Frequently Asked Questions
Would you believe it started with a video? Here's the whole story:
We've been traveling since 2015.
Nathan was born in 1979.
Marissa was born in 1986 and celebrates her 29th birthday every year.
Hensley was born in 2014.
We are definitely open to RVing with another child when we have one, but we will need to see how we feel when that time comes. We plan on taking it a year at a time to keep from being too overwhelmed with future decisions.
We have considered homeschooling, but we've still got a couple of years before we have to get too serious about a decision. RVing involves so many decisions on a daily basis we almost have to push decisions that are further out to the back of our mind a bit or it starts to become overwhelming. We've talked about homeschooling the first few years until Hensley can tell us what she wants to do and then going from there with either continuing homeschooling or putting her in a public school. It's all up for debate though. There are pros for public school right off the bat if we are settled down at that point too. If you haven't checked it out, here's one of our videos where we discuss some of this as well.
Tour our 2008 model 31' Classic Airstream towed by a 2007 Savana Diesel 1 ton Van.
Year/Model: 2007 GMC Savana 3500
Engine: Duramax 6.6L
Length: 224.1" (18ft 6 inches)
Height: 7' 0"
Towing Capacity: 10,000lbs
GVWR: 9600 lbs
GCWR: 17000 lbs
Cat Scale Weight Loaded: 7300 lbs
This is the van, passengers, cargo, etc. (Airstream not attached.)
Average Airstream Weight Towed: 8500 lbs
Mileage While Towing: 13.5mpg
Mileage Without Towing: 20mpg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 31 Gallons
We tow with a 2007 GMC Savana 3500
with a Duramax 6.6L engine.
Mileage While Towing: 13.5mpg
Mileage Without Towing: 20mpg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 31 Gallons
We keep a running list and links for all of our gear at https://lessjunkmorejourney.com/gear
We primarily use a Verizon hot spot for our connectivity.
It is possible to have fast, stable internet while working on the road; we've met dozens of other RVers doing it. Here are three tips for staying connected on the road.
- Research the area before deciding where to camp
- Give yourself more options with multiple cell/hot spot plans
- Verizon has the best coverage; that's what we use primarily. If you want even more flexibility on where you can camp and possibly more data, you can add on an AT&T or T-Mobile Plan. Right now, AT&T has the second best coverage, but T-Mobile is up-and-coming.
- If your work depends on stable internet, we highly recommend becoming a member of RV Mobile Internet. Cell and data plans are constantly changing. This is the source for staying connected on the road.
This is our generic Amazon link. URL: http://amzn.to/290tKZJ.
If you click that link, anything you add to your cart and purchase will help support our channel. If you want to continue to use the link an easy way to keep up with it is to bookmark it and then any time you shop, click on the link to go to Amazon.
The general plan was to
1. Get rid of anything we had not worn or used in 6 months
2. Buy a small used travel trailer that would not lose much, if any, value as we owned it for a short time to try out RVing
3. Get rid of stuff that is not essential on a week to week basis or we would not need in an RV
4. List the house (getting rid of the stuff definitely helps when showing a house anyways)
5. Sell the house
6. Live in the small RV if we liked it, or use the equity from the house to buy something that fit better
7. Hit the road!
Even on the road, we continue to strive to live with less junk. "Never organize what you can discard."
Sometimes we visit churches in the area we're exploring which is a good way to meet other Christians. We also visit churches with friends on the road or we watch online services as a family.
We have committed to coming back to a local RV park in our home town as much as we can for family to see Hensley (100% of them live in or around our town). It also gives us a chance to catch up with friends, tune up the RV with local mechanics we know, check on our small business, and save up a bit of money before we head back out for 2-3 months.
Most places we stay at don't have a workout room, so we bring our own adjustable dumbbells, jump rope, bands, and other workout equipment along with us to keep.
Here's one of our favorite ways to explore AND burn calories.
Many larger RVs have hookups for a washer/dryer hook up or stackable units. These work great if you're on full-hookups. If not, the laundromat is where the action is.
So far we have not had to deal with too many severe storms. The two instances I can think of are
1. There were tornado warnings in Tennessee at one point. We happened to be in our home town so we went to a friend's house for a few hours until the warning was over.
2. We were in Colorado and the wind was so severe it was nudging the slides in. We pulled the slides in and put up with a little bit of shaking in the RV. There was no official warning out just really high gusts coming our way for about 10 hours.
Other than those two instances, there have not been any issues where we made adjustments or had any fear of being in our RV. We do try to follow the weather so we try to avoid being in areas during peak tornado season or times when it is below freezing as much as possible.
Our mindset is not that much different than a trailer or possibly even a single story home. If things look bad we look for somewhere to go that has a basement or cellar.
