Sharing drama in a good way
The Alexanders have found a comfortable travel lifestyle that helps them as they run their business
John and Judy Alexander are from Saskatchewan, but their business meant they needed to travel around North America. Yes, we're jealous too. They spent some time sharing with us the things they've learned on the road, and how RVing is the right choice for them.
What have been the highlights of RVing, and how do you make the lifestyle work with your business?
My wife, Judy, and I run DramaShare Christian Drama Resources, the largest Christian drama resource in the world. We work with over 6,000 groups in 78 countries and maintain a large website where clients can download their scripts and manuals. Although we both are senior citizens, well beyond the age where most would be retired, we are busier than at any time in our lives—I have written over 2,000 scripts and 25 training manuals.
In addition to writing we also provide on-location training workshops throughout North America. In recent years, however, the cost and inconvenience of air travel and hotels has greatly reduced the workshop side of our business. So, in 2010 we purchased a 28-foot Class C Forester by Forest River motorhome company. In addition to offering better travelling, the motorhome became a mobile training facility as we were able to carry along our materials and workshop presentation equipment. What we soon found was that, although it was an excellent means of getting around, the motorhome was too small to carry all of our materials and personal effects in order to be on the road for long periods of time so in 2012 we traded up to a 40-foot Newmar Ventana diesel pusher. With three slides, including a super-slide, this expands our working space significantly. We can now hold small workshops right in the RV. The large-screen TV is used for projecting the lesson material during the workshop, and we are totally self-contained, even down to bathroom facilities for participants. The satellite TV allows us to be live on our website during our workshops, and also to download other materials as need be.
An additional benefit of the RV lifestyle is that it allows us to visit with church personnel throughout the country, as well as fellow artists, writers and dramatists. The many pleasant locations we visit are much more conducive to creative writing than sitting in an office, which is another major advantage of RV living. I find that my writing comes more easily and the results are significantly better away from home. Like all travellers, we have our favourite spots (Westbay RV resort on the inner harbour in Victoria is a personal favourite), but a real advantage of a fully self-contained RV is that we can stop anywhere at any time, including Walmart parking lots.
What do you like and what would you change about your RV?
As far as the unit itself, we like everything about it. Probably the most frustrating thing about our present unit is that there are virtually no service locations in or around Saskatoon, which is our base, nor even in the province. While the power train can be looked after at designated truck service dealers, for the actual coach there is no dealer within the province who will touch it (“because we didn’t sell it to you and it is too large to get into our shop,” even though they are listed as a warranty dealer on the contract I have). I am very displeased that although you buy a warranty policy for the unit, you have to travel two days to find a warranty dealer. In most industries this would be illegal but there seems to be no such regulations in the RV business.
Why do you love the RV lifestyle?
The benefit is the freedom it gives you to go anywhere you wish, and to stop at any point along the way. This is particularly important in that our RV is totally a business unit. The other major advantage is that you are always assured that your sleeping quarters are safe and vermin-free. In this day of unclean hotel rooms this is a big factor.
What do you find challenging about living out of an RV?
Although ours is a very large unit, still the fact is that you don’t have the space you are accustomed to at home. Also, no matter how much materials or office equipment you bring along, there is always something missing when you need it on the road.
What advice would you have for someone who is interested in RVing?
The biggest factor, without a doubt, is to choose your travel partner very carefully. When the space gets to you and when the rain is pouring, tensions can be created. We are very fortunate in that we have been happily married for almost 50 years and we are accustomed to each other. Second set of advice is that you try a week of RVing before buying; the RV life may simply not be for you. And finally, don’t add every toy and trinket in tools and accessories; find out first what you really need. Our experience is that at least half of the items you buy/pack into the RV in the first six months of ownership will be garage sale features within a year.