Full-Time RVing: 8 Tips for Getting Rid of Your STUFF


Recently, while waiting in the business’ reception area, I had a conversation with a young lady who was manning the desk and phones about our RV lifestyle.  Guessing, she had to be in her mid to late 20’s, single, no kids and full of life and aspiration gathering from our conversation.  She seemed genuinely interested in our lifestyle.

Continue reading “Full-Time RVing: 8 Tips for Getting Rid of Your STUFF”

Our 10 Challenges about RVing

Strangely, we didn’t really know what to expect once we pulled our fifth wheel out of that small Kentucky town. I guess you could say we had visions of visiting everything under the sun, cleverly writing postcards like Hemingway, going out everyday sampling local cuisines and wine tastings, sightseeing every inch of every State, etc. e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y! I mean, that’s the stereotype or perception of what full-time RVers do, right? Continue reading “Our 10 Challenges about RVing”

Why RV Ownership is Better than Home Ownership!

We recently wrote a blog piece 10 Things we should have known before going full-time.  It was our list of challenges we have faced since full-time RVing.  We hope that didn’t scare those of you who are contemplating this lifestyle.  Though being brutally honest, we hope it saves future RVer’s sanity or helps to better prepare them, then that piece was worth sharing.  We certainly don’t want to be a downer.  Ya just gotta see the grit and dirt.  We get asked a lot about full-timing and the romance of it but sometimes that may obscure the real deal.  So, take that for what it was intended.  Nothing is all puffy clouds and rainbows; RVing included.

Okay, now that we got THAT out of the way…

We’ve come up with our own list of Why RVership is Better than Homeownership.  This is a fun list we put together for your enjoyment and perhaps may be that nudge you need to push yourselves over the edge into selling it all to go on the road.

1)   LAWNSCAPING – We hope we never have to pull the cord to a lawn mower ever again…or firing up a chain saw or weed wacker.  Our dreams of never having to pick up a shovel to dig holes to plant things or worry about our hard-worked gardens and lawns drying up in the heat of the summer have come true.  Admittedly though, it is fun to sit in our chairs outside with our cold beverages while watching others do it.  That said, we aren’t total jerks; we always offer a cold bottle of water or ice tea to them as they painstakingly do their chores.  Sorry…not sorry! 

Our water garden (we built) at our former sticks & bricks home.
Though it was beautiful and serene, it required maintenance.

Now we enjoy gardens without ever having to pull a weed or water.

2)   ALL DAY HOUSECLEANING – Never do we miss a day of taking three days to thoroughly clean our former 3600 square foot home.  NOPE!  No more lugging that big monster Kenmore vacuum up and down the stairs, dusting four bedrooms, laundering curtains and washing window, organizing the never-ending craft room mess, scrubbing floors, and constantly wiping knicknacks and wall art.  It always seemed to be endless chore after chore. Now, we can have the bed made, dishes done, bathroom cleaned, deck swabbed, pillows fluffed, lateral surfaces dusted, etc. all in the course of…*drum roll*…ONE HOUR.  Can you imagine?  Our 380ish square foot 5th wheel doesn’t need massive cleanings anyways because we always keep it clean and picked up.  We have to or we’ll trip over it.

3)   COLLECTING STUFF/CLUTTER – We simply can’t be collectors of stuff anymore.  We don’t have the room and we have to be mindful of our weight.  Every few months, we purge.  If its not been used since the last purging, out it goes.  We buy ‘disposable’ holiday decorations.  When the holiday is over, ‘out, out damn spot!’  If its good useable stuff, we usually put things in the RV park or campground laundry rooms.  Two or three hours later, we’ll notice its gone which means others enjoy our givings.  If they are big things or clothes, we’ll donate or pass them on.  Our choice donation centers are on military posts/bases where young military families can get our contributions for nearly nothing.

