For those of us who fulltime RV, it’s more challenging to take a vacation away from home than it ever was when we lived in a stick-and-brick. The challenges held Eric and me back for a long time, until we couldn’t wait any longer.
We just got back from two weeks visiting Cancun, Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula–without our RV. It was a trip we dreamed about for years. The process was hardly without its ruts, but we don’t regret the decisions we made. Instead, we’re glad for the challenges because we learned a ton. Most importantly, we feel equipped to do more international travel in future. Europe in 2017!
You may be curious about what it looks like for fulltime RVers to be away from their RVs for a long period of time. While our choices may not work for everyone, we hope you can take some useful knowledge away from our experience.
Challenges That Keep Fulltime RVers From International Travel
Fourteen days is the longest by far that we had ever been away from our RV, Meriwether. These are the issues that kept us tethered. Maybe you can relate!
- Where will we park Meriwether?
- Will all of our earthly possessions be safe while we’re gone?
- Wherever Meriwether is parked, will we have electricity, so that everything in our fridge doesn’t go bad?
- Who will take care of our kitten and bearded dragon?
- (For international travel) Will we have a reliable Internet connection, so we can work every day?
- Will we be able to communicate with our clients across time zone differences?
Here’s how we tackled each of these six issues.
Where Will We Park Our RV?
Originally, we planned to find an RV storage facility to park Meriwether while we were gone. We looked in the Phoenix area, since that’s where we were catching our flights to and from Mexico.
RV storage didn’t work out. Most storage facilities are looking for long-term occupants who will bring in long-term money. The very few facilities that are willing to store an RV for a week or two usually require one month’s payment.
One month of RV storage in Phoenix is ridiculously expensive. Like, more-than-we-would-pay-at-some-RV-parks-for-a-month kind of expensive. It didn’t end up mattering, since no one had availability for two weeks, anyway.
(Note: don’t be afraid to call storage facilities in your area. When we were looking in the Orlando area, we did find a place willing to store Meriwether for a week, and it wasn’t prohibitively expensive. It all depends on the area of the country.)
Since storage wasn’t an option, we started looking into booking an RV park where we could leave Meriwether plugged in while we were gone. We were calling around Phoenix until a friendly neighbor at the RV park we were staying at came up with an idea we should’ve thought of. Since we were already planning on spending two weeks at an RV park in Tucson (two hours south of Phoenix), why didn’t we just pay for a month and drive our Jeep up to the airport from Tucson?
What a great idea! We ended up saving by paying the monthly rate at the RV park. We did have to cover the cost of gas to and from Tucson, plus airport parking and the value of our travel time, but the balance was still in our favor.
Will Our RV Be Safe While We’re Gone?
One of the benefits of RV storage facilities is that they are gated with limited access. Plus, there are often security cameras for an added layer of protection. Our RV park in Tucson, however, was not gated.
This is a risk we chose to take, though we made a friend at our RV park who made us feel a lot better about being away. (See the section about our pets below for more info!)
What About Electricity?
As we called storage places to get quotes, we asked about trickle power for our fridge. We found that pretty much everyone offered spots with power, but they were more expensive.
Since we decided to leave Meriwether at an RV park, electricity was a given. Our 50 amp service also allowed us to leave the heaters on, in case the temperature dropped at night.
What Do We Do With Our Pets?
Our pets were probably our biggest concern about going away from home for a long period of time. Before we had Rhythm (our kitten), we only had to worry about Trogdor (our bearded dragon). It’s difficult to find places that will board a lizard, but we could usually find a local pet store that would take him for about $5/night if we provided a tupperware container and his lights.
Then we added Rhythm to the RV Wanderlust crew. Pretty much everyone boards cats, but would she be taken care of? Even if the company had a good reputation, we had a hard time stomaching the idea of leaving her in a crate for two weeks. And then there’s the major cost, which sucks when you’re already trying to pay for flights, lodging, food and fun.
We decided we didn’t want to board our pets. The only other option was to find a pet-sitter who would come over to check on our furry/scaly family members. We took another risk on this one. Since our RV park was on the outskirts of Tucson, out of the way of everything, we knew we would have to find someone at our RV park to help with pet-sitting. Yes, our plan was to meet someone we could trust enough to hand over the keys to our home, all within two weeks!
This nerve-wrecking part of our trip planning worked out in a beautiful way. The campground where we were staying, Justin’s Diamond J RV Park, has an active community and many regulars who live there fulltime or visit annually. At a Monday morning social with coffee and donuts, we met the marvelous Leslie Sullins. We quickly realized how beloved she is by everyone, as a long-time resident and the park’s Zumba instructor. Leslie kindly offered to take care of Rhythm and Trogdor, and she went out of her way to send me regular updates while we were in Mexico. Since she was visiting Meriwether daily, she also helped keep our rig safe. Thank you, Leslie!
Will We Have Reliable Internet?
It may look like we’re on vacation, but we work Monday through Friday on a strict schedule. By 9 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (that’s 6 a.m. Pacific Time–yipes!), we have to be at our laptops to take care of our social media clients and our Austinot publishing and promoting.
