by Sharee Collier
Imagine roaming the country on your own schedule, taking in each new place and anticipating the next. Picture driving leisurely from town to town appreciating each one for their own scenic beauties. Well dream no more! Now is the time to take your dreams and make them your reality!
Becoming a fulltimer is a big step and I applaud you for even thinking about it! Traveling full-time is a wonderful life both before and after retirement. So much so, that many couples – and more recently, families – have been making the decision to downsize and live permanently on the road.
Regardless of individual purpose, cause or travel details – fulltime on the road requires action on a variety of tasks and major decisions prior to departing on any epic adventures. From budgeting, and route planning, to maintenance and Workamping. Taking time to fully plan out your trip will save you time, money and many headaches!
We know the task of planning an indefinite road trip can seem tremendous, and even overwhelming, but the rewards will prove to make it so much more. I’ve compiled a list of tasks and decisions that most people will want to consider and prepare prior to embarking on their journey. So take out a pad of paper or your favorite tablet and use this planning guide to get you on the road faster than you ever dreamed!
Know the Basics and Establish a Budget
Who will be traveling on this adventure?
Are you taking the trip with your spouse? Do you have a family with children?
Making sure to include every passenger in the amazing planning process can make the trip more enjoyable for everyone! Think about it: Wouldn’t you be more likely to get excited about a trip that you helped plan?
What type of trip is this?
Do you want to see what America has to offer? Are you trying to conquer all
50 states? Do you want to visit the National Parks? Is this an awesome history lesson for the kids? Deciding what you want to accomplish on your trip is a
good starting place when planning a wonderful adventure.
When would you like to start?
Setting a definite departure date is a big obstacle to tackle. Without a realistic
target, you can easily drag the planning out for months or even years longer than you actually need. Try to set a start date that is realistic to your situation and one that everyone is comfortable with! Dates that are too far away can cause the same stress as those that are too soon.
Where are you going?
After you’ve decided ‘what’ then ‘where’ should be a breeze! You know what you
want to do – now just take some time to think about the routes to those places and which ones you’ll take to get there. Key questions you should consider are: Where will you go first? Where will you spend each month? Where do you plan to be in spring, summer, fall and winter? Where do you -not- want to go? Where have you already been?
Why do you want to be a Fulltimer?
This is a big question, and you can except to be asked this question by almost
everyone! Why are you doing this? What are your reasons? Be clear on your purpose and your goals. You want to clearly define your motives, your hopes and your aspirations. This is a trip of a lifetime – there’s no time to be vague!
How will you travel?
Do you own an RV? If so, great, this one was easy for you! If not, let’s take
some time to think about your means of transportation. You will most likely
need to purchase or lease a recreational vehicle. There are many choices –
travel trailer, motorhome, fifth wheel… A trip to a major RV dealer will help you narrow down your options and make your decision! Size, layout, and amenities are big considerations that need close attention. Make sure to pick a vehicle that is right for you. Too big and too small can both be uncomfortable.
Everyone who travels, whether from time-to-time or full-time, has to establish and maintain a budget. There’s no way around it! Knowing how much and allocating properly will make your trip more enjoyable by eliminating unnecessary stress. Here are four major categories that every budget will include:
Deciding how many nights you will stay at each overnight destination will allow you to budget exactly how much your trip should cost. Are you staying in state parks, private campgrounds, or RV resorts? Do you have a discount membership? Is it worth it to get one?
When you’re driving around the country, gas is a key factor! Do you know how many miles you get per gallon? Is that road or highway mileage? How big is your tank? How far is your destination? Being as precise as possible when estimating cost is a key factor to a
What are you planning to do with all your free time? What activities are offered nearby? Museums? Theme parks? Operas? Sporting events? Do you need to pay to park?
Your RV is now your home, so you’ll have to treat it that way! Routine maintenance must be both expected and completed for your RV to operate at full potential. Maintaining fluid levels, being knowledgeable about your tires and their optimal pressure, as well as routine service visits will keep you safe while traveling. Get a price on common repairs and leave a little room in your budget to accommodate them as they arise.
How often do you usually dine out? Planning a few meals at a nice restaurant is a great way to enjoy the local charm.
A great way to keep your grocery budget under control is to plan weekly meal schedules! You’ll know each ingredient you’ll need prior to going shopping!
This might not be a concern for some, but for others it could be a major expense! Plan according to your lifestyle and consumption. Red wine and imported beers will start to add up faster than you
Even if you’re bringing clothes for each season and every person, a small clothing allowance is still a good idea! You just never know what you’ll need or need to replace!
You don’t have to skimp on toiletries just because you’re in an RV! You can use all of the same products you use in your homes, maybe with the exception of toilet paper. So try making a list of all your necessities – and go from there.
Covering your vehicle is a big deal. When your home is now on wheels, making sure your coverage is adequate – and even more important, up-to-date – is a big responsibility. Key concerns will be the amounts of coverage, what exactly it covers, are your belongings included, and the most widely used – road side assistance!
There are many types of club memberships available ranging from nightly campsites and discounts on parts to ones that allow week-long stays all around the country. Comparing the options and narrowing down what is important for your trip is a great way to make an informed decision.
Almost everyone will have some sort of connectivity cost. Everyone has a cellphone. Laptops are useful and tablets are real space savers. Many people keep digital travel logs, and some even maintain blogs and websites. So remember, living on the road doesn’t mean you’re off the grid! You can stay connected as much or as little as you like. Find your perfect spot – and enjoy yourself!
Knowing the basics of your trip and how much it will cost, takes the guessing out of your adventure and prepares you for what you will encounter while on the road. The only big step remaining is simply packing up and driving off! Bon Voyage!
Sharee Collier is a wife, mom, fulltime traveler and positive voice promoting the young, fulltime travelers movement. After realizing the stereotypical American Dream wasn’t her family’s idea of the good life, Sharee and her husband, Antwon, said enough was enough and they packed their stuff… Now, this slightly quirky family of 6, is now traveling the US finding new and exciting adventures, in homeschooling, Workamping and fulltime family travel.