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.
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.
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!