Guarantee RV Blog

THE RV TRIPS OF HOWARD AND LINDA PAYNE

HLP Delicate Arch Arches National Park 2009Howard and Linda Payne by HLP Delicate Arch Arches National Park 2009

This is an exclusive interview with full-time RVers Howard and Linda Payne. The questions allow Howard and Linda to reflect on the beginning of their full-time RVing lifestyle and their conversion from the society imposed slave-save-retire lifestyle.  It is a revealing, highly informative and detailed interview. It answers many questions for people who are thinking about embarking on the full-time RV lifestyle thereby garnering a lifetime of RV memories. Howard and Linda manage their website RV-Dreams from their Fifth Wheel. If you have any questions, Howard and Linda Payne can be reached through their email address howardandlinda@rv-dreams.com. Check out the RV-Dreams website at http://www.rv-dreams.com for more information and photos of their RV journeys.

 

What are your professional backgrounds and what triggered your decision to choose the RV lifestyle?

Howard: Accounting Degree & Law Degree; I was a bank auditor and hospital auditor before quitting the corporate world to start a small, unsuccessful flower business with a college buddy; Went back into the corporate world as an accountant and started law school at night while working full time; Eventually became licensed in Kentucky and Indiana and started learning real estate law; Went from a small law firm to a corporate real estate law management position, and then partnered with other attorneys to start our own real estate practice; Ultimately, we sold our practice to a large corporation and I stayed on managing seven offices for two years.

Linda: Interior Design Degree; She held several positions and moved up with each job change; She eventually became an executive in charge of purchasing and materials management for an electronics company; She “retired” when we started our law practice, but eventually went to work for me as Director of Operations for my largest office until we decided to hit the road.

Linda and Howard Payne’s Landscape Slideshow

On your About page, you have the saying “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us,” by Joseph Campbell. How has your RV lifestyle reflected this quote? Do you have any regrets by choosing this lifestyle?

We grew up and followed the societal norm all our lives – go to school, get a degree, get a job, buy a house, keep moving up so you accumulate more money to buy stuff symbolizing success, go in debt, work to pay debt, and try to save enough – “the number” – to retire as soon as possible.

That quote is about getting off a pre-planned, pre-approved existence to experience a life that is more spontaneous in which we can experience more freedom and keep our hearts and minds open to whatever happens. The quote came to us at a time during our transition into the lifestyle when we were still having second thoughts. It inspired us to keep moving toward a life that was not pre-planned.

Over our seven years as full-time RVers, we have experienced more than we could ever have imagined and our lives are more fulfilling because of our freedom and flexibility and self-reliance. We don’t have to worry about a mortgage, car payments, a career, accumulating stuff, or putting on a show for bosses, friends, neighbors, etc. We live life day-to-day and make adjustments as we go to keep traveling and sustaining life. We have no regrets whatsoever.

 

What type of RV did you choose and why? What have you learned about RVs that you didn’t know before at the beginning of your RV journey?

We have a 39’ Fifth Wheel. We had never RVed before, but assumed we would get a motorhome once we made the decision to become full-timers. However, after looking at just a few RVs, we determined a Fifth Wheel, for us, felt more like a home. Plus, not knowing anything about RVs, we wanted to buy new and it fit more within our budget.

We’ve learned so much about RVs over the years that it would be impossible to include all of that here. However, one thing that we learned right away was that all RVs go through a lot when going down the road and they all break. It doesn’t matter how much you spend to buy one, they all have issues and everyone has to make time at some point to get things fixed. Knowing that, and coming to grips with it, has saved us a lot of heartache and anxiety.

We have also learned that if you do proper maintenance and service and don’t ignore potential issues, RVs can last a long, long time.  Furthermore, we have learned, in general, you get what you pay for.  However, every manufacturer can produce a lemon, so price isn’t necessarily a guarantee you won’t have problems. In fact, the more folks pay, the more upset they get when they have an issue because they haven’t yet learned “they all have issues”.

 

How did you prepare for your change of lifestyle? Did you do your research before embarking on this RV lifestyle? In the beginning, were there any surprises overall that you weren’t expecting that research didn’t cover?

I suppose the first thing to know about us is, unlike so many others, RVing was never a dream of ours. Full-time RVing wasn’t even something we knew people did. We had just made a decision to change our lives and, in pondering the options, Linda one day said “What about living and traveling in an RV? It would combine a lower cost of living with the adventure and travel that we love.”

So, in December 2004, I began by researching RV living and discovered it was called full-timing and lots of people do it. After work, every waking minute for a month, I researched. The one thing I had to know as an accountant was “How much does it cost?” I struggled to figure that out because most people that talked about it were retired and said it cost the same as being in a house. They could say that because they had a fixed income and they spent the same on the road as they did before. However, we were starting out with zero fixed income and needed to know a more accurate starting point. Eventually, I patched together enough information to put together a budget.

At the end of the month – yes, one month – we decided to quit our jobs, sell our house, and become full-time RVers. From the sale of my company, we had proceeds coming in that could sustain us for one year – our safety net to see if this new lifestyle was going to work out.

Once the decision was made, we needed to research the RV we would buy. We had already decided a Fifth Wheel was for us, so we visited dealerships and a large RV show. I’m a research guy, but I hadn’t yet done my due diligence on RVs. Still, I had a hunch about a Fifth Wheel we saw at a show in early 2005. It was a new model, but we spoke at length with the designer, and we sat in it for hours over two days pretending to live in it and listening to the comments of others that passed through. I felt like there was good value and even if we changed our minds, we could sell it and either make a profit or break even. So we ordered one – a Keystone Cambridge. It was only made for one year, but we still are full-timing in and love it. It was the luckiest, most un-researched decision in this whole deal and we made it only about two weeks after making the decision to become full-timers.

