large floor model cage with us, strapped to a basket on the back of the Spirit. When we are staying someplace for an extended period, we will set it up so Bandit can spend time outside the RV. He attracts a lot of attention whenever he is out, which he seems to thrive on. From time to time, Bandit will have feathers come out, which is part of the molting process. We save them and give them to people, children especially enjoy them.
In case of emergency, we carry a third cage for Bandit as well – a plastic pet carrier. This is used to move him around outside the RV, should we have the need. It came in handy when we had to evacuate to a storm shelter. Bandit had a great time, entertaining those of us waiting out the storm as he chattered away excitedly in the campground bath house.
Takeaways for Other Bird Owners
If you have a pet bird that you are not currently including in your adventures, consider the possibility of taking your feathered friend with you. A few of the positives we’ve realized include the mental stimulation our bird experiences while traveling with us, the ability to better maintain Bandit’s diet, plus savings on a bird sitter. Also, including Bandit means he does not have to experience the separation anxiety of being away from his “flock.”
However, traveling with a large parrot like a macaw is not for everyone. But, there are smaller birds, which can still provide companionship and can travel in your RV without taking up the space Bandit does.
It’s that time of year again! While not all RVers choose a minimalist lifestyle, many will tell you that they agree with the philosophy of choosing ‘experiences over things.’ While awesome RVing gear can certainly add some fun to those camping memories, there are many thoughtful gifts that don’t take up space. Consider gifting these passes and memberships for your family to enjoy together or for your favorite RVing friend to try out.
1. America the Beautiful Annual National Park’s Pass
If your family or favorite RVer doesn’t have one of these in their wallet, they are missing out on a ton of fun (and savings) all year! Our National Parks have so much to offer for outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, and history buffs. Plus, for $80, the America the Beautiful Pass gets you into National Monuments as well – which means a total of more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the U.S. to potentially visit. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving…
Know someone headed to Canada? They have a great National Parks Pass, too!
2. Annual State Park Pass
Similar to a National Parks Pass, except these passes are state-specific and often come with some great camping perks as well! If the person you are gifting is based in one area or planning to visit a specific place, this is a fun gift option. Some state parks are free, but others charge an entry fee – even for campers. However, some states offer an annual pass that can offer a ton of savings for those frequenting these parks. For example, the annual Texas State Parks Pass is $70 for one person and $25 to add another person with the same address. A pass allows for free entry and discounts on camping, store purchases, and equipment rentals.
3. Reciprocal Museum Membership
Fellow GoLife contributor Bryanna Royal has written about how great the North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association is a few times. If you are an RVer with kiddos who love museums (or know one to gift this to), this could be the hit of the holiday season! Lots of fun for singles or couples who love to learn while they travel as well. (Read why Bryanna and her family love it).
4. City Attraction Pass
If you’ve never given a CityPASS or Go City Card a try, they are a blast. We always check for these when we’ll be visiting a new city for an extended time. If you know an RVer who is headed to a new city they plan to explore thoroughly, check for one of these great all-inclusive passes. They are usually good from one day to a week and they include entry to dozens of attractions, plus some additional discounts. We did this in Orlando, FL, once and had non-stop fun all day!
5. Harvest Hosts Membership
If your co-pilot or RVing friend loves wineries and/or farms, this membership is sure to be a hit! Harvest Hosts is becoming more and more popular with RVers wanting to get away from it all and enjoy a unique experience while there. My husband and I can’t rave about this enough. (Read more about our experiences here).
A membership gives you a list of hundreds of farms, wineries, breweries, museums and other unique places that will allow you to park there overnight. However, just make sure the person you are buying this for has a self-contained rig, as these places usually only provide dry camping and won’t have facilities to use. An annual membership is currently $49, but that is due to go up in 2019. The membership begins once the gift recipient activates it on the site with the code.
6. WIT Club Membership for Winnebago Owners
Maybe you have been part of WIT Club for some time and want to share this great resource with a new RVing friend, or you know a new Winnebago owner who wants a way to connect while on the road. Either way, this gift comes with a lot of perks! A WIT Club membership is $39.95 for one year and comes with multiple discounts and benefits, as well as invitations to special Winnebago-owner events throughout the year, called rallies. There are hundreds of chapters and clubs nationwide, so your favorite GoLifer will have plenty of opportunities to connect with and learn from like-minded RVers. (Check out this recap of a recent WinnieBs event for an example of the kind of fun to be had). To purchase a membership, use this online sign-up form. And if you have any questions, there is contact information on the bottom of the form.
7. Other RV Discount Memberships
While WIT Club provides discounts to Winnebago owners, there are a handful of other memberships that are also popular with RVers. These range in prices and benefits, so which one is best for your favorite RVer will depend on their travel style. They all offer varying discounts to campgrounds across the U.S., as well as other benefits. Passport America, Good Sam Club, and Escapees are all inexpensive and common options. Passport America is $44 per year, Good Sam Club is $29, and Escapees is $39.95.
8. Escapees Online University for RVers
In addition to their discount program, Escapees also has an online university. If you have a brand-new RVer (or hopeful RVer) in your life, this is a good option to help them learn the important ins and outs of life on the road. When we first started RVing, we had never heard of this. But, if a helpful friend would have gifted this to us, we would have spent every spare second learning about what to expect during life on the road! Access to the entire curriculum for 90 days is $79.
9. Kindle Unlimited Membership
Reading is a great way to spend those cool nights bundled up by the fire or warm summer days lounging in the sun. Since many RVers don’t have space to bring a large collection of books, many choose a Kindle instead. If your RVing friend already has a Kindle, sending them an Amazon gift card for them to purchase a Kindle Unlimited Membership could be a big hit (you can even email the gift card – too easy!). For about $10 per month, they will have access to more reading material than even the most leisurely trip will allow for.
And if you know a new RVer, suggesting some good Kindle e-books about the new lifestyle they’ve chosen is another thoughtful way to show your support of their grand adventure!
Fellow GoLife writer Don Cohen recently reviewed two that he highly recommends – both for RVers by RVers. First is A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV: Everything I Wish I Knew Before Full-Time RVing by Alyssa Padgett. “Don’t let the words ‘full-time’ in the title dissuade you,” Don notes. “Over eighty percent of the book’s content applies to any RVer. While Padgett has a clear (and youthful) viewpoint, I was surprised at how consistently factual she was with her explanation of RV topics. I never felt that there were any missteps in explanation or heavy biases.”
Don’s second suggestion is Living the RV Life: Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road by Marc and Julie Bennett who are also full-time RVers. Don does note that there is some content overlap with Padgett’s book. However, with lots of supporting photography and short one-page profiles of different RVers, this book “has a bit more of an inspirational, get out there and do it, kind of feel.” He recommends them both to help demystify the RV lifestyle!
10. Movie & TV Streaming Membership
While RVing is all about spending time in the great outdoors, it is also about bringing the comforts of home along on your trips. Which is why having some great options for movie nights, or TV shows to binge on bad-weather days (or when you need to let your Kindle charge), is really nice to have. If they don’t have it already, consider getting your favorite RV traveler a gift membership to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime (which all vary in price, but are close to $10 per month). Not sure if they already have one of these services? Redbox does gift cards also! And I’m sure some gourmet popcorn or other snacks would be welcomed accompaniments!
11. Satellite Radio Membership
It took about one month of searching for local radio stations as we traveled around to decide a satellite radio subscription would be key. We chose Sirius XM and they offer gift cards at different prices and lengths for those wanting to share this great music option with their favorite traveling friends.
12. Audible Membership
We’ve always been the type to jam out to our favorite songs on repeat on road trips, but we’ve had friends who rave about getting to listen to new books together on long drives. If you know an RVer that tends to take long trips and is always talking about the new book they read, this may be their favorite gift of the year! Prices start at $15 for one month, but there are also 3, 6, and 12-month options. Here are some instructions on how to gift a membership.
Are you someone who thinks gift presentation is key during the holidays? You could always pair these with some RVing must-haves like s’mores kits, trail snacks, RVing swag (Winnebago’s store has some cute options!), or some fun outdoor games. And if you are really just wanting a big gift you can wrap, check out these gear suggestions from fellow GoLifers.