4)    HOUSEFUL OF FURNITURE – When buying an RV, it comes completely outfitted with furniture and even decor.  Sure, we’ve picked up a couple pieces of small basket holders and purchased a better mattress but that’s it.  We have a couple photo frames and two small table lamps.  We may pick up a piece or two of wall art but when we put up the new, out goes the old.  We usually buy less expensive decor so we don’t feel bad about getting rid of it when its time.

We still can’t believe ‘all’ the furniture we had in that huge house!

5)  PAYING REAL ESTATE TAX – While some may this might seem selfish, it’s not.  We paid dearly for years while we owned three homes at different duty station locations.  Don’t think we get off scott free; we still pay federal tax on Dan’s military pension and our contract work, sales tax on purchases, taxes on fuel and road tolls, and truck/RV/motorcycle registrations but we don’t miss having to set aside upwards to hundreds a month for real estate taxes…a savings of about $4000/year (seriously!).

6)  SHOVELING SNOW – NOPE!!  We prefer consistent 70’s and 80’s but unless we’re in Cabo San Luca, that’s not going to happen.  We have been bit by cold snaps a few times so we’ve quickly looked at our map’s latitude lines and told each other, ‘let’s head for better weather!’  Once in awhile we have to run our furnace…and we hate it!  

7)   OBNOXIOUS CABLE BILLS – Some RVers have Direct TV or Dish Network.  We prefer not to.  For fun watching, we subscribe to Netflix or Hulu for occasional movies and we have a case full of DVD movies or we swap-borrow.  If an RV park or resort has cable tv in their hookups that’s part of their rate, fine but we won’t pay extra just to have it. Its not important to us.  In fact, all of January and most of February, we’ve not even turned the television on.  We went hiking, walking, sightseeing, played cards, visited friends, and just enjoyed the other things.  You can’t believe how liberating it was not having to watch the elections leading up to the Presidential Inauguration.

8)   WASTING FOOD – Rarely do we throw food away because simply, we don’t have the room for two loaves of bread and bagels, numerous boxes of crackers, etc.  We don’t do a monthly grocery shopping anymore or bulk shopping at Costco or Sam’s.  We plan out our meals each week and shop for those provisions accordingly.  We don’t cook for an Army (er…Coast Guard) anymore; its just us and perhaps a couple more servings for leftovers for lunch the next day unless we’re entertaining.

9)  JUNK MAIL – We don’t get bills in the mail because we ‘went paperless’.  Not only are we conservation-minded, we have more time to do the things instead of opening mail, putting it in a pile, sorting and shredding it.  To read about how we handle our physical mail, read our blog piece You’ve Got Mail.

10)   SAME BACKYARD – Seriously, with our nomadic life, our aft picture window views change frequently.  Sometimes we have the beach or mountains, and other times we have the forest or desert.  Our neighbors change also; if it’s not us that’s relocating, its them.  If we end up with boring scenery, we hitch up Liberty and find something better to look at or interesting places to go.  Even Krissie and Kandi, our nomad cats, enjoy seeing different views.  

As you have just read, while it may sound like we’ve gotten lazy, we have not.  We fill our time with exciting activities like hiking, ADV motorcycle riding, visiting friends and family, playing tourist, blogging, writing, jewelry making, etc. We even volunteer sometimes!  We keep busy.  Our days still start early (just kidding!) and our nights…well, we don’t have set bedtimes anymore either.  What’s funny though…it may seem like we have all the time in the world, we manage to live one moment at a time.  We now have time to really ‘stop and smell the roses’.  We’ve learned how to LIVE and enjoy it living in an RV instead of a big McMansion.  

10 Things we should have known before going full-time

We’ve lived and traveled in our RV for going on 3 years and absolutely wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Our lifestyle is incredibly amazing.  We’ve been told people want to ‘be us’.  While we adored our previous sticks and bricks home, we love the tiny-house simplicity, liberation and freedom to go when we want and where.  We are blessed with so many people who come into our lives through our travels and remain friends for life.  But that doesn’t say there aren’t things we’ve missed or day dream about that we had living in our former ‘S&B’ (sticks and bricks) home.  We’re being honest here.  In this lifestyle, you trade one for another.

