Celebrating the RV Lifestyle by Mike and Jennifer Wendland. Tips, travel ideas, RV news and great interviews about the RV Lifestyle.
My 5 Big Disappointments with Starlink
After five months of using Starlink, I am ready to share my 5 big disappointments with Starlink, even though I remain a big fan of the service and plan to keep using it in hopes it will soon work out some serious wrinkles unique to the RV lifestyle.
That's the main topic we discuss in Episode 402 of the RV Podcast. You can watch the full video version below, in which we also share RV news and answer RV Lifestyle questions.
If you'd prefer an audio-only version of the podcast, you can listen to it on all the major podcast apps or just click the audio player below.
Added to my disappointments with Starlink is a huge potential problem
Just as we recorded this episode, we learned of a major threat to the satellite-based Internet service coming from DISH Network, which is heavily lobbying Congress and the FCC to claim new rights to the frequency spectrum Starlink operates in.
Starlink accuses DISH of hoarding spectrum for years "as a strategy for preventing open and fair competition.
"Most recently, DISH has been attempting to claim new rights to the 12 GHz band, which is the spectrum you currently use to download content with Starlink," claims Starlink in a letter sent to its subscribers urging them to contact their representatives in Congress. "Despite technical studies dating back as far as 2016 that refute the basis of their claims, DISH has employed paid lobbyists who are attempting to mislead the FCC with faulty analysis in hopes of obscuring the truth."
Starlink claims "if DISH gets their way, Starlink customers will experience harmful interference more than 77% of the time and total outage of service 74% of the time, rendering Starlink unusable for most Americans."
The dispute is going to be bitterly fought and while it has nothing to do with our operational experience with the Starlink service, it's another potential issue that could certainly make our five disappointments much worse.
So while that issue works its way through the politics and conflicting claims of the various parties, let me talk about what we have directly experienced and the disappointments we have.
Starlink's three tiers of service
Before we get to them, we need to explain the different types of services Starlink is offering.
There are three main tiers of service.
* Residential - at $110 a month. This is for a fixed location. Many, many areas are already sold out and no new users are being accepted.* Residential with Portability - at $135 a month. Your system is registered at a permanent address but you have enabled portability, meaning you can take it with you and use it, even in over-subscribed areas. You pay month to month, even if you are not using it.* RV - at $135 a month. Like portability, you can use Starlink wherever you go. The big reason to choose the RV plan is that users can stop and start service as they want. Residential users who enable portability can’t. If a residential user stops service, they have to apply all over again and find a permanent address that is not sold out.
There is also a business tier but since that applies to very few RVers, we'll move on. Just know that the Portability and RV tiers have become available in the past several weeks and it's likely as Starlink matures, more service options will be announced.
If you want to know more basic details about Starlink, check out these previous stories that I have done:
How We Plan an RV Trip
As summer is now officially here, one of the most common questions we get is how we plan an RV Trip. So in this week's Episode #401 of the RV Podcast, we share the resources we use in the hopes they will be very helpful to you, too.
To watch a full video version of the podcast, click the link below.
If you'd rather listen to the podcast, its available on all your favorite podcast apps or in the player below:
The tools we use to plan an RV Trip
While Jennifer and I are big believers in serendipity travel - taking advantage of the unexpected sights and attractions we spontaneously encounter on the road - we came to the realization a long time ago that the more information we have ahead of time, the better of travel goes.
So once we have determined a destination, we turn to a variety of resources, both physical and virtual.
The physical resources are in the form of paper maps and books which we've collected for you on this list.
The virtual resources consist of a couple of great online tools.
We discuss them all in the podcast and in the video version, we show the different products.
Here are links to the resources we share:
Online resources we use the most when we plan an RV Trip
* RV Trip Wizard – https://rvlifestyle.com/rvtripwizard* Drive Weather - https://driveweatherapp.com * Harvest Hosts – https://rvlifestyle.com/hh
Books and Maps we use to plan an RV Trip
* National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways, the 275 Best Drives in the US - https://amzn.to/39DLzL0* National Geographic Guide to State Parks of the United States and Canadian Provincial Parks - https://amzn.to/2FCP6f3* Fodor’s Complete Guide to National Parks of the West - https://amzn.to/37HHYK4* Amazing Festivals 100s of Hometown Celebrations - https://amzn.to/37JC0s2* Rand McNally 2023 Large Scale Road Atlas - https://amzn.to/3QDpiCt* Rand McNally Folded Paper Map of U.S. - https://amzn.to/3QOgFp0
And again, we've collected all our favorite paper resources on this list o...
Episode 400 of the RV Podcast: Yellowstone closed, RV questions and more
It's a milestone event for us this week as we release Episode 400 of the RV Podcast, sharing lots of RV news including Yellowstone closures, your RV Lifestyle questions, and much more.
To watch a video version of this week's podcast on our YouTube Channel, click the player below.
Alternately, you can listen to the audio version on your favorite podcast app or by clicking the audio player below.
