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The Transition to RV Fulltiming – Factors to Consider

The decision to live full time in an RV is not one that should be taken lightly.  The transition from brick and mortar – also ‘stick house’ living to full-timing in a recreational vehicle entails a lot of lifestyle changes.

These are some of the many factors you will need to think about if you are considering adopting the RV lifestyle. There is certainly a lot involved in making the transition, so it is well advised to thoroughly research what is involved before making the leap.

Preliminary Research in preparation for RV living.

One good investment for people considering moving into a recreational vehicle is to subscribe to magazines ahead of time.  Publications such as trailer life magazine can provide lots of insight into exactly what life living in an RV full time is like, and can also be a great source of information about different types of RV’s available for purchase. The Trailer Life Campground Directory campground directory is a perennial favorite with RVers, and well worth purchasing.

Membership in one of the many RV clubs – the Good Sam Club is a very popular one – is another great way to immerse yourself in the RVing world even before you leave home.  Even if you do not yet own an RV, there is a lot of fun to be had just flicking through these types of materials daydreaming about the day when you will make the transition.

What do I do with my possessions?

Cars, clothing and furniture; there are just a few of the items you will have to find a home for when you downsize from a regular full-sized house to a small coach or travel trailer.  While you can – and will – keep some of your clothes for life on the road, space limitations mean that you will more than likely have to cut back on your wardrobe.

How about your furnishings?  There is no place for a three piece sofa sets or dining room tables in a travel trailer.  Along with your clothes, you will have to come up with a way of dealing with these when you start RVing full time also.

As for your automobiles, there is a good chance they are inappropriate for RV living also.  If you will be towing you require a large truck with a towing capacity large enough to tow a big trailer or a fifth wheel motorhome.  On the other hand, if you purchase a motor-coach you may want to keep a small vehicle for use as a toad vehicle.

Clearly all these superfluous personal possessions need to be handled somehow.  One option is to simply sell everything.  The advantage of this is that you can potentially raise quite a bit of cash, which can come in handy in covering some of the upfront costs associated with the transition to full-time RVing.

An alternative is to simply store your belongings.  This can either be in a secure storage facility – which entails a hefty monthly bill – or simply by leaving them with a kindly friend who has some space to stare.  If you are trying out the RV life for the first time, this may be the better option.  While RV fulltiming is a great lifestyle, it is not for everyone.  If you keep your possessions ‘stored’ somewhere then they will still be there for you, making a possible transition back to stick home living more economical.

Can I (and/or my spouse) handle limited space?

As mentioned, adjusting to the limited floor space in an RV can be a challenge.  If you are one half of a couple, not only do you need confidence that both of you will be comfortable in tight quarters, but you must also be sure that you are comfortable in each others company!

In an RV even the most loving couple will sometimes find themselves needing space now and then.  The inside of an RV is small enough that any underlying tensions in a relationship will be heightened due to close proximity.

Are you both excited – indeed, even looking forward too – spending more time in each others company?  Great! If not, then perhaps a larger home better suits your needs.

Should I sell my home?

A lot of the factors that relate to disposing of your possessions also are applicable to retaining ownership of your home.  If you go ahead and sell your house, you lose the ability to move back into if you decide after a few months or a year that full timing is not the right life for you.

Reverting to a more traditional lifestyle will then entail finding yourself a new place to live. The transactional costs – buying, selling – of a home are substantial, so should be avoided if at all possible.

If you are not 100% confident of your commitment to the full-time RV lifestyle, you may want to keep your house.  Of course, this presents its own combination of challenges.  Very few people can afford to carry the service costs of their home as well as finance their life on the road.

A great option for people in this situation is to keep their home and make it a rental property.  If this can be done in a near cash-flow neutral manner, and the work taken care of by a property management firm, then you have the best possible situation.

What is my exit plan from Living in a RV?

Unfortunately we all reach the age where the full time lifestyle is no longer possible – no matter how much we may enjoy it.  For some people it is aging, others failing health, or perhaps you simply want to return to your hometown to be closer to kids or grand-kids.

If you will want to purchase another stick home, it is important to have funding in place to finance this when the time comes.  If this sounds like an expensive proposition, thankfully there are alternatives.

Some RV clubs have parks that combine some of the benefits of fulltiming – living in your recreational vehicle – with the safety net of on-site care.  This type of life allows you to share your post travelling years with many like-minded individuals and couples.