This lifestyle brings a whole new set of challenges.  That military mantra ‘overcome and adapt’ has followed us.  It’s okay though, it’s what makes us stronger to enjoy the reason why we are doing this whole nomadic lifestyle.  We consider ourselves lucky to be doing this but that doesn’t erase some disappointments or things we’d wished to keep.  This is a brutally honest, hearts-on-our-sleeves blog piece.  Don’t think for a minute that we’re complaining but, if you’re ever contemplating a nomadic lifestyle whether it be RVing, sailing, backpacking across the country, etc., you might want to know before cutting the cord:  

  • Soaks, Salts & Suds – I miss my big jetted tub!  I used to take 2-3 baths a week with my favorite soaps, salts and essential oils; whether it be therapeutically or simple relaxation.  Now, I’m lucky to get one every 2-3 months.  If I visit a friend or relative, I always ask, ‘may I?’ and when we get a hotel room, I splurge and get one with a big soaking tub.   

  • Endless Hot Water – It goes with the bathtub soaks.  Admit it, long showers rock…where it meant using the entire water heater tank in our former sticks and bricks, that we could stand in the shower for a good 30 minutes of pulsating hot water on my back and shoulders, but I digress.  Now, our showers are limited to about 5 minutes unless we use the bathhouse where we are parked but then there’s the whole privacy thing. We sacrifice one for the other.

  • Down The Drain – Doing dishes back then was so much simpler with one less step.  Now, we scrape our dishes well or wipe them with a napkin before washing them.  Weird I know, but we watch everything we put down our plumbing and tanks.  If not, we’re in big trouble…perhaps bigger and more costly than when we had our S&B.  On the same note, if we’re not hooked up to sewer, we then are very conscious of how much we put in our gray tanks.  So, even that five minute shower gets cut to about two.
  • Friends and Family – This is probably the biggest ‘low point’ but we try not to dwell or think about it.  Our families are in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and elsewhere and Lisa’s best friends are in Florida, Maine, and Kentucky.  We make it a point to fly or drive to see our families and friends.  It takes extra planning because of where we may be parked, who will care for our nomad cats and how we get there.  

  • Forever Neighbors – We knew exactly who had coconut sugar or special spices to borrow from in our former neighborhood.  If a neighbor needed a babysitter, we were always there to help them.  The Early Wyne Ladies gathered every month for Bunco, baby and wedding showers, cooked for sick neighbors, and took care of each other’s neighbors and pets while we would step away on vacations or trips.  We miss the annual Kentucky Derby parties, Halloween Parties at Kim & Jim’s, Christmas Parties at Amy & Paul’s and New Year’s at whomever was bold enough to volunteer.  We’ve even hosted a few.  We miss the neighborhood community we had.  We knew we could depend on each other without worry.  

  • Butcher, Baker and Candlestick Maker – It might sound like a fairy tale we lived in however, this part was important to us.  We got our meats and groceries from our small Kentucky town Country Mart, our pastries and baked goods from The Tea Cup and whatever handcrafts, I bought from locals I knew.  We don’t have that anymore.  I miss it.  But it won’t keep us from not finding the best in the places we visit.  We make talk with the locals wherever we go to find their recommendations. We enjoy visiting Farmer’s Markets everywhere to compensate.  
    Dave & I chatting at our favorite bakery
    the Tea Cup in Taylorsville, Kentucky

  • Girlfriend Dates and Outings – nothing like all my peeps packing into our former home in funny themed pajamas to scrapbook until 4 am, lunch dates at the local cafes, and ‘playing the ponies’ at Churchill Downs with ‘da girls’ at Kentucky Derby time.  But on a good note, I’ve met some fabulous lady friends whom I’ve gotten to know to do ‘girlfriend things’ with on the road.  Some of us have grown extremely close because of what we have in common.   