Living in an RV in cold weather is definitely doable. It mainly comes down to (1) Proper insulation in the RV and (2) Proper prep outside of the RV.
Not all RVs are created equal. At the least, you would want something that has a 4 season package with it. Even better would be to go with either a higher end RV like Tiffin or Newmar or go with the premium line of RVs for a manufacturer.
There is usually quite a bit of price difference between RVs that are meant to be lived in and RVs that are made for weekend use. You can walk around and feel whether or not an RV is built well or not after touring a couple dozen RVs.
Outside prep would include things like insulation on the slides, a skirt around the bottom of the RV and insulation for the water hose and sewer.
All of these take a little more research and prep than a weekend RV, but in the end, an RV could definitely be used in cold weather.
We have felt safe pretty much everywhere we have stayed. Even when we overnight in a Walmart parking lot, there is typically security patrolling the parking lot, plenty of lighting, and security cameras.
Yes. If you are going to live in an RV full-time, it is best to disclose this to your insurance provider.
This is our experience:
To us, what matters most is the company knows we are using the RV full time and the full cost of our RV is covered along with all the usual coverage that comes with vehicle coverage. We started by using State Farm since that is who our house was covered by. We let the agent know we would be living in it full time and traveling around the country. I want to say it was around $30/month for our 30k fifth wheel.
When we bought our Class A, we checked around and Geico gave us the best quote on our rate at $75/month. We also let them know we would be traveling in it full time. When we bought our Airstream, we stuck with Geico and the rate is around $30/month.
Pricing per month for us has pretty consistently been around .01% of the value of the RV.
In 2015 we damaged our fifth wheel and State Farm came through with their coverage for 7k just like they would have with any other vehicle. No questions. No issues. I have not heard nightmare stories of companies like Geico or State Farm not covering RV damages because someone was full time, but that's not to say it never happens.
We have always paid cash for our RVs so that may or may not have made a difference on rates as well.
Disclaimer: We are not experts on insurance. So definitely talk to an agent in your home state. Insurance can vary state to state and instance to instance.
We have Blue Cross, Blue Shield. I don't get into specifics on insurance costs because it can vary widely on each person's situation. I will say that often insurance on your own can be comparable to what you are paying your employer. If you are reasonably healthy and you can raise your deductible, it might even be cheaper.
The only downside we've had to getting our own insurance is we've dropped vision (which we never used) and dental. We pay our dental cleanings and preventative x-rays out of pocket, but it's not too bad.
Part of our income is passive with rental properties and a small business. The rest is made when we park in our hometown for a few weeks every couple of months. Here's a video with more details.
We are spending around $3,500 a month RVing right now. We could get that down to $3,000 and maybe even less if we moved around less, but it is worth the extra money to see more right now.
Some people can get it down to $2,000, but that would probably never happen for us. I would think $2500 would be about as low as we would comfortably want to go if we were staying places a month at a time for the discounted monthly rent and very little fuel usage.
Here's a look at our strategy.
1. Do a rough plan of our generic route/area along with what we want to see
2. Once we arrive at a chosen destination we then book our next location
We found it too limiting to book everything in advance. What if it rains? We meet someone we want to hang out with longer? What if the area is awesome? What if it is terrible?
Booking only the next destination ahead helped us to not be totally winging it and yet have a little bit of a reservation if possible.
The exception of course is events with set dates. We have already booked a full-time families rally in May, the NomadFest in October and the Balloon Fiesta in October because those are known dates.
An example of our planning would be if we knew we wanted to be in Yellowstone. We might roll in to a BLM spot with no reservations on a Tuesday with plans to stay until Sunday. On Wednesday we decide we want to leave on Thursday instead of Sunday. So we then make reservations for our next place or if there are not reservations we make plans to leave at the right time for first-come-first-serve.
Once we arrive at our next spot on Thursday we make a decision on Thursday or Friday for how long we will be there. Let's say we want to stay until the following Tuesday. So we would then book or make plans for where we will be ending up Tuesday.
Rinse and repeat.
Our mileage van vary greatly from month to month so that can be tough to estimate. Some months are 1,000 miles and some are 4,000 miles. As far as yearly on our van, in our first 11 months in 2017 we put 25,000 miles on it.
That is more than our Class A in 2016. We put 11,000 miles on it. However, we put 10,000 miles on the Subaru so the numbers are closer when that is factored in.
We move a little more than a lot of RVers and predict 80+% of full timers who move every 2 weeks or less probably put 20-30k miles on their vehicle(s) annually.
You'll hear different views on leaving the propane on while driving, but the large majority of RVers leave the propane refrigerator on while driving. If you have concerns that some sort of spark could ignite your propane, you can turn it off for 6-8 hours and your food will stay cold.
