This story was contributed by Barry and Monique Zander, courtesy of RV.net. We found it to be so liberating, that no matter your RV, teardrop or fifth wheeler, the spirit of adventure lives on and must be shared. Without further adieu…
We departed Orange County last Friday, eager to begin our on-the-road adventure toward Alaska by staying at an RV park in the Inland Empire of California. As we headed toward our destination, Monique declared, “Let’s just go!” And two hours later, we were battling a poorly designed dirt entry into a campsite in Red River Canyon State Park, very few miles from Death Valley.
The freedom to not be driven by schedules and calendars is what we consider one of the greatest blessings of our blessed lives. We celebrated our decision to change plans by enjoying a Happy-Hour-for-Two amid temperate breezes that whipped around among the surrounding walls of sandstone etched for millennia by wind, heat and long-forgotten rain.
If you’re a full-timer or RV extensively, you might know the exhilaration of this benefit of the nomadic life. If you’re still bound by obligations around home but are planning to transition to extended RVing, or still trying to decide whether to make your move, I’ll clue you in on what it took for us.
First of all, Monique and I had the advantage of being in complete agreement on the idea of traveling full-time. On the road, we meet so many couples who are trying to make it work, even though one member of “the team” is determined to return to a “normal” lifestyle. Some of those folks have been putting up with compromises for years, and somehow they are still speaking to each other (at least when we’re around).
When Monique proposed our life on the road and I quickly agreed, we began by setting a timeline from that day until we embarked on our journey. Some of the biggest issues we faced were: 1) separating from our family and jobs; 2) deciding what type of RV to buy, and then what kind of truck to buy to pull it (Monique’s main requirement was a quiet motor and Bose speakers); 3) selling our home; and 4) planning where we wanted to go.
1) Our timeline included dates for telling our families – we had to tell our seven children, my mother and sister that even if we are crazy, we still intended to go through with our plan. As for our careers, we both enjoyed providing service to people who appreciated us, with employers who valued us. Telling them about our decision was hard to do. We planned it every step of the way to build support before going to those we expected to be less agreeable.
2) When you are ready to choose an RV, don’t do it without asking lots of questions. Ol’ Walt, who sold us our first trailer, told us about the couple who bought a pop-up, along with an electric frying pan, toaster, hair dryer, percolator and more. They returned the next Monday to get an RV that suited them better. A diesel pusher with granite counter tops may be the life you’re accustomed to, but it may restrict your traveling because of size and operating costs. We meet people every week happy to have chosen a van conversion, a cab-over, C-Class, a fifth wheel, motor home or a travel trailer. It’s all about what you hope to do with your RV and the places you want to stay… resort versus primitive, for example.
3) The hardest part was preparing the house for sale, which was no different for us than for just about anyone else trying to get the most bucks for their home. We did numerous repairs and sacrificed many valued things that were parts of our lives before calling in a private property inspector. Next, we interviewed the top Realtors in our area – each one was a revelation! We sorted, packed and tried to stay calm. A prospective buyer said “Yes, I want it,” one day after our time-line date.
4) And the easiest part is where to go. We meet people who want to go to every major league stadium, every presidential library, every national park, every state capitol, and more often a rotation among their grandchildren’s hometowns. We have set our sites on camping in every state, with Alaska this year being our 36th. No rush. Meanwhile, we are also looking for the place where we want to live when it’s time to put on the brakes, at least as full-timers. Part of the joy of looking is that it encourages us to get to know the locals and hear what’s so great about where they live.
We find that the biggest obstacles to living on the road, after you’ve found the financial resources, are health and health insurance. Although we are healthy and have good health coverage, we know that these are the issues that present the most problems for many wanna-be RVers. We hope it works out for you.
A camper by the name of Dermott told us early-on, “Without courage, there is no freedom; without freedom, there is no happiness.”