This is the peak of the RV Shopping season as RV shoppers across North America narrow down their selection and make their purchases. So, what exactly are RV shoppers looking for? In our interview of the week, we’ll talk to a group of them and learn what features are most in demand.
Also this week, RV News– including a new buyer for the defunct Roadtrek brand – plus your RV questions, comments and another fun off the beaten path report from the Burketts.
Show Notes for Episode #238 April 17, 2019 of The RV Podcast:
WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK
Before we get started, two housekeeping notes. One, in this podcast we will mention a bunch of different resources, news stories and web links that will give you more information about the things we’re talking about. Whenever possible, we build in direct links to those topics on the shownotes page for this episode. You can find that at rvlifestyle.com/238
Also, you may have a question you’d like us to answer, or a comment on the things we’re discussing. If so, we invite you to leave us that question or comment on the special voicemail number we have for the podcast – it’s 586-372-6990. If you are driving and can’t write it down right now, just go to the RV Lifestyle travel blog at rvlifestyle.com and scroll down the page. You’ll see that number prominently posted on the blog.
We’re just back from Phoenix and the annual Super B RV Show.
We are also very excited about the release our latest 7 Day Adventure Guide, this one on Utah. You can learn all about that one at https://rvlifestyle.com/utah We have lots more of these guides coming. Our next one will be on Colorado and we will eventually have them most regions of the country and parts of Canada, too. Thanks to all those who have taken the time to send along such great reviews on the Utah guide as the first one that came out a few weeks back on Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Also, by popular request based on the popularity and universal appeal of our 330 Rule of traveling (no more than 330 miles a day or stop by 3:30PM each day, we decided to have some fun and print up a bunch of small stickers and make them available in our RV Lifestyle shop in a 4-sticker bundle for you all. We had requests from a bunch of folks to do this so, why we figured, why not?
We hit the road this week, making our way back north to our sticks and bricks home in Michigan, which we’ve been pretty much away from since January. In all we’ve traveled through 14 states over the past four months, bought a new RV and watched springtime come to the south and southwest.
We tend to do our traveling in quarters of the year, this first one was what we call escape the cold! Now as we enter the next quarter, I hope there’s no snow when we get back to Michigan over the weekend and we don’t have to re-winterize our RV while we’re back north.
We plan to spend a few weeks up there, visiting family and friends, doing some work around our home and making a couple of short RV rips. We have some RV factory tour videos to shoot in Elkhart, Indiana and we’d like to check out TulipTime in Holland, MI.
Then, we’re looking a doing a couple of regional tours, visiting places on our bucket list and also gathering material for more of our seven-day adventure guides. Right now we’re trying to decide between New England and California for May through July. It would be great to do both, but that’s a lot of driving.
That’s never stopped us before. But we haven’t firmly made up our minds yet so we’ll let you know what we decide and for what dates. We love doing a couple of meet and greets as we travel different parts if the country and will do that whatever routes we choose.
Meanwhile, though, we’d love your suggestions. Where should we go? What should we see? Give us your recommendations by calling our special Voice Mail number at 586-372-6990. We love getting your advice and suggestions!
RV LIFESTYLE NEWS OF THE WEEK
Roadtrek to be bought by European firm
Rapido Group, owner of the Westfalia brand, has announced that it signed a binding letter of intent last Friday to acquire assets related to the Roadtrek RV brand, an operating division of Erwin Hymer Group North America Inc. The company was put up for sale in February and took bids until early April. On April 12, Rapido signed a letter of intent and were recognized as the winning bidder. Rapido has the intention of assuming the lease of one of the existing manufacturing and assembly facilities. Rapido’s President says it plans to re-establish and re-invigorate the brand. “Roadtrek is a well-established leading brand in the B Class segment of the RV market, our priority will be to reestablished operations and further develop this famous brand in North America. “Rapido expects to hire a workforce that could grow eventually to more than 200 employees.
Teen credits bear spray with saving him from grizzly attack
A teen in Montana successfully fought off a charging grizzly bear last week by using, you guessed it, bear spray. I know we have shared this with you before, but Mike and I can't stress enough how important it is to carry bear spray when heading out into the bear country. Here is a story we did in the past explaining how it works.
