Settling in to RV Life

Now that we’re a month into our full time RV life. We are starting to settle in to living in a very small travel trailer. We’re learning to deal with not having separate rooms, except for the bathroom, and not having a bed available all the time since we have a Murphy bed. Adjusting to constantly having a little bit of clutter is taking me a little more time. I would love to have a tiny bit more storage space, but we don’t. So we deal with it. I think we will cull more things as time goes and we realize what we don’t truly need.

The Instant Pot may become a casualty to space. I’ve used it on two occasions here at the campground. I don’t know that I will use it when we start boondocking. We’ll see. I’m honestly not sure that using it twice warrants keeping it even at the campground where electricity is not an issue. I love my Instant Pot, but when you live in less than 200 square feet it’s not really practical to keep unnecessary items you only use 2-3 times per month.

We’re still trying to find a rhythm to our days. We’ve started staying up later, until around 11 pm, and sleeping until we wake up, typically around 7:30 am. This morning I did set my alarm and got up at 6:30. I just wanted a little bit more morning.

Trying to navigate being self-employed and learning to freelance are sticking points as well. Maybe not really sticking points, but pain points, let’s say. We’re both working on things. Wheels turn slowly, however

I did set up our Patreon page. I hope that grows organically. It’s not super formal, just a place people who want to support us can. In return there are a few photos and bits of information available in the Patreon posts that I’m not sharing anywhere else.

One thing that we do need to find a solution for is our black holding tank. The black tank is where the toilet empties. We want a better solution than a traditional RV toilet and black tank. We bought a Thetford Porta-Potti, but have not installed it yet. Honestly, I’m holding out a bit because I kind of think I want a composting toilet. I’ve done so much research, but feel like I need to do more. It’s an important decision.

Over all, we are loving RV life and are excited about the future while enjoying each moment.

Murphy Bed Mod

As is typical for any RV, there are a couple of things we’ve had minor issues with. One was the Murphy bed. For whatever reason, Forest River chose to use one sort of ineffective latch to hold the bed up.

Top is the original latch. Bottom latch is the one I installed.

The top latch in this picture is the original one. It sometimes latches. Sometimes it doesn’t. Eventually, it doesn’t hold and the bed slams into the back of the loveseat. Not cool.

So we went to Lowe’s and bought new latches that I installed in about ten minutes. I put one on each side. We plan to get a couple more just to take some of the pressure of holding up the bed. It’s a bit heavy since we added a 3″ gel foam and a puffy topper.

Here you can see the Murphy bed in place behind the love seat.

The first two weeks we had to leave the bed down all the time. It wasn’t that big a deal, but we lose a lot of space with the bed down. I wanted to be able to use the love seat and have the two feet of extra floor space during the day.

Problem solved for about $10 and 10 minutes of time.

Living RV Life

August 7, 2020 we launched our RV life! We are excited, grateful, overwhelmed, exhausted, all the emotions all at once.

The overriding emotion, however, is a sense of humble gratitude that we have the opportunity to live our dream.

Getting Ready

Downsizing our entire lives is coming down to the wire. In some ways right now may be more overwhelming than when we first started a year and a half ago. But we’re getting there.

We decided to go with Bix Wireless for our internet solution. We received our modem yesterday. Set up took less than five minutes. They had already programmed the device and inserted the SIM card before they shipped it. The only tiny glitch was I didn’t know the network name so that took a couple of minutes to figure out. The thing I like about Bix is there’s no contract. So if we get out on the road and this solution doesn’t work as well as we need it to, we can cancel our service. Another thing that’s cool is they are based in Jamestown, Tennessee so we are supporting Tennessee business. Yay!!

We also received our Thetford Porta Potti from Amazon. We decided to go with this for our RV bathroom and remove the typical RV toilet. We will be able to utilize the black tank as overflow for our gray tank enabling us to stay out longer once we start bookdocking next year. Also, Daniel won’t have to deal with the black tank, just the cassette from the Porta Potti. Still probably not fun, but not quite as yucky. Hopefully.