RV Podcast Big story of the week: Yellowstone closed by floods, rock and mudslides
As this episode was being recorded, all entrances to Yellowstone National Park remained closed because of rock slides caused by massive flooding from weekend storms.
The National Park Service says the extremely hazardous conditions in the park made it prudent to halt all inbound visitor traffic at all the five entrances into Yellowstone.
Preliminary assessments show multiple sections of road in the park have been washed out and multiple bridges may be affected.
It may be months before all entrance roads are reopened, officials said.
Statement from superintendent Cam Sholly about all entrances in Yellowstone National Park CLOSED temporarily due to heavy flooding, rockslides, extremely hazardous conditions:
"Due to record flooding events in the park and more precipitation in the forecast, we have made the decision to close Yellowstone to all inbound visitation. Our first priority has been to evacuate the northern section of the park where we have multiple road and bridge failures, mudslides and other issues.
The community of Gardiner is currently isolated, and we are working with the county and State of Montana to provide necessary support to residents, who are currently without water and power in some areas.
Due to predictions of higher flood levels in areas of the park’s southern loop, in addition to concerns with water and wastewater systems, we will begin to move visitors in the southern loop out of the park later today in coordination with our in-park business partners.
We will not know timing of the park’s reopening until flood waters subside and we're able to assess the damage throughout the park.
It is likely that the northern loop will be closed for a substantial amount of time. I appreciate the efforts of the Yellowstone team and partners to safely evacuate areas of the park and of our gateway community partners who are helping us through this major event.
We appreciate the support offered by the Department of the Interior, National Park Service and the Montana and Wyoming governors."
You can keep up with all the Yellowstone news by following their Instagram account right here.
We celebrate Episode 400 of the RV Podcast!
Mike and Jennifer Wendland - the RV Podcast
This week marks our 400th episode since we launched the RV Podcast on October 13, 2014.
We reflect back on what's the same and what's different in those years, with fuel prices - not surprisingly - being the biggest change.
When we started the RV podcast in 2014 we thought fuel was pretty high. Back then, Diesel was $2.91…. Gasoline $2.46 per gallon. Today, t is more than twice that, with gasoline now routinely over $5 a gallon and diesel $6 per gallon.
But even back then, we were complaining of crowded campgrounds.
What it’s like going from a Motorhome to a Fifth Wheel
Ever wondered what it is like going from a motorhome to a fifth wheel? We have been experiencing just that for the past five weeks and we're ready to share all, what surprised us, what we like, and what we don't like.
If you are a regular here at the RV Lifestyle, you know that for the past 10 years, Jennifer and I have been traveling exclusively in motorhomes - Class B campervans, Class B+ big campervans, and Class C small motorhomes.
But in early May, we bought a 32 1/2 foot Arcadia Fifth Wheel and have now put about 1,000 miles on it, camping across four states. We talk about that experience and answer your RV Lifestyle questions and share some tips in this week's Episode #399 of the Podcast.
You can watch the video version below:
You can hear the audio-only version on your favorite podcast app or click the player below:
Why we have gone from a Motorhome to a Fifth Wheel
As we explain in the podcast, we still have our Class C motorhome, a 2020 Leisure Travel Vans Wonder. We have loved the Wonder and although we will probably be soon putting it up for sale, our switch to the larger fifth wheel is because of a new emphasis we are placing on staying put in various areas longer.
We decided late last year - our 10th year of doing this - that we wanted to use our RV as more of a base camp that we could set up to and use for longer periods of time in one location. We would then venture out from that location to more thoroughly explore a region.
One of those areas is in Mid-Tennessee. Last fall, we bought five acres of heavily wooded mountaintop near the town of Linden and we have been developing it into what will be a private RV retreat for us. We see the fifth wheel being used a lot there. In fact, this podcast was recorded at Paradise Landing, not far from our Linden property.
Recording at Paradise Landing
We would like to get similar land in Northern Michigan. We'd also like to do some extended trips in the Arcadia where we can park it in a centrally located area and venture off in our truck to thoroughly explore various regions.
What's different about the Fifth Wheel?
In the podcast, we share our initial impressions about switching from a motorhome to a fifth wheel.
In a motorhome, you just go. In a Fifth Wheel, it's a bit more complicated. You need to back your tow vehicle into position (using a spotter helps!), and hitch your Fifth Wheel up.
It's not instinctive and after maybe a dozen times of doing so, I'm almost comfortable doing it.
Driving a small motorhome (unless you are towing a vehicle) is also generally a bit easier.
With a Fifth Wheel, you are not that much less than the length of an 18-wheeler. That means wider turns and much more use of the mirror. And slower speeds. No more than 65.
But my overall impression after 1,000 miles is that towing is much less intimidating than I expected.
As far as mileage goes, my Wonder Class C motorhome is 12.5 miles per gallon. Towing the Fifth Wheel, I'm getting pretty much the same with our F-250 towing truck.