How will I get mail?

Once you are on the road you no longer have a house with a mailbox.  This, naturally, raises the issue of what do you do for an address? While this matters with regards to receiving your email, it also has other consequences.  Items such as registering to vote, insuring your vehicle and paying taxes are also impacted by your choice of domicile.

RV’ers refer to their address of record as their ‘home base’. There are certain states that are preferred by full timers over others.  Texas, Alaska, Florida and Nevada are popular due to their lack of state income taxes.  Oregon is also a frequent choice due to its lack of sales tax.

No matter what home base you choose, you will need to arrange a mail forwarding service.  Firms offering this service provide an address – in the state of your choice – that your mail will be sent too.  They then arrange to get the mail to you, no matter where you happen to be in the country.  Some firms will forward your packages to you for ‘general delivery’ at a post office near your present location. Many RV parks will even allow you to have your mail delivered to their office while you are staying there.

What type of RV?

Selecting an RV for your fulltiming life is a very important decision that needs to be addressed carefully.  There are many different types available.  The largest option is Class A motorhomes, these coaches resemble Buses and are mounted on a large truck chassis.  Diesel pusher motorhomes are very popular for those with plentiful funds, but those looking for motorhomes for sale may find better prices on a gasoline powered Class A RV.

Fifth wheel trailers are another popular option if you enjoy substantial space.  These are towed behind large pick-up tricks.  Their mount point is in the truck bed, allowing for very large tow weights.

Class C recreational vehicles are smaller than Class A motor homes, making them easier to maneuver in space restricted camp sites. These units are mounted on cutaways van chassis’, and the bunks are usually located above the drivers cabin. One advantage of this type of RV is the ease of moving back and forth between the driving area and the living area.

Class B camper vans – reminiscent of the 1970’s – are small RV’s popular with those on a limited budget.  They are relatively cheap to purchase, and some people even buy a regular van and convert it for full-time living themselves.  Another plus is this van type of RV can be used for ‘stealth parking‘, a great way of reducing campground costs. While not exactly a luxury RV, Class B RVs are great options for those who do not require high end amenities.

The final practical fulltiming RV are travel trailers.  These caravans are pulled behind a towed vehicles. Even small sedans are able to tow small travel-trailers, so they are a good way to get started with RV’ing if you do not wish to purchase a new car or truck.  Although some people are able to fulltime in tiny teardrop trailers, unless you are a true minimalist you will want to consider a trailer that is a little larger than that.

Can I afford fulltiming in an RV?

Probably the most important consideration of all for potential full-timers is handling the financial aspects.  While living in a recreation vehicle can potentially – if wise choices are made – be substantially cheaper than living in stick home, clearly you will still need to be bringing in some income.  Many people fund their fulltime RVing lifestyle with pensions; social security, military pensions or corporate pensions.

Not everybody has these types of resources however. Another option is to build substantial savings before making the transition – perhaps through selling a house, or showing a lot of financial discipline over many years.

Hundreds of thousands of RVers are instead funding their lifestyle as they go.  They either pick up occasional part time jobs when they run short on cash, or take advantage of programs such as workamping or camphosting to make ends meet.  Some adventurous souls will take advantage of free – or very cheap – boondocking sites on BLM land, while others will make a habit of stealth parking in places where they really aren’t welcome.  While not without drawbacks, these are great ways to reduce the cost of living in an RV.

People with an entrepreneurial bent often run small business from their coach or motorhome.  These can be the production of handicraft for sale at RV fairs, doing freelance telecommuting work, or looking for income opportunities online.

Maintaining, Repairing and Protecting your Motorhome – RV insurance

When you spend your life on the road, you are taking your RV almost everywhere you go.  While a motorhome is a lot smaller than a traditional stick house, they can be quite expensive to repair – especially those types of coaches that include an engine.

Good Sam RoadsideAs well as the traditional wear and tear items to your accommodations, you also have extra damage caused over time due to the vibrations and bumps of taking your home down roads, interstates and even gravel driveways. Specialist RV repairs are unfortunately rather expensive, so it can be good to purchase insurance against these. A Good Sam Extended Service Plan can be a great way to shield you from these costs, and potentially save you thousands in repair costs.

