We've been learning a lot about living on the road, but there are a few things that are relatively new to us that have been worth their weight in gold on this tour so far. Here are a few that come to mind first:
Planet Fitness Black Card: This one is the quad-fecta: workouts, showers, overnight parking location (sometimes), and purple frooties! My Black Card Planet Fitness membership allows me to visit any club in the U.S. (they’re expanding like crazy!) and bring a guest each time. My default guest is Derek, and we’ll often seek out a PF for a workout but also for the showers. We do have a shower in our RV but taking showers in it fills our tanks really quickly, so it’s so much easier to take hot showers at PF, especially earned after a workout. We’ve even done a couple of “clopens:” when I worked at a coffee shop, if you had to work until close one night and then open again the next morning, it was called a “clopen” shift. So even though many of the PF locations are 24 hours a day (so by definition they don't actually close), we’ll pull in late at night, work out and shower, then ask if we could sleep in the parking lot in our RV for a few hours. We’d get our 8 hours of shut-eye, then go back inside to work out in the morning before heading off for the next thing that day. Finally (and maybe best for me - I have such a sweet tooth) I can pick up a few purple frooties at most locations, too, which reminds me of my childhood.
iPass: True, we've had this for a while, and it's great to use in and around Chicago, but on this tour, our iPass has saved us so much time (and in some places, money). We don't have to be scrounging around panicking for $2.50 worth of change on the floor as we're driving up to the gate! The iPass works not only in Illinois but is also compatible with the EZ Pass system, which is all over the northeast. We have ours on auto-replenish, so we really don’t have to think about it. We’ll check our account every once in a while to make sure it’s correct, but overall it’s been out of sight, out of mind. And we can save our quarters for laundry. Or for Derek's habit of looking at the back of every one to see what state they feature, ha.
Spotify Premium: along with our brand new unlimited data plan from Verizon (I know, welcome to the 21st century, ha), we now spring for a Spotify Premium membership, and it has been such an easy $10/month to spend. We have access to all sorts of music, and most of the time have enough cell service for streaming to be perfectly smooth. I think we were both wondering how it was going to be, and it’s been awesome. One day Oldies, one day Hamilton, one day Pitchfork's top 50 albums of 2017, etc. It's not news to anyone who knows me that I love libraries, and this feels similar, albeit not totally free (womp womp). In a library, you can check out a book just because you like the cover, because you like the pun the words make in the title, or because you want a blue book on your shelf for a few weeks. With Spotify, you can have the same fickle reasons for trying out new music. There are several articles we've read that say most people stop seeking out new music between age 30-33, and so we want to buck that trend and keep our ears out for fresh inspiration. Spotify is indispensable for that.
McDonalds: I almost cringe admitting this, but I have to be real: I honestly would rather be in a local coffee shop every time we stop for "office hours," but our pocketbooks like McDonald's more, and it has a lot to offer. We bring in our laptops and plug in (usually - there have been a couple of locations with ZERO outlets in the dining area), buy a couple of things (usually off the dollar menu, including a large $1 coffee that we both share; is that wrong?), connect to the free wifi, and get a bunch of work done. We've never been to a McDonalds yet that hasn't had room for us to park our RV out of the way, and each location has plenty of seating inside so we never feel like we're taking up space that other customers would be using. Obviously, they're everywhere, and often right on the way to our next location, so super convenient. During October, we were actually pretty lucky with their "instant win" game, too, so had several free fries, a couple of breakfast sandwiches, and even a McFlurry to redeem, but even though that's over now, we're still here probably once a week or so. In fact, that's were I'm typing this right now.
This post is not sponsored by any of these companies (although if anyone is reading this who has an in, feel free to contact us!) – they’re just things we’ve found useful and probably could do without, but wouldn't want to. I'm always curious about the everyday things that make a difference in other people's lives, too - what are those things for you?