A selection of questions we have been asked ...
Are you on Facebook?
Yes, you can follow us by checking out our page on FB: On the Road with Dar and Thom
Why are you living like this -- in an RV... fulltime?People are dying every day... friends, family, acquaintances. Life is short and we only get one shot at it. Since we have good health and a desire for something different, we thought maybe we should get on with it... while we still had the chance. Over the years we grew to become aware, based on the unconventional lives of some key individuals we know and respect, that it isn't necessary to be "normal"... to live your life like everyone else... to be so conventional. It's perfectly OK to be a little crazy... to follow your interests... to try new things, new lifestyles... to enrich your life with adventure and experiences you wouldn't otherwise have. So, all we did was apply this thinking as we took advantage of a window of opportunity in our life: Our kids were grown and on their own; I could take advantage of an "early retirement" from my employer; we didn't want to live in the Chicago metro area any longer. (Read more about us and this decision under the "About" tab.)
How do you like it?.. the fulltiming lifestyle?We love it. I think that will become clear as you read through our blog. It's not a lifestyle for everyone, that's for sure. But for us, we're having a blast! As of this writing we've been at it for more than seven years and don't see it ending anytime soon, although it is evolving. See below
Isn't it expensive?No, not necessarily. Even with our diesel-pusher motorhome camper (which we now find is larger than we'd ideally like), we can live for less $$ than we did with the old permanent house we had previously. Depending on your desired level of comfort, your interests, hobbies, and the places you choose to camp, expenses will vary wildly from less than $2,000 to more than $6,000 per month. As with any other lifestyle, the choices you make will determine how much you'll spend. (Jan 2013 update: our actual expense is in the neighborhood of $3,500 per month, including everything... depreciation on car and motorhome, gifts, everything.)
How do you keep from killing each other when trying to live in less than 300 sq. feet?Here's a little rule: if the two of you are flexible, tolerant, easy-going, and compatible, you can live in much less than 300 sq. feet and be happy. If you're not... if one or both are "high-maintenance", selfish, egotistical, or narcissistic, or if one of you "just isn't into" this lifestyle... 3,000 sq. feet wouldn't be large enough. Don't get the idea that everything is rosy and wonderful every day, but there's no question that we're happier now, at this stage in our lives, doing what we're doing, than we were before in our much larger permanent house.
What kind of RV do you have?We have the following gear...
2007 Newmar KSDP-3910 Motorhome (the "bus-house")
39' long; 4 slideouts; Cummins-Allison drive train; Spartan Chassis
2009 Ford Focus; 5spd; v. easy to tow
We picked the motorhome versus a 5th wheel -- thought it'd be best for our situation. Everything's been relatively trouble-free. We get about 8mpg with the bus-house and about 35mpg with the Focus. We put on about 10,000 miles per year on the bus-house and about 12,000 miles per year on the Focus. We're happy with our selection but are already planning a second phase of this lifestyle where we have a much smaller RV in order to be more spontaneous and for the capability of staying in much smaller camping venues. If you haven't already picked up on it, we really prefer camping as opposed to parking at RV parks.
Your opinion of the motorhome versus 5th wheel thing?As is common with anything in the RV world, everything's a compromise. But here are a few thoughts:
- motorhomes are meant to be driven and used. Spartan Motors, the builder of our chassis, tells us that the most common abuse of these things is NOT USING them... they're meant to be driven, to be on the road. Those who see themselves traveling most of the time may get along well with a motorhome. Those who sit for long periods of time will probably be happier with a 5th wheel as there's no mechanical chassis, engine, or transmission that will deteriorate from sitting.
- 5th wheels provide more space for your money. Those who want the feeling of a split level home, high ceilings, big recliners, etc will gravitate toward 5th wheels.
- while a 5th wheel means you can get by with only one motor vehicle (that big pickup truck you pull the 5th wheel with), it also means you'll have to do your exploring with that same big truck. On the other hand, a motorhome can pull a small fuel efficient car that can be used for those exploring adventures. There are a few people who own a 5th wheel and a big pickup truck, who also have a smaller car that they either pull behind the 5th wheel (Yikes!) or drive separately (???), neither of which appeals to us.
- Bigger is not necessarily better. Regardless of whether a 5th wheel or motorhome or whatever else, go with the smallest unit that works for you. Be willing to adapt to your ideal camper instead of expecting your camper to be the replacement for a big suburban house. Smaller campers have lots of advantages when it comes to spontaneity, finding places to camp, maneuverability, and costs to buy, operate, and maintain. In many ways, less is more.