When we made the decision to full-time, it was made with the promise to each other that we would only do it if we were debt free. Since we had just ordered a Fifth Wheel and would need a truck to pull it, we would need to sell our house in order to have enough funds to pay for both. So, we quickly put our house on the market, and I gave six months’ notice at work.

We bought our truck in March, picked up the Fifth Wheel in late April, and sold our house in May. We made one payment on the truck and none on the Fifth Wheel before paying for both of them in full. But we still had almost three months to work. The rest of our research was hands-on while we were parked in a field at my parents’ farm.

As far as surprises, we were surprised that RV dealers didn’t offer any kind of driver training to new RVers. We were shocked that they let new RVers out on the road in monster rigs without even a tutoring session. We were pointed to the nearest empty parking lot and told to “go practice”. The only other thing that surprised in our first few months was that RVers turned out to be even nicer than we had heard.

Linda and Howard Payne’s Wildlife Slideshow

How much do you need per month as full-time RVers to comfortably survive? Is it financially less feasible to be a full-time RVer as gas costs and the cost of living continue to increase? Do you have any financial advice for full-time RVers?

Because the financial part was so important to us, and because we couldn’t find good, detailed information on the Internet back in late 2004, we decided to keep track of every penny we spend and to share it with others to give them a decent starting point. We understand we do it our way and everyone full-times differently, but at least we have real numbers and our readers can make adjustments as necessary.

In our seven years, we’ve learned that we can live a modest RVing lifestyle and travel 5,000 – 6,000 miles a year for about $3,000 per month. Of course, that does not include any debt payments since we have none, but it does include all of our insurance (health, life, RV, etc.). If we stay put and work in exchange for our campsite, we can knock that down to about $2,000 per month – we consistently save $1,000 per month by volunteering or workamping.

Rising gas prices typically aren’t a big issue for full-timers. We tend to not move as quickly or as far as RVers on vacation. And if our costs go up, we simply adjust. We either stay put longer or we reduce costs in other areas. As for rising costs of living, as a percentage, they don’t rise as much as living in a house, and once again we have very few fixed expenses – most can be adjusted by tweaking our lifestyle here and there to offset the increases. Also, as RVers reach certain age thresholds, there are certain senior benefits that can significantly reduce costs.

Our financial advice for RVers is as follows: 1) If at all possible, be debt free, 2) If you can’t be debt free or have to finance your RV, be sure you have a fixed income that covers debt payments, and 3) take stock of your spending. Keeping track of every penny we spend is a pain, but it tells us exactly what we need to live on and where we can make necessary adjustments. It gives us peace to know exactly what we need to live and that we can cover those expenses even by taking short-term minimum wage jobs if we have to.

We advise those that haven’t started full-timing to start keeping track of expenses before going on the road to get an idea of their spending habits (it’s usually shocking). And we also alert those folks that they will most likely exceed their budget in the first year or two as they figure out how they want to live the lifestyle and acquire accessories for fun, comfort, and convenience that they may not have considered in their initial budget.

 

What happens when you have RV repairs to do? Can you easily find a service department at a dealer to help you? Have you ever been stranded in a remote area? How did you handle this situation? Have you ever encountered other dangers such as being approached by bears or other wildlife?

As I mentioned before, we all have RV repairs. If they are not urgent, we try to schedule appointments way in advance in our planned path of travel. We try to schedule repairs with a dealership or service center that can fix things under the manufacturer’s warranty or under our extended warranty. We ask those questions in advance.

We have learned that dealers have a priority hierarchy when it comes to repairs. Some dealers won’t work on your rig if you didn’t buy it from them. But most will. Full-timers and those stranded that need service are often higher up on the priority list than locals that need service but don’t need it right away.

The good thing about being full-timers is we are rarely in a hurry. We have time and don’t get bent out of shape when a repair takes a little longer or we have to wait when the service department has to squeeze someone else in. We try to stay jovial and positive with the service department folks because we see what they have to go through with frustrated customers. Linda will even bake them some cookies or we’ll bring them doughnuts to show our appreciation and we are usually well taken care of.

Yes, we have been stranded.  A good roadside assistance plan catering to RVers is inexpensive and can be vital. Anytime, any day of the week, we can call and get help. Sometimes, it might be a mobile tech that is sent or someone to bring a tire or to repair a tire. As a matter of fact, we had to be towed just this last week for the first time in our seven years on the road. Thank goodness for our Coach-Net roadside assistance. Service providers all over the country contract with the major roadside assistance companies to be available 24/7 for RVers.

We have never encountered any dangerous situations be it human or otherwise. We have pulled into places where the hair on the back of our necks stood up and we were uncomfortable. When that happens we follow our instincts and move on. Now, we have never done any rest area parking or parking near large cities and that seems to be where most problems occur.

We like remote areas where there are fewer people and wildlife abounds. But we’ve never had an issue with bears, alligators, moose, or other dangerous animals. Javelinas in the southwest and raccoons everywhere can be an issue, but we never leave food outside as a temptation.

Linda and Howard Payne’s National Parks Slideshow

What is Full-Timing? Have you encountered many people who have gone from part-time RVers to full-time RVers and do they respect the level of freedom they have now?

Full-timing is basically living in your RV 365 days a year. You might be traveling most of the time, you might park in one place for the winter and another place for the summer, or you might stay put in one location year round. Many people live in their RVs six to nine months a year which is basically the same as full-timing, but we call them extended timers or part-time full-timers.

Yes, we have met numerous people that have gone from part-timing to full-timing. There are various categories, however. Some have always dreamed of full-timing and they have experience RVing, but had to wait for some event to occur (retirement, kids off to college, etc.) Some have been part-timing for years, but suddenly realize they no longer have a need for a house or home base.

