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Preparing for Full-Time RVing

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Betssssssy

By Nanette Cole

Thirty years. That is how long this journey has been rambling through my head. Originally, at the ripe ol’ age of 18, I was going to travel in my car, sleep in a tent, and work my way across this great nation. Only one thing has changed in the past 30 years: deciding on an RV; I’m too old to sleep in my car or a tent every night for the next 1,825 days.

Two years ago, after being diagnosed with malignant melanoma, I put the wheels in motion to make this dream happen and here is what I have done to prepare:

  1. Simplifying Your Belongings

    I started getting rid of “stuff,” because all it is, is stuff. I started in the easiest place: my closet. I didn’t need–nor did I wear–all of the 542 T-shirts I owned. The rest of it was simple. If I didn’t wear it the previous year, it was put in a bag. That eliminated two-thirds of my clothing. When I was finished with my bedroom, my dresser had four empty drawers and the armoire was empty.

    On to the kitchen! I am a gadget freak and I LOVE to cook, so you can imagine what all I had in the kitchen. I started with the stuff I hadn’t used in a while: bread machine, ice cream maker, pasta maker, complete set of copper pots and pans. I’m not sure why I had two blenders, three coffee makers, or nine pie plates, but I did. I had more utensils than Williams Sonoma! The kitchen stuff was divided up between my two boys and the remainder was given to friends who also love to cook.

  2. Transitioning to Less Space

    In May 2011, I moved out of my apartment and in with a friend whose husband had died. I rented the bonus room over her four-car garage to save money. This move was saving me $1,000 a month and was getting me used to a smaller place. It was also giving me the opportunity to see just what all I “needed” to have with me. I found out it isn’t much. During this move I gave the majority of my furniture to my boys, the stuff I wanted to keep went into a climate storage unit, and the rest was sold, given away, or tossed.

  3. Taking Care of Business

    I have had a business for the past 24 years, but in November 2011, I sold off part of it and recently “closed” the last of it. It had been put into storage also, but I decided I won’t be coming back here and will have it sold off. There is no point in paying to store stuff that I no longer want.

    Another important item to take care of was being able to receive my mail. Last year I started renting a P.O. box. I have the smallest one available for $52 a year. The person who holds my power of attorney (in case anything happens to me while traveling), also has a key to the box. When there is mail that I need, he will forward it on to me, wherever that may be. There are mail forwarding services for full-timers out there, but I found this to be more cost effective and this is a person I know and trust and not a stranger I have hired to go through my mail.

Getting ready to hit the road full-time has had many blessings. I don’t spend money on “stuff” anymore, I have learned to do more with less, and I lead a much simpler life. My time is now spent studying maps, walking my dog Callie, and looking for the next story. I will say the only things I miss are my pictures. The rest of it, well, it’s just stuff!