A little over a year into our move from a life of sticks and bricks into full-time RV living has taught us a thing or two about ourselves and the clutter that most of us accumulate during our lives. One: we don’t need hardly any of that clutter. Two: there are things we didn’t even know we needed, until we had them.
What are the most important accessories for RV life, working and living on the road?
People always ask about the most useful things you need for RV Life or what could you not live without, and that’s changed a bit over our time on the road, so we felt it was a good time to put out an update on the stuff that we feel important… or just plain like to have.
When we first hit the road, we felt we were on solid footing as far as being prepared for a life of living and working from the road. For the most part, we were. I can honestly say that we haven’t really come across many “oh crap we should’ve bought that” moments.
That’s thanks in large part to the advice of the others that rolled out before us. Folks like Heath and Alyssa Padgett, who were our original inspiration and provided the knowledge on how to get started and how to work from the road. Jeff and Marcia Hopper were our RV Life 101 in-person mentors at our first RV Entrepreneur Summit and have become dear friends. I can’t say that I know Tito of RV with Tito, but the man (and his YouTube channel) has gotten me through some perplexing moments when I’ve had to just figure shit out.
How do you make money while living in an RV and traveling?
Another big thing people ask about is making money while on the road and how do you do it. Well, April and I both work at other jobs besides what’s in front of your face right now. I still work an editorial position for a mixed martial arts website, while April generally does various part-time jobs for non-profits we’re involved with, as well as being a freelance writer.
We are, of course, building our own business, Living A Stout Life, which primarily consists of this website, Instagram, and our YouTube channel, which features our Stout Conversations. It is this business that we focus most of our energy on, (when not playing outdoors, of course) and it is this entrepreneurial, traveling lifestyle that we want to promote to you, through some of the products we love.
So, enough of my blabbing… on to the good stuff!
For most of us, working from the road entails being connected most of the time. While there are many ways to do that, one of the best pieces of advice I got was from Cherie and Chris of Technomadia. They run a website called Mobile Internet Resource Center. Before going out and buying a full-on booster set-up from WeBoost or someone else, they recommended trying a simply Netgear MIMO Antenna that you can purchase on Amazon, generally for less than $30. The set-ups from WeBoost, etc., can run into the hundreds of dollars. The MIMO antenna works both with our AT&T Nighthawk hotspot and Verizon MiFi (Model 7730L) hotspot. The combo with our truly unlimited AT&T plan covers us probably 85-90% of the time, while adding Verizon to the mix gets us covered probably 95% of the places that we want to be.
We didn’t really have a suitable set of knives to take with us on the road, so we had a hodge-podge collection. We were actually gifted a set of Amazon Basics Knives, which turned out to be an awesome set that we now can’t do without. They’re nothing fancy, but this 12-piece set of colorful knives comes with matching covers, making them easier to pack away and not worried about slicing a finger when you’re looking for that bread knife that isn’t always out on the counter.
We don’t do a lot of full-on winter in RAIF (our RV), but we do a lot of boondocking (camping off grid), so we like to be careful with how much propane we use. We have a furnace that runs off of our propane tank, but eats it up fast. That gets expensive and can limit our off-grid time. So we purchased this electric ComfortZone ceramic heater, which works pretty well because we have a generator for power. It’d be even better if we had solar power.
While the ComfortZone heater works well when you have electric power, we are looking to further maximize our off-grid time and are considering the Mr. Heater, which is a portable propane heater that runs off the small camping stove canisters with which most of us are already familiar. It has safety features that include automatic shut off if it gets tipped over, if the pilot light goes out, or if it detects low oxygen levels. Let us know if you already have one and how you like it.
One of our favorite traveling memberships is Harvest Hosts. Harvest Hosts is “a membership for RVers that provides free RV camping at over 700 wineries, breweries, distilleries, farms, museums, and other unique locations!” You don’t have to be full-timers to use Harvest Hosts; you simply need to be self-contained in your RV, meaning you don’t require or expect the host site to provide you with any RV necessities like water, power or sewage.
We’ve used Harvest Hosts at numerous different locations. Breweries like Boothbay Craft Brewery in Boothbay, Maine, and Yellowhammer in Huntsville, Alabama, are of course our favorites, but we’ve used our membership at a couple orchards, vineyards, museums, an alpaca ranch, and other places.
A really cool benefit is if you use our Harvest Hosts link, you get 15% OFF the regular price, bringing the membership down to less than $70 a year.
