Tales from the Other Side

tales-from-the-other-sideA few times now since I’ve been on the road I’ve gotten questions from readers or RVing hopefuls I’ve met in person who have asked me what it feels like to be on “the other side”.

By other side, they mean what what it feels like to be full-timing. Is it as wonderful as they all imagine it to be, is the grass really as green as everyone says.

I think the full-timing dream looks a little different for everyone, but what I think about, and what I think a lot of others do too when they imagine the full-timing lifestyle, is something like this: a campsite right on the beach with an endless blue sky overhead, lawn chair on the sand typing up the latest blog post with a fruity umbrella drink in one hand while listening to the occasional seagull call and the sound of surf coming ashore while working on a killer tan (although I personally wouldn’t subject my laptop to the havoc that sand can wreck, nor trust myself not to spill my fruity umbrella drink all over it).

Or maybe they picture a beautiful little state park campground nestled in the mountains and early morning hikes with like minded folks through a pristine and dewy forest up to a scenic overlook to watch a glorious sunrise unfold over an awe inspiring vista. Or perhaps a secluded boondocking spot in the southwest without another soul in sight taking candid photographs of the wildlife and plants and wiling away the day with the whole of the desert as their playground.

I follow the blogs of RVers who have had and written about experiences very similar to these and they closely mirror what I aim to do as a full-timer*, but the question of what “the Other Side” is like kind of takes me aback, because I’m not there yet.

Oh, I’ve touched this magic a couple times since I hit the road. Standing on top of that hill at Big Sioux Recreation Area in South Dakota and seeing the panoramic view of the town and surrounding countryside laid out before me on a Thursday afternoon, knowing that in my old life I would have been hard at work at that moment. Sitting on my chair reading my Kindle on a sandbar in the middle of the crystal blue stream of Roaring River State Park Β in Missouri, my biggest concern at the time whether the dramatic clouds overhead were going to open up before I finished the chapter.

I’ve experienced enough to know that full-timing is indeed what I want, despite the challengesΒ I am currently facing.

For a while after I hit the road, when it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to make enough at Amazon to take the rest of the winter off, and when I sat in Julie’s living room sending in my 32nd job application with nary a response, I lost sight the big picture. It takes time and patience and persistence to make great things happen.

We have a tendency to compare how we stack up with others. If you look at where I am with full-timing and compare it to any of the previously mentioned bloggers and it might appear that I’ve failed. Where’s my site on the beach, endless afternoons spent hiking, or majestic photos of exotic locales. But no, I haven’t failed. I just have yet to arrive. Instead of comparing your progress to others’, compare it to your own.

I bought my truck and RV without going into debt. While the occasional issue might pop up, they’re in good working order. In less than six months I have traveled well over a thousand miles in Cas and spent at least one night in seven different states. I stayed at three beautiful parks during that time where I got to do some honest to gosh sight-seeing. I got to spend over three weeks around the holidays with family and friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in years.

Compare that to where I was a year ago, and I have made some amazing progress. I challenge you to look at your own progress in that way, no matter where you might be along the path to fulfilling your dreams. When you do, you’ll feel a lot better about where you’ve been and where you’re heading.

I cannot give a full and accurate account of what full-timing is like, because I am still in the process of getting there myself. I have some things figured out, there are others I’m still working on. In fact, I kind of doubt there is an end point. Life is not a destination but a journey, and I have a feeling as long as I’m riding the rails of full-timing I’ll constantly be tweaking my approach to it. But I have caught glimpses of the possibilities, and ladies and gentlemen, the future looks bright.

* And now, having written these three descriptions of what my full-timing dream looks like in vivid detail, I’ve totally added having these experiences to my Dream List Β – sans the hazardous combo of laptop and fruity umbrella drink.

* * *

Speaking of things I am still working on, earning a living on the road is the biggest one right now as I’m sure all my regular readers have gathered. I have received lots of support and encouragement via comments and e-mails the past couple months as I went through the process of landing my current seasonal job with Lowe’s. Now that I have at least some money coming in, I can look ahead to this summer and am currently hard at work filling out applications for summer jobs that will hopefully earn me a living wage.

I thank all of you for your kind words, I have even gotten suggestions on how to earn money using IO. The thought of using Adsense or other advertisements has always made me cringe, because I would have no control over the stuff being displayed and I’d hate to inadvertently lead readers into buying junk or onto malicious web pages. Another suggestion was putting up a donation link, a kind of tip jar, but my pride won’t let me accept something for nothing.

