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Breaking the News that You're Hitting the Road Full-Time


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Naturally, our family and friends had no clue what full-timing was at the time but after we explained and assured them that they would be visited often they were totally onboard.  My mother's only comment was "Wellllllll, (emphasis on 'well') if that's what you want" - with a tinge of sadness. After we took off she realized that we didn't abandon her, still called and visited her, and she looked forward to our newsletters and photos as we traveled. She proudly told our stories to her friends.

We didn't have grandchildren at the time but when they started arriving we made a big presence in their lives. We made it a point to be there for special occasions including the first day of school, special school programs they were involved in, sports and especially 'grandparents day'.  These were done no matter how far away we were. If we were within a day or two driving we'd go there. If not, one of us would fly.  We even did the 'Flat Stanley' school project for each of them - taking 'Flat Stanley' along with us gathering many photos and information along the way.  Their school peers were always impressed by the final report and the awesome travels 'Flat Stanley' had.  They sometimes took RV trips with us or visited us in special places.  They grew up with our full-timing so they didn't know any different.  When we stopped our adventure, as teens, they were truly disappointed.  Now, as young adults, they say they have great memories of our full-timing and the oldest already has acquired our love of exploration - taking a 6m. college break and backpacking/hostels in eastern Europe.  He has another month planned this Spring.

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When we went FT, my mother was still alive, and living in an assisted living home.  She threw a fit when we left, and we figured out the problem was she didn't have us around as a backup for her getting to a doctor or other things.  A couple months after we left the area, she called in a panic that she couldn't get an appointment for her doctor and also needed transportation.  I called her doctor, got an appointment the next afternoon, and before calling her back, called a friend that could take her, and got that set up.  When I called my mom, I told her that she had the appointment and also told her that the friend would be taking her, and also told her to take the friend out for dinner afterward.  We never had a problem after that, as she realized we could manage things from wherever we were located.  The kids and grandkids say they miss us, but even when we return to their area, we have a hard time getting together with them because they are so busy.  We get to visit with friends and family all over the country when traveling, so that is a bigger positive to fulltime.

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Well, close family knew that this had been our dream for years, so the only "news" was the timing of it.  For others, obviously, it was really our business and not theirs.  I said it like this: "We know that this isn't for everyone, but this is what we want to do in retirement...."  That way, people didn't feel obligated to tell me why they didn't want to do it and I didn't feel obligated to explain why we were.

Having said that, though, I know that everyone is in different circumstances. If enough people who care about me express grave concerns about my plans I probably should reevaluate.  What I'm saying is that people on a fulltimer's group like this are sold on the lifestyle but they don't know you personally.  I'd sure balance what they say against what those closest to me say.

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We were lucky. Both my parents owned motorhomes. Dave's parent were tent campers and sailors. His sister had gatherings with her children all over the world. His brother put hookups in his backyard to facilitate us visiting. My brothers live in Phoenix so RVing let us visit them more than we had in the past. Our daughter is an over-the-road trucker; we met up with her in Arizona a few times. It was only our model railroad group that thought we were nuts because how would we build a railroad in such a small space? :) 

No one else was important enough for us to worry about their reaction.

Linda Sand

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When we began to plan for going on the road we also mentioned it to friends from time to time so that most of them knew of our plan well before we actually made the move. When we put the house up for sale all of them knew that it was happening. We never solicited comments or advice on our change so we got very few but did get questions about how we would manage. Our 3 adult sons did have some reservations but mostly wanted to be able to stay in close touch. Our oldest is a financial analyst and worried about our financial ability to do it and the middle son wanted to hear from us several times per week. The youngest is the most adventurous so had the least concerns. None of them objected and likely knew that we didn't need their approval. We still have family who talks about how much they envy us for living on the road but believe that they can't do it. Mostly the people who say such things just do not have the spirit required to break free. The best approach is to tell them what you plan to do and leave little room for any objections. They are projecting their own fears on to you. 

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We didn't feel the need to solicit input from anyone on our decision. We'd been RV'ing and volunteering for years, so I doubt it came as much of a surprise. 

My standard reply for anyone who "opposes" the lifestyle is "Well it doesn't sound like it would be a good fit for you, but we enjoy it".

