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We recently scouted out some of the best boondocking or dry camping spots around Las Vegas, Nevada. We’d received several recommendations from friends and wanted to check things out for ourselves. We visited the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and BLM land outside Lake Mead. 

Watch the video below to see the different areas, and be sure to stick around to the end for the antique RV’s in Nelson, NV. 

Free Camping Near Las Vegas, Nevada - YouTube
Desert National Wildlife Refuge

Located off US-95 North of Las Vegas, the Desert NWR was established in 1936 to provide habitat and protection for desert bighorn sheep. They have a top notch visitor’s center where a ranger was happy to explain the lay of the land and show us potential boondocking sites on a topographical map.  

The Desert NWR covers 1.6 million acres and is the largest wildlife refuge outside of Alaska. We  scouted out locations within a 2 mile radius of the visitor center due to the rough off-road conditions. 

The available spaces we found along Alamo Road (GPS: 36.4396, -115.3576) seemed too small for our Fifth Wheel although this van fit nicely.

We found larger turnouts along Mormon Wells Road (GPS: 36.4353, -115.3515).

Spring Mountains National Recreation Area 

Just across US-95 from the Desert NWR, you quickly climb in elevation into the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. It was so amazing to drive from Joshua Trees to Ponderosa Pines in just a 15 minutes. 

There are several free camping locations scattered throughout the area, but our favorite was at an area called Blue Tree Group Camp (GPS: 36.3617, -115.635). There is a sign marking it clearly from the road, but the sites are all nestled in among the trees giving you a little privacy even if others are around. The only drawback for us was that there was no Verizon signal. 

Lake Mead National Recreation Area 

To the east of Las Vegas is the beautiful oasis in the desert, Lake Mead. It is a very popular dry camping area outside of Las Vegas so you will have to vie for the best spots. 

The first that we looked at is known as Government Wash (GPS: 36.1309, -114.8369). It is easy to access and even has bathrooms at the start of the road. We found it a little too crowded for our taste this Spring. 

You can drive a bit farther back and get away from the bulk of the crowd. 

We preferred 8 Mile Road (GPS: 36.1364, -114.8226). You travel down the unpaved road for about a mile after leaving the main scenic roadway and will see a handful of turnouts. If you have a 4 wheel drive and are a little braver, you can go even closer to the end of the road and the water. We only saw one other RV here and it the Verizon cell signal was terrific! 

Please note if you don’t have a national parks pass, you will have to pay for entry ($20 per RV) into Lake Mead National Recreation Area. 

Overton Bureau of Land Management

Between Lake Mead and Valley of the Fire State Park is Overton, NV where you can find several different places to dry camp on BLM land. We drove by a place known as Snowbird Mesa or Poverty Flats (GPS: 36.4815, -114.4506), and I thought the scenery was striking. However, it was very crowded so we decided to skip it. 

We had friends who stayed here in January and said it wasn’t as crowded. You can see some drone footage of it in their video below. 

How's Boondocking? RV Full Time Live Replay - YouTube
What Would You Choose?

Let us know in the comments below what you look for in an ideal boondocking location. Would you choose one of these? 

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The post Boondocking Near Las Vegas appeared first on Chickery's Travels.

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We recently spent a month at the campground on Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, California. This is a military campground, located about  8 miles south from Long Beach. One thing we really like about Navy bases is that most allow you to make reservations. We were able to make ours six months in advance here. However, you can’t reserve specific sites (or even specific site types) here. 

Click here for our Guide to Using Military Campgrounds.

The official name of the campground is Sea Breeze RV Park and as you can see in the video below there definitely was a good breeze almost every day during the month February. 

Sea Breeze RV Park on Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, California - YouTube
Amenities 

One of the things we liked best about this campground was the large RV wash bay with sprayers on both sides located at the entrance to the park. After more than a week of boondocking in the desert, we made good use of it! 

All 85 sites are full hook-ups and another great thing about military campgrounds is that they don’t meter electricity even when you are on the monthly rate. 

There was a laundry room with FREE washer and dryers! 

What We Didn’t Love

One of the drawbacks of this campground is that the interior roads are fairly narrow. So while the sites are 20 ft. x 50 ft. according to the brochure,  it can be pretty tricky to maneuver a large fifth wheel or travel trailer. 

We were fortunate enough to get a pull through, but as previously mentioned you can’t reserve them specifically.

Another drawback is that there is no commissary or exchange at this base. They have a very small shopette style NEX that is only open during traditional duty hours Mon-Friday.