Enter a national park, monument, preserve for free this Saturday
If you've been wanting to visit a national park for a day, but are on a budget, listen up: Every National Park Service site will be free this Saturday (April 20) in honor of the first day of national park week.
Study examines how hikers become lost on trails, and what they do to survive
A Colorado Springs newspaper had an interesting story out last week on a study examining how people hiking in remote areas got lost – and survived. It found 41 percent of the 103 cases studied became lost after wandering off the trail, and most did not stay in place to be found – what experts recommend.
New thermal area discovered in Yellowstone National Park
Scientists announced last week that they have discovered a new thermal area in Yellowstone National Park. Located in the northeast corner of the park, the new spot is about eight acres in size – that's roughly four football fields.
This part of the podcast is brought to you by RadPower Bikes,an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping
LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
- A Listener wants advice for traveling with her kitty cat and an awning that comes wuth a floor and an attached screen – The awning she asks about is from a company called ARB – https://www.arbusa.com/tents-awnings-camping/awnings-accessories/
Here’s a link to a list if possible luggage rack solutions for mounting the awning – https://amzn.to/2IxrvyK
- And a listener saw our video tour if our new Leisure Travel Vans Unity FX and noticed that we have a feature he doesn’t have on his Unity.
Here’s a picture of the “porthole” like openings we have that the listener refers to.
RV INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
While we were at the Super B RV Show in Phoenix last week, we met lots of folks shopping for a new RV
Some were first time buyers and trying to navigate the confusing world of all the different classes of RVs and the various features they offer.
Others were longtime RV owners, looking to get a new one. Several were downsizing, moving from big Class As or Class Cs into a campervan.
All of them had been researching what’s available online and most had a list of the features they thought they needed.
At times as we talked to these RV shoppers, we felt like counselors, offering guidance and advice. At other times validating choices or gently suggesting other features more suitable to the RV Lifestyle that most appealed to the shoppers.
In our RV Podcast Interview of the Week is an assortment of conversations we had with some of those shoppers at the show. We think you’ll find them interesting and applicable to all of us, whether we are looking for a new RV or maybe just thinking about upgrading your current model.
Here's a transcript:
Bonnie: Hi. My name's Bonnie and I'm shopping for my very first RV.
Jen Wendland: Bonnie, what do you have in mind, what are your needs?
Bonnie: I would like to have a RV that is small enough to park in a regular parking spot in any city, and that has solar and possibly lithium batteries, and is comfortable, it has … it is reliable, and has a good warranty.
Jen Wendland: Now, it sounds like you've been looking and doing your homework. I think personally, you have come to the best place. With all these Class B and C motorhomes that are here, and if I understand right your going solo, you're going to be by yourself.
Jen Wendland: What do you think about seat belts? How many seat belts do you need?
Bonnie: Oh, so I liked in the Hymer Aktiv they had a little lounge area that had two seatbelts and also the driver and passenger in the front had seatbelts, so you could seat four people. That's nice.
Jen Wendland: So you like having extra seat belts because you have grandkids?
Bonnie: Yes, I have almost six grandkids. Five with one on the way.
Jen Wendland: Oh, that's so exciting.
Jen Wendland: So you want to be able to take the grandkids.
Mike Wendland: One of the questions that you want to answer is how do you plan to use it?
Bonnie: I want to get in to the RV lifestyle where I am going to national parks, going to the heritage farms, camping, mostly not in RV parks and possibly for free or a reduced price, interesting places, like you do. I've seen your videos and I just really enjoy those.
Mike Wendland: We are pretty sure that what we want to recommend is a Class B van.
Bonnie: Definitely, Class B van.
Mike Wendland: Then there's two, there's actually three chassis, you have the Dodge Ram, right?
Mike Wendland: ProMaster, very good. There's the Ford Transit, that's amazing.
Mike Wendland: Then the Sprinter.
Mike Wendland: Now have you looked at, we call it the short Sprinter, but it's the 19 foot long one?
Bonnie: No, not yet.
Mike Wendland: Now that seems to be perfect for solos.
Bonnie: Ooh, ah.
Mike Wendland: Some of them have four seatbelts.
Jen Wendland: That's true, so we've got to get ya in one of those and let you look. You've got four days here of this show.
