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The Frugal RV Traveler Newsletter, Issue #002-Buying A Used RV
January 07, 2010

It’s a new year – in fact, a new decade! As I sit in front of this blank page the symbolism doesn’t escape me. What lies ahead? What possibilities and opportunities will be served up in this next decade?

Ten years ago Randy and I put everything into storage, quit our jobs, and took off on a (supposedly) once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Neither of us dreamed we would be able to do this again and again, or that we would become hooked on the RV lifestyle. I certainly didn’t predict that I’d find myself here – with a newsletter and a website, offering advice and encouragement to others who want to follow the same path.

We’re gearing up now for our fifth extended trip. If all goes well, we’ll be on the road in a few short weeks. For us, maintaining a home base and traveling for 5 to 6 months every two years, between bouts of more stationary earning-and-saving-periods, keeps life both interesting and balanced.

We have no idea what changes to expect this decade but, judging from the last ten years, we should be ready for anything!

A New Year And a (New) RV???

Today's Topic: Buying a Used RV

Many of you have written to tell me my website has given you the inspiration and confidence to travel, like we do, on a shoestring; however, that first step – purchasing the right, affordable, suitable, reliable RV or other travel vehicle is often the most difficult step to take. Once you’ve taken care of that, everything else will fall into place.

I know. I know. Buying anything used, especially a vehicle you know nothing about, can make anyone (even those who have done it a dozen times) nervous; there’s always the possibility you will buy a big headache. From our own experience, I’ve put together some common sense rules about this process to, hopefully, move you from nervousness to confidence.

When shopping for a used RV, your best ammunition is to know what you’re looking for and know a deal when you see one. When you know the prices, and you come across a good buy, sometimes you have very little bargaining room and no time to “ fool around.” Here’s our personal example:

When we purchased our first RV (class b Roadtrek), we were somehow lucky enough to be first in line to see the advertised RV but there was literally a line-up forming behind us. We knew our prices, had seen enough comparable vehicles, and trusted the feel we got from the seller. We knew it was “snooze and lose” so we acted. We had to spend another $1000.00 to get it roadworthy but we anticipated that and knew it was still a great deal. The true test of how good a deal we got was when, after 6 years and 28,000 miles, with a few improvements and a safety certification, we were able to sell that RV again for the same price as we paid for it.

With our second, (current) RV it was a little different. By now we were more familiar with Roadtreks. We saw an ad and knew it was a good price. It was only advertised locally – so there weren’t bidders lined up the same way. Upon our inspection, the fridge (an expensive RV appliance) failed to work and we were able to negotiate an even better price. We then proceeded to purchase a rebuilt fridge at half the cost of a new one.

Although she is in good shape overall, our Roadtrek is now 20 years old so we’ve begun “keeping our eye out” for our next replacement.

Importing an RV from USA to Canada

With lowered prices on used RVs in this economy and a strong Canadian dollar, the idea of importing an RV to Canada from the USA is more appealing than ever so the thought has crossed our minds that we might shop for our next RV while we’re south of the border on our 2010 trip. Doing a bit of research, I discovered what is involved if we did decide to buy while in the USA.

A New Year and a Unique Volunteer Opportunity

Admit it – many of us from the northeast have dreamt of living the life of a real cowboy. If you’re in southern Arizona this winter, you can get a real dude ranch experience for free at the same time fulfilling your new year’s resolution to do more good for others and live more adventurously.

Free boondocking is included on the Silverado Ranch, when you volunteer your help in feeding the animals or doing whatever you can to assist a wonderful lady by the name of Belle Starr, a feisty but gentle and adorable lady who is in her mid 80’s.

Randy and I met and fell in love with Belle on our 2008 trip. Al and Kelly, aka The Bayfield Bunch, are enjoying the ranch experience now and looking for others to step in when they move on.

Another Contest – Win Another Great Book!

You may recall that in my last newsletter I ran a contest asking for your suggestions for conserving power and water while boondocking. The prize, a free download copy of the ebook, “Guide to Buying A Used RV” by Les Doll, went to Donna Rammo of Halifax, Nova Scotia, who submitted no less than eleven suggestions – some of them quite innovative and even amusing. Donna had this to say about her win:

I am so happy to have won this book, which includes important information on all aspects of buying a used RV. All the information was clear, complete and aided with photos. This book made me wonder how a novice, or even someone with some small experience, would fare buying a used RV without all of the steps outlined in the book. The mistakes that can be made are significant to happiness and purse.

That contest was so much fun, I thought we’d do it again. This month I’ve got a prize to help keep you frugal-minded travelers on the road; Jamie Hall Bruzenak’s book, Support Your RV Lifestyle, along with the companion cd, ($19.95 value) will be awarded (and shipped for free) to the contest winner.

What is the next contest? I’m looking for the best entry – a story, a photo, or series of photos depicting the boondocking lifestyle and why you like it – it might depict you, your RV, or a view from your boondocking location, there are endless possibilities. Enter the contest (as often as you like) or view entries here as they are submitted.

Entries will be judged by the ratings and comments from other visitors as well as by a "panel of experts" – for this I’ll request help from a couple of the RVers on my blogroll.

Unlike many on-line contests, mine are simply for fun. Don’t worry – I’m NOT using the contest as a tool for collecting email addresses. Unless you’re the winner, I promise you won’t hear from me for any reason.

Frugal Finds

Buying something online? Ready to pay and you are asked if you have a promotional code. Now you're frustrated because you realize you could be saving money if you had one. Downloadable codes and coupons are available here: Promotional Codes for USAand at Promotional Codes for Canada

One of my all time favorites: Squawkfox - where frugal living is sexy, delicious, and fun.

Cheap RV Living Various accounts from people who have converted a van or built their own camper to live cheaply on the road.

Good RV Food Dedicated to the art of preparing easy and delicious meals in the relatively small spaces of an RV with recipes, tips, and even a free cookbook on offer.

Did you know that my Frugal Shunpiker's Guides To RV Boondocking list hundreds of frugal (mostly free) boondocking locations across the southwest? Why waste your gas, when I've already done the searching for you?

Inspiring People

This is where I highlight the most recent additions to my blogrolland perhaps highlight some old favorites.

The Mexico Kid is back on the road! A fellow Canadian with a big heart has returned once again to Mexico, setting an example for creating a meaningful retirement. He spends summers in British Columbia and travels by RV to Mexico every winter where he gives generously of his time at Casa Hogar Santa Julia in San Miguel, a mission for abused and abandoned children.

And of course The Bayfield Bunch deserve a second mention. Kelly and Al live in Southern Ontario in the summers and, like many snowbirds, travel to the southwestern states in the winter. The photography on the site is nothing short of amazing!!!

If you’re currently traveling and writing a blog that you’d like me to feature, please contact me here.

It may be a while before the next newsletter - trip preparations will take precedence these next few weeks and, while we're on the road, I'll post regular blog entries instead. You can follow our travels on my blog or by subscribing to my RSS feed.

Happy New Year!!!


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