I have “backup plans” A, B, and C, but you know a backup plan is not about dying, because it does not matter where you die. As a combat medic during the Vietnam War and later after the military working in the healthcare field, I’ve seen a lot of people die. Where you die is not as important as how you die; because some die with a smile on their face and others die in great pain and fear.
My backup plans are for a total disability, an emotional meltdown, or financial meltdown where you may need some supportive intervention. They are the same backup plans I’d had if I lived in a sticks and bricks. I was totally blind for about 5-years and went thru more than a dozen eye surgeries to regain my eyesight. Now I’m out here fulltime RVing alone and enjoying it, but what if my surgery failed and I once again found myself without eyesight?
Every 5 to 7 years I have the implants in my eyes adjusted. My eye doctor told me once, after having surgery on one eye, that in California you can legally drive with one eye as long as it has 20/30 vision. I did that once and it was very hairy but I don’t know if I’d want to attempt that pulling a 5th wheel. I’d probably wipe out a bunch of parked cars.
Insurance policies come with a backup plan; if you have things like “vacation liability” or “personal effects replacement” in your policy. It feels great to get rid of all the clutter and I agree with what someone else said about full timers not wanting to go back to the life they had before full timing. This has been an opportunity for me to downsize my life, travel lightly, and explore the natural beauty of this country, and regardless what others think, it feels great.
I think that some people are just into what they consider normal, healthy, and stable, and they see full-time RVing as an unstable abnormal lifestyle. In my opinion these people are just very insecure and they feel it takes a lot of courage to live and travel in an RV full-time. Many of them seemed especially alarmed to learn that there are single women who are out here alone fulltime RVing.
A lot of these people look at full timers like they look at homeless people who live in their car, only we live in an RV. I got a lot of blowback when I told people I was going full-time RVing. Mostly people seemed concerned and afraid for me. Like I was going to wander off the end of the earth into uncharted territory without any backup or support.
My VA doctor thought I should not be doing this; especially since I am an insulin dependant diabetic. He even wrote it in my chart that I was doing something against medical advice. When I saw my dentist at the VA he pulled up my computerized medical records and told me what my doctor had written. My dentist was very happy for me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams.
Other people told me that I should keep my house because fulltime RVing is a very unstable life and I should have a permanent base for the sake of having a stable and secure foundation. These people do not acknowledge that a sticks and bricks structure can burn down, flood, or be met with other natural disasters. I believe that it is just a very rigid mindset that some people have, and also some may be jealous.
I usually just go to National and State Parks for two-weeks max. in California and Military Campgrounds where I can stay for up to 6-months at some and they do not charge extra for electricity. I am currently at Beale AFB Famcamp for a 2-month stay; until January, and they do not have a weekly or monthly rate. I guess I haven’t had to pay for electricity because I’ve never stayed longer than a few days at private campgrounds. Very fortunate to be able to use military campgrounds.
I’ve been RVing for many years and have never been to an RV park where they charge you extra for electricity. I am currently in Northern California, and while we did not get as cold as a lot of places it still dropped down below freezing the past few nights and we had a lot of rain. I’ve got two electric heaters going in my 5th wheel and it keeps things toasty, around 65 to 70 inside the five’er. Saving my propane for hot water and cooking.
The meaning of full-time RVing aside, there are sacrifices no matter what we do, although we may consider the cost to be worth the benefit.
I currently rent my house and enjoy the extra income but will be selling my house because I am aware of the emotional and mental freedom that comes with downsizing our lives. It is a trade-off no matter what we do.
When I left Colorado to move to California I was living in a large house in Colorado, and generally the more space you have the more things you will buy to fill up that space, and I had a ton of stuff in that house.
The majority of that stuff I either sold, gave away, or threw away, and it felt so good to downsize my life and get rid of all of that stuff. I have a European friend who thinks that Americans are pack rats; he says that Americans buy things because they are on sale and not because they need them.
For me, freedom is the spirit of living and traveling in an RV; but maybe that‘s just me. There is a Buddhist saying which goes “own no possessions that none may own you.” What we own owns us because we have to give it our time, attention, money, etc. Even if we pay someone, as I have, to take care of things for us, we still give it our concerns.
As I said I am not trying to define “full-timing” just talking about mental and emotional freedom. Although I do think that my full-time RVing is a way for me to recapture my carefree youth; back in the 1970's when I had a VW van with no seats in the rear, just lots of pillows, and I often lived in that van going wherever.
I purchased a brand new 2012 Heartland Prowler 5th Wheel last year for $16k from Camping World, and this was in California, one of the most expensive states in the lower 48. Have been full-timing in it for over a year now and love it.
As some have already suggested, this “Full-Time” forum is great to get ideas about full-time RVing. But what people say here is about their own experience and your experience will most probably be different, unique to you and your way of doing things.