Jen Wendland: Just to look and look and look.
Bonnie: I'm so excited.
Jen Wendland: This is just great having so many in a small space.
Mike Wendland: You're doing it right. An RV show you can go from vehicle, to vehicle, to vehicle, you can lie in them, you can pretend that you're cooking in them and we're here so you come and find us if you have some questions and we'll give it straight to you.
Bonnie: Thank you.
Mike Wendland: Just another thing, they are going to try and get you to sign on the bottom line right away.
Jen Wendland: Don't get mad at us if they sell it before you sign on the bottom line.
Bonnie: That's OK, no I think that's alright.
Mike Wendland: You know you want to tell them when people give you pressure, listen I want to buy one, but I need to know a little bit more.
Mike Wendland: If people won't tell you more, then you know you don't want to buy from that person.
Mike Wendland: I don't think you will have that problem here.
Bonnie: I thank you very much. I'm so excited to be looking around and meeting people like you folks and getting good information about them, because I want it to be well worth the money. They are fairly expensive, so it's kind of like having a second mortgage.
Mike Wendland: You're doing it right you're doing it right.
Bonnie: Thank you.
Jen Wendland: Thank you for sharing with us.
Bonnie: You're welcome.
Carl: Hi, my name is Carl Lundy. I'm from Chandler, Arizona.
Mike Wendland: You're here shopping for a RV.
Carl: That's correct. I'm looking for Class B only, not the Class B-Plus.
Mike Wendland: Have you owned RV's before?
Carl: Yes, four of them.
Mike Wendland: What kind?
Carl: An old Roadtrek in the early 1980's, a Sportsmobile, and two Lance cabover campers.
Jen Wendland: Now something tells me you like to do boondocking.
Carl: That's correct.
Mike Wendland: Tell us your battle plan at a show like this, Carl. How do you shop for an RV?
Carl: Well, I did a lot of research online for the last year. Essentially, and I have been looking and mulling it over for that long. It's a big purchase.
Mike Wendland: What are the factors that you are looking for?
Carl: I've decided I want to get a Mercedes Sprinter based vehicle. Not the short one, but the 170 inch wheel base.
Mike Wendland: Okay.
Carl: I want a lithium battery for extended use and I have been really looking for a 4X4, and I have been looking for the new Mercedes Sprinter chassis.
Mike Wendland: You know what the hard part on that is, right? It's finding that 2019 chassis.
Carl: That's correct and finding a 4X4. There are all the dealers, all the manufacturers are saying October is when they are going to get the 4X4 170 inch wheel base chassis. Then they have build out, so you're looking at a long time.
Mike Wendland: What are the leading candidates for your choice?
Carl: Coachmen Galleria and[crosstalk 00:05:10]
Mike Wendland: The LI3?
Carl: Yes, and the Boldt, the Winnebago Boldt.
Mike Wendland: The new Winnebago Boldt, we are familiar with both of them. The Boldt's a brand new one.
Carl: It's pretty, it really tickles a lot of my fancies.
Mike Wendland: We are going to have a whole separate video on the Boldt. It's a pretty neat unit.
Carl: The reason I started to consider the Coachmen Galleria was your review of the factory.
Mike Wendland: When you saw the way they insulated.
Carl: The insulation.
Mike Wendland: It's very well laid out, so when do you think you will actually buy?
Carl: Good question. Actually, the one guy in the [inaudible 00:05:55] RV here I've been working with a little bit, he's suggesting instead of ordering a 4X4 in the Mercedes I get the two wheel drive 170, and then take it and get it lifted, because I'm really looking more for clearance.
Mike Wendland: For clearance. You know that's really great advice. We had a 4X4 on the extended length Sprinter and the way it rode was just[crosstalk 00:06:19]
Jen Wendland: It was a rough ride.
Mike Wendland: It was a very rough ride, but the big plus for us was that extended height on it, about eight inches, so that's not bad advice. Then you know you can get one at a reasonable time.
Carl: So that's what I'm sort of mulling over now, so I have no I want it today but that ain't gonna happen so I'm really looking. By the time I actually buy one it'll be, when I get one in my hands, will be probably Christmas or January or February.
Mike Wendland: That's if you make a decision fairly soon.
