Today is September 9th, 2005. One year, and one day ago, we closed on the sale of our "bricks & sticks" house. September 8th is the date we consider ourselves RV fulltimers. WOW! This past year has flown by! To help others considering this lifestyle, and to give us something to look back on in the upcoming years, I thought I'd write down our retrospect on this first year of life on the road.
When we started traveling and living fulltime in our motorhome, we knew we would be taking it slow and not rushing around. We also knew we would have to work for about 6 months out of the year. This past year, we stuck with this plan. We visited 17 states and drove only 7,741 miles. But this was done in the first 8 months, as we stopped to work for the remaining 4 months. This also doesn't take into account our Australia trip for the month of November. We rarely drove more than 300 miles in any one day, and rarely drove 2 days in a row. Since our goal was to take it slowly, we usually drove about 200 miles and stopped for 2 - 7 days before repeating the process. This allowed us to see and experience more of where we visited. We met dozens of friends on the road, and made hundreds of new ones. We visited and toured many places we always just dreamed of visiting. We also surprised ourselves and visited places we never thought of before. Because of visiting the paper museum in Atlanta, we have a new found respect for paper. One of the other pleasant surprises was the unexpected places we found. We don't overly plan what we're going to do or see, and sometimes we stumbled onto an exciting location. In New Mexico, we stumbled onto the Very Large Array (VLA) of radio telescopes. This is the large dishes where the movie "Contact" was filmed. In southern Texas, we stumbled onto the historic town of Langtry, home of Judge Roy Bean (of Law West of the Pecos fame). But probably the greatest experience has been meeting people. We've enjoyed meeting people from different parts of the country. The diversity of people and the various historic differences of towns has been interesting.
We made an estimated budget when we started and have been staying pretty close to it. I've mentioned before how fuel costs can be controlled (somewhat). Because we also enjoy boondocking, or dry-camping, our nightly camp fees were well below budget. Workcamping for the past 4 months also greatly helped in both of these expenses. But there's other expenses we thought we should be able to reduce, but haven't been able to lower them. Mainly, we love to eat and our grocery expense reflects this. Although, we have kept a good control of dining out. We've posted our monthly expenses in each month's travel log, and a yearly summary on another page. Because we retired and quit our jobs young (mid 40's), we knew we would need to supplement our small military retirement pension. We were hoping to only work for about 6 months out of the year. We worked for only 4 of these past 12 months and feel our 6 month plan is about right. For us, being retired from the military has enabled us to enjoy this fulltiming lifestyle. The wonderful medical coverage we have has saved us thousands in normal medical insurance. Using military campgrounds and shopping facilities has also helped stretch the budget.
Our first year on the road has met, or exceeded all of our expectations. We always heard from others "Don't wait - do it now". And we agree 100%. We're not getting rich financially, but rich in memories and new experiences. We look forward to what everyday brings. We don't have any major changes to our current plans. We'll continue to travel and work as we did this past year. Even as gas prices have exceeded $3 a gallon, we'll continue experiencing our wonderful nation on our terms. As of now, we plan to continue living on the road for as long as we can (financially and medically). Our advice to others considering living and traveling full time, "don't wait - do it now!"