Restock Your RV for Summer The first whispers of warmth arrived here in the Southeast. Soon they’ll they’ll work their way northward until it’s summer. Before you know it, your RV life calls for a change of wardrobe, pantry, toiletries and much more. If you need an excuse for a new hat and shoes, and what woman doesn’t, here are things to keep in mind for summer RV camping and travel.
Call it a Transitional Wardrobe, outfits that work in quirky weather: a windbreaker with zip-out lining, a rain-resistant jacket with hood, a puffy vest for cold snaps.
* Know your meds. Many medications taken by women make you more sensitive to sun damage or less able to sweat. Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Read labels. Be especially aware if you use acne treatment, antibiotics, an anti-depressant and certain vitamins, herbs or pain relievers (either topical, such as patches and rub-ons, or internal).
* If you’re closer to “that certain age” summer heat may bother you more this year than last. These cool wipes are specially formulated to cool women down for up to 30 minutes.
* Many garments and accessories are now treated to filter UV rays and/or resist bug bites. Treatments last through several washings, but read labels. Ordinary fabrics help but don’t offer complete protection.
* RIT, the dye people, make a UV block you can add to the wash. Spray-on UV treatments are also available.
* Window films can be applied professionally (recommended) or as a DIY project. However, state laws differ in just how much you can darken the view into and out of the cockpit.
* Start with a new sun hat, one with built-in UV protection. Many types are now available. I like this one for style, generous coverage and its 50 SPF rating. http://amzn.to/2oI30V1
* Toiletries. Do you up the SPF number in your moisturizer for hotter weather and higher sun? Need a stronger deodorant for sweaty summer days? More streak-proof foundation and eye makeup for dewy days?
* Hair care. Do you use a special shampoo and/or conditioner after a swim in a chlorinated pool or in salt water?
* Laundry. Even if you use scented detergent normally, it may be smart to bring unscented soaps and detergents. Perfumes attract insects. Chemicals may irritate your skin more in hot weather when you perspire more. Create your own sun protection with this wash-in UV block from RIT, the people who make fabric dyes we’ve all used for years. It claims an SPF rating of 30.
* This featherweight, flattering, comfortable swim shirt comes in many colors and has SPF 50 sun protection Get several. http://amzn.to/2FWFv1E
* Summer drinks. Have plenty of powders and concentrates on hand for cold summer quaffs.
* A UV protectant spray for vinyl and plastics, fiberglass and leather will prolong the life of your favorite handbag, backpack, outdoor chairs and sports equipment. Use it on the RV seats and dashboard too. Simply refresh the spray as needed.
* Books. It’s time to add new chic lit and beach reads to your RV library.
* Shoes. This summer’s new shoes are stretchier and airier while providing better protection for your feet in the outdoors. Don’t forget shower shoes and “reef runners” for the beach.
* Shop an auto supply store for a safe, non-flammable remover for beach tar, road tar and sap. Some are safe for the hair and skin. Others are for use only on shoes or other objects. You can also rub in Goop waterless hand cleaner or something oily such as shortening, then wash in hot, soapy water.
What’s your favorite summer saver for the RV lifestyle? Comments welcome.
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Alphabet Soup The A.B.C.s of a Plan B for an R.V.
Do you have an R.V. back-up plan? No, this isn’t about driving in reverse. It’s about all the little lifesavers that go with the unique form of travel in a complete home on wheels. RV travel is unique because you provide your own vehicle, electricity, plumbing and pantry. Here are just some of the ways to save the day by having an ace up your sleeve.
* Carry a small solar or hand-operated charger for the cell phone. You may be out of range but never out of juice. If you travel with a partner it’s a plus if you have cell phones from different companies. One may be in range when the other is not.
* Bring cans and packages to make at least one or two complete meals for emergencies. Stuff happens. Good emergency rations include canned Boston brown bread, canned ham, corned beef, tuna in cans or pouches, crackers, canned or powdered milk, peanut butter and crackers. . *Flashlights galore. I love the little LED flashlights that are so bright, so compact and yet burn so long on a set of batteries.
* Spare fan belts. You may not be able to install them but you’ll have the right sizes in case of a breakdown. Small town garages can’t carry every size.