But what I do feel okay with doing is this. Amazon has a referral program whereby when people purchase something after clicking through a link on my site, I make a little bit of money. It wouldn’t cost the user any more money than normal, and I get to decide exactly what gets displayed.

I set up an account with them yesterday. If anyone would like to help out, you can Shop Amazon using that link. I’m not looking to get people to spend money they wouldn’t have otherwise, but if you’ve been thinking about buying something there anyway, there is no added risk or cost. When time permits I will probably create a separate page for specific products I have personally used and can attest to the value and usefulness of when it comes to RVing.

Have a great weekend all!

Image courtesy of Grand Canyon NPS

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35 Responses to Tales from the Other Side

  1. Dave March 1, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

    Becky, I have enjoyed reading your blog during the past week…just about every posting. It is an admirable adventure moving toward the full-time lifestyle at such a young age. I retired last year, and my wife and I were fortunate to travel for 7 months, through 23 states, nearly 10,000 miles. We hope to take off again this June, and this time it is likely to be for 18 months….but first we have to sell our house. Unlike you, we both have retirement income, social security check for her (she is a little older than I), and soon less expenses with the upcoming sale of the house. We too were lucky to be able to pay cash for our used motor home, and with the house sale, will be debt free because we will be able to pay off our condo that we will call our home base.

    But when we are on the road, we consider ourselves as full-timers. The freedom to go where you want, when you want, as you want is more than wonderful. To see the sights of Yosemite, Yellowstone, Crater Lake, Grand Tetons, Glacier, Mount St. Helen, Mt. Lassen, the Northern California Coast and Oregon Coast, and the many stops and sights along the way made this past summer the best summer either of us ever had. And to be able to share this through our blog with family and friends adds to the enjoyment that we already get. Oh, if we were just younger and able to do more hikes, feel less pain….I hope you get to see and do all that you want to do Becky.

    Dave, Marcia, Bubba and Skruffy

    • Becky March 3, 2013 at 9:30 am #


      Thank you for commenting. I’m happy to hear that you and your wife are making RVing work for you, I know some people get downright belligerent about what a full-timer is, but in my opinion if you’re doing it as more than just a few weeks as a vacation it counts.

      In my opinion, you could be sad that you aren’t physically capable of doing everything you might have been able to do if you had gone RVing earlier in life, but then you’d be in the same boat as me without the money to afford to see as much as you’d like. There is no ‘perfect’ situation. It sounds to me like you’re making the best of what you have and in the end that’s all any of us can do. Get out there, and make some wonderful memories. πŸ™‚ Safe travels and happy trails!

  2. travelfables March 1, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    I’ve gotten into that “read other blogs and compare mode” at times. It is bad for me (well some of them) so I try not to compare, and I’ve been a full-timer on and off for awhile now. The worst thing for me isn’t the finding and playing in this or that beauty spot- I doubt I’ll ever be jealous of someone’s sunset or beach umbrella.
    I grew up in some of the most beautiful country side and have always been close to nature,
    and can always find the beauty spots, befriend the animals and whatnot.
    My problem is comparing myself to RVing couples.
    They are running a different program than me- that’s for sure.
    And reading their blogs, seeing their beautiful rigs, and their companionship and shared resource and adventure irks me sometimes. I have to learn to appreciate my own approach, like my country boy skills to fix broken things myself so I can afford to ramble without debt in my 26foot camper and old truck,
    and my ability to follow my nose to wonder spots and whatnot. Sure I’m alone, sure I would be regardless of wheather I was an RVer or not. So this fella on the other side of the looking glass still has problems with pesky Jabberwocky.
    travelfables recently posted..saint simons island A6My Profile

    • Becky March 3, 2013 at 9:41 am #

      Heya Dale,

      That’s a good point too. No two people’s approach to full-timing is going to be exactly the same, and finding out what way works best for you is most important. While another person (or couple) may seem to have it all figured out on the surface, we can never know what issues they may be facing off the camera. Nobody is 100% candid online, and it’s a waste of energy in my opinion to spend any significant amount of time mourning what we don’t have. Instead, put that energy into figuring out what you want your own full-timing dream to look like and work toward it. It sounds like you’re doing just that, have fun!

  3. Brenda A. March 1, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    I love this post! I am sometimes frustrated with where we are and where we want to be. Even though we are “retired” we live on an incredibly tight budget and are still not even sure we can realistically pull this off without some way to supplement our income. Time will tell. We’ve been on the road only three months now and because we weren’t fully set up before hitting the road, we’ve had the added costs of getting some of those things done while on the road. We’ve hit a pretty major snag right now. So instead of spending our time going, doing, seeing, enjoying, we are working to figure out how we’re going to make the next step happen. It’s stressful at times and we still have so much uncertainty to cope with.