Do you have any other unique gift ideas that help you share fun experiences with your favorite RVers?
Our RV life started out innocently enough. There was no way of knowing all those years ago — no way! — what it would become, and how RVing would dictate nearly every aspect of our future lives.
Ignorance is Bliss
Back in March of 2012, we bought our first RV, a travel trailer that we affectionately called The Tramper – a word that accidentally erupted from my mouth during a conversation when I couldn’t decide which word applied, trailer or camper. We were not full-timers back then. In fact, I did not know there was such a thing as full-timing.
Honestly, I hardly knew what an RV was.
My husband and I were pretty “normal” back in those days. As in, we lived in a house, and did normal stuff, like walk up and down stairs. There was a pretty kitchen to putter about. I had my office. Bill had his. There was a living room and dining room and garage, a bathtub, a treadmill … normal, normal, normal.
We headed out in The Tramper as often as we could, and we started a website so we could share RV park reviews and our musings on this road trip lifestyle.
Change is Coming
However, it wasn’t long before The Tramper started letting us down. It was constantly in the shop for warranty work. And worst of all, it leaked. Basically, it rained in our travel trailer. So, long story short, we found ourselves eyeing Class As and wondering what hitting the road in one of those would be like.
By late summer of 2013, we were the proud new owners of a Class A – a 2013 Itasca Ellipse, made by Winnebago. Approximately 43’ long, 13’ high, tag axle, diesel pusher. It is a beast! And it is in that very RV — these five years later — that I am typing this story now.
We ended up selling that house in the suburbs, and knowing that we were going to build a new home on our land in the Tennessee mountains, we started living in the Winnebago full-time.
But here is what I did not know… I did not know that my husband would insist that the garage beneath our new home be big enough (and tall enough) to park this monster of a motorhome in it. And not only park it in the garage for storage, but for the RV to be fully-operational (electric, water, and sewer). As in opened up, while in the garage. (His vision includes using it for family and friend overflow during larger gatherings.)
I did not know that the house plans and house build would take so long (over two years!) that over time, I would feel trapped in this motorhome while Bill was gone on work trips. Trapped enough to take me to make another unexpected decision…
Oops, We Did it Again
I had no idea we would buy another Winnebago, as in an additional (not instead of) Winnebago, a 2017 Era 70A camper van, so that I could head out on my own (in a much more easily maneuvered RV) while my husband was away at work for weeks at a time.
So, of course, we are now adding a “shop” onto the garage to park the camper van in. Again, one that is big enough and tall enough to accommodate an RV. And of course, back to his vision again – to make it fully operational for those family and friend get-together overflows.
All this lunacy brings to mind that old song: ‘She swallowed the bird to catch the spider…. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. But I don’t know why she swallowed that fly.’ I think of that song every time I explain to people why we have two RVs and why our house looks the way it does – a little box atop a really big box.
Building a Home Around the RVs
The house itself looks kind of puny (though tall), plopped above that garage. The garage, however, looks like an Amazon warehouse when empty. Our home is tall because the RVs are tall. We are basically building a home around our two RVs. And word on the street is that when the house is done, I get to sleep in it too.
I realize you’re probably thinking: What fools! Why not build a nice, normal house and just store your RVs like nearly everyone else does? And I can’t even disagree with you. But once Bill gets an idea in his head, there’s little chance of reasoning him out of it. He wanted these two Winnebago babies nearby and sheltered, ready for adventure at a moment’s notice.
We still have a few more months before we can move in. And once we do, the house will serve as home base, and we will venture out in the motorhome and camper van as often as we can.
I would love to hear what you do with your RV when you are not RVing? Or, if you are a full-timer, would you ever go back to sticks and bricks living?
Special thanks to Winnebago owner, Linda Register, who was kind enough to share her unique story.
For most people, prepping for a hurricane includes stocking up on necessities, bringing in outdoor items, filling up your gas tank, and maybe even boarding some windows. But, for Donnie and Linda Register, hurricane prep always includes prepping their Winnebago as well. While an RV is not the place you should be riding out a serious storm, they realized years ago that the generator makes it perfect for afterwards – when power is out and everyone is regrouping. Plus, it is comforting having it ready to go in case they do need to evacuate.
Prepping for the Storm
So, when they heard Hurricane Florence would be coming right through their home town of Wilmington, NC, they got ready. During the week before, they stocked up on medication, water and food. They also filled up on fuel and LP for their Winnebago Aspect – which they store next to their house for easy access.
Long-time RVers, this wasn’t their first time prepping their rolling home. The Registers started with an Itasca Cambria, which they owned for five years before trading it in for the Aspect, which they have had for four years. When asked if they were worried the RV would hold up, Linda says: “We have used both our units as backup before, so I was confident that it could hold up to a smaller storm. This one is well built and we put the leveling jacks down to help stabilize the unit.”
Initially, the Registers considered evacuating, but once Linda found out her parents would not be leaving, they decided to stay in case they needed to help. Plus, they would have room in the RV for all six of her family members in the area, if they all needed to take advantage of the generator.
Sure enough, power did go out at the Registers’ house. So, they headed for the RV as soon as they could with their two pups, Harleigh and Jackson. Turning on the TV helped calm their dogs as well as allowed Linda and Donnie to stay informed with what was going on.
Linda describes that first morning after the storm as shocking and quiet. Everyone assessed the damage on their own property and worried for their neighbors. While the Registers only had a tree down and some minor damage to the roof, many others in the area lost everything due to flooding.
In the midst of the chaos after the storm, Linda and Donnie were excited to offer some comfort to their neighbors who also stayed. “Just to be able to do something as simple as invite people to come get a cup of coffee – that helped,” she shares. And her neighbors swore it was the best coffee they had ever had. “Simple things made the difference.”
The Registers also charged battery packs for others to use for their cell phones, offered them hot food, let them cool down inside their rig, and kept up with the news. Their rolling home turned into a place everyone could gather to talk about what had happened and what would need to be done to help their community recover.
The Registers purchased their RV for fun camping trips with their pups, family and friends – often traveling every couple of months to places like Colorado, Florida, and Illinois. However, they are thankful to be able to use their rolling home to find some comfort – and share that with others – during such a difficult time. After almost five days without power, having their Aspect nearby with a generator and all the comforts of home made a huge difference. “I would not have made it without my Winnie,” Linda exclaims.
Interested in helping the communities affected by Hurricane Florence? The American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina are a few of the organizations accepting donations to help victims, but there are many other ways to help – including donating blood or volunteering your time.
Just because you’re in an RV and away from home/restaurants, doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel when it comes to eating great meals. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good hot dog or hamburger, especially on an open fire. And after being on the road all day, rolling into your spot, setting up your site, sometimes all you want is something quick and easy.
However, with just a little planning, some creativity and a sense of fun, YOU can prepare meals that any judge on “Top Chef” would embrace as pure comfort food. (Padma & Gail… call me!)
Here are five ways you can up your cooking game on the road:
1. Prep before you hit the road
There’s no shame in your game, if you put some stuff together BEFORE you load up your RV and get to driving. Prepping at home also allows you to do some meal planning and can help with what exactly you need to bring with you. It also saves on time if you have a couple of things ready to go.
For example, I love waffles and pancakes so the night before I’m heading out, I’ll put together my famous batter from scratch, store it in an empty Gatorade bottle and pack it in my cooler until I get into my rig and load up my fridge. Then once I’m out in wild and wake up jonesing for a great breakfast and my coffee, I’m all set because I have batter for a week ready to go!
2. Eat local
No matter if you’re “Glamping it up,” “Boondocking” away from the world, or discovering a new State Park, as you’re making your way to your spot, pick something up to cook the area’s known for. If you’re near someplace known for their seafood, grab some shrimp or fish and bring it back to basecamp and do your magic.
Shopping local generally assures you, you’re getting the freshest food, known to the region and instead of going from “Farm-to-Table,” you’re going “Farm-to-RV” for a great meal or snack on the road!
