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Virtual RVing (or What-To-Do-In-Winter-Before-You-Start-Fulltiming)


Though the allure of the open road ever beckons part-time RVers like Jan & I,  it’s one thing to drive around Wisconsin in the summers and quite another to drive around North America.

We’ve been part-time RVing for 10 years and have driven our motorhome down many roads, but I think full-time RVing will be a different animal — at least in scale.

With the prospect of living on the road 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year . . . how much driving is enough? Too much? How long should we stay at a campsite? What will it cost? Where do we go?

There’s no way of knowing for sure, but I think there’s a way of preparing for this transition . . . Virtual RV Trips !

I can’t imagine that I made this term up, but here’s what I’ve been doing over long Wisconsin Winters. Armed with an Excel spreadsheet, I started with a start and final destination and then planned a trip using actual campgrounds along the way.

After creating about a dozen of these Virtual RV Trips, I learned a few things:

  • I’d rather be taking real trips instead of virtual ones.
  • With each new Virtual RV Trip, the amount of daily driving I did kept dropping. I tended to stay longer and longer at campsites.
  • When I added the average temperature for each destination, this seemed like a good guide for both the Winter and Summer months.
  • I started to get ballpark figures for campground costs.
  • I learned a lot about campgrounds themselves . . . amenities, cost, locations, . . .

We’ll see.

Here’s a sample Virtual RV Trip . . . virtual_rving9

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sister Mary #

    Wow! What an excellent way to get thru dull WI winter. The exercise is a dose of reality too .. cools stuff Tom.
    Question: when on the road for long periods.. where is your official residency?

    January 22, 2013
  2. That is the $64,000 question.

    We will use WI as our “domicile” or legal residence for a while. To establish domicile in a state typically means that you pay taxes, register your vehicles, and conduct business (like bank accounts) in a state. Many full time RVers choose Texas, Florida, or South Dakota as a domicile (and residence) because these states have no state tax.

    Though WI has a state tax, our state does does tax social security benefits, plus since we’ll be “part-time” residents — meaning we’ll be out of the state most of the time — we are taxed less (see WI Form 1NPR).

    Establishing domicile/residence can be hairy if you don’t own a house because then you have no residence address. Think of how many forms require a street address — and not a PO Box.

    The Patriot Act has made this issue even more problematic because, for example, some banks are not accepting the forwarding addresses of some full timers.

    Since we’re “homeless”, I’ve thought of making a deal with a WI homeless shelter in order to use their address — some state forms allow you to do this. Love it.

    January 22, 2013
  3. Kath Hughes #

    I like your “scientific” approach to the RV adventure. But unlikely you’ll find one solution to all situations. There will probably be days/weeks/etc. you may want to plant yourselves in one idyllic location and other days/weeks/etc. you’ll want to be on the road. Isn’t it great to have those choices?

    January 24, 2013

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