Planning the trip I always wanted

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ThirstWorkTTV

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Dec 6, 2022
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Connecticut
Hey folks! Long story short, I am finally ready to cross the country in my camper. I have an ambulance conversion, its a 1992 Kodiak. I work online and am in the perfect position for it! I want to see the whole country and take my time doing it, and I have some questions. I have already lived in another camper for around 2.5 years, so I know a lot of the ins and outs of that already. I stopped living in my RV around 3 years ago, so I know a lot of things have changed since then.

I am starting in Connecticut and will go down to Florida pretty much overnight, my grandmother is there and I want to spend time with her before its too late. After a few months there, I want to see the country on the cheapest dime possible. I want to stay in parks instead of campgrounds and resorts, boondock for free. I am installing a wildly overpowered solar system that would allow me to boondock essentially forever, and if the the best choice ill install starlink as well.

I want to take my time wit this whole trip, get to a national park and stay there for a month. Id explore the entire area for awhile, then move to the next spot and do the same thing. Are there enough parks and park and rides for this? Where would you start from Florida, I'll be in Bradenton? Anything I should be aware of for this trip? I want to meet as many people as I can along the way, and I'm not sure how. I'll also be filming and vlogging the whole thing and arent sure if there are precatiouns for that I should take as well. I'm a 34M, i dont know if that makes a difference. I'll be posting on here all along the way, so its lovely to meet you all :)
 

NY_Dutch

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Where our wheels take us!
It sounds like a great trip! I hope you have a great time as well!

You mentioned staying at national parks for a month, but be aware that the established national park campgrounds typically have a 14 day stay limit. Some are as short as 10 days in peak seasons.
 

phil-t

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Ogdensburg, NY
Not sure how many National Parks are like this, but don't some have US Forest/BLM Land just outside the park that can be used for boondocking?
 

JudyJB

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In various places in Arizona for the next month or
Some do, some do not. But it is also important to know that National Parks charge for camping, even dry camping. Usually, it is only $10 per night, but it can vary. Thus, for the most part, staying in National Parks is not boondocking.

Also, if you are working online, you will most likely need to have some mobile hotspots and use cell service or a satellite service for internet. You might be able to find some free internet in cities outside or inside some stores and restaurants, but that is hard to do for an 8-hour day. I worked online part-time for 9 years of the 10 I have been full-timing, so I know it is not easy.
 

PaulBates

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Dearborn, MI
You'll also need to plan nps reservations.... they can be tough to get: either be ready 6 months before the day you want, or be ready to arrive early enough in the day to insure you get sites that are not reservable.

I just booked my first nps stay for 2023 at sleeping bear national seashore here in Michigan, and adjusted my arrival date in 3 days as sites were running out! This is for June 8th!!

Since you're not on a fixed schedule, you have the advantage to flex a little, but I'd work ahead with parks like glacier. I planned my whole out west trip this summer based on one campsite being available in glacier in my 1 week window.. the was one site available on 1 night, June 3rd.
 

PaulBates

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Dearborn, MI
The nps reservation site, recreation.gov, gives camper feedback on carrier (att, Verizon, T-Mobil) availability and relative strength by campground.

Something satellite based will be required for working; a lot of the west I visited and camped at this summer was mobile coverage free.
 

ThirstWorkTTV

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Dec 6, 2022
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Location
Connecticut
It sounds like a great trip! I hope you have a great time as well!

You mentioned staying at national parks for a month, but be aware that the established national park campgrounds typically have a 14 day stay limit. Some are as short as 10 days in peak seasons.
Thanks I wasnt sure, and figured there were limits. Most states you can park right on the side of the road anyway so I can do that in between.
Not sure how many National Parks are like this, but don't some have US Forest/BLM Land just outside the park that can be used for boondocking?
Ill have to figure which parks I can stay at and which ones have good street parking laws and work around that. I'm familiar with the knock on the door on a regular basis, as I did this in CT and we will just say it isnt friendly for RV living. I always tried to park places that were discreet but nonetheless, knock knock.
Some do, some do not. But it is also important to know that National Parks charge for camping, even dry camping. Usually, it is only $10 per night, but it can vary. Thus, for the most part, staying in National Parks is not boondocking.