3. Embrace the fire
Hmmm Fire… good! Yes, cooking outside, on a grill is … as the kids say, “awesome!”
Pick yourself up a small grill, pack it in your ride and bring it with you everywhere. Cooking outside is not only fun, but when you’re using charcoal and wood, it adds so much flavor to your meal.
Now here’s the thing … don’t go for gas. You can do gas at home or “Flying-J” but you’re outside in the elements, embrace them and grill baby grill!
4. Homage things
Okay, I’ve given you a couple of pretty neat cooking suggestions, now get to work… scroll social media, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube (RVJedyeye) and search for meals that others are doing that you look at and say, “Hmmm that looks good, I should try it!”
By finding recipes and meals you’re interested in, it’s a fun map to trying to duplicate and make your own version of a culinary masterpiece.
5. Just have fun… go crazy, go nuts
Cooking needs to be fun! It sounds simple… it sounds so easy… but for some, it’s hard. When you’re out on the road, take some chances… cook something you’ve never done before in a way you’ve never cooked before.
Be experimental and try new things. Challenge yourself… give everyone in your RV $20 bucks, head to a grocery store, tell them you have to have at least one protein and let them spend it all. When you get back to your RV site, leave everything in bags. If you have four people in your party, each gets a bag at random and a night to cook, set a time clock and they have to create something for the group to eat that night. It’s like the RV version of “Chopped!” You’ll create great memories, have a ton of fun and maybe even a good meal or two.
So, there you have it, five suggestions on how to “Chef it UP” on the road. Just because you’re out there in your RV, doesn’t mean you have to eat poorly. I hope these ideas inspire you to be your own, “Top Chef!” (No seriously… Padma, Gail… DM me!)
You can follow David’s RVing adventures at RVJedeye.com.
Most of our fondest camping memories are of sitting around a fire, roasting marshmallows and telling stories. But as fun as it is, fire can also be dangerous. It is important to take it seriously and make responsible decisions for the safety of your family and those around you.
If you have been watching the news lately, it is clear that fire season is upon us. There have been some horrible fires this year already – especially in the western parts of the U.S. Unfortunately, human error is the cause of multiple fires each year. Even if the fire spread by accident, these people will still be held responsible for not taking the necessary precautions – and that often includes legal prosecution.
So, if you are camping this summer and plan to start a fire, make sure to be responsible and follow these basic guidelines to ensure a fun and safe RVing trip!
1. Know the level of fire danger and rules in your area.
As an RVer, it is important to know of any special precautions to take in whichever area you plan to park your rolling home – so, do a little research before you set out on the road. This may even mean changing your route if that makes the most sense for a safe trip. Similar to checking weather, keep an eye on if you are in an area with a strong chance for fire or bans on fires altogether. If you aren’t sure, check with a park ranger or campground attendant before starting a campfire. Also, make sure there aren’t any rules on where fires are allowed, how big they can be, etc.
2. Keep a shovel and bucket of water nearby.
If you are going to start a fire, make sure you have the right supplies. It is important to keep a shovel and bucket of water nearby, not only to put the fire out with, but also to have on hand if it gets out of control.
3. Pick and prepare a good spot for your fire.
If there are no restrictions on fires and you are allowed to start one, make sure you assess the location first. Many campgrounds have designated fire pit areas, but even in these it is important to check for overhanging trees and other nearby brush. If one is not provided, make a campfire ring with rocks in a level area far enough away from tents and RVs and dig a pit in the center. Before lighting the fire, make sure you clear away any pine needles, leaves or other brush from around the fire ring (10 feet in diameter is usually recommended). For tips on lighting a fire, check out these from Smokey Bear.
Photo by Peter Holcombe.
4. Never leave fires unattended or let it get out of control.
Once you have your fire, make sure to stay nearby. Don’t start a fire if you are planning to leave your campsite soon after. You should stay until it has completely burned out or put it out yourself. Make sure to watch children and pets carefully around fires, as well. It is also important to keep fires at a manageable size and not let them get out of control.
5. Extinguish the fire completely when finished.
The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Safety, recommends the “drown, stir and feel” method. This involves drowning the fire with water first, then stirring around the fire with a shovel to ensure everything is wet before fully smothering it with additional dirt and mixing that thoroughly. Lastly, they suggest feeling the area with the back of your hand to ensure nothing is still smoldering. If it is too hot to touch, it isn’t safe to leave unattended.
For more tips on fire safety, the Smokey Bear website is a great resource: https://smokeybear.com/en
While this is a serious topic, it shouldn’t take away from any of your camping fun if you just take some time to prioritize safety when you create and put out your fire.
Here’s to s’more fun this summer and safe camping!
RVs have changed a lot over the last 60 years, with new technological advancements, fancy upgrades, and unique options coming out each year. But one thing has remained the same, RVing is still a great way to connect with loved ones, see places from a unique perspective, and make lasting memories. It makes you resilient, adventurous, and a great story teller. While social media has allowed those stories to be told more easily and to a wider audience, Winnebago owners have been collecting epic tales and heart-warming moments long before Instagram came into existence.
So, in celebration of Winnebago’s 60th anniversary, we asked current and previous owners to share their favorite stories of their Winnebago travels. While some shared how their RV facilitated visits to epic bucket-list destinations, many shared a sweet story of a trip with family or a happy move-in day. Surprisingly, a few even favor the mishaps when they look back on years of RV travel. But for all of these GoLifers, it is clear that their Winnebago represents cherished memories and endless possibilities for future adventures. We hope this fun mix of stories puts a smile on your face, and that it inspires you to take some time to reminisce on your own RVing adventures and dream of what the future may hold.
Thanks for a great 60 years, Winnebago family! And a very special thanks to everyone who shared their wonderful stories with us for this article.
The Beginning of a Great Adventure
By: Bill Lafleur
In 2006 we started looking for our next RV. After looking at dozens of ads and visiting shows from San Diego to Quartzsite, we honed in on the Class C Winnebago Minnie Winne 27 P. It had some of the great features of a Class A, plenty of power and great storage. We looked at four or five and made an offer to a private party for one that was only one year new, with 3,100 miles. However, the owner wanted almost $10,000 more than we thought it was worth … so we parted ways. We kept looking, but never found one comparable. We liked the cherry wood interior, entertainment center and roominess provided from the two slides.
About five months after we made the offer, the owner called and asked if we were still interested and accepted our price. He needed to sell and realized his price was too high. We were thrilled!! It was the perfect fit for our family of three, plus our three furry kids.
Over the next 11 years, we used it for housing at Agility Trials, to tow our boat to a number of lakes and rivers, dry camped at Quartzsite and picturesque mountain sites. My daughter also used it to trek to the Stagecoach Festival with five of her cowgirl friends. When it was time to upgrade, we sold it privately to the first couple who came to look. We never had any serious problems. It was a great rig that served us well and held its value. We believed Winnebago was the best choice back then and also now. We upgraded to a Vista LX 35 F and plan to full-time it now that I’m retired.
By: Rick Dorce
My favorite Winnebago memory is the first time I picked up my grandson from school in my 2016 Winnebago Vista. Just the big smile on his face was priceless and he was so excited he was jumping. I had been telling him for more then a year that we were going to get a motorhome, but I am so picky it took me a long time to find the right one.
Move-In Day with Dad
By: John T.
This year, we moved into our first Winnebago with my wife’s Dad helping us. We had a trip to South Padre planned with him and ended up trading in our previous motorhome. So, instead of vacation, he helped us move. But we still made it to the island and just had a shorter vacation. My wife said that her memories of our Winnebago Journey (Joy) will always include her 80 years young father helping us move in.
Stopping for BBQ on the first RV trip with Dad!
Crawdads and Crazy Winds
By: John M.