How long do you plan to live like this?
We're not sure. But we do believe that everyone who embarks on this lifestyle should have some kind of exit plan -- even if it's vague and for some undetermined time in the future. Our vague plan is as follows:
- to establish a fixed base (house or cabin) in a rural area or small town. We intend for it to be small, inexpensive, and able to be secured for extended times as we continue our travels.
- to downsize our RV to something much smaller. During the next phase of the sabbatical we'd like to take advantage of smaller camping venues and be more spontaneous in exploring out-of-the-way places. "Hmmm, that sign says there's a National Forest Campground down that dusty road. Let's go."
- to find a way to keep busy and earn a little money during periods of not traveling.
- to volunteer or in some other way lend a hand to people that need help.
- Update Nov 2016: bullet number one above: no plans at this point to buy a house or cabin anywhere. We like Timber Valley in Oregon (our little RV community) as it provides a great place to keep a homebase RV while running around and exploring with a small RV... it's our plan for the next 10 years.
We've noticed Thom tends to wear red or orange t-shirts while hiking in the mountains. Why?
Why do you write this blog?There are two primary reasons I do this blog. First, to keep family and friends up-to-date with our location, adventures, and experiences. Second, it's a record, a diary if you will, of our travels, experiences, thoughts, and emotions that stem from our nomadic life as RV "fulltimers". And third (of two reasons), I enjoy the process of writing.
Why don't I see an option to comment at the bottom of each post on your blog?
Some blogs, maybe most, are intended to be interactive... to augment a virtual conversation... and to be somewhat of a social networking tool. But that doesn't describe this blog or the reasons I started doing it. This blog is primarily a record... a record of our travels, experiences, thoughts, and emotions that accompany our life as fulltime RVers... and NOT a social networking thing. I do it for me... for Dar... and for our family as a legacy of our RV Sabbatical.
This blog has historically received very few comments. In part, I suppose that's because I don't read or comment on other's blogs. You see, for most bloggers there's a tit for tat thing going on... I'll make a fluffy comment on your blog and then you make a light-weight comment on mine. That way we both get lots of comments and we both feel so good about ourselves. But the intellectual level of the interaction hasn't been advanced one iota. If someone really has something to say to us, there are links around this blog whereby you can send an email. That should suffice.
Other Notes and Comments:
1) Copyright policy: If you find anything on this blog you'd like to use, please feel free to do so. The only thing I ask is that you attribute what you use to me, Thom Hoch and Dar and Thom's Sabbatical Journal.
2) "The RV Sabbatical Journal" is a registered trademark of absolutely no one. However, "Dar and Thom's Sabbatical Journal" is also a registered trademark of absolutely no one.
3) This blog is free of any ads, pop-ups, or other commercial distractions. We earn no money as a result of your visits and clicks. There aren't enough people visiting this site to make the ad thing worthwhile anyway. However, if you really must send money to someone, we'll be glad to accept whatever you send. But please... nothing bigger than 20s.
4) Being a cantankerous old coot, I'm not fond of emoticons :-(, and try to express emotion with words instead of punctuation. It's just one of those little things that grate on me :-(( UPDATE APRIL 2015: My position on this issue has softened somewhat... much like my head and, at times, other important body parts. In any case, emoticons don't irritate me as much as they used to. I don't know why.
5) If you'd like to contact me, send an email. Decode the next few words to find our current throw-away email address. ksdp39-11 "*at*" yoohoo "*dot*" com. I'm not sure why so many of us do this cryptic thing with email addresses in our blogs. Perhaps it's like a game... here, decode this. Well, have fun.
6) This blog is an expression of my opinions and beliefs at the time the post or page was written; as such, I admit I may be wrong from time to time. Feel free to add to the discussion and/or correct me when/where appropriate. I probably won't listen, but you can try.
7) Any similarities or references in this blog to actual people either alive or dead is purely coincidental. Everything in this blog is fiction.
8) This blog may irritate or offend; most of the time this is inadvertent, and if that's the case... I'm sorry. But, occasionally it's intentional -- and I'm not sorry. After all, it's my blog. I'll leave it to the offended to decide which is the case with your particular issue.
9) Only a fool argues with a fool... so don't try to get me started.
10) Live life to the best of your ability. There's really very little time left.
11) Burma Shave