Ep. 229 – Practical Tips for a Successful RV Lifestyle
In this Episode of the Secure Your Retirement Podcast, Radon speaks with Jenelle Jones about the perks of the RV lifestyle in retirement. Jenelle is the owner of the oldest RV club for anyone traveling on their own, The Wandering Individuals Network. She refers to herself as an RV travel enabler who has been living the RV lifestyle full-time for four years.
Listen in to learn the importance of joining a club as a solo RV traveler to have friends and avoid anxiety and loneliness. You will also learn about the positives of the RV lifestyle and how to overcome the inevitable challenges.
In this episode, find out:
- The importance of joining a club as an RV traveler to have friends and avoid anxiety and loneliness.
- How to have a positive mindset to learn and make the RV life easier.
- Jenelle explains some of the challenges she faces as an RV traveler and how she gets past them.
- The most important items every RV traveler needs to thrive in that lifestyle.
- She describes the positives of living an RV life and how impactful it has been for her.
- “Join a club or a group so that you’re traveling with your friends; it’s always better to be in a group for safety and anxiety.”– Jenelle Jones
- “An RV lifestyle is a complete lifestyle that’s going to be more fulfilling than anything sitting at home being retired watching TV and gardening for some people.”– Jenelle Jones
Get in Touch with Jenelle:
- Website: https://wanderingindividualsnetwork.com/
- Facebook: https://facebook.com/groups/winrvsingles/members/
If you are in or nearing retirement and you want to gain clarity on what questions you should be asking, learn what the biggest retirement myths are, and identify what you can do to achieve peace of mind for your retirement, get started today by requesting our complimentary video course, Four Steps to Secure Your Retirement!
To access the course, simply visit POMWealth.net/podcast.
Here’s the full transcript:
Radon Stancil: So I am really excited about today’s episode on Secure Your Retirement, and we try to have a couple different topics, as you all know, or I should say, types of things that we talk about. And I will say this is one of the ones that we call our lifestyle series where we talk about how we’re going to live in retirement. And I’m very excited to have as a guest, Janelle Jones, who has been living this life of living in an RV and retirement. And we have a few clients that have done that. And so when I got your information, Janelle, I was like, I really want to talk to you. So thank you so much for coming on and hopefully sharing with us some of your life and lifestyle when it comes to RV Life.
Janelle Jones: Thank you, Radon. It is a lifestyle and it’s a lifestyle I specifically chose. When people ask me, “Well, where do you live?” I say, I live everywhere. I’m a full-time traveler.
Radon Stancil: Yeah. And how long have you been doing that? How long have you been living in an RV?
Janelle Jones: Full-time since 2019. On and off about three or four years before that. But I knew I wanted to live and have this life.
Radon Stancil: Yeah, so I’m just going to ask you that question right up front because really kind of what I think the theme of what we’re trying to talk about today is these practical tips to be successful. We’re living in an RV, my brother-in-law and my sister live in an RV full-time. They’ve kind of set theirs up where it’s pretty stable, where they kind of stay in one spot for most of their year. But what prompted you to say, “I want to live in an RV and do that and be there full time?”
Janelle Jones: In my government job, my window faced a RV dealership, the Prevost, the million dollar ones. And so I would sit there on and off through the years and watch people move in, move their stuff in, move their stuff out, drive off, the salesman waving, and that just slowly planted an idea in my head. And then as I got closer to retirement in 2015, I started really researching, is this a viable option? And frankly I was like, no, I can’t do this. This is crazy to not have a house and go travel to RV. So I bought an RV, a small RV, and kept my house and traveled. The more I traveled, the more I realized I don’t want a house. Frankly, I got to where I was only going back to my house to check on my house. So I was like, why am I doing this? Let’s do what I really have always wanted to do, full-time travel.