We were travelling west on I-10 through Louisiana in our 2009 Winnebago Adventurer 34′ diesel pusher. As we passed by all the crawdad farms, we thought of all the delicious meals we had in Baton Rouge. Travelling at 65 mph, we could feel wind gusts hitting us, slowing us down like I had tapped the brakes. Then, there was this noise of scraping on the roof of the coach. What could be making such a noise? We were making guesses and maybe letting our imaginations go wild. Then I saw in the rear-view mirror what looked like most of a white box falling from high, towards the highway. Wow, what an explosion of white particles. I think I know what that was! Too late, I was hearing the scratching, scraping noises again. Oh no, there was another explosion of white particles. Had we lost both of our air conditioner covers?
We soon realized there were really strong wind gusts hitting us. Then, there was a loud bang against the side of our coach. Now what? I couldn’t see out the windows on the right side of the coach due to a big piece of material which was flapping wildly. This isn’t good, I had to pull over, but the shoulder was three-feet wide and then sloped down to a crawdad farm pond. We exited the coach gently, so we didn’t slide down and into the pond. Then looked and saw that the awning roller was hanging about two feet from the coach in the front. The awning material was all unraveled. We couldn’t travel like this, the awning had to be taken off. I took a butcher knife up on the roof and started slicing. The material started flapping in the breeze. We didn’t want it to blow away, so my wife grabbed one end and I grabbed the other end of the flapping awning. It was hard not to be popped by it. Well, my wife tried to hang on, but the wind was too strong. The undulating awning flipped her over backwards and sent her sliding downhill towards the, hopefully not hungry, crawdads. When she stopped sliding, she immediately looked for any crawdads that might have attached to her. Whew, there were no attached critters! We gathered up cloth and metal, threw it in the coach and headed for the closest RV repair shop.
We pulled into the service lane and prepared to go to sleep. It was 7:30 p.m. and we were tired. The next morning the service adviser saw the shreds of awning hanging from the top of the coach and told us, “That’s not right!” Then he climbed a ladder and looked on top of the coach, again he said, “That’s not right! The air conditioner should have a cover.” He looked at the other air conditioner. You got it … “That’s not right!” We learned we were doing 65 mph and we hit a 60 mph wind gust almost head on. The awning and air conditioning covers couldn’t take 125 mph wind. Never underestimate the power of nature!
Enjoying a more relaxing, crawdad-free day of RVing.
Bonding as a New Family
By: Sarai Patterson (www.myminnielife.com)
I’ve loved every moment of the last 10 months. We adopted our daughter’s best friend and we use our Winnebago to bond our new family of four together by traveling and camping frequently! We have made ourselves a family with the help of the Flying W!
Checking Off the Bucket List in a SUPER Way!
By: Alan J.
I haven’t been to an NFL game in close to 30 years and never to a Super Bowl, even though I’m a New England Patriots fan. Last year, when the Patriots won the AFC championship, I decided I wanted to go see Tom Brady play in the big game. However, I wasn’t willing to go through the hassle of trying to make all the flight and hotel arrangements. So, I started calling RV parks in Houston to see if I could reserve a site for Super Bowl week. I thought that it would be a long shot, but eventually came across a new park that had open spots for the week and immediately booked it even though I had no tickets to the game!
Luckily, my nephew had friends who worked for ESPN and thought he might be able to get some tickets through that connection. In the meantime, I kept my eye on the NFL authorized ticket sites and watched as the prices fluctuated wildly, but never came anywhere near face value of the ticket. After speaking to my nephew, I convinced him to come to Houston for the game and stay in my RV with me. Even if we couldn’t get tickets to the game, it would be a fun experience. Finally, on the Thursday before the game he was able to get tickets through his buddy at face value! Everything was now in place for a bucket-list event.
Because of my Winnebago View, I was able to travel with my nephew and dog down to the game in comfort and style. Without the RV, I would have paid exorbitant hotel and meal fees and would have had to board my senior dog for too long to make that kind of trip practical. Needless to say, I saw the best Super Bowl ever, when the Patriots came back to beat Atlanta! I love my View!
Boondocking and Brush Strokes
By: Chrys D.
Now that I have lived and traveled in my Travato for three years, starting at age 70, I have been doing watercolor paintings in most locations. One of my favorites was boondocking on BLM land on the Notom-Bullfrog Road near Capitol Reef National Park, UT. I had a 360-degree view and paintings and photos of the stunning views. My Travato has taken me from Florida to Newfoundland to the Gulf Coast, north through the Rockies to Jasper National Park in Canada, and all the way down to Organ Pipe National Park in Arizona, and so many places in between. It has been a wonderful journey!
That First Taste of Life on the Road
By: David (www.RVJedeye.com)
My favorite Winnebago memory was with my very first RV… my very first Winnebago, a 2004 Itasca Spirit. I had done a couple of quick, “local” RV trips, all within a couple of miles of my home. Then, in September of 2016, I took my first “Big Trip.” Five stops, 11 days, 854 miles. It gave me the taste of what it might be like to live full-time in an RV – exploring the world, and I absolutely loved it! That memory of seeing different parts of Florida, meeting new people at each stop, and seeing the state up close and personal locked me in for life when it comes to the RV life.
Passing on the RVing Gene
By: Dale & Ellie Tomlinson
Our first Winnebago was purchased in 1975. We are now on our 8th Winnebago, a 2017 Winnebago Cambria 30J. Our first was a 1975 Brave 21 which our three kids literally grew up in traveling around the country. Our youngest daughter is now traveling with her family in a Winnebago Vista. After 43 years in Winnebagos of all sizes, we feel in our 70s that our Cambria 30J is perfect for us now.
Left: The Tomlinsons with their family in 1975 in front of their Winnebago Brave. Right: Dale with his daughter’s family in front of her Winnebago Vista.
Finding Love on the Open Road
By: Ila D.
My Winnebago memories just started. My boyfriend bought a camper in early spring of 2018 and we’re in the middle of our first season in it. Our first trip, though, was amazing. We picked it up in Ohio and drove it 2,400 miles home to Seattle. It took eight days. We rolled through 11 states, and saw classic western spots like Mount Rushmore and Wall Drug. I, a life-long PNW girl, saw my first lightning storm in South Dakota. We brought our View to her birthplace in Forest City, went golfing in the middle of Billings and dodged a flood in Missoula. We barely saw Idaho through the fog on top of the mountain. We laughed and joked and bought a million tiny things we didn’t know we needed. I saw parts of the country I’d never seen before, and I fell more in love with this guy and this life than I ever thought I could. Those few days will stay with me forever in the best way.
An Unforgettable Tow Out of the Arctic
By: Paula & Nelson DiGennaro
We had the trip of a lifetime by RVing to the Eskimo Village of Inuvik, NWT, Canada in our Winnebago Chieftain via the Dempster Highway (not a real highway by a long shot). In 1989, as we drove north to Dawson, in Canada’s Yukon Territory, we saw the Dempster Highway intersecting with the Klondike Highway. What intrigued us was that there was a huge sign at the entry stating: “No medical facilities for the next 450 miles. Travel at your own risk.” We earmarked a trip up the Dempster as our next challenge. So in 1998, we loaded up our Winnebago Chieftain (no tow car), toy poodle, caged love bird and headed north from Dayton, Ohio. The Dempster Highway was very rugged travel with the road made of shale and like a washboard. We had to ferry over two large rivers that are ice roads in the winter season.
Traveling in late August to early September, we ran into the start of their winter. And while returning to the Klondike Highway, due to the slick road conditions we began sliding off the highway – no traction! They coat the roads up there with calcium chloride to keep the dust down, but when wet, it’s very slick. Oh! Did we mention we were 75 miles north of the Arctic Circle at the time??? Yes, we had to be towed off the Dempster Highway. What happened from there is very involved, but needless to say it’s our favorite Winnebago memory. (Side note: Five Winnebagos and 20 years later, we have retired, sold our home and are full-time RVers in our Winnebago Itasca Meridian Class A diesel. Home is where our wheels roll!)
Treasured Memories of Long Ago
By: Dan K.
