This page might answer some questions about the choices we're making in our retirement life.
What made you decide to become full-time RV'ers?
At first, camping was Wayne's idea. No, really it was. He's an Auburn University Alumnus. Going to football games at Auburn, he saw hundreds -- no thousands of people tailgating with tents and campers; tailgating appealed to him. Auburn's campus has lots of space for gameweek tailgating. Cooking out, visiting with friends, meeting people with the same interests... it seemed like fun.
Once we tried tailgating with our first little camping trailer, we were hooked and just couldn't get enough. It was relaxing and exciting too. We wanted to see more... and more...and more. We ventured farther and farther from home on weekend and vacation camping trips.
We should have known it all along... Wayne's family was transient as he was growing up and my dad was in construction so we moved around a lot too. Wayne and I have never been "root bound" and have moved many times in our married life. RVing was a "natural" for us.
The decision to travel in retirement was made jointly and was an easy one.
Why did you get a motorhome instead of a fifth-wheel or tow-behind trailer?
If you've seen the "Camping History" page, you know that we started camping in a small, travel trailer. Although the first outing certainly presented lots of challenges, we did manage to conquer the obstacles.
Within six months we knew we loved this pastime had made the "retirement travel" decision. We looked for the perfect "full time" RV. Together we decided a fifth-wheel would be best for us. Fifth-wheels have lots of room and little wasted space. I didn't like the idea of having a steering wheel in the living room so motorhomes were not considered.
While the fifth-wheel was nearly perfect for us, it was not best for our retirement. You see we like to go, go, go -- never staying too long at any one place. Our fifth-wheel had some automation but not enough. I worried that setting up and breaking camp every few days would be too labor intensive for us. Our fifth-wheel had to be manually leveled and the 50 amp power cord weighed nearly 50 pounds and had to be coiled and uncoiled at every stop. Without an on-board generator, we used portables and they were heavy. To level front-to-rear, the coach had to be unhooked from the truck. In short, we needed more automation (push button living).
Motorhomes are designed for old folks, I suppose. Almost everything is automatic and you can literally park and start living in it without ever setting a foot on the ground. That's what we wanted, that's what we looked for and that's what we got.
Why this particular motorhome?
Our current (and final) coach is a 2011 Holiday Rambler Endeavor 43DFT named "Endie" that we bought new from The RV Shop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This is our second motorhome and our fourth camping vehicle (see the "Camping History" tab for details). We selected this particular coach because 1) this is our favorite floorplan, 2) it's a Monaco (Navistar) product and we like that, 3) it has one of the last Cummins engines for Holiday Rambler, 4) the floor is all ceramic tile, 4) it has a fireplace and a giant 42" TV in the rear of the living room and 5) there's a full wall slide so the thing feels like an apartment. It has, but we didn't want, a half bath -- it's a waste of space.
How much did your motorhome cost?
Now I'm not really going to answer that question but I'll tell say this: New 45' diesel motorhomes have price tag ranging from $100,000 to $1,750,000 depending on EVERYTHING. Like automobiles, sticker price is rarely paid and motorhomes depreciate dramatically the instant they drive off the lot.
I'm also not going to say how much money we saved for retirement, my weight, bra size or real hair color.
What is your motorhome's fuel mileage?
About 8-10 mpg depending on the terrain. We rarely drive more than 55 miles per hour. The tank is 100 gallons and diesel is $5 a gallon at this writing. Yes, the fuel expense is tremendous.
Do you tow a car?
Yes, we currently tow a Ford F-150 pick-up rigged with Blue Ox towing equipment and a locking bed cover. When it's being towed, the truck hauls two folding bicycles and two wheel wagon for the dogs, two sets of golf clubs and a dog stroller. Just FYI, a vehicle's odometer does not roll (accumulate mileage) as it is towed. This was a question we asked many people before we found the answer but surprisingly.... no one knew!
Why don't you tow a Jeep?
Jeep is the most popular vehicle to tow. The Wayner just doesn't like Jeep. I'm not a car horse so I don't care what we drive.
How long have you been doing this?
Wayne's retirement date was June 31, 2010. Our retirement travel adventure began four days later -- July 4, 2010 -- Independence Day!
How long will you live like this?
Until we can't do it or don't want to do it anymore. Or maybe we'll stop when we've seen everything in the continental United States and Canada, get bored or when our health fails.
Where do you live when you're not traveling?
In our motorhome. There are times when we're not traveling, but we're always RVing... In April 2017 we bought an RV lot along the Alabama gulf coast where we have a small casita. This is our new "home base"...
What did you do with all your stuff?
It took over a year to throw off all our stuff. Initially we planned to put some things in storage but the plan evolved as we went along. Nothing was sacred. We had several garage sales. We sold collectibles on Ebay. Household goods, the car, furniture, tools and clothes were sold on Craigslist. Did we give any of it to the children? Not much. They didn't want our stuff and we could certainly use the money! As a matter of fact, the Craigslist cash went into bank and we lived off it for over a year.