* A stash of cash or Traveler's Checks. (Yes they are still available). Also a supply of change for tolls, coin-up machines and the few pay phones that still exist (and may be there when you need one most).
* CB radio is still handy on the highway. In areas where there is no cell phone signal, it can be a lifesaver.
* An electric hot plate. I love my RV gas stove plus a campfire, An electric hot plate is added insurance. It takes up little space and it is a quick, easy cooker to use anywhere there’s an electric plug. Use it with any pan, skillet, coffee maker, corn popper, pressure cooker.
* One or two books you always wanted to read. When you’re stranded somewhere with time to kill, a good book can carry you away. Crossword puzzles are also boredom busters.
* A small mending kit, duct tape and WD-40 spray lube. If one of these three things won’t fix it, it probably can’t be fixed.
* A personal locator beacon is the ultimate lifesaver. It's small enough to carry in one hand or wear, tuck in a pocket or keep within reach in the RV cockpit. Like locator beacons used in boats and airplanes, it sends a strong signal from anywhere including out to sea. It sends the signal farther, stronger, longer than any cell phone. It broadcasts from places where cell phones cannot AND there is no monthly cost.
Do you dream of taking to the open road for a new life of carefree travel in a self-contained RV? Do it now, not at retirement age. Work as you go. I full-time for ten years, making a living as a travel writer. Book Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition, tells how.
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Rustle Up an RV Party
I’ve always loved to entertain and make someone feel special. Despite the tiny space and limited resources, that goes for RV travel life too. A young couple in the campsite next door were driving a battered van conversion with foreign license plates. I asked them to dinner, eager to hear about their tour of the U.S. in an RV they brought from Europe. At such times I rummage through my compact “special occasion” supplies, searching for ways to hang a ruffle on a meal. It doesn’t take much space to keep them on hand. Here’s how to carry a lot of celebration supplies in a small space. Fun with Color
Forget individual holiday themes. Instead go for solid colors that do double or triple duty. Green goes with St. Patrick’s Day, Earth Day, Christmas and the Green Bay Packers game. Red is for Christmas, 4th of July, Valentine’s Day and the fund raiser for the American Heart Association.Pastels are for springtime, babies and girlfriend get-togethers.
Orange is for Halloween and harvest festivals White party goods are always a plus because you can add any color.
I shop at post-holiday sales when party supplies sell for as much as 90% off. The best buys are big, disposable tablecloths that can be used for a campsite table covering or cut into wrapping paper, place mats or trims. A big, white, paper tablecloth can be dressed up with motifs for any occasion, worn to a toga party or turned into a ghost for Halloween.
Here are more guest-able ideas:
* Invest in a “you are special today” plate to serve the honoree. I love the iconic red pottery 'You Are Special Today” dinner plate that many families keep on hand, but they sell for about $50 . For only $15 I found this Melamine 10-inch “You are Special” dinner plate that is lighter and more practical to carry in the RV. Use it often, not just for birthdays but for silly little occasions like a good day's fishing or Junior's new Boy Scout badge.
* Carry a string of plain white fairy lights. Use them all year in a dozen ways, a dozen places.
* Buy a set of seasonal garden flags and unfurl a new one for every occasion. Fabric flags take up little space. You can keep them under a seat cushion.
* You don’t need special pans to bake special occasion cakes. Cakes are baked in everyday round or square pans, then cut and decorated into the most clever shapes imaginable. See patterns at http://www.taste.com.au/baking/articles/super-food-ideas-cake-templates/gh3NmOY8
* Other easy, temporary but festive decor can be achieved with spray-on snow, sidewalk chalk, crepe paper streamers, and water-washable poster paint.
* Get an origami kit for a lifetime of fun. Make colorful decorations for any occasion. Entertain children. Give token gifts.
* DVD’s take up no room at all. Turn your RV’s television screen into a flickering fireplace in winter. In summer, play an aquarium or waterfall. Show Disney World fireworks DVD for Labor Day, 4th of July and Memorial Day.
It takes only two to make a party, one to be honored and one to do the honoring. And you can do it on a shoestring.
