Every mile spent RVing is one for the books. There is endless knowledge to be gained while on the road. From budgeting to where to travel, road foods, attractions and campgrounds… finding out the ‘bests’ in every state and nook of the U.S. takes years. That is why when Connie Morrow, a vibrant 72-year-old RVer reached out to us, we were immediately drawn into the wealth of knowledge she has regarding RV living. Having traveled throughout the lower 48 and seven Canadian Providences, Connie has been RVing for over 13 years. You heard correctly, Mrs. Morrow has been living on the road full-time for over 4,745 days! Wintering in Florida in her camper and traveling for the rest of the year with her pug, Connie is the veteran RVer we only dreamed of interviewing. Check out her incredible and timeless advice on all things RVing below.
La Mesa RV: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned over your 13 years of RVing?
Connie Morrow: Relax. Very few things are life threatening. You have the brains and the resources to work out any problems you might encounter. If necessary call a friend, preferably a smart one. I found out that you won’t actually “die of fear.” Stay calm. And yes, I have been in enough spots to prove this, although my ‘adventures’ usually happen on the road. I have never been threatened or scared in a campground. The world is not nearly as scary as you have been led to believe.
LMRV: What are your top 10 tips and tricks to RVing?
- I have a rule that in each state I go to, I must eat the local foods. Louisiana was a challenge. I had to learn to cook their food so I could control the heat level. Texas you just leave out the jalapeños if you’re not a fan of spice. Iowa was great with steak and potatoes!
- Read a local author. Preferably an author who writes about his/her state.
- Command strips are your best friend. I hang pictures, hooks, posters. They are easy to use and leave no mark. You don’t want to try and put a nail in that paper wall.
- Get a quick release valve for your hose to attach to your trailer. It will lessen leaks and is so much easier than threading and removing the hose each time.
- If you don’t like the place or the people, leave! That’s the beauty of living in a moveable home.
- Don’t travel too often or too long. I try not to go more than 300 miles in one day. That takes me about six hours so I usually stop in time to set up and relax before dinner.
- Cracker Barrels are the best free overnighting place. I insist on using the local business that I am staying at, Cracker Barrel gives me two meals for about $15, what I would expect to pay to dry camp. Just don’t abuse the privilege. Walmarts, Flying J’s and Loves are also good. I have heard that some Cabelas actually have power hookups. But you are not camping. Do not unhook, leave your rig, put out the grill or plan on staying more than one night.
- Help other people! Be friendly. Backing up, setting up and be encouraging. I have had so much encouragement from others! Also, from a selfish perspective I think it labels you as a friendly, safe person.
- But be careful about listening too hard on advice from others. They may look smart, sound smart, but really may not be any smarter than you. Trust your gut!
- Do not listen to your friends who are not doing this. They might tell you how silly you are, how dangerous it is and so on. The reality is, they really have no idea. Don’t let others tell you how to live your life. You only get one life!
LMRV: How do you budget travel?
CM: I am fortunate enough to have both social security and a pension. I’ve rented my house to my daughter. I don’t buy trinkets or souvenirs. I enjoy volunteering at parks, although there are other places to look. I have worked at National Parks (32 hrs/week) as well as National Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers (25 hrs./week) and one private park. I feel that now I have the time I should give back to my country and community. You don’t receive pay but you do get to camp for free. That includes site, water, electricity, sewer and often propane, a stipend, and occasionally a beer. It also gives me a “family” who knows who I am and has an interest in case I don’t show up for work or need help. Ohio doesn’t really participate in this volunteer activity. I have a friend who did this for 27 years, getting a real job in the summer at a park and volunteering during the winter. Don’t travel too much. I almost always stay at least two nights. Many places give you one night free if you stay for a week. When possible, I stay for a month (it makes it cheaper) and use my home as a base for day trips.
LMRV: What are your rules for living on the road?
CM: There are few rules. The golden rule. I am old (72), retired and get to do pretty much what I want. Don’t abuse free sites, from Walmart’s to BLM land. Leave no trash and be polite.
LMRV: Are you a part of any RV membership?
CM: I’m apart of Good Sam Travel assist, should I become ill and need to be returned to my home. I have been to the hospital several times over the years, but luckily have never had any serious issues.
LMRV: What do you cook on the road?
CM: I cook the same as I did at home as I do on the road. I try to eat healthy. I follow the Mediterranean diet with a little meat, and lots of vegetables and fruit. I am not camping. I am living. I have a toaster oven and a crockpot to make my favorite meals.
LMRV: What type of RV do you have?
CM: I have a 29-foot travel trailer. I started with a 25-foot travel trailer with no slide. I chose a travel trailer because of their affordability.
I moved up to a 34-foot to upgrade to a larger pantry and closet. I try to stick to one slide as a slide usually weighs 1,000 pounds and I am trying to conserve weight. I also try to stay at this length to make it easier to park and to get in and out of gas stations. I have found that travel trailers just don’t last as long if you are constantly traveling so I have had a couple of them. The one I have now has abundant storage. I have a five foot counter in the living area, a pantry, seven drawers, and the bedroom has an extra hanging space and three large drawers for clothing. Storage is a priority for me.
LMRV: Any advice for new RVers?
CM: Try a weekend or two before you actually buy. I started tent camping during the summers, moved up to a pop-up ALiner and then bought big when I decided to go full-time. If you are considering this lifestyle, try it out first. Banff National Park in Canada is the best National Park on the continent, in my opinion. Explore Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper National Park. You will be amazed at how much fun and relatively easy the area is to navigate by RV. The campgrounds there are very inexpensive and you will save a bundle on food. RVing is the most fun I’ve had in my entire life. I look forward to going to new places and seeing new things and meeting new people, even after 13 years of exploring. In November I will return to my home base campground in Florida and finish my 14th year!
Looking for more inspiring road stories? Check out our interview with Sue Ann Jaffarian, an author who made her full-time RVing dream a reality! If you have a road story you’d like to share with us, leave a comment in the section below for a chance to be featured on our LMRV blog!