Also, if you are working online, you will most likely need to have some mobile hotspots and use cell service or a satellite service for internet. You might be able to find some free internet in cities outside or inside some stores and restaurants, but that is hard to do for an 8-hour day. I worked online part-time for 9 years of the 10 I have been full-timing, so I know it is not easy.
Lucky for me, I started a business around 6 years ago thats now mostly run by other folks. I only need internet for an hour per day at most, but I started live streaming and will need it for that at least 5 days per week. When I started RV living back in 2017, I bought a grandfathered in UDP from ebay and they finally cancelled it earlier this year. :( So I have a long range wifi antenna that will pick up public and private wifi, and since I have a family member with xfinity I can log in anywhere with xfinity wifi. If I have that with maybe an unlimited plan, or starlink I should be well covered. I don't want to stay 500 miles from civilization anyway! I want to meet people and arent sure how though.
 

ThirstWorkTTV

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Dec 6, 2022
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16
Location
Connecticut
The nps reservation site, recreation.gov, gives camper feedback on carrier (att, Verizon, T-Mobil) availability and relative strength by campground.

Something satellite based will be required for working; a lot of the west I visited and camped at this summer was mobile coverage free.
Internet and power will be the big issue as usual, and I cant figure out who can install my solar system! I don't know where to start, when I google it nothing comes up - only home installs.
 

Larry N.

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Westminster, Colorado
but be aware that the established national park campgrounds typically have a 14 day stay limit.
As do many state parks, as well, such as those in Colorado. Also note that many national and some state parks have little or no cell phone access, or maybe have it only near certain concession areas.
 

PaulBates

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Internet and power will be the big issue as usual, and I cant figure out who can install my solar system! I don't know where to start, when I google it nothing comes up - only home installs.
If you need to work around an hour a day it might not be that bad. I'd suggest "mock camping" beforehand in your driveway(or somewhere) and use power as you plan to... see how it works as a baseline.

You'll have to dig around on installers. Instead of solar specific, Google for RV mechanics in general... Then discuss their solar experience... In some ways it's just another 12 volt system. When I got my 7 pin cable installed I called around and asked "who does this?". It took a few calls.
 

ThirstWorkTTV

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Joined
Dec 6, 2022
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Location
Connecticut
If you need to work around an hour a day it might not be that bad. I'd suggest "mock camping" beforehand in your driveway(or somewhere) and use power as you plan to... see how it works as a baseline.

You'll have to dig around on installers. Instead of solar specific, Google for RV mechanics in general... Then discuss their solar experience... In some ways it's just another 12 volt system. When I got my 7 pin cable installed I called around and asked "who does this?". It took a few calls.
I'm throwing in a crazy amount of batteries, up to 1500 or 2000AH. I stayed in a camper for 2.5 years and will be using almost all of the same appliances and devices :). I have 800w of 12v panels on the roof already, 2x 400w. I have room for another 300 watts probably, and will upgrade. I also have a Honda 2200 generator and the ambulance has a 20 gallon fuel tank that I will pipe into the generator. IT really is a sweet truck, I just need a very qualified person to install the solar setup since its going to cost 10k +.
 

ThirstWorkTTV

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Dec 6, 2022
Posts
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Location
Connecticut
As do many state parks, as well, such as those in Colorado. Also note that many national and some state parks have little or no cell phone access, or maybe have it only near certain concession areas.
Yes I crossed the country a couple of years ago, to and from. Cell service vanished quite a few times, planning around that is important for sure.
 

HueyPilotVN

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Lake Havasu City, AZ
I am posting a link for the second time today to a system that is similar to what you are proposing.

I am not selling anything. Just giving you some information.

Most any handyman can do an install if you give them good instructions and supervision,

I had help doing the work on my system because of my stroke.

There are many members here that can help you with advice and answer questions like Lou Schneider for example.

 
Last edited:

ThirstWorkTTV

Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2022
Posts
16
Location
Connecticut
I am posting a link for the second time today to a system that is similar to what you are proposing.