Another thing to keep in mind is what if the unthinkable happens.  What if your RV is consumed by fire, or even stolen?  While we like to think these things won’t happen to us, it is wise to be prepared for this type of situation.  Unless you have cash on hand to buy a replacement RV should yours happen to be lost, you will want RV insurance that covers this.  Many lenders will require it – just an homeowner insurance is required for a stick house. I recommend getting a free quote for Good Sam VIP Insurance for RVs, these guys have been around for a long time and have a lot of experience working with RV owners.

Dealing with the Weather

The great thing about year-round RV living is the mobility it offers.  It allows you to follow the sun as the seasons change.  There are many permanent campsites in Florida that make gerat places to stay during the winter.  Cheaper ones will not offer a lot of amenities, but even upscale RV resorts can be relatively affordable in the Southern States if you are paying by the month.  Some people enjoy living in a particular RV park so much that they will return each winter, if you adopt this practice you can form an ongoing community of sorts with other like-minded folks.

The more adventurous – those hardy souls – who do not mind the cold, also have the option of staying in the Northern states.  While it can be difficult to find year round RV parks – many shut for the winter season – they do exist. RV owners just need to be sure to prepared for extremes of weathers.  I suggest driving South when the cold sets in myself, it’s a lot more comfortable.

Some people, usually those with more funds at their disposal, may spend most of the year living in their RV, then move out for a few months in the Winter.  They winterize their RV for the cold months while taking ‘vacations’ from their normal lifestyle.  A visit to a Latin American country – where the dollar can go a long way – allows these people to enjoy a Southern Hemisphere Summer while waiting for the USA to warm back up.

What about Health Insurance?

Obtaining quality – yet affordable – Health Insurance is a challenge for any individual not working for a major corporation.  If you are maintaining a corporate job while living in an RV, then you can probably rely on your existing employer provided health insurance.  Finding in-network providers can be a challenge however if you are travelling around the country.  While your health insurance will be ‘based’ on your home-base address, you may well be at the other end of the country when the time for medical care arises.

If you have just recently retired from your corporate job to take up the RV lifestyle, then you are probably eligible for COBRA coverage. This provides you ongoing health insurance for 18 months or more after you leave employment.  To take advantage of this you will have to pay the entire premium – you will not get the employer subsidy – but this is often a cheaper and better option than seeking an individual plan.

Medicaid offers basic medical care for some low income – which describes many RVers! – groups.  Unfortunately it is of limited use to full-timers as the category’s of people it covers is rather limited.  If you are on the road full time with young children or teenagers however, you may be eligible.  Medicaid is handled by individual states, so eligibility criteria will vary depending on your chosen state of residence.

Medicare is an insurance option utilized by RVers who have passed the age of 65.  This is the standard senior citizen health coverage provided – and managed by – the Federal Government through Social Security offices.  Almost all travellers who have reached a ‘traditional’ retirement age will find themselves eligible for Medicare.

There is another option for the many ex-military personnel enjoying the fulltime RV lifestyle after retirement.  As a way of saying thank you to our veterans, the government provides them some health care options through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Unfortunately there are still many people, particularly younger retirees, who fall through the gaps of the US health care system. Thankfully there are ways to take advantage of the RV lifestyle to get health care on the cheap even without coverage.  Many full-timers will routinely travel to the border with Canada or Mexico once or twice a year to avail themselves of cheaper prescription prices available in those countries.  While care must be taken – particularly in Mexico – to get your medicines from a reputable pharmacist, there are significant savings to be had.

Services such as dental and hospital care are also available at steep discounts in Mexico.  It is possible to obtain high quality work – again, get references from trusted friends first – from top notch Mexican dentists and doctors at very reasonable prices.  The RV community as a whole will easily be able to tell you who does good work, and whom does not.

With careful planning snowbirders can get a years worth of scheduled medical care taken care of on their yearly trip down South each winter.  Unfortunately, if you need emergency care during the rest of the year you will still be subjected to the high costs of the American health care system.

 

 

 

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RV Road Trip Movies

“National Lampoon’s Vacation”, “RV”, and “Genevieve” are all road trip movies. The road trip has been a popular movie theme for a long time, even as far back as 1953. Road trip movies all have some standard rules, scenes, and elements which makes all road trip movies similar to each other. Therefore the three rules of a road trip movie are:

1. Never use your regular car

This rule isn’t set in stone but from my observation most of the road trip movies begin with acquiring a vehicle suited for a trip on the road. From Griswold in “National Lampoon’s Vacation” going for that ugly green metallic station wagon to Munro in “RV” getting that equally ugly “Big Rolling Turd” as it was called, getting a new vehicle is crucial. You may already guess that the more hideous the vehicle the better as it will allow for various jokes to be made about it by the screen writers.