In 1974, I was assigned to Kenner Army Hospital in Petersburg, VA. My parents owned a new Minnie Winnie (24′) and came to Virginia to pick up my wife and I to head to New England and on into Canada. Although my parents have long ago passed away, that trip in the Minnie Winnie has been a family treasure. It had every convenience we needed, having recently graduated up from a pickup truck and slide-in camper. The Dodge chassis and small V8 was plenty powerful to carry us over the White Mountains and into Vermont/New Hampshire. We went in the fall and enjoyed the warmth of the Winnie’s insulation and heating system. We went through two provinces of Canada and back through Upper New York’s beautiful farm land. The best memories were of the little home away from home that was so dependable and useful. It could be driven in small towns and parked without difficulties. The Minnie Winnie allowed us to travel the back roads and experience people living their normal lives with no “tourist” fronts. We could stop where we pleased, no schedule, and stay wherever we could find a wide place to accommodate us. What a joyful memory. Although that was almost 44 years ago, the memories are still clear in my mind.
From first-time RVers, to life-long lovers of RV travel and everyone in between, we love hearing about where your Winnebago takes you! Please continue to share your stories with us in the comments and on social media. #WinnebagoLife
“I cannot believe I’m doing this.” These are the words I said to myself as I pulled away from the RV dealership outside of San Antonio, Texas.
I had just purchased a 2016 Winnebago View 24J and was set to begin driving it home to Bainbridge Island, Washington. I was scared, overwhelmed, excited, nervous, nauseous and exhilarated. I hadn’t felt this way since my wedding night.
As the beauty of the open highway unfolded before me, I remember the salesman telling me what an excellent choice I had made and how many adventures were in store for me. After I was driving for a while, I silently thanked him. I had to. I was hoarse from giddily screaming like a teenage girl at a Taylor Swift concert.
My love affair with recreational vehicles started when I was a young lad. My grandparents owned several travel trailers and motorhomes throughout their lives, and I was always happy to tag along. I loved the freedom of being on the open highway, seeing new places and the thrill of being in a house on wheels. I will always cherish those memories.
My beautiful grandmother. I have self-titled this, ‘Trouble at the Trailer Park.’
Traveling for work … and pleasure
Someone once said, if you find something you love to do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I love my work, and I have traveled for my job almost exclusively for 30 years. In addition to being an actor, writer, professional host, and business owner, I have had the good fortune to perform stand-up comedy all over the world.
Almost all of the touring I did in North America had me driving from city to city, town to town, and everywhere in between. I’ve performed at comedy clubs, bowling alleys, bars, theatres, rodeo arenas, stadiums, curling rinks, and even center court at an NBA game (and that’s just a small sampling). I’ll let you guess which was the hardest.
The thing I loved almost as much as making people laugh was that I got to road trip practically everywhere. There is nothing quite like having a happy memory in your rear-view mirror and the open road unfolding in front of you.
I was ready to road trip at a young age.
My passion for travel goes beyond touring for chuckles. In addition to sightseeing in my RV, I long distance ride on a BMW K1600GT and track ride on an S1000RR. I have been fortunate to ride motorcycles all over the globe. Most recently in Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, and Japan.
If you want to see what an RV looks like in Japan, check this out. It’s what happens when an average-sized RV gets wet and then put in the dryer.
Now that this beautiful Winnebago View 24J has entered the stable, my road trips will take on a whole new dimension. The convenience of having a luxury motorhome will open up all sorts of new opportunities and adventures. The Winnebago View has every amenity I could imagine and even a few I can’t. It has extended my motorcycle riding season by months as I’m able to load up the bike and chase the warm weather and sunshine!
Me on the S1000RR.
They say home is where the heart is. My heart is on the highway, and I’m lucky that I get to take my home with me. I believe they call that a “Win-Win.” Or is that, “Win-Winnebago”?
As you can see, my life is a highway. Hey, that sounds like a good idea for a show. I have merged my passions for travel, RVing, motorcycles, video production and comedy all in one place on my YouTube channel, “My Life is a Highway.”
The film The Leisure Seeker stars award-winning actors Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, as well as a gorgeous 1975 Winnebago Indian motorhome, all on a runaway adventure together from Boston to The Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West. The RV used in the film actually belonged to Jeff Barth, president of the Classic Winnebago specialty club, associated with Winnebago’s WIT club. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jeff about his involvement in the movie and his life-long love of everything Winnebago.
As an RVer, seeing the classic Winnebago on the big screen while watching The Leisure Seeker, will likely bring up feelings of nostalgia. As it rolls beautifully through farm lands, in cities, and over bridges, you will probably be reminded of all the reasons why you got your rolling home in the first place. And, hopefully, some amazing places you’ve taken it. Maybe you’ve even had the pleasure of traveling in one of these classic RVs on some of your adventures.
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
However challenging it must have been to get these amazing shots just right, it probably paled in comparison to finding the perfect rig to play the movie’s namesake and one of the main characters. And what’s more – getting an identical stunt double!
The man behind the motorhome
Lucky for them, and Winnebago fans everywhere, Jeff Barth has been purchasing and restoring classic Winnebagos for years. So, when the production team reached out to Winnebago Industries inquiring about how to track down an older motorhome for the film, they knew exactly who to send them to.
Photo credit: Jeff Barth.
Growing up in Forest City during the 60s and 70s gave Jeff a first-hand look at all of the activity going on around the Winnebago factory at that time. As a kid, he found it exciting and became very knowledgeable about the company and its products. “I’ve always had a close connection with Winnebagos,” he proudly explains.
Although he began collecting Winnebago brochures and other memorabilia in the 70s, Jeff didn’t fix up his first Winnebago until about 13 years ago. He quickly learned that he loved the challenge of hunting for parts, finding go-to mechanics to work with, and what to look for in potential future projects. Similar to a cross-country road trip, the finding, restoring and sharing of these classic Winnebagos is a journey for him. Although, the final product is one he takes pride in, it is obvious that he relishes getting there.
“I want it to look as original and clean as possible,” Jeff explains. He even tries his best to keep all the original interior. Talk about dedication!
Photo credit: Jeff Barth.
A growing fan base
When he brought one of his classic Winnebagos to the annual Grand National Rally for the first time in 2008, it definitely created a buzz. The 1973 Winnebago Indian was the oldest rig in attendance and touring it was like a special trip back in time for many other RVers there. Due to its popularity and the nostalgia it creates, Jeff makes sure one of his rigs is at the rally every year since.
Photo credit: Jeff Barth.
Realizing that he wasn’t the only lover of classic Winnebagos, Jeff decided to begin a local gathering in the Northwest for owners of older Winnebagos. What started as seven local rigs in 2008, has since grown to more than 20 nationwide – all more than 25 years old. The group has also been formalized as a specialty club associated with Winnebago’s WIT club. And, of course, Jeff is the president.
Casting the “Leisure Seeker”
Although classic motorhomes are gaining popularity, they aren’t always easy to find – especially in good enough shape to be restored to full working order. So, when the film team contacted Jeff with a request for him to help them find a 70s-era Winnebago, they had no idea how lucky they were that he actually owned one at the time.
He had bought the 1975 Winnnebago Indian in South Dakota only a few years prior. It stood out to him because of its low miles and good condition. And, when he sent over photos to the production team, it stood out to them as well.
Photo credit: Jeff Barth.
With this being one of the starring roles of the movie, it was top of their to-do list to find the right RV before filming even began. Jeff sold this classic RV to them in 2016, and finally got to see it on the big screen early this year.
But, that wasn’t the end of his important role in making this movie happen. He also helped them find a “stunt double” with the identical year, model and floorplan! The team even had to track down extra parts to exchange in order to make them as similar as possible.
Crash course in RV life
Jeff’s role as a consultant also extended to explaining the RVing lifestyle and how to set up a motorhome for camping. (Yes, Donald Sutherland actually knew what he was doing when he set up camp, along with everyone else involved).
The crew asked Jeff many questions about what it is like to RV. One in particular that stood out was, “Do people really just walk by and talk to you about your RV?” As anyone that has ever stayed in an RV park knows, yes! RVers are usually never afraid to spark up a conversation, (it is getting them to wrap it up that can be the problem). They even used that inside information for a scene in the movie.