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RV Sharing Is (Not Always) RV Caring
My friend Cheryl* is on a tight budget, so she was thrilled at the idea of sharing her upcoming Alaska RV trip with her niece, Jenna, Jenna’s six-year-old daughter and their Pomeranian. When the girls first started talking about the trip, it was thought to be a cost-sharing deal. Then things started to go awry. *To avoid embarrassment, real names are not used
What are the roadblocks and potholes ahead if you decide to take a guest on board your RV? * What is the longstanding nature of your relationship with the guest? If you’re the parent, aunt or grandparent, or are substantially richer, has it always assumed that you send gifts, host the baby showers, make emergency loans, pick up the checks?
* Unless things are hammered out ahead of time, hard feelings can start as early as the first fuel stop. Are you sharing all costs of the trip or just the gas? This time you need a quart of oil and at the next fill-up you need to use the coin-op vacuum and tire pump. Is it just too cheap of you to put these costs on the list?
* The true cost of operating an RV is far more than filling the fuel tank. You’ll need routine maintenance and fluids plus propane and generator fuel. Who pays if you need a new tire or two on those rough Alaska roads?
* As the driver, you hand over money at every toll booth. Should tolls go on the shared bill?
* If grocery costs are to be split, what about treats, dog food and alcohol, especially if one of you doesn’t drink or eat junk food.
* What if your campground bill shows extra costs such as your guest’s greens fees or spa treatments?
* Road slop is real, especially in Alaska, and wash-downs at truck stops can add up. Should Jenna pay half?
* You divide up the chores and that’s working OK. Then Jenna volunteers to do the wash while you cook dinner, and she asks you for the money for the coin-op laundry machines. Does that stick in your craw?
* With guests on board you have to stop at dump stations much more often than when you are alone. Should your guest pay half the fee? More than half since she brought her daughter?
* Jenna and her daughter spend hours every day on the campground wi-fi. Should you split the complete campground bill or itemize?
* You're almost home when you need a new tank of gas and a propane refill. Is it really fair to charge Jenna for half? After all, you'll be using these fuels long after she's gone.
* You have a campground membership, which slashes nightly costs greatly, but Jenna has her heart set on seeing a famous theme park with a non-member campground. Who pays the $70 difference?
Talk it out ahead of time. Hard feelings can ruin a friendship but misunderstandings can also ruin your travel budget.
Janet Groene's bookLiving Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition, is a complete guide to the full-time life on wheels. Start with making the decision, live the full-timer life at any age, work on the go if need be.
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8 MADDENING MYTHS ABOUT RV TRAVEL WITH PETS
1. Pets don’t get motion sickness. They do, according to WebMD and, as in traveling children, motion sickness is more common in puppies and young dogs. They pet may not vomit but could drool, vomit or lick its jowls. Or it could show its discomfort by whining, yawning or being extra active or extra lethargic. Stress adds to chances of a pet getting car sick, so make the whole experience as comfortable as possible. My dog Gypsy loves being in the camper, so she joins me there when I’m working inside even if we are not going anywhere. This makes her feel right at home when we are underway. If possible the pet should see out the front or at least out of side windows. This helps orient its balance system to the world around it. A crate is a good idea, both to contain the pet and any vomit. Position it if possible to the pet can see the road ahead. I haven't tried them but these relief drops for motion sickness might work for you. http://amzn.to/2GMoK9H
2. Pets don’t need restraints Pets have incredibly fast reaction time but no pet is quick enough, or strong enough, to withstand the G faces in a panic stop or crash. It isn’t just the pet’s safety at stake. Even a small cat or dog could be turned into a cannonball in a crash, slamming into humans.
I knew an elderly man who always drove with his beloved pet parrot on his shoulder. In a minor crash, it was thrown into the windshield and killed. Here's a special bird cage made for safe bird travel. Birds are pets too.
3. Traveling Pets don’t need special food, water or medication Depending on the trip, your vet may recommend shots or pills for snake bite, “kennel cough”, fleas, ticks or other problems. Some pet owners carry bottled water, or water from home, to avoid upsets from drinking different water in every campground. It’s always wise, my vet says, to keep a pet on the same food or to introduce a new one very gradually. Abrupt changes in diet give Gypsy stomach trouble and a skin rash. Because her brand of food isn’t available everywhere, I get the same dog food by mail order no matter where we are.