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As a family, we always traveled extensively with our children... so they understood the desire to 'hit the road'.   We made a 'wish plan' to start Full Timing in a RV 10 years before we actually decided to get going - and then when we figured it was time to go, in the space of 4 months we bought a motor home, bought a toad, sold our cars, turned the house over to our daughter & her husband, and we took off.   Because we had been 'dreaming' of the lifestyle for years... no surprises to anyone!   Our kids think it is great, even though being gone 10 months out of the year does create a sense of 'absence'.  

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Haven't gone FT, but plans are in the works.  A few years ago when the DW and I first discussed it, our closest friends (at that time) asked what we're going to do when we run out of stuff to see/do/become bored and they seemed to poo-poo the idea.  I find it hard to believe we will ever run out of stuff to see/do/become bored on the road.  But I am pretty damn bored in the S&B.  After nearly 14 yrs in one place, I am feeling the need to travel/see more of the US and do something new.  Old hobbies have become boring and seeing the same places within a few hours of home has become boring.  

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18 hours ago, MountainGal said:

And if not, how did you handle any opposition? 

I'm wondering if any of this has been helpful? Perhaps if we knew a bit more about the difficulties you are dealing with and who it is that is objecting, we might be able to offer some thoughts and ideas that would be more helpful.

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Our family and friends thought it was great with first time we did it.  This last time around when we sold our Florida home to full time again we did have some comments like "we thought you loved your house down there".  

We traveled about 4 months last summer and hit some places we hadn't been, like the Black Hills.  We realized when we returned home that we missed the full time life style and wanted to keep traveling.  

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11 hours ago, Kirk Wood said:

I'm wondering if any of this has been helpful? Perhaps if we knew a bit more about the difficulties you are dealing with and who it is that is objecting, we might be able to offer some thoughts and ideas that would be more helpful.

Hi Kirk,

24 years ago my parents and I full-timed in a 5th-wheel for 13-1/2 months. We were relocating to another state and by living this way were able to take our time finding the right house. (Along the way we agreed that we'd like to continue the full-time lifestyle, loving the freedom and care-free aspect of it. But we eventually succumbed to stick-and-brick living again because Mom and Dad had a large collection of lovely furniture and artwork in storage that was a 25-year accumulation. Sound familiar to anyone?) My beloved parents are both gone now, as are their beautiful possessions. I deeply respected their lifestyle choice but chose a different (minimalist) path for myself. Even if they were still alive, I believe they would support my RV lifestyle choice.

My older brother fully understands my wanderlust spirit, as he's very similar. He once lived in a motorhome and thoroughly enjoyed it, but has since married a woman who refuses to live that lifestyle, so he stays put, feeling stuck. That's okay. It sometimes happens. Bless his heart-- he's very supportive of my choice to live on the road, continuing his dream through me. 

It's most of my friends who are having a hard time understanding it. RVing on a vacation? You bet. But purchasing an RV to live in full-time seems like an unwise expenditure of one's savings and a pipe-dream of a lifestyle. There still seems to be a prevailing belief that success is settling down, buying property, and progressing with a successful career. So that's my story. I've been curious about your stories, what it's been like for you, and how each of you started out. I've already been appreciating what folks have shared here.

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12 hours ago, FL-JOE said:

 

We realized when we returned home that we missed the full time life style and wanted to keep traveling.  

Laughing... I can sure relate to that feeling! I experience it every time I come home from a road trip. I just keep itching to get back on the road. It's good to hear that you folks felt this, too, and that it helped prompt you to get out there for good. 

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13 hours ago, remoandiris said:

I am pretty damn bored in the S&B.  After nearly 14 yrs in one place, I am feeling the need to travel/see more of the US and do something new.  Old hobbies have become boring and seeing the same places within a few hours of home has become boring.  

Agreed. With all the places/things to see out there, how could one grow bored? Unless you're living in a fixed location, as I currently am.  :D

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On 3/3/2018 at 3:36 PM, mptjelgin said:

We didn't feel the need to solicit input from anyone on our decision. We'd been RV'ing and volunteering for years, so I doubt it came as much of a surprise. 

My standard reply for anyone who "opposes" the lifestyle is "Well it doesn't sound like it would be a good fit for you, but we enjoy it".

Wise words spoken!

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11 hours ago, MountainGal said:

But purchasing an RV to live in full-time seems like an unwise expenditure of one's savings and a pipe-dream of a lifestyle. There still seems to be a prevailing belief that success is settling down, buying property, and progressing with a successful career.