I would suggest spending more and more time in your RV camping before you go full-timing. The more time you spend in your RV now will help you prepare for living in your RV full-time. Things are a lot different just spending a weekend, or a few days, in your RV then they are living in your RV fulltime.
My first year fulltime RVing I rearranged the interior of my 5th wheel to fit my tastes and comforts. I took the original RV furniture out and replaced it with furniture I had in my house. I had a sleep number bed in my house which I put in my RV, also put a small computer desk in my 5th wheel. Moving into an RV is similar to moving into a new house or apartment; and some of these 5th wheels and Class A RV‘s have as much space as a small apartment.
It is best to get to know your RV before you start full timing.
Personally I stay away from those memberships because they are so expensive and the member campgrounds may not be where I want to go. I’ve heard from a fair amount of people who are trying to sell their membership because they don’t use, or like, those campgrounds. Some here have mentioned “resale” as a less expensive way to go if you are interested in becoming a member.
You can get a lifetime Senior Pass if you are 62 or older for a one time payment of $10.00, $20.00 by mail, that will give you lifetime access and camping at National Parks for half price; including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, etc.
US National Park Passes
Lots of State Parks also have reduced fare Senior Passes or reduced fair Disability Passes. Each State is different and some do require you be a legal resident of that State. I am a legal resident of California but Oregon gave me a reduced fare camping pass, and I did the whole thing, application, etc., online and then mailed it in. So some States will give you a pass even though you are not a resident of that State.
Other than that; as some have already mentioned, the monthly rate at most private campgrounds is usually cheaper than the daily or weekly rate.
monkey44 , I was stationed at Ft. Meade when I was in the army but that was back in the 1960’s; it seems you are saying that the famcamp there is frequently full due to active military staying there? Maybe I misunderstood.
Frankly, I applaud active military who can find legitimate ways to supplement their meager income. I think our tax base is high, and our national budget in the tank, due to millionaire politicians who waste millions, and even billions, of tax payer money.
I have had City, County, State, and Federal jobs, and have personally seen the huge amount of financial waste that takes place on every level with no regard whatsoever where the money comes from. Most public budgets are based on the principle that you have got to spend all the money in your budget in order to justify the need for receiving more money.
During the government shutdown some commissaries, the one at Travis AFB for sure, closed for a few days and then reopened telling patrons that they get their money to operate from DOD. So this is the information I’m going on. Now the BX did not close during the government shutdown because it is run by a private organization with its’ own funding. At least that’s my understanding.
A lot of active duty, NG, etc., on TDY stay at the Beale AFB Famcamp, and other famcamps, and they have told me it is cheaper than on-base housing. They informed me that they get to pocket much more of their housing allowance by staying at famcamps during their TDY.
P.S. The Military Star Exchange Card is only accepted at the BX and not the commissary unless it bears a Visa or MasterCard logo. The Military Star Card alone without the Visa or Mastercard logo is a product of the Exchange system which is separate from the Commissary system.
The on-base gas stations are also under the Exchange system. But the commissary has “case sales” about 2 or 3 times a year where you can buy cases of stuff relatively inexpensive; the BX has no such event.
SuperDuty5’er, everything I have is in the pass-thru storage compartment; nothing is exposed to the road or outside. My cables and valves are in the storage compartment and I have to open the outside storage compartment door to dump my tanks.
I’m thinking about doing the installment replacements myself because I have the time to do it and it is a good way to get to better know my 5th wheel. The only thing is I have not made up my mind. I went under there and looked at it and I may only need to replace the cables X3 because the valves look fine. Although if I get the electric valves then I would replace everything and install the wiring for the control switches as well.
The more I look at this the simpler it seems and the more I feel like I should cancel my Camping World appointment and just install whatever I decide on myself. I’ve found some stuff online, including pictures, on how to install a new holding tank valve. Nonetheless, thank you for your input.
I am really undecided; got a couple of weeks before my Camping World appointment. If I just replace the cable actuated valves I’m thinking I can do that myself and avoid the cost of labor, learn more about my 5’er by getting up under there and seeing how things are done, and the cable actuated valves are covered under my extended warranty.
On the other hand electric valves would be very convenient, even though they cost more and will not be covered by my warranty. I’ve found about an equal amount of pros and cons about the electric valves, but I’ve also found some criticism about the cable actuated valves which I currently have. One such criticism said that they had to change their cable actuated values every year because of the cable sticking or coming loose. This is what has happened to me only after having my brand new 5th wheel for about 15-months.
As I said, I still have a couple of weeks to weigh this and make a decision. My extended warranty will cover replacement of the cable actuated valves but I can purchase a relatively cheap 3-year protection plan from Camping World that will cover the electric values.
MaverickBBD, when you say “meter” are you referring to the electricity use rate at a campsite? I’ve heard that some campgrounds charge extra for electric. I camp mainly at State Parks, National Parks, and military famcamps, and have never been charged extra for the amount of electricity I use.
