RV across the USA

How To RV In Retirement

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When we were planning our post-work lifestyle, we decided we’d like to RV in retirement.  We’re not alone, RV travel is a common strategy for many folks as they plan for retirement.

We executed the plan, and we’ve enjoyed 3 summers of using our RV in retirement.  In fact, today’s is the first post I’ve written since returning from  The Great Escape, our month-long RV escape from the southern summer heat to the amazing place that is Michigan’s Upper Penisula (more on that in a moment…)

So, how has it worked out?  What have we learned?  Today, I’ll share the lessons learned from our actual experience of using our RV in retirement. 

If you’re considering using an RV in retirement, today’s post is for you.

We've used an RV for three summers in retirement. Here's what we've learned. A comprehensive guide for using an RV in retirement. Click To Tweet

How To RV In Retirement

Let’s get one thing clear. 

There’s no “right” or “wrong” answer regarding how to RV in retirement.  If there’s one area that’s ideal for customizing to your personal preferences, it’s how you’d like to use an RV in retirement. There are as many answers to that question as there are personal preferences.  The beauty of RVing is the ability to adapt it to whatever approach works for you.

Regardless of the path you choose, the call of the open road appeals to many.  It appealed to us, and we heeded the call. 

Here’s how we went about it.


The Buying Process

There are many questions you must answer as you determine what type of RV you’d like to purchase for retirement.  Some examples:

  • How much will you spend?
  • New or Used?
  • 5th Wheel, Motorhome, Travel trailer, or pop-up?
  • How big should your RV be?

As stated, there’s no right or wrong answer.  The RV you ultimately purchase for your retirement must fit your broader retirement strategy.  How much you spend will have a direct impact on how long your retirement savings will last and must be considered in your retirement spending strategy. Only you can determine your budget for your RV in retirement, and the number you come up with will have a major impact on many aspects in your purchasing decision (new vs. used, size, type, etc.)  

We found that attending RV shows was the best way to get a comprehensive view of our options in the least amount of time.  Plan on attending RV shows for several years prior to your purchase, it’s a great way to really evaluate all of your options.  

We chose to go with a new 35′ Reflection 5th wheel and bought a new Ford F250 to pull it with.  Our “rig” is shown in the feature picture at the top of this post, taken at 11,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies during our 2019 Great American Road Trip.  Since we had planned on a FatFIRE retirement, we knew the decision fit within our budget and would meet our needs of traveling with our 4 canine “children”.

Tips From Our Experience:  

  • Attend RV shows for at least 2 years before making your purchase.
  • Consider how you’ll use your RV as you finalize your purchase decision.
  • Consider buying your RV before your retirement starts (I discuss this in more detail in my new book).
  • Consider renting an RV (affiliate link) if you’re unsure if RV’ing is for you
  • Do NOT spend more than you can afford, and don’t buy on impulse.

4 Ways We’re Using Our RV In Retirement

Before you finalize your purchase decision, you must consider how you’re planning to use your RV in retirement.  We knew we were going to be traveling with our 4 dogs, so that factored heavily into our decision to purchase a roomy 5th wheel.  We installed a “cargo net” behind the headrests of our pickup truck and converted the rear of the crew cab into a traveling lounge for our dogs, filling the footwells with supplies to create a large flat space for their numerous dog pillows.  They’ve learned the routine, and love relaxing while we’re traveling down the open road.

Since our first summer of travel in 2018, we’ve used our RV in three different ways and we’re planning a fourth for 2021.  Here are the four ways we’ve used our RV in retirement:


Chilhowee Mountain, 30 miles from home.

1. Short, Local Trips

During our first summer with the RV, we camped within a 200-mile radius of our retirement cabin.  With my mother-in-law in her final year of fighting Alzheimer’s, we knew we couldn’t be too far away from home.  Also, taking numerous shorter trips gave us a great opportunity to climb the learning curve of living in our RV.  We had planned on taking longer trips when we were thinking about retirement, but we learned the value of remaining flexible.  Taking shorter “Monday to Friday” trips turned out to be a great experience in our first year of using our RV in retirement, and we have great memories of exploring the areas closer to home.

