You see it in their face, the look tells you that they just plain don't take you serious, or perhaps
they just can't figure out why. How do you explain to those important to you that yes, you plan
to sell it all. The house, the boat, the books, the "stuff," and become "Nomads," "Wanderers,"
"American Continent Travelers," "Geritol Gypsies," or better said: "Full-Timers."
When people ask through those questioning looks, or outright verbal questions it is difficult to
explain in the short time that we may have and therefore I thought perhaps if you could read
some excerpts from comments and/or expressions that have been "borrowed" from folks who
are doing what we plan to do, you might better understand. As we have researched this life
style of "Full-Time" motorhome living we have been influenced by the paragraphs written from
the heart and most of all the experience of those who have lived it or currently are living it.
There are many paragraphs, but what follows is a mere tiny collection of what has been
influential in shaping our dreams and hopefully our future destiny:
The following is expressed and written
by Norm & Linda Payne after their
first year of full-time living and traveling
in their motorhome. P.S. Links to their
information packed web site can be
found in "Our Favorite Links"
September 8, 1999, our Dutch Star motorhome was delivered and we moved in that night.
Over the next few weeks we prepared the house for sale and finished getting rid of our
furniture, household items, two cars and a van. We left the house in the hands of a Realtor
and it closed in December. On October 4 we hit the road traveling fulltime. Wow, it felt great -
total freedom. No more house painting or cleaning, no more staining the deck or mowing
grass, no more shoveling snow, and most important - no more work, we were retired. During
this first year we drove the motorhome 15,868 miles, drove the Honda 13,860 miles, visited 25
states, Mexico and four provinces in Canada. We spent the night in 89 different places.
There were too many highlights to talk about each one, but we will mention some of the most
interesting things we did. At times our backyard was ocean waves, the Rocky Mountains,
rivers and lakes, glaciers and snow covered peaks, deserts and cactus, dense forest and
plains. Our visitors included squirrels, raccoons, jack rabbits, elk and deer. In Texas we took a
rowboat with Mexicans across the border, rented horses to tour a town, then brought three
illegal aliens back to the states. We returned them later. At another unmanned Mexican
border crossing we got lost in the desert and wondered if we could find our way back to the
USA. We did. At a Star Party we gazed at distant planets through telescopes and marveled at
their moons and rings. We hiked through deserts, over mountains, along rivers, and hung to
sheer canyon walls. We visited large and small museums in large cities and small towns. We
camped in hot weather, windy places, sub-zero snow storms, and lived through a hail storm
that beat the motorhome and Honda into submission. We picnicked by spewing geysers,
emerald lakes and with wild buffalo. We ate in expensive restaurants and in some small dives,
but never had a bad meal. We attended small town festivals and happened on the Oak Ridge
Boys giving a concert in the street. In Canadian Icefields we walked on a glacier and drank
melting water from snow that fell 150 years ago. We rented a canoe and rowed across a
glacier fed blue lake.
But the best thing about fulltime traveling is the people we met. We have enjoyed meeting
people from all parts of the USA, Canada and Mexico - people of all ages and walks of life.
Many of these people have become our friends for life and it is a pleasure as we meet them
again on the road. After spending one year fulltiming we have decided it will take at least
another ten years to see everything we want to see. This is a great life.
|Now six years later they write:
Starting All Over Again
It began innocently enough when friends Steve and Nancy Gardner picked up their new 2005
Dutch Star at Tom Stinnett RV and stayed three nights at Louisville Metro KOA Kampground
with us. The Gardners recently retired, sold their house and after much research ordered a
new motorhome and we were honored they spent their first fulltiming days parked near us.
Linda walked around their motorhome and said, "I love it," then she went inside and again
declared, "I love it." At that point I knew I was in trouble.
I have often written about doing research, budgets and finances, and an exit plan. Everyone
needs to re-evaluate their life every few years and decide where they want to be in ten years.
There are three thing to consider - wants and desires, finances, and health.
Wants and Desires - When Linda and I started traveling fulltime in 1999 we planned on
fulltiming five years and then deciding what to do with the rest of our lives, but within a few
months we decided we would travel for ten years. This summer will be our sixth year on the
road and we have decided we want to travel fulltime another ten years.
