From the desk of Firedude.
In this blog I’ll discuss some of the items I have found essential in my 6 years of full-timing. These are items I use and endorse. While everyone is different this is my take and the items I’ve used over time which has greatly improved my full-timing lifestyle.

First, but not foremost is the internet. Being a forum moderator and having built a site to help current, future full-timers and RV’ers in general I needed a good internet connection and couldn’t depend on park and campground Wi-Fi. I started out with Direcway (now Hughes) satellite on a tripod system. While this system is good it is a bit cumbersome in that you need storage for the dish, tripod etc and setup, aiming and tear down can take its time not to mention inclement weather situations. After several years I went with an evdo (broadband) usb aircard. I also bought a mobile broadband router, a Cradle Point MBR 1000 essentially giving me my own mobile Wi-Fi hot spot. With the aircard and Sprint service all I have to do now is boot up my computer and within seconds I’m on line with pretty good speeds ranging from 1.5 to over 2 MBps. No more set up, aiming the dish and tear down and it gave me a great bit more of storage. I’ve found service most everywhere I’ve been. The one thing about the aircard is that trees will not affect it as the satellite. Also very cost effective in that you don’t need a lot of money to get set up unlike the satellite. I liked that part! I got my service and equipment through the 3G Store. They are great personable people and never once spoke to anyone at Sprint, had my equipment and was up and running in 48 hours! I have a lot more on internet option for full-timers on my website however I found for me.This just happened to be the most cost effective for me and my budget. I also provide other full-timers with my Wi-Fi when needed and I know what it’s like to be without when you need it. Check them out at the 3G Store.

Another essential item for me has been RVer’s Notebook software. It has paid for itself time and time again and combined with my own checklists it has saved me time. Keeping many different files for things like maintenance, costs, notes, planning, and a host of many other things scattered all over my computer was a chore and cumbersome. RVer’s Notebook software eliminated all this for me and I now have everything I need located in one spot and readily available. Makes life on the road so much easier! It has been one of the most valuable tools and essentials I’ve acquired.

If you travel with pets as I do I found a resource which proved invaluable to me over time. After I nearly lost my little Terrier mix Shorty to an emergency medical condition I’d never be without my PET E.R. Guide. It’s comforting after what I experienced trying to hunt down and emergency center for pets that I now have the guide which can save precious time. This gives me a huge sense of relief after what I experienced early on in my adventures.

Having the constant internet also gave me the ability to take care of most all my financial needs such as paying bills, and managing most everything I do. One of the most dynamic things is cost and expenses. These can change quite often thus I developed my full-timers Budget Worksheet in Excel which is included in my book “Adventures of the Firedude”. It is very dynamic in as being able to adjust, add, take away items and will automatically add you figures for you as you go. This has helped me maintain a consistent and productive adventure.

With the broadband internet I also have Magic Jack which is a VOIP, an internet phone and it only costs about $20 per year with unlimited calls (incoming and outgoing) anywhere in the US and Canada. It is of course a back up as my cell is primary however when you hit a no cell area, but have internet Magic Jack comes to the rescue. There are other VOIP companies out there, but Magic Jack has worked well for me. It can also at times help keep the minutes on your cell down. One word of caution though as it does not work well with satellite because of the lower speeds, even with the aircard at times it can get choppy, but it’s been rare for me. It’s just a good back up and for the cost of pennies per day you can’t go wrong. I have a review of it on my website if interested.

Good Sam Park Directory has always been a great tool for me. It contains a whole lot of information in one spot. I have both the book and CD version. It’s saved me countless hours on the net having to research information on destinations, campgrounds etc. A tool well worth the money spent. I have found some off the beaten path and very interesting places which I wouldn’t have without it.

These are just a few of the essential items for me that have made the lifestyle rewarding, productive and simple. There are many more so feel free to chime in with your own here. What works for some may not for others so let’s keep that in mind. Most of the above mentioned don’t necessarily pertain explicitly to full-timing, but can also come in handy for extended trips as well as well as general RV’ing. In part #2 I’ll get more into the tech issue side of things pertaining to essentials of full-timing.

Be safe and happy trails!


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  1. Katherine Prawl

    Hi Tony, Just wanted to say thanks again for the info about the Cradlepoint and 3G Store. We’re getting ready to travel again next month, and since I’ve started an online Masters degree program, the wireless access point will be critical, not just a nice-to-have. It worked so well last winter & spring I’m confident we’ll continue to be happy with it. It was fun meeting the guys from 3G Store in Albuquerque, too! I was astonished that they remembered my name, and that you had referred me to them.

    For your readers who worry about paying double for internet access when they’re not on the road, it was no trouble at all to ask Verizon to suspend our account temporarily while we were home for the summer. Good results all around!


  2. Pingback: Wireless On the Go | NewMedia On the Go

  3. Tony Cornett

    Woody the link is below and no you aren’t losing your mind as it wasn’t there. I had it down and was resizing the pics lol and you happened to look for it at that very moment!

    Not sure on the USB 2 requirement, I’ll check…

    On edit all I saw on their ebsite was the term “any usb port”?? So I really am not sure since all my stuff has usb2 ports.

  4. Steve Headley

    Question on the magic jack. My laptop is older and has the original usb version 1, as oppose to the faster usb 2. Do you happen to know if the older USB technology is enough for magic jack?

  5. Woody

    OK, I’m Blind. Where is the review of Magic Jack on your website? Maybe your review tells, but what type of phone, setup do you use? Can you use an old analog phone? Enjoy your articles.

  6. Hiya John!
    We must have just missed each other at thew cyber store! I love my setup and the cost compared to options was great I think.

    As far as Magic Jack it won’t work well with National Access, but works well for me in evdo however I’m finding more and more evdo everywhere I go. They are expanding in leaps and bounds daily. Even more so now with the economy trying to keep up with the competition. My brother is as network engineer and he says they can’t keep up with expansion so more contract installers are hired every day to keep up the pace.

    RV Notebook has been around for a few years and sure has saved me a lot of grief! i was getting files for different thing scattered all over my computer and forgetting where they were and having to search so it paid for itself pretty quick lol

    Now I’ve been able to cut back on my Ibuprofen saving a bundle 😉

  7. John Shelton

    Several good tips here, Tony. Strange that we haven’t met before as we seem to be following each other around to online electronics stores. My wife and I travel, each with our own laptop computer customized as we desire. A Verizon USB aircard in conjunction with a Cradlepoint MBR 1000 (also from 3G store) keeps us both online without having to share online time, and does so quite conveniently. We can be both online together or separately. We also, on occasion, share a connection with friends we meet along the way who need a WiFi connection to check their email, etc.

    We have a magic jack phone at home to supplement our cell phones and I have connected it to cable WiFi internet connection away from home before, but never tried it with the aircard. I have assumed that since my Windows Home Server remote connection would not work with the aircard, that magic jack also would not work. It has been my understanding that even though it (the aircard) is presented as a broadband service, it is actually wireless dial-up. Download speeds outside the urban areas where EVDO is not available and you are on NationalAccess seems to confirm this. Anyway, I will bring my magic jack with me on my next trip (next week) and will try that out. Thank you for the mention that has prompted me to check it out.

    I will also have to check out the RV’ers Notebook software. This is a piece of software that I have not heard of before. Thanks again for the mention.

    Keep up the good work.