Full-timing is not for everyone and we do seminars on that. We ask people to look at some very specific areas as they just may not be cut out for full-timing individually or as a couple. However, among those that are cut out for it, the number one regret is that they didn’t start sooner. So, yes, I believe they very much respect the freedom aspect.

 

What do you like the most about RVing? Do you research areas before travelling to them or are you more spontaneous about travel?

Freedom, freedom, freedom. We can choose where we go, when we go, and if we go. We don’t have the cash for luxury vacations and the best restaurants, but we don’t have to work 60 hour weeks with stress and corporate politics and trying to impress to move up the ladder to take more lavish vacations and buy more stuff, either. We get to live a somewhat vacation-like existence and then work hard when needed to keep it going.

Remember that we aren’t on a fixed income. We have some investments and savings, but they aren’t significant enough that we can live off of them. Even though we had good professional careers, we quit and started full-timing at age 41 and we made many of the bad financial decisions everyone makes in their youth. However, we realized in our late 20s that being debt free would allow us flexibility later in life, so we started working on that goal earlier than most.

We say that to say we can’t be completely foot loose and fancy free. We have to live on a budget and we have to generate income to maintain this lifestyle. But we can choose how we do that. And if the financial world comes crashing down, we know we can sustain our lifestyle very inexpensively by living in our RV in one place and getting minimum wage jobs. Part of the freedom is being somewhat “recession proof”.

As for freedom in our traveling, we usually have a destination out in the future – maybe six months or a year away (a wedding, an RV show, one of our RV-Dreams Rallies, etc). We move very slowly and will meander in that direction. And yes, I will research all along that general travel route (we prefer being off interstates), to find areas where there is hiking, paddling, and natural beauty we might like. But we don’t make reservations so we aren’t locked into a schedule. We research but keep our options open.

 

What is Workamping? How well organized is this group promoting work for RVers? Have you had experience with this new phenomenon for RVers?

Workamping is receiving anything for value in exchange for services performed while living in your RV. Usually, there is a free campsite for the duration of the work you perform. There is volunteer workamping where you receive a site and maybe some other perks and there is workamping for private employers where you may receive a wage in addition to a “free” site.

Workamper News is the premier source for matching RVers with jobs and it is very well organized. Finding that organization and learning that we could find jobs on the road were a big boost in our confidence to proceed with our full-timing plan. We knew we would have to work on the road in some fashion after our first year to supplement our income and reduce expenses.

We have had several workamping jobs as follows: 1) Tram driver/interpreter for a National Wildlife Refuge, 2) Campground hosts at Arches National Park, 3) Visitor center reception and environmental education for school field trips at another National Wildlife Refuge, 4) Guest services/office/maintenance for a Colorado mountain guest ranch, 5) Reservations/maintenance/security for a private campground, and 6) Misc. duties at a golf resort.

We are Workamper News Concierges which means we promote Workamper News and assist others in signing up for subscriptions. In fact, we have a webpage (http://www.rv-dreams.com/workamping-special-offer.html) dedicated to the different subscriptions and those that sign-up using our concierge number get two additional months added onto their subscription for free.

We also do a seminar on “Working on the Road” that covers finding positions through Workamper News and other sources as well as other ways to earn income to support the full-timing lifestyle.

 

Have your RVing adventures led to any new remote hobbies that make you money? What are some of the jobs that bring in extra money while you’re on the road?

Well, we dabble in a lot of different areas. Our philosophy is to have several little income streams so that we’ll be okay if any one of them dries up.

We have our RV-Dreams.com website which was originally a way to earn revenue. But over time it has become a labor of love and allows us to share our passion for the RV lifestyle. We earn some money through our educational rallies and seminars and website advertising, but it also incorporates our passions of traveling, writing, photography, and teaching.

In addition, Linda has learned to make beaded jewelry. She started selling it to cover the costs of her hobby, but she makes a decent little profit now (if we don’t count her time).

We also have two inflatable boats made by Sea Eagle and we love getting out on the water and writing about it. That has led us to have a relationship with Sea Eagle’s largest dealer, InflatableBoats4Less.com. We have established a program where we receive a referral fee if one of our readers buys a boat and the folks at InflatableBoats4Less.com guarantee our readers the lowest price. It’s a win-win-win situation.

Another supplemental stream of income is from weighing RVs wheel-position-by-wheel-position. We have partnered with the RV Safety & Education Foundation to provide educational seminars on RV Weight & Tire Safety, and we weigh RVs with portable scales to make sure they aren’t overloaded overall or on axles or on tires. And if they are, we help folks correct those situations where we can or manage them for maximum safety. It’s a perfect fit for our educational mission.

Again, we’re always looking for opportunities to combine what we love into a small income stream. It’s just about earning enough to keep living a simple life on the road. We’re not looking for a career or to get rich, but we do have to generate income as we’re a long, long way from Social Security and being able to access personal retirement accounts without penalty.

 

How has connecting to nature on a consistent basis changed your perception of life and urban living you once were a part of?

Connecting to nature helps us connect with each other and is one of the huge reasons we undertook the RV lifestyle. Our love of nature has always been a strong area of compatibility, and almost all of our vacations in our previous life revolved around nature in some capacity. Now, we get to explore it and feel it more deeply because we don’t have a time constraint to get back to jobs.

Even working in a city of a million people, we’ve never really been “city” folks. I grew up on a suburban farm where we raised much of our own food. However, when we go into even small or medium sized cities now, we become acutely aware of the faster pace and the assault on our senses from advertising. We’re in no hurry and it’s as if we are in a time warp while everyone rushes around us. Also, we notice how much temptation there is to separate us from our cash. The more we stay in rural places, the less we struggle with our budget discipline.

 

How has your blog helped you to communicate with others about the RVing experience by promoting the RV lifestyle? Has your blog converted people to RV living full-time?

