Why do people full-time? Do they do it because they like to camp out? Or do they do it because they like to travel? There are many reasons for full-timing. Traveling from point A to point B is one good reason. Visiting places they have never seen before is another. Also being able to travel without a schedule makes for happier traveling. Some people full-time because they have jobs and they need inexpensive housing to live in while they are working. They then spend part of their time dreaming, getting ready and saving their pennies for their grand adventure. And, there are still many other good reasons besides these for full-timing.
Traveling in our rolling home gave us the freedom to come and go as we pleased, and stay as long as we wanted to in places that we especially liked. Often when we were writing on a special project, we would try to find a place where we would like to stay for awhile. It might be a pretty place, or perhaps, a town where there was convenient shopping or other attractions. My wife, Jan and I spent 23 years full-timing and doing this, loving and enjoying every minute of it, until two years ago when she passed away from cancer. Since then I have kept right on full-timing. Full-timing has so many advantages that once you are a full-timer you hate to stop because it is so convenient and enjoyable.
Is there any way to start full-timing other than just having an RV? Yes—to start with—I highly recommend having some RV experience before starting to full-time. Start small in the beginning and then work up in the size of your rig. Decide on whether you like trailers or motorhomes best. Then, and only then, should you buy a suitable full-timing RV. This means having one that is still NOT too large or too small. Some people can full-time in a pickup camper, but if you are going to do it with two people it can get awfully claustrophobic. Yet, many single people successfully do it in pickup campers or small Class B or Class C motorhomes. I personally could live in a nice pickup camper if I could get all my junk in it. Jan and I did it for two months back in 1969, and loved it, but it was only for two months.
Then on the other side of the coin, you can have too big an RV. For those who wish to start out full-timing for the first time, I do not advise going to the RV sales lot and hitching up a big 40-foot fifth-wheel rig or driving away with a 40-foot Class A motorhome and planning to go full-timing. The best way to do it is to start out with a medium size rig in either a trailer or motorhome. I will not go into the various attributes of trailers or motorhomes here, this is something you will have to decide before you buy.
Study floor plans and make many visits to the object of your attention. Use a tape measure and draw in many of the features on a pad. You will want to know if your computer will fit where you want to place it. Also, you should measure closet rods to see if they are long enough to store all of your clothing. Plan on where you will stow other items you will need. Things like pots and pans, camera gear, shoes, and winter coats also will have to be stowed. Plan out every conceivable location for where you will keep your things. Medicine and band aids, cleaning supplies will have to be put away. All of these items are important to your comfort as you full-time. Once you have moved into your dream home, I then recommend you live in it for a period of several weeks to several months before you take off.
If you have gone RVing before you moved into your dream home, you will have the necessary skills to handle your new RV and will quickly get acquainted with how it handles driving down the road.
In next month’s column, I will discuss how to make your first trip go smoothly and avoid problems.
Bill Moeller has been an active full-timer for close to 30 years. He is an experienced photojournalist, newspaper columnist and author of six books. Visit www.tld.com to purchase his popular guide, “Complete Guide to Full-Time RVing.” To learn more about Bill and/or his books, visit his website. If you have questions for Bill about this column or full-timing in general, send an email to: [email protected]