RV Compass  -  Unconventional Rallies for Independent RVers / RV Rally Coordination / Project & Event Management

Getting Hitched

Carolina Salt Magazine

July/August 2014 Issue

trailer hitch

Handywoman Jeannine Patané has enjoyed the footloose and fancy-free lifestyle on an independent person responsible only for herself. But she has made the commitment and said 'I do' to a trailer hitch...[Read more]


OBX rally ad


Inyan South Dakota Rally

Get your bearings...and keep them greased.

RVCompass, LLC conducts independent studies of the RV lifestyle industry and develops events, publications and services from those findings.

We promote knowledge sharing and self-reliance to maverick RVers. Not only do we believe less is more, we demonstrate it.


Green Eggs Rally


RV Daily Report—
Opinion: The Future of RV Rallies

RV Daily Report—
Opinion: The RV/MH Hall of Fame has it backward

RV Daily Report—
Podcast 123: Jeannine Patané with RV Compass


Rivet Rollers

Spring/Summer 2015 Issue, Handywoman's Companion by Jeannine Patané

hitch of travel trailerI used to be a property owner. My blood, sweat and tears cleared the land to construct the quaint Alaskan cabin that sat on three wooded acres. The development was paid for out-of-pocket, free from any debt or mortgage. I was living the self-built homeowner’s dream, or so I thought. Four years later I quitclaimed the property over to a friend, packed the car and drove thousands of miles away without turning back.

I have gypsy blood; this has been displayed throughout my entire life. My parents had to chase my little running toddler legs up the street when I broke out of the yard. At seven years of age, I tested my disappearance skills by hiding under my parents bed for hours while authorities looked for me. At the age of nine, I fantasized of driving around the country, either living out of a van or being a long haul truck driver. As a 14-year-old, I briefly ran away to another state (which involved authorities again). The desire to move from the East Coast of the U.S. to Alaska set in before I graduated high school.

After leaving the Alaska home behind in 2004, I became an international backpacking vagabond until last year. A decade of homeless adventuring with the dependence on others for accommodations got weary, but I couldn’t go back to the foundational imprisonment of settlement. There was a crossroad in front of me, and a decision had to be made. I wanted the freedom of the road, but more desirable living space than just a backpack or a car—something I could call “home”. A travel trailer became the natural answer, instantly making me a full-timer within the RV community.

Renting, making house payments or just owning and maintaining a house essentially locks most of us into that location. We must commute to work to make money so we can afford those payments. Get up the next day and repeat; it’s a vicious cycle that takes us nowhere, like a Groundhog Day of bad hair days. We have to work harder and/or save extra money to have a short break for a vacation from the daily grind. It’s not my vision of a pursuit of happiness, and dammit, happiness is an inalienable right.

rolling home

RVs have become increasingly popular alternative home choices to those who aren’t at retirement age yet. According to The RV Consumer Demographic Profile, “RV owners aged 35-to-54 posted the largest gains in ownership rates, rising to 11.2% in 2011 from 9% in 2005.” The ownership rate for this demographic had continued to rise since 2011. Although the majority of owners buy for recreational purposes, there has been an increase of full-time use. Many of this pre-retirement demographic are concerned with their shrinking budgets and freedoms. RVs can be more affordable and liberating than paying rent, so why wait until retirement to live leisurely when you can be out and active today?

One woman who shares this sentiment is Becky Schade. In September 2012, she began full-timing at the age of 28, and has since continued posting her full-time RVing journey on www.interstellarorchard.com. As Becky describes her choice to live a deliberate life, “Instead of following the masses and suffering through the daily 9 to 5 grind of work until retirement, I said screw the status-quo and started working on my dreams of perpetual travel, exploration, and adventure.”

Several non-retired younger couples that have taken to the road and their blogs about their experiences are linked at www.technomadia.com/young-full-time-rving-nomads. As technology makes our world more mobile with communication and business, our rolling homes define our domicile foundation. Americans have 50 states to choose their residency and vehicle registrations with, and there are a few progressive states that set the bar to cater to the nomadic niche. We don’t have to be slaves to property or state income taxes if we choose the right state for residency. With so much opportunity for creative income throughout the U.S., we don’t have to be quarantined to a local area for work.

rally of travel trailers

Living a life on the road not only allows the freedom to travel where we want to go, but it gives the freedom of deciding when and where we choose to work. It may be a permanent position or as temporary as a change in the weather. Even though technology allows many on the road to work remotely, many others will still roll up sleeves for seasonal jobs. We may or may not have a stable paycheck, but we have a mobile home that comes with us. We stay open to opportunity because that’s how life on the road rolls.

Almost twenty years ago I met a solo bicyclist in Australia, during my post-college bicycle travels. Victoria and I traveled together for a while, and then we stayed in touch throughout the years. She got married, had two children and is now living with her family in Switzerland. When I let her know about my new rolling home, she wrote me to say, “You won't believe this, but Daniel [her husband] is now constructing a 1:1 model from MDF in the office in the cellar of our house, to see how it all fits and what is practical and what doesn't work.”