We love the reliability of our Internet connections through Verizon and AT&T as we’re traveling around the United States, but we can’t take those services with us when we leave the country.
Originally, we planned to stay with Eric’s cousin in Cancun. He has home Internet like normal stick-and-brick people in the States, so problem-solved. Until we had to change our lodging plans the night before our trip because his parents were visiting and using the guest bedroom. (We love you, Aunt Lucia and Uncle Maco!)
In a wild scramble, we booked a hotel that did not have Internet. Through an app I have called Free Wi-Fi Finder, I saw that there were at least some McDonald’s we could work at as a last resort (I need to find a new app, since this one hasn’t been updated in a long time). Once we got to Cancun, we also found numerous Starbuck’s with decent Internet.
We ended up canceling the hotel and booking on AirBnB. The apartment we found was bigger, in a better location, with Wi-Fi, and it cost less. The Wi-Fi ended up being fantastic. Where work was concerned, we were able to do everything we normally do in Meriwether. (Actually, the Internet speed was better than what we have on the road sometimes.)
We love that AirBnB has a filter for Wi-Fi. This is a game-changer for us, giving us the confidence to travel internationally more often.
What About Time Zones?
In the future, when we travel overseas, we’ll have to compensate for time zone issues. We’re not sure what that looks like yet. But since Cancun is the same as Eastern Standard Time, we were actually able to get up later than we can in Arizona.
Success: RVers Travel Internationally
We waited years to take this trip to Cancun together, to see Eric’s family and enjoy the diversions of the area. Now we know that we didn’t have to wait so long!
We plan to write another article soon about our travel expenses, the awesomeness of the dollar’s strength right now, and some of the fun things we did on our trip. For now, we’ll leave you with a reminder. If you do what we did and leave your RV at a park, don’t forget to account for the campground’s check-out time on your day of arrival. Otherwise, you may arrive four hours after check-out, with another RV waiting for your spot. Not that we would know anything about that.
I can’t wait to see the pix, especially if they are like some of the others you post where you’re having a good time and Eric is holding on for dear life. The zip line comes to mind. When you’re ready to go on your next trip let me know I can get you a suite in a resort for about $300. pretty much everywhere
That’s awesome, @sflabrkr:disqus! Would love to learn more about your connections in the resort industry. We’re working on that next article. Sometimes it’s hard to sit down and write when there’s so much playing to do!
Great article! We live full time in a Casita travel trailer but try to spend part of the year living abroad. We are in Switzerland right now but heading back to the Camper in April. Wifi is always a struggle… I normally put a local SIM card in my iPhone so I can at least hot spot my computer to my phone. The time zone thing is a pain from here as the work day starts at 5:00pm. Thanks for the good read!
Wow, @jasonstriker:disqus. There’s a lot we could learn from you. Where do you stay when you’re abroad? How many gigs of data do you have with the local SIM card?
Sounds like we could learn a lot from you guys also! We use Air b and B a lot while abroad. If you set the dates to over a month they have monthly rates that are a lot lower. For the trip we are on now we found rentals that were vacant for the entire 3 months we wanted to be here for, then contacted the owners through Air B and B and asked if they would do a better price for the whole time. Most said no, but then one said yes…. Regarding data it depends on where we are. Data was a good price in Mexico so we could go to the Pemex station and add more minutes as needed. Here in Europe data is expensive, but there is fast wifi available everywhere so its not really a problem.
Awesome, @jasonstriker:disqus. Appreciate you sharing your experience.
Julie Bennett | RVLove.com
Great article Brittany – thanks for sharing! Sounds like you got the perfect solution in every way. We had to store our RV for 10 days Christmas of 2014 to fly home to see family in Colorado and managed to score a storage space WITH electric to keep our fridge running at the Thousand Trails campground in Palm Springs for just $3/day. This is often a good option – many campgrounds do offer storage areas – some have electric, some do not. We head to Australia for 4 weeks in mid March and have had the same concerns.. specifically safety of our coach being away for so long and also WIFI – having enough solid coverage to work properly AND the timezone (our ours will be graveyard midnight to 8am! Yikes!) So definitely will be blogworthy to share our experience. We didn’t have a pet to worry about as we lost our dear sweet Labradoodle Coda 5 months into our travels 🙁 While this does free us up a lot more for additional travels (we may see you in Europe in 2017!) we miss her terribly… but also the reason we haven’t got another dog… we want the freedom and flexibility for more travel. Thanks for sharing your experience and we hope to cross paths with you guys sometime in 2016. Enjoy Sedona – it’s one of our very favorite places on our travels so far… we highly recommend the Indian Gardens Courtyard cafe for a lovely healthy lunch in beautiful outdoor setting. It’s on Highway 89A I think (found it on Yelp). You may have already happened across it. Happy Trails!
Thanks for commenting, @rvlove:disqus! Looking for storage at RV parks is an excellent tips. And some, like Thousand Trails, are usually quite secure. We hope to meet you in person soon!