There’s a lot more to the RV lifestyle than driving and getting there. Many people do an admirable job of combining their favorite hobbies, pastimes and passions with their life on the road and at campsites and destinations across the country (and into others!)
What is an RV-friendly hobby? Those would be hobbies that are affordable (whatever that means for you), don’t require more space than you have in the RV, do not endanger anyone on the road or at campsites with you, and can be economically enjoyed anywhere you and your RV can go.
Many of these interests are well-documented: Lots of RV enthusiasts enjoy golf, fishing and camping. So we’re going to take a look at some of the other hobbies out there!
Lots of RVers keep a guitar handy for when the mood strikes them. But some RVers make music the centerpiece of their destination activities on the road. For example, I first met the Doerfel family – a bluegrass band with ten kids (one girl and nine boys!) on the road in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The oldest child at that time (about 2004) was the fiddle-playing daughter, Kim, who was about 15. The family homeschooled the children, who all played music in the family bluegrass band. They earned their keep by appearing in acoustic music and bluegrass festivals around the country. Here they are in fine form in Greenville, New York in 2009.
They’re off the road now; the kids are older and have settled in Key West, Florida, where a number of them still play music professionally.
There is no limit to how far you can take your music passion on the road in your RV. Many people take their RVs from music festival to music festival, some as performers, some as enthusiasts who enjoy the incredible parking lot jams and sessions at places like Clarksville Tennessee and the National Old-Time Fiddlers’ Competition held every year in Weiser, Idaho.
One of my greatest memories is a small road trip I took with my Dad in 1995 or so, in which we drove out on a pilgrimage to visit most of the Civil War Battlefields of the Army of Northern Virginia. We set out from Nashville, Tennessee, headed over the Bristol pass and made it to the Wilderness, Manassas, Spotsylvania, Brandy Station, Yellow Tavern, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg and Petersburg. You don’t have to be a military history buff: This nation has a rich and multifaceted cultural, military, economic and artistic history that’s begging to be explored. Hit the road!
This is an amazing and surprisingly accessible hobby that nearly anyone can enjoy, and can offer all kinds of experiences for adrenaline junkies and meditative nature lovers alike. You don’t have to be coastal to do it, though a lot of the great kayaking sites are in the Pacific Northwest, Florida and New England. You can enjoy it on rivers, lakes, canals and streams, as well as oceans and bays, and it will certainly help keep you fit! Here’s a great page from Bert and Jane Gildart, who have combined their passions for camping, kayaking and photography into a lifestyle!
Observing and identifying wild birds is something you can do anywhere – and the mobility you get when you combine birdwatching with RV life will make you the envy of Audubon Society members everywhere. This terrific article from El Monte RV details some of the great spots you can go, from Central Park, New York City (home to at least 70 species of birds!) to Maine to the Everglades to Yosemite National Park and beyond!
Best of all, it’s very easy to get started – all you need are a good set of binoculars, a notebook and whatever camera you want. You can get printed field guides to aid in bird identification, but it’s getting easier and easier to use the Web for that purpose as well – even in the field. You’ll be springing for a telephoto zoom lens before long!
Yes, they haven’t gone away! They’re still out there, and there are enthusiasts all over the country. You can enjoy this hobby even as you drive, if you set up right. Ham radios aren’t just for fun. If you’re out boondocking in an area that doesn’t have cell phone service, your radio will be a vital link to the outside world. You’re going to want it if you ever get in trouble in a remote location.
You do need some specialized gear and a license, since you’ll be broadcasting over the public airwaves. Here’s a website run by the RV Radio Network that’s chock-full of additional information for those interested in Hamming it up. You should also check out this bulletin board, specifically dedicated to RV amateur radio enthusiasts.