Carl: Yes, that's correct.
Mike Wendland: For people who are like you, that are shopping, what would your advice be to them how long it usually takes before you buy?
Carl: I'd say from the start to finish I would say you need a long time, you know, for researching and mulling it all over so the whole process a year.
Mike Wendland: That's great. Well, we're glad that we were part of your research on our videos and we can't wait to see what you get, Carl.
Carl: Okay, thank you.
Jen Wendland: Thank you so much.
Dennis: Hi, I'm Dennis Leonard.
Diane: Diane Bible.
Mike Wendland: You're shopping for your first RV.
Diane: Yes, we are.
Jen Wendland: Where are you from?
Diane: We are from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Jen Wendland: You came all that distance to come to this show?
Diane: To come to this show.
Dennis: We certainly did.
Diane: On your recommendation.
Mike Wendland: Wait a minute, you heard us talking about it and you flew from New Hampshire to Arizona.
Dennis: Well, after we heard you talking about it we investigated, and we knew that this was the largest super B and we've been to a few shows already and there's just a smattering of B's here and there, and we were really serious about getting something soon so we figured this is the best way to find the widest variety of stuff and get to sit in them, get to talk to people and really, sort of, cut through the fog, which we are able to do.
Mike Wendland: They are doing this so right.
Jen Wendland: You really are. So did you find anything after being here all day yesterday?
Dennis: Oh yeah and surprisingly so, we[crosstalk 00:08:24]
Mike Wendland: So what are your candidates? Have you got it down to one yet?
Dennis: Actually, we do.
Mike Wendland: Which one?
Dennis: The Pleasure-Way FL.
Mike Wendland: Oh, my goodness.
Jen Wendland: The flexible Lexor.
Dennis: [crosstalk 00:08:33]The Pleasure-Way Lexor FL.
Mike Wendland: It's a beautiful machine. We are looking at it right now. It's right over there.
Jen Wendland: That's it, people are walking through it.
Dennis: It's on a Dodge Ram chassis and I didn't think I would like it because I've sat in the Dodge Ram chassis before and I didn't have enough leg room.
Diane: He's six-two.
Dennis: The front lounge Lexor has a space in the back where you can push that chair back a little farther, and you get[crosstalk 00:09:01]
Mike Wendland: Adequately?
Dennis: Absolutely, and that just opened up the whole new ballgame.
Mike Wendland: Now did you buy it yet?
Diane: No, not yet, not yet.
Mike Wendland: The unit we just bought, we had it at a RV show up in Salt Lake City and after we [crosstalk 00:09:21] actually were gonna buy, people were going through looking at it and we're like get out of our RV.
Jen Wendland: We wanted them to wear those little slippers on their shoes.
Mike Wendland: I see you are doing the same thing.
Diane: Exactly, yeah, yeah, and what you purchased is beautiful and the space, we just don't have the space where we are going to keep it at our home because we are not home full-time.
Dennis: We live in a fishing village and houses are…
Diane: Very close together.
Jen Wendland: It sounds delightful living in a fishing village.
Mike Wendland: Oh my gosh, it's such[crosstalk 00:09:43] It's so hot.
Diane: You can camp in our driveway.
Mike Wendland: Well, we'll be there next summer. So tell us a little bit about how you plan to use this, the RV?
Dennis: Well, the variety of uses, it's almost, I mean I will be retiring soon and we'll basically get rid of the SUV and just keep my little convertible and the van. The van will be almost like a second vehicle.
Diane: To which I said I heard Mike say he does that.
Dennis: I mean you can put a [inaudible 00:10:12] feet of lumber and all this kind of stuff because we have a 100 year old house.
Mike Wendland: Don't tell people they will want you to move. I'll help them move.
Dennis: We also want to get away and see this country.
Mike Wendland: Now is the time.
Dennis: It certainly is.
Diane: We were looking at getting a used one first, because that's what everyone has but I am almost 71 years old and I'm making a decision, I want new, you know.
Mike Wendland: Your smart because you are getting something right away.
Diane: Uh huh.
Dennis: We've done the research. We have done all the research, we've been looking at You Tube forever, and we've seen several reviews on the Pleasure-Way and the combination of the technologies. It has the solar panels, it has lithium battery, gas powered generator and propane for the stove and for the grill outside. It was just everything I was kind of worried about getting.
