The Ultimate Road Trip: THE SILVER SNAIL : A solo woman's full-time RV adventure
THE ULTIMATE AMERICAN ROAD TRIP
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ADVICE: Ask Sharon

Laurie asks:
Hi... read about your travels and WOW.. GREAT pictures and descriptions of your travels.......so many great photogs and stories about you and your cat and dog.....BUT..what is the status of your Airstream? I SO MUCH want to do this after I retire..but the stories about floor rot and frame failure (Airforums) have me scared to go any further in my dream of owning an AIrstream and getting out on the road... Thanks...!

Sharon replies:
Hi Laurie - I too am very disheartened by Airstream, especially the new ones, considering their cost. I might buy an older one, because you can find nice ones for a very fair price, and they were apparently built better in the 80s. I've heard that '85-'89 were some of their best years. Airstream will likely patch up my rotten trailer after I swap it and resell it...but it should not have happened in a trailer that is not even 4 years old, that was supposed to be built to last. Some Airstreamers have trailers that have been problem-free, and it seems like some model years had more quality-control issues than others. It's a tough call. Certainly, the Airforums (www.airforums.com) are the best place to learn about real-world experiences with any model year. As for my issue, check my Jackson Center page to follow the status of my trade deal.


Robin asks:
Got some great info from your travels about Florida and had a couple of questions. In the past I have tried to map out and reserve ahead of time the months we go south. This doesn't always work since you can book someplace you've never been, then when you get there go ... Ugh! I wondered how difficult you found it to find places along the way. In other words, do I need to get over my fear of having to see Florida via Walmart parking lots!!!!! I am a planner so it is hard to just goooo!

Sharon replies:
Hi Robin - Whenever possible, I try to scout out campgrounds in person before making long-term commitments to stay there. Sometimes this means a day of driving and often it means not making a reservation until I get to see it. I actually prefer not to make reservations too far in advance, because things change so frequently for me. But Florida is tricky, because many parks book up an entire year in advance...though you can still almost always find a place to stay for a few days while you scout out other places, even if it means for next year. Still, sometimes you can be lucky enough to get a cancelled reservation. In the end, though, if you haven't seen it for yourself, there's just no telling what it'll be like....so there will always be an element of mystery if you can't get there to scout it out ahead of time - think of it as part of the adventure!


Dawn asks:
You're living a life I've often contemplated...living full time on the road. I'm beginning to realize that it is possible for a woman alone...your story and a few others are convincing me. But I wonder...how do you back up and hook up the hitch to the trailer without someone standing back there telling you how much further to back? And traveling with a dog...I've wondered how to manage that...because you can't leave the dog in the car, or the trailer and often I'd want to go hiking, or painting or doing photography where I might not be able to take the dog...so what do you do about that? Thanks for any advice...

Sharon replies:
Hi Dawn - I've gotten used to hitching up on my own. I have a very handy telescoping mirror that sticks on my hitch so that I can see the ball when I back up - I can often even get it in one shot! There are also cameras that you can get, and other methods to help you align. As far as having a dog around, Harley is almost always included in whatever I do. I CAN leave him in the trailer, but if it is very hot, I leave the vents open with the air conditioner running....and I don't leave him for very long. I leave the vents open in the off-chance something happens to the electricity and the air conditioner cuts out. If the vents are open enough, the fan will kick on when it gets too hot. Still, I prefer to stay in areas where the temperature is not too hot or cold. I've also got covers on my roof vents, so they can always be open even in stormy weather. He is the BEST hiking and photography partner, so he comes along on photo hunts. It's one reason I love having a dog with me. So, yes, it does limit me to some degree, but not much more than if I had a regular house or apartment.


Monique asks:
I hope the summer is treating you well. I wanted to touch base with you because I stumbled upon your website while researching the F/T RV lifestyle. It's nice to see another young, adventurous, self-employed person living the dream. My husband and I are seriously contemplating making the transition into F/T RVing next year. We have saved up some money to buy a rig and travel, but we are still exploring ideas to earn an income while on the road. My husband is an advertising exec and I am a video producer. I see that you're a successful graphic designer and photographer. Would you be open to providing me with quick feedback (given your experience) regarding a couple ideas we had on how we could generate revenue using our skill set (mainly video related)? I would really appreciate any words of wisdom you could share.

Sharon replies:
Hi Monique - I'm not sure I can be of any assistance to you in regards to generating income with your skillset. I am very lucky that I have been working with the same clients for many years...and still am. I established my graphic design business before I hit the road and wouldn't have done it if I didn't have the support of my client base. The additional clients I get beyond my "core" tend to find me by word of mouth or my website. Good luck with your decision to hit the road! Once you start, you may never stop : )


Cindy asks:
Hi Sharon, I admire your lifestyle and am contemplating a similar one. What do you know about a motor home and pulling a more economical vehicle vs. yourset up? I do not at this time plan on traveling as much as you are. Thank you for your input. Hope you and Harley are having a wonderful day.

Sharon replies:
Hi Cindy - Thanks! I don't know a whole lot about a motor home and toad. I continually consider other rig options, and still think what I've got suits me best - because I like having a large truck for the dog, for camping out of when I don't want to move the trailer, and for storage of bike, kayak, etc...There IS more involved with hitching/unhitching a trailer, though, and I can see why some people prefer the convenience of a motorhome. Sometimes, I have wished I could just get out of the driver's seat and not have to go outside to reach the kitchen or bed. Sometimes I really just don't want to do the job of hitching/unhitching...there will be a compromise with any rig you choose. Good luck with whatever you decide!

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