Camper mock-up

They are designing the camper to fit on a Bremach T-Rex, and to withstand Swiss winters for their winter recreation. She looks forward to throw out all the unnecessary items that have collected in the house and to get back to being the nomad that I once knew her as in Australia. We carried all we needed on bikes for several months during our cycling tours.

When it comes to living simply and frugally, full-time RVers are one of the best collective groups of experts, which make us resourceful and our consumerism is reduced with limited space and needs. Whether it’s a tiny wood-framed home on wheels or a small aluminum travel trailer, mobile homes represent the current momentum to live with less so our lives are enriched with more. The sooner our society discovers this, the more potential we have to live authentically.


Handywoman’s Companion Editorial

Fecund Spring: bearing eggs

Spring/Summer 2015 Issue, Handywoman's Companion by Jeannine Patané

Bio photo egg trailersWe start off this Handywoman's Companion issue with the spring season and its representation of fertility, birth and rebirth. One of the most popular holidays in spring is Easter. Ancient Pagan practices of celebrating the Goddess of Spring, Eostre—on the lunar calendar’s movable feast—to the Christians adopting the ancient rituals into the death and resurrection of Jesus, focus on the spring season’s most representative symbol; the egg.

Nothing symbolizes renewal more perfectly and universally than an egg. It’s a three-dimensional ovoid, and full of life’s promise. An old Latin proverb states, "Omne vivum ex ovo". Meaning, "Every living thing comes from an egg,” or more broadly, "All life [is] from life."

The egg is more than a spiritual symbol for the season; it reflects the rousing activity from winter’s restrictions. After snow quits blanketing the earth, we are dusted in pollen as plants bud and flower. Birds and bees get busy. People get outside, exposing more skin to feel the sun’s warmth on their bodies. We become stimulated in generative thought as we witness the birth and growth around us.

This spring, I have an egg of a different kind that consumes my thoughts and attention. It’s fiberglass, on wheels, and large enough to live in. These quaint, white fiberglass travel trailers have a similar shape to an Airstream, and are known in the industry as “Eggs”. I’m celebrating my egg and my full-time residence in it for the past year.

trailer eggs

As families color their Easter eggs, I focus on the decoration and modifications of my egg home. One of my families is the fiberglass RV community, where other like-minded “eggers” and I travel to rallies to rendezvous. We share information and personal experience about our lifestyle interest, including how to live full-time in a small mobile dwelling.

Handywoman’s Companion was hatched for the love of writing about resourceful tinkering. This editor/mother hen is now focused to tend to her eggs—not the construction of complex stick-framed nests—and this is clearly reflected in the current issue. From article features that highlight how to boil omelettes, to our cover story that discusses the emerging popularity of living in a recreational vehicle, the focus has shifted from traditional houses to travel trailers. Our department, Make a Move, even discusses the considerations of becoming a full-timing RVer. Producing this magazine has become a challenging bridge in content, like crossing a busy highway to get to the other side.

We hope to deliver the Autumn/Winter issue to you this year, but like in life, there are no guarantees. Don’t count your chicks before they hatch, especially when things are a bit, well, scrambled without consistent Internet service. We will have feature article updates throughout the summer, including Roxie, the Steampunk Storm Rider. She’s has been “born” recently, and has developed a popular following, along with our Poet Laureate, Monkey. We believe Roxie is destined to captain an Airlander in the near future (a giant floating egg). Stay tuned for new features.

...Handywoman’s Companion is a free publication, and fortunately not on any third-party social networks...We look forward to having you in the family if you're not already.

—Jeannine Patané, Editor-in-Chief


Living the Dream: Full-timing

Spring/Summer 2015 Issue, Handywoman's Companion by Jeannine Patané

full-timingLiving a life on the road is not like going to Mars, but there are some considerations to this alternate lifestyle that are different from living in a traditional structure. The definition and especially the lifestyle of full-timers vary greatly, yet there is a common thread of mobile living and being unmoored from a fixed location. We’re addressing the heightened curiosity of how full-timers manage, budget and adjust to a mobile life.

Full-timing was the topic for a discussion group, held at a March 2015 rally in Montgomery, AL. We’re sharing the monitor’s notes and participant feedback with our readers in the following outline format. The group consisted of full-timers and those who are interested in the lifestyle.

1) Romance vs. Reality

Where do the romantic visions of living a transient life with a RV meet with the reality of your lifestyle needs? The lifestyle should be a natural extension of how you already live, not like you’re moving to Mars.

glowing lights in camp

2) Lifestyle Considerations

If you’re living in an armchair fantasy, rethink. If you’re already living an alternative, out-of-the-house lifestyle or have a passion for travel, you’re a good candidate. You’re a:

  1. Transient/frequent traveler (you love highway travel centers and truck drivers).
  2. Natural at camping/roughing it without basic amenities (you’re comfortable to take infrequent showers and embrace public toilet facilities).
  3. Detailed and organized person (what little you have, has a place and often it has multiple uses).
  4. An excellent scheduler—but spontaneously flexible (bless Walmart, but try not to spend your life in the parking lot).
  5. Resourceful handyperson.
  6. Fiscal conservative and good at long term budgeting (valuable friends are those who have property to park on).
  7. Comfortable being in both isolated and social extremes (loner boondocking to a full campground rally).

