So you’ve been poking around on forums, reading blogs, and staring longingly at the RVs that pass you by on the way to work. You wonder where they’re going, and wish you were among their ranks. But then you sigh, tell yourself to follow your friend’s advice and be realistic, and move on with your daily life. Once you retire, then you can go RVing full-time, as long as you work hard now and save up enough money.
Being realistic, what does that even mean? I typed ‘define realistic’ into Google, and this is the first thing it gave me:
1. Having or showing a sensible and practical idea of what can be achieved or expected: “jobs are scarce, so you’ve got to be realistic”
To most people, being realistic equates to choosing the safest route. It’s about getting all your ducks lined up in a row, and acting once you know your chances are the best they’ll be. It’s about following what others before you have done, the tried and true method. But the reality is much different, are you ready for it?
Nobody can tell you what’s realistic for you, because they aren’t you. They don’t know what you’re capable of, what you can achieve when you put your mind and heart into it. RVing full-time is something that is seen as a reward that you can pursue once you retire, but it doesn’t have to be this way, nor is it necessarily wise to wait.
The problem with doing something ‘later’, is it’s not specific enough. When we tell ourselves that we’ll do something later without putting a due date on it, it tends to keep getting pushed back. Oh, I’ll do the cleaning later. I’ll get around to reading that book later. Planning out that vacation will happen later, when I’ve got time. But we never have enough time, until we make it a priority. By putting off your dreams off until later, you run the risk of downsizing them along the way, as other things keep cropping up that need to be taken care of, or even of running out of time, and not being able to do them at all.
Sure, there are a few benefits for waiting until you’re retired to go RVing, but even these things aren’t certainties. Let’s take money for example. A retirement fund and Social Security benefits can go a long ways to paying for your travels. But I’m guessing that you know people that don’t have enough saved up even in retirement to go RVing. Social Security checks by themselves aren’t a whole lot of money, and the future of Social Security for younger generations seems quite iffy right now. Plus, the chances may be slim, but emergencies and natural disasters do happen, and I know I wouldn’t want to be the unfortunate soul who’s nest egg got wiped out before I had a chance to do what I’ve always wanted to go do.
So on the flip side, if you choose to be ‘unrealistic’ by normal standards, how do you afford to live on the road pre-retirement? The short answer is save up some money ahead of time, and then work on the road. There are almost as many ways to earn money while traveling as there are people out there doing it, chances are you can find an arrangement that works for you. Yes, you won’t be able to treat your life in the RV like a vacation, at least not all the time. On the plus side, you’ll likely have much greater control over where you work, and how long and often compared to a standard 9–5 job. Also, for me I know the joy and adventure of getting to travel will help make the having to still work part less tedious, if it keeps me on the road that much longer I’ll gladly do it.
Another commonly seen benefit of waiting until retirement for full-time RVing is health insurance. Medicare can indeed cover a good portion of your medical bills once you’re over 65, or even younger than that if you meet certain other criteria. But it’s also true that the older you get, the more likely you’ll be to develop a health issue that could prevent you from being able to RV, whether the bills are paid for or not. Since we can’t look into the future, who’s to say how much time we’ll have once retired to go RVing before poor health became a problem.
Health insurance while RVing is a bit more of a personal issue, and depends on your current health status and means. Some people may be able to work for the same employer they had before hitting the road, just in a location-independent capacity in which case they’re set for health insurance. If you currently have health issues that would make getting an independent policy impossible or very expensive, you’ll likely want to look for work on the road that offers health insurance. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some people forgo health insurance entirely. Personally, I don’t like tempting chance like that, and I’ll be getting a high deductible plan that will cover emergencies, and will set some money aside to pay smaller fees out of pocket as they come up.
A third reason to wait to go RVing is children, and since I don’t have any myself I can’t offer much insight on this one. I know there are families out there who pull it off, but I don’t know any personally. Adam and Courtney Baker of ManVs.Debt took their 2 year old daughter RVing for 6 months earlier this year (http://manvsdebt.com/an-adventure-begins/), and I’ve heard of families with older children who full-time, with one or both parents home-schooling. Basically, if your truly passionate about RVing, don’t automatically assume that you can’t do it just because you have children. After all, a big reason why Adam and Courtney went RVing with their daughter was actually for her benefit: because they wanted to give her the wide range of experiences that travel offers.
I hope that this gives you some food for thought when it comes to deciding whether to wait until retirement to go RVing or not. Most of the obstacles remain the same either way, and the few things that waiting might help with still aren’t guarantees. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not to be wasted away in preparation of enjoying it.
What about you, are there any other issues that make you want to wait until retirement to go RVing? If you’re thinking of coming along with me and taking the plunge, do you have a planned escape date? Also, if you know of other full-timing families, feel free to share.