You travel with pets. How is that working out?
We had been petless all our married life and liked it that way. I was the one who "needed" a dog. So on Saturday, December 4, 2010, we adopted Lexie through a rescue agency in Beaumont, Texas. We call ourselves "mom" and "pop" to her. Lexie is a Maltese puppy-mill rescue (she existed only to have puppies in rapid succession to profit her owner). She had never been loved, walked or socialized. She is a joy to us and she makes social progress every day. Maltese dogs naturally like small spaces and are content to lay in their "parents" lap for long periods. They require little exercise, yet are feisty and playful. We cannot imagine being without Lexie. UPDATE: On September 18, 2011 we adopted the second Maltese: Ozzie. Like Lexie, Ozzie is a puppy-mill rescue we found on Petfinder.com. Ozzie has some Poodle in him as his hair is a little curly in places. He's one year younger than Lexie and we're crazy over him. He's helped to bring Lexie out of her shell.
How do you get mail, pay your bills and generally stay in touch?
Long before we began full-timing we began paying bills online and eliminated paper statements. We switched exclusively to cell phones years ago too. The small amount of snail mail we do receive is handled by an agent who tosses the junk and then, at our email request, packs and sends our mail in care of whatever campground we're in at the time. The monthly fee and postage is minuscule as we only do this about once a month.
We use a laptop computer with an air card for online service so as not to subject ourselves to computer hackers at unsecure wi-fi connections.
What About Medical Care?
The first 18 months we paid an outrageous amount of money for the COBRA coverage to which we were "entitled" from Wayne's employer. When Wayne became eligible for Medicare, I selected a high deductible health insurance plan that allows medical treatment anywhere in the country. The same is true for Wayne's Medicare supplement. He has Original Medicare and the supplement option costs a good bit more than some of the options, but allows him to see any doctor anywhere. The same is true for the insurance coverage I selected.
Don't You Have to Declare A Legal State of Residency?
Yes and ours is Florida where we are also registered voters. Our vehicle tags and drivers licenses are from Florida. We also have a Montana based business so one of our vehicles wears a license plate from there. There are several good internet sites that list the most favored states for full-time RV'ers.
Do you miss seeing family?
Yes, however all four of our parents have passed away now so that relieves a certain amount of pressure that we would have otherwise. There are three children and five grandchildren. We each have siblings, nieces and nephews too. They have full, busy lives and we rarely got to see them before retirement so there is very little change in family visits.
How do you decide where to go?
If the weather in a particular place is around 70 degrees and the sun is shining, we might go there. If it's raining or cold in a place -- we don't go there.
How do you select campgrounds?
Like most full-timers, we belong to plethora of camping clubs and for a long time, we looked for moderately priced places that would accommodate large rigs. The criteria changed over the years, though and now we are more particular about wider interior roads, more level pads and many times, we seek motorcoach resorts over campgrounds. We generally avoid campgrounds that advertise themselves as "family fun destinations" as we enjoy quiet serenity more now that we're older.
What will you do when you can't RV full time anymore?
When we get too old, too sick or too tired to do this anymore (or go broke) we'll stop RVing. If our health is still good enough, we'll probably want to be among our peers in a small apartment, house or condo. If we are forced to stop because we are sick, we'll probably opt for assisted living.
Do you need a special license to drive the motorhome?
Nope. Anybody with a license to drive a car can legally drive a 13 foot high, 45 foot long, 25 ton, 600 horsepower motorhome, towing a vehicle behind it. Take comfort in knowing that next time you see an old guy driving one of these things down the road. Just think... this might be his very first time behind the wheel!
What do you do all the time you're traveling/stopped in the motorhome?
Relax, cook, eat, read, watch tv, shower, sleep, make love, buy groceries, laugh, hug, kiss and take the dogs for walks.... you get the picture. Also, most campground have organized activities for participation if that becomes something we want to do, i.e., crafts, exercise, tours, and so forth.
Don't you get tired of being with each other all the time?
If / when we get tired of being together one of us can get in the car and go somewhere for a while. We've always spent our leisure time together so it hasn't been a problem yet.
Do you have advice for someone considering full-time RVing?
Tons of advice but you don't want to read it all. I think the most important for the full-timer life (or any for that matter) is that it IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. We both wanted to do it.
Can you have visitors?
Yes. Our motorhome as a sofa bed that is okay for one night's sleep, tolerable for two nights and will necessitate therapy after the third night. More than a week will require back surgery. We like it that way because company is like getting a suntan: It's best to get a little at a time.
Can I travel with you?
I'd love to say "yes", but no, you'll just have to buy your own RV and make your own way through retirement. But we're flattered if you'd even think to ask!