However, the vehicle does not always have to be a new one. In “Genevieve”, McKim used his 1904 Darracq for the road trip, which is a rather classic vehicle and again, definitely not a car you see every day.

2. Feuding, Friends, and Family

If a group of people is not in the car, then it is not a road trip movie. Whether they are a group of family or friends is not of importance, just as long as there is more than one person in the car.

The significant thing here is that being in a car for many hours will result in arguments about anything and everything ranging from the selection of music and even singing, to smelly feet or reckless driving. Stress levels will rise in the enclosed vehicular space.

3. Trouble and Breakdowns

Undoubtedly, a road trip car or RV movie means car troubles mainly because you are not using your usual car. Whether it is a flat tire, engine troubles, or not knowing how to fit the waste extractor to the RV, something just has to happen.

The result may be an easy – though not too quick –  roadside fix, or else it may be that you’re towed to some isolated garage at which they don’t have the parts and will undoubtedly charge an arm and a leg when they have finished the work.

The nature of the car trouble is not of importance, the whole point of car troubles is to cause added stress, arguments, and many times, a slapstick moment when a person who is not familiar with vehicles attempt to do the repairs.

RV breakdowns are probably one of the chief causes of worries for anyone researching the joy of RVs online.  Hopefully viewers of RV movies don’t let the unlikely disaster scenarios that occur discourage them from an RV purchase!

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RV The Movie

Starring Cheryl Hines, Kristin Chenoweth and the ever versatile Robin Williams, the film RV (2006) is a story of a man who wants to get out of the strained, stressful lifestyle of the corporate setting and to finally enjoy some quality time vacation with his family – but only to find out that the adventure was even more eventful, characterized by nerve-racking but otherwise exhilarating speed bumps.  Also known as RV the movie and released as Runaway Vacation in some theaters around the world, RV (2006) is a good comedy film to watch with the family.

The plot is simple:  here comes a man named Bob Munro (portrayed by Robin Williams) who wanted nothing more than to ease himself out of the hectic day to day lifestyle of the corporate job, to have some quality time that doesn’t have to do with his work as a company executive, and most of all, to spend good times with the rest of his family.  But things get really haywire when finally they rent an RV vehicle to travel to the Rockies, and this is where the adventurous plot thickens.

The film wasn’t loved by movie film critics (gathering a lot of negative reviews) but you can’t deny it ranked better in theaters where it was released for a wider audience.  It’s outrageously funny and the heart of the film lies on Robin Williams’ knack and talent in the comedy genre.  One of the best RV movies around, the situational scenes surrounding RV living are genuinely funny.  Still, you’re bound to laugh once in a while for this.

Produced by Red Wagon Productions Intermedia and distributed by Columbia Pictures, RV (2006) was directed by Barry Sonnenfield.  Movie critics may say that it was the kind of movie that’s not worthy of the price of theater admission, but it sure is worthy for a movie rent if you want to have a good time with your family.

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Roban Williams Movies – Frequent Favorites

Rarely will you be able to find an actor so versatile in a wide range of roles as the renowned Robin Williams.  With a career spanning over 30 years, Robin Williams has become a household name in film and television, particularly noted in genres such as drama and comedy.

The best thing about Robin Williams movies is that they are not essentially plot-driven – films are not characterized by too much spectacle, screen prefabrications and visual effects.  While he has a few corny releases such as the RV movie, he has many other great ones.

Films that star Robin Williams are character-driven, which means that there’s a sense of emotional exploration and satisfaction in his movies that make them truly classic and worthy to watch over and over again, and the characters he portrayed are easily sympathetic.

With so many Robin Williams films available to explore, here are some of my favorites –

Dead Poets Society (1989).  The classic film for English and lit majors, Dead Poets Society was directed by Peter Weir.  The film revolves around the story of John Keating (as played by Williams) as she inspires a group of poets through poetry.

Awakenings (1990).  For a film that starred stellar cast such as Robert de Niro and Robin Williams, there’s nothing you could ask for.  Add a very touching and profound exploration of a doctor’s (Williams) experience with one of his patients (de Niro) and you’ll never be the same again by the time you finish this one.  The film was directed by Penny Marshall.