Advantages:  Limited disruption to your “home life”, avoiding the weekend crowds, less anxiety about potential problems far from home, lower fuel expenses, less wear-and-tear.

Disadvantages:  Limited scope of exploration,  less of a sense of “living the RV life”.


2. A 10,000 Mile Cross-Country Mega-Trip

In 2019, we decided to “Go Big”. 

With our new granddaughter 2,500 miles away in the Pacific Northwest, we decided we were ready for our first extended cross-country RV trip.  I wrote about our plan for the trip before we left and followed it up with a summary of our experience upon our return (including some YouTube videos from the road).  If you’re interested in the details about our cross-country adventure, I encourage you to check out the links for more.

Advantages:  A chance to see the country, with an itinerary that’s limited only by your imagination.

Disadvantages:  Managing home affairs from afar.  We were fortunate to have friends who were moving into the area, so we offered them our house for free in return for taking care of things in our absence.  


3. A One-Month “Regional Loop” Trip

In the words of Goldilock’s little bear, the first option may be too short and the second option too long.  Perhaps the “Just Right” option is a one-month trip like the one we just completed in The Great Escape of 2020.  It was an amazing trip and provided a good compromise of really experiencing our RV in retirement while being able to maintain commitments on the home front (e.g., Freedom For Fido, which has really taken off this year). 

Taking a full month to travel gave us a chance to relax.  A chance to breathe fresh air.  A chance to take an extended RV journey to Michigan’s gorgeous Upper Penisula.

It was wonderful.

Thanks to those of you who followed along during our journey, I enjoyed our dialogue on social media. I also enjoyed meeting a few of you during our travels (Hi Kirk, Hi Crystal – great spending some time with you). For those who missed it, feel free to check out my Instagram account for the photos from our trip.  Below is my favorite photograph, taken during a magical moment while my wife and I stood transfixed, watching a giant storm front rolled across Lake Superior, just steps from our campsite:

A storm front rolls across Lake Superior

Advantages:  A compromise approach, offering significant use of your RV in retirement while maintaining your home life. Long enough to relax, but short enough to avoid complications of home management.  I mowed the yard a few days before we left, and mowed it again up our return.  Easy.

Disadvantages:  Limited scope of travel, and potentially more driving in a shorter period of time. 


A proud father, a beautiful daughter. Moving closer, thankfully.

4. A Home Away From Home

For 2021, we’re planning a fourth approach in how we’ll be using our RV in retirement.  We were excited to learn that our son-in-law is being reassigned to an Army Base in Southern Alabama, a mere 6-hours away from our cabin.    We’re looking forward to having them closer and are thankful that we have our RV in retirement to offer a practical “home away from home” while visiting.

Our daughter’s family will be moving from the Seattle area to Alabama in early November.  We’re going to help them with the move, given their reality of having two vehicles, 4 dogs, and a 2-year-old daughter to move across the country.  My wife and I will be driving out in October, then driving back across the country with our granddaughter in tow.  Given the short duration of our trip, we felt it easier to avoid hauling the RV cross-country for the second year in a row, so we’re leaving the dogs at home with a babysitter and making some fast “car miles” on this trip.  They’re on a tight schedule, so we’re accommodating their needs.

Once we arrive in Alabama, we’re planning on visiting several RV parks in the area, with the intention of securing a “seasonal lease” on a site for long term parking of our RV.  We’ll use the RV as a second home while visiting, yet retain the ability to hook it up and go whenever we have the urge to travel.

We’re expected to take some shorter trips (Disney?) with our daughter and her family and are looking forward to having a “second home” readily available for our frequent visits to their home in Alabama.

Tips From Our Experience:  

  • The ways in which you use an RV in retirement are limitless.
  • Be flexible, and try different approaches to find what’s right for you.
  • There’s no right answer in how you use your RV, so try whatever appeals to you.

A note about “Full-Timing”:  Since my wife and I have chosen to be “Part-Timers”, I can’t provide any first-hand experience of using an RV in retirement for full-time living.  I’ve had numerous friends who have pursued this option and have seemed to enjoy it.  We prefer to have a “home base” and the sense of community that comes from living our retirement in a small town, but full-timing is certainly a viable option if it appeals to you.


