It started as a dream… a wish.
A wish for a community of like minded RVers who are choosing a nomadic life and not waiting for the promise of traditional retirement. A network of peers where we can share experiences, navigate the tricky parts of this lifestyle together, and strengthen our combined voices.
Of course community on the road happens on its own. We and other RVers have been part of many meet-ups, some we’ve informally hosted and others we’ve attended. Through NuRVers (an intentionally social group of alternative-minded RVers), Instagram, RVillage, and general blog & Facebook networking – we’ve certainly not been socially lacking over the past few years.
But none of these outlets have the oomph to provide more than social fun and casual networking.
Not that there’s anything wrong with just being social – but we always felt a need for something catering to the new generation of RVers – with a bit more structure and resources on offer.
In Spring 2014 when the Escapees RV Club approached us for ideas to help them get back to their roots of serving ALL RVers, we knew we had at last found the perfect organization to bring this dream into reality.
The Escapees have been around for over 40 years, and the club has accumulated a list of benefits and resources that are too numerous for most of us mere mortals to wrap our heads around. They include legal domicile support, mail forwarding, a magazine, advocacy for RVer rights, rallies, guided caravans, a network of parks, educational programs, and so much more.
This past March, we joined Travis & Melanie Carr at the 55th Annual Escapade, and announced the birth of Xscapers. It is a new ‘club within a club’ offshoot of the Escapees, and was a concept we had been working on with Travis and Melanie for almost a year.
At last – an RVer organization aimed specifically at the working-age RVer!
Since then, the Xscapers have launched a partnership with RVerInsurance.com to help us all navigate the complex landscape of healthcare on the road, and a job board to help keep us working aged folks employed with mobile-friendly jobs beyond basic workamping.
And there’s lots more coming as the club ramps up.
This past week was the very first official Xscapers event… rather than a rally, we called it a convergence.
And there was no more perfect place to let this dream take flight than at the world’s largest hot air balloon festival – the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
We had 22 official RVs registered to be park together with the Xscapers, and many more who parked nearby and joined in the fun. You may recognize some familiar online faces – Drive Dive Devour, RV Outlawz, Finding Marshall, Rolling Recess, Thisawayz and Thatawayz, The Roaming Pint, Adventure-Next, The Kuhl Odyssey, Nosh Bus, Traveling Haywoods, Marxrv and Wander Wasi.
Later in the week we were also joined by Wheeling It, Winnie Views, Rolling Under the Stars and RV Wanderlust. (I hope I included all the bloggers in attendance.. please correct me if I’ve forgotten anyone!)
Convergences are different than rallies – less formal, less scheduled, and with a lot more time for doing your own thing.
Since many of us still work, it meant we could all get in our hours (whether that be working, homeschooling, touring the area, or in this case – volunteering on balloon chase crews) with our neighbors all understanding why we couldn’t all be at every social gathering.
WORK is not an evil 4-letter word in this group.
But informal didn’t mean lack of events. At this convergence, there were some fun and informative presentations that were open to all:
Domicile & Financial Matters presented by Escapee’s Attorney Shawn Loring
- Mobile Internet Option (presented by us)
- Design the Outside of your RV Coloring Contest by Brendan & Kerensa of Drive Dive Devour
- Making Mead in your RV by Mark Nemeth (Mead is a lovely fermented honey brew..there will be some TechnoMEADia soon!)
- Working on the Road & Solar/Lithum Round Table (hosted by us)
In our opinion, a great mix of topics.
Aside from presentations, there were several scheduled happy hours, a Margarita making competitions and many organically formed events instigated by other Xscapers – including an impromptu taco bar, grilled pizza night, a group bike ride to a very unique coffee shop, and many late night* tiki hut hang outs.
(* “Late night” at a balloon fiesta that gets started at 4am means we were all generally in bed by 10pm.)
We could not imagine a more successful or fun first event. I was overwhelmed at times with the number of truly awesome people there, and I know for sure we didn’t get enough quality time with everyone.
Travis reminded us one evening that the first Escapade hosted by his grandparents (Kay & Joe Peterson) was just about the same size and style. This is indeed the continuation of something amazing, and the start of something uniquely our own.
The next official Xscapers convergence is being planned for mid-January in Quartzsite, Arizona. We’re aiming to be there.
If you’re part of this new wave of RVers and have not joined Xscapers yet (what’s holding you back? At just $39.95/year that gets you joint membership to Escapee’s too – it’s a no-brainer), get involved. Make sure you’re part of building this.
Because the more of us that come together, the stronger our voices are and the more we can support each other.
It was a dream come true to be here at the first Xscapers convergence this week, being part of this fledgling organization taking flight – appropriately surrounded by hundreds of beautiful balloons floating past overhead.
This is only the start – of something absolutely wonderful!
- The Xscapers Launch
- Recent Article in RV Open Road Magazine about Xscapers written by us (requires a free subscription to get online, or available in paper form at RV dealers around the country)
- Nina’s Awesome Guide to RVing at Balloon Fiesta
We’ll follow up soon with more about our experience at the Balloon Fiesta in general.