Nature

Fulltiming – What’s Hard and What’s Easy

On August 9, 2010 my wife Sharon and I and Fiona the Fearless Kitty got in our 2003 Roadtrek 190 Popular and headed out to… nowhere special.  After configuring our campervan for extended boondocking capability with solar panels, an inverter, and extra batteries, we had cut our earthly ties and were embarking on an endless journey – fulltiming.  No home base, no rent/mortgage, no grass to mow, no mailbox. I had just retired and we were ready. The photo on the right is me heading out. Notice the big grin. You can only imagine how many problems and irritations we were leaving behind, never to cross our minds again.

One Happy Camper -  - Our First Day on the Road

Closing out our sticks and bricks house situation was easy – I had sold our previous house back before the 2008 crash and we had been renting the last few years  because my last job was iffy, so I lucked out there. All we had to do was notify family members to come get what they wanted, have a garage sale with the rest, and throw away whatever nobody wanted. The possessions we wanted to keep and weren’t taking with us in our Roadtrek  are in a dozen storage boxes in my sister’s attic – dishes, bedlinens, favorite books, sentimental objects, etc.  in case we ever want to set up house again.  They’re still up there in the attic 😉

As we have traveled the continent over the past few years, we have found what’s hard and what’s easy about the fulltiming lifestyle compared to normal living. Let’s start with household finances: in these days of online banking and bill paying, almost everything about handling your money is easy on the road. The only problems are situations where a financial institution insists on mailing a physical object to a real mailing address- new credit or insurance cards, new checks, things like that. It’s an aggravation to have this stuff forwarded to where you’re going to be. What we do is pick a town we’ll be near in a week or so and notify my relatives at our nominal mailing address (my parents’/sister’s house) of the address of the UPS Store there. They mail a package to the store, c/o Campskunk, and I can pick it up for a $5 fee.

Shopping is generally easy on the road for staples and common items – the problem arises when you need something available only online or by mail order. Online merchants are extremely leery of sending something to a location other than the billing address, and you don’t have an address for them to send it to you where you are anyway. Have stuff sent to your nominal mailing address. The UPS package to a nearby town system described above works – awkwardly – for this, with a big time lag, and returns are further complications.  You get good at finding things in physical stores that you’re used to ordering online because it’s less hassle.  We don’t want to overwork our forwarding system, and it’s an aggravation to be in a certain town at a certain date to pick the package up – we don’t like to be tied down like that.

Vehicle maintenance is easy for me – I do all my own work, and generally perform all maintenance tasks while in a friendly driveway during our holiday visits with family. The Chevrolet chassis our Roadtrek is built on has a major service every 30,000 miles, and that’s two years worth of driving for us, so I do one every other year.

Sharon Relaxes After a Hard Day Maintaining our Fulltime Lifestyle - Mineral Creek, San Juan NF, 6/23/11
Sharon Relaxes After a Hard Day Maintaining our Fulltime Lifestyle – Mineral Creek, San Juan NF, 6/23/11

Physician/dental visits  are problematic- there’s no “see you in three months”  when you’re a fulltimer. We have east and west coast dentists to keep up with our dental cleaning schedule, and have our mail order prescription refills forwarded in the UPS packages from “home.”  On occasion, we have gone into Mexico when that’s the only way to get a prescription refilled. It’s definitely more difficult than when we were sedentary.

Laundry is easy – just Google up a laundromat. I keep a supply of quarters in a film can in case there’s no change machine.

Vet visits are annual affairs we do when visiting family for the holidays – Fiona the Fearless is disgustingly healthy.

It’s amazing how you’ll establish a routine and fall into a schedule of propane refills, grocery shopping, laundromat visits, and other infrequent interruptions to your primary pastime – relaxation in beautiful settings across the continent.

You learn to anticipate trouble – buy what you need before going into areas where it’s scarce. The longer you do it, the easier it gets. It’s MUCH easier than we originally anticipated, but there’s only one way for you to find out for sure – have a big garage sale and hit the road!

23 thoughts on “Fulltiming – What’s Hard and What’s Easy”

  1. shari groendyk

    I like that pic of you, Campskunk. You are radiating happiness.

    Really, all things considered, it doesn’t seem that difficult to do (other than making the decision to cut the tie of course); you’ve spelled out the main challenges and shown that there are ways in this electronic day and age to make it doable. I am a repository for a nomadic cousin who is trying to find himself (Phillipines, Costa Rica, last I heard) – have his boxes piled to the ceiling in our basement, and receive his bank card statements, which I basically just pitch – he can see them all online, just needed a base address to satisfy the bank.

    Another great blog, thanks!

  2. Cheryl Gregorie

    Great article! Do y’all have children or grandchildren? I think that keeps many from going full time. I keep trying to figure a good time to take a year and just take off. I have prescriptions with CVS and they tell me I can fill my prescriptions at any CVS across the country. Have you tried that and found it isn’t as easy as they say? Thanks again for your articles.

  3. Kids/grand kids are what got me on the road! I was in Cali and a new baby granddaughter was in Texas; the rest is history!

  4. no kids, cheryl – that comes up a lot in our discussions with people about fulltiming. it’s easier to fulltime if you’re only responsible for yourself. we were doing great the first year when we could leave the prescriptions with one Wal-Mart and fill them anywhere in the country, but our cost-cutting prescription coverage plan insisted on going to mail order two years ago, and it’s a real pain.

  5. Laura HughesPostema

    Great article. You have given us food for thought. We have grandchildren… And children on both coasts so we could have “destination points” if we want. Hmmm… Thanks for the article; we’re looking forward to reading more about your lifestyle.

    1. art, whippersnappers like you would have no way of knowing, but back when i was young and the earth was still cooling we didn’t have digital cameras – we took photos using “film”. a film can is a little plastic container with a lid used to store rolls of film that’s perfect for storing quarters. now all you kids get off my lawn!!

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