Enjoying Your RV Travel Experience

A few tips we’ve picked up along the way which may be helpful as you think about how you’d like to use an RV in retirement.  To simplify, I’ll offer a summary in bullet format:

  • Book your campground reservations in advance if you’re traveling to popular locations.
  • Follow the “330 Rule” – no more than 330 miles a day, plan to park by 3:30 pm.
  • Stop and enjoy a long lunch in your RV.  There are benefits in having your kitchen and living room with you when you’re traveling, so take advantage of it.
  • If you’re planning a 300-mile day, stay at least two nights before you move on.
  • Develop some hobbies which work well with the RV lifestyle.  I’ve focused on photography, fitness, and videography.
  • Use social media to enhance your experience (Grand Design has 45k members in their Facebook Group where you can interact and get all of your questions answered). 
  • We’ve found State Park campgrounds to be our favorites.  They usually have something attractive in the area, and most have great hiking trails for our canine friends.
  • Develop a checklist for setting up and tearing down your unit.  Chocks in place?  Sufficient clearance for the slides?  Is the floor clear of obstacles before you retract sides?  We’ve developed a standard routine, some of which were developed as a result of problems we’ve experienced.  Which leads me to…

Problems We’ve Experienced

Recognize that using an RV in retirement will NOT be trouble-free.  EVERYONE has a story of a problem(s) they’ve encountered, and we’re not immune from that reality.  The important thing to realize is that things will happen, and recognize that it’s part of the RV lifestyle. I’m not too proud to share my most embarrassing moment, so here goes…

It happened on the first day we owned our RV, and it was a doozy.  After backing the RV into our “difficult” parking spot at our cabin, I pulled the truck away.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until it was too late that the “umbilical cord” that hooks to your truck for all of the electronics (brakes, running lights, etc) had gotten caught in the tailgate hinge after I had unplugged the cord.  As I pulled away, the umbilical cord came with me.  Ripped right out of the unit.  Fortunately, my neighbor is handy in all things electronic and helped reconnect all of the severed lines.  I learned a painful lesson, and one of our standard operating procedures now includes making sure the cord is clear before I pull the truck away.

We’ve also banged up our camper (twice!) on those pesky overhangs at some of the tight check-in posts at campgrounds.  It’s too easy to focus on things at ground level, and miss that &*^% overhang that can leave some memorable marks on the side of your unit.  Swing wide.  Swing wide!

We also had a tire blow-out on our return trip from Michigan.  We knew the tires were getting worn but decided they have enough life in them to get us home, where we planned on buying a new set of tires after 3 years on the road.  We decided wrong.  Fortunately, our spare was in good working order and it was a minor lesson.

Many folks worry about the reality of driving and backing a big unit.  We spent some time in a large parking lot near our home “practicing” backing maneuvers, and it’s proved invaluable while on the road.  I’m very comfortable driving our unit now and can navigate it into all but the tightest of camping spaces. We also use walkie-talkies when backing into a tight spot – it’s much more civil than having my wife shout at me to “watch out for that tree”.

Be patient, practice, and enjoy!

3 Years of RV Travel in Retirement (WI added after photo was taken)

Conclusion

Having an RV in retirement is a dream of many, and we’re pleased that RV’ing has become a reality of our retirement lifestyle.  Our life is better as a result of owning an RV, and we plan on enjoying it for years to come. 

Whether going full-time or part-time, pursuing a bucket list item of traveling cross-country, or doing a simple two-day camping trip closer to home, an RV in retirement offers unlimited options to create the retirement of your dreams.  Make sure you’ve thought it out in detail, and live within your means when you make that purchasing decision.  Do not enter the RV lifestyle on impulse, but seriously consider whether the RV in retirement lifestyle is right for you.  It’s right for us, and I hope some of the lessons we’ve learned can be helpful as you finalize your decision.

Happy trails.