Finances - We studied our finances, dissected them and made projections for the next eleven
year when I will be 70 years old and Linda will be 66. Our figures show we can afford to trade
motorhomes and continue fulltiming until those ages and still have enough funds to settle down
and take it easy in our elderly years.
Health - I have had a few health problems in recent years and Linda has had a couple of
concerns. That is all the more reason to continue traveling while we are healthy enough to
enjoy it. Fulltime traveling helps one stay healthy and improves the mind and attitude.
After much discussion and soul searching we decided to order a new 2005 Dutch Star
motorhome and continue traveling down the road many more years. (I'll write more about the
motorhome next month when we take delivery.)
So we are Starting All Over Again, in a new motorhome with plans to travel fulltime another ten
years. Matter of fact, just like we started in 1999, we did it all over again. We pulled out of
Louisville Metro KOA and stopped at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington then went to
Escapees Raccoon Valley RV Park north of Knoxville, Tennessee. Those are the same parks
we visited when we hit the road in 1999.
|Why can't all communities be like this?
As we prepared to retire and enter the lifestyle of traveling fulltime, we talked at length about the
things we would see. Our travels would take us to mountains and deserts, oceans, rivers and
lakes. We wanted to see the National Parks in the good old USA and the National and Provincial
Parks in Canada. We knew trips to Mexico would be interesting as would train and boat rides,
hikes and long sightseeing drives. Of course we would need to visit small towns and large cities
with small museums and large galleries. We could not wait to begin our journey and see as much
as our eyes and brains could absorb.
Then a funny thing happened on our way to fulltiming. In campground after campground we met
wonderfully friendly people that became our friends. For a few days we enjoyed each others
company, a few meals together and some sightseeing. When we left that campground there
would be handshakes and hugs and exchanges of e-mail addresses and phone numbers. After
a couple of months on the road we had built a list of new friends that we were communicating
with routinely. That is when we realized the best thing about traveling fulltime is not the things we
saw but the people we met. This country is full of great people.
Soon we were making plans to meet our new friends in RV parks, often driving hundreds of miles
to meet them. Then our friends would drive hundreds of miles to be with us. Next we started
meeting friends of our friends, and they became our friends too. Next came the groups of
friends, where we would plan for months on all of us meeting together. When we left our friends it
was a sad time, but not to worry. Just down the road at the next campground we would either
meet old friends or make new ones.
Now we understand the RV community - a tight nit group of friends and friendly people. It is a
mobile community that moves from town to town, not actually the same people, but the same
"mind" of people. No matter where we go in the community we feel at home. Too bad the fixed
communities of our country are not like the RV community.
|Location, Location, Location
|It's the Location that Counts
In 1968 I built my first house and had not heard about location being important. Twenty-one
years later I sold that house and it had not appreciated very much in value. I talked to a Realtor
and he explained there are three important items in buying a house - location, location and
location. My next house was built with location in mind - a large house in a nicer neighborhood
that we sold in 1999 for a nice profit. The only problem with that house was it was too large, four
bedrooms, 2 ½ baths, large eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, formal living room, family room,
den with library, office, 2 car garage, deck, large paved driveway.
There were problems with owning that house as there was work to be done. I got tired of mowing
the grass, staining the deck, cleaning out gutters, trimming shrubs, raking leaves, shoveling
snow, painting and all the other work that goes with home ownership. We had rooms we only
entered to dust the items we no longer wanted. The house was on a fixed foundation so every
time we looked out the windows we saw the same scenery - boring. When we decided to sell the
house and buy a motorhome to live in fulltime many people thought we were crazy. In September
1999 we sold our large three story house and moved into a new Dutch Star motorhome that
contains 358 square feet of living space. That is one-third the size of a small apartment. Were we
Now let us look at location again. Since we have been traveling we have lived on the beach with
waves a hundred yards from our door and palm trees swaying over our home. We have lived on
mountain tops with beautiful views of the valleys below, then lived in the valleys with beautiful
mountain tops in the distance. We have lived by rivers, lakes and streams and watched ducks
from our picture window. In Canada we viewed a glacier from our home, lived near snow covered
mountains and had elk for visitors. In the desert stately cacti stood guard over our home and in
Oklahoma canoeist waved as they paddled down a river. In Montana we lived by a beautiful trout
stream in a National Forest and in Langtry, Texas we stopped our home by Judge Roy Bean's
Saloon and Opera House.
From our home we can walk to the beach and let waves splash on our legs as we pick up shells.