4. It’s OK to Let the Dog Piddle Most RV travelers are meticulous about cleaning up dog poop but many will just stand there when the same dog piddles on someone’s tires or tent ropes. It’s very hard to keep the dog from marking its territory and impossible to keep a male cat from squirting, but please don’t let another “No Pets Allowed” sign go up in another campground due to your pet’s bad manners.
5. Campground showers are a great place to wash the dog Not! Some people go bonkers if find pet hairs in the campground bathrooms. They go straight to the manager, complain, and yet another "No Pets Allowed" sign goes up. If you have to bathe Bowser on the road, buy a small, inflatable swimming pool.
6. My Dog Doesn’t Bark I once parked next to a couple whose large dog began barking as soon as they left and didn’t stop until they returned. They, of course, didn’t know that the din could be heard even when all their windows, and mine, were closed. It might take a tranquilizer, or a bark collar, or just playing the radio or TV while you are away but please don’t make all of us dog owners look bad.
7. It’s a Cool Day, So Rover is OK Inside the RV Even with windows open on a 70-degree day, a pet can suffer heat exhaustion in as little as 30 minutes According to the Humane Society, signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke, say the Society, if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs—like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.
8. My Dog Obeys, so Leash Laws Don’t Apply to Me Dogs can suddenly bolt or disobey out of hunting instinct, fear or need of romance. I once stopped to rescue a beautiful German shepherd that had wandered away when the owners stopped at a rest stop. Apparently on a schedule, they had to move on, leaving the dog. The heartbroken pet was desperately running up and down a busy highway, looking for its family. You could lose a pet, or be evicted from a campground for ignoring leash laws.
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Take it outside.
Living Large in Small Spaces RV Decorator Hacks: Loving the RV life and the travel freedoms it provides, we all sometimes need to renew, re-do or punch up the RV’s decor without spending a fortune. Here are some ideas.
* To make new curtains, buy a duvet cover. It’s a lot of fabric for the money and it’s already double to give you extra privacy and insulation. Most are white or a drab color but This brand comes in many decorative colors, most of them reversible.
* Replace a bothersome wood door with a shower curtain? They are a lot of fabric for the price, lightweight, and they are available in many colors, textures and patterns to go with the RV color scheme
* A wood-like wall covering called Belbein is a thin film that is easy to apply and give a rich new look to walls, cupboards, furniture. Just be sure to prepare the substrate perfectly smooth or any defects will show through. Belbien.com
* Instead of a hodgepodge of colored spines glaring out of a book case, put books in backwards. Your eyes see only a pleasing expanse of neutral white and beige pages.
* If the vinyl floor in the RV has lost its shine and it looks worn, paint it. Get advice at a good paint store about surface preparation, primer and what paints to use. If you’re creative, use tape to make graphics or stencils to create a pattern.
*Mirrors, mirrors, mirrors are an inexpensive and attractive way to make small spaces lighter and looking larger. However, glass mirrors are heavy. These reflective stick-ons go up easy, reflect light and weigh almost nothing. Use one or a pattern in any area of the RV. Acrylic mirrors come in many sizes and qualities, allowing endless possibilities for placements and arrangements.
* In the bathroom use a clear shower curtain. It lets light through, doesn’t divide the small space and makes the room larger, brighter. Pay more to get a better quality, mildew-proof curtain.
* Although it has to be well secured, many RV’s have some freestanding furniture. If yours does, replace it with clear lucite pieces that are light, bright, and see-through to make the room seem larger.
Here’s a party idea: Buy a package of inexpensive ponytail rings in many colors. Put them around glasses, mugs, paper cups at a campground party to color code them and guests won’t lose track of their own drinks.
Do you dream of living the full-time RV life someday? I did for ten years, making a living along the way as a travel writer. More and more temp and portable job opportunities are popping up every day, so why wait for retirement age when you can go on the road now? My book tells how.