  • Doctor, Dentist & Chiropractor – They knew us and our health like their own familys’.  They knew our stories and personals.  The knew how to treat without having to go through continuous comprehensive exams every visit.  Our military medical care is perhaps, one of our biggest challenges on the road, but we make it work.  We have to.
  • Our Nomad Cats’ Veterinarian – As with our own Doctor, our fuzzyheads miss Dr. Shelley and the staff at Elk Creek Animal Hospital.  They know them well and have been their patients since they were frisky kittens.  Doc Shelley diagnosed Kandi’s Feline Hyperesthesia and understands her need for separate visits to get her immunizations because of her allergic reactions if taken all together.  He also knows that Krissie is a Prima Donna, loves to be held by him but hates opening her mouth for him.  On a good note, each year we return to Kentucky to get their well-kitty checks and to play with the staff.  

  • Home for the Holidays – Most look at this as a heartbreaker but we make the best of it. I can honestly say, ‘we’re used to it’ because of our former military lifestyle being stationed away from our families. We love the holidays and we love our families.  But because of where they weather, location and time of year, travel is most times difficult, especially when we are parked a couple thousand miles away.  We try to situate ourselves where we may meet with other RVers in the same situation or choose a location near(er) to other family or friends.  Its hard to be alone but really, we’re not.  
    Our ‘RV Family’ OwnLessDoMore‘s Emily & Tim and son, Dane
    joined us for Christmas dinner at Wine Ridge RV Resort
    in Pahrump, NV

So, this is the story many don’t read, hear or “cautioned”; what most full-time RVers won’t talk about.  Its things we need to learn and experience on our own.  Even the coolness of our travels has it’s challenges, but we have two choices.  We can quit and go backwards or we can stand tall, suck in our guts and point our hearts to true north and enjoy the opportunities God has provided us with.

Looking Back…Why We Traded for a Different RV

Referring to our most recent blog post before this one brings up the question of how we came to deciding what to buy for our our “home on wheels”.

Once upon a time, (three years ago) when we originally set out on our quest for the perfect RV, we were looking to buy an affordable pre-owned Motorhome and a small trailer for our two Harley’s in tow. We chose that because that’s what we thought ‘RVing was’; looking like famous people in fancy graphic bus-type campers.  

Now, for a moment, close your eyes and picture this….

Wait…no…don’t do that because you’ll need your eyes to read.  so, let’s start over…

Our dream was visions of us trekking across our beautiful country in comfortable seats barefoot, in our pajama pants and tees, with the Captain driving while I (sipping my coffee of course) and our two fuzzy-headed resident mousers lounging on the big padded dash looking through the big windshield at mountains ahead of us.  we are lip singing to Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” while I am taking photo after photo of what’s before us.  Sounds so romantic, doesn’t it?  I mean, THIS is what RVing ‘looked like’ to us.

But hold on, not so fast!  Lets go back to the beginning…’our’ beginning.

A few weeks after deciding we wanted to become ‘full-time RVers’, I was on ‘girlfriend vacation’ to see my BFF in St. Pete’s area of Florida that January which just so happened to be the same time as the RV Super Show in Tampa. HA!  Mere coincidence? *giggle snort*  Shhh, don’t tell the Captain that was purely by design according to my travel plans.

Before escaping the cold Kentucky winter, Captain Dan and I sat down to figure out how much we wanted to spend.  Seriously, we had no idea what we were doing or how/where to start and how much one of those things cost but we knew we wanted one of those fancy dancy motorhomes.   *cynical laugh*  We collectively agreed on the $35-40K range; thinking that was at least a good starting point and while it was a considerable chunk of change, if we found out weeks or months later that this wasn’t for us, we only stood to loose a portion. 

Once I got down to the Sunshine state, I started our search a couple days before the RV show with that price range in mind.  I went to the big dog RV stores; the ones that sell both, new and pre-owned.  Boy, if I wasn’t flustered before I got there, I certainly was after I left. No…it was more like a reality slap-in-the-face wake up call!  Now, I’m not saying they aren’t out there but certainly, not where I was looking!  $35-40 for a pre-owned motorhome was completely unrealistic for our standards.  After viewing approximately twenty-five coaches, I sadly called the Captain telling him of my disappointments…”smelled like dog piss, very worn and dated cabinetry and furniture, weather etched headlights, oxydized chrome, broken this, smelly that”…you get the picture.  We agreed to sit on this a few days and to just go enjoy my vacation until the RV show in Tampa.