I am not selling anything. Just giving you some information.

Most any handyman can do an install if you give them good instructions and supervision,

I had help doing the work on my system because of my stroke.

There are many members here that can help you with advice and answer questions like Lou Schneider for example.

That looks like a nice setup! The problem is I used a reputable company about 5 years ago for my first build, and I followed every instruction to the letter but it never worked. I installed it all myself via their instructions. Every time I turned it on, it blew the lynx shunt fuse. It was a full victron setup and they examined it as much as they could through dozens of photos, emails, phone calls, etc. It just never worked. So this time around I think I want to pay someone to do it just so I can not even worry
 

ThirstWorkTTV

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Dec 6, 2022
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16
Location
Connecticut
Theres a battery compartment behind and under the passenger seat where the house batteries are. It isnt heated and I don't know what kind of temperatures it gets to, so I think I should go with heated batteries but arent sure of that either. I could build a whole new system with the batteries inside the house and not worry about it, which with the size I'm going might be the only choice anyway. I'll go measure the battery box and see whats up.
 

HueyPilotVN

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Lake Havasu City, AZ
I can give you the name of a company that does lots of Solar installations, but they are located in Quartzsite Arizona. That would be quite a drive unless you might want to attend our annual rally.

The name is Discount Solar.
 

Isaac-1

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Dec 3, 2016
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SW Louisiana
The big change over the last 3 years since Covid hit is more and more campgrounds and RV parks have moved to online reservations, and there are fewer first come first serve options. Some require online reservations to be made to allow check in even if you show up and the place is empty. This applies to both public campgrounds and private RV parks.
 

CharlesinGA

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Oct 6, 2017
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Location
50 miles south of Atlanta, GA
My personal opinion is that you need to paint the vehicle and get rid of the lights (except the white work/floods on the back and sides. https://www.youtube.com/@TheCampulanceMan has been stopped a number of times by police.

You need to learn about ways to get good data and voice communication if you plan to actually work from the road, and you will find that you cannot boondock in many of the places you would like because you cannot get good cell signals. That is a huge thing for people working from the road.

Also, don't expect to park just anywhere, its frowned upon a lot of places and you will get knocks on the door at 3 am and see flashing blue lights outside.

Charles
 

ThirstWorkTTV

Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2022
Posts
16
Location
Connecticut
My personal opinion is that you need to paint the vehicle and get rid of the lights (except the white work/floods on the back and sides. https://www.youtube.com/@TheCampulanceMan has been stopped a number of times by police.

You need to learn about ways to get good data and voice communication if you plan to actually work from the road, and you will find that you cannot boondock in many of the places you would like because you cannot get good cell signals. That is a huge thing for people working from the road.

Also, don't expect to park just anywhere, its frowned upon a lot of places and you will get knocks on the door at 3 am and see flashing blue lights outside.

Charles
I am wondering what to paint it for sure, its got some racing stickers on the side since the guy used it to camp in pits during races. The colored lights are gone, only the white remain and the siren is gone too. When I stayed in my old RV for 2.5 years, I got used to being stopped in certain spots even on public roads. Either someone who lived on the street came and yelled about how they own the street(right), or they just call the cops. I have done it long enough to politely ask the police officer "am i trespassing? no. is this street private? no. am I polluting with noise, smell, anything? no." then i politely ask them to please leave me to my business
 

ThirstWorkTTV

Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2022
Posts
16
Location
Connecticut
My personal opinion is that you need to paint the vehicle and get rid of the lights (except the white work/floods on the back and sides. https://www.youtube.com/@TheCampulanceMan has been stopped a number of times by police.

You need to learn about ways to get good data and voice communication if you plan to actually work from the road, and you will find that you cannot boondock in many of the places you would like because you cannot get good cell signals. That is a huge thing for people working from the road.

Also, don't expect to park just anywhere, its frowned upon a lot of places and you will get knocks on the door at 3 am and see flashing blue lights outside.

Charles
I pretty much have internet figured out after my last excursion. Starlink is affordable and really good it seems, although sometimes I hear you cant use it at all because its over congested. ill probably get a at&t unlimited plan on ebay
 
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