Con't In Part Two.
is involved to be a Fulltimer?
of us following the Fulltiming lifestyle enjoy a sense of freedom
like no other. Be
aware it is a contagious way of life. The majority of Fulltimers
we meet started out for a year or two while they downsize from a
big house. However
many like John and I find those few years so enjoyable they soon
stretch long beyond their initial time frame.
We originally set out for two years, but life was such fun,
our Fulltiming experience soon extended to five, then to ten and
beyond. Twenty six
years later a motorhome is still our only home.
Plus as our years accumulate we continue having a ball!
Many of the suggestions below also apply to RVers enjoying
an extended getaway.
During my early writing days, my by-line was “Goodbye Tension,
Hello Pension”. Those
words describe this lifestyle to a “T”.
Although most of us still have an alarm clock, we hardly
ever use it. Heck, many no longer wear watches either. Our daytime
activities may consist of a drive, lunch with friends, relaxing on
the patio with a good book or enjoying a swim. Competitive games,
rounds at the golf course, card games, bingo, billiards or
shuffleboard tournaments, craft classes plus monthly craft sales,
dances and bike trips are only a few weekly RV Park events that
will entice your participation. Scheduled activities at Snowbird
destinations are so abundant it’s impossible to take part in all
that are featured. You
and you alone chose what activities will ‘steal’ your time.
Do you like to be active and organize things?
No problem, simply volunteer and in most cases you can be
as busy as you wish.
En route to and from your Canadian Home to your winter getaway
there are mega places to explore. As we cross the border into a
new state, we frequently stop at the Tourist Bureau to inquire
about local ‘must-see’ sites. Since
most of us have limited work commitments to return to, it is a joy
to travel without a strict timetable. Reservations are important
during busy travel seasons but in most other time frames,
pre-booking a place to stay is not super critical.
Some Fulltimers also love to Boondock (park without
amenities) in isolated areas or on Public Lands. If
laid back travel is something you would like to try, there is a
wide selection of websites offering how-to advice plus numerous
books written to ensure your experience is most enjoyable. Since
John and I prefer the comfort to overnight at full service parks
that offer level sites with 50 Amp power plus numerous extra
amenities, I’ll leave specific Tips to enjoy Dry Camping up to
the experts. To
find websites offering comprehensive info that highlights this
form of camping – simply search the subject ‘Boondocking for
RVers’ on ‘Google’ or ‘Bing’.
On the other side of the coin, en route between A&B John and
me frequently overnight at no cost places similar to Pilot Flying
That Truckstop offers special RV Islands featuring gas,
fuel, propane, air, water and dump facilities, plus overnight RV
parking is available in a safe spot at the front of the
restaurant; directly beside the gas pumps.
Internet is available for a small fee plus tasty meals and
a fully stocked variety store is located a few feet away. Some
RVers also use the showers and Laundromat provided for the truck
Inquire at the cash for details.
Additional popular convenient overnight stopping spots include
Wal*Marts and Cracker Barrel Restaurants.
Be sure to always park with your door facing people and
cameras. It is wise to verify with management that it is OK to
park till morning. Some
stores must comply with local ordinance that prohibit RV’s from
staying extended timeframes in parking lots. WiFi is not usually
available at these stopovers.
A major trap many Fulltimers fall into when they first start out
is they try to see everything at once - mainly because they are
still travelling in holiday mode.
Best advice I can share is to slow down and take your time.
Try settling in for 4-7 days to tour the high points – save
additional exploration of secondary spots for future visits.
It is a huge transition to learn how to be away for an
extended continuous holiday. Another
trap is finding a spot that steals your heart so much so that you
do not want to leave. Try
to remember you decided to become a Fulltimer to see what’s
around the next bend. Rest
assured, no matter what place you find there will be numerous
others that are equally compelling.
Fulltimers and extensive travellers live on wheels, so
there is no reason why you can’t return to a favourite spot
during a future trip. When John and I discover a new location, we
do what we call a ‘Recce’ – short for a military
‘Reconnaissance Mission’. Space your travels out – you have
the rest of your life to follow the road over that distant hill
Many Fulltimers and Snowbirds find a spot in the south to stay for
1-5 months plus enjoy 1-2 months travelling north and south. In
the summer they search for a convenient seasonal site up north for
another 1-7 months. Regular nightly costs range from $25-$60, of
course weekly and monthly rates are lower – some parks offer low
off-season fees as well. Settling into a campsite for an extended
time frame also helps to stretch camping costs.
In most cases extended RVers choose lengthy northern stops
near family and doctors appointments. That does not mean during
summer many of us do not leave our sites to take short trips to
club rallies, family reunions, gatherings with friends or just a
trip to see something down the road. If you are fortunate enough
to only have minimal work commitments to deal with, the majority
of travel plans come down to costs associated with your time away.
Another group of Fulltimers work as they travel - especially at RV
Parks to do odd jobs or work in the office.
