By Valerie Coffey
One of the best things about this life roaming the US in an RV is visiting friends and family around the country. All the new people Mitch and I meet are a huge bonus. What’s hard about this life, however, is that you miss a sense of community. You miss your friends from home, you miss going to their events and seeing your neighbors around, and seeing people you know when you’re out.
So it means so much when you meet someone with so much in common, and then you come to find out you’ll be in the same place again down the road. So it was with Marc and Julie Bennett of RV Love.
Ah, the beauty of the interwebs! We “met” Marc and Julie Bennett of RV Love through Instagram, the social media app that lets you share inspiring pictures. Then, on a walk around the Garden of the Gods RV Park in Colorado Springs one June evening, Mitch and I noticed their Allegro bus rig and little MINI Cooper convertible displaying their logo, “Live. Love. Travel. RV Love.” And I immediately recognized their brand. I looked them up, sent them a message and we met for social hour around their campfire.
Whereas most full-time RVers are retired, Marc and Julie are full-time RVers who are working age, like us. Marc grew up in Colorado, while Julie grew up in Sydney, Australia. Also like us, they sold their sticks & bricks home to expand their horizons and see the USA in a motorhome. Marc works full-time as Operations Manager for a nutritional supplement company, and Julie is a lifestyle coach. In the sharing of their journey via their blog and social media platforms, they’ve become a social media sensation with a following of thousands and over half a million views on their YouTube channel!
We had a lot of fun hanging out with the Bennetts during our time in Colorado Springs. We were all scheduled to be at Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora, Colorado, at the same time about a week later, so we made plans to meet them again down the road. We went to TAG restaurant in Denver with them to celebrate their two-year “nomadiversary” – just a few weeks before ours!
Julie and I bonded easily like two long-lost girlfriends, even though she looks like she could be my much-younger daughter. I’m a jolly giant at 5’10” and she’s a spritely elf at 4’8”! And we had a laugh when we found out that I went to high school in Sparks, Nevada, with Marc’s boss, Bert Wegner! I have stories about parties at Bert’s house back in the day. What’s even funnier is that Bert is my Friend on Facebook; Bert noticed the picture of the four of us together (Marc, Julie, Mitch and I) and he did a double take because he thought Marc was Mitch. A few people have commented on the resemblance of Marc and Mitch – they could be brothers!
I asked Marc and Julie some questions about their life on the road, and their answers make a great story. Read on to see why we love RV Love:
Valerie: Julie, with that charming Australian accent, an obvious question is how did you come to the US and why?
Julie: I had always been intuitively drawn to the States, in particular Boulder, Colorado, which I fell in love with after attending a conference in June 2008. When the global economy imploded a few months later, my Australian marketing & events business became one of the unfortunate casualties. I’ve always believed that “everything happens for a reason and it’s always for the best” so while it was a difficult period in my life, it was also a tremendous gift. Somehow “losing everything” – materially anyway – gave me a wonderful opportunity and a newfound freedom to step back and reconsider my entire life, career and what I wanted to make of it.
I was definitely ready for some big life changes, so I sublet my Sydney apartment and car, packed two suitcases and jumped on a plane to Colorado to see what might unfold. Soon after, I was offered a job by an author that I’d worked with before – this led to sponsorship, a work Visa and me moving into a new apartment in downtown Boulder. I absolutely loved it and within a year, I met Marc – which was the beginning of a whole new and exciting chapter!
Valerie: How did you and Marc meet and when?
Julie: We met in Colorado in the summer of 2010 via the dating website eHarmony! We hit it off immediately and from our first date, the relationship progressed quickly. We’ve been together for six years now, just celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary and are still very happy and in love – despite living together 24/7 in a 350 sqf space! I guess you could say we’re pretty close, LOL.
Valerie: How many states have you visited in your RV travels so far? And what is your criteria for putting a sticker on your map?
Julie: As of August 2016, we have visited all of the lower 48 USA states. It took us two years and two months and we worked full-time throughout it. It’s been one heck of a ride and we have no plans to stop anytime soon! Our criteria for putting a sticker on our map is we must have at least one ‘memorable’ experience in a state. We always aim to spend at least a night, but if that’s not possible, we like to (ahem) “christen” the state with a bit of “RV Love,” LOL. It’s times like these that always having your home with you comes in very handy. 😉
Get a state sticker map for tracking your travels!
Valerie: Tell me about a few of your favorite destinations so far.
Julie: Truly there are so many, we are the kind of people who tend to find the positives no matter where we go and of course we tend to visit most places at ‘their best’ time of year, but we’ll try to pull out a few highlights.
Exploring the Grand Canyon – our first visit (to the South Rim) in March 2015 still stays with us. It’s such an extraordinary place that gets deep inside of you. It’s so vast, so beautiful and you can really feel what a powerful place it is in so many ways. We camped inside the National Park for a weekend which was very convenient and a couple of our favorite experiences were seeing it for the first time after a big snow storm, and flying over it in a helicopter which was expensive (about $260 each) but totally worth it!
Driving and walking through the Redwood forest in California – this was a huge bucket list item for Marc. We visited over his birthday weekend in 2014 and loved it! You simply cannot believe how enormous and incredible these trees are – so tall and so wide, they are thousands of years old and the forest is incredibly quiet and peaceful. It’s a magical place – you can read more about it and see more photos here.