Radon Stancil: Excellent. So now one of the things that I, as looked through your information that I think that with our clients who actually do RVing full-time is this whole idea of the logistics of planning routes of where we’re going to live, destinations and then taking care of the RV. And what their story has been is, “I want to be in this location whenever the weather is this way and then I’m moving so that I don’t get into a weather scenario that I don’t really want to be a part of.” And so they do a lot of planning throughout the year as to how they route. So what are your suggestions when somebody’s thinking, “I’m not doing this just to live in an RV, I want to see things and I want to go places.” How do you help people think that through?
Janelle Jones: Great. Thank you, Radon, for asking me that. I call myself an RV travel enabler. I bought a club earlier this year that I had been traveling with that puts together routes for you, places to go, places to stay and routes for you. Before I joined this club, I did like everybody else. I sat in front of a map and took a day or two, made reservations, called recalled, emailed, and just like going on vacation, you do it that way. I learned early on my RVing days don’t spend the summer in Florida, which I did. Why? I don’t know. But now I chase weather. I haven’t been real hot in a long time or real cold in a long time.
Radon Stancil: Excellent. So now you’re in an RV. If you live in a neighborhood, you kind of have your neighbors that you know, you kind of know, hey, when I come home, I know probably I’m going to see the same faces.” And I’m imagining in an RV world you’re going to a new location all the time. I mean, you’re going into a new park or wherever you might be staying. So what are some things that you’ve been able to do, whether you’re coming in and you’re thinking, wow, I don’t have any friends or other than now on Zoom, I’m sure that makes it a little bit different now that we’ve all learned this idea of how to talk to people over the internet a little bit better. How do you deal with that when it comes to maybe loneliness or all those kinds of different things that we might think about when we are traveling without stable neighbors?
Janelle Jones: And that is an issue, especially for people who are not comfortable on their own, not comfortable rolling with the punches, changing directions, literally sometimes, mostly figuratively though. Personally, I’m okay on my own, I’m good. But I don’t really, I’m not by myself that often. With my RV club that I bought, one of the things that I push hard is if you want to do this life, but I do have some anxiety of driving off literally into the wild blue yonder on your own. Join a club, join a group. It doesn’t matter. There’s lots of good groups out there, but join so that you’re traveling with your friends and you get to have friends and then maybe you splitter off and three or four or five of y’all decide to go to the Canadian Maritimes or Mexico for the month. It’s always better to travel in a group.
Radon Stancil: Okay.
Janelle Jones: Safety, anxiety. It’s always better. Yes.
Radon Stancil: Nice. I didn’t even think about that, that you might have travel buddies that you kind of go along.
Janelle Jones: Oh yeah, definitely. I’m in the Canadian Maritimes right now and have been since the beginning of August. I think there’s probably 15 of us here, maybe 13, people kind of come and go on it too. And that’s part of the RV club. I mean, I hate to keep coming back to that, but it’s a game changer. When you travel with a group, travel buddies, as you call them, they make you do things you wouldn’t normally do. We’re going to go hike five miles. I’m like, well, I’m not going to hike five miles, but with everybody else, you’ll go and you’ll hike five miles along at the Cabbage Trail. We literally hiked five miles along a skyline. It was called the Skyline Trail. That’s literally on the side of a mountain and you’re looking down into the crashing water and the cliffs.
Radon Stancil: Yeah. Well, yeah, I mean obviously if you’ve got people that’s motivating you to do it, I mean it’s a lot better than if you’re trying to say, I’m going to motivate myself by myself to go on a five mile hike.
Janelle Jones: We all have hikes around us. And when’s the last time you went? I rode 13 miles through the Grand Canyon. First of all, I didn’t know the Grand Canyon had 13 miles of bike trails you could go on, they do. And second, I’m not riding 13 miles on a bike anywhere, but I did that day and it was great and a top 10 list, people always ask me, “Where’s the best place you’ve been?” That’s always one of my top few.
Radon Stancil: Yeah. Excellent. So I know that you do this by yourself as you’re traveling. I know you might have this group, but could you walk us through, because maybe if somebody’s thinking about this idea of moving in and doing this retirement in an RV, what kind of things do you have to do to keep your RV up and to maintain it and to make it where it’s functional?