Yes. I think our website and blog have helped many people because it is more than just a travel blog. We try to be as honest as we can about the lifestyle and share the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s not all beautiful scenery, interesting places, and wonderful places to park. We’re still living a life that includes doing laundry, dumping tanks, dealing with bad weather, worrying about finances, and occasionally parking in terrible places simply because of price and convenience.

Because we started relatively young, we had no RVing experience, we started with no fixed income, we share our financial information, and we’re not afraid to share our multitude of mistakes and foibles, I believe readers, especially those considering the lifestyle, find our stories interesting. It may be interesting in the “can’t look away train wreck” sense, or it may be they find it refreshing and helpful that we are so open.

I know we’ve converted some folks to full-time RVing, but we are constantly reminding people that the lifestyle in not for everyone. One of the reasons that our educational rallies are successful is we do a pretty good job of telling people so much of what to expect so they are more prepared when it’s not all rosy all the time.

I think more than “converting” people, we’ve given a lot of people that have been considering the lifestyle more confidence to go ahead and pursue it. Often, it has just been our open financial records that have provided that confidence, but sometimes I think it’s people saying “if those knuckleheads can do it, so can we”.

 

Do you need Internet access at all times? What if you are in a remote area and you don’t have it nor does your phone carry a signal because there are not any nearby towers? How has cellular broadband improved since you started on your RV journey?

In this modern world and running a website as a source of income, we knew we wanted to be able to have Internet access at all times. And, because we love being in remote areas, we knew that cellular broadband (especially when we started in 2005) wouldn’t be sufficient. So, while we were in our last months of our “jobs” making a good income, we invested in satellite Internet via an automatic rooftop dish. That allows us to have Internet anywhere in the continental U.S. and parts of Mexico and Canada as long as we have a clear view to the southern sky.

Since 2005, cellular broadband coverage has improved significantly from a geographic standpoint and most of our full-timing friends rely on that for Internet in one form or another. However, there are many remote areas of the country where cellular Internet is still non-existent or the service is extremely slow or unreliable. Our decision to have satellite Internet is still one of the best decisions we’ve made, albeit an expensive one that I’m not sure we would make today with less disposable income.

Because our businesses require Internet access, we now have multiple ways to access the Internet: Satellite, cellular modem, smart phone, and Wi-Fi. Sometimes the speed in certain areas is better with cellular or Wi-Fi than with satellite, and we like having those back-up methods of connecting in case our perfect camping spot has trees blocking our satellite signal. But for overall reliability in the most remote locations, satellite is often our only choice.

Linda and Howard Payne’s Camping Spots Slideshow

What are the best features of a great RV Park or campsite? What is your favorite campsite and why? In your opinion, what is a poor campsite and why?

The answers to these questions are quite subjective and what we like may not be close to what others like. We have been surprised to find that many full-timers are not necessarily nature lovers or outdoor people. So what they look for in a campsite is completely different than what we look for.

When looking for a campsite, we prefer natural settings that we can most often find in public campgrounds – state parks, national parks, etc. – or by just parking without hook-ups on public land (boondocking). We like sites that have some privacy, but more than anything we want sites that are large enough for us (length and height) and are well-spaced from other campsites. We don’t like full shade due to our satellite needs and debris falling from trees (acorns, walnuts, limbs, palm fronds, etc). We prefer open sites or partially shaded sites where we still have a southern opening in the trees. Of course, if we don’t have electric hook-ups, we want a completely open site so our rooftop solar panels help supply energy. A great view is wonderful, if possible.

We look for what we call the “it” factor which is hard to explain. But we know it when we find it. Typically, if we just want to be outside all the time sitting under the awning, sitting by a campfire, grilling out, watching wildlife from the site, or just enjoying a wonderful view, we have found our “it” factor. Our favorite campsites are on water – a lake, river, or stream – and that’s why we love Corps of Engineers campgrounds (they are always on or near water).

For us, we don’t care that much about hook-ups. We prefer an electrical hook-up, and it’s nice if we can at least take on water and the campground has a dump station. However, we have solar panels and an upgraded battery bank and a generator, so we can produce our own electricity. Beauty, spaciousness, and being close to nature activities we enjoy are more important than hook-ups.

A poor campsite is one in which our neighbors are right on top of us. With the windows open, we can hear their conversations and sneezes. We don’t like glorified parking lots or awning-to-awning camping. In one RV park, our neighbors’ sewer connection was under our picnic table.

We prefer not to stay in private RV parks, but if we do, we hope for spaciousness between sites, cleanliness, and good value. We don’t need amenities like pools or game rooms or playgrounds or even free Wi-Fi for Internet, but laundry facilities are nice. All we need is a little breathing room, good electric (30 amps or 50 amps), and reasonable enforcement of rules. Poor RV parks often don’t enforce rules relating to 1) upkeep and maintenance of seasonal or permanent units, 2) pets, and 3) quiet hours.

 

What were your top 3 memorable RV trips and why? Have you travelled across North America or have you just travelled within the US? As RVers, have you ever travelled to Canada and if so where did you go and what were the differences in the RV parks and campsites?

Well, since we’ve never been on an “RV trip”, that one is hard to answer. Our only RVing experiences have been while full-timing, and we’ve never really considered our travels as “trips”. It all sort of flows together.

We have loved the time we have spent in the Moab, Utah area. We spent four months there over two years and loved the hiking, scenery, and off-roading in Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Deadhorse Point State Park, and the surrounding areas. We also took a four-day boat trip on our inflatable pontoon boat through Stillwater Canyon in Canyonlands National Park. Awesome.

We like the peacefulness, remoteness, and wildlife in swamps. We enjoyed the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia, and we had a great time in Everglades National Park and the Big Cypress National Preserve in southern Florida.

