Marc and Julie Bennett
Marc and Julie Bennett are full-time RVers that have been living, working and traveling full-time in their motorhome since 2014 and have visited all 50 USA States, Canada, Mexico and Australia. They share their travels, adventures and campground reviews at their blog, RVLove.com, and YouTube channel, RVLoveTV. They also created RV Success School, with online courses to help others learn how to hit the road successfully and choose the right RV for them. You can follow them at www.RVLove.com and www.RVSuccessSchool.com
TB: How long have you been camping and RVing? Who introduced you to it? Tell us how it all began!
Marc: I grew up camping. My dad was a geologist and our family would all go on rockhounding trips, in Colorado mostly, but also Oklahoma and Utah. We had a travel trailer but as we got older, my brother Mike and I would sleep in tents.
Julie didn’t do much camping while growing up. Being Australian, her family had a caravan (travel trailer) which was permanently based in a coastal campground by the beach. We had been together for 4 years but had never camped or RVed together before deciding to embrace the full time RV lifestyle in 2014. We jumped in boots and all, sold our home and bought our first RV, so it was definitely a leap of faith but one that has led to some amazing adventures on our travels to all 50 states.
TB: How did you first hear about Thousand Trails?
Julie: We met a Floridian couple at a table beside us at a pizza restaurant in Colorado Springs. They were in their 50s, fun, friendly and clearly having the time of their lives. We were fascinated to learn about their full-time RV lifestyle, which planted the first seed of this idea, back in the summer of 2011 – that was 3 years before we actually went full-time ourselves. Then, during our research, planning and budgeting process, as we learned more about RV life, we stumbled across some videos and blog posts about Thousand Trails. It seemed like a really affordable way to camp and we figured if we spent less on campgrounds, we would have more money to spend on experiences, like flying over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter, which we did back in 2015! It was awesome!
To be honest, we initially thought the Thousand Trails membership savings seemed almost too good to be true, but so far our Thousand Trails membership has saved us literally thousands of dollars in camping fees. We started out with a Zone Pass but after 4-5 months we upgraded to an Elite membership and that’s been working out really well for us as we can stay longer and move directly to another park without any time out of the TT system. It helped slow down our travel pace which is more relaxing and allows us to explore local areas more.
TB: What is one of your fondest camping memories? How about one of your fondest TT memories?
Marc: In our first few months as full-time RVers, we stayed at several TT parks along the Oregon and Washington coast. Being from Colorado, our dog Coda hadn’t ever seen or experienced the ocean before we hit the road. So some of our fondest memories is of watching her absolute joy on the beautiful Oregon coast beaches like the ones across the road from Whaler’s Rest and Pacific City. Coda loved racing up and down the sand chasing her tennis ball and also being towed behind our tandem bike in her ‘chariot’ when we were staying at Long Beach, WA. Sadly, our Coda passed away later that year, but those first 5 months on the road together – watching her have so much fun and sniffing out new places, smells, hikes, bike rides and beach runs – was the best time of her life and these will always be favorite, fond memories for us.
TB: Any funny camping/RVing stories?
Julie: It’s definitely fun to keep running into the same people over and over again as we travel the USA. America is such a big country and yet it often feels like a small world when we keep reconnecting with our fellow full-time RVing friends. We met one couple – Erik and Kala, also working age RVers – at TT Moody Beach in Maine where we developed a friendship, we met up again in Rondout Valley, NY, then while staying at TT Orlando, FL, then in New Orleans, at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, and in Quartzite, AZ for a big RV boondocking rally in the desert. We’ve made a lot of great friends through Thousand Trails which has been an unexpected benefit to our membership. And it’s always funny when we’re arriving at a campground, getting set up and someone comes over that recognizes us from our blog and YouTube videos. They know who we are but we usually don’t know them, so that can get pretty funny at times.
TB: What type of camper are you/what equipment do you use? What do you prefer and why? (ex: fifth wheel, RV, tent, cabins, etc.)