Janelle Jones: This is a very viable option for a retirement life, for a second path, if you will. I remember when the day I retired, I was like, wow, I’m literally turning the page in my life. It is definitely a viable option. Well, you’re going to learn. You’re going to learn about your RVs. Before I bought my first RV, I’d never even been in an RV, literally had never even been in one. Now I can change a water pump. I can get on my roof and clean it and caulk the water, the top of it and check for leaks. I know how to air up my tires with a portable generator, you will learn.
I would say your question was what do you have to do to maintain an RV? I would say you had to have a positive attitude. We can all learn how to change or put air in a tire, but if you don’t have the mindset that I’m going to roll with these punches, when you come home, like you said, every day your house is there, you do a key, you walk, you walk in, everything’s the same, nothing changes. In the RV life, it pretty much changes all the time. Right now, for instance, one of my slides won’t go in or out, so it is stuck in the open position. The first time it happened when I was still kind of new RVing, I just all freaked out and called the dealer and did all this. Now, four years later, it’s not hurting me. It’s fine. I’ll get to a dealer. I’ve got an appointment already in Georgia, it’ll be fine.
Radon Stancil: That leads me to, I was going to ask you, as you’ve been doing this now for a few years, what are some of the unexpected challenges that you’ve run into and how did you overcome it?
Janelle Jones: The unexpected challenges, well, I’m pretty wide open on this. The unexpected challenges I would say is getting lost. That’s like a major fear in a RV world, you’d think it would be a blowout. Well, you’re going to have a blowout, so get that in your mind. You are going to have a blowout. I’m telling you, for me, it’s getting lost in the RV because my RV is 36 feet and then I have a car. So I’m 60 feet going down the road. I’m not doing a U-turn, I’m not backing up. I mean, I can block traffic, which I have on a couple of occasions. I can block traffic where the cops have to come and help me and all this. That is extremely anxiety producing for me. So I have three GPS, different GPS things going at one time as I drive down the road. So if one doesn’t pick up something, the other one does.
The anxiety comes from not knowing. When you live in a house long enough, you know how to fix the toilet if it’s leaking for an example. In an RV, it is such a different world, different culture, different tools. Everything is different in an RV. And if you’re open to accepting that, it’s a wonderful life. And you can fix whatever’s wrong in the RV.
Radon Stancil: How long did it take you to learn how to back it up and put it in this parking spot?
Janelle Jones: Well, the first five times was pretty ugly. Honestly, my first whole year was a hot mess in this RV, in my first RV. I hit buildings. I ran under a tree and took everything off the top of the RV. I backed into things. I backed into trees twice, a building once, I mean whatever. It happens. I mean, that’s the anxiety. But once it happens, you realize as long as I didn’t get hurt and nobody else got hurt, we’re fine. Get it fixed and move on. And you watch for trees next time and you watch for that McDonald’s building not to back into next time.
Radon Stancil: Yeah. So now you mentioned the GPS and those kinds of things. What would you say are some of the most important things that you feel that you need to have in your RV? Like when you’re planning and I got to have these different items, what are some of the ones that you would list?
Janelle Jones: Number one, that two separate types of GPS. And I don’t mean two phones. I mean like a GPS that’s already in your RV and your phone or one of those Garmins, one of those type things. Two, three completely separate things. Have a paper map. You think, oh, well no, have a paper map. You need a paper map. Things happen. You need a water pump. Your water pump will go out. When they told me that, I’m like, my RV’s brand new, my water pump, a year later it went out and I was able to walk out and change it and get right back to business. You need one of those, I call it an air compressor, I’m not sure what it is, but it will put air in. And it’s a little mini jumper cable thing too.
So if you are in a campground and you look out and you have a leaking tire, you don’t have to call a tow truck, tow trucks for RVs are way different than they are for cars. So I mean, you get towed, it’s $6,000 for them to show up, give or take. So you need something to air up your own tires. You need something to jump your own batteries. You need that water pump. You need something for internet, because internet is spotty at RV camps. You’ve got 200 RVs on one internet. And then plus I boondock a lot, my group does. So we go out in the middle of the woods, beautiful scenery, but there’s no internet. So you need that, and you need the tools.
