Our onsite training at the piler location was rained out Thursday (more on that later) so I thought I would post another reader question. Mark has been reading for a really long time and I have always enjoyed his comments because they are very thoughtful and supportive. So I wasn’t surprised that he took me up on my offer and immediately sent a list of questions. He said I didn’t need to answer them all, but he should know me better than that by now. Mark’s questions are in blue and italicized. As always please keep in mind these answers are simply from our experience and there are as many ways to full time as there are people doing it.
1. Financially, have you given much thought to what you might do when it’s time to replace your current trailer/truck should you decide to stay on the road and require a replacement? We have thought about it since the beginning and it was part of the reason we went to such trouble to select a long-term RV in the beginning. Barring serious structural issues we plan on staying in this same rig for at least 10 years. In order to make that work we know we will need to eventually replace the carpet, furniture, fridge, flooring, and invest in a Mor-Ryde suspension system. We also might need a new paint job. Since our friends Howard and Linda have done just that and their rig looks amazing, I feel very confident that it can also work for us. Since all of those costs are still less than a new rig, and more importantly they can be done in a staggered fashion to reduce the financial impact on any given year, I think that will work for us. If we did not like our floor plan so much though that wouldn’t be an option for us and frankly I am not sure how we would handle it. I would also comment that I don’t think this concern should ever be a barrier for anyone. Who knows if we will even be on the road in 10 years. (Who knows if we will even be alive in 10 years? Life is short. Eat the pie. Rob a bank and buy a new rig with that money*- Lee)
2. We are not considering anything larger than a one ton dually truck. We are looking at fifth wheel trailers in the 16,000 to 19,500-pound gross weight range. Do you have an opinion regarding what it would be like towing a heavier trailer than what you have now? Our trailer is 18.5K loaded. We intentionally bought significantly more truck than we needed in order to maximize the longevity of the vehicle and to allow us to tow a larger vehicle later if we wanted to. (We have an F350). If we had a heavier trailer with the same truck it would east more fuel, take longer to stop and struggle to go up hills, and put more wear and tear on the truck. We think the tow rating of your truck should be at 15% – 20% higher than the loaded weight of the trailer. For example our truck is capable of pulling 24,000 pounds. We also have a hitch rated to 22,000 pounds. Again, better safe than sorry. What this means in a real life scenario is we can accelerate going up a 6% grade. – Lee
3. Many of your RV Dream classmates don’t travel in what some consider to be the preferred full time fifth wheel setups. This would include H rated tires, 8,000 pound axles, independent suspension systems, disc brakes and all the other bells and whistles. Is all this really necessary, other than maybe upgraded tires, if one sticks to the 16,000 weight range and has adequate storage capacity? I don’t think any of it is necessary, we have seen people full-timing in wooden boxes on dirt bike wheels. We do not have any of the things you mentioned, and we are doing just fine. Having said that, we ARE going to be getting into a fight soon on getting a Mor-Ryde independent suspension sooner rather than later. There is a difference between what we thought we would need and what we actually needed. My recommendation is to start off with a few things , but hold onto your money and buy what you actually need once you are on the road and have some experience. What I personally would recommend as absolute “must haves” for every RVer are the following: voltage regulator, surge protector, water pressure regulator, quality water hose, quality sewer hose, 50/30/20 amp adaptors. Everything else is a lifestyle choice. (a sense of humor and patient spouse are also highly recommended) – Lee
4. Your front living room trailer is awesome with the back storage area. We are considering a trailer with a similar outside storage area, but with an extra set of steps up to the rear den. We have no issues with stairs today. Do you think the extra set of steps would be an issue in terms of daily living? That’s a great question. I did vaguely consider it would be an issue walking up and down those stairs all the time, but I don’t even notice. I did grow up in a split level home though that had those short flight of stairs everywhere so maybe I am just used to it. Honestly I don’t even notice. (When I am old enough for it be a problem my expectation is that Tracy will carry me up and down the stairs, or I will get the world’s shortest stair lift. – Lee)
5. We started off thinking of traveling with a separate washer and dryer, then none at all. We are now considering a combo unit. What is your opinion of the combo units or what have you been learning about the topic from other full timers? Kind of on the same subject is residential refrigerators. Many of us future timers are surely still trying to decide if that’s the way to go when we first start off, not knowing what will become our preferred places to stay. We love our washer/dryer and use it all the time. (Curious use of the plural inclusive there. – Lee)
It’s cheaper and minimizes how often we need to spend in laundrymats, which are not our favorite places. Lots and lots of people don’t like them though, and would rather have the additional storage space. I think it’s easier to remove them if you don’t like them than add one later. The combo units are fine, but the loads have to be much smaller and we only dry things until they are damp and then air dry them by laying them on the bed. If I had the space I would love to have one of each. The residential fridge conversation is similar. We have propane and don’t regret it. I wish it was a larger one (mainly for freezer space), and some of the newer ones are much nicer. I definitely have fridge envy when I am with our friends who have them, but in order to do the amount of boondocking we want to we would need a 6 solar panel setup to make that work. For me it’s great to not have to worry about the power and just flip over to propane. For many, many people though it’s totally worth it and if you are going to be on hookups most of the time it might make sense for you. Personally I would start with propane and then later if you want you can change to electric, but truly with both the washer/dryer and fridge it’s 100% personal preference. I’ve have seen it done very successfully both ways.
6. On the emotional side of things. For those of us who tend to be control freaks, over-planners and generally have issues with things not going as planned. How do you suggest we start retraining to live with what comes along with the uncertainty of full time life on the road? This question made me laugh as I thought I don’t think I am the right person to ask that of since I am totally the same way. Then I thought, well, who better? First of all, I think this lifestyle is a great way to stretch yourself if you are that personality type. If you can’t let go of some of those personality traits you
are going to be might be pretty miserable, so it pretty much forces you to loosen up a little, but in a good way. The question though, is how to prepare in advance, and I think that’s a great one. First off, try to let go of having everything figured out in advance. I know, easier said than done, but I consciously went from a 5 year plan to a 2 year plan prior to going on the road. Then a 6 month plan and now I am planned out about 3 months at a time. I still plan, but in the shorter term, which for me has been helpful. Oddly, I think the biggest thing that has helped me to be able to let go of uber control is mechanical issues. They happen more frequently than we would like, come out of nowhere, and require a major re-evalution of the plan when they occur. Getting through those incidents without totally freaking out has helped me grow as a person and mellowed me out quite a bit. I honestly don’t know if I could have changed that about myself in advance of actually being in those situations. I doubt it. Sorry I can’t help you with that one, but I do admire you for trying.
Thanks to Mark for sending in the questions. Lee and I really enjoyed answering them. If you have some questions you would like answered please feel free to email me at camperchronicles-at-gmail.com and I promise to respond via email or in a blog post as soon as time allows.
(*-Seriously, don’t rob a bank. I was kidding about that.-Lee)
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