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Funny enough, this classic American story of finding adventure on the road is told by an Italian director, Paolo Virzì. As he explains in his director’s statement, “even along the Old Route 1 I tried not to give up my habit, as a filmmaker born in Italy (or, rather, in Livorno) of using those ingredients that have always been dear to me, namely truth, humanity and irony.”
These ingredients were definitely not lost in the end result nor in the actual filming. Virzì goes on to share what it was like filming inside a cramped Winnebago that could only fit so many people: “We were in a very uncomfortable vehicle with no air conditioning, under the July and August sun in hot and humid Georgia and Florida. I put these two little fans blowing in the faces of John and Ella because it was the only way to have some air inside that camper. We were all squeezed together, so sometimes we forgot to call the hairdresser and I was the one to fix the wig on Helen.”
The crew even noted a few mishaps, “ranging from a fire ant invasion to a full-blown hurricane evacuation.” I guess you can say they truly got to understand what life on the road can be like – the ups and the downs, and the vast unpredictability that makes it all the more exciting.
How did the film compare to reality?
Jeff agrees that the crew and actors “did a good job of representing the motorhome and the lifestyle.” You could tell that they made a great effort to accurately show the anything-can-happen nature of RVing and the friendly camping culture one usually encounters while staying at parks.
While the film includes two amazing, award-winning actors who, in my opinion, did a fantastic job, you can’t help but appreciate how much screen time the old Winnebago got. From beginning to end, it was always there, like a long-time friend along for their last great adventure.
Regardless of if you’ve experienced life on the road, this film will certainly pull on all your emotions. But for anyone who has RVed, it is hard not to relate to Ella and John’s desire to escape their current circumstances and be free. Of course, it only made sense to choose their trusty old Winnebago to get them there.
Watch the trailer of the film, The Leisure Seeker:
Nine to five, Monday to Friday, working to pay the rent and bills. This was our life up until early 2017, when we had an epiphany: it doesn’t have to be this way. There had to be more to life than this rat-race. We hadn’t seen much of the country we lived in, let alone the rest of the world, and we wanted more.
Deciding to go for it
My husband Sean and I have been together for 20 years. We both had great professions, working with animals. Myself a Veterinary Nurse and Sean an animal rescuer. We had very rewarding lives, but still, something felt like it was missing. We were always working towards a goal, to save for a holiday or to pay the bills and perhaps go out to dinner. But we were always working. It always felt like we weren’t free. We wanted freedom, we wanted more from life. As they say, you only live once!
This realization led us to the decision to begin a life of full-time RV travel, like many Americans before us, we started to sell everything big and bulky, downsize our clutter considerably and start the search for the perfect RV. What makes us a bit different though, is that we are both British and live in England!
Searching for the perfect motorhome
The hunt began. We searched online, visited showrooms and walked inside many European motorhomes, but they all seemed so cramped, so ‘plasticy’, and more like a vehicle than a home. Nothing felt right to us for full-timing. Then we walked around our first American RV…
Well, that was it for us, there was no going back to European models after that! It had to be an American RV! We were hooked already, all we now needed to do was to find the right one.
Ask anyone over here to name an American RV and I bet 99 out of 100 people will say “Winnebago.” Even though they are not common at all over here, they are still incredibly well known. When we stepped into ours for the first time, we realized why it’s such an iconic name.
Choosing the Winnebago Vista
We knew instantly, this was the one! We had seen so many other vehicles at this point, often going home after the visit and talking way into the night about the pros and cons of each one, but after setting foot in to a beautiful Winnebago Vista, that was it – we put down a deposit the same day!
We decided to have a propane fuel conversion done before we had her delivered, as gas is very expensive in England and Europe, and we wanted to make travelling as economical as possible. This took almost a month to organize and it was like torture waiting for it to be done!
But we made use of the time by watching loads of videos and reading a great many guides. We watched online tours of the same model Winnebago as ours almost every night to keep up our enthusiasm! We ordered a huge multitude of items we thought we might need (many of which are still in their wrappers)! And we continued to sell, donate and store the rest of our belongings and soon we were ready for her to be delivered.
Delivery day drama
The excitement was huge when the delivery day arrived. Ironically, our delivery date was July fourth, which to us felt very apt indeed, as it would now also be our very own independence day! We went to a local campsite, where she was due to be delivered, then waited for the dealer to turn up.
An hour passed, then two, then at last we got the call, he was almost there! We rushed to the entrance ready to be greeted with the sight of our beautiful new home driving around the corner, and there she was, complete with a nasty scrape on the front! Yes, the dealer had crashed her whilst on his way to us. We didn’t let this stop us though, and spent the weekend in her, before he collected her again for repairs.
While our Winnebago was being repaired it gave us time to take stock. Were we ready for this? Was this really what we wanted to do? You bet it was! Staying in a house now felt so cramped and confined. It wasn’t what we wanted at all. We wanted our Winnebago back!
Finally moving in
When she came back after repair, we moved right in. Even though we still had the lease on our house at that point. We couldn’t wait. Only a few weeks more and we would be completely free of bricks and mortar and able to hit the road for good! Where would we go first? The world felt like our oyster! Until we took our first trip to go and get propane.
We swiftly realized that the UK local service station was totally not set up for our size of vehicle. My husband Sean did amazingly well with maneuvering though and we filled up and came through it without a scratch. But this was just one trip for propane, this wasn’t driving hundreds of miles!
We realized we needed to research a lot more. American RVs are designed for the beautiful open roads of America, not the narrow, bumpy, badly cared for roads of England! It was certainly possible, but we needed to plan our routes much more carefully. We got home and ordered a specialized GPS system that would warn us of low bridges and narrow roads. Between me as navigator, my phone GPS, the new specialized camper GPS and with Sean driving, we knew we could do it.
Hitting the road
We set off to begin our first trip, across the UK and then onwards to France, Spain and Portugal and we are still on the road! You can certainly tell when you look around in any of the campsites we have stayed in so far in Europe, that American RVs are a rare sight. There are hundreds upon hundreds of European motorhomes and caravans, but they all look the same to us.
We like being different! The looks and stares we get when we park are very amusing. We have had many people want to look inside and many more that walk around the vehicle just admiring it when they think we aren’t watching. It’s actually a hilarious use of the rear-view camera to eavesdrop on their conversations about the RV. We feel very honored and proud to be the owners of a Winnebago!
The usual European motorhomes. You can see why we stand out at the campground!
We have accumulated lots of tips for travelling in an RV in Europe that we can’t wait to share with you, as I know many people want to do the same as us. But most think they can only do it in a small European style motorhome.
Yes, much more route planning is needed if you’re in a big vehicle, but we have managed it with relative ease in our Winnebago! Well, with only a few minor mishaps. (Yes, temporary French roadwork traffic lights… we’re looking at you!) We’ve even driven around the extremely narrow single track, high-hedged roads of Devon and Cornwall in the South of England, which have some of the narrowest roads in Europe, and some of the smallest campsites!
We can conclusively say that touring around Europe in an American A-Class RV is a lot of fun and totally viable. And when it is in a Winnebago, it is even better!
The RV Entrepreneur Summit is part business conference, part non-stop networking event, and part family reunion – if your family all had similar values and were totally supportive of each other’s dreams.
Sounds kind of impossibly amazing, right? Well, after our second year at the summit, our beliefs around what is possible have expanded far beyond what we ever thought. Even the creators of this amazing event, Heath and Alyssa Padgett, would have never guessed it would be such a success and create so much value for everyone who attends. But as we’ve all learned, you should never underestimate the power of the RVing community – these are some deeply passionate people.
As previous attendees, we were taken aback time after time with memories of how little we knew at last year’s summit – we didn’t even have our RV yet! So, if you would have told us before last year’s summit that we’d be deeply embedded in a loving community of friends (some of which we are yet to meet in person), actually gaining traction with our blog, writing and working with Winnebago, and asking things like “where do you want to go tomorrow?,” we’d have had a really good laugh. It was especially exciting to realize we actually had insights and advice to offer others this time around!
Brooke & Buddy Baum. Photo by Joe Hendricks.
But that’s what the summit is all about – making connections to grow as a person, traveler and entrepreneur, all while generously giving any knowledge you’ve accumulated along the way.