These are some basic traits of being a full-timer. If you have a hard time answering yes to all of the above, take two steps back and just spend more time traveling away from home for now.

3) Losing the Box...Altogether

  1. If you go on an extended vacation, but look forward to getting to the house eventually for your creature comforts, full-timing might not be for you.
  2. If you see your new lifestyle choice as finally making the adventurous jail-break—the answer to a natural calling—you’re a golden candidate.
  3. If you can get rid of the self-storage unit or friend/relative’s garage as your back-up storage, then you’re genuinely committed. You’re a top candidate to be a bona fide full-timer, and know how to live the “less is more” philosophy.

camped under carport

4) Full-Timer Input on the Details...Inquisitive minds want to know

Logistics/mail- Most full-timers set up a physical address with a mail forwarding service. Some states are good for this, and a few also handle vehicle registrations for you. South Dakota tends to be a popular state for the full-timing community, and there are several companies in SD that offer these services.

Internet- For those on a budget, Internet access is limited to where a free/open wi-fi signal can be picked up. Fortunately, more businesses and public facilities are offering it. For more consistent access, we recommend looking at http://www.rvmobileinternet.com.

Expenses/fuel/maintenance- How much? It all depends on your finances/budget, what you’re living in and how actively you live your life on the road. It’s like comparing a run-down tract home rental in the backwoods of Alabama to a Floridian’s furnished downtown Palm Beach loft rental. The more you move around, the more gas is burned and the more maintenance is required. Do you have a tiny travel trailer with no toilet, or are you living in a high-tech, 44’ Class A motorcoach? You can make your full-timing life as cheap or expensive as you choose. Go camping to start figuring out what works for you.

Food- Store as much food as you’ll need before getting to market again. Whether you only make a trip to town once every two weeks, or you can conveniently bicycle to a market every day, adjust and plan accordingly. What you don’t want to do is add too much unnecessary weight into the RV.

Several books and publications have been written on the topic of full-timing, and ultimately, we do what works for us. Part of the journey is figuring out the details along the way. Full-time RVing is like living on a yacht. A land yacht, but the concept is the same. Campsite to campsite is like going port to port. You must be self-contained for the duration, and chart your course accordingly. We can stay still or move on as often as we choose. Life is an adventure. Set the course as such and live your dream.

For more on the diversity of full-timing, Handywoman's Companion recommends: "Full-timing Has No Hard Definition" by Becky Shade of Interstellar Orchard.


Beauty of Old-School

Paper Maps

December 2012 Issue, Handywoman's Companion by Jeannine Patané

maps and chartsThere have been quite a few studies on the use and accuracy of GPS devices compared to paper maps and compasses. One study came up with interesting results when they compared GPS users versus paper map users. The University of Tokyo’s research found that people walking using a GPS device make more errors and take longer to reach their destinations than people using a paper map.

The study consisted of three groups of participants on foot. They were asked to find their way to various urban locations. One group used a mobile phone with GPS capability, another group were equipped with a paper map and the remainder were shown the route by a researcher before being required to navigate on their own.

The results showed GPS users made more stops, walked farther and more slowly than map users, and demonstrated a poorer knowledge of the terrain, topography and routes taken when asked to sketch a map after their walks. GPS users also perceived the way-finding tasks as much more difficult than did map users. Those proving to be most proficient at navigation turned out to be those shown the route by the researchers—they bested both map and GPS users by striding to destinations faster and with fewer missteps.

When we use an electronic means to navigate our world we’re losing our way in the real world. Cognitive skills are no longer reinforced when our position is based on an ever-moving little screen that looks like a video game. Users are too busy looking down at a device instead of their surroundings to get mental bearings, degrading their sense of direction.

paper maps spread out

Paper maps give us a bigger picture, literally. We get a better, internal picture of where we are and where we’re going with a paper map.

A map and compass are a head and shoulders above GPS when it comes to safety. It comes down to accuracy, and although GPS is precise, it’s not always accurate. All too many times, GPS can navigate you to roads and places that don’t exist on the electronic map, or take you for a loop because it senses east is west or north is south. Other fallbacks are blocked satellite signals based on terrain or dead or frozen batteries. It takes a lot more for a map to fail you.

The best thing about a map is it helps contribute to your sense of adventure. We like to lay a map out before a trip and study the course, points of interest along the way and become more engaged in the planning the journey. Not so many people do that now. The GPS disengages them from the traveling experience; they just want to get to point A to point B on the shortest route by a small moving-screen device.

Sometimes travel is most rewarding if you take all navigational aids and toss them in the back seat of the Land Rover. For instance, you can’t get lost in the Florida Keys, but you can discover some hidden places by turning onto the side roads off Overseas Highway. That’s the joy of traveling and adventuring. You actually make conversation with the locals, discover places that you didn’t know existed and have fun experiences that weren’t plotted.