Good Will Hunting (1997).  If you want to watch a Robin Williams’ film that can give you a lasting impact then watch this Gus Vant Sant’s film Good Will Hunting and be amazed at how Matt Damon and Robin Williams interact with each other when it comes to providing the spectators a heartfelt sympathy and catharsis.

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993).  This classic comedy directed by Chris Columbus is sure to give your tears and laughter one after the other.  Perfect film for the family, the film showcases some of the distinct comedic touches of Robin Williams.

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Best Small RV: Class B Motorhomes

Recreational vehicles, or RVs for short, come in various types, designs and sizes.  But if you are looking for an RV unit for your everyday lifestyle, then you have landed on the right page. The best small RV units are indeed raising interests from RV enthusiasts and outdoor lovers because in contrasts to those bigger RVs, small RVs are more mobile and getting around places is more practical.  If you’re looking for this kind of RV, then the class B motorhome can definitely suit your everyday RV lifestyle.

Also referred to as a camper van, the class B motorhome is a self-contained RV unit that’s definitely mobile to drive around and significantly less intimidating than Class A motorhomes and trailer trucks. It’s a recreational vehicle that resembles a van unit.   Therefore, class B motorhomes can be driven in situations like camping, driving kids for school or any form of weekend getaway.

You will be surprised that conventional class B motorhomes can actually house 2-3 people easily in a small living area. If you have ever seen an RV movie you will know how much fun this can be.

Some of the amenities for the average class B motorhome design include beds, small living room area, two-burner stove, refrigerator, microwave and many more.  For high end class B motorhomes, expect premium features such as kitchen counters, cabinets and counter spaces.

The RV lifestyle has become so welcoming to those people who are interested to experience it and this small RV design is one of the many reasons why some outdoor enthusiasts can now enjoy staying or living in their vehicles even for a while.

Aside from the fact that class B motorhomes are way cheaper than those big trailer trucks and class A motorhomes, class B motorhomes are way more accessible and easy to maintain.  Getting around is easier because they are easier to maneuver, and you can easily park units like this in your garage.

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RV Televisions: Choosing the Right TV for Your RV

The joy of RVing is keyed to the concept of fun and entertainment – you go to various places and explore new landscapes and you live inside your RV for an exciting day-to-day pursuit that is very different from the usual lifestyle conventions.

The same goes for TV – it provides consumers viewing pleasures.  With RVs growing ever more improved and enhanced in terms of ergonomic designs, you now have more options in choosing the best one of the many RV televisions available.  But are some of the possible qualifications and considerations that you need to attend to, to ensure that you’re getting what you deserve in your RV?

If you pop the hood and take a peek inside some of the newest units in recreational vehicles, then you’ll see that they are more innovative than you could ever imagine.  In the context of providing the RV its entertaining touches, you’d find most RVs have integrated TV sets.

RV televisions may come in various types when it comes to sending and receiving TV reception.  Most conventional RV units will employ overhead antennas to pick up over-the-air television signals.  This is a cheaper option but it can become inconvenient for off-grid places.  For high-end RV units, satellite TVs are used, which have better reception quality.  These are great for watching movies in your RV.

Of course, the size and the technical specification of television units in RVs should also be appropriate for the kind of RV that you have.  Bigger TV units are best for bigger RVs and motorhomes but if you have a small scale mobile vehicle unit, then it would be impractical to buy a huge RV TV, only to cramp the inside of your vehicle.

Lastly, you’d probably wonder if conventional home televisions can be incorporated in most RV settings.   It’s possible, yes, but it’s not going to last for too long.  Conventional TV sets are not made to be motion-resistant so it is better to choose RV TVs designed for that specific purpose rather than buying the usual conventional ones.

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Health Insurance for RV Nomads

Being self employed and working out of your home is a dream for many of us.  Having internet access makes this possible for a lot of people.  Wifi coverage is available in metropolitan areas and satellite technology is available for those areas not covered by the traditional internet providers.  This allows anyone to live in an RV and run their business literally anywhere in the country.

This provides some unique challenges.  One major one is finding health insurance.  We live in a country that regulates the health insurance industry on a state by state basis.  The portability of health coverage can be restricted and limited.