We can tour nearby abandoned gold and silver mines and take home some ore samples. We ride
our bicycles through tree lined streets, across the desert and to visit neighbors. Outside our door
we watch squirrels play and see snow-melt run by our home to form streams, then rivers and
lakes. Our picture window affords us views most people never see - oceans, Mt. Rushmore,
Crazy Horse, the Badlands, Stone Mountain, moose and mountain goats, Mexico, deserts,
glaciers, the Continental Divide and the Third Divide (where water flows to the Arctic Ocean),
geysers, volcanic mountains and much more. We followed the trail of Lewis and Clark and from
our window looked at sites that were first seen by the famous explorers. The views from our
windows are different every few days as our home changes location often and North America is
When we visit family and friends we take our home to visit their home by parking in their
driveways. We have parked in church parking lots, took showers, walked across the lot to attend
church then returned to our home for lunch. Our home contains everything we need, but nothing
we don't need. Last December we stayed in a relative's home and found we had to walk through
rooms and on stairways just to get a drink of water. In our home everything is just a few feet away.
We do not think we were crazy to trade a large home for a 358 square foot motorhome. Our
location is worth a million dollars and if we don't like our view today, we can move to a new
Being fulltime travelers we can follow perpetual Springtime, or at least try to. Sometimes we
succeed and sometimes we fail but it is fun trying. We spend the Winters in the south, Summers
in the north and Spring and Fall in the mid-section of the country. When the weather holds true
to form we are in perpetual Springtime.
This Summer we left Kentucky on July 1 and traveled two weeks in Maine, two months in the
Canadian Maritimes, one week in New York and one week in the northern Midwest. During all that
time the temperature was never high enough to require air conditioning and very little heat was
needed at night.
There are people who will say 72 degree days and 60 degree nights are either too hot or too
cold, but we enjoyed a full Summer of those temperatures. In a few weeks we'll be in Florida so
we need to try our air conditioners just to make sure they still work. Matter of fact, we hope it gets
hot enough to make us sweat a little because we think we have forgotten how.
|Fulltimers Are Conservatives
Fulltimers are conservatives and I'm not talking about politics. We sure are not liberals in our RVs.
Yes, I drive our 38 foot motorhome down the road and get 8.5 miles per gallon, but we are moving
everything we own including our Honda CR-V that is hitched to the rear. But we don't drive the
motorhome very many miles every month. I know several people living in houses that drive long
distances to work in a SUV getting about twice the miles per gallon of our motorhome. When we
get to our destination we drive the Honda and average 26 mpg. We only have one car compared
to two or more for most of those living in a house with a foundation.
Living in a motorhome we are aware of every gallon of water we use and our 105 gallon fresh
water tank has lasted as long as thirteen days. Our black tank (45 gallons) holds toilet water and
our gray tank (65 gallons) holds water from the sinks and shower. We can also go thirteen days
before needing to dump those tanks. With four storage batteries for the house part (the engine
has two separate batteries) and an inverter we can run most everything from the batteries and
recharge them with solar panels. With the solar panels we can crank up our satellite dish and
watch television in the middle of the desert without using any fossil fuels. If we need to run our air
conditioners we can fire up our 7.5 kilowatt generator which sips about 3/4 gallon of diesel fuel
per hour. Our catalytic heater is 99% efficient and it keeps our motorhome toasty warm down to
the freezing level outside.
The last three months we have been in one campground with full hookups (electric, water, sewer)
which has been nice. I estimate we use about 30-40 gallons of water a day including our clothes
washer and very little electricity. Our motorhome has 50-amp service, but our campsite has 30-
amps and that is all we need to run anything in the motorhome. Often when we leave the
campground I turn off the electric at the outside post so the motorhome used no electric except
Our motorhome is about 14% the size of the house we owned before going fulltime. Plus the
house had a heated basement storage area and a two car garage. In the house we had 200-amp
service and used thousands of gallons of water monthly. Looking back at the house I realize we
heated and air conditioned rooms we seldom used, then we poured water on the grass to make it
grow and fired up a gas guzzling lawn mower and weed trimmer to cut it. I don't think we ever
turned the main circuit breaker off to the house so it received no power like we do in the
So when we lived in a house we were liberals and now we are conservatives. Next time you see a
large motorhome driving down the highway, remember, you are looking at conservatives.