Wintering in the Florida Keys – the Keys make a pretty unbeatable, warm winter destination especially for RVers. We spent nine days in Marathon and a week in Key West, where we biked into town most days, watched incredible sunsets, parasailed behind a boat and snorkeled the reef just off Key Largo. One of the highlights was being able to literally step out of our RV (in Marathon), walk 50 meters and snorkel in the bay right behind our campground. That was pretty awesome!
Watching the sun rise from Cadillac Mountain in Bar Harbor, Maine – We spent a wonderful seven weeks in Maine last summer. On our last morning in Bar Harbor, we got up at 4 am to drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park to watch the sun rise over the hundreds of tiny islands below. There are few things that I (Julie) will get up early for but this was definitely one of them and it was totally worth it! You need to get there early though as it’s very popular and the parking lot fills up quickly!
Visiting Graceland, the home of Julie’s first love – As a HUGE Elvis fan my (Julie’s) whole life, I’d always dreamed about doing an American RV trip with girlfriends and going to see Graceland. We spent a weekend in the RV Park right across the road for convenience and had a fantastic day visiting the home of The King – seeing his automobiles, planes, learning more about his life and the impact he had not only on music, but as a philanthropist as well. We both loved it – and now even Marc has become an Elvis fan.
Valerie: This all rings a bell with us! We have been to so many of the same places and have similar photos. We, too, were so impressed with Graceland and became Elvis fans. We wrote about our time in Key West and our visit to the Most Famous Rock ‘N Roll Residence in the World!
Next question: What place or places are on your list that you are dying to get to but haven’t been yet?
Julie: We’re definitely excited about going to Hawaii in December (not with our RV though), Alaska next summer – we really hope to go and see the bears catching salmon from the river! We hope to do Canada by RV during the summer of 2017. Plus there are still so many places in the lower 48 that we missed our first time around – like the San Juan Islands, WA, White Sands National Monument, NM, and even Telluride, CO. So they’re on our wishlist too.
Valerie: What is the next exciting destination on your list this summer?
Julie: We’re at Bryce Canyon, Utah, and also visited Capitol Reef National Park while driving Scenic Byway 12 – loved it! Next we’re heading to Zion NP, followed by the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona. That will make for nine national parks this summer alone, as we visited Glacier National Park, Yellowstone NP and Grand Tetons, WY in August and the Badlands, SD and Theodore Roosevelt NP, ND in July. Honestly, sometimes the amount of beauty and nature we see in a short time can be overwhelming, but in a good way!
Valerie: Tell me one of the biggest surprises about the RV life.
Julie: That we love it as much as we do. We’ve met so many great people and made some really wonderful new friends that we’re forming lovely connections with – like you, Val and Mitch! The quality of conversation and connection we have with so many people we meet. It’s easy to find common ground to connect on – with so many being full-time RVers – and for the most part people are warm, open, and friendly with the time to chat as they’re not caught up with the stress or busy-ness of everyday life, like we used to experience more often back at home. And we’ve experienced far fewer bugs than expected, so that’s definitely a plus!
Valerie: What has been the hardest thing about your RV life?
Julie: Having to buckle down and work when there are so many cool things to see and do right on our door-step! Actually, it hasn’t been too bad. Marc in particular is very disciplined and focused when it comes to his work and productivity. He’s very big on work-life balance so during work hours he works and when he’s done, he completely switches off, so we have plenty of time after work and on weekends to play and explore. We just feel so grateful that we are able to live this lifestyle and it’s work that funds it! We recognize that this not an opportunity afforded to everyone, so we do everything we can to honor and protect that. That means sufficient internet connection is absolutely critical – we pretty much have to plan our travels around that, at least during the week. And while it can be a juggle at times, it’s worth it!
Valerie: Do you ever see yourselves in a sticks & bricks home again?
Julie: Hmmm… maybe, part-time though and it definitely wouldn’t be anything big! Honestly, it’s hard for either of us to imagine about going back to a life like we used to have. I think we would feel somehow ‘stuck’ in a stick and brick home and be bored within a couple of months. But that’s now… this could change in the future. We could see ourselves with a home as a base that we could take off and travel easily from, any time we wanted. Whether that’s a property with land or a big barn to store an RV when it’s not being used, or a small condo that we could lock and leave and take off to do some international travel. We have so many options available to us, we’re not 100% sure which way we’d go right now, so I guess we’ll just cross that bridge when we get to it!
Valerie: What’s your most popular video ever?
Julie: Ha! It depends on how you define ‘popular’! The video with the highest number of views to date is “First time driving our motorhome on our maiden voyage”, the video with the most minutes watched is our “6 Months on the Road Full-time in our RV” as we share a lot of helpful and informative tips in there and the video with the most comments is our “9 Months on the Road Full-time in our RV” where we talk about why we changed our domicile, but one of our newest Slice of RV Life videos is about to take the lead for “most comments” as it’s about our RV GPS Fail which took us on a gravel, dirt road for 16 miles! To say we were all shaken up would be an understatement, but it all worked out OK in the end. That said, we’re actively shopping for a new RV GPS.
Valerie: You guys have such a great story, and you’ve been such a success with the blogging and YouTube channel – I see a screenplay and movie in your future! Who will play you in the movie?
Julie: Oh, that’s a great question! At the risk of sounding corny, we’d have to say either Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as they have great chemistry together, or Ben Stiller and Kristin Chenoweth, as Marc has been told he looks like Ben and Kristin is a petite blonde under 5 feet tall, like me!
Valerie: Great answer! Have fun in Utah will see you in Palm Springs in a month or so!
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