The Impact of our First Rally

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.

Linda and Howard

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12 thoughts on “The Impact of our First Rally

  1. So Well said!!! I know that our lens will forever be impacted in how we look at the RV lifestyle by the vision of Howard and Linda….you guys are a perfect example of what “GREAT” looks like!

  2. Our first RV Dreams Rally was in 2016 when you and Lee were assisting Howard and Linda. The RV Dreams experience impacted our lives in the best possible way. We bought a 5th wheel at that rally and we went full time in 2017 and explored this beautiful country. I am sad that Howard and Linda are winding down RV Dreams, but also happy they found a place to settle. The Villages seem to suit them well. As they move on, we stay connected to the RV Dreams family through your blog, Kelly’s blog and several others. Thank you for continuing your blog for so many years. I’m sure there are many of us out there that religiously read your blog, but seldom comment. I just wanted you to know that the effort you put in to sharing your journey is truly appreciated.

    • That’s so nice Barb and I appreciate you taking the time to write this. It’s been tougher this year with COVID and other craziness So I appreciate you taking the time to say you are out there listening ❤️

  3. Like you Trace I was very skeptical. Deb did tons of research which really helped me! And RV Dreams was one of the best things she found!!! Howard, Linda and the rally shored up all our concerns. It also gave us all the tools and resources to feel totally confident too. The greatest part was meeting all our new lifelong friends(tribe)!!! We think of y’all as family, and not simply friends! We talk about the Class of 14, or are with someone from our rally most all of the time! It’s crazy to think you can find such a like minded group, and such a small world when we cross paths so often! We’ll certainly miss Howard and Linda, and RV Dreams!!!

  4. Great Post!! Howard and Linda are very special people. They have changed the lives of so many….for the better!!! But life is a journey and theirs is heading in a new & exciting direction. However, I feels certain…RV Dreams will always be in their hearts!!! Your post made me stop and reflect on how many wonderful people and experience have come into our lives because of RV Dreams (H&L). We will miss the rallies, forum & blogs… but our RV-Dreams friends and memories will ALWAYS be with us:o)) Thanks for a great post🤗

  5. The Paynes provided a true service to the lifestyle, both through the rallies, forums, and web content. Though they will no longer be sponsoring educational rallies, other organizations are doing so. Escapees offers Boot Camp and RV University online and Workamper News has a Dreamer’s Journey. Best wishes to Howard and Linda on a job well done!

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