National Wildlife Refuge

Part of the base is also a national wildlife refuge and part of it is directly adjacent to the campground. The refuge is home to herons (they were everywhere) and a lot of migratory birds. 

There was a nature trail that connected the campground to the gardens at the refuge center. We were there in February and everything was starting to bloom. 

Local Area

We especially enjoyed the coast particularly south of the base. Crystal Cove State Park was one of our favorites. You start up on the bluffs and follow the trails leading down to the beach and small tidal pools. 

We also had a lot of fun going to the Huntington Dog Beach with our friends. While the water was a little too cold for us, the dogs had a lot of fun playing in the water. 

That’s our friend Nick with Lucy right behind us.

Long Beach was nice for an afternoon bike ride and drinks.

Enjoying a bike ride in Long Beach with my friend, Julie.

Be warned: If you want to go north towards LA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, or Universal Studios you are going to spend A LOT of time in traffic. Most days it took us well over an hour to go 20 miles. 

Recommendations

Leave us a comment below and let us know what your favorite campground is on the southern California coast. 

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The post Sea Breeze RV Park (Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station) appeared first on Chickery's Travels.

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We love our Arctic Fox 27-5L Fifth Wheel! Still, we knew we wanted to upgrade the solar & power set up right away. We’ve been so happy with the changes we made to our previous Fifth Wheel, we wanted to make them to this one too. This included 680 watts of solar, 400Ah lithium battery system, and a 3000W Victron inverter/charger.

Solar Ready? 

We left the solar panels on our previous Fifth Wheel. The Arctic Fox comes “solar-ready” so we though the process was actually going to be easier. For our package this meant it had a single 80-watt solar panel on the roof and a port on the side of the RV to add a portable solar panel. However, the wiring leading to the controller wasn’t sufficient for the additional 680 watts of solar we wanted to add.

For this upgrade, I purchased the following kit: 

  • 4 x 170-Watt Panels
  • 60-Amp, 5-stage PWM charge controller
  • Pre-assembled wiring harness
  • Two, 3-port roof caps (ready for future expansions!)
  • Stainless steel mounting hardware
  • Digital remote LCD display

Watch the following installation video: 

Pre-Wired RV Solar Upgrade - Arctic Fox 25-5L - YouTube
Lithium Batteries

We were able to swap out the standard lead acid batteries at the dealership for our Battle Born Lithium batteries. We choose to go with lithium ion batteries last year because they provide better performance, last longer, and contain no toxic components. Battle Born’s customer service and 10-year warranty stood ahead of the other manufacturers. 

Watch our battery installation video on the previous RV below: 

RV Solar Upgrade Part 1: Battle Born Lithium Batteries & PDI Converter Install - YouTube
Inverter

The Arctic Fox did not come with an inverter, but we saved the 1000W inverter during our upgrade last year, and replaced it when trading in the RV. The next step will be for me to install it in the Arctic Fox. 

I’ll add that video when I complete the task. In the meantime, here is my inverter installation in our previous Fifth Wheel. 

RV Solar Upgrade Part 2: Victron Battery Monitor & 3000 Watt Inverter/Charger - YouTube
Micro-Air EasyStart

Finally, I plan to purchase and install a Micro-Air EasyStart Soft Starter on the main air conditioner. This is an easy to install product that allowed us to run the AC for short periods of time using the Battle Born batteries and Victron 3000 watt inverter charger. We had one on our previous Fifth Wheel and were very happy with it. 

The process will be the exact same as the previous one. You can see that installation here:  

Installation of a Micro-Air EasyStart™ Soft Starter on RV AC - YouTube
Costs

As always, we like to be transparent about costs. We’ll admit that it was not an inexpensive project. All of the components, except the solar panels, were purchased from Battle Born Batteries. They sell bundles based on our set up at the 200ah, 400ah, 600ah, or 800ah levels. 

The Zamp solar 680 watt kit (components listed in the Solar Ready paragraph above) was $2,900. 

We spread these costs over two years with the battery/inverter upgrade first. 

Is it worth it?

We had the upgrade on our previous Fifth Wheel for a year before moving to the Arctic Fox, and can definitely say that the battery and inverter upgrade alone was 100% worth it.

We took our RV in for service and did not worry about it sitting in a bay for 6 or 7 hours because we knew the batteries and inverter would keep our refrigerator running. In fact, the batteries did not go below 70% during that time. We would not have been able to do that with our factory installed batteries and inverter. This is not a knock on the factory equipment, it is just that they are not designed to be compatible with that type of use.