    So of course, reading all those blogs where everyone is having the time of their lives can bring on the dreaded comparison blues. But we believe in this dream enough to not be beaten down by that, We just have to figure out how this is going to work for US and not think so much about how we aren’t measuring up to the “others”.
    Brenda A. recently posted..To The Beach!My Profile

    • Becky March 4, 2013 at 10:50 am #

      That’s the spirit Brenda! We all need to honor where we are in the process, and focus on what we can do to move on to the next step. Best of luck to you guys!

  4. Marsha March 2, 2013 at 5:41 am #

    Be sure to add a link to your Amazon account at the top of your blog so it’s easy to find. I shop there a lot and would be happy to put my purchases to good use.

    • John Hussey March 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      Ditto…Put your portal at the top of your home page so that it is easier for us all to locate and not hidden within the verbiage.

      Glad to see you finally took the advice to add an Amazon link. Your rewards will be a lot more than you realize. The more we buy through your portal the more your percentage increases and the fatter your deposit account becomes.

      Those are profits. So now, guess what? You have just started a business and, as such can declare the expenses generated to realize those profits on your federal income taxes, no matter where you are.

      While there are exceptions, you will never be either rich or fully independent while working for wages, slave to the periodic paycheck. You have just taken the first step towards more independence. Think about it. Now, learn how to expand your business. There are ways!!

      Good luck!

    • Becky March 4, 2013 at 10:50 am #

      Yep, I will be Marsha. When I have a little free time again.

    • Becky March 10, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

      Done and done. πŸ™‚

  5. Fireman Steve March 2, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Love your blogs. Perhaps you have mentioned this before but can you tell me have you handle your mail? How does it catch up with you etc.?
    Good job with your blog and good luck with Amazon.
    Happy trails,

  6. cozygirl March 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Good idea on the link for Amazon….I’ll shop soon! You always set the tone for my full-time perspective and remind me on what day to day will bring. Each of us finds our happiness in our own ways and the journey is what takes us there. Some take it slow, some take it big or small, but most of us take it our own way. I can’t wait to see how it all feels…the good and the bad, the hard and the easy, but most of all just living our dream, making memories and not having an regrets we didn’t try it.

    • Becky March 4, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      Thanks Cozy. And yes, the best thing any of us can do is honor our own path. Find enjoyment where you can!

  7. Lynn March 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    I think there must be a way that you can earn a living writing. You have a wonderful way of laying out your thoughts and ideas. There are many blogs out there and only some that are well written and I think yours is one of them.

    Think about how you can use your obvious skill to earn a living, there must be a way.
    Lynn recently posted..A Slow Boat To BaliMy Profile

    • Becky March 4, 2013 at 10:57 am #

      I’m working on writing an ebook about RVing – especially as a solo, but the problem is my job takes a good number of hours a week, and then searching for another better job takes time too. And since the ebook isn’t guaranteed to make me money like those other two things are it has to take a backseat when things get busy. I’m working on it though and it will happen.

  8. Cherie @Technomadia March 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    I just love your attitude, Becky! You truly have what it takes to make your life your own because you approach it with positivity.

    I could not agree more, do not judge your own path against the presentation others give or the perception your have of them. We’re all at different phases, and we all will have bumps and bruises along the way.

    I promise you, because sometimes all we’re able to post is the pretty pictures.. when in fact, the past several months have been a lot of struggles and challenges for us too. We just don’t have the flexibility to fully share them.
    Cherie @Technomadia recently posted..Chapter 14: Feeling Safe while Traveling Full TimeMy Profile

    • Becky March 4, 2013 at 11:00 am #

      Thanks for the candid response Cherie. Technomadia is one of the blogs I gawk over the pretty pictures on and wish. πŸ˜›

      Time, patience, and persistence…

  9. KevinM March 2, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    Greetings, Becky. I came upon your site like (I presume) many others, while scanning for RV – related blogs. My wife and I intend to pursue RVing for about six months of the year starting this summer, although we will still maintain a home base here in north Florida. And like other posters, we are older–I have now passed the 50 mark–but your story and your ability to suppress the innate fear accompanying such a dramatic life change is inspiring for young and old(er) alike. Let me also echo what others have said about your writing…it is thoughtful, naturally flowing, and meticulous. As you commented in your “dream job” post, assessing ones talents is a vital step. And writing is indeed one of your talents.