One more little funny tool that you need is a square number two screwdriver, that fits about every screw on the inside of every RV. Why is that important? Because as you drive down the road and everything rattles, screws fall, they come undone. I’ve got a handful of probably 10 screws. I don’t know what they belong to, but I don’t dare throw them away. I found them inside the RV. So that one little tool right there will make your life so much easier.
Radon Stancil: Oh, very good. So now we’ve talked about some of the challenges and how to overcome those. Would you mind sharing some of the positive things that you’ve experienced since starting doing this full-time? Like maybe some of the places you’ve been, or maybe as I said, you’ve not been too hot, you’ve not been too cold. What are some of the things that you go, man, I would’ve never experienced this had I not been in the RV life?
Janelle Jones: Yes. Well, Radon, you told me we don’t have three hours for this podcast, so I’m going to make it the quick one. The number one thing for me personally is I learned patience. I came out of the corporate world, corporate government. I was extremely fast paced, type A. Move, you’re in my way if you were going 60, move. It has taught me patience, number one. It has taught me slow down, smell the roses, literally because in RV, you’re not going 80 miles an hour anywhere. You’re not taking a sharp turn. Everything is plotted. I go about 60, 65, that’s where my RV likes to be. So it’s taught me patience. Number one. I have, like I said, done the Grand Canyon. We’ve all done the Grand Canyon, but I’ve biked 13 miles. I’ve done the wave hike. That is a hike that 200,000 times a year some people are trying to get into.
I actually was able to sit until one of our friends in my RV club won the lottery out of 200,000 chances. So that’s a real high as well. Being in Quebec City, a very French city right outside the US, fabulous. Being in Maine, in the middle of the woods, looking around at Christmas trees and mountains. Being in Utah in BLM land and looking around and not seeing another soul besides me for miles and miles and miles and seeing mountains all around me. Walking down a creek in Colorado that was about four inches of running water. Just my group was there, and we walked through this creek for two or three miles.
One time we got lobsters off of a fisherman in Maine where he was just coming in and word on the street was he sells them out of his boat. So we went down there and literally for 10, $12 got lobsters from a guy pulling up in his boat. And we sat there and we went back to the campground and stood and ate lobsters with butter running down our hand on a beautiful day in Maine and looked up and it was just like, this is such the life. This is such a great life right here. Should I keep going or is that enough?
Radon Stancil: I mean, share whatever you want to share. I mean, I think it’s exciting. So now I know that earlier you said that you joined a club and then you bought a club. Could you help us to appreciate how did that transition that you join a club and now you own a club?
Janelle Jones: When I retired in 2015, I was 54 years old, kind of young to retired. I’m very blessed to have a government pension. I knew that I wanted to do a little something to keep my mind going, but I didn’t want to work per se, I wanted something. But anyway, so I kind of kept my eye open for something. And when I joined this club, I knew after I’d been with it for a while, I knew that I could do a lot with this club. The man that owned it, the fourth owner, great guy, had done a lot with it. This was a club that was started in 1988 by seven people sitting around a campfire saying, “We need a club.” They were all solo travelers, single or whatever, and thought we would’ve had people like us. There’s got to be other people like us.
And slowly over the 35 years, there’s a lot of people like us that travel solo. So he had done a lot with it and brought it into 21st century. But I knew with some marketing background, a business background, that I could do a lot with this. I started talking to him last year and I knew this was a perfect fit for me. I could still travel, write it off, I could still travel. I could still have my own lifestyle and work here and there as the business demanded. And it’s been wonderful. It’s been great. Just for the business part of the podcast, I’ve had a 12% growth every month since March. Quite proud of that little fact, quite proud of that.
Radon Stancil: So could you tell us a little bit about the club? For somebody who’s never been a part of an RV club, what does it provide me to be a part of the club? Why would I want to be a part of a club? Could you give us a little bit of understanding around that?