Last summer, we spent time in Maine. We loved the area around Moosehead Lake in the interior and the far northeast corner on the coast. Both are remote with little population, and they are beautiful in quite different ways.

We haven’t seen any of the American northwest yet, so we’re really looking forward to that over this summer and next.

So far, we have just traveled in the U.S. with the RV, but we certainly want to explore Canada. We keep saying we will have to make two attempts to go to Alaska because we think we’ll love the Canadian wilderness and won’t get out of the country on our first attempt.

 

Do you have any plans to revert back to part-time RVing rather than full-time RVing and why? If so, what type of job would you look for? Has RVing changed your perception of work and if so why?

Well, we’ve never been part-time RVers, so we can’t “revert” to that. J  But, no, we don’t have any plans whatsoever at this point in our lives to live in what we call a “sticks and bricks” house. Of course that could change at any moment.

All we want to do is follow our passions and try to earn enough to live on, doing that for as long as we can. And, if that isn’t enough, we would find whatever work we needed to fill the gap. If, for some reason, we lost all of our funds currently in our savings and investments (our safety cushion), we would look for some sort of higher paying position to try to build back up, but we would continue to live in our RV and keep life simple with minimal expenses.

I don’t think RVing has changed our perception of “work”. We worked hard to be in our position and we are big proponents of hard work. America is still a land of opportunity and hard work makes that opportunity available to everyone.

However, we’ve reinvented what we’re working for. Before, we were working toward accumulating wealth for an early retirement, but we found we were sacrificing our health and our relationship for a future goal that seemed to be getting harder and harder to reach. So, now we’re working for each other and for happiness, and our happiness isn’t tied to possessions, wealth, status, or prestige.

In addition, we’ve always been self-reliant and by being debt free and living a simpler life, we don’t have the pressures of working to pay off debt or to impress an employer to move up a career ladder. We aren’t subject to the whims of an employer or an economy or a government as much as we used to be. Hopefully, by following our passions, we’ll earn enough to get by for many, many years to come.

 

Do your family and friends admire you for having the courage to go RVing full-time and experience life in this way?

Yes. Our family thinks it’s great. At first, my father said we were crazy to give up our “secure” jobs and income and physical assets, but the more he told his friends about it, the more he heard “Oh, I would love to do that!”. Now, we are in touch with our family more than we were in our working lives even though we were physically closer back then. And my dad’s only question now is “Are you happy?” followed by the statement “That’s all that matters.”

 

Are you glad you did this now in your life rather than being older and not quite as active or mobile?

Absolutely! I would like to think that we would have been healthy enough in our later years to hike and bike and paddle as much as we do now. But, with the stress we were under, there was certainly no guarantee we would have even made it to a typical retirement age. We’ve seen so many people that have dreamed of doing what we’re doing for so many years, and when they finally got to the point where they could retire, their dreams were shattered by major illness and, quite often, even death.

 

What has RVing taught you about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness? How has a trade-off of having the luxuries of great jobs, great incomes, and a nice home, in exchange for the RV lifestyle, altered your view of life?

Well, I think we’ve pretty much covered the answers to these questions.

But I suppose we can sum things up by saying full-time RVing has done for us exactly what we hoped it would do. It has provided us a way to do the things we love, to work together following our passions on our own terms to meet our minimal financial goals, and to bolster our personal growth through the freedom to explore and meet wonderful new people. Travel alone is a tremendous educator.

We’re often asked “What do you miss most about your prior life?” We struggle with the answer. But we turn it around and ask ourselves “What would we miss about full-time RVing if we had to return to our prior life?” That list starts with freedom and goes on and on and on.

Remember, full-time RVing wasn’t a goal of ours. It just happened to be a great way to accomplish a significant life change. And we are certainly cheerleaders for the lifestyle. However, more than anything, the soul of our website, RV-Dreams.com, is getting people to take a good close look at their lives and evaluate their lives in terms of happiness. Are debts, career, and money keeping them from enjoying life and their families? It’s never too late to change that. It can be daunting, scary, and against “conventional wisdom”, and there can be significant risks involved, but if we get folks to at least look deep inside and ponder their choices, we will leave this world with a sense of fulfillment.

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” Joseph Campbell

 

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  • Gerald Koth

    I did much of the same research before actually hitting the road. I did have the trailer for 4 months at home while the house was being sold and added lots and lots of modifications to make living really nice. I am very handy and have every tool known to man on board along with a mini hardware store. The only time I had to be not in the unit for a week was for a frame repair due to the manufacturer leaving out braces. Have a timeshare so was in a beautiful condo for that week. All other repairs I do myself. One of my best investments is a membership in Thousand Trails. So far I have saved over 20000 dollars. There is some satisfaction in staying “free”. My website is rvandmarineaccessories.com Like you a way to augment income. For me this lifestyle is fantastic.

  • guaranteervblogger

    Richard and Melody…here is the response from Linda regarding your question:

    Our rally is not a full month. The dates are April 27th – May 3rd, 2015
    The price for a couple to attend is $295.00, That price does not include accommodations. So if the persons are staying in a hotel, then that is on their own.

    http://www.rv-dreams.com/rally.html

    The link above has all the particulars.
    They can always email us at howardandlinda@rv-dreams.com

    Thanks,
    Linda

  • guaranteervblogger

    I will find out for you. Thanks for reading the Guarantee RV Blog! grvblogger

  • Richard and Melody Miller

    Am interested in going RVing full time and was interested in your RV Dreams conference in Sevierville in April. Could not seem to find the full price for it, or if we could just do a few days. Don’t have a full month, and will not be in our RV for this trip, but wanted to come for 4-5 days and hang around full-timers and learn as much as we could. Couldn’t find a phone number either. Got some help?