Your Turn:  Are you considering an RV in retirement?  What questions haven’t I answered? Are you already retired, and include RV’ing as one of your retirement activities?  What lessons have you learned that others can benefit from?  Let’s chat in the comments…

83 comments

  1. Nice write up Fritz! One day I will own an RV for sure, or perhaps one of those souped up sprinter vans. There’s something about the nomadic life that appeals to me. I don’t think I’d get a full size one like yours, but it’s still interesting to read about the experiences. Ya never know 🙂

    1. Great article Fritz! I have my RV dream notebook where I’ve been writing down tips, websites, places to visit, etc. for over a year now. I can’t wait to begin slow travel once we retire. We’re looking at a couples camper since it’s only the two of us and one dog. I keep leaning towards “Freedom Express” – it may or may not have to do with the cool name 🙂

    2. Great summary, Fritz. A good use of your part-time nomad life for fun and function.

      By the time I was 24 years old, I had visited 46 states. Now that I am 60 and am recently retired, I am still ‘stuck’ at that same number. I purchased an Airstream trailer as part of my retirement plan an am now writing this while having started my “Final Four Tour” to visit those last 4 states. How wonderful will it be to see the sights of SD, ND, MT, and ID in one big swoop!

  2. How perfect your timing is!! We just purchased our 5th wheel (it’s a HUGE step up from a backpack) and are in the “drink from a firehose” stage of learning and figuring things out so all this is great, thank you for sharing. So excited to be taking a couple “State Park” camping trips in the very near future. One thing that would be helpful is for you to share your “checklist” for setting up and taking down. I know you have one … your my kind of guy!! So happy that your Granddaughter, and girl (and son-in-love) are moving closer – yes, in that order. Finally – I clicked the link to the “New Book” … are you writing a New Book?

    1. Kirk, i used to own a 5th wheel trailer and hooking it up to the hitch can cause some anxiety. one thing i did and i would recommend is when you hook up the trailer make sure the hitch is fully engaged and locked into place so the trailer can’t pull out. as an added precaution i also wouldn’t retract the levels on the trailer until i was 100% sure it was locked up. i say all this because i loaned my truck and trailer to a friend for a trip and he forgot that one rule and the trailer came crashing down on the rails of the truck. i would also recommend when you store the trailer make sure it’s not on dirt. it can be on concrete blocks as an example. Dirt will pull moisture out of the tires and cause them to age faster and cause cracking. And lastly always make sure you error on the high side of too much air pressure on the tires. The #1 cause of blowouts on tires is under inflating and then the tire runs too high of temperature and it will blow out.

    2. Kirk, ironically, I had initially written (Hmmm…idea for future post) after mentioning my “checklist”, but deleted that lline in the final edit. Amazing minds. We’ll do one better – we’ll meet you and Mona for lunch “half-way” and talk you through each of our steps in person. As for “New Book”, afraid that’s a reference to my May release (that still counts as “New”, right?), though the publisher has approached me about writing a second. I passed, for now…(ah, the Freedom of being able to say no).

  3. Thanks for the update.
    Having a SIL stationed at Fort Rucker a couple of times I can add the Destin beaches are just a short drive down the road.
    I don’t think we’ll go with the long one you did but I like the idea of paying less for the RV and pulling it. If you decide to stop RVing you still have the vehicle.

    1. Good point about the separate truck/RV. Also if they decide to downsize to a smaller RV, they still have the truck! That’s exactly why I wouldn’t buy a motorhome.

    2. You’re reading my mind, Mark. We’ve already chatted about that, tough to beat those sugar-white beaches in the panhandle, tho we prefer “mountains” to “beaches”. For the sake of an easy weekend with our daughter and her family, we’ll definitely be prioritizing some beach camping.

    3. October 1 2019 I retired in a 5th wheel. I am single and 76 years old. Chose not to tow myself. I stay in a place for a year and learn all I can about that place then get a tow to a new place. Doing that this month moving100 miles north. Works well for me. Loving the freedom to move and see new things.