We also started doing some boondocking and dry camping. We spent 9 days off grid in January and only had to run our generator twice for one hour each to top off the batteries when it was a little cloudy .  

Our Arctic Fox has a Norcold 2-way refrigerator that can run off propane or electricity which is another bonus for off-grid camping. There are less electronics in general in our new set-up so we know we’ll have more than enough power for our use.

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The post DIY Power Upgrade – “Solar Ready” Arctic Fox Fifth Wheel appeared first on Chickery's Travels.

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We spent two months at the Tucson Lazy Days KOA this winter and I loved it! In fact, aside from Fort Wilderness, it is my favorite RV Resort EVER! 

Watch the short review below or read on for more details.

Tucson Lazy Days KOA - Resort Style RV Life - YouTube
Sites

We were in a standard back in which I thought were a great size.

Our friends were in a deluxe pull through and had plenty of space for entertaining. They even had us over for Christmas Eve. The deluxe sites also had a hedge between you and your neighbor so you don’t have to see their sewer hose when you’re outside.

The campground also had several premium sites with large outdoor seating areas, outdoor kitchens, an upper level deck, or private dog yards. 

Although this was more resort style than campground, they did have a nice tent area by one of the pools. They had a little shade and each one had a small outdoor kitchen. Each had a storage area and outdoor sink.

My favorite part was the cabins you could rent if you had family visiting. Now that we’ve downsized, there is only room for 2 to sleep in our RV. We plan to stay at a place that has rentals whenever family comes to see us.

Amenities

Of course the heated pools were amazing. There was one at the front of the park and one in the back. Both had hot tubs and adjacent to them were bath houses and laundry rooms. I also enjoyed the small fitness room when it was too cold to swim.

Other amenities included mini golf, playgrounds, picnic areas, and pickle ball to name a few. 

There was even a bar and restaurant that was open every day. They had socials there for the holidays too.

They even had a lot of outdoor community space with picnic tables and outdoor fire pits. We love meeting other RVers on the road and had several new friends over for happy hour.

The camp store was pretty big with snacks and souvenirs. I even bought a t-shirt there that said, “Tucson Lazy Days KOA is my Happy Place!

Local Area

Although the weather was much colder than usual, we still managed to enjoy the local area. There was a lot of great hiking. We also visited some terrific museums. 

One of my favorite museums was the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a 98-acre zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, natural history museum, and art gallery. The entire outdoor museum was fabulous, but the highlight was definitely the amazing raptor show that occurs twice (both different) a day.

We also visited Saguaro National Park. This park has two sections, east and west that are divided by the city of Tucson. Both are pretty spectacular and I couldn’t pick a favorite.

One of our favorite (and most challenging hikes) was at Catalina State Park. It was the Canyon Trail to Romero Pools. Beautiful scenery, but we were sore for a few days afterwards. We’d still recommend it.

Finally, a great way to take it easy and just enjoy some amazing scenery is to drive up to Mt Lemmon via the Sky Island Scenic Byway northeast of Tucson. You start driving through a sea of Saguaro and end up in the snow. They say it offers the biological equivalent of driving from the deserts of Mexico to the forests of Canada in a short stretch of 27 miles. 

Book Your Stay Now

Whether you are looking for a snow bird get away or family vacation, you can’t go wrong with this amazing KOA resort! Click here to make reservations and don’t forget to sign up for the rewards program to get 10% off every KOA stay.

Interested in learning more about what KOAs have to offer? Click here to listen to Sean & Kenny’s interview with the President and CEO of the company.

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The post LazyDays KOA (Tucson, Arizona) appeared first on Chickery's Travels.

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After almost five years in our 44’ triple axle fifth wheel, it was time to downsize. We weren’t very savvy RV shoppers the first time around, so this go round we took our time to be sure we knew what we wanted and how much we were prepared to spend. 

Why We Chose the Arctic Fox 27-5L Fifth Wheel - YouTube
Our Criteria 

Our first step in the process was to develop a list of criteria. Our “must have” list consisted of the following: 

  • 30’ or less 
  • Great insulation 
  • Adequate water tanks for boondocking
  • Walk around bed 

The Arctic Fox 27-5L Fifth Wheel made by Northwood Manufacturing met all of these needs and had several other bonus features. Although we weren’t limiting ourselves to another fifth wheel, it certainly made things easier as we already have a truck with a hitch. 

