My (Jeff’s) children say I’m obsessed, and they are probably right! Once I get interested in something, I want to learn everything about it. And that means searching the web, joining forums, and watching lots of YouTube videos.
Before our first-ever RV vacation, I spent a lot of time checking out YouTube videos and the web for information about RVing. I wanted to find out how to drive such a big vehicle, how to find the best campgrounds, and how to handle the sewer hookups. (I’d seen in the movie “RV” where Robin Williams gets covered in poo. My worst nightmare, and I wanted to make sure it was never going to happen to me!)
In the midst of my research, I discovered that there are people who live full-time in their RVs—by choice! They are like full-time nomads who spend their lives crisscrossing the country, following their interests and whims, or seeking comfortable weather. Some are retired. Some are young and travel with their kids. Some have full-time jobs that they do remotely while on the road. Some work for a couple of months in one location while they save up for the next leg of their journey. I was blown away by this new (for me) possibility.
Kathy and I had talked about someday seeing America in an RV, but until then I’d only been thinking of it as a series of short vacations. After all, we have a lakeside cottage in northern New Jersey that we’ve dreamed of retiring to for years. But is there a way to combine the two? I went into research mode once again.
Pretty soon Kathy and I were following the lives of several full-time RV families as they shared their lives in blogs or on YouTube. Two of our favorites are and were:
- “Gone with the Wynns.” Jason and Nikki are an energetic young couple who spent several years chronicling their life in their RV. We loved their “How Not To” videos and gadget reviews. I don’t know about Kathy, but my favorites include the series they did about their composting toilet. They’ve now moved out of their RV and into full-time life at sea in a catamaran. Can you imagine?
- “Less Junk, More Journey” Nathan and Marissa sold their house, got rid of most of their “stuff,” and moved into an RV with their adorable toddler, Hensley. We’ve been inspired by them to think of downsizing as a lifestyle choice rather than a regrettable necessity. Plus, they just seem like really nice people.
(We will list of all of our favorite blogs, vlogs, and websites in a different post.)
In the meantime, each time we took a vacation in a rented RV (see our RV rental tips and experience here) we became more and more excited about the RV lifestyle. It’s such a fun way to travel, and wherever you go you’ve got your own house with you. No unpacking every night at a different hotel. Being able to cook and eat your own meals instead of always eating at restaurants. The ability to simply move if you get tired of your location or your neighbors are too loud or unpleasant. RVing offers all of the joys of camping, with all the comforts of home.
We also started going to RV shows to get a better sense of the many different styles and amenities available in modern motorhomes (also called RVs, short for recreational vehicles). Some of them are enormous and luxurious, with price tags of more than half-a-million dollars! Others are so small that you can just about cook and go to the bathroom at the same time. There’s something for every taste and budget.
On our RV vacations, wherever we went we met friendly people who were eager to share both the joys and the challenges of life on the road. And whenever we watched another YouTube video or read a blog posted by RVers, we found ourselves saying, “Wow. I want to go there! I want to try living like that, too.”
So here’s our plan. I retire July 1, 2017. Somewhere between now and then, we find and buy an RV. Meanwhile, we downsize dramatically, selling some stuff, giving some away, putting a few things in storage, and throwing out the rest. Sounds easy, but we know it will be a real challenge to let go of a lifetime’s worth of stuff. For the first few months we’ll live at our little lake house, and take some short trips in the RV to get the kinks worked out. Then, sometime in the fall of 2017, after the kids leave for college or full-time jobs, we load up the pets, head south, and see where the road leads us.
We’ve still got a lot to figure out, and we’d like to hear from you. If you’ve got questions or advice, please let us know in the comment box below.