Seven years ago Lee and I attended our first RV rally, and that experience literally changed our lives and our life. Not a year goes by that we don’t honor that experience, and this year it is particularly poignant because the last RV Dreams educational rally is happening as I write this. I have been thinking about how to write this post, because the last thing I want to do is offend anyone, so let me just say this post is about our thoughts and experiences only.
First and foremost, Howard and Linda have every right to do whatever they want. After many, many years on the road they have sold their RV and have settled into The Villages. We had a chance to have dinner with them recently and they are moving onto a new chapter in their life and I am happy for them.
But, and its a big but, I am saddened by losing RV-Dreams. In some respects it is like the high school you graduated from closing down. The people still exist, but the institution that originally bonded you together is gone. Not sure Linda would want to think of herself as an institution, but for me at least it was. Maybe not so much an institution but a really cool club. The kind of club I could never have been a part of in high school, I was way too socially awkward, even though this group of people as they exist today accepts everyone.
If you are relatively new to this blog and not sure what the heck I am talking about, let me back up a little bit. Eight years ago, Lee started talking about living full time on the road and I was a tough sell. That’s an understatement, I was an extremely tough sell. I liked the concept in theory, but I am definitely a person who needs “proof” and without knowing anyone our age who was doing something like this it felt like a pipe dream.
Lee, unwilling to give up, scoured the internet for real life examples. In that search, he found RV-Dreams and more importantly, Howard’s budgets. There was years of data that proved it was somewhat possible, but I was still very skeptical. Howard and Linda started out with around $250K in the bank and Lee and I had nowhere near that. But their consistently low monthly costs convinced me I shouldn’t dismiss it out of hand, and when Lee learned they had an educational rally twice a year I wanted to go.
Simultaneously I also joined their forum (a first for me) and started talking to people in the same situation we were in. They were our age, had jobs they needed to let go of or maintain on the road, and were 100% committed to full timing. Many of them were coming to the rally, and the chance to meet these “internet people” and see if they were for real was too much to pass up.
So we picked up our brand new fifth wheel and drove it to Tennessee. To give you an idea of how uncomfortable we were with the entire experience we intentionally booked a campsite outside of the rally footprint. We wanted some separation just in case it was a horrible experience (true story) which is pretty funny in retrospect because these people turned out to be some of the best friends I have ever had.
I won’t try to recreate that experience, but you can read about it here if you would like. Suffice it to say the experience more than proved full timing was possible for us, but also gave us mentors and a community of people who would support us through every stage of that transition. That was the magic of RV-Dreams for me. Not the information, which was good but could be found in other places, but rather the support. It truly was the gift that kept on giving and (for us at least) made this possible.
Seven years later we now know there are other groups of like minded people out there, and although we have tried a few of them, none have had the same impact on us. I’ll admit it is very possible that is because we already found our tribe early on, but I also think RV-Dreams was a unique combination of education and community. In my mind at least, a hole will be left by them leaving the community, and I hope at some point some other group will take its place. I am not very hopeful about that though.
What those of us who were impacted by RV-Dreams can do though is try to be good ambassadors. Our #1 piece of advice for many years to people interested in the full time lifestyle has been to attend a rally. Now that it isn’t an option we will need to find other ways to help people feel comfortable in pursuing their dreams. One thing we do try to do is be as honest as we can about our experience. This blog does that, sharing our budgets does that, and one-on-one conversations we have had with people over the years have done that as well.
Somehow, someway we have found ourselves experienced full time RVers. I hesitate to even say that because I still feel like we are learning every day. But we have been doing this awhile and we definitely know without a doubt that there is no one true way. Leaving that rally 7 years ago I held us up to the ideal of the fulltime lifestyle. Not surprisingly we often fell short of the ideal which led to a lot of unnecessary frustration. There is no perfect way to do this, just as there is no perfect way to live your life. The best thing to do is stay open to possibilities, live your life the best way you know how, and don’t be surprised when life throws you curve balls. Things change, life changes, and that really is ok.
Anyway, I wanted to take a moment and say thank you to Howard and Linda. We will miss you and wish you all the best. You truly did change our lives and many others like us, and that is an amazing accomplishment you should be very proud of. Much love, Trace and Lee.
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