Here is the part that gets a bit scary! How do we, and can we, prepare for this life-changing adventure? Where do we start and what do we do next? So many things to think about, organize, and tend to if this is going to happen in our lifetime. We opted to segment the process into multiple lists. Spreadsheets, which both of us like to use, were a very useful tool as we began to organize our thoughts, and more importantly, our life, on paper.
What would it take to fulfill this life-long dream to travel, and were we up for it?
Realizing that not much of anything was going to happen (travel or not) with the amount of credit card debt we had, I took a part-time job as a People Greeter at our local Walmart eight miles away. During this time of paying down bills, we began to think more and more to the time when all of this would be behind us. After three-months-short-of-five-years, and applying everything I earned to the credit card debt, we could finally rejoice that the debt I had set out to tackle was finally behind us. Our freedom was in front of us, and it was up to us to decide what we wanted to do with it.
Also during this five-year period, John started a blog at caravancamperrv.com where he has a free downloadable ebook on creating (not building) your own mini-van camper complete with all of the comforts of home. He spent much time on the internet reading other people’s blogs to gain insight into the experiences of other people traveling full time in their units. He began following blogs of people traveling in motorhomes, fifth wheels, campers, vans, trailers, toy haulers, and even cargo trailers. He also watched a lot of videos on youtube that were made by these travelers. Many of these travelers shared a lot of their experiences and information, including how much it cost them to enjoy this lifestyle.
The Wheels Were Now Turning, but not on the ground…
The wheels were now turning in his mind. When I came home from my shift working the part-time job, whether it be noon, mid-afternoon, or as late as 11PM at night, he was rearing to share the good stuff with me. The good stuff included important information he learned from the blogs he read, as well as showing me the latest revision(s) he had made on the custom trailer design he was working on to be able to convert our 6’ x 12’ toy-hauler type Haulmark trailer. I have to admit there were times, if I worked to 11PM, got home at 11:30PM, and had to report for an 8AM shift the next day, when I was tired and not too receptive to anything except a bite to eat and a pillow to lay my head on! After all, my job, except for some additional duties that I will not mention here, consisted of standing at the door, and smiling, while greeting everyone who entered the store.
Whatever happened to my idea to travel while having a home base to call home?
The time was right to begin making lists. Again we went to our spreadsheet and typed in everything we could think of and divided it into two lists – pros and cons. Our lists were geared to traveling full-time versus traveling and keeping a home base. We already knew that traveling was in our blood. Things to consider were family, Angel our dog, finances – fixed and non-fixed, needs, and wants.
First of all, we looked at our finances and compared them to what our finances would be full-time RVing, with and without a house to come home to. This process meant we also looked at other people’s travel blogs to see what kinds of expenses they had while living on the road. We wanted as complete an estimate as possible as to what expenses we might incur, realizing ours could be higher or lower depending on how minimalistic we chose to live.
What about the house? Should we keep a home base? Why? In our case, keeping a home base meant we would continually have maintenance on a place we were not living in. When we were away, it would be a target for rodents, crickets, and vandalism, none of which we wanted to return home to find. This most recent house that we bought after seeing it on the internet, and even though we ask a lot of questions of the realtor before buying it, including requesting pictures from strategic points within the house, it still came short of meeting our expectations once we saw it. The pictures only showed what they wanted us to see. It required a lot more work than we were able to do, or even wanted to do, so in our case, getting rid of it sounded better every day. We did not want to spend our retirement years feeding a money pit. It was time to enjoy living!
Utilizing a spreadsheet, John began to make comparisons of traveling and returning to a home base versus full-time traveling while living full time in an RV (with no home base). Some expenses would exist either way. We have to eat wherever we are. Other expenses while traveling would be a trade for those of maintaining a home. Costs for gas for one vehicle versus two, heating/cooling, energy, water, and phone would all change. Our internet service would improve from unreliable to Verizon up to 4G with a hot spot, which has been a welcome change. Then we took taxes and insurance into consideration, which made a significant difference.
But that’s not all...
What about mail? For this we decided to join the Escapees RV Club for $39.95 and sign up for their mail forwarding service for $99.95 annually plus postage fees. They have several options to choose from. America’s Mailbox is another and there might be others if you google mail forwarding. The Escapees RV Club has a lot of RV parks and Co-ops throughout the country.
Not sure if I have touched on every little thing, but there were a lot of things we took into consideration as we opted to live full time in a RV and travel full time without a home base. Financially, doing it without a home base was looking like our best option, but we had other things yet to consider.
In the next post I will talk more about other things we considered, what-ifs, and some wants and needs.
Thank you for visiting and Happy 2016.
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