We still have a lot to do. But RV life is getting so close and we probably couldn’t be more excited.

Internet for Nomads

Y’all…seriously. It should not be this much of a challenge to find a solution for internet while RVing full time. So much info out there.

We joined the Mobile Internet Resource Center to help research this and get advice. Such a great website run by helpful and super knowledgeable people. But, holy cow, it’s overwhelming! I’m not a network or connectivity expert, but I can hold my own for most everyday applications.

At this point I may have to take up drinking. A lot.

Just kidding.

Back to the research. At this point we’re strongly leaning toward Bix Wireless. But who knows where we’ll ultimately end up.

Downsizing: Five Tips

After spending the last year downsizing in our preparation for full time RV life I’ve learned 5 tips that can make the process easier. These tips will work whether you are downsizing your entire life, as we are, or decluttering an overstuffed room

There are also many helpful blog articles and YouTube videos out there if you want to dig deeper into downsizing and purging belongings.

Number One: Start Small

When we first started talking about getting rid of most of our stuff and hitting the road in an RV I looked around the living room and panicked. Overwhelm doesn’t even start to cover the emotion. But what’s that saying? How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

That’s how you start downsizing as well. Start with one drawer. Just one. Don’t look beyond that drawer. Once you complete that drawer stop for the day. Celebrate that success. Then choose the next drawer. After a couple of drawers then tackle a whole cabinet. Move from there to a closet, then a room. Maybe tackle a season. For example, can you go through all your fall décor? Do you really need three fall wreaths? Four Christmas trees?

Number Two: Start With Non-Sentimental Items

When you start downsizing don’t start with your grandmother’s china. Just don’t. Start with something very benign. When we started with our first drawer it was the kitchen junk drawer. Easy-peasy. It took me over a month to tackle anything remotely sentimental. Understand that purging those sentimental things will exhaust you. Not just emotionally. A couple of hours of going through sentimental things is enough to wring you out physically as well. Be gentle with yourself. You’ll be grateful if you don’t start with those things. And don’t save them all for last either. Intersperse those tough decisions in between some pretty easy ones.

Number Three: No Maybes

When you start downsizing you’ll want three piles or bins. Only three. Sell. Donate. Trash. Notice there is no Maybe or Later pile. Don’t do it. Just don’t. Maybe becomes Keep. Then everything goes into Maybe. Don’t fall into that trap. In downsizing there is no maybe.

Number Four: You Aren’t Going to get Rich

You might sell some of your stuff. Understand you are not going to recoup your money. You are not going to finance your lifestyle. You are not going to get rich. You just aren’t. That necklace you paid $50 for might bring you a dollar. Maybe. And don’t think you’re going to have a garage sale and get rid of everything. You won’t recover your time. After selling a few things we decided to either donate or trash stuff. Honestly, the quickest way we found to get rid of stuff is to set it out on the curb with a sign saying “Free.” Goodwill is your friend. Just donate stuff. You’ll provide a job for someone and feel a lot better about yourself. If you are really determined to sell your stuff, try resale apps or Facebook Marketplace.

Number Five: Get It Out of the House ASAP

Once you have stuff boxed up get it out of the house ASAP. Those boxes sitting around start talking to you, whispering that they really aren’t junk, you really want to keep them. You don’t. Just let it all go. Get those boxes out of the house. Rip it like a Band Aid.

Bonus tip: set a due date for the downsizing/declutter to be completed. Schedule the tasks.

What tips would you add to this list? Have you ever downsized your entire home or life? How did it go? How long did it take you?

A God Thing

I’m not a patient person.

Seriously, I’m not.

Last Tuesday we drove to A&L RV Sales in Columbia, Tennessee to look at travel trailers, specifically the Forest River No Boundaries 19.6. We looked at others as well. You know, covered our bases.