It is so special to see how much value is added to everyone’s life by attending: from returning RVE Summiters like ourselves, to newbies, to volunteers, to those capturing the moments, and even attendees from the RV industry. Everyone leaves inspired and with a ton of great new information swirling around in their brains.
Group photo from a small meetup with Winnebago employees and GoLife writers in attendance.
Since this event is just too amazing to explain from one point of view, we reached out to some friends and fellow GoLifers to get their perspectives as well:
Newbies: Kenny & Sabrina Phillips
These two are some of the happiest, most enthusiastic people we’ve ever met! Kenny and Sabrina began RVing last year in order for Sabrina to pursue a career as a traveling doctor (read more about them here). Since hitting the road, they also started a YouTube channel, Moving Forward Adventures, and began writing for WinnebagoLife.com. This was their first time attending the RVE Summit and both raved about it!
“What is the RVE summit you ask? Its pure magic in its rawest form! A group of amazing people coming together not only to improve themselves, but to help others improve as well. It’s a place to set aside your ego and lend a hand to anyone who is trying to think outside the box and live a life where work and life are so blended that you’re not sure if you are having fun or working hard.
This year was our first RVE Summit, we had no idea what to expect. But when we heard about it at the Winnebago Rally in July, we knew that we wanted to be there to see what all the buzz was about. We arrived three days before the official kick-off of the event and we were immediately blown away.
Kenny & Sabrina Phillips. Photo by Joe Hendricks.
We started making connections with other early arrivers and quickly found out not only did we need to be here, but we were about to embark on a journey of knowledge like nothing else before. With every new person we spoke with we learned something new. We would start to have conversations with people and have an instant connection with them. We would chat for a minute, then laugh for a bit then say, “Wait what did you just say about using Pinterest as a tool to grow our brand?” We were learning from people while just having normal conversation and we were receiving answers to questions that we did not know we had.
We couldn’t believe how giving everyone was! They were willing to share their time and knowledge. They were sharing information that we thought would be secrets to their success.
I believe it was Camille Attell who said it best at the start of the week “Don’t look at everyone in this room as competition, but look at them as partners.” That set the tone for the rest of the event and sums up the attitude of the RVE Summit nicely. Thank you, Heath & Alyssa Padgett for an experience we will never forget.” – Kenny Phillips
‘Veterans’: Jon and Nadia Bajuelo
There seems to be a trend around RVers who are out working for themselves on the road – they all just exude happiness. These two are a great example of how much can be achieved with a positive mindset and determination! In addition to contributing to GoLife, they are fantastic content creators for multiple other projects and are always chatting about fun new skills they are mastering (like blogging and YouTube).
“We came to the RV Entrepreneur Summit full of excitement and energy knowing that we would be surrounding ourselves with fellow nomadic entrepreneurs, some of whom we met at last year’s Summit. A lot had changed for us in the year following the first ever RV Entrepreneur Summit. We changed rigs, started working for ourselves, and actively engaged with the community throughout our travels. We were coming back to the event as “veterans”, and we were so excited to connect with friends, old and new.
Jon & Nadia Bajuelo. Photo by Joe Hendricks.
The mix of main stage inspirational talks and the more tactical and actionable approach of the breakout sessions provided plenty of invaluable information. We will take with us many tips, ideas, and tactics that were shared throughout the event. However, our most prized takeaway comes down to why this event exists in the first place, community! The relationships that we were fortunate enough to cultivate at the event are the kind of long-lasting friendships we treasure. Knowing that, at a moment’s notice, we will likely find ourselves near a RVE friend on our travels, is energizing, comforting, and quite special.
The community sits at the heart of this event. If anyone is out on the open road building the life they dream of and feeling like most of their friends or family just don’t “get” them, the RV Entrepreneur Summit is the event they need to attend. We are inspired and energized to reach for more in the upcoming year. We are grateful for every soul that shared their story, and we are thankful to Heath and Alyssa for organizing such a wonderful event.” – Jon and Nadia Bajuelo
Volunteers: Lindsay & Dan McKenzie
We had the pleasure of meeting this power couple at the 2017 Summit and are so proud of how far they’ve come. In addition to contributing to GoLife, they’ve also written for multiple other publications and grown their personal blog (FollowYourDetour.com) a ton. This year, they volunteered at the Summit to make sure others got to have the same magical experience they had the year prior. Lindsay also spoke at an attendee-led meetup about Blogging for Business. I wouldn’t be surprised if the McKenzies were on the main stage at the 2019 Summit!
“This year’s RV Entrepreneur Summit was special to us in many ways. First, it marked the one-year anniversary of us RVing full-time. Last year, we purchased our first RV the day before we flew to the Summit and then hit the road a few weeks later. Being back at Jellystone allowed us to deeply reflect on the journey we experienced in just one year. We hardly recognize ourselves because of how much we’ve grown personally, professionally, and in our marriage. Sometimes, especially at an event for entrepreneurs, we only look forward to the things we want to accomplish. So, it was powerful for us to take the time and look back at how far we’ve come.
Lindsay & Dan McKenzie. Photo by Joe Hendricks.
This year we had the privilege of volunteering at the RV Entrepreneur Summit. This kept us pretty busy all week long and when we finally had time to sit and review the experience, it hit us pretty hard and we were truly overwhelmed with gratitude. We didn’t get to attend as many sessions that we wanted to, and didn’t get to chat with as many attendees as we wanted. But, instead of taking pages and pages of notes in the sessions like last year or having hundreds of short conversations, we were able to observe a bit more.
We witnessed people building relationships that are crucial for this lifestyle and we got to see people walk in and out of the tent feeling inspired and motivated each day. Lindsay had a few deep conversations and shed some tears with people who shared their heart with her. We were just so touched by all the passion and talent that surrounded us.
It ultimately reminded us of why we started RVing and blogging in the first place – because of the people we wanted to connect with through our journey and story. We’re so thankful for this event and the community it has introduced us to. We’re feeling motivated and excited to see what we can accomplish in another year because we will, no doubt, be back to the RV Entrepreneur Summit next year!” – Lindsay McKenzie
Speakers: Kathy, Peter & Abby Holcombe
Buddy and I were extra excited to meet this amazing family. They were part of the reason we decided to buy an RV in the first place! And they are just as sweet and inspiring in person as they seem in their photos, stories and videos. At this year’s Summit, all three of them openly shared their stories on the main stage. Abby started off this year’s main stage sessions with an amazing account of her Grand Canyon kayaking trip that left everyone in tears. Then her parents ended the day with an inspiring talk on how they built their dream life as adventure photographers, and they shared a ton of drool-worthy travel photos as well! Peter was also kind enough to do a side photo meetup where he shared some great tips.
Abby Holcombe getting her kayaking fix in the pool. Photo by Joe Hendricks.
“There is a certain energy that emerges when like-minded people converge and begin sharing ideas and experiences. It’s that little spark that crackles during a meaningful conversation that we all experience from time to time.
Being immersed in a large group of people who are passionate about a common interest (like running a business while living in an RV), has the power to ignite each of those often minuscule and inconsequential sparks and fuel them into a profoundly transformational experience.
We came to the Summit excited to share our experiences shifting our brick and mortar photography business to a road worthy endeavor and hopefully encourage and inspire others to take the leap into full-time RVing. But we walked away with so much more, a feeling of a shift of momentum that occurs when a fire has been lit from within.
Peter Holcombe sharing photography insights. Photo by Joe Hendricks.
Every single conversation, with every extraordinary person there, left us not only encouraged and inspired to continue to pursue our wildest dreams, but also with an arsenal of new ideas to incorporate into our ever-evolving business strategy.
Thank you, Heath and Alyssa, for having the vision to create this incredible community of synchronicity where inspiration, education and innovation fan the flames within each of us to become our very best in this epic road trip we call life.” – Kathy Holcombe
Moment Capturer: Jeremy Scroggins
Jeremy & Melanie Scroggins set off on their RVing adventure shortly after attending last year’s Summit. Although we didn’t meet them then, we realized how similar we were through our interactions on social media and became great friends before even meeting in person this year. In addition to contributing to GoLife, this couple also excels in their own content creation (including Melanie’s thought-provoking podcast). Which is why Jeremy was asked to capture some videos of this year’s Summit.