Marc: We drive a 36’ Class A motorhome, a 2012 Tiffin Allegro Open Road. Our RV was 2 years old when we bought it and we specifically sought out the bunkhouse model (35QBA) so we could convert the bunk area into a dedicated office. When we started out, I had a full-time, 8-5, 40 hour a week job for a company in Texas, which I was able to do remotely. Work-life balance is extremely important to me, so I wanted a work space that could be closed off from the living area so I didn’t have to look at my computer after hours! Julie set up her office space in the front passenger area where she writes articles for our RVLove.com blog and creates videos for our YouTube channel RVLoveTV. She gets the executive view with that big front windshield that often looks out to some pretty spectacular sights. It’s one of the things we really love about our Class A motorhome as it allows us to really take in those vast, elevated views as we drive around the country.
TB: Where have you gone that you wouldn’t have otherwise, if it hadn’t been for your Thousand Trails membership?
Julie: Everywhere! In our first 2 years and 2 months on the road, we managed to visit all of the lower 48 states of the USA, while still working full-time! That is definitely something we couldn’t have done in our ‘regular life’ and it amazes a lot of people as they begin to realize just how possible it is to travel and explore more, if you make it a priority in your life. The freedom and flexibility of our RV lifestyle allows us to drive on weekends or weekdays and avoid peak traffic times. We’re almost always staying somewhere cool so we can go exploring every weekend or even after work, if we choose.
And of course, our Thousand Trails membership gives us access to over 80 campgrounds nationally, so we try to stay at those as often as possible. Many of those campgrounds are in locations we may never have known about or thought to visit otherwise so we keep discovering hidden gems, like Rancho Oso near Santa Barbara, CA and Rondout Valley in Accord, NY – places that are a little of out the way of the more popular, touristy areas. We find these to be a much more peaceful way to enjoy the lifestyle. We’ve even been up to Canada, staying at Cultus Lake, BC and because we were so close to Vancouver, we even took a last minute cheap cruise to Alaska, completing our 50 states, which was an incredible milestone. We recently added the Trails Collection to our membership and that has expanded the campgrounds available to us immensely! We’ve had the opportunity to stay at beautiful locations like Mt Hood in Oregon, Fall City in Washington and even right by the ocean in San Francisco, where we were able to watch whales from the cliff right by our RV. That was pretty cool.
TB: What is your favorite part about the outdoor lifestyle?
Marc: Because we follow the weather, we’re almost always enjoying ideal temperatures and weather conditions to maximize our outdoor time and activities. As much as we loved living in Colorado and SOME snow, we also spent many evenings and weekends bundled up at home in the winter. It’s rare we do that now that we live in our RV. Like most full-time RVers, we head north in the summer and south in the winter, which gives us a lot more time to enjoy the outdoors year round. We love being able to explore new areas, go for hikes and discover new bike trails, beaches, national parks and state parks everywhere we go. Staying fit and healthy is important to us and RVing allows us to naturally stay more active day to day.
Julie: And we both love road trips! Driving is so much fun for us, not only in the RV but also with our MINI Cooper convertible which we tow behind our motorhome. Whenever we’re parked at a campground for a while, we go out exploring with the top down, smelling the fresh air and really feeling like we’re a part of the local area. We get to drive some of the most beautiful, scenic roads in the country – and even the world – all as part of our everyday life. That’s pretty hard to beat.
TB: Can you finish this sentence? I knew I was a TrailBlazer when…
Marc: …we closed and locked the door on our Colorado home for the very last time, jumped into our RV and literally drove off into the sunset to begin our new life as full-time RVers and digital nomads. We definitely see this life as an exciting and adventurous way to inspire others to explore a different way to live and blaze their own trail of freedom, travel and fun.
Plan your next RV adventure by clicking on any of the resorts mentioned, or by visiting our website, thousandtrails.com