Mike Wendland: Have you gone inside and stretched out in it?
Dennis: Oh yeah. We wanted to come here to do it again.
Diane: We are going to take it for a test drive today.
Mike Wendland: Are you going to test it? Well, we want a place in your driveway next to your new Pleasure-Way.
Diane: You can, we will leave you our information.
Mike Wendland: Alright.
Dennis: We do have a guest room.
Mike Wendland: Alright, it was great to meet you guys.[crosstalk 00:11:36]
Diane: Nice to meet you.
Thomas: My name is Thomas Smith. I live on a ranch in Southeastern Idaho.
Mike Wendland: Oh, my goodness. You came a long way then.
Thomas: Yeah, came just for this event. I have a ProMaster City cargo van that I fitted out with a camper kit so I could get on the road immediately and so this is an opportunity for me to get some ideas.
Mike Wendland: So you are part of that growing DIY van life segment.
Thomas: Right. I was down at the RTR this January and there was five or six thousand people gathered together, and most of those people are taking vans or step-vans or ambulances or even Cadillacs and just fitting them out and getting on the road.
Mike Wendland: We've had somebody who fit out Mercedes Sprinter van that was used by a coffin salesman.
Thomas: That's so great.
Mike Wendland: Tell everybody what RTR is, so they know.
Thomas: RTR is Rubber Tramp Rendezvous and it was started by Bob Wells and it's just a way for[crosstalk 00:12:31]
Mike Wendland: Many years ago, very popular.
Thomas: People can kind of create a community and a lot of people will go from that place in smaller caravans, like 40 to 60 people, so they can travel together as a group. It's a place to get together and share ideas and see how people have built out their vans or step vans.
Mike Wendland: So you came down from the beautiful border up there in Utah to this show in Phoenix. What kind things are you looking at?
Thomas: I'm looking at things like the Boldt and the smaller Class B's that are set a little bit higher off the ground because they are getting more and more creative on how they're using the space. I am thinking about moving from a ProMaster City up to a little bit larger cargo. So I'm just looking for ideas mainly.
Mike Wendland: How about some of the design things and some of the appliances, you looking at that too?
Thomas: You know what I have found, at least of the people that I am talking to that are doing what I am doing, is mobility is more important than luxury. Amenities are not a huge deal for me as long as I have some of the basics. A place to sleep, I can use a small oven or an inductive oven I can bring with me. I have a Kodiak generator so it's mainly use of space and storage for me.
Mike Wendland: I like function and mobility over luxury.
Jen Wendland: Yes, that sounds good. Luxury comes after everything else.
Thomas: Bathrooms and showers you can get creative.
Jen Wendland: Yeah.
Thomas: As long as you, and the main thing is to get on the road. I really just wanted to get out. I've got a dog that's ten years old and I'm not going to invest $90,000 or $150,000 in a Class B, but I can get out on the road and that's the most important thing is to just get out and travel and meet people and see the sites.
Mike Wendland: The other thing is it takes forever to get a new one. You know, some of these people are saying it's a year long process.
Thomas: Just to wait for it to get manufactured.
Mike Wendland: That's lost time right?
Jen Wendland: This makes it affordable doing it yourself too.
Thomas: Yeah, absolutely. I took my daily driver, traded it straight across the board for this cargo van. Found a camping kit that is plug-n-play. You can put it in, it insulates, there's flooring in there, there's a bed box, there's a kitchen box and I can throw my dog in the back and go snowshoeing in it or camping. I am excited about your new book of Seven Days in Utah.
Mike Wendland: It just came out.
Thomas: It's just south of where I am and I'm trying to get down there before it gets too hot.
Mike Wendland: Oh, my gosh. What a gorgeous place Utah is. Well, we want to come visit you on your cattle ranch.
Thomas: Yes, please.
Mike Wendland: He just showed us the picture of it.
Jen Wendland: Oh, I can't wait.
Mike Wendland: We'll be out there this summer.
Thomas: Any of your viewers are welcome. I think I have listened to it on boondockerswelcome.com, which is a place where people can share sites if someone needs an overnight or two.