  • guaranteervblogger

    Great comment Don and Ginny thank you! That’s why this Interview is still #1 on the Guarantee RV Blog. grvblogger

  • Don and Ginny Pair

    Great answers to your questions, and the attitude expressed by Howard and Linda tells it like it is. This is the best way to live. After a brush with cancer 12 years ago, living for “someday” turned into living for today. Put off what you must, but make each day a step toward your goal of living the life you want to live. Howard is right that for many, “someday” never comes. Another great point: I have never heard a person say “I wish I had worked longer.”

  • guaranteervblogger

    Brian thank you for the comment. I interviewed Howard and Linda Payne a few years ago and it’s still the #1 interview. I asked them everything I wanted to know about RVing and they answered all 44 questions! The other interview you might want to read is this 2 part Interview…http://guaranteerv.com/blog/live-work-dream-preparation-maintainting-full-time-rv-lifestyle-jim-nelson-rene-agredano. It’s very informative as well. Thanks for visiting and commenting from the UK. I just wondered what words you searched for to have found this interview. People come to this blog from places I have never heard of before and I am not sure how they end up on this blog. It would be interesting to find out. Have a great day!

  • brian

    Nice one……….living the dream. Myself and my wife want to do this in the next 7 yrs. Just need to finish paying our mortgage and sell up. we are from the UK so we will need all kinds of insurance etc. Well done for taking the plunge and carry on living the dream. Maybe our paths will cross in years to come. Brian

  • guaranteervblogger

    Thank you so much Fernando for reposting it! This interview has been #1 on the Guarantee RV Blog since I first posted it thanks to Howard and Linda Payne. I asked them everything I wanted to know about RVing…44 questions…and they were happy to answer them. People have learned a lot from this interview so I am grateful they agreed to do it. grvblogger

  • FernandoSanders

    Great interview. This interview covers lots of information about RV lifestyle. I am so happy by reading this. I am sending it to a few buddies and additionally sharing on facebook.
    http://livingrvlifestyle.wordpress.com

  • guaranteervblogger

    Thanks so much Phil for your comment and compliment. Yes Howard and Linda did a great job answering my 44 questions! It’s been #1 on the blog since I put it up.

    I have another interview that will be uploaded soon with another couple who talk about working on the road. They wrote an ebook about it. So check back. The interview will be about Live.Work.Dream and the full-time RVing couple Jim Nelson and Rene Agredano.

    Let’s keep in touch just in case I want to interview you and your wife after you hit the road k? grvblogger

  • Phil and Cindy Falls

    This is great information on full timing. Like everybody else readiing, we are planning on full timing after retirement and like youj say the protential problem with that is, will I still be able to enjoy it, or healthy enough and the big one, not dead. My wife and I started camping in 2003 and had bought a new 2003 travel trailer. We ended up being seasonals at a cmapground near by ob the lake. So every summer we are at the lake every weekend. I go up during the week a lot and Cindy comes up on Fridays. We are now on our third unit a 2013 42′ Trilogy fifth wheel by Dynamax. This is our dream coach and was bought to be our retirement home. I have personally been dreaming of full timing for over 20 years and can’t wait to get started. We currently try to travel in it 3 times per years, whitch of corce is not nearly enough.
    This artical has helped a lot. I’m going to have my wife read it becasue she wants to wait until she’s 64 to retire. (she’s now 59 and I’m 60). I have worked hard for many years and am now in a position where I can work from anywhere. So you can see the problem. I believe that wants she reads this and with all the stress she under, she will cahnge her mind and we can get started early.
    Thank for a great job and we look forward to seeing all of you on the road. (God willing and the creek don’t rise)

  • guaranteervblogger

    That’s great Theresa and Rick! If you’d like to be interviewed, just email me at blogger@guaranteerv.com.
    Grace

  • Theresa & Rick Collins

    We are starting full time rv life in 26 days can hardly wait to get started with are new life on the road.

  • guaranteervblogger

    You’re very welcome Sue and Brian! This interview has been number 1 on the Guarantee RV blog ever since I uploaded it. They did a great job answering all 44 questions…everything I wanted to know about RVing. It has actually helped people decide to go full-time RVing so many people are grateful to them and so am I.:-)

  • Sue Blumenfeld

    Thank you so much for sharing this part of your life! The blog interview was most helpful. Currently both self employed living in our bricks and sticks and camping in our Pop-Up that we love! We are working towards full-time.

    Sue & Brian

  • Ellie & Dean Anderson

    Thank you Howard and Linda for sharing you rv-ing budget and life style. We are 73 and 72 have sold our home and getting ready to sell out business and go on the road. We have our truck-paid for and just paid in full for our Mobile suite 36 ft TKSB3. We are on SS. That is our income we have been rv-ing for 10 years and have had some wonderful month long trips. Glacier National Park and it took us up into Canada. Outer Banks, Red Woods, Mount Olympic National Park, Washington State. I don’t have room to name them all. We have maybe waited too long but the few years we have left we definitely plan to enjoy them all. See you on the road! Dean and Ellie Anderson

  • guaranteervblogger

    Thank you Don and you’re very welcome! I am glad you found the information very useful. The Linda and Howard Payne interview covered a lot. I asked them 44 questions, everything I wanted to know about RVing, and they did a great job answering them.

    We have a great qualified sales team here if you decide to visit Guarantee RV. Check out the website to see if there is anything you like…http://guaranteerv.com. The Tuscany is the bestseller in North America. Have a great day!

  • Don&Karen Olmstead

    I love the insight and information you have provided through your website. My wife and I have talked about this for a years and are in the early stages of making the transition to full time RVing. To read about your journey brings comfort in my heartburn of getting rid of the clutter and most importantly, what’s it going to cost, I was struggling with that one, can I, can’t I. After reading year site, Yes I can. We are now trying to decide what type of unit to buy, how much fun that is becoming, actually a little overwhelming size, style, options etc… Thanks for this wonderful website.