Exterior Length

With an exterior length of 29’5” (with the hitch), this fifth wheel is a great size! We wanted our new RV to be 30’ or less to allow ourselves more flexibility in where we can camp. While we still love RV resorts, we want to be able to mix things up with national and state parks too. In fact, right after making this purchase, I booked 4 national park campgrounds for this fall! 

Insulation 

We were so cold this winter in the southwest. Our previous RV just wasn’t insulated well and we went through a lot of propane. So many of the places we want to go are very crowded in the summer, but get cool very early in the fall. If we had a better insulated rig, we would have more flexibility in the spring and fall. 

Northwood does a great job of this on their RVs. The Arctic Fox has:

  • Four Seasons Insulation with R-18 Ceiling 
  • R-15 Reflective Foil Insulation in Roof / Slides
  • Heated Holding Tanks 
  • Double Pane Windows 
Adequate Water Tanks 

Now that we’ve done some boondocking, we’d like to have the ability to continue without having to run into town to dump tanks and fill fresh. What is “adequate” is different for everyone, but we based our criteria on our last 9-day boondocking stint where we used about 66 gallons of fresh water. Our new fifth wheel has: 

  • Fresh Water Capacity: 82 gallons
  • Two Gray Water Tanks: 67/35 gallons
  • Black Water Tank: 65 gallons
Walk Around Bed

The older we get, the more important this is to us. I’m a little clumsy and I don’t want to fall off the bed trying to climb over Sean to get up in the middle of the night. Not only does this RV have a walk around bed, it has two doors leading into the bathroom: one on each side of the bed. As a bonus, each side of the bed has its own nightstand, independent reading light, and two storage cabinets. 

Other Things We Love 

In addition to meeting our needs, there were some other terrific features about the Arctic Fox 27-5L that we love. 

Solar Ready – It was already wired for solar and actually had one panel. While we will be modifying it to add an additional 680 watts, it will be easier than starting from scratch like we did with our last RV. We’ll be posting an updated article and video documenting this upgrade in the next couple of weeks. 

Rear Kitchen – Many fifth wheels are rear living, mid-kitchen. I love how the kitchen is in the rear of the RV with windows around the sink. It is very light! And although an island kitchen was tempting, the lack of one makes the space feel huge! 

Accessibility with Slides In – We were amazed at how much space is in this RV with the slides in! In fact, we can access everything except the bedroom closet. I have full use of my kitchen, the table, our recliners, the bathroom, and the bedroom. 

Quality Build – We’re going to tour the Northwood factory next month so we will soon have a lot more to share on the build process of the Artic Fox Fifth Wheels. Here are a few highlights: 

  • Independently Certified, Off-Road Chassis
  • Fully Welded, Thick-Wall Aluminum Frame Construction
  • Solid Core Anchor Blocking and Continuous Welds
  • Bonded Roof Truss System with Cathedral Arched Ceiling
  • Custom Built Face Framed Solid Wood Cabinets 

All in all, we couldn’t be happier with our choice!

The post Why We Chose an Arctic Fox Fifth Wheel appeared first on Chickery's Travels.

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This gorgeous campground is set right along the Columbia River in teh heart of Washington’s wine region. This isn’t the wet Pacific Northwest you’ve heard of — there’s actually little rainfall in this region of central Washington surrounded by towering basalt cliffs, sandy river beaches, and views of the Cascade mountains.

Quincy Washington Wine Region and Crescent Bar RV Resort - YouTube
Campground Sites

Crescent Bar RV Resort is in the Thousand Trails portfolio, but don’t despair if you’re not a member. They do offer a limited number of sites to the public at RVontheGo.com although you will pay a premium. While you can (and should) make a reservation for this seasonal campground, the actual sites are first come, first serve.

Tip: Although most waterfront sites are privately owned, the rental sites across from them still give you a pretty open view of the water.

In addition to full-hookup with 30amp power, they also offer primitive sites if you are self-contained. There are also cabins available to rent for those without an RV.

Amenities

Crescent Bar RV Resort has amenities for all campers–children and adults alike. These include a club house with gaming tables (pool and foosball) and free wifi, as well as basketball and tennis courts.

During the summer months, there is a pool to enjoy and an ADULTS-ONLY hot tub. This hot tub is in a completely separate area from the pool. While that does make walking between the two a little inconvenient, but we actually preferred that over kids taking cannonballs into the hot tub while we are trying to relax. Kiddos are wonderful and we enjoy watching them have fun in the pool, but having an adults only space is a wonderful perk! 