Mike Wendland: So many people, you know, think they have to stay in a campground. Very rarely do you have to stay in a campground. We go to get water and to drain the tanks and stuff but most of the time so many places like yours. Actually, we will try and take a picture of that that you showed us and put that on the podcast so they can see what [inaudible 00:15:27].
Thomas: That would be great. We don't sell wine but we can send you off with a sack of potatoes.
Mike Wendland: You saw our story on Harvest Host. Well, sometimes a sack of…
Jen Wendland: No gators?
Mike Wendland: No gators?
Thomas: Yep, no gators, but there may be a coyote or something.
Jen Wendland: [inaudible 00:15:40]Maybe a cow, a calf.
Mike Wendland: Tater tots. It was great to meet you, Tom.
Thomas: It was so nice to meet you both, thanks.
The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country
OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT
By Tom & Patti Burkett
US Route 1 is the longest north-south road in the USA, running from Key West, Florida to Fort Kent, Maine on the border with Canada. Originally it was called the Atlantic Highway, and it connected all the major cities of the east coast from Miami to Boston. Nowadays it’s been bypassed by Interstate 95, but, of course, all the great things to see are on the old road. One of those is in Norwalk, Connecticut. Through town, route 1 has several names, a circumstance we’ve come across many times. Explanations vary, but mostly it has to do with the fact that these cities are made up of former small towns, and the small towns hope to keep some of their identity by keeping their street names.
So, as you head north through town, Connecticut Avenue becomes Van Buren, then Cross Street. Just after the name changes to Westport Avenue, you’ll see Stew Leonard’s Dairy Store on the south side. Don’t worry, you won’t miss it. Huge letters on an equally big building proclaim ‘World’s Largest Dairy Store.” You can believe it, too, with all the additions that have clearly been made to what was once a modest establishment. This is the original location, and thought there are now several others, you won’t get the historical farm flavor anywhere but here.
Just about a hundred years ago, Charles Leonard opened the Clover Farms Dairy outside Norwalk. For its time it was high-tech, with its own bottling plant and a fleet of delivery trucks that made the rounds of local neighborhoods every day. Remember the ice-cream truck that plays a song to let you know it’s nearby? Clover Farms trucks had plastic cows on the front that mooed to announce the arrival of the day’s fresh milk. Business was fresh and creamy until Charles’ son Stew got the news that Interstate 95 would be gobbling up the farm.
Stew opened his dairy store in 1969. Milk was bottled right there in the building, behind glass windows, so moms could be sure what they were getting was the freshest, purest product available. The store itself was modeled after a farm market, and sold milk, locally grown produce, and a few grocery items. The family philosophy of doing a few things very well has carried into today, and the store carries a much more limited selection than typical groceries, each item hand-picked by a member of the sales team for quality, taste, and interest.
So, what to do when you visit Stew Leonards? Check out the great looking produce selection and stock your fridge. Watch rice cakes being made fresh by an intriguing machine down one of the side aisles. See milk put into bottles in the bottling section. And then stop by the ice cream counter. Oh, the ice cream! Made onsite from their own milk, this is first-rate stuff, and comes in a variety of interesting flavors. If there are two of you, you might want to take turns standing in line. There was a bit of a wait the day we were there. Any questions? Just ask one of the Leonards. This is still a family-run operation, and you’re likely to see one or two of them walking the aisles and chatting up the customers.
Norwalk offers a few other things worth a stop- a children’s museum, an aquarium focused on the life in Long Island Sound, and a ferry cruise to the Sheffield Island lighthouse. Whatever you do, though, don’t miss the little shop that grew into what the New York Times calls “the Disneyland of Dairy Stores.” You can find it on an old two-lane highway that winds along the Connecticut shore, out here off the beaten path.
This part of the podcast is brought to you by Harvest Hosts – https://rvlifestyle.com/harvesthosts a network of farms, wineries, museums and attractions where RVers can stay overnight, for free.
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Presently, we are serving as brand ambassadors for Leisure Travel Vans and driving a coach provided free for our use. All opinions expressed about that coach honestly reflects our own personal appraisal, good and bad, and Leisure Travel Vans does not control our content, writing, videos, podcasts or newsletter reports in any way. In addition to the coach, Leisure assists us in some expenses related to our travel