Janelle Jones: Absolutely. Number one, we’ll start with what you and I have already touched on, the anxiety and the loneliness of travel. It’s all fine. You can get in a RV and drive off and be on your own, but after a month, I mean you want to go out to eat with somebody, go to a museum with somebody. So we help with the anxiety and the loneliness, safety in that as well. We provide a like-minded community. When you start telling people, hey, I’m going to sell everything I own or put it all in storage and buy an RV and drive off the wall will be under and start seeing stuff, people are going to think you’re crazy. Most, nine out of 10 people are going to say, are you [inaudible 00:18:24] do that? What about this? My family kept asking me about serial killers. What about serial killers? What about you’re in truck stops?
Anyway, so in our community, we’re all like-minded. We let you by being around us, you’re not crazy for doing this. This is complete lifestyle that is going to be more fulfilling than anything sitting at home, being retired, watching TV and gardening for some people. And then additionally, we’re one of the only clubs out there besides your real high-end fantasy tours, which are great. And I’ve been on one of their tours. We’re one of the only clubs that offer year round. You can travel with us from the Canadian Maritimes, down the east coast, do Florida for the winter, go across to Arizona, where we start what we call Western Winter and then do Arizona, Southern California and Utah up to the northwest by the time it’s summer and then drive down to California coast, you can travel 365 a days a year almost with us or pop in and out. And that’s the three main things that we offer. The anxiety help and safety, the like-minded community and trips already put together for you.
Radon Stancil: That’s what I was going to say. So when you say that you kind of already are laying out, hey, here’s the campground that we need to go to. It’s already been vetted. I don’t have to think and try to figure out where I’m going to go.
Janelle Jones: Yes, exactly. Now, you make your own reservations because one of our benefits that I always push is you come in and out as you want. Let’s say you, Radon, have already been to most of the Northwest, but you’re going to be up there. So you want to join us just for two weeks because you haven’t been to Squeamish or Washington. So you can come in for that week and then hop back out to go see your sister and then pick us up again in Gold Beach, Oregon. You can do that. And then you can drive over and pick up the Texas trip that we’re going to do. That is a great benefit.
And once you join, you have access to all the details of exactly where the group is going to be, how long they’re going to be there, and even some of the activities that we’ve done in the past. Remember again, the club’s 35 years old. We’ve been everywhere. Somebody of our group has been, and we know the gas station on the corner of sixth and eighth has dumped for your RV if you need it. And they have good gas pumps for a big RV to pull into.
Radon Stancil: Oh, nice. Well that’s great. So could you tell us how, say somebody’s listening to this and they’re thinking, man, I really want to learn more about this, how they could either talk to you, what website to go to, where do they go for information so they could understand how this works a little bit better?
Janelle Jones: Yes, Radon. We have all the usual social media channels and look under Wandering Individuals Network, WINS is our acronym, but Wandering Individuals Network. And also have a little couple of checklists that I’ll send to you for your listeners if they’d like them. One is 10 questions to ask yourself if you’re really truly ready to go off in RV on your own with a group perhaps. And then the other one, is that something you alluded to, what are 10 things that you have to have in your RV? And in my personal experience, those are the 10 things that have happened to me that saved me or I learned a hard lesson on.
Radon Stancil: Okay. Excellent. And then as far as your website, what is your website?
Janelle Jones: My website is winsrvclub.com. winsrvclub.com.
Radon Stancil: And is that the best way for folks to get in touch with you?
Janelle Jones: Yes. And all those links on there, join now or form more information, they come right to me. I answer every single email personally, and I’ll give you my phone number if you want to call and talk to me, which plenty of people have done.
Radon Stancil: Excellent. Well, Janelle, it is a pleasure to talk to you. You can tell that you’re having fun out there as you travel around the country and even now in Canada. Is that where you are now?
Janelle Jones: Yep. Canadian Maritimes. Yeah.
Radon Stancil: Yeah. Excellent. Well, thank you so much for coming on and sharing with us your expertise, and I’m sure that folks that are looking and thinking about this, it’s going to be extremely helpful for them.
Janelle Jones: Thank you, Radon, for having me. I appreciate it.