Well, here’s the skinny. If you have a budget of what I pronounced in our former paragraph, not only will you be as flustered and disappointed as us, you’ll be to the point of wanting to go in an alligator infested pond and be eaten alive.  Its like going into a Harley Davidson dealership and seeing all the ‘ooooooh shiny things’ and then seeing what you can afford waaaay in the back corner; the rat rod bike dripping oil, duct tape holding the seat together and paint scrapes as if it were in a NASCAR race hitting the wall multiple times.  

Let that sink in a moment…

Mothership of RV’s Motorhome

A couple days later, our friends Al and Kat accompanied me to the RV show.  The first mistake I made was upon arrival was, which is I guess, by strategic marketing design, going inside the big MOTHERSHIPS of RV’s in the main entrance hangar.  You know, the ones with perfectly laid red carpets leading to their doors, live mini palm trees with VIP bar height tables and signs at the doors ‘please remove your shoes before entering’.  They’re the ones with the flashy million or more dollar price tags!  Anyway, I went in only one; it was all I could take…marble tile floors, granite countertops, high end this and that with more lights than the Las Vegas strip.  Our laughingly skinny budget just wasn’t going to do here; time to move on.  All I kept thinking is ‘this is how the beautiful people play’.   Al and Kat decided to split off to go on their own shopping venture; looking at 5th wheels (they were same age as us looking for weekend or week vacation RV’s with the grandkids) as I was more interested in looking  at affordable Motorhomes.

A couple hours later and a couple twenty motorhome viewings, I came upon one with a floor plan I just absolutely fallen head over heals over.  I instantly daydreamed as I sat in the driver’s seat behind that big windshield.  Within a few minutes, the no-pressure salesman wrote up a quote that I thought was a heck of a deal; what you call an out-the-door ‘show price’ of $105,000.  Let that sink in a minute.  One hundred and five thousand dollars for a ‘camper’…er…RV. I mean, it was only sixty thousand more than our agreed budget.  I was hoping he wouldn’t notice.  So I texted Captain Dan a photo of it, inside and out with the out-the-door price.  This Motorhome had a fireplace, luxurious leather furniture, stainless appliances, beautiful graphics, etc. Quickly though, he squashed my daydream like an unwanted spider.  Here, I searched until I found what I thought could be doable (I did the math in my head); remembering that were were selling it all to trade for this lifestyle of full-time RV’ing.  His text burned my eyes to tears, ‘We agreed on $35-40k’, remember?  So, I sarcastically recanted back, ‘so, let me get this straight…we are selling our almost $300k home and all its contents to go live in $35-40K RV that was going to be our HOME.  Immediately, that hit a marital hot spot, then….silence. We both were…angry and upset. *heavy sigh*  So, I went on with my day, shoulders slumped in disappointment and just meandered about the outdoor expo area waiting to meet up with our friends to head back to their hotel room and I back to my best friend’s home.

Meanwhile, no text exchanges after that….for two whole days. (in our 30 year marriage, we’ve never done that!)

Because we weren’t able to stay angry at each other for any longer, we each finally swallowed our humble pie and chatted on the phone for nearly an hour.  He then, completely turned the tables with another idea.  All the while I was stewing those two days of marital silence (and still dreaming of that big windshield), he was busy researching the RV Trader for some other options.  He was now looking at Toyhauler 5th wheels.  I was like, “what the heck is a ‘toyhauler’ and 5th wheel and dude, now we need a truck!”  So, the Captain suggested that I visit a dealer to go look at a few.  After visiting a big RV dealership in Tampa with my best friend in tow, I was starting to come around even though I still wanted the big windshield…and to sip my coffee in my pajama pants while going down the road.