In a small motorhome, you pull in, level up, hook up, and are done.
In a Fifth Wheel, you first have to get in the spot. That's why I picked drive-through spots during our first few outings.
4 Insider tips for saving on RV fuel costs
In this week's RV Podcast, we pass along some little-known but very effective tips on saving on RV fuel costs. With record-high prices straining everyone's travel budget, these tips from a fuel industry insider are well worth your time.
But there's lots more we talk about in Episode 398 of the RV Podcast, including some geopolitical news that affects RVers, the favorite apps we use on the road and a lively question and answer about when someone may be too old to RV.
To see the video version of the podcast, click the player below.
You can hear it on all your favorite podcast apps or just click the player below to listen right now on whatever device you are reading this.
Saving on RV Fuel Costs
One of our Podcast listeners named Dean sent us these tips.
We found them fascinating.
Here's Dean's note:
I don't know what you guys are paying for gasoline.... but here in California we are paying up a fortune per gallon. My line of work is in petroleum for about 31 years now, so here are some tricks to get more of your money's worth for every gallon:
Here at the pipeline where I work in San Jose , CA we deliver about 4 million gallons in a 24-hour period thru the pipeline.. One day is diesel the next day is jet fuel, and gasoline, regular and premium grades. We have 34-storage tanks here with a total capacity of 16,800,000 gallons.
* Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the gasoline, when it gets warmer gasoline expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening....your gallon is not exactly a gallon. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the temperature of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products play an important role. A 1-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for this business. But the service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps.* When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode If you look you will see that the trigger has three (3) stages: low, middle, and high. You should be pumping on low mode, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping. All hoses at the pump have a vapor return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some of the liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you're getting less worth for your money.* One of the most important tips is to fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL. The reason for this is the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupies its empty space. Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation. Unlike service stations, here where I work, every truck that we load is temperature compensated so that every gallon is actually the exact amount.* Another reminder, if there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up; most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom.
Makes sense, doesn't it! Thanks, Dean!
Our favorite apps for Saving on RV Fuel Costs
There are lots of apps out there that help make our RV travels more effective.
Will camping cancellations open up more spots this summer?
As high fuel prices are causing many to stay home or travel closer to home, the camping industry is wondering if they can expect more spots to be opened up this summer due to camping cancellations.
That's what we talk about in this week's Episode 397 of the RV Podcast as we share lots of feedback from RVers who say inflation and record-high fuel prices are changing their summer travel plans.
You can watch the entire podcast by clicking the video player below.
To listen to an audio version, check out the RV Podcast on your favorite podcast app or click the player below to hear it right now on whatever device you are using to read this post.
Everyone agrees we need more open camping spots
Even before COVID, campgrounds were getting filled. But since COVID, RVing has exploded in popularity and with it has come unprecedented pressure on campgrounds. Many popular dates, weekends, and holidays have been sold out for months. It is not unusual that reservations have to be made six months in advance. Even longer for some spots.
Last week, the camping app called the Dyrt, issued a report that claimed dispersed camping doubled between 2020 and 2021 because of campground overcrowding. People who could not get a reservation in a campground turned to dispersed camping, the app announced in a press release,
That shows how crowded it was last year,
But this year, the travel industry and tourism officials across the country are worried that people are canceling their travel plans because of those spiraling field costs.
Last week, we talked on the podcast about how there may be diesel shortages and rationing this summer.
Will fuel prices keep going up?
Fuel prices keep going up
A survey by a TV Station in Detroit last week found that 45.4% of their viewers said they are totally canceling their Memorial Day weekend trip altogether because of the gas prices. An additional 15.3% of respondents said they might cancel their plans, and that they’re considering changing them.
The price for regular gas is approaching $5 a gallon nationwide, with many areas at more than $6. Diesel is steadily climbing to near $6 and on its way to $7 by mid-summer, according to predictions made by many in the fuel industry.
Are camping cancellations the inevitable result?
It’s reasonable to assume that many RVers planning long, cross-country trips are now in the process of changing those plans, again turning to shorter trips closer to home.
Here's just a sampling of the email we have received from our community.
Vince: We are in Kentucky, on our way to Wisconsin for the Summer. I think storage in Wisconsin will save us hundreds of dollars.
Mindful Kayaker: I retired and bought a small RV to make my dream Road Trip around North America but I will have To postpone this dream up to 2024 to see if things change in this Country
Peter: We have canceled 3 of our 5 trips this year be...
I look forward to the new episode each week, but I’d like to hear more about Bo’s outdoor adventures and less of the tips & tech stuff. Most of us nature-loving road warriors have a canine sidekick.
Congratulations on the 10 years of RVing. I have been along for the ride since the podcast started in 2015 or so. I have enjoyed your passion and expertise. Well-rounded podcast.
Off the beaten path
I truly miss your off the beaten path report. Wish you would add that back into the program. I am fine to have listeners doing off the beaten path report. Looking forward to having those added back in. Doug