My Plans 11.14.11

Now is as good a time as any to share my basic plan of attack for going full-time RVing, hopefully some of this will be helpful to you all out there who are also in the planning stages. At the very least, it should be helpful for me to see it all laid out on paper, err…word processor. But first, two notes worthy of mention.

First, this is a huge lifestyle change for me with many facets. I’m expecting that my plans will shift and evolve as time progresses, so there are no guarantees that this is exactly what will end up happening. Secondly, RVing is a highly individualized activity. No two people make full-timing work exactly the same way, there is no right or wrong way to go about it. This is what I think will work for me, if you think some of this will work for you too, that’s great! By the same token, if some (or all) of this doesn’t seem like it’ll work for you, don’t get discouraged. You just need to start looking at the options and figuring out what’s best for your situation. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Now then, a bit of background. The idea to seriously go full-time RVing first occurred to me on December 17th of last year. After about four months of thinking long and hard about the direction my life was going (or wasn’t going), and wrestling with the idea that I should actually live it instead of just going through the motions, I sat up bolt upright in bed that night and had an ‘ah-hah’ moment: I really want go RVing, so that is what I should do.

After waiting a month to two to make sure it wasn’t just a fleeting fancy, I really started taking it seriously. Fortunately by that point I had already begun keeping a eye on my finances, so it didn’t take too long to hammer out my rate of savings, and what I was willing to spend. For those who are curious, I’ll put it right out on the table. I’m buying used, and out of pocket. Right now I’m working on my goal of getting a tow vehicle and travel trailer, so that will be the focus of this post.

The truck I purchased four weeks ago cost $6,984 after trade-in of my ’04 Honda Civic ($4,000).  That was right on target for my goal of spending $7,000.  For the travel trailer, I’m allotting $10,000 at most, including the weight distribution hitch and brake controller that I’ll need to get installed on the truck before I can tow with it. I’m already starting to search for it, but if it takes longer than expected and I get more money saved up I may end up spending more. Originally I wanted $25,000 in the bank before I started actively looking for the truck and RV (would have been later spring or early summer 2012) but I changed my mind more recently and at the time of purchase of the truck had about $23,700 in the bank.

Next up, my reasoning behind deciding on a truck and travel trailer, a decision I came to pretty early on. Off the bat, I ruled out fifth wheels and class A’s because of the higher price, my desire to travel to out of the way places, and to stay in more rustic campgrounds with smaller sites. I’ll also be traveling mostly solo and really don’t need that much space, and while I’m sure I could learn how to safely drive something that large, I don’t really want to. This left class B’s, C’s, and travel trailers.

I love the over cab beds in class C’s, I really do. It seems like a more efficient use of vertical space to put the bed higher up, unlike a regular bed where you maybe get a cabinet or something above it. Plus I think a part of me might still be jealous that I never had a bunk bed as a child, but that’s another story. Either way, I ended up ruling class C’s out because I didn’t want to have to maintain two engines, plus my Civic couldn’t have been towed without some serious work or investment in a dolly that would keep all four wheels off the road, so I wouldn’t have been able to save myself any steps by keeping the same vehicle.

Of course I could have bought a small class C or a class B that would fit in normal parking spots and not have to worry about a tow’d at all, but while I am working on transitioning to location independent work I don’t expect to be entirely there by the time I go full-timing, and I don’t want to have to pack up and drive my house to and from a temporary job on a daily basis. Plus there was the fact that I wanted to have the RV before the lease on my apartment came up and I stopped my current job, and I needed to trade in the car in order to get the money to buy it – I didn’t really want to be driving the RV to my current job which is 27 miles one way.

This left travel trailers. Heated discussions around whether to choose the RV or the tow vehicle first arise all the time in RV forums. If you already have a vehicle capable of towing, it makes your choice pretty straight forward. Since I didn’t, I had to pick a side. In the end, what I ended up doing was narrowing down my tow vehicle some, then looking at RVs that matched my broad decision, then once I picked a specific travel trailer, I was able to narrow the tow vehicle down further.

I decided that I wanted a truck because I wouldn’t need space for passengers, and there is more storage room in a truck compared to a SUV. I further narrowed it down to nothing larger than a half ton truck, because anything larger could making finding parking difficult, was more expensive, and would be hard on gas mileage around town, and during the period before I go full-timing. This limited my travel trailer choices considerably.

Requirements for my travel trailer were that it be self contained for boondocking, didn’t have any canvas parts that would leech heat in the winter and be more prone to wear and tear, and no slide outs since I’d heard about so many people having issues with them and didn’t really need the extra living space.