    Let me apologize in advance for the lengthy post to follow, but as I immersed myself in your stories this week, I wondered what I would do to keep my dream alive were I in your sandals. I would never presume that these thoughts are novel, and I don’t doubt that you have already had them yourself. Here they are, nonetheless:

    1) Consider teaming up with a sympatico travel partner. I am not suggesting a live-in partner (unless your life takes you in that direction), because frankly life for two in your Cas would be tricky. I am speaking of another RVer (a solo, couple, family, it doesn’t really matter) that you can travel with on portions of your journey. Through your blog, you could potentially find several friendly travel buddies depending on which part of the country you are in. Two or more heads are better than one when it comes to emergencies and repairs, and companions often enhance the adventure if you have similar world views.

    2) Consider establishing a “home base” for six months of the year for a period of time. Much as I would like for the barter system to reemerge as the dominant economic structure, money still rules. And a girls gotta eat, as they say. I know this is a temporary compromise on your dream, but it would allow you to earn more than token income until you have more fully realized how to make a living on the road. I had many friends over the years that would move from up north to Florida locales such as Sarasota, St. Augustine, or Islamorada from November until April to work in nice beachfront restaurants or shops. They would easily earn more than $30,000 during those six months.

    3). Consider Santa Fe, NM as one such potential home base. In addition to having many wonderful, bright, free thinkers your age, the area has many non-profits that focus on environmental issues, assisting the Native American pueblos, etc. These could offer jobs that produce income while making a difference. Not to mention you would meet many cool people.

    Ok, that’s it for now. Becky, what you are doing matters to the people who have read your blog. It’s quite simple, really…we want you to succeed. Best, Kevin Mooney, Tallahassee, Florida

    • Becky March 4, 2013 at 11:06 am #

      Hello Kevin, thanks for the thought provoking comment.

      I have considered these things are various points and probably will again. Number 2 I already sort of follow in that I stay in one place for several months at a time as I take seasonal work, although whether I’ll end up going back to the same places over several years remains to be seen. I’m currently staying in South Carolina again not far from where I started RVing last year because I needed the support of friends while I take some time to figure things out.

      The issue with Number 1 is right now I am quite strictly tied to where I can get a job, and I don’t know where the next job is going to be until I land it which makes ‘traveling’ with other RVers difficult since I don’t really do much traveling right now. There is a fellow female solo who I knew before we both went RVing and we’ve talked about traveling together a couple times, but things haven’t worked out yet.

      But I will keep taking these things into consideration. Have a good day!

      • KevinM March 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

        Best of luck, Becky. In the immortal words of baseball Hall-of-Famer and slightly skewed philosopher Yogi Berra, when you come to a fork in the road, take it! Kevin

  10. Pleinguy March 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    You seem to be pretty good at figuring it out. I suspect a slow measured approach, taking one step at a time. Consider the future, but don’t get too far ahead of yourself. I’m sure you’ll find the right mix for your full-timing style. Good luck!
    Pleinguy recently posted..House SoldMy Profile

    • Becky March 4, 2013 at 11:07 am #

      Thanks Plein, yes I’ll figure it out I’m sure. Time, patience, and persistence. πŸ˜‰

      Congratulations on selling the house!

  11. Becky March 3, 2013 at 9:42 am #


    All caught up, thanks for your patience. πŸ™‚

  12. RV AJ March 4, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    I go back and forth from full-timing (for work usually) then back to my S&B. I find the change therapeutic. Lets be honest, full-timing is a state of mind!
    RV AJ recently posted..RV Art: Custom Pop Up Camper and Camper BikeMy Profile

    • Becky March 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      Right now the thought of going back to living in an apartment doesn’t sound appealing to me at all. If full-timing were to ‘fail’, I’d start looking for another permanent vet tech related job near somewhere warm with a RV park and sit in one place for a year or two saving up to try again. It shouldn’t come to that though, but the option is always there.

  13. sandy March 10, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    just found you last night and am already loving the info and your way of sharing your lifestyle. i’ll be using your click through for my amazon purchases going forward. like your thought process and integrity regarding some of the other options suggested. looking forward to reading you for quite some time!

    • Becky March 10, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

      Welcome to IO Sandy, and thank you for coming along for the ride!