“Whistles, hoots, cheers and the heavy rain patter of a thousand hand claps erupt from the crowd as they stand to marvel as the thirteen-year-old girl, Abbey Holcombe, who paddled the Grand Canyon two years ago delivers her last line and stands tall on stage, owning it with all the coolness of Elon Musk. I pretend like I wasn’t stifling a sniffle and stare out beyond my camera at her in awe, then think, “Oh, I should really be recording this.”
It is hard to anticipate how people, rather, insanely enthusiastic go-getters and life-livers, react to any given moment at this conference.
Melanie and Jeremy Scroggins with their Summit friends. Photo by Joe Hendricks.
I put on my sneakers, stretch, and run. I run everywhere as quickly and quietly as I possibly can, trying to be invisibly omnipresent capturing sweet moments of backstage speakers prepping or attendees breaking out into the tribe and falling in love with their new family. All the while I try to find unique and creative angles, movements and other amazing cinemagraphic techniques to woo viewers later. And to appease Alyssa Padgett who will be (possibly cursing my name) combing through the footage looking for workable clips.
By the end, I relax. I’ve gotten enough, I think. I still carry the camera. People don’t actually know who I am, but they admit they saw me everywhere. Success.” – Jeremy Scroggins
RV Industry Attendees: Mark Lafferty & Rick Devries, Winnebago Product Planners
Winnebago has been a sponsor of this event from the beginning and this year they decided to be even more involved by setting up the ‘Winnebago Lab.’ Two Winnebago Product Planners, Mark Lafferty & Rick Devries, set up shop in a Winnebago Intent on site to take recommendations from attendees on how they prefer to work in their rolling homes. This was a huge success and the attendees loved getting to share their input!
“First: What a summit! Rick and I were amazed at the enthusiastic and friendly group of people we encountered. Thanks for allowing us to be a small part of this educational and encouraging event.
Our goal as Winnebago Product Planners was to come away with an understanding of how people might use their coaches as a mobile office, and what their needs and wishes were for a better working experience. We documented thirteen interviews at our home base (Winnebago Intent), and one personal coach interview. From these, we gathered some great ideas from perspectives we hadn’t been able to explore before.
Mark and Rick in the ‘Winnebago Lab.’ Photo by Joe Hendricks.
One thing that stood out is that many participants said they would like to stand as much as sit at their work areas. Also, the preferred location of the work area varied all the way from the front passenger seat to the countertop in the bedroom. Some liked private quiet spots, while most seemed to want their “office with a view” near the windows. More versatile spaces were also a hot topic.
Attending this event offered us the luxury of tapping into the desires of a growing mobile market- one that we feel will be even more important to our business in the near future. With the insightful, knowledgeable, enthusiastic nature of its participants, we hope to be invited to attend the RVE Summit again next year.” – Mark Lafferty
“With the feedback we received during our lab exercises, I feel very confident [that] in the future, Winnebago Industries can provide some of the primary needs and desires of these ‘Working Road Warriors’, as they travel, live, work and play.” -Rick Devries
Our Tireless Hosts: Heath & Alyssa Padgett
These two never cease to amaze us, but they really outdid themselves with this year’s Summit. They probably heard the words “thank you” a thousand times because of all the hard work they’ve put into this amazing event. It does not go unnoticed.
Heath & Alyssa introducing speakers. Photo by Joe Hendricks.
As the rest of us were sipping coffee, lounging in a hammock during a lunch break, or relaxing by a campfire with s’mores and wine until late into the night – they were running around making sure everything went smoothly. Yet, somehow, they managed to also take time to stop and connect with their tribe as they hustled to make this event a reality.
One of the many campfire sing-along moments from the weekend, courtesy of Kelsey Henry. Photo by Joe Hendricks.
Here is a great synopsis of the summit from team Padgett:
“This week we’ve thrown the biggest work party of all time with the absolutely best people. I am so inspired by all of our speakers and attendees. I continue to hear amazing stories that leave me humbled and hungry and motivated to do big things in the world. A huge THANK YOU to all our attendees and everyone watching online.”
And in true Padgett fashion, they didn’t skip a beat. Only a few days after the Summit, they headed off to promote Alyssa’s book (A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV), have probably had a few dozen work-related calls since, and Heath has definitely come up with at least ten new business ideas (if you’ve ever talked to him in person, you’ll know this is highly likely).
They really practice what they preach and are entrepreneurs through and through. I’m not sure what success looks like to them, but if it is enabling others to succeed, then they have already achieved much more at their young age than many people have in a lifetime.
Toasting to the end of another great RVE Summit. Photo by Joe Hendricks.
Thank you for showing all of us how much is possible with a community of supporters, Heath and Alyssa. And for creating a place where that community can truly thrive. See you next year!
For a full list of who spoke at the summit, and links to the videos, click here.
Special thanks to Joe Hendricks for use of the photos included in this article.
My husband and I have been RVing part time for the past five years. We are fortunate to own a seasonal business that allows us to leave Wisconsin during the coldest months of the year, and we have made trips to Florida and Texas in search of warmth and sunshine. We discovered, however, that 75 degrees is not that common in January, and it was upon this realization that my husband suggested a trip to the California desert. My initial response was “the desert? Really?” My idea of a winter destination had tropical components … ocean breezes, white sand, Pina Coladas. And then we discovered Borrego Springs, California.
About Borrego Springs
Most people have heard of Palm Springs. A playground for the Hollywood elite in the days of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Palm Springs is currently known for mid-century modern architecture, golf, abundant sunshine, and oh, that’s right … LOTS of traffic. Interstate 10 passes by Palm Springs on its way to Los Angeles with multiple lanes of non-stop traffic. Not so for Borrego Springs. Less than 100 miles south of its cosmopolitan cousin, Borrego Springs is truly a world away in its experience.
Located amidst the 650,000 acres of the Anza Borrego State Park, Borrego Springs is surrounded by the Santa Rosa Mountains. The drive in from the west, especially by RV, is a thrilling experience in and of itself. We travel in a Winnebago Forza and tow our car, and while my driver/husband has no qualms about the trip down into Borrego from the mountains, I tend to keep a death grip on my arm rests. But the drive is stunning, with gorgeous mountain vistas giving way to the unique beauty of the desert floor.
Borrego Springs is a village with fewer than 4,000 full-time residents. Recognized as a “dark sky” community, there are no stop lights, and an effort is made to keep lighting to a minimum to protect views of the night sky. The night sky is spectacular indeed, with a multitude of stars shining brilliantly against the blackest of backdrops. To make the most of your star gazing experience, “star parties” are organized by both amateur and professional astronomers.
Daytime activities in Borrego abound, especially for the active RVer. There are five public golf courses, organized bike tours, and guided off-road experiences. For my husband and I, Borrego Springs is where we fell in love with hiking, and there are thousands of miles one can hike in the Anza Borrego park.
Ranging from a few miles to all-day excursions, hikes can be guided or un-guided. Some are easily accessible and family friendly, like Borrego Palm Canyon which is three miles round-trip and leads to a native palm grove. A favorite of ours is “the Slot” which, as its name indicates, is a slot canyon with narrow passages and towering walls. The Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce website lists several hikes and has abundant information about the outdoor opportunities that await you.
Where to Camp
At the end of the day, we like to retire to a nice RV park where we can relax and relive the day’s adventures. For a small village, Borrego Springs has several options from which to choose including the state park campground, as well as several privately-owned parks that range from rustic and quirky to quite luxurious. We highly recommend The Springs at Borrego RV Resort.
There are also a handful of good restaurants, a well-stocked grocery store, and some great local shops and outfitters.
When it comes to RVing, my husband and I have an appetite for active adventures that sometimes take us on the path less travelled. We are delighted to have stumbled upon the path to Borrego Springs, and we are eager to keep exploring this beautiful oasis in the California desert.