Researching the perfect for me travel trailer took months, in fact it’s still not completely set in stone, you really don’t want to rush this process. A few times I was sure I’d found the floor plan that was going to be it, but then I’d discover a flaw with it, or find something that seemed better. Eventually I stumbled across fiberglass egg trailers, and was sold on their small size and light weight, and their longevity and durability compared to the other kinds of travel trailer that met my price and size requirements. Right now, I’m nearly positive my TT will be a 17′ Casita Spirit Deluxe.  I have a picture of one above that was for sale in my area, and the floor plan and specs can be found at Casita’s website here.

Picking a RV let me get real specific about the tow vehicle. With the GVWR for the travel trailer being only 3500 lbs there were some midsize pickups that qualified for the job – even allowing for a 75% margin of safety on the tow rating. Once I decided what features were important to me, I started looking. I needed to buy the truck first after all in order to be able to tow the RV home.

I was honestly expecting it to take months for the right truck to make itself known to me, but the whole process from starting to search to owning a truck that fit my needs perfectly only took about 2 weeks. I find it funny how sometimes it seems like the universe conspires to give you exactly what you need when you need it. It is a ’01 Dodge Dakota SLT club cab, with a 4.7L V8 engine, automatic transmission, rear wheel drive, and factory installed tow package. It even came with a large camper top already on it, something I was expecting to have to shell a fair bit of money out for. Plus, it’s silver, so it won’t clash with the white with blue trim of a Casita, a very serious consideration. 😉 A picture of it can be found in my previous article here.

Beyond that, the tentative plan is to take vacations and numerous weekend trips in the RV once I have it and get it prepped and ready, with an expected departure for full-timing at the end of…well, it might be as early as August of next year, when our current lease is up. I promised my roommate/best friend that I wouldn’t go gallivanting about the countryside and leave her stranded down here in South Carolina without the funds to get an apartment on her own or move back to Wisconsin where we’re both from. Originally the plan was two years, which would have been August of 2013, but she might let me go a year early, so long as I don’t leave her stuck with the lease on her own which I’d never do.

My first trip once I’m a full-timer will probably be first up to my parent’s house in Wisconsin to visit and drop off anything I want to keep but can’t fit in the RV, and then across to South Dakota to establish residency and get my plates. If I do leave in late summer or early fall I might look into working the holiday season at Amazon to earn up some money since I probably won’t be leaving with as much in the bank as I’d like, then heading down to Quartzsite for the rest of the winter. This would give me a good introduction into the full-timing lifestyle and allow me to meet knowledgeable RVers, as I’m sure I’ll have questions.

That’s the plan anyway, we’ll see how it actually unfolds. If you care to share your plans for RVing, have any thoughts or comments on RV selection, or know where you want to travel to first once you’re full-timing, let us all know in the comments below!

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25 Responses to My Plans 11.14.11

  1. The Good Luck Duck November 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    Hi there! It’s good to read your fresh perspective on full-timing. Thanks for being so frank about your expenses, too; I think we get a little too circumspect about talking money sometimes and that’s not helpful to anyone else.

    The Good Luck Duck recently posted..I be bloggin’, they workin’.My Profile

  2. Becky November 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    Your welcome Roxanne, and thanks. 🙂 I got a bit frustrated when I first started dipping my toes into the world of RVing because I didn’t have an inkling of the costs involved. I just assumed that all people who went full-timing were rich. Fortunately some digging around showed otherwise and now I’ve decided to be as candid as possible about my finances when it comes to this journey, hopefully it will help the next person who comes along who wants to go RVing but isn’t sure they can afford it.

  3. Pleinguy November 22, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    You’re going through some of the same issues as I. The reasoning on type of rig follows along my own thoughts. While I considered a Casita and truck combo, I’ve pretty much settled on a small Class C. I expect to spend most of my time away from normal RV campgrounds, so size of tanks is pretty important. The holding tanks on a Casita are pretty small and therefor limit the length of time one can boondock, and require more frequent dumping.

    I will need to sell my house to make the transition, and I’m working toward that goal. Starting out with everything paid for and debt free, with some savings, is an important consideration.

