I try and keep a log of where we stay, how much it cost, and our impressions of the place so we know where we would like to go back to and what RV Parks we would rather avoid if possible. Here is the raw dump of all the different campgrounds we stayed in Charlie for year one. (see the map of our travels here)
In all, we stayed in 20 RV Parks in 2018-2019 not including a week in Redbay Alabama getting some work done on Charlie for which we did not have to pay as we are still under warranty. We spent ~ 340 nights in RV Parks and our average nightly cost for year one was around $35. The least expensive nightly rate was $22.50 at Twin Fountains RV Park in Oklahoma City, the most expensive nightly rate was $71 at Cherry Hill RV Resort in Maryland. The median rate (half the rates were higher and half lower) was $40.36. These rates all include whatever discount offered for the length of stay (Twin Fountains was a monthly rate) and any discounts we might have gotten from Good Sams, Passport America, FMCA or anything else we could wrangle.
If we leave the campground in Montmagny out of the mix, because you just cannot separate out the fact that is Mireille’s home town when thinking about places we liked the best, we would say Cherry Hill in Maryland or Mesa Regal in Arizona are our favorites. Beaver Meadow Family RV Campground in New York or Lake Pine RV Park in Columbus were our least favorites, though we would stay in each again in a second if needed as they are both near one of our kids. We will look for alternatives, however.
As far as pleasant surprises go regarding towns we have stayed in or near, we are both very happy with our new “home town” of Sioux Falls. It is a pretty town with friendly people and a really good vibe. I was also shocked…shocked to find out that there was a waterfall in Sioux Falls for some reason!?!
As I mentioned before we have unlimited plans with both ATT and TMobile. For our first year, I was not consistent in actually measuring cell service, but we used it everywhere and never had a problem streaming movies or anything else we needed to do. I never had a problem working. That is except in New York at the Beaver Meadow Family RV Campground mentioned above. If we had not had our cell booster there, we would have had to move. Even with the cell booster, the signal was minimal, but like I said I was able to work without issue.
For our “house” internet we used ATT cell service exclusively except for when we were in Canada or when we got network managed. Then we used TMobile instead. Across the board, download and upload speeds were good. TMobile was often faster than ATT, but it rarely made enough difference to worry about. For work, I used Verizon (my work phone) almost exclusively.
For our first year full time, we used an average of 104.95 GB of ATT data monthly. I did not bother to try and find out how much TMobile data we use as we have not used that for the televisions or music enough to make much of a difference.
Learnings for Year Two
We have learned a lot in our first year, but I will limit this to the items we have discussed here.
I think we spent more money on RV Parks than we needed to because we moved so much. Now that we have our tags and drivers licenses we don’t have to make a speed course to South Dakota and then to Canada like we did this year. In most cases, we can stay longer and get better discounts. Monthly rates are the best in most cases; however, the time of year makes a difference too! For example, we are spending almost $1000 a month to stay where we are currently at Mesa Regal RV Resort, but if we were to come from October through December, we could stay all three months for $1000. That is a big deal if we can work it out. I do not know if that makes sense for us, however.
I want to try staying in more State Parks and COE (Corps Of Engineer) Parks if we can find them. Two things we know; however, we need good cell service, and we like to be close to places to go explore. Gunter Hill RV Campground in Alabama was an excellent example of what I would like to find more of.
In year two, I think we will stay more in the south and east sides of the US. I am going look into a Thousand Trails membership for the eastern or northeastern zones if their campgrounds look like they meet the same type requirements I just mentioned for the State/COE parks. If we can bounce from park to park two weeks is plenty of time in one place, especially if that two weeks doesn’t cost anything above what we already paid for the membership. I have heard both good and bad about Thousand Trails, but you hear both good and bad about almost everything.
We have learned a lot in year one, we know better what we like and what we do not, and so we know better what to look for in places we are thinking of staying. We know we are on the right track. We have made a lot of new friends in our travels and look forward to learning more and getting better as we go. Improvement, not perfection, and no complaints!