While this is the most common social choice, there is a growing movement to the RV lifestyle by younger folks who earn their living as they travel and the opportunities to do this are more available today than ever in the past and increasing. Internet and electronic media have expanded the things that can be done from the road and I'm sure that will continue. I would encourage you to move forward, even though I did not make the move until I was able to retire from my career (age 57), as most of us on these forums did. Our world is changing and freedom to travel while employed is one of the best parts of that change. I suspect that opposition is stronger for younger people than for we who have retirement income, but it can be done. I would advise anyone entering the fulltime RV lifestyle to also have some ideas of an exit plan, much like we wear seatbelts even when we don't expect to need them. Life is often a series of surprises and we usually deal with them best when not completely unprepared. 

I bring this up because it happened to us. Our plan when leaving our stick house was to stay on the road for at least 15 years and perhaps more. Because of advice by friends who preceded us into the fulltime lifestyle, we did make some vague, flexible plans for what to do if we should need to leave the RV. As it happened, Pam's health became a major problem in year 11, as our RV was not accessible for a wheelchair or a walker. One of the issues that we had to deal with was Pam's complete ankle replacement, which kept her off of her feet for 4 months. I still miss the fulltime lifestyle, but we do manage to live like that for 3 to 5 months each year. We both have no regrets that we were fulltime and would make that move again in a moment.

Always remember that the only thing that you have which once gone can never be recovered or replaced is your time. We can never know just how much time we have left so use every day wisely! 

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I think our family/friends watched our progression into the full time RV living.  We had a live-aboard boat for years while working and after the kids were out.  Our plan was to retire, sell the house, and travel full time on our boat.  We soon decided after living on it for a month or two at a time we didn't want to do that.  Upon actually retiring we did some extensive traveling on our Harley and thought maybe we would just continue to do that 6 months every year.  Found out that even staying in cheaper motels our motorcycle travels were costing us between $2,000 and $3,000 a month while on the road, plus we still had the house expenses going on.

So when we sold the house and bought our first fiver I think friends and family kind of saw it coming anyway.  

It wouldn't matter to me what they thought about our choice anyway.  You only get one shot at living your life with an unknown expiration date attached.  We have too many places to see and experience.  

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On 3/5/2018 at 8:21 AM, rm.w/aview said:

It was of no surprise to family, and the friends that I have were met while traveling so my choice prolly made sense to them. I'm very claustrophobic, and 40 years ago the idea of working at the same place for a lifetime elicited the same response for me. I took an opportunity in industrial construction & travelled in search of work. Aspects of my duties were similar but the settings were different as were the locales. It doesn't take long for the walls to begin to close in around me, and if anyone knows me, they know this as well.

This is so understandable. I can very much relate.

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On 3/5/2018 at 7:27 AM, Kirk Wood said:Always remember that the only thing that you have which once gone can never be recovered or replaced is your time. We can never know just how much time we have left so use every day wisely! 

 

Thank you, Kirk, for sharing more of your story-- and this wise insight. 

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Half of my friends and family thought I was nuts and the other half were jealous. I think that ratio is still true after six years on the road.  One of my sons said I would never make it 200 miles down the freeway without dying in a fiery crash!  I told him that would be better than sitting in my recliner in my condo for the next 20 years. 

For the first month, my kids called me every night to make sure I was OK.  (I was headed west from my one son's home to the other's home on the west coast, with some national park stops.)  They wanted to know where I was and where I was stopping next.  However, the phone calls stopped after a couple of months, and they got busy minding their own lives.  Now, I hear from them every 2-3 weeks, although I do send them my schedule every once in a while.

I do have a few friends and family who are still a little surprised that I am still traveling and not bored or lonely, and they do ask when I am going to quit. 

Edited by Solo18
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Let me add, that as an older woman solo traveler, a big concern with my friends was safety, and many thought I needed a big dog or a gun.  I have neither, and have only once left a campground because I felt unsafe, although I have driven through a few I have decided not to stay in.  So, be prepared for the "Oh, you are SO brave!" or the "All by YOURSELF?" comments, or the "How do you handle all the hookups?" comments.  I also used to get a lot of grief from my grown kids when they found out I occasionally met up with groups of other women RVers or invited perfect strangers into my motorhome.  "But what if one of them is an axe murderer?" is a comment I have gotten several times.   There is really no solution to these, other than surviving a few years without getting murdered on the road!!!!

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