    It will be interesting to follow your efforts at finding freedom. Best of luck!
    Pleinguy recently posted..Heating and Cooling the RVMy Profile

    • Becky November 23, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

      Hello Pleinguy, it’s a pleasure to meet another boondocking enthusiast. I plan to be doing a fair bit of boondocking as well, both to keep costs down and because I love being out in the wilderness. I realize I’m going to have to be conservative with my water usage to get the most out of my tanks so I’ve already moved away from using shampoo and conditioner in my hair as a way to cut down on shower time (I use baking soda twice a week and apple cider vinegar once a week – it works just as well for me as shampoo and conditioner every day did). I imagine I’ll also get rather educated in the art of sponge baths and marine showering, but I’m not going to put that to the test until I’m actually RVing. 😉

      Good luck selling your house, hopefully we’ll both be full-timing within the next two years. 🙂

  4. The Good Luck Duck November 23, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    Sorry about the endless link. 🙁
    The Good Luck Duck recently posted..Indiana wants me.My Profile

    • Becky November 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

      No problem Roxi, thanks for the link. I’ll definitely consider the sprayer idea once l’m in the Casita since I believe my gray water tank is going to be something along the lines of…well, actually I’m not real sure. The new 17′ deluxes come with a 32 gallon gray tank but I have a feeling the older models that I’ll be looking at are going to have smaller tanks than that.

      The directions I followed initially were 1 tablespoon in 1 cup of water for both baking soda and ACV, but that ended up being too much for my hair, I was getting a lot of residue and the vinegar smell stayed in after showering. Now I use 1/2 tablespoon of each. For the baking soda I don’t use much water at all, I keep it thicker and put it on my hands and rub it into the roots, let it set while I lather, then rinse it all at once. For the ACV I still dilute it in about a cup of water, but I don’t measure it exactly. I gather my hair up into a pony tail in the shower and apply it just to the pony tail, then work it into the ends, then rinse. The way I do it now the smell doesn’t stay in my hair after I’ve washed it out.

      It doesn’t feel as soft as it use to when I used conditioner, but it looks the same as always. I have thick, wavy, frizzy hair. I know some people who do this routine and said their hair was a lot less frizzy with it, but the frizz factor is about the same either way for me. But it does take less time and water, and it’s cheaper, so I’m sticking with it for now. 🙂

  5. Cherie @ Technomadia November 23, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    We think the combo of a truck and a fiberglass trailer is an excellent choice 🙂 Not that we’re biased or anything.

    It really does give you tons of flexibility, and many many options for places to stay. When looking for yours, try to get one with the raised axle so that you can further down backroads, and that will open up many boon docking options where other RVs can’t go.

    I know for sure there will be days that we will miss the maneuverability our Oliver gave us now that we have the bus.

    And kudos on going no-poo! I just passed my 4 year anniversary since my last shampoo. These days, I only need a baking soda scrub a couple times a month.
    Cherie @ Technomadia recently posted..Landing Gear…. Down!My Profile

    • Becky November 23, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

      Cherie, it’s thanks to you and Chris that I thought to consider fiberglass egg trailers to begin with. Before stumbling upon your blog I was only looking at various small stick built ones, so thank you for that. 🙂 I’ll definitely take the raised axle option into consideration once I get my truck all geared up to tow…which might be as early as this weekend, I’m just a little excited. I know that raised axles exist on Casitas but I’m not sure how common they are, I guess I’ll find out.

      I’ve been no-poo for about….four months now I think? Something like that. The first week was awful, and the next 3 after that weren’t much better, I almost stopped on a couple occasions. Since then it’s improved quite a bit. 🙂

  6. Steve December 8, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    Becky … Thanks for this great blog and also your thought process. The urge to rv fulltime hit me October 21 of this year. I still haven’t decided what kind of rv to buy and even though I am going solo, I will be traveling with my 2 basset hounds and 1 bloodhound. I am counting them as 1 other person in my decision process. I have read a ton of blogs, people with 5ers, C’s, A’s and truck/trailer and about the time I think I have decided, the advantages of something else enters my mind. One recent change is I picked up a Toyota 4Runner, V8, Sports Package a few weeks ago. Not for RVing but for better winter vehicle than my Camry.

    When I started seeing what my 4Runner could tow, I started thinking about a Casita or a Trailer similar to what Cheri had in Oliver.

    I’m going to catch up reading your blog….great stuff.

    • Becky December 8, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

      Hello Steve, glad to have you aboard! It took me a good 4-5 months to decide on what travel trailer I wanted. Several times I too thought I had it all figured out, only to find something else that I thought would work better. At least I decided pretty early that truck + TT was what would work best for my case, having limited funds that would prevent me from owning the RV separate from a regular vehicle was the big deciding factor there.

      The first time I stepped into that Casita though, it felt like being home. 🙂 Your 4Runner could indeed tow one. I know a blogger named Sue who travels in a Casita with her two rat terrier mixes. Much smaller dogs that yours I know, but her blog might give you some idea about what it’s like living with dogs in a small travel trailer

      Keep me posted on what you decide on. I just loved the process of looking at various RVs and imagining what it would be like to live in them. 🙂 Best of luck!