Activities 

Each month there is a calendar of events with changing activities, from Taco Tuesday to fun outdoor options. If you have bikes, the park is also connected to a wonderful bike path that takes you all along the river.

You can also ride your bikes down the road by the Cherry trees. If you time the season right, you may even get to taste one or two! 

Local Area

Quincy, Washington is a beautiful area, especially if you are a wine lover! We had no idea it was such a big wine region, but there are a handful of options to choose from within a short drive of the park. We visited Jones of Washington and Beaumont Cellars.

The most popular option in the area is Cave B and though we didn’t visit, we heard that it is the best place to go for local events, concerts and wine tastings.

There is also a beautiful golf course directly across from Crescent Bar RV Resort that is open to the public. We only had a few days to explore the area and loved the park so much that we spent a whole day doing nothing but relaxing. I am sure there are tons of other awesome options nearby, but we will have to wait until next time to explore more!

We would highly recommend a stop through Quincy and a stay at Crescent Bar RV Resort if you are ever nearby!

Author Bio:

This guest post was written by Melanie of Life’s Sweet Journey. Together with her husband Andrew (aka Babe), these Florida natives love travel! Check out more campground reviews on their YouTube channel.

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The post Crescent Bar RV Resort (Quincy, Washington) appeared first on Chickery's Travels.

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There are so many different options when it comes to RVs, that it can be very daunting to make a final decision. Choosing the right RV is a very personal and will greatly depend on your travel style. We’re in the process of purchasing our second RV after five years, and hope that sharing our experience will help you.

Budget 

Before you even start looking at RVs, take a good honest look at your budget. A realistic budget will help you narrow down your search. After all, there’s no point in wasting your time looking at rigs you can’t afford. However, don’t forget the saying, “you get what you pay for.” We don’t want you to pay too much for your RV, but you do want to get the best quality even if it means sacrificing space or another wish list item.

Click here to download your FREE RV Shopping Tips!

Layout Tips

How many does it need to sleep on a regular basis?

I add “regular basis” because when we first bought our toyhauler I felt we needed the garage bedroom suite for our sons (ages 18, 22, and 24) when they came to visit us all the time. In reality, we go visit them more than they visit us, so our new RV will only need to sleep 2 and when the boys do come to visit us, we’ll rent a cabin like these cool ones at the Tucson LazyDays KOA.

Do you need a separate sitting and work space?

Our toy hauler had one long sofa and no dinette. I really didn’t think that one out. As a full-time remote employee, I didn’t find it very comfortable to sit on the sofa while working. We ended up taking out the sofa and replacing it with theater seats and a dinette.

How do you feel about your kitchen being in your living room?

Many layouts, particularly in smaller RVs, have the kitchen on one wall and the living room on the other.

Is a “walk around” bed really important?

It is to us, but may not be for you. Sean requires a CPAP machine, so we even look for a nightstand and 12 volt power plug on at least one side of bed.

What can you access with the slides in?

For folks who like to stop at rest areas, access to the kitchen, bathroom, and even your bed is important even when the slides are in.

Water Holding Tanks 

If you are planning to spend your RV travel in campgrounds, tank capacity may not be an issue. However, for boondocking or dry camping, you’ll want to be aware of how much fresh water you can carry in and how much waste water (black & gray) you can carry out.

Power 

Again, this is more important to those who want to camp off grid. Many RVs are coming solar ready or with lithium batteries. If yours doesn’t, but you’re interested in making the switch, check out our DIY Power Upgrade and Solar Power series.

Does Size Matter? 

A lot of RV buyers are only think about how they will use the interior of the RV when considering size, but here are a few other considerations:

  • Maneuverability – Larger RVs can be difficult to maneuver in big cities and even limited on some roads. When we were towing our 44′ Fifth Wheel, we always used Google Maps to look at the entrance roads to campgrounds to make sure they were not too narrow.
  • National & State Parks – One of the primary concerns for RV size comes into play when you want to stay at National & State Parks. While we never had a problem finding private RV resorts that could accommodate our large size, this limitation was one of our main reasons for wanting to downsize.
Compromise

You probably won’t find the perfect RV unless you are going to have it custom made especially for you. We recommend making a list of your must-haves, then prioritize your wish list. This will help you make the best possible purchasing decision.

Watch the video below where we talk about our list and the top 3 choices of RV’s for our upcoming downsize.