The type of RV parks I mentioned are also cheaper than private RV parks, but State and National parks have a shorter stay limit; usually two weeks max. Unlike many, but not all, military famcamps where you can stay for several months.
Thanks everyone for sharing your stories. I guess, as one person said, there are no absolutes. Some people move around a lot even after full-time RVing for a long time.
On average how often do you change campground locations?
I am curious because the first 2-years of full-time RVing I moved around a lot; went here and there, and changed campgrounds about every two weeks. But now I am spending months at a particular location, which I seem to enjoy more.
My first year RVing full-time I camped at 25 different campgrounds in a 12-month period. This year I only stayed at 7-campgrounds and I do find it is a different lifestyle then moving around a lot. For one thing I can leave things out longer that might otherwise be put away every time I move my 5th wheel.
Another full-timer told me that it is typical when a person starts out full-time in their RV they go everywhere and move around a lot but as time goes on they stick to just a few campgrounds staying much longer. Don’t know if that’s true or not.
I understand that some people don’t move around too much for a lot of different reasons, gas prices, they like the view, it is near relatives, etc., and it may have nothing to do with how long they have been RVing full-time. I guess the same can be said for those who move around a lot.
So I guess I’m wondering if you still go to as many places now as you did when you first started full-time RVing, and on average how often do you change campgrounds?
The only reason I kept my house and rented it out was because the market is so bad that I could not sell it. But I could not let that stop me from living and traveling in my RV full-time. So I rented my house out and the extra income is great.
The other thing is I was totally blind for about 5-years due to my U.S. Army Vietnam War service; went thru more than a dozen eye surgeries to regain my eyesight, and currently have implants in both eyes. The implants need periodic adjustment about every 7 to 10 years.
One day I will not be able to drive, as may be the case for most of us, and if I can not sell my current house then I will have that house to fall back on if for some reason I have to stop full-timing. Although I’d rather sell the house and full-time RV as long as I possibly can.
If you purchase “full-time” RV insurance the agent generally assumes that you live in your RV full-time. There is usually no question about whether you move around or not, or how often you move. Although there may be a question about how many miles you put on your vehicle, but that has nothing to do with changing locations.
If moving around is a criteria for full-timing than how often does one have to move to constitute full-timing? What if you stay at one place six-months, or two-years, before going someplace else? I think that full-time RVing specifically refers to living in a recreational vehicle full time and nothing else. Although, “RVing” is a verb that infers motion.
It’s like some have told me that living in an RV is not camping. Camping to them is when you sleep on the ground. So I reply no I am not camping rather I am RVing. Although there are some who camp in a cabin. Semantics can drive you crazy.
Roy & Lynne, the commissaries did take a big hit with that so-called “sequester,” and most of them have already stopped having “case sales,” which I used to look forward to for stocking up on things at a reasonable price. It would not surprise me, with all of the budget cutbacks and the commissary being part of the DOD budget, if some commissaries did close.
I’m told that Sam’s Club has discount membership for military veterans, and if the commissaries close I probably will be going more to Costco and Sam’s Club. It is my understanding that BX/PX’s are for profit organizations and are run under a different budget than the commissaries. I recently learned that BX/PX’s started out as on base trading posts back in the 1800’s.
deltamaster, your point is well taken. When I joined the army back in 1964 the pay for an E-2 was $90/month and we did not have a lot of the on-base facilities like they have today. But $90/month was a lot of money back then. When I joined the army at the age of seven-teen I thought how great is this; they feed us, give us these neat uniforms to wear, and they also pay us. I was very naïve and that was before going to Vietnam.
I only go to certain Famcamps which I have visited before and know what facilities they have. Travis AFB allows you to stay up to 6-months, Beale AFB allows up to 4-months. I also like Point Mugu Naval Air Station Famcamp. Twenty-Nine Palms is o.k. but it’s in the desert.
The thing about the on-base gas stations is if you have a Military Star Exchange Card you can get a .05 per gallon discount. Although I do compare gas prices on-base with those off-base and also commissary and BX/PX prices with Wal-Mart, etc. The Famcamps I’ve been to, and I’ve been to a lot of them in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Washington State, and Nevada; have all been much cheaper than private RV parks, and they have full-hookups, Beale has free wifi and Travis has free cable TV hookup at every site. A lot of other Famcamps, like Ft. Lewis in Washington State, also have the wifi and cable T.V. amenities. It’s all explained on the militarycampgrounds.us website.
To me Famcamps are like resorts because they usually have lots of free activities, like using the swimming pool or gym on base, watching baseball games on base, etc. Then there is cheaper gas at the base gas station and shopping at the BX/PX and commissary. On base movies are also cheaper. There is a lot to do on base that was not available when I was on active duty back in the stone age. Further, a lot of Famcamps are attached to base recreation or an MWR office that has discounted tickets for a lot of off-base activities. I prefer Famcamps over a lot of private RV parks. There is also a military camaraderie at Famcamps, besides the ordinary camaraderie that RV’ers have.