Okay, so we’ve been using a pour-over set-up for our off-the-grid coffee use and a typical electric coffee pot for when we’re plugged in. But as we’re off-grid more often than not, we’re looking at stepping up the game a bit to a percolator. I went camping with a buddy recently, and his percolator made me wonder why we were doing the pour-over when we generally have at least 4-5 cups of coffee in the morning. So we’re looking at getting this Coletti “Bozeman” Percolator – and not just because of the cool Montana reference. This percolator is steel, does away with the need for paper filters, and Big Bonus – the company is Veteran-Owned.
Being not level when you’re parked in your RV sucks! For quite a while, we used some pieces of 2×6 wood to level our RV, but recently switched to interlocking plastic RV leveling blocks. They work really well and are much better than those old pieces of wood. We only bought one set of blocks to start, and so our next purchase will probably be Camco’s heavy duty leveling blocks. They look like they might be a little more solid. The first set of blocks we bought have openings that aren’t so great for soft dirt or sand, so I’m thinking Camco’s RV leveling blocks that don’t have the openings would hold up better on soft ground. Just remember to clear those pesky rocks out of the way!
One of the greatest decisions we ever made was to take the memory foam bed topper that we had on our queen-size bed in our sticks-and-bricks house and cut it to fit the jack-knife bed in our 24-foot RV.
The 3-inch memory foam bed topper was a life-saver on our conventional mattress, but even more-so in our RV. We went somewhat smaller in our RV, so our bed is a jack-knife couch that converts to a bed at night. The only thing I would do differently if we had to purchase a new topper – which I would in a heartbeat!!! – is that I’d probably upgrade a bit to a 4-inch memory foam bed topper. I mean, why not? Bigger is better, right?
When it comes to outdoor equipment, you get what you pay for. We’re bargain hunters, to be sure, but when you’re hunting for bargains, don’t skimp on the quality. Most of us living the RV life do so to be closer to nature and do a lot of hiking, biking, camping, etc. We’re no different.
We’ve used a lot of packs over the years, but April used an Osprey backpack while teaching kids in outdoor eduction and fell in love (with the pack). While the Osprey Packs Kyte 36 Hiking Backpack isn’t a bargain brand, you most certainly get what you pay for with this thing. It’s rugged, has a rain cover, fits just about anything and everything you can think of for your whatever kind of hiking trip you’ve got going, has trekking pole straps, and it is extremely adjustable so that it fits comfortably on nearly any body type.
Don’t forget the Beercation supplies!
Okay, so we’re not exactly on a Beer Vacation, but we are on a never-ending Craft Beer Adventure. So we figured we’d include a couple things that are beer specific that are just freaking awesome!
Yes, it’s a bit pricy, but the GrowlerWerks uKeg, particularly the 64 oz. size, is an awesome addition to any beer geek’s fridge and especially so if you want to take beer to go in an RV. I say the 64-ounce size because I know it fits well in our small Dometic RV refrigerator, and I can’t say that for sure on the bigger 128-ounce size.
The uKeg is cool in that unlike a typical glass growler from a brewery, you can keep beer fresh much longer. The uKeg has its own built-in tap, which is driven by a little CO2 cartridge. This keeps the beer carbonated much longer than a glass growler, which generally needs to be drank rather quickly once you open it. The uKeg can remain cold and carbonated in the fridge for days after you tap it, so you don’t have to rush through all that goodness!
Whether you are a homebrewer or not, one of the best craft beer discount programs around is a membership in the American Homebrewers Association.
We’ve been members for years because we also homebrew, but the perks of being an AHA member include getting discounts at thousands of breweries across the country. What the breweries are allowed to offer as discounts varies from state to state and by the type of brewery or brewpub you’re visiting, but you frequently get discounts that range from a percentage off of the tab to discounted merchandise or food or other things.
As I said, you don’t need to be into homebrewing to join. You can simply pay an annual membership fee (as of 2019 it is $43 or $38 per year depending on which membership you select (digital or snail mail). You get a card (both physical and digital) which you show at participating breweries (there’s an app for that!) and get your discount.
Another cool benefit of an AHA membership is that you get special access to special events. And if you want to attend the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, you get early pre-sale access, discounted ticket prices, AND access to a special member’s only session.
The best thing a bout a beercation is representing when on vacation. From long sleeves to short sleeves to tank tops, we’ve got you covered with great Stout Life apparel. Be sure to visit the Stout Life Store before heading out on your next beercation. We’d love to see Stout Life represented all over the world!
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