  • guaranteervblogger

    Crystal yes there are single women who go RVing. That would make a great article actually. Below are some links I found about the subject which includes a couple of forums. I would love to inteview you on your journey once you get started. Keep in touch.:-)

    http://www.rvingwomen.org/
    http://blog.rvparking.com/category/solo-women-rvers/
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/womengosolo/
    http://www.truckcampermagazine.com/camper-lifestyle/karin-lapointe-dont-wait
    http://www.rvgreening.com/single-rving.html
    http://www.womenrv.com/forum/
    http://www.openroadssingles.com/forum/

    grvblogger

  • Crystal Bass

    Was wondering if you meet many single women that are rving full time. I am very interested in doing this but I am single & wondered if I was crazy to think about doing it.

  • guaranteervblogger

    Thank you Cathy & Ross for commenting on this interview and sharing your experience at the Spring RV Rally. They certainly are an inspirational couple and they were so kind to answer all 44 of my questions! It is #1 on the Guarantee RV Blog. Would you like to be a guest blogger and share your experience at the Rally? Or would you like to be interviewed? Do you have pictures you would like to share? This would make a great article of a first hand experience at one of Howard and Linda’s seminars about RVing. If you are interested, just email me at blogger@guaranteerv.com. Thanks!

  • Cathy Ross

    We just left Howard and Linda’s 2013 Spring RV Rally in Elephant Butte, NM. What an inspiring and enthusiastic couple they are!

    With the wealth of information we gathered from their seminars along with their “can do” attitude we are going home feeling very confident we too, can live the RV dream!

    We feel informed and empowered thanks to Howard and Linda’s full-time RVing experience and their willingness to share that knowledge with us. We highly recommend attending one of their Rally’s to anyone contemplating the full-time RV lifestyle. The knowledge and resources you gain is well-worth the price of admission!

    Thanks Linda and Howard! We look forward to our paths crossing in the future.

    Cathy & John Ross

  • guaranteervblogger

    Thata’s great Stephen and Tina! Did you get a lot of good information from the blog interview? Hope so! They answered 44 questions…everything I wanted to know about RVing. It’s #1 on the blog currently.:-)They were very articulate when answering the questions.

  • Stephen Gillenwater, Tina Creamer

    We also are in the process of trying to sell our house to start the full time RV life style. Thanks to Howard and Linda and their unselfish disclosure of their finances and life style we now have the confidence that we can do this. We made our maiden voyage this year to Florida with our 35 ft fifth wheel and dually ford. What a blast. Hope we sell soon as We can hardly wait to get on the road. Hope to see you all at a rally or campground soon.

  • guaranteervblogger

    Hi Deb. Thanks for sharing. Try going online to some forums to see how other people dealt with this issue. I think it will be an adjustment but there are a lot of kids at these RV places. She can also find friends online. Perhaps this will keep her interested. I can understand her feelings though but the places you visit and the activities you do will more than make up for being stuck in one place. Traveling is a real education. Good luck. I will approve your comment to see if anyone else can help you. grvblogger

  • We are in the process of selling our home to become permanent rvers. We’ve camped a lot during our 20 year marriage and know this is what we want to do. However, after raising our own children, being foster parents of 18 kiddos over a period of 8 years, we found ourselves adopting a baby when I turned 50. She is now 10 and we plan to take her with us. We have arranged for her schooling online through Houston ISD and everything is now in place for her enrollment this March. However, she is having a very difficult time leaving what is familiar to her, and her friends and older sisters. She actually suggested we adopt another girl her age, to which we said absolutely not. I would love to be able to talk with another permanent rving couple who had only one child with them so I know more of how to help her transition to this new way of life with us. We are not worried about her educational needs as she is gifted and talented and already has jumped a year and still has all A’s in pre-ap classes. She has the desire to do online courses instead. It is just the “only” child syndrome that we are struggling with. Thanks..

  • guaranteervblogger

    Thank you Tina. They pretty much did a great job at answering my questions about RVing. I try to be thorough.:-)

  • Tina

    Great article with a wealth of information and what amazing questions. Looking forward to following your blog. I have been a fan of Howard and Linda for many years now. I will be out there on the road as well in the near future, will not be waiting until retirement either.

  • guaranteervblogger

    Great! Thank you and Happy RVing!

  • guaranteervblogger

    Thanks Kevin!:-) You’re the best. Even though there were 44 questions, I knew the wait for the answers would be worth it! Content is king and it’s the experience of other people that sell the RV lifestyle…oh, and RVs!

  • Kevin Atkinson

    To Grace,

    Great job on the best full-time RV interview I have ever read! As a manufacturer representative of RVs for 25 years, I truly wish to get this informative interview out to everyone I possibly can!! There are millions of people young and old that have a personal goal to join the RV lifestyle so they all would highly benefit. I wish my 63 year old father would have been able to read this before he passed. He procrastinated too long and then his health forbade him from what he wanted the most. Howard and Linda simply represent the essence of the future of our industry and the new RV lifestyle we try so hard to portray. They’re the baby boomer RVers who exemplify the many ways RVing has changed for many in recent years.

    Bravo!

  • guaranteervblogger

    Jerry…LOL! That was a great response to this interview and thank your wife as well. I have been a freelance magazine writer for a while now before I got this job. What I find is that the questions asked define the whole interview and how the interviewee answers. At first, Howard may have thought that 44 questions were a bit much but I knew if he anwswered them all, it would give the reader a well rounded view of what full-time RVing is like. Since I am also a Graphic Designer and Photographer on the side, I tried to make this blog easy on the eyes and as interesting as possible.

    From my experience, if the questions have depth, then the interviewee is likely to answer with the same depth. Content is still king, after all these years of technological innovation.:-) Somewhere through the words, consciousness speaks to the reader. Images do embellish content but without good content, a blog is weak.