    4. Check out Navarre Beach Campground. It’s a great little campground on the sound. We drive 16 hours to camp there

  4. I’m loving these RV posts Fritz! We plan to join the RV life soon and just bought a new F-250 and are planning on buying a used 27 foot Airstream this year or early next year. We can hardly wait and your posts are fueling the FIRE! I’ll show this post about the umbilical cord issue to my husband. I’m sure we’ll make many newbie mistakes too.

  5. We enjoyed following along with you on your trip to our favorite vacation location (Michigan). We also own a travel trailer and have been RV’ers for nearly 20 years. Here is my tip. I’d highly recommend getting a tire pressure monitoring system for your rig, if you haven’t already. I bought mine from TST (https://tsttruck.com/shop/kit-sales-us.html). The system can give you a heads up on what is happening ‘back there’. Ours gives me the wheel temperature and tire pressure every few seconds on each wheel / tire. So, if you have a bearing going out or a slow (or fast) leak in a tire, you’ll find out before it smokes or the tire disintegrates on the highway damaging your expensive trailer.

    On our prior trailer, we got stuck in Grand Rapids after a couple of passing cars alerted us to smoke coming from our trailer axle. Turns out a wheel bearing went out and the axle / wheel got so hot it almost welded the wheel to the axle. We ended up leaving the trailer at a local business on a Sunday afternoon and then had to arrange for the repair the following week. Not fun.

    With our new setup, we were just leaving the Pictured Rocks area of the UP when the system alarm went off. We had a tire blow out on the trailer passenger side. I was able to pull off the road before the tire came apart and damaged our trailer. Well worth the cost of the system. Now, I don’t pull without it.

    We are also fans of road side assistance and use Coach-Net. We’ve only used them once, with that Michigan blow-out, but they were awesome. Fortunately we were in a area of the UP where we still had some cell phone service 😉

    Enjoyed your post today – lots of great tips for those who are interested in becoming an RV’er. Glad you enjoyed Manistee – our ‘second home’.

    1. Great addition, Mike. We also have a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and love it. There’s SOOO much more I could have included in this post, but decided to keep it high level. Thanks for the valuable contribution to the discussion.

  6. Gr8 post ( your norm). You didn’t touch on Drivable vs. Towable. Size seems to matter in both categories and budget Is still a deciding factor; but speaking from experience, drivable have one disadvantage, unless you tow another drivable. More than once have drivable RVers forfeited their space after checking in and returning only to find another RVer in their space. This is not always remediable in short/easy order.

    As you note, it’s not hard to learn to back a towable, especially with cameras and a lovely assistant. Personally I prefer backing and hitching a 5th wheel vs. a bumper hitch, but both are manageable with an assistant and/or cameras and your noted practice. Additionally you can leave a towable for local travel in the towing vehicle. A hitch lock or tandem wheel lock provide some peace of mind while gone.

    A basic driving course on towing safety would also be a good tip, especially those who have not pulled a trailer before. Smaller towables may not have trailer brakes and the smaller SUVs may not have enough mass to handle even small trailers, especially when the trailer is loaded. Know the towing vehicle’s towing capacity and add a liberally appropriate value to the empty trailer’s weight. RV accidents Can and Do happen!

    Wishing all Happy & Safe Travels!

    1. As I mentioned in my comment above to Mike, there’s so much more I could have included. I think an entire post could be written on the pros/cons of the various options. For us, a towable is prefered (in part due to the “space reservation” issue you’ve cited), though for others a Driveable makes sense. For each, his own.

      Good addition about the towing safety course, I wasn’t aware that there was such a thing. And yes, knowing your vehicle’s towing capacity is a major factor, thanks for including that in the discussion.

  7. Our trailer had an option that we got called a caravan mover. (“Caravan” because our trailer was made in Canada.) The brand was Kronings, but there are a few other companies that make similar products, including Truma, Purpleline, Trailer Valet, Quattro, etc. Generically called a motor mover, it’s a power unit that engages with the tires and then a remote control is used to “drive” the rig without need of a vehicle. My spouse is experienced at backing a trailer, so we weren’t sure we would need it, but it has come in SO handy. It has allowed us to site our trailer at angles for more privacy and better views, to get into sites we otherwise couldn’t have fit (or gotten leveled up), and greatly shortened the time necessary to get into a spot & get set up. It also helps get into tight garages, though we don’t have that particular problem. For people with anxiety about backing trailers or for solo travelers, they are especially helpful. Price range is somewhere between $1,500-$3,000, I think. They can be a DIY installation for someone who is handy.

