Just do it: The active RV Lifestyle
By Bob Difley
You’ve been working hard all your life and now as retirement approaches, so do the day dreams of RVing around the country, wandering two-lane back roads, visiting small town America, exploring our national parks, boondocking in the forests and deserts, and snoozing in a camp chair by a babbling brook full of rainbow trout.
Relaxation. You deserve it after all those stressful years. Kick back, enjoy doing nothing. And then all of a sudden you look in the mirror and find that 20 extra pounds of softness has accumulated around your middle. What is happening?
What has taken its toll is the frantic activity of work, raising a family, mowing the lawn, all those activities not associated with an RV lifestyle have vanished, leaving an activity–and calorie burning–vacuum. Just setting up your camp chairs is not enough exercise. That’s the bad news.
The good news is, that once you’ve gotten the relaxation-means-doing-nothing out of the way, a whole new world of calorie-burning physical activity opens up enabling you to stay active, keep in physical condition, and feeling good without all the stresses you once felt.
The RV Lifestyle offers myriad opportunities for physical play, of which only a small smattering follows:
HIKING – Hiking is a wonderful way to see the surrounding area, places you can’t get by vehicle, hidden canyons, following mountain streams, wildlife watching, finding hidden Alpine lakes. The beauty of it is that all you need is a sturdy pair of hiking books, preferably two–one pair for winter and wet conditions, the other for hot summer hiking. Put together a day-pack, ready to go a a moment’s whim, consisting of a few energy bars, compass, small first aid kit, sun hat, windbreaker/rain jacket, and small folding binoculars, sunglasses.
BIKING – Mountain or road bikes are easy to carry on your motorhome, fiver, or tow/toad. Various types of bike racks abound that make having you bike handy when you discover a neat place to explore.
If you haven’t ridden in awhile, start with level Rails to Trails trails and graduate to more difficult trails as your skill come back. With a bike you can cover more area, again many places which are inaccessible by motor vehicle, than hiking.
CANOE/KAYAK – Roof-mounted racks can carry your paddle boat to wherever you go, an paddling will provide access to backwaters, lakes, rivers, bays, and other watery places also not achievable by other means. It is a quiet mode of transportation, with only the slight splash of a paddle dipping in and out of the water, enabling close approach to ducks and wildlife. And it’s a great upper body workout. Ask at a canoe/kayak store if they have demo days when you can try out various types. And no, you don’t have to worry about learning the scary skill of “Eskimo rolls.” After more than 20 years of kayaking, I have never turned turtle.
BIRDWATCHING/WILDLIFE WATCHING – Keep a day pack hanging by your entry door with binoculars, field guide, pad and pencil and grab it when you leave. You never know what you might see. Birding is popular with RVers since we are always traveling to new areas and seeing new species. Look for tracks of wildlife and practice identifying and tracking.
PHOTOGRAPHY – If you grab your camera when you go for a walk, you will find many things to photograph creatively, and before you know it you’ve walked a few miles without even thinking about exercising. With a photo editing program on your computer you can then stimulate your creative juices to produce a work of photographic art. Make photo collections, such as old fences, birds, wildflowers, dilapidated barns, waterfalls–the subjects are endless.
These are just a few of the activities that will keep you out of that camp chair and on your feet, stimulated rather than complacent, curious rather than bored, feeling good rather than tired. Here are a few more activities to consider: Square dancing, swimming, snorkeling, climbing to the highest point in every state, walking or bicycling a Rail Trail in every state, rockhounding, geocaching, building homes with Habitat For Humanity, and lots more.
Check out my website for more RVing tips and destinations and my ebooks, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands, Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts, and 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang out of your RV Lifestyle Dollar.