      I’m glad you’re finding this stuff helpful, it makes going RVing that much more meaningful when I feel like I can contribute to fulfilling others’ RVing dreams. πŸ™‚

  14. Emily March 10, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    Becky, I love this post! I understand exactly where you are coming from. We’ve been out for almost 6 years now, and I’ve had the same doubts at times too, especially in our life of cruising on our sailboat. So many books and blogs and magazine articles have been written over the years describing transcendent experiences while sailing in exotic lands, that it is very hard to correlate those images with the reality all cruisers find themselves in of being salty, grimy and tired while fixing broken equipment. We have had divine moments, but each one has been backed by a lot of hours of grunt work (and occasional instances of sheer terror). However, when I sort through my memories and my photos and sit down to blog, I prefer to remember, celebrate, focus on and write about the beauty and the wonder that I feel, because I spent so many years in a cubicle with no windows and an unappreciative boss and too big a mortgage and too little vacation time. I write for the people like I was who don’t know if they can escape to something new and different, because my dream was fueled by others who went ahead of me, and they helped me see that there is a life beyond the ho-hum. Even if full-time RVing isn’t perfect, it’s a lifestyle of our own making. When we watched our trailer tire spray all over the road in a blowout last summer and then faced the unplanned repair bill, the difference was that it was in a life I had chosen on the road, one that makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something — seeing new things, living independently, learning about myself — rather than loping along in a corporate life that has trapped me and captured my soul unawares. I really like your blog, and even though neither of us is living our lives in the pages of a glossy travel magazine (I wish!), I’m glad to know you are out on the road, living and evaluating your dreams (how many people get to do that?), and traveling inward too, because I think that’s what it’s all about.

    • Becky March 10, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

      Thank you very much for writing in Emily! Do you still remember that day over two years ago when I wrote in to you giving you the amount of money I had to work with for the RV + tow vehicle and asking for your opinion on what kind of RV, and how much money should go to which? I’ve come a long way since then, and I have you and Mark to thank for a portion of that early plotting.

      I definitely hear you on all the hard work of unconventional living being worth it compared to what life would have been like had I let things stay the way they were. It didn’t matter that I was pulling in enough money to live comfortably while saving some up for the future, I was miserable living like that and there just wasn’t enough vacation time to make up for it. Full-timing has been harder than plodding along on the corporate path, but so worth it for those moments of brilliance.

      Best of luck to you two, learning how to pilot a sailboat has been on my Dream List for years too and while I can’t see myself living on one, I definitely want to try it as a trip sometime. πŸ™‚

  15. Emily March 10, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    Hi Becky – Of course I remember!! And I’m so glad to see how far you’ve come… your post touched a spot in my heart because I’ve thought a lot about those issues over the past few years… After you fulfill your dreams and they become Your Life, then you find yourself taking stock and wondering, “Was this really my dream? why does it involve challenges? is someone else living a better dream? am I missing something????”

    The beauty is that we have the chance to ask those questions… A wise world cruiser once told me “when you sail off into the sunset, you don’t leave yourself behind. All of your hopes and fears and passions and loves and self-doubts and your unique way of dealing with things — they all come along for the ride…” So true!

    Happy travels… I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog… –Emily
    Emily recently posted..In the Media!! – Published articles and photography by Mark & Emily FaganMy Profile

  16. William March 29, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    Hey Becky – you are so right, “Life is not a destination but a journey”. That for some reason rings a bell :-).

    I think all three of these are in my idea of full-timing. I can’t wait to “touch the magic” just once.

    I believe we need to constantly keep checking with our selves and not lose site of the big picture. I tend to do that from time to time and I gently acknowledged it and get back on track.

    Great post.
    William recently posted..Where to start?My Profile

    • Becky March 31, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

      Glad you liked it William! A big part of touching the magic is being able to let go of past and future concerns and be present in the moment, right where you are. Like everything else, full-timing will never be perfect, so we all just need to learn to stop and take things in.

  17. HeatherinMexico August 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    Hi Becky, I just found your blog two days ago, as my boyfriend and I are planning our next adventure together. I haven’t been able to stop reading, staying up past 4 am and being exhausted the next day! Your blog is so well written and filled with such useful information, thank you so much!

    I am commenting just to say that I hope you wll reconsider a virtual tip jar. It’s not something for nothing, you provide a very real, valuable service and I, for one, would like to have a way to thank you for your time and knowledge. I have worked as a freelance writer, with the emphasis on “free,” unfortunately, but you should know that writing is a skill that not everyone has. Your talent is valuable!

    • Becky August 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

      You’re not the first to recommend it Heather and I’ve gotten some pretty valid arguments in support of the idea. I guess figuring out how to get one up is the next step.

      Either way, I’m very glad IO is proving helpful to you! Thank you for joining along in this adventure and I hope you and your boyfriend will keep us appraised on how your own journey progresses. πŸ™‚

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