But that NOBO 19.6 spoke to us. Well to me. Daniel liked it a lot. But as soon as we walked through, opened all the doors, looked at the storage, the decor, the floor plan, we both knew. We found THE ONE. Or at least the one we want to start our full time RV life with.

Trying to do the right thing, we took the salesman’s card, asked him to email us a deal sheet, and drove home.

We talked.

We prayed.

We watched YouTube videos.

We decided we want the NOBO 19.6.

Wednesday afternoon I called the dealership, but our salesman was with another customer. I emailed him that we like the camper, but will need three to four weeks to get our finances settled. I asked him if he would take a deposit and hold the rig for us.

No response Wednesday evening.

No response Thursday morning.

No response Thursday afternoon.

Friday morning I called again.

The NOBO sold to someone else on Wednesday. I almost cried until I heard him say “But we’ve got more on order.”

Wait? What?

So not only had they already ordered more of the same RV, one of the new units they ordered is already equipped with solar, which is something we want anyway.

Trying not to sound all trembly and whiny, I asked him if they would possibly take a deposit and hold the solar equipped unit for us.

Yes, it turns out, that is something he is willing to do. And the deposit was about 10% of what I anticipated.

So, while I was fretting for a day and a half, God had a better plan going. You can call it serendipity if you want to, that’s all good. I call it a God Thing.

And I’m grateful, so grateful we’ve found our RV. We should be full time RVers in six to eight weeks.

We Bought All the Things

RV life…it’s so close. SO CLOSE! We’re trying to stay calm and only buy necessities for now. I’ll be honest, though. Sometimes it’s a challenge to differentiate between a want and a need. You get me, right?

But I think we’re doing pretty well over all.

We did buy a mat for the bed of our truck. We also bought a cover and will install it tomorrow.

We also bought a few necessary items like a sewer hose, stabilizer pads, curved levelers, water filters, water hose. You know, exciting things. LOL

But this is exciting to us. And if you’ve read this far, you’re excited for us, so thank you!

We Bought a Truck

Yep, we sure did. A big truck. One step closer to full time RV life.

We bought a 2012 Ford F-250 Lariat Turbo Diesel 4WD. We both love it. It is super fun to drive. But y’all it’s A LOT of truck!!

Now to get a bed liner, bed cover, buy the camper we decided on.

But we’re on our way!! Woo hoo!!

Changes

To say life changed in the past two months and five days since my last post is beyond understatement. From changes in our personal plans to global upheaval in a fight against a novel virus, nothing seems the same.

The third week of February one of our three dogs had to be humanely euthanized. We’re not talking about details. That’s enough to know.

Another of our dogs required extensive veterinary care which took a great deal of money and time to complete. He is almost completely healed.

We cancelled our Elkhart trip in February due to a predicted snowstorm in that area. We also finally admitted to each other that van life might not be the best RV life option for us, so we started exploring Class C RVs that would give a little more room for the two of us and our two dogs.

Then the novel coronavirus hit our area.

Our retirement savings took a huge hit just like everyone else’s. We began to realize that might be the most minor of changes in our lives for the next few months.

But we decided not to give up on our dream of RV life. We prayed, soul-searched, talked. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve cried a lot over the past couple of months at the sorrow and fear and inability to know what to do and when to do it.

We took to heart the thought that it’s the RV lifestyle we truly want. The vehicle is less important. With that mindset we decided to go the least expensive route to get us on the road.

Truck and travel trailer.

We’ve narrowed our choices by shopping online. We had toured a few travel trailers during our RV search you know, when we could still go out to shop in person. We’ve done enough research to know we want and what we think we’ll need.

Late last fall we had thought to leave our jobs maybe at the end of March. Now it’s looking to be a bit later. We both work in healthcare, so the timing stinks. But, honestly, now may be as good a time as any to get out of healthcare. Praying about that too.

Regardless of when we leave our jobs, when we buy our truck and trailer, when we sell our house, we are moving forward with our dream and the vision God has given us. Neither of us knows what this is going to look like, but we know who does, and we trust Him.