As a rule Canadians can not work in the USA without a
special work visa but some have found a way to work around this
ruling. Just make a point to fully understand associated
regulations with working in another country. Quite a few
Fulltimers do some kind of work during times they are in Canada to
supplement their winter ‘play money’. Payments
for campground workers may include either free rent and/or salary.
One way to save on camping fees is to become a member of Discount
Camping Clubs such as Passport America 50% camping. Memberships
are available in the Club magazine – savings from a stay of
four-nights, will cover the cost of your membership. From then on
all stays in PP parks are half price.
Some campgrounds do have blackout dates during peak times
but travelling off season, RVers will find many savings waiting.
Most RV clubs are connected with a series of RV Parks – Club
savings are normally 10% – which offsets the tax. KOA
offers a different form of club - their members save 10% at
KOA’s high-end parks. Discount RV Club rates can be as low as
$10. per night – but this level of park is slowly disappearing. Many
Casinos in the USA include campgrounds in their multitude of
are usually reasonable priced and shuttles transport campers to
the actual casinos.
However most Casinos in USA and Canada also encourage
overnight stops in the parking lots. At times the Casino may close
at 4AM which means although you may be isolated for a few hours,
RVers will not be asked to leave. Books
are available from places like the RVBookstore.com that provide
listings. Membership camping clubs offer a different dimension of
inexpensive camping, but RVers must pay a costly up-front fee to
reap the benefits of the low overnight rates and you then must
settle into the parks that are part of their system.
YOUR RIG TO GO FULLTIME
The transition from selling your home to life on wheels can be a
major undertaking. Will your unit be motorized or towable or big
or compact? Large RV’s are comfortable to live in but they may
restrict travels to some quaint laidback stopping spots. Buying
too small may limit space to carry sufficient necessities for a
Changeable climate frequently restricts enjoyment of
extensive time outside. However there are numerous ways to
increase liveability. Peruse the Internet for ideas, or when
camping try to manoeuvre an invite into the rolling homes of other
Fulltimers to see their modifications.
When you do find what you think will be your dream home on wheels,
make a point to go through an imaginary live-in session.
Ask the salesman to leave you alone inside for an hour or
two. Cook an imaginary meal, lie down on the bed, stand in the
shower and sit on the toilet to check if sufficient space is
provided plus pretend to entertain in the living area. If the unit
has slides, pull them in and see how much living space you have if
you’re in a spot where it’s not possible to extend your walls.
Many RVers already have an RV by the time they decide to go
Fulltime, but if you’re not in that category make a list of
things you may want to consider. Read as many RV magazines you can
find, maybe visit an RV park to glean ideas from Fulltimers and/or
camping neighbours as to what they like and dislike about their
several dealers and shop on line to find your dream machine. For
instance, we love our washer dryer and would hate to be without
Although chatting with acquaintances we’ve met in laundry
rooms definitely added to our early travels – on the other side
of the coin, the convenience of doing a wash in our motorhome adds
a definite plus.
RV will be your home even times it does not move.
When John and I bought our first unit we began our search
three years before our retirement.
But even with all our research we were only 90% satisfied
with our first purchase. One
thing is certain; RV’s have improved 1000% since we began our
adventure. Do not become discouraged – everything will fall into
place when the time is right.
HOUSE DILEMMA – SHOULD IT STAY OR SHOULD IT GO.
Should you rent your house or sell it?
This was my biggest decision mainly because I bought my
house before John and I met. Renting seemed a good option at
first, until after lengthy discussions with Real Estate Reps, they
relayed that in reality we would have to provide insight in the
rental managing end of things. That would be a difficult
undertaking from a distance – so for us it made sense for us to
sell. Mainly because the thought of dealing with problems such as
tenants moving out or maintenance concerns or correcting
destruction while we were many miles away was over powering.
Our next huge decision was what to do with our ‘stuff’.
In this situation we screwed up royally – and made mega
mistakes due to lack of experience. Two years before we hit the
road we had renovated our house including the addition of new
furniture. Plus we had only been married 4-years earlier and we
didn’t have the heart to sell our wedding gifts.
Although we held a huge very successful garage sale we
still stored way too many house belongings.
Considering we only planned to travel for two years, not
eliminating everything made a lot of sense.
Nine years later our quality furniture had drastically
deteriorated due to lack of care. At that point we made another
major mistake; we transferred our classy pieces to an auction
house with unsealed bids. It
continues to upset me when I reflect on the low amount it sold
for. It would have
been so much more gratifying to sell it piece by piece or at least
with sealed bids. Even if we had given it to family or good
friends we could have at least appreciated our furniture during
Site in Braemar Valley RV Park Woodstock On
Pic to enlarge
Con't In Part Two.
WILL WE ESTABLISH AN OFFICIAL HOME?
The thought of going Fulltime with no ties or need to belong
anywhere is an overwhelming urge.