    P.S. I am glad the interview gave her the “fulltimer bug.”:-) The power of the word is undeniable!

  • Jerry & Kathy

    What a fantastic and informative article. I have been following RV-Dreamers, Linda and Howard, for at least 5 years now. For as much entertainment and education I have received from them I should write them a check for several million dollars, unfortunately we are a little short this month. While I have followed other blogs over the past 7 years, I consistently continue to read theirs. They truly are incredible people and we look forward to meeting them someday. My wife has heard about their travels from me and probably gets awfully tired of me saying, “Howard and Linda are doing this or that.” But I sent her this article at work and she couldn’t stop reading it. She loved the pictures, stories, responses, and the excellent questions posed by the interviewer. She is in the media business and felt the writer, and Howard, did an incredible job on this piece. After over 5 years she now knows a lot more about “Howard and Linda” and I thank you for that! I think you may have given her the fulltimer bug I have been trying to instill for 7 years! Great job by everyone involved!

  • guaranteervblogger

    Thank you Chuck & Ann. I am glad you liked it.:-)

  • guaranteervblogger

    Thank you and that’s really interesting John. Would you like to be interviewed? I would really like to get a perspective of someone who has gone back to the “sticks and bricks” as Howard calls them. I think people who love RVing are very close to nature and find peace in natural surroundings. Contact me at blogger@guaranteerv.com.

  • guaranteervblogger

    Thank you so much Paul! I appreciate your compliment. Would you like to be interviewed too? If so, send me an email at blogger@guaranteerv.com. Thanks!

  • guaranteervblogger

    Thanks Gina! I enjoyed doing the article and I totally agree with your comment.:-)

  • Gina

    Love the article, it was very well done! Howard and Linda are doing all of us.. dreamer and doers a favor by telling it like it is! Hard, good facts about this lifestyle are few and far between. It is nice to see their budget and where they earn their money.. My husband and I are working on a 5 year plan to get out on the road in an rv and travel more. We will need to work camp or other employment to get by. So it is refreshing to read their adventures and see how it CAN be done. We were in Yellostone this summer and the Europeans were drivng their rental rvs all over the sidewalks! Couldn’t turn a corner to save their life. We were in stiches lol

  • Paul Hildebrant

    Thank you for your “expert” interview with Howard and Linda. You have a feel for the RV lifestyle. We have owned some kind of RV since around 1968. I have been following Howard and Linda almost from the beginning of their blog and have learned a lot. We were at their first rally in 2008 and again in summer 2011. We are half timers and live in South Florida in the winter. Because of the way we travel now we traded our 35′ fifth wheel and diesel pickup for a 27′ motorhome and it has work very well for us. Thank you again for the very well done interview with Howard and Linda.

  • We went full time two years earlier then we had first planned and knew we could because of Howard and Linda. We went to their rally in 2008 and with a budget that was good enough to retire early we sold the condo and took off. We thank Howard and Linda often for the greatest time of our lives. We should have gone full time when we retired from the military in 1997, there’s nothing like it..

  • John Brown

    Great interview, I have followed Howard and Linda almost from the beginning and certainly credit them and their website, as well as the chatroom, with connecting my wife and I with many of our great RVing friends. Being a Canadian adds a few issues to being a fulltime RVer but we overcame most of them for a couple of years and although we have reverted back to our sticks and bricks, as Howard calls them, we cherish our memories and the friendships we began in that lifestyle.

  • Great interview, I have followed Howard and Linda almost from the beginning and certainly credit them and their website, as well as the chatroom, with connecting my wife and I with many of our great RVing friends. Being a Canadian adds a few issues to being a fulltime RVer but we overcame most of them for a couple of years and although we have reverted back to our sticks and bricks, as Howard calls them, we cherish our memories and the friendships we began in that lifestyle..

  • chuck&ann

    Great interview! Howard and Linda are two of the nicest folks you will ever meet. Their website RV-Dreams.com is so informative and fun to follow. They had a significant impact on our decision to pursue the RV lifestyle. (We are not quite sure what we are yet – we best fit into their category of part-time full-timers.) If you are considering RV life, their website is one of the first to read.

  • Allan and Jeanne Webster

    We happened on to Howard and Linda as we were researching the possiblity of going fulltiming ourselves. Their website and their seminar encouraged us to make the plunge. We began our fulltime adventure in ’07 and have traveled the majority of the USA and parts of Canada. We do volunteer work [church construction]as we travel. We love the lifestyle and plan to continue as long as we are able. We continue to read RV Dreams webite and direct others to it if they are interested in RVing.
    Great interview Howard and Linda.

  • guaranteervblogger

    So glad you found this interview informative. I am a fan too! I like that they don’t “sugar coat” the full-time RV lifestyle too. 🙂

  • guaranteervblogger

    Thank you Don and Alice. It was a pleasure. 🙂 Well worth it just to give others a taste of what full-time RVing is like.

  • Don & Alice Faye Turney

    This is an absolutely wonderful article about the RV fulltiming lifestyle. We have followed Howard and Linda through their journal from the beginning, as that was the start of our fulltime adventures also. Our journey had to end last October due to health reasons, but we continue to enjoy “traveling” with them through their daily journal entries. Again, thank you for publishing this very informative and well-done article about them.

  • John & Karla Coley

    We have been following Howards and Linda’s website now for about a year. We also had the good luck to be able to meet them last Dec in Florida. In talking with them one can truly feel the passion they have for the rv lifestyle. In reading their daily logs you can see they don’t sugar coat this lifestyle, but present it fot what it truly is. My wife and I hope to be rving fultime in the next few years and we are following the advice we have read in there blogs. One can not say thanks enough to Howard and Linda for what they are doing and sharing. But to say God bless you two and hope to met up with you all again.