  7. Chris Dunphy December 9, 2011 at 1:41 am #

    Fiberglass really rocks, and the Casita is a great foundation.

    I’m looking forward to meeting you on the road.

    Pick our brains any time.

    I know what it is like to start on this sort of adventure solo.

    Best wishes,

    – Chris

    • Becky December 9, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

      Thanks for the offer Chris! Your and Cherie’s website has been so helpful to me. I imagine that when I get to the point of installing solar that I’d like opinions from people who’ve done it on a small fiberglass trailer and I know you two have.

      I’m so excited to get started, why does that pesky apartment lease have to be in my way? But I’ll get there, soon enough. 🙂

  8. Les December 13, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    Hi! I could essentially write a full article here regarding types of RVs, and have in the past, but basically it all boils down to what a specific individual or couple/family needs for her/him/them selves. There is no one answer. I’ve been at this a long time and I still wish I had different rigs for different circumstances. Kind of like cars at home; a commuter/grocery-getter and a truck or family vehicle.

    Even though I had a truck/trailer combination early on there are two main factors (and several lesser ones) why I don’t now. The main ones being: overall length and security (mostly in travel mode).

    I found out traveling that there were lots of times I wanted to stop in some small downtown area and my truck/trailer just wouldn’t fit. Even with a Dakota and Casita you’ll be around 35′ long (the size of my current Class A motorhome!); try parking that in a small town you’d love to stop in along the Oregon coast (or other places of course) or pull into a roadside fruit stand or small attraction. Even pulling over for photos was a bit of a pain.

    After several uncomfortable nights in a parking lot or in a rest area with noise outside with no way to get to the driver’s seat without getting outside myself I decided subsequent RVs for me would have direct access to the driver’s seat from inside the rig. This isn’t as big a deal once the trailer is ensconced somewhere but I found it enough of a factor (for me) that it changed my RV style.

    It really comes down to what you’re doing on the road: traveling or living. I still think trailers are better for living in (despite the fact that I live full time in my motorhome) and motorhomes (A, B, or C) are better travel rigs. I think the ideal travel rig is a Class B or a small Class C (like the Chinook [which is not a Class B]). At 19 to 21 feet or so you can drive them like a regular vehicle (the Dakota is a bit over 18′ long), drive through a downtown area, and park in a downtown area. When you want to stop for a rest or overnight while traveling you don’t have to get out of your rig (meaning you’re also not giving away the fact you’re a female and potentially alone). I’d be in a Class B (I have a Roadtrek 190 that I couldn’t give up when I got the larger Class A) in a heartbeat even now but my wife says she’d need the whole rig as a closet…that doesn’t leave me much room! 🙂

    If you’re going to go park somewhere for longer periods of time then perhaps the trailer will be better for you but it’s nowhere as convenient on the road when you’re on the move everyday or two. Choices, choices, choices.

    I’ll end my long-winded comment now so you can get back to your regularly scheduled blog. 🙂

    All the best,

    Les recently posted..Tell me it isn’t so…My Profile

    • Becky December 13, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

      Hiya! I already sort of answered this question on the other post you commented on. 🙂

      I’m planning on a slower pace of travel with longer periods of staying still, largely due to the fact that at least initially the majority of my funds will have to come from stopping to take jobs temporarily (plus this won’t cost as much for gas >.>).

      When I get to an area of interest, I’ll be parking the Casita first and then just taking the Dakota around town to sightsee, the Casita will be acting as a home base that I’ll be striking out from.

      Given the situation, truck + travel trailer is just going to work better for me when I start out. Nothing is set in stone though, if it turns out to not be ideal I’ll work something else out at that point. 🙂

  9. Carolyn December 23, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Good thought out plan.

  10. jim December 28, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    Invest in Good Sam Road Service insurance in case you have breakdowns on the road, they will tow your car and trailer to next cg and repair shop, something AAA does not perform.

  11. jim December 28, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    Website of Scamps/Casita’s

    • Becky December 29, 2011 at 9:27 am #

      Thanks for the tips Jim.

  12. jim December 30, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    One more item, you will need a brake controller installed in your truck for the trailer’s electric brakes operation.

  13. Annette February 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    Why did you pick So Dakota to establish resisdency?

  14. Annie davis June 17, 2016 at 10:42 am #

    Love your blog from a has-been full-timer
    Now retiree!

    • Becky June 17, 2016 at 8:31 pm #

      Glad you’re enjoying it Annie, thanks for reading. 🙂

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