Lifestyle: Life on Wheels – Rollin’

“People who know more go more.” That’s the slogan of the RV consumer-education program that
I helped develop at the University of Idaho eight years ago, which has been expanded to
colleges in three other states. One purpose of this unique program is to help people who
would like to be RVers, but have uncertainties about what the lifestyle is all about and
whether or not they are suited for it. Often they are in a quandary about what type, size,
brand and floorplan to choose, and rightfully so. After all, they are probably going to be
spending the largest sum of money they have ever spent at one time on something that they
aren’t sure whether or not they will like. Education can provide much of the answer. Many
RV buyers make their purchase completely blind the first time. That’s not the best way to
do it. However, I’ve talked to people who went from zero knowledge to ownership of a
$200,000 motorhome directly to full-timing with only a dream and lived happily ever after.
They were the lucky ones. Getting the necessary knowledge to understand the RV lifestyle
and the machines used in that way of life isn’t easy. More often than not, people learn
from experience. That’s the hard way. Of course, you can always get ideas from RVing
friends. Some RV shows offer seminars for the public. For years, Margie and I traveled a
circuit, doing three seminars a day at shows ranging from Florida to Pennsylvania to
California. We left that circuit eight years ago to retire, but retirement wasn’t in the
cards. After some 30 years of RVing at the time of our “retirement” and more than 20 years
of writing for TL Enterprises publications, I was aware of the need for more formal RV
education both for wannabes and experienced RVers. Since we live at a time when there are
educational opportunities for all ages on all kinds of subject matter, I saw an opportunity
to open doors. And that’s how the Life on Wheels conference came about at the University of
Idaho. Its success led to the development of similar programs at Bowling Green, Kentucky;
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Des Moines, Iowa. Life on Wheels conferences are not geared
to any particular experience level. Some classes are aimed at the wannabe; many others are
geared to the needs of the full-timer. Approximately 20 percent of the attendees at each
conference do not yet own RVs. They’ve come to learn all they can before they plunk down
money for that new rig. The other 80 percent represent various levels of experience; many
of them are full-timers. Generally about one-third of the classes are technical in nature
— how to maintain the various RV systems, electronic devices that fit the RV lifestyle,
solar power, etc. Another third concern the daily-living aspect of RV life — choosing an
RV, where to go, what to do, several views of full-timing, etc. The other third deals with
lifestyle enhancement topics, such as photography, cooking, health maintenance, security,
etc. In short, there’s something for everyone. I’m proud of the core instructional staff
we’ve rounded up for Life on Wheels. Joe and Vicki Kieva write columns for Highways and
Woodall’s, do a huge seminar circuit and write books; Bill Farlow (a full-timer for 16
years) is technical editor for Coast to Coast and has authored three books; Sharlene
“Charlie” Minshall (a solo full-timer for 15 years) has written five books about her
adventures; Dave and Sandy Baleria (both former law-enforcement officers) are
personal-safety experts; Steve Savage (a master certified technician) is an expert on just
about every mechanical or electrical system in an RV; Mac McCoy (a former fire-safety
trainer) teaches classes in how to prevent and fight RV fires; Greg Holder is recognized as
the leading expert in solar power for RVs; and Mike Steffen covers many bases, both
technical and lifestyle enhancement. The point is that there’s little reason for a wannabe
to jump into the RV lifestyle cold turkey or for the old pro not to get a new perspective.
Although it takes some time, travel and money, RV education is available at Life on Wheels
conferences. The nearly 6,000 students who have attended one or more of the programs have
been unanimous in their praise of our efforts to help RVers know more so they will go more
— and, by inference, to more fully enjoy a lifestyle that is hard to beat. For more
information about upcoming Life on Wheels conferences, see lifeonwheels.com or call (866) LOW-GOGO
(569-4646).

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