How to Choose The Right RV & Our Top 3 Choices - YouTube

Don’t forget, you can make cosmetic and even furniture changes fairly easily. Click here to see all the changes we made to our Fifth Wheel.

Purchasing a used RV will save money up front if you want to make a lot of modifications. Click here to read our article, Should I Buy New or Used?

The post Choosing the Right RV appeared first on Chickery's Travels.

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Military retirees and their family members have a few different options available for healthcare while traveling full-time. In this article we’ll share information on the most common including utilizing Tricare, the VA, and Medicare.

Health Care is one area where you can be thankful for the benefits you receive as a retired military member. When we speak at RV shows, we hear about couples paying well over $1000 a month for health care and others that go without because they simply cannot afford it. The premiums for most civilian health care plans make the cost of Tricare Prime seem very minuscule.

Tricare

All military retirees and their family members can use their Tricare health benefits by choosing Tricare Prime or Tricare Select. We’ll briefly explain how each affects full-time travelers.

We initially enrolled in Tricare Prime the first year after I retired. We set-up a primary care manager in Washington D.C. at the National Military Medical Center. Since we had two kids in D.C. at the time, we figured it would be a place we would frequently visit and would be able to get the care we needed while in the area.

However, we quickly learned that there are a few issues with using Tricare Prime as full-time traveler. The main concern we hear about is having to get a referral for any care not with the primary care manager. For emergencies, it is pretty easy, but for routine or non-emergent care, it can get tough getting the authorization especially if you are in a location that makes it impossible for you to see the primary care manager first and are outside of the contractor’s region. 

Most travelers we know use Tricare Select, formerly called Tricare Standard, when full-time traveling. It does not require primary care manager authorization to seek care and allows the user to see any Tricare authorized provider, network or non-network, but there is some expense that goes along with it in terms of co-pays and deductibles.

A benefit for full-time travelers is that you can see any Tricare-authorized provider. You can do this on the Tricare website.

Tricare Young Adult is a program for adult children up to age 26 are not enrolled in school and do not have healthcare through their job. This also has a prime and select option with associated fees. We have a son in San Antonio who uses the Prime option and his payment is around $350 per month. If you are going to pay this for your children while they are on it, make sure to consider that in your budget. Or, you can make them pay for it themselves!

Medicare and Tricare for Life

If you or your spouse is of Medicare age, that throws in a bunch of other options that will need to be considered. You qualify for Tricare for Life that works with your Medicare benefits.

Start Planning Now

The best recommendation we can give is to sit down with someone at the local Tricare office within the medical treatment facility and discuss your plan of traveling and have them explain your options. They are up to date on the latest rules and regulations and will be able to give you the best advice for your situation.

Tricare seems to be a dynamic program that changes slightly every year. It is important to stay on top of the changes to make sure you do not let something fall through the cracks. Although this medical insurance for retired military veterans is not free, it is A LOT less expensive than many others. The years of sacrifice have left us with this great benefit, but keeping it from lapsing requires some effort on our part. Make sure you take health care planning seriously to prevent any problems when an emergency occurs.

VA Benefits

Some retired military members are eligible to receive healthcare at VA facilities. For example, veterans with a service connected disability can be seen for that condition at no cost. However, if your overall rating is 50% or greater, you can use the VA for all of your healthcare, except dental care. As of this writing, you have to be 100% rated to get dental care at the VA.

There are also various rules associated with using the VA depending on your rating. It is better to get informed on all the rules that apply to your situation when you receive your rating.

The other nice thing about the VA is they have the Traveling Veteran Program. This allows you to keep a primary care manager at one location, but access the VAs in the area you will be traveling to. As an example, Julie fell and broke her foot and dislocated her toe in Oklahoma City. She was treated at the VA Hospital Emergency Room there and her follow up care was at the San Antonio, TX VA Hospital. All while our primary care manager is in Tampa, Florida. She broke her foot in Oklahoma City, where it was taken care of by the local VA emergency room. She then did her follow-up appointments at the San Antonio VA facility. It was very easy.

We have received care at numerous VA clinics and hospitals in six states and have never had to wait long for appointments. In addition, we’ve always felt that we received quality care.

Get Started Before You Retire

If you are not yet retired, you can get started on your VA claim within 6 months of retiring is to file with the VA to see what, if any, disability rating you are eligible to receive. Even if you think you will not get any rating, file anyway. It is worth the time to go through the process.