    1. Leslie, I’ve seen those small “movers” online, a bit pricey for me but definitely an option that makes sense for many folks. Very cool how they can maneuver a big unit so easily, and certainly appealing. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  8. Nice article. I lived in several different RVs during my pre-college and college years. I have one now and it is spacious enough to live in full time, but I am not certain I want to do so, at least not permanently.

    However, I could definitely see myself taking some extended trips with the horse in my horse/RV combo that I own. That was the whole reason why I bought the thing to start with.

    1. Lynne, what a great idea for college living, great add to the discussion. It’d be awesome to camp with a horse, though I think they’d add even more limitations than our 4 dogs do! Sure would be nice to camp at some horse trails and ride horses while camping. Go. Do.

  9. Hi- can you expand on how you set up your wifi/hotspot, satellite dish of used, camera equipment, video equipment and additional software to edit and share your pictures and videos. In researching it can be overwhelming as to the options.

    Thanks

    1. Jay, certainly. In order:

      Wifi/Hotspot: We simply use our phones when we have sufficient celluar, and turn them into hotspots to get our computers online when needed. We also sometimes hit coffee shops. Wifi’s in campgrounds are notoriously weak and slow, so we chose to forgo the wifi “boosters” some campers use.

      Satellite Dish: We chose to not go this route, as part of the appeal for camping to us is getting away from the TV. We will watch the occassional show on Netflix, using our phone hotspots in conjunction with our RV’s Smart TV.

      Camera Equipment: I’ve got a Canon digital SLR, but find myself using my phone almost exclusively. The quality of cameras on phones is good enough now that I don’t find justification in lugging around a “real” camera. I also use my Google Phone for my video camera, tho I also have a cheap GoPro knock-off in my arsenal that I used in some of the mountain biking videos from The Great American Road Trip series on YouTube.

      Software: I went cheap, and use Corel Video Studio for video editing. You can typically find it on sale for ~$50-60, and it’s sufficient for what I do. Pretty easy to figure out, too, though any software is a bit intimidating the first time you launch it. For photo editing, I pretty much just go with what I shoot, and don’t have any photo editing software beyond a few free apps for cropping, etc. I need to get better at the photo editing side of things, but it feels “cleaner” to me to just go with what I get in my shots.

      1. Is the phone hotspot a month to month subscription so when not camping you don’t have to keep paying? My understanding is just allows more cellist data which I’m not sure increases the reception?

  10. Great looking rig Fritz. My “poor man’s RV” is a minivan used as a daily driver that converts to a camper. How were the bugs and the humidity when you were in MI? I’ve not had to deal with either bugs or humidity, since moving from MI decades ago. It is a beautiful area.

    1. Minivans are the ultimate utility vehicle, nothing at all wrong using them as a camper! We were pleasantly surprised by the lack of bugs during our trip, I think we hit the timing well. A few mosquitos, but very tolerable. As for humidity, we’re from Georgia, so I’ve gotta say we felt like there was no humidity at all in Northern Michigan. It’s all relative, right?

      1. I agree Fritz. The Northwest corner of the lower peninsula of MI is some of my favorite (In the warm months anyway.), Traverse Bay, Lake Charlevoix, Sleeping Bear area. I might have to point my van in that direction next summer. Happy trails!

  11. what is so cool about this blog is everyone has different needs. in the last 20 years i’ve gone from a 24′ trailer to a 32′ 5th wheel toy hauler to now a converted sprinter. Times have changed for us and kids are gone and we love to ride bikes so we had the Sprinter converted so that we could hold 4 bikes inside the van. Our rule is no more than 3 nights camping for 1 night in a hotel. Absolutely love the Sprinter as the fuel economy is amazing for a vehicle it’s size, but i also wouldn’t