You do want to always turn off your propane while (1) riding a ferry (2) going through a long tunnel or (3) any time there are signs requiring it.
We rely heavily on Google for our planning. If your RV is under 12 ft tall and 35 ft long, you are probably ok without a RV GPS. If you are above that height or length, an RV GPS is not required, but you will need to check all your routes beforehand for low clearance and Google's constant need to take you down crazy side roads. If you plan on spending a lot of time in the northeast, an RV GPS would be encouraged even more. There are more tolls, side roads, and low clearances there than anywhere in the US we have seen.
We created a playlist to make this as easy as possible for you. Click here.
I would say blogging/vlogging can be a source of income, but expect it to take some time. For us, we didn't make a dime the first 4 months we YouTubed.
With months 5 and 6 we made a few hundred dollars each month, but it was barely enough to cover what we spent on video equipment. It was around 7 months in before we officially made money.
Around month 9 I could see that there was some consistency in our YouTube income and so I started to scale back on my website clients and put more time into YouTube which accelerated it even more.
Even after that point, I don't know that I would rely solely on YouTube for income.
Youtube could pull the plug or we could get hacked on any given day. And that's scary.
Typically a vlog or blog is just a way to stream traffic to the real product. We don't yet know what that product is for us yet, but we definitely don't just want vlogging and blogging to be our primary source.
We honestly haven't had time to build a product yet. But it needs to be a priority. If we had a product from the start while we still had time it would have been ideal.
We do make pretty consistent income at this point, but if I had to do it all over again, I would work toward creating a product as early on as I could (e-course, physical product, app, etc) and then only worry about blogging/vlogging enough to push traffic to that product.
That's the easy way to steady passive income. Our way works, but it is more hands-on work because for the most part, we are the product.
We are using Bebas Neue for the font and Pixelmator to create the thumbnails.
Almost all of the music we've used has originated from SoundCloud.com. I followed artists I liked and then over time I've found songs on SoundCloud that are recommended to be similar, and I've also followed those artists . Some of those followings have led to me also contributing on Patreon to artists whom have helped us quite a bit. Some other artists request that we buy their album.
We always recognize artists whose music we've used in the description of each YouTube video. We don't always specify each specific song used, but do try to recognize the artists and point to them on SoundCloud or another page they've requested.
Off the top of my head, some of the artists we've used the most are
Broke for Free
I have only had issues one time with an artist coming back and saying his music was copyrighted when I knew the song wasn't. I did not contest it and just took off monetization for that video.
For the most part, these artists are young and aspiring and absolutely love people sharing their music for free as long as they get some credit. Others just want you to buy their album and then give them credit. If the song is available to download for free on SoundCloud it is almost guaranteed the artists just wants one or both of the above conditions met and they are more than happy for you to use their music.
We archive all video that we use for our final cut. Or if the final cut is a portion of a video, we still archive that entire video. Our videos are archived on Seagate 4TB drives. They are portable drives, so they are not too big. We have about 4 of them so far.
Our first videos were 5-7 minutes long, and we only did 2-3 a week because we felt it was better to make something too short and yet high-quality rather than too long and not very interesting.
I've since been able to take more time to put together longer videos, but it still takes a long time (2-5 hours per video) to edit.
Since I put out 3-4 videos a week, I focus on story. Color editing could help with that, but I feel like my time has been better spent learning new transitions, using the right music, and working on story.
For the most part, I don't do much with audio other than adjust volume and occasionally take out a bit of background noise. It's not that I don't want to or don't think it would help to do more, I just don't know that it would help enough to justify the time it would take to do it.
I chose Final Cut Pro X for editing because I am a one-man-show and from what I've researched, it renders 5-10 times faster than Premier. If I needed to work with a team or needed more features, I might look into Premier in the future, but for now, Final Cut Pro X has worked for me.
And lastly from a filming standpoint remember that people (myself included) have an insanely short attention span. It is better to create something short with lots of cuts, change of pace, music, and yourself or subjects from different angles and starting points of conversation as you can.
It takes lots and lots of practice to become comfortable. I recorded 5 or 10 videos for our home collection before we even had the guts to make something public. Every once in a while we look back at our earlier videos and are a little embarrassed.
In addition to a lot of practice, we have found that it helps to visualize the lens on the camera as a person. It takes practice, but we now just view it as a conversation with a friend. Because I know I can cut anything, we just talk and talk. Sometimes it takes a few times to say something the way we want, but because I am editing it later, I don't worry about getting it perfect.
For us, the hardest part of YouTube has been the negativity of trolls. Our first reaction to mean-spirited comments is to "take our ball and leave". We both have a hard time with being criticized and if you put your life online, it's "when" not "if" you will take some heat. We're not discouraging anyone from sharing online. It is an awesome experience and still worth it, but mean comments hurt.