Virtually RV with the Tanners
Jim and Melinda Tanner have turned their RVing blog into a camping staple.
The Tanners have an Oregon rainstorm to thank for their RVing lifestyle. It was the rainstorm that sent a river flowing through their tent that made Melinda turn to Jim and say, “If you want to continue to camp, we’re getting an RV.” Jim was convinced. The Tanners bought their first pop-up trailer, a little Coleman, soon after.
While that pop-up might be long gone, their love of dry camping (dry in more ways than one) carries on. Fifteen years after that fateful night and several trailers later, Melinda, Jim and their two sons enjoy camping in their Bighorn fifth-wheel. Another addition to the family’s camping adventures are a couple of smartphones and computer editing software. These are the tools Jim uses to create and edit content for the Tanner’s popular blog and YouTube channel.
The website took form around Jim's Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI) document. He had been part of—and is now one of the admins of—the website outbackers.com. People repeatedly asked what they should look for when buying an RV on the forum, so Jim took the initiative to create an ever-growing document that acts as a checklist for RV purchases.
“You need to inspect the RV first,” Jim said. “I created the PDI for fun one day. I'm up to 13 pages on it now for people to take with them to their dealer. Over 15,000 people have downloaded it.”
Past, present, future
Gone with the Wynns is a website and YouTube channel run by a husband-wife duo who document their travels over land and sea. They are influential to many travellers, including the Tanners. “I really enjoy what they do, and I told my wife ‘we could do that,’ " Jim said.
Thus began Jim’s new hobby. He taught himself web-based design and put together the website RV with the Tanners to showcase their latest adventures, favourite gear to use and Jim’s PDI. Spurred from the website was the YouTube channel because people wanted to visually learn about Jim and Melinda’s RVing tips and tricks.
Jim’s most popular video is one that he did on Go Power!’s Portable Solar Panel Kits, one of his favorite tech tools. The video is up to 28,000 views, which he says is a lot for a video on his channel. The channel itself has over 570 subscribers.
“We aren't full-time yet, as both of us are still working. The website is sure to grow and change once we can work on it full time,” said Jim. “Our goal when we retire is to sell our current home and head out on the road for two years, maybe a year and a half. We hope to hit Alaska, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico and just go."
The longest trip to date that the Tanners have undertaken was to pick up their newest RV out in Michigan. They drove their truck, loaded up with supplies and two kids, all the way to the great Midwest. The family took 10 days to return to Oregon, stopping at the “typical” tourist destinations along the way. They loved all the things they were able to experience across the U.S.
“If someone wants to get into RVing, they have to set themselves up with good expectations,” said Jim. “Starting with a tent, understand what camping is really about and buy what you think you're going to need today. Don’t wait—just get into it now.”
Of all of Jim's must-have items for a successful RV trip, an easy-going attitude is his most recommended. He suggests taking everything with a grain of salt and not getting stressed about equipment malfunctions.
“These are houses that move on wheels. Things will break,” said Jim. “It's important to have a good understanding of how to repair things and realize that things will come back together. You're not sitting at a desk right now, things aren’t that bad.”