After months of meticulous planning, we have finally made the transition from living in a house to full-timing in our travel trailer! This process was both exciting and exhausting. Scaling down your belongings from a mid-sized house to fit into a 27-foot long box isn’t exactly something you can accomplish overnight. However, with some lifestyle adjustments and an open mind, it is doable for anyone!
3 months from move: We secured a small storage space. We began moving “basement items” (i.e. anything that was seasonal, didn’t get used often, etc.).
2 months from move: We held an enormous yard sale at our home, and sold a majority of items that: a) we didn’t want to store, like gardening tools, extra kitchen supplies, etc., b) anything we had too much of, like my clothes (oops!), and c) rarely used furniture that we would not be storing. 1 month from move: Roughly 30 days before our departure, we rented a monthly spot at the local KOA. The RV was brought out of storage and over to its new home base. At this point, we began sleeping in the RV every night, and making daily trips between our two homes.
2-3 weeks from move: At this point, everything that we owned in our house was either being a) sold, b) boxed and stored, or c) brought to the RV. Everything in our house was a disaster, but that’s to be expected. During these few weeks, we also took care of last minute details like doctor visits, vet visits, setting up our mobile internet, organizing important paperwork, and more. We ate out waaay more than I would like to admit, but admittedly, that did help us be efficient with our time.
Last week before move: By this point, we were mostly moved in and organized in our RV. We hauled the last of our belongings to our storage unit, brought our animals to the RV, added some homey details, and finished cleaning our previous home. We were more pressed for time during this last week than I would have liked. I would advise anyone to try to be completely moved in and enjoy at least one week of relaxing in your new home on wheels prior to heading out on the road.
1) Set up a mail forwarding service. We use Earth Class Mail. Mail forwarding services are “virtual mailrooms” that allow you to check your snail mail much like you would your email. With your paid subscription, you receive a new address to which you forward all of your postal mail to. Once the company receives a piece of your mail, they will scan the front of it and you will then decide whether is should be shredded, forwarded to you, or opened and scanned. This is a great option for anyone looking to full-time.
2) Rent a spot at your local RV park a month (or two) before your departure. This will help you to organize, and reorganize (and so on) your space until everything you are bringing with you is put together precisely how you want it. You will be surprised how many times you need to change where something is stuffed because you found better place for it elsewhere. We found a few minor issues that we were able to fix much easier at home than on the road. Lastly, the space will begin to feel more like your own after you have stayed in it for a while. I was able to add some comfortable touches to our new house on wheels, and show off our new digs to friends and family.
3) DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT bring too many belongings. Unless you have previously lived in under 200 square feet, or are a minimalist by nature, you probably have more belongings than you will actually use while living on the road. We heeded the warnings of other full timers before we left, and we are still going to have to ditch some of the things we brought along. Ladies: as far as clothing is concerned, less is more. A few months before you are scheduled to leave, start keeping track of the articles of clothing that you actually wear, not just own. Put those aside, and store the rest. If in doubt about something, leave it behind. You probably don’t need it. I wrote more on this in my organization post.
4) Decide ahead of time which membership passes you want to own, if any. We chose Resort Parks International (RPI), Thousand Trails, and Harvest Hosts. Every RV membership out there––and there are many––have both benefits and drawbacks.
- RPI offers several different membership programs, so it is easy to choose what is best for your needs. Our RPI membership, RPI Preferred, allows us access to hundreds of RV resorts for only $10 a night.
- Thousand Trails boasts that it is the “largest and most successful provider of RV resorts and campgrounds in North America with over 80 locations in 22 states.” Thousand Trails resorts offer spacious sites with loads of amenities to accommodate any hobby and lifestyle. Of our three memberships, this one is by far the most expensive. Essentially, you buy in to this RV “timeshare”, and then pay an annual fee. You can choose between 5 membership zones, or create packages with several zones. We opted to buy all 5. This allows us access to any of the Thousand Trails parks for free. I highly suggest that you purchase a membership to Thousand Trails through the used market, which you can find through eBay or used membership third-party sites. We saved nearly 70% purchasing a used membership; do your research and save money!
- Harvest Hosts is a self proclaimed “unique RV experience,” where travelers staying in a self-contained RV can stay at any number of farms, vineyards, or other “agri-tourism” sites for free. In exchange for a place to stay, members are asked to purchase something from the host. Membership into this program is a mere $40 a year, and worth every penny.
All in all, we had a successful “launch” from our stationary home to our home on wheels. If you are thinking of making this transition soon, remember to plan ahead, don’t stress, and enjoy the process!