Currently, there is no one carrier that can offer a health plan that provides HMO coverage for all 50 states.  Normally, HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) coverage provides the most comprehensive coverage at the best price, but normally limits access to specific providers and hospital except in an emergency.

To get around this issue, PPO (Preferred Provider Organizations) plans and Indemnity plans are available.  These type of plans offer coverage that are not as restrictive as HMOs.

The first item on the RV Nomad’s agenda would be to have a permanent or local address when looking to purchase a policy.  This can be accomplished by getting a PO Box at the UPS store, Mailboxes, Etc or using your home address.  What is important is in what state and your purchase your policy.

Different states have different medical costs and regulations.  You need to shop around and find what a similar plan would cost in the state you want to have as the permanent address.  This can be accomplished online by using your favorite search engine and looking for health insurance.

Note:  the HealthCare Reform Act will require all US citizens to have health coverage.  This will come into effect on January 1, 2014.  When this comes into effect, health coverage will be costing more.  This is due to mandated benefits and guaranteed issue.  Depending on your circumstances, you may want to look at quotes for coverage effective before January 1, 2014 and those that become effective on January 1, 2014.  Getting a policy sooner if you qualify may save some money.

The easiest way to do your comparison shopping is to select a PPO Plan with a $1000 or $5000 deductible and $20 or $30 copays and 20% coinsurance.  Most carriers will have a plan close to this benefit configuration.

With the selected plan, look at coverage costs in several states you may want to purchase your coverage in.  Also look for carriers that offer coverage in each state.  Blue Cross/Blue Shield has a national PPO network.  Aetna, UnitedHealth, Cigna and Humana are also national carriers that can offer nation wide PPO coverage.

If you find this process overwhelming, contact a Broker that specializes in individual health insurance.  The first place to start is with the agent you get your other insurance coverage from.  If they do not offer health insurance, they will know someone to recommend.  Be sure and tell them you are looking for coverage that will accommodate your living in different parts of the country.

One benefit from the Health Care Reform Legislation is preventive services are now covered with no cost to the member.  This means you can get your annual physical done at no cost to you.  This should be done as soon as the coverage becomes effective.

One of the major concerns is the cost of coverage.  You need now is to figure out how much you can afford to pay out of pocket vs what you pay in premium.  A good Broker can help with this calculation.

What is key is to know how much medical services are you going to need to purchase for the year.  If you are healthy, then a higher deductible plan and higher coinsurance percentage will lower your premium.  If you know you are going to need services done in the next year, then estimate the cost of the service and see if a lower deductible and coinsurance percentage and corresponding higher premium will be right for you.

Another consideration is prescription drug coverage.  Make sure you do not pay for extra coverage that will not be used.  If you have no ongoing prescriptions, then a high copay or deductible plan would suffice in emergencies.  On the other hand, if you have a specialty medication that is needed, make sure the coverage can reduce the financial burden of the drug cost.

Finally, if you are running your business from an RV and there are two of you involved, look into getting coverage as a business.  Or, hire your spouse to do work as an employee.  Consult your tax professional to make sure you have the correct forms and reporting requirements in place.  There are many tax benefits for small businesses including the ability to include your health care premiums as a business expense.  This can be an advantage over paying for coverage as an individual.

Health care reform is moving the country to having everyone covered by some type of health care insurance.  This is a positive development.  Don’t ignore this situation.  The states will be providing ongoing information as we move closer to 2014.  Depending on your situation, subsidies may be available to you.

 

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Bell ExpressVU Signal No Longer Available in Most of US

It’s bad news for Canadian RVers travelling south of the border. Late last year, Bell ExpressVu changed satellites and the new satellite footprint only covers a small band of the northern US, not at all the area most snowbirds travel to. Rumor has it that part of the reason for this change of satellites was a condition of the contract renewal for Bell to rebroadcast Dish Network’s programming. Evidently the Americans are not impressed when you lobby aggressively to keep them from doing business in your country. Have a look at Bell new footprint at the Telesat dot com website. Since my wife and I do most of our motorhome travel to the US, I’m very disappointed that my Bell receiver is now pretty much a boat anchor.