The process is not just for a current rating, but it is also a way to document your medical problems with the VA in the event that some conditions develop or get worse in the future. We run in to a lot of veterans, retired and not, who never took this step. In our opinion, it is much easier to get this done early rather than wait until you actually have a problem. There will be multiple appointments associated with the filing. It is better to get them done all in the same location to avoid paperwork getting transferred and possibly lost.

I filed right at the 180-day point before my retirement and I was able to have all of the appointments completed before my terminal leave even began. I received my rating within a couple of months of my actual retirement date. Julie did not file until after her retirement date and it took her about a year to go through the process. So, it varies and it is better to get a jump on it to not delay your RV travel date.

Many military treatment facilities have a person that can assist with filing the VA claim and some have Veteran Service Organization officers that can file on your behalf. If not, call the local VA and find out how to start the process and what VSOs are located on-site. Again, do not wait until you are on the road or are seriously ill. Get the process completed as soon as possible. The VA is still a bureaucracy, so the process takes time.

We both get our care at the VA since we are both rated at over 50%.  We really like the VA, so far, and actually prefer it to going to the military medical treatment facilities.

The post Health Care for Retired Military Full-Time RVers appeared first on Chickery's Travels.

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We just completed 9 days of boondocking and dry camping at several different locations. In this article, we’ll share our tips for success from resource management (power, water, and trash) to safety precautions.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we find our free camping spots, watch the video below where we talk about some of our favorites.

Boondocking Route & Tips (Tucson, AZ to Joshua Tree, CA) - YouTube
Resource Management

The main element to boondocking or dry camping is that you don’t have any hook ups like you would in a campground. Instead, you’re using the ability of your RV to be self-contained. Here are some things we did to manage our resources.

Power

Although we upgraded our power system last year to 4 lithium batteries and 800 watts of solar last year, we still tried to conserve using these simple methods:

  • Look for alternatives to electrical appliances. We use a french press to make coffee and have a battery operated fan.
  • Turn the water pump switch off after use.
  • Use solar or battery operated LED lights for evenings.
  • Operate your refrigerator in propane mode.
  • Use your propane stove/oven, grill, or camp fire for cooking.
  • Choose locations that won’t require air conditioning.
  • Charge your cell phone in the car (or with a solar charger).
  • Consider using solar panels to produce more power when you are off the grid.
  • Invest in lithium batteries to have full use of your stored power.

Click here to learn how you can run an air conditioner off your batteries or a small generator.

You can find room for solar panels on even the smallest campers!
Water

Most RVs have three holding tanks: fresh, black, and gray. You’ll want to begin your boondocking adventure with the fresh water tank full and the other two empty.

We also chose to fill reusable jugs for drinking water because we weren’t sure how much water we’d need for bathing and washing dishes over the days days.

Other water conservation tips we employed were:

  • Navy showers – This means turning on the water to get wet, turning off the water while lathering up with soap, then turning the water back on to rinse.
  • Capturing cold water – I put a bucket under the water faucet while it was heating for showers and dishes.
  • Use the cold water for flushing – Instead of using the water pump to flush the toilet, we used the cold water from the bucket.
  • Wipe down dishes before washing.
  • Extend your tanks with a fresh water bladder and portable waste tank.
Trash
  • The easiest thing to do is create less waste to begin with. So for example, we use reusable drinking containers and don’t use paper plates.
  • We also recycle. I have two reusable recycling bags that I use to collect things like food cans and look for a recycling center when I’m going to be in town.
  • I also minimize food waste by shopping and prepping food prior to leaving for our dry camping destination. Click here for tips on meal planning.
  • When boondocking, we use small trash bags that we can easily throw out in small trash cans when we stop at a grocery store or gas station.
Safety Tips

We felt completely safe the entire time we were dry camping, whether it was out in the wilderness on federal land or in a casino parking lot. Here are some basic precautions you can take for your safety.

  • Don’t drive your RV to scout out off-road sites. Take your tow/towed vehicle or walk if needed. Always let someone know where you’ll be camping.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If something doesn’t feel right, move.
  • Make sure your fire extinguisher is in good working order and easily accessible.
Add Your Advice

Let’s learn from each other! Please feel free to use the comments below to share some of your tips and tricks.

Sharing is caring! Please feel free to save the image below on Pinterest.

The post Tips for Boondocking Success appeared first on Chickery's Travels.

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Fuel is typically the largest or second largest expense in an RV vacation. We use several strategies to help reduce that fuel cost. This article will highlight those tips we use as well as a couple that others use to help control fuel costs when hauling a towable or driving a motorhome. 