However the only resident of our country that has no fixed
address is a criminal. Everyone must establish an official address
for provincial medical, taxes, census application, passports and
most of all your drivers licence.
When you cross the border ALWAYS provide your official
address and NEVER relay you are a Fulltimer.
For the most part many of us use 1-5 addresses – official
home; mail address (most government agencies allow you to add both
addresses to most application); summer residence; winter
residence, plus an American mail forwarding location.
So if you ask us where we are from, the answer depends on
who is asking. Just
for info, a campground location in most of Canada (BC accepted)
cannot be used as a permanent residence – the majority of
Canadian RV Parks allow residency from 6-11 months but even if a
park is open year round it is not generally possible to stay on
your site indefinitely. Many
of us use the location of a friend or family member as our
official home – we refer to that location as if we are renting a
room at their home. Occasionally
Fulltimers store their belongings in a kid’s basement – so
referring to their address as your official home is an easy
There are also many major benefits associated with establishing a
USA address - ours is with FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association).
It comes in handy when subscribing to things like inexpensive
American Cell phone packages or obtaining a USA Credit Card
complete with ZIP Code, plus its a place to send the appliance
warrantee of a new purchase as well as a way to receive US based
mail plus so much more. These days we only request our USA based
FMCA mail be forwarded twice every second month – the first and
NOTE: Fee is $8. for every month sent.
for letter ‘M’ is posted each Thursday whenever we provide an
Since thanks to the Internet we no longer receive mega US mail,
bi-monthly delivery saves extra fees and postage – works good
for us. FYI, most major USA RV Clubs offer mail forwarding
services as do additional companies advertised in RV Club
In Canada our permanent mail forwarding is a UPS store.
During our early years we asked family members to send our
mail, but overtime this became a real chore even though we paid
them for their service. Now whether we are on the move or we are
stationary in the USA, UPS will forward our mail whenever we
provide an address.
If we’re travelling, we ask UPS to send it to FMCA who in
turn forwards it to us by 3-day Priority post. By sending it to a
USA mail forwarding service – there is no need to delay travel
plans waiting to receive a package.
Mail coming to & from Canada usually takes 10-14 days
but it can take 2-3 weeks to reach destination.
Delays at the border contribute to the problem.
Every RVer – Fulltimer or vacationer – should travel with a
quality ERS program. If
a tow is required, expect these programs to send a compatible tow
truck – two if required. Ensure your plan covers a tow to
compatible service with no mileage restrictions. The occasions
when RVers simply require service, Fulltimers have the advantage.
If you take an RV to a shop for routine maintenance and
leave it with instructions you’ll be back in a week or a
specific date – your service requests will frequently not be
completed, mainly because a Fulltimer like us will show up.
Because we’re visible, we occupy the techs time while your unit
sits idle – they want to get us out of the shop so they can work
on other units. If you
must leave it while you return home, call them each day to see how
the progress is going. It
also helps if you come in with a defined list of problem areas,
including VIN # plus mileage, make and model year. Try not to
disappear until you drive your completed coach away.
At times it may be necessary to stay in the coach overnight
in the dealer lot, even if they must move it outside of their
Before we began travelling I read an article suggesting that
everyone should have ready access to a $5000 Fund to cover
unforeseen emergencies. Ours is a zero balanced credit card. If we
run into a costly repair on the road, the card allows us to deal
with it until we return home in the summer to shift funds around.
When crossing the border it is a good idea to have emergency
repair receipts accessible to present to the agent – even for
something as simple as an oil change or new tire (one tire-not
four). Agents realize
if you are away for a length of time, some maintenance will be
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WITH HOMESICK BLUES
Deciding that extended RV travel is for you is a great idea but,
when it comes down to the crunch, inevitably there's a cry,
"But I don't want to leave my family!" The homesick
struck even before you've left the driveway.
Most Fulltimers and extensive
travellers reluctantly leave the grandkids when they retire to
‘play on the road’. But enjoying your new life doesn't mean
you must cut all ties with the folks back home. Instead, look for
unique ways to stay in contact. Sending
Dollar Store souvenir treasures
sea shells and/or pictures along with a story where you found
things may help ease the fact than Nana and Poppy are not around.
Give each Grandkid a map of your proposed route and send a
postcard of places you stopped.
How about recording a bedtime story on a CD or subscribe to
Skype to ‘talk’ with family frequently.
Many times the kids suggest places Mom and Dad should travel to
each winter so the family can visit during Christmas and school
During summer time up north, Grandma and Grandpa can invite
one child at a time for an extended RV visit.
Driveway parking with family and friends also works well.
Frequently, work commitments move adult children to distant
cities. Parking your RV in a driveway provides an opportunity for
the older RVers to enjoy daily quiet time away from family hustle
Before long it will be evident that RVing enhances family
time instead of contributing to painful distances from those you