Since the second receiver charge from Bell is only a few dollars a month, this was the most cost effective way for Canadian RVers to have satellite TV in their rigs. However, these RVers have always been hassled by Bell if there is any kind of a whiff that you’re receiving signals in the US, actually cutting off your service if you called in on a US number, connected the receiver to a US phone line, or even inquired about using your receiver south of the border. Star Choice (now Shaw) has been more reasonable, but their programming and interface left something to be desired when I looked at their offering a few years ago. Which makes Shaw a good option, right? Well, maybe not so much. Shaw’s satellites require a larger elliptical dish to receive the signal, especially farther south in the US. If in-motion viewing is important to motorhomers, you’re out of luck because there are no in-motion domes that will work with Shaw.

This leaves you with a couple of options. You can completely replace an existing in-motion dome with an automatic or manual motorized larger dish. The downside here, aside from the loss of in-motion signal, is that your dish’s mechanical parts will be exposed to the elements. The other alternative is to buy another dish mounted on a tripod that you will need to set up at every stop. Obviously a hassle to do, plus the larger dish will eat up valuable storage space that is always at a premium.

Shaw might be a temporary fix anyway, because they’re planning a satellite change in the next year or two which may involve a Canada-only footprint.

Thankfully, the entrepreneurial Americans are ready to take your money. Check out the traveller’s subscriptions available from Dish Network or DirecTV. You can go month to month and they’re happy to take your Canadian credit card and address. The nice thing about this option is your existing automatic in-motion dish will probably be set up to allow you to easily switch to a US provider. My suggestion is to cancel your Canadian home satellite provider for the months you’re travelling in the US, and use a US carrier. Just remember that you may have to give 30 days’ notice to suspend, so plan early.

But what about the Canadian news? Well, technology now provides you with multiple ways to get that news through other devices such as smartphones or tablets. You can even now get a smart TV that connects to the internet wirelessly, so the largest screen can switch between broadcast signals and internet streaming video without you having to leave the couch. Pass the snacks, dear.

Richard Gastmeier

Hughes RV

www.hughesrv.com

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Why Your Next Car Will Be Cleverer Than You

Science fiction films will have us believe that the future holds self-driving cars that can fly through the air while we sleep, text or watch television. However, the reality is much more prosaic than this. The future of motoring is less likely to be about flying cars and much more about automated systems to deal with the boring parts of driving.

We look at the forthcoming developments in car technology and why your next car could be smarter than you.

Advanced driver assistance systems set to take over the boring parts of driving

The recent GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California highlighted many of the new technologies that you can expect to see in cars in the next few years. One of the most important is ‘advanced driver assistance systems’ (ADAS) which are designed to automate the mundane parts of driving such as driving in traffic or parking.

One such system under investigation is the European Commission’s “Safe Road Trains for the Environment” (SARTRE) project. Here, cars would platoon behind a professional driver piloting an 18-wheeler, for example and their cars would semi-autonomously bunch up behind the truck in a tight convoy. This allows the drivers of the cars to engage in otherwise illegal activities such as testing or talking on their mobile phones.

However, before cars even become partly self-driving, ADAS-enabled vehicles are set to provide you with road and traffic information, help you park, assist in changing lanes, and help you refocus on the road should your attention wander from the task at hand.

“We spend a lot of time thinking about how we can improve safety and how can we avoid accidents in urban areas,” said Mario Tippelhofer of his team at the Volkswagen Group of America Electronics Research Laboratory in Belmont, California.

“Our approach was to help the driver to be less stressed, more focused, going into those urban areas in a more relaxed manner,” he said. “We’re trying to paint a vision of what urban mobility can look like for our Audi customers in the near future.”

Cars that are personalized to you

Mr Tipperary also believes that ADAS systems should be personalized for each individual driver. “Right now,” he said, “your car is mostly generic, for a generic driver. But if this car would be really tailored to your needs, it would know about your needs, it could assist you in a much better way.”

The Register reports that ‘this personalization includes not only what the driver is doing and focused on in real time, but also what his driving patterns and history are.’

Cars will also be able to use predictive modelling to learn your normal route to a frequent destination, predict traffic congestion on that route at a specific time and without you having to use your navigation system reroute you when the congestion is bad enough that avoiding it would be more efficient than driving through it.

In addition, cars in the future are likely to feature multiple in-car cameras. These will keep an eye on you and make sure that you are focused on the road. They will also direct your attention back to the road when necessary.

“This needs to be done in a positive human-machine interface,” Tippelhofer said, “because we don’t want to distract the driver even more if we detect that he’s not paying attention.”

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