Slow Down

The primary tip we have to reduce fuel costs is to slow down. RV travel is about both the journey and the destination. Slow down and enjoy the scenery as you drive between locations.

Slowing down while driving will also save wear and tear on your RV. There are some studies that show if you cut your speed by 10 miles per hour, can improve fuel efficiency by up to 25%, particularly with a diesel engine. With this in mind, we rarely drive over 60 miles per hour even when on the highway. We have friends that will try to keep up with that left lane traffic, but we would rather go slow, enjoy the scenery, and keep the extra dollars in our pocket.

Preventive Maintenance

Keeping up with the preventive maintenance on your vehicle will also help with saving on fuel costs. Follow the recommended maintenance schedule for your RV and/or tow or towed vehicles. Many of them have recommended fluid change schedules. It is a good idea to follow them. Additionally, getting a fluid analysis performed on your vehicle annually will let you know if you need to implement different maintenance schedules on your fluids including engine oil, transmission fluid, and coolant. J.G. Lubricants is a company that can perform this analysis. We equate it to getting blood and urine collected during your annual medical physical. They analysis can pinpoint problems that are not yet obvious and you can correct them before they become major problems and improve your fuel economy.

Maintaining the appropriate tire pressure for all of your tires will also improve fuel efficiency. Check your pressures before every trip and monitor them as you go.

A great investment is a tire pressure monitoring system. This will allow you to monitor the pressures and temperatures of the tires while you are driving. Not only does this help detect problems with the tires, it also assists in keeping the tires at the appropriate pressures saving you money in your fuel costs.

Find the Best Price

There are several Apps and discount programs you can use to save on your fuel costs. We use Gas Buddy to compare prices in the area and are able to go to a fuel station that offers the lowest price. This app is free and can save you hundreds of dollars. You can also earn points towards gas when you enter fuel prices. As an example, we were in Tucson, Arizona and the price of diesel varied by as much as 50 cents per gallon within a five-mile radius. Near Long Beach, California, using the app, we found a 46 cent difference in diesel prices in a three-mile radius. When the average price is $4 per gallon, a 46 cent savings in huge.

There is a new app called Get Upside that offers rebates if you get fuel at participating stations. We have used this on the East coast. As of the writing of this article, the app had participating stations in Texas, Florida, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina and New York. To participate, download the app, claim your offer for the best gas price, pay with any credit or debit card, and snap a photo of your receipt through the app. Once you receive the threshold in your account, you can get the money back through PayPal, cash, or gift cards. Some restaurants and grocery stores also participate.

If you have to use truck stops, become a Good Sam member and the Pilot RV Plus Cards one of the best ways to save money on fuel and other RV-related products. Some of the benefits include:  

  1. $.10 off each gallon of bulk propane at Pilot Flying J, 
  2. ½ off RV dumping fee at Pilot Flying J,
  3. exclusive coupons and special deals from Pilot Flying J,
  4. discounts of at least $.05 off every gallon of gas and $.08 off every gallon of diesel in the United States.
  5. discounts of at least $.01 off every liter of gas and $.01 off every liter of diesel in Canada.

There is also a Pilot/Flying J app that is handy to use when driving. It allows you to see where the closest Pilot/Flying J is to your location and the amenities at the location including RV lanes, dump station, and propane.

External Fuel Tanks

To avoid paying the higher fuel costs associated with truck stops and Interstate gas stations, some RVers that tow with a pickup truck choose to install an external fuel tank in the bed of the truck. The extra fuel can get them between destinations. It is then possible to unhook the trailer or fifth wheel at the campsite and use an app like Gas Buddy to find the best price for fuel. This is a great way to save on fuel costs as long as you are able to make the initial investment in the cost of the external tank. 

On Location

When you get to your location, get out and walk or use bikes when practical. We were staying at an RV park in Tucson that had over 600 spots. Several people drive to the pool or up to the restaurant instead of walking or riding a bike. We walk. By doing this, we get to meet people and it saves fuel.

Some RV parks offer shuttles to attractions or are near public transportation. Take advantage of these. Not only will it save you on fuel, but it will also save you on parking costs.

There are probably 100 other ways to save fuel, but these are the tips we use. Hopefully, a couple are useful to you and you are able to save a few bucks on this expensive part of RVing. Safe Travels!

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The post How to Save Money on RV Fuel Costs appeared first on Chickery's Travels.

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