In every marriage, each must meet in the middle to compromise.  He raised the bar on understanding I wasn’t going to live in a yard-sale rig of unknowns (happy wife, happy life), so I guess I needed to knock myself down a notch or two.  So, we collectively again, agreed a Toyhauler 5th wheel was the end-all answer.  I get the ‘new RV smell’ and he gets the mechanics part that he was comfortable dealing with.  Oh, and that he gets a big big truck to pull it with.  Win win?  I still didn’t get my big windshield but oh well. *shrugs shoulders*

Class A Motorhome Toyhauler
Now, I guess to patronize me, we did look inside a couple toyhauler motorhomes.  While they were beautiful,dollar signs kept us away.  That and after touring several models, they just didn’t do it for our needs and wants.  They all had some things in common with the 5th wheel toyhaulers; garage with ramp door, ramp door becomes party patio deck with railing, etc.  

Not quite our idea of our stateroom aka master bedroom.
Notice the floor to ceiling height
But, the galley kitchen was tiny with very limited seating and I wasn’t in favor of booth-type dining. The living room would have a steering wheel in it, and the bed was up in a loft over the garage where we couldn’t stand up in which, in itself, was a major drawback for us.  We didn’t like the idea of having to crawl into or out of bed; not with our aging backs and knees and certainly going down a ladder or tiny stairs in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom would only spell out disaster for one or both of us.  We had to remember that this wasn’t going to be a weekend or vacation RV, this was going to be our HOME that we would be living in everyday for however long our journey took us. 

Aside from those, other issues were price tag, gas engine instead of diesel (which Captain Dan is quite adamant about), and seriously, now towing a toad (extra vehicle) from a big rig like that scared the bejeevers out of me.  There were just too many issues for the both of us that had me changing my mind about the windshield size. 

So, our new plan was to trade our car in for a new big truck to pull a 5th wheel toyhauler removed all of those issues and made more sense to us.  Our decision was made.  We ordered a 2014 Heartland Cyclone 4100, and weeks later, purchased our truck.  NOTE: Taking advise from several BTDT’s on those Facebook groups, it’s important to buy your towable RV BEFORE your truck/pull vehicle.  Your pull vehicle must be fully capable to do the job; weight, engine size, and pulling and stopping what it tows sufficiently.  Our truck would double as the work horse as well as be our transportation after disconnecting (we call it ‘mooring’) so, we opted for a 2014 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel DRW (dual rear wheel) aka a ‘Dually’.  Upon selling our everything by Thanksgiving (11 months, from the first day of shopping for our RV until the day we rolled out of Kentucky), we finally hit the road looking like this: 

Captain America pulling our 2014 Heartland Cyclone 4100
Now, if you’ve started reading our blog as of late, you’ll notice our current RV is not a Toyhauler any longer.  That’s due to us having a long hard discussion at the logistics of hauling, storing, and maintaining our shiny chrome Harley Davidson motorcycles and trying to full-time in a Toyhauler 5th wheel that was meant for weekenders or weekly here-and-theres.  Though we loved riding our Harleys, the whole logistics thing wasn’t working for us.  Long story short, we sold our Harleys.  This past December, we traded our 2014 Heartland Cyclone 4100 Toyhauler for a new 2016 Heartland Landmark 365 luxury model 5th wheel which appropriated much better living space as well as the ‘full-timer package’ for all weather; hence the labeling ‘365’.  

Captain America pulling our 2016 Heartland Landmark 365 “Liberty”
We, in the meantime through private sale, purchased a pre-owned Idaho Tote to connect to the rear of our 5th wheel.  That took a bit of work as we had to hire a professional welder to fabricate the connection points to the frame.  We kept our riding vices so we bought two pre-owned dual sport motorcycles that we just ‘ride and rinse’.

So, there’s our short and skinny.  Decisions like this are not to be made in haste.  There’s a moral to our story.  Be patient, research ’til the cows come home and believe me when I say this, ‘be SEMPER GUMBY’ (always flexible).  Oh, and before it all ends, you’ll change your mind a few times until getting it right or what you truly want.