If you’ve been repeating to yourself that ‘Someday…someday I’ll get an RV and travel the country,’ journalist and RVer, Mike Wendland, has some wise and sobering advice:
“There is no guarantee someday will come.”
With more than 10 years’ experience RVing on the road, 50 years married to wife Jennifer, and decades working as a world-traveling journalist, Mike’s wise advice comes from a life rich in unexpected twists and turns. “Don’t wait for things to be just right,” he says, “things will never be right.”
Camping World recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mike and Jennifer Wendland, retired RVing couple and the powerhouse duo behind the RV Lifestyle blog, RV Lifestyle Podcast, RV Lifestyle Youtube Channel, and RV Lifestyle Travel Guides.
Hosts Sean and Tiffany discover how the Wendlands first got into RVing and why they continue to travel by RV 10 years on.
Though Mike and Jennifer Wendland have retired from their respective jobs as a journalist and producer, their RV journey has turned into a flourishing business, one that Mike says he loves. The couple keep home base firmly in Michigan to be close to grandkids, while traveling for half to three quarters of the rest of the year with their Norwegian Elkhound, Bo.
Mike describes their current travel style as “serendipity travel,”—that is no firm plans, just the curiosity and bravery to venture off the beaten path. As they drive, they look for things that interest them and often find wonderful stories and unexpected friendships out of these unplanned experiences.
Coming from a career in what Mike describes as “parachute journalism,” he and Jen were looking for a richer travel experience. They didn’t want the frenzied form of travel demanded of their careers. Rather, they wanted to slow down and get to know a place at their own pace.
Hitting the Road for the First Time
The Wendland’s weren’t avid RVers before retirement. In fact, Mike had to do some savvy convincing to get Jen to try out a Class B. But, once the couple jumped in with both feet, Jennifer says they were “sorry we didn’t do it sooner.”
One of the Wendland’s favorite aspects of RV travel is the instant community that comes with it. “Everyone helps each other out,” says Jen. Experienced RVers are always glad to come over and share expertise or help you back into a tight spot. When the Wendland’s find themselves with questions, they turn to their online community on Facebook. The internet has made the welcoming RV community even bigger.
Advice for Newbie RVers
Everyone starts at the beginning, which is why newbie RVers need not be intimidated to give RVing a try. “Learn as you do it,” is Mike’s advice, “and we’re still learning,” he says after 10 years on the road.
Jen endorses the benefits of going to an RV show—“go to dealer and go inside [an RV].” Open cabinets and lay on the bed, imagine you and your travel companions living and moving about the floorplan. Consider who may come and join you on your travels. The Wendlands love having company, “half the fun is being together around the campfire with the family,” says Jen.
If you’re still nervous about taking the leap into RVing, Mike and Jen put it simply: “Worst case scenario, you sell it in a few months.” If you give it a shot and decide it’s not for you, you can sell your RV soon after without too much depreciation. Or, trade in your RV for something better suited to your lifestyle at a Camping World.
The Wendland’s RV Must-Have’s
Jennifer says a reliable back-up camera is a must. But if a back-up camera isn’t in your budget, a pair of walkie-talkies works wonders when backing in with the help of your partner.
Mike sings the praises of a surge protector. He recounts close calls with bad wiring at a campground. RV circuits are sensitive, and there’s nothing that will put a damper on your travels than having to rewire your rig.
The Wendland’s 3 Must-Visit Spots
Zion National Park
Mike and Jennifer Wendland may be retired, but their life hasn’t slowed down. Whether you choose to rove around in pursuit of “serendipity travel,” like the Wendlands or to carve out your own travel style, Jen says there are “so many different variations of this lifestyle.”
Have a love for history? Integrate it into your travels by following in the footsteps of Louis and Clark. Have a passion for pie? Take a grand tour of American diners in search of the ideal slice. Tell us how you would travel in the comments below.
Curious about more RVers living on the road? Watch more live and on-demand interviews as part of Camping World’s Ultimate RV Show.