It’s the tell-tale sign of winter: snowbirds are flocking to the desert. These seasoned RVers know a thing or two about living on the road full time, and we always learn something new. We thought we’d share some of those tidbits with you.
Red Delicious posing alongside her RV neighbors
Chris and I spent a week in a real gem of a campground alongside Lake Cahuilla in La Quinta, CA. The daytime highs while there were 86 F / 30 C and the nighttime lows are 45 F / 7 C. And you can camp for $75 per week which is a crazy steal of a deal. You can see why it attracts snowbirds as well as cold weather wimps like us.
A view of the campground from the other side of Lake Cahuilla, with the Santa Rosa mountains in the background
It was here that we met all sorts of people: some New Zealanders, retirees from Canada, a local couple celebrating a birthday with a fishing trip, two Germans traveling to the tip of South America, and more.
Here are some things we learned from them, in no particular order:
You can park at Home Depot and Costco overnight. When we asked our New Zealand neighbors where they stayed in Eugene, Oregon, they responded with, “Home Depot.” Walmart is typically the overnight parker’s retail chain of choice, but apparently some Home Depot, Lowe’s and Costco stores allow overnight parking. Some even have Wi-Fi!
Construction sites are a great place to get free firewood. Our Canadian neighbors always had a huge campfire fueled by scraps of 2x4s. They were driving by a housing development under construction and saw the pieces on the side of the road. With permission, they filled up their trunk and have had enough firewood to last them nearly two weeks all for free! For comparison, wood is $8/bundle at the campground.
There’s a great spot where you can camp for $2/night (with showers!) near Alamogordo, NM. Another set of Canadian neighbors told us about a memorable campground near Alamogordo and White Sands National Monument. They couldn’t remember the exact name of the campground unfortunately, but do some research if you’re heading that way.
There’s a coast-to-coast walking path across England. It’s not terribly long — about 190 miles — but passes through three national parks and different parts of the English countryside. They stayed in bed and breakfasts, but you can also pitch a tent in campgrounds or designated spaces on farmland and near pubs. Not something you’d do in a van or RV, but a fun adventure!
Ever thought about a car-powered freezer? We’d seen travel coolers that plug in to your car and stay cool while you drive, but our German neighbors have a refrigerator/freezer combo. They also have solar! Check out their full gear list and camper setup — it’s a truck-bed camper. (Their site is in German, but hopefully you know about Google Translate.) The whole thing is pretty impressive.
Slab City is a RV squatting destination in California’s Imperial Valley. Rather than tell you about it, perhaps you can just watch this mini-documentary by Vice.
Hope you enjoyed these miscellaneous tips and learnings. One of our favorite things about traveling full time is meeting other people and learning more about this world we live in!