Saturday, November 21, 2015
How To Begin Full-timing.
Lately it seems that more and more people are emailing, texting and asking us questions about how to even get started in the full-timing lifestyle. They are lost as far as where to even begin and so we've come up with a mini "How To" of sorts to get you started.
When we began our adventures in 2014 we also had many questions. The number one question, hands down, was "How do you make money?" and it still seems to be the number one question now. Our questions ranged from work to school to places to camp. We researched, studied and researched some more. Many of the families and people who live this life on the road are usually super friendly and will answer all sorts of questions so don't hesitate to email and ask. Just keep in mind that internet isn't always the greatest on the road so it may take a few days for them to respond.
So where do I start my full-time adventure? Here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself.
1. What are you going to live/travel in?
There are all sorts of vehicles to travel and live in. We've met families who live in buses, vans, huge class A's, campers, and Fifth Wheels. There is no right or wrong, only what's best for you and your family. Of course there are pros and cons to all and of course there will be those who think that their way is best. Just remember that the only thing that matters is your opinion and how you think you want to get it done.
We started off in a Class A that was 34 ft and now live in a vintage camper that is only 13ft. We're currently saving for something in the 16ft-18ft range for our family of 5. The class A ended up being too much for us and we want to travel more often and hit the back roads. Plus the A's are pricey. So for us, smaller is better.
2. How will you fund your lifestyle?
This seems to be the end all of questions. How in the heck are we going to make money funding our lifestyle? Like everything else, the answers will vary. You will meet families who have engineering businesses to take on the road. They will have software businesses or investments they will use to fund their travels. If you're like us and don't have any of that, you will be left wondering, can we make it work as well? As we began to venture out, we found that there are so many ways to make this happen. For us, we job hop. We travel to the next employment opportunity in order to continue paying bills, feeding kids and traveling. We literally work to travel. I currently also have an online hair bow shop on Etsy that allows us to move around without halting the income that comes in from there. Chris has worked at Ron Jon Surf Shop, American Adventure Expeditions, Dominoes and will also possibly work for a ski resort. To us, jobs are just that, jobs. They are ways to earn income in order to see more of the United States. No job is beneath us and we don't think that working any job is to "low". If you're looking for some great websites that have seasonal jobs, check these out...
3. Where will you stay?
Prepare yourself, campgrounds are NOT cheap!! You would think that since you have your own house that the rest would be rather inexpensive. That is so not the case. Camping on the east coast can range from $450-1400 a month. Sorry, but that's the price of a house and not exactly in our price range. So, with that being said, you have to look at the job you will have or your income coming in vs. the cost of the campground to see if it's worth it.
Keep in mind that you can also stay in National Parks, on BLM land, at thousands of campgrounds, on the property of friends and family, and also workamping. The list goes on when you get creative.
When we camp in Florida, we stay on a military campground which costs us $470. Chris worked at Ron Jon Surf Shop and while we didn't save much money, we made amazing memories and had the conveniences of showers, laundry and water. While working in Colorado with the rafting company, we're able to stay on property for free. That's awesome considering we can travel around the state more, save some money and not stress as much. However, there are sacrifices to be made. There are no showers and you have to use porta pottys. In the end, you have to weigh out the value of sacrifices vs. the convenience of nice amenities. We're very simple people, so to us, we'd rather save the extra dough from time to time.
4. What will you do with your "stuff"?
Now that you've decided you want to hit the road, what ever will you do with all your stuff? There are many things to do. You can store all, some or none. You can sell, toss, or donate most and then store the rest. It's completely up to you and how long you decide you want to live the nomadic life. It all depends if this travel time frame is permanent or temporary.
For us, we sold some, donated some, tossed a ton and stored the rest. The belongings we decided to keep are being stored at both sets of our parents homes. And truthfully, now that we've been living this nomadic lifestyle for almost two years, we know there is more to get rid of. We've realized just how little we need and know that everything we want is actually with us currently.
5. How will you educate the kids?
This is the other question we get alot and this alone is a blog post in itself. There are so many ways to educate the kids. The resources that are out there for homeschooling the kids is fabulous. Now that there are more and more families choosing to homeschool, that means that there are more and more options to choose from. You may choose to do online schooling, at home curriculum, registered schooling and the list goes on.
For us, we do a mix of curriculum and lots of hands on activities. We choose to take advantage of the Jr. Ranger Programs at the National Parks, speaking with many educators, taking part in the activities of local areas and allowing the kids to tell us of their interests. Being on the road allows the kids the opportunity to invest in their education through their interests as we travel. They have been able to study sea turtles, wolves, rivers, beach erosion, sea shells, weather and the list goes on. They've also been able to participate in many activities such as paddleboarding, rafting, mountain biking, surfing, hiking, and now skiing. Living this lifestyle has give the kids so many opportunities to grow and experiment in new activities. It's truly been a blessing.
6. What do you do with the mail?
Oh the mail. It seems to be a never ending problem. Luckily, most bills can now be paid online which cuts down on actual paper mail. There are companies that have mail forwarding programs so that you can travel to wherever you please and they will forward your mail to that location if you need it. Many of these companies are located in North Dakota, Texas and Florida. Feel free to look them up and see what they're about.
For us, we use family for some and then we have a PO Box here in Colorado. We have also found that many of the campgrounds we've stayed at will also allow us to have mail sent there if we need something. Truthfully, we haven't had too many problems.
And there you have it. The 6 most asked questions as far as how to get started in the full-timing lifestyle. Of course there will be many questions that pop up afterwards but for now, this should get you thinking and hopefully started in the right direction.