Just do it: The active RV Lifestyle

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January 29, 2011

By Bob Difley

toys_1933You’ve been working hard all your life and now as retirement approaches, so do the day dreams of RVing around the country, wandering two-lane back roads, visiting small town America, exploring our national parks, boondocking in the forests and deserts, and snoozing in a camp chair by a babbling brook full of rainbow trout.

Relaxation. You deserve it after all those stressful years. Kick back, enjoy doing nothing. And then all of a sudden you look in the mirror and find that 20 extra pounds of softness has accumulated around your middle. What is happening?

What has taken its toll is the frantic activity of work, raising a family, mowing the lawn, all those activities not associated with an RV lifestyle have vanished, leaving an activity–and calorie burning–vacuum. Just setting up your camp chairs is not enough exercise. That’s the bad news.

The good news is, that once you’ve gotten the relaxation-means-doing-nothing out of the way, a whole new world of calorie-burning physical activity opens up enabling you to stay active, keep in physical condition, and feeling good without all the stresses you once felt.

The RV Lifestyle offers myriad opportunities for physical play, of which only a small smattering follows:

hiking_desertHIKING – Hiking is a wonderful way to see the surrounding area, places you can’t get by vehicle, hidden canyons, following mountain streams, wildlife watching, finding hidden Alpine lakes. The beauty of it is that all you need is a sturdy pair of hiking books, preferably two–one pair for winter and wet conditions, the other for hot summer hiking. Put together a day-pack, ready to go a a moment’s whim, consisting of a few energy bars, compass, small first aid kit, sun hat, windbreaker/rain jacket, and small folding binoculars, sunglasses.

BIKING – Mountain or road bikes are easy to carry on your motorhome, fiver, or tow/toad. Various types of bike racks abound that make having you bike handy when you discover a neat place to explore.

If you haven’t ridden in awhile, start with level Rails to Trails trails and graduate to more difficult trails as your skill come back. With a bike you can cover more area, again many places which are inaccessible by motor vehicle, than hiking.

PICT0011CANOE/KAYAK – Roof-mounted racks can carry your paddle boat to wherever you go, an paddling will provide access to backwaters, lakes, rivers, bays, and other watery places also not achievable by other means. It is a quiet mode of transportation, with only the slight splash of a paddle dipping in and out of the water, enabling close approach to ducks and wildlife. And it’s a great upper body workout. Ask at a canoe/kayak store if they have demo days when you can try out various types. And no, you don’t have to worry about learning the scary skill of “Eskimo rolls.” After more than 20 years of kayaking, I have never turned turtle.

BIRDWATCHING/WILDLIFE WATCHING – Keep a day pack hanging by your entry door with binoculars, field guide, pad and pencil and grab it when you leave. You never know what you might see. Birding is popular with RVers since we are always traveling to new areas and seeing new species. Look for tracks of wildlife and practice identifying and tracking.

PHOTOGRAPHY – If you grab your camera when you go for a walk, you will find many things to photograph creatively, and before you know it you’ve walked a few miles without even thinking about exercising. With a photo editing program on your computer you can then stimulate your creative juices to produce a work of photographic art. Make photo collections, such as old fences, birds, wildflowers, dilapidated barns, waterfalls–the subjects are endless.

These are just a few of the activities that will keep you out of that camp chair and on your feet, stimulated rather than complacent, curious rather than bored, feeling good rather than tired. Here are a few more activities to consider: Square dancing, swimming, snorkeling, climbing to the highest point in every state, walking or bicycling a Rail Trail in every state, rockhounding, geocaching, building homes with Habitat For Humanity, and lots more.

Check out my website for more RVing tips and destinations and my ebooks, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public LandsSnowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts, and 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang out of your RV Lifestyle Dollar.

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  3. Thanks all. Good comments. Glad you’re all having fun and enjoying life.

  4. Hi guys & Gals:
    Retirement is great, BUT, you still have to DO something.
    My wife Betty and I chose to give seminars called “Let’s Talk RVing”.
    Sharing the wonderful V experience is part of the fun.
    I thought when we hit the road 10 years ago would remember the wonderful natural settings in our great country.
    When my head hits the pillow at night, it is the great people we met that day.
    Happy camping,
    Fred b.

  5. GaryM

    I retired 5 + years ago and have enjoyed every moment although with my wife still working – we didn’t travel much.
    My wife retired at the end of December – Today is the end of her first full month of retirement. I can’t believe the change in her. Stress is gone, smile on her face, but she just keeps saying “Let’s hit the road.” It is 6 degrees and snowing.
    I need to fix up a rack for the bikes, which we haven’t taken out of the basement for about 20 years. Need new tires on the 5’er. Need to get a good bird book. Wifey likes to fish so we need to pick up our fishing license’s. We do have a raft which she loves but I must confess that we haven’t had that out in a while either. Give us another month and we will see you somewhere on the road. I’m a little nervous pulling the 5th wheel out of the RV barn with ice and snow on the road. The rest will be a piece of cake. I can’t even tell you how many hours per day my wife looks at maps, campgrounds, things to do, places to go. I spect that when we hit the road, it will be awesome.
    Nice article. Thanks…

  6. We recently completed our first year full-timing on the toad. 18 states and 50 RV Parks, not including Quartzite. We have met many new friends along the way, and starting our second year meeting up with some of them again. The cultural differences just within our own country is a great experience. We’re all set to head out to all new areas…after a little R&R on the Colorado River in Arizona.

  7. Carl Stark

    Enjoyed. We retired couple of years ago, and have “RETIREMENT ROCKS” on our mud flap across the back of our Class A. Been all over, enjoying every minute, which follows 35-years in the corporate world for me, and 30-years in the military for my wife. It’s a wonderful life.

  8. w6pea

    Another good article. Thank you for posting.

  9. Chip and Julie Grundon

    We did it We love it! Retired in April 09 sold our house in June 09 and have no regrets. Spending this winter on relatives farm in Mississippi babysitting cows, donkeys, goats and adding on to their house while they are working out of the area. Gulf coast just an hour away it’s beautiful!! Grandkids in Florida and got to spend Christmas in Kansas with some more of the grandkids! (Left RV in Mississippi took toad to Kansas) We could live in the house but choose to stay in our “house.” Come spring we head to Lake Placid, NY to be work Kampers at the KOA for the summer. Close to more grandkids! What a life! Like you said, you gotta JUST DO IT!! Hope to see ya-all on the road or at the Lake Placid KOA this summer be safe and have fun!!!

  10. butterbean carpenter

    Howdy guru,
    I gave you 5*****s just because it was so well written.. Now, let me tell you whatz
    what!!! When you are confined to a motorized wheelchair you aren’t able to do this type of enjoyment..maybe could have 30 or 40 years ago… I love the outdoors!!
    Only now, at this end of life stage I can only look and enjoy the enjoyment of others
    doing these type actions… Where I am able to go there ARE CROWDS OF PEOPLE
    I look at the boondockers at Quartzsite and it is NOT boondocking; it’s just a campground without facilities.. ROW ON ROW ON ROW OR SQUARE OR CIRCLE!!
    One or two buddies OK, but groups are not conducive to relaxation and peaceful
    camping… Maybe I’m just too old-fashioned…. or don’t drink enuff…