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RV Travel: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow As a traveler you want your hair to be clean, carefree, flattering and, most of all, healthy. The problem with travel is that you go from drenching humidity to the bone-dry desert, from searing sun to sticky sea water. From one day to the next you’re in the pool, then sweating in the fitness center or cramming your hair into a helmet for zip-lining. You want to look good for dinner tonight in the campground lodge but your shampoo doesn’t work right with this campground’s hard water.
Here are tips on managing your mane on RV trips. * Lucky you when your RV has its own shower. No matter where you’re hooked up, this easily installed shower head gives you filtered,softened water. It’s said to be good for 10,000 gallons before you replace the cartridge.
.* The website Fabulous 40 and Beyond says: before jumping in the pool, wet your hair thoroughly. Hair that is already soaked will absorb less of the chlorinated water.
* Some waterproof sunscreens are so greasy you can’t get them out of your hair with regular shampoo. If nothing else works try Dawn dish-washing soap, say some experts, but be careful to keep it out of your eyes. After all, they use Dawn to rescue birds from oil slicks.
* Does the swimming pool give you green hair? Triswim anti-chlorine shampoo is said to remove both chlorine and bromine, which is used in hot tubs.
* Protect your hair and scalp from harsh sun by wearing a hat, but be sure your ears are protected. In sunny Australia they see an increase in skin cancer on the ears of women who wear baseball caps, which don’t protect the ears.
* Sweep your hair into a ponytail to get it out of the way when you’re active, but don’t pull too hard says HairFinder.com You risk damage when hair is under constant tension. Elastics can also break or damage hair. Use only snag-free elastic bands without metal connectors, say these experts.
* If your hair has static cling, run a dryer sheet over it as you comb or brush.
* Hair spray and perfume don’t cut it when your hair is soaked in smoke from the campfire. Wear a hat while cooking. Then use a spray-in dry shampoo. You might also fluff baking soda into your hair and then brush it out completely.
* A Coral Velvet turban towel stays in place to dry your hair and keep your head warm as you make the walk back to your campsite from the campground showers.
* Just spray it in, style and go when you use a leave-in hair product. This one is not only a leave-in conditioner but is called a repair and treatment.
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First Aid on the Go
Think you have everything in your RV first aid kit? How many of these are you missing?
When you’re roving by RV and medical woes hit , here are some ideas for items to have on board with you. No endorsement of any product is implied. In any health situation, get professional medical care as soon as possible.
* Among the first things medical advisors want to know are your temperature, pulse rate and blood pressure. I could never get the hang of the gadgets nurses use, so I like an automatic blood pressure monitor that is compact, inexpensive andidiot-proof. I also have a tiny oximeter, which measures blood oxygen level and pulse rate just by clamping it to a finger. . http://amzn.to/2Gc6XIL
* Rod Brouhard, a paramedic in California, advises everyone to take a CPR class. The new guidelines are different now. CPR is also different for babies and children than for adults.
* “I suggest adding a small supply of travelers checks,” says American Express spokesperson Joel Kaiman. “Extra cash might be needed for a first aid emergency such as an all-night pharmacy that doesn’t accept credit cards.” Travelers can’t always cash personal checks. To find the nearest place selling official American Express Travelers Cheques go to https://www385.americanexpress.com/wheretobuy/lookup Locations include supermarkets and large pharmacy chains.
* David Sweeney, O.D. of InSight Vision Source in Atlanta reminds us to include first aid for the eyes. A pharmacist can suggest what items to carry such as eye drops for driver eye fatigue or for allergies you encounter in your travels. If you can’t legally drive without glasses, spares are a must. A copy of the written prescription can also come in handy.
* Ask your doctor or pharmacist about treatments for minor burns, wounds and nosebleeds. Good products are available over the counter.
* First responders carry high-tech reflective tape with a sticky back. You can instantly rip off pieces of tape to turn your clothing and any objects into reflectors. Use it in any night-time emergency scene.
* Dental wax is sold for braces wearers as a temporary cover for rough spots. Carry some in your first aid kit to put over the sharp edge of a broken tooth, crown or braces, to protect cheek and tongue until you can get to a dentist. Denture adhesive such as Poligrip or Effergrip is a good temporary fix for a crown that comes off. Don’t use a permanent adhesive such as epoxy. It’s likely there is decay underneath and you don’t want to re-attach a crown over it. See a dentist ASAP.
* A first aid Mylar emergency blanket takes up no space at all, costs pennies and weighs almost nothing. It can wrap a patient for warmth or rig it as a sun shade.
Do you your participles dangle? Are your antecedents ambiguous? Do you double your negatives? See this site by author and RV-er Cheryl Norman for a fun lesson in grammar. https://cherylnorman.wordpress.com/
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Campground designers are adapting to the slide-out craze but sites can be very tight.
How Free is RV Freedom? by Janet Groene You’re in the RV showroom, going ga-ga over today’s motorhomes. Press a button and the step slides out, your seat adjusts, the awning unfolds, the RV expands with one or more slide-outs and leveling jacks build a solid foundation under your parked rig.
One of my readers sent me a three-page, single-spaced letter listing all the glitches, failures and break-downs in a fancy motorhome in the first few months. They were covered by warranty but she couldn’t travel because the rig was always in the shop. No fun!
Here are things to consider when shopping for a new or used RV. Remember the KISS rule, "Keep It Simple, Stupid".
* After the recent scare when some RV refrigerators caught fire, many manufacturers started providing only household-type refrigerators. They are not designed for off-again, on-again power supply. Do you want to be dependent on a 110V power source 24/7?
* Small is beautiful. Campground designers are trying to adapt for the slide-out craze but some sites are very tight when your slides, fold-outs and/or and awning are deployed, especially if your neighbors also have slides. Adding width will also restrict where you can boondock.
* Can you back up and maneuver this RV or will you be forever required to find large, pull-through campsites?
* Look at the length of the overhang behind the rear axle. How steep an incline can she handle?
* In the showroom insist on seeing the RV in highway mode, with slides in. When you take a break at a rest stop, can you get to the bathroom, make a meal, take a nap?
* Cosmetics count. You might find a whale of a deal on a fixer-upper or a converted school bus but some campgrounds won’t accept RV’s that aren’t up to snuff.
* What is the payload including fuel and water? Some RV’s are so heavily equipped there is little margin left for you and your gear.
Janet Groene's book Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition, is based on 10 years of full-timing, earning a living along the way.
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SHOULD YOU BUY A CAMPSITE?
With reservations almost impossible to get in the most popular areas, should you buy a campsite for your very own? PRO *It is real estate and could be a wise investment * It’s yours when you want it. You might even leave your RV there and come and go as you please. * When high standards are imposed, such as no RV older than X years or smaller than Y feet, the “neighborhood” holds its value. * Financing may be available.
CON * It is real estate and could be a lousy investment * You always camp in the same place. It's a good choice if it’s near your favorite fishing or hunting spot, or close to family, or in a place you never tire of, but it isn't for you if you plan to travel. * If it’s a time share, it’s available to you only during your time slot. * Even if you rarely use the site you may be subject to owner association fees, real estate taxes, utilities, insurance. * Standards may be imposed, such as no RV older than X years or smaller than Y feet. Your own RV may not meet the standards in a few years. * Financing may not be available.
TYPES OF CAMPSITES FOR SALE *Resort campground with full facilities such as swimming pool, golf course, clubhouse, fitness facility. Management may rent your site when you’re not there, generating income for you. On the other hand, you may also be prohibited from sub-letting. * Time share. (You buy certain weeks to stay there and pay a yearly membership fee.) * Membership in a campground network with many locales, allowing you to visit many areas. Length of stay may be limited and co-pays apply. Membership may or may not be transferable to a new owner or to your estate. * Bare land. Where zoning allows, you might buy one or more acres all your own. Zoning permitting you can put in electrical power, a well and septic tank and have full-hookup while here.
PITFALLS * Zoning could change, turning the area into something different from what you bought it for. * Land values fluctuate. Real estate prices can rely on many factors. For example, your campsite in a resort’s older area could be worth less if the developer opens a new area in the same campground. * Do your due diligence. The site could be in an area subject to flooding or forest fires.