We just wrapped up two weeks at the Marathon Motel and RV Park, a funky little roadside attraction with a hippie vibe and a beautiful courtyard where we spent almost every night around the fireplace sipping wine and chatting with guests.

I didn’t have much time to read, but now that we’re completely isolated here at Black Gap, I finally got a chance to dig into “Home Is Where You Park It.”

Written by Kay Peterson, co-founder of Escapees RV club, at first glance you might wonder how this out-of-print 1999 book applies to today’s NuRVers. After all, the world has change exponentially!

Or has it?

While some of this pre-Internet era book is outdated, trust me, after reading it, you won’t believe how much hasn’t changed for freaks like us.

Screwing Around and Loving it!

Fellow RVers, when you revealed your plans to hit the road and full-time in your RV, did your friends and family instantly look at you like a sideshow freak?

About a year after Jim and I hit the road, we were asked by a longtime friend:

“So when are you guys going to stop screwing around and settle down?”

 Screwing around? The question stung, and my jaw dropped. If screwing around means having the time of our lives and making every day count, then the obvious answer is: NEVER!

As a full-time RVer (especially a younger one), there will be times that mainstream society eyeballs you with suspicion. They’ll slap you with labels like “Oddball” or “Shiftless, homeless drifter.”

Why? Because you scare “normal” people. You have no regard for The Classic American Dream; go to school, work hard, buy a house, get into debt, breed, stay in debt, retire and die.

New and old full-timers alike, if you ever question your decision to hit the road, hunt down up a copy of “Home Is Where You Park It” by Kay Peterson, co-founder of Escapees, the largest support club for RVers. You’ll never regret your choice to live differently.

Kay and Joe: NuRvers Ahead of their Time

Originally published in 1977 (a year before Escapees was founded), this little gem shares the story of our brave predecessors who defied convention back when permanent road tripping just wasn’t done by “nice” people – especially by “good” families like Kay and Joe’s. They were the All-American Family who broke the mold. I have the utmost admiration for their courage to live differently.

Kay and Joe hit the road at age 43 in 1970, while two of their kids were still school-age. Inspired by the earliest traveling “tramps” of the construction trades (usually single men) who went from job site to job site, Kay had convinced Joe that he too could support their family while seeing America, using his electrician talents and union membership to find work.

After much due diligence, the Petersons sold everything and began seeing the country in their 26-foot Airstream. The rest is history.

“Medical advances have made it possible for many people to live longer. Yet little has been done to show them how to make those extra years happy ones. By the time people reach retirement, most of them have raised and educated a family. This achieved, must they then sit on the fringe of life repeating to each other their many physical ailments? Is there nothing left but to wait for death to bring an end to their increasing boredom?”

Remember, this is a time when cell phones didn’t exist, and groups like NuRVers or Familes on the Road weren’t around. The Petersons and others like them who are profiled in this book, were so brave! I can’t even imagine trying to make a living while traveling back when technology consisted of a pay phone and typewriter.

Practical RVing Advice and Full-Timing Help

If you haven’t hit the road yet, read this book to learn some neat tricks and avoid some tough lessons that many of us have encountered.

Home Is Where You Park It has valuable insight on the lifestyle that still applies after all these years. Everything from finding work to bartering for campsites to getting medical care on the road is covered.

Since the book hasn’t been updated since 1999, some references are hilarious, like the recommendation to use a “messaging service”…remember those?

Yet, it’s also cool to see how many aspects of the full-timer lifestyle remain the same. The Petersons knew how to make the most of it. They were big fans of frugalism and free boondocking sites, and offer advice about keeping your costs down and how to adapt to the typical lower-wage jobs that accompany this lifestyle. Some things never change.

If only Jim and I had read this book when we first started discussing our travel plans back in 2006! We were so green.

Anyone who hasn’t hit the road will find that Kay’s book covers all the bases, and provides the moral support you need to make your dream happen. Her insightful and lighthearted writing will also keep it alive when the going gets tough.

You’ll find those rare copies of Home Is Where You Park It at Amazon.

More Sage Advice from Kay:

“There are things we cannot change: We cannot anticipate future problems of energy shortages and the inflation that eats up our pensions. We cannot prevent the process of aging and the illnesses that accompany it. We cannot keep our children from drifting into lives separated from ours. But we don’t have to limit ourselves to living for and through our children and grandchildren. We can do more than just dream about places we have always wanted to see, and we can seek out new experiences that will give us reasons for getting out of bed every day.

We can do those things only if we stop listening to the negative opinions of others. Sometimes it takes courage to start living our dreams. Psychologists claim we live longer when we are happy and when we feel as if our life has a purpose. And occasionally, when life takes on a new purpose, a miracle can happen.”

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9 Responses to “Home is Where You Park It Bridges Full-Time RVer Generation Gap”
  1. Jenn says:

    That book sounds adorable! We started full-timing in October and completely enjoying our unconventional lifestyle. Although I doubt we will stay full time forever. While I love it. I also love having a community that we interact with on a weekly basis. I miss our friends and our church. I do know we will never be the same. Hoping to find a balance between being part of a physical community and traveling. Maybe spending 4-6 months a year at a “homebase”. Seeing our homebase is at the beautiful Ventura CA that will be a little tricky since it’s so expensive.

    • Rene says:

      Jenn, you and your hubby sound a lot like Kay and Joe! You should definitely read it. You may be able to find that sense of community by spending time in one place but you might just find it on the road too. Which seems unlikely, but the longer you’re on the road the more families you will meet who you have far more in common with than folks living the conventional lifestyle that you left behind.

      Congrats on hitting the road! I love your blog and especially your Girl Heroes one too. I’ll add them to our blogroll in just a sec. Hope to meet up with you somewhere on the road. If you’re in Colorado this summer, look us up.

  2. Jeanette says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I love them already and have yet to read the book.

  3. Ingrid says:

    Will you guys be putting your book in old fashioned print or is that not cost effective? We still haven’t gotten with the times and purchased a kindle or nook, etc. We’re a bit techno slow! Thanks for all the advice you post. It’s been helpful to these newbies :-)

  4. KnJ (Jerry) says:

    Do you know if there is much difference in the 1991 printing compared to the 1999 you have shown here?

    Me and my wife (Kim) are getting ready to go full time *hopefully in the next couple of months). We just sold our house and working getting rid of the rest of stuff. I would love to read this book, every little bit of advise is gold to me right now.

    • Jim says:

      I’ll let Rene answer this, but her answer will likely be “I don’t know” since she has only read the 1999 edition.

      Beautiful photography!

    • Rene says:

      Hi KnJ, congrats on making the move to full-timing! As Jim said, this is the only version I’ve read. I’m betting that the basic advice is still the same, probably all that changed between the two editions would be the technical tips about communications, job finding methods, etc. You may want to ask folks in the Escapees Discussion Forums. I’ll bet they will know!

      Good luck with the planning. Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures.

      • KnJ (Jerry) says:

        Thanks Rene. I think I will be safe with getting the 1991 edition than :)

        We are just getting started but will hopefully be out there really soon. Here is our blog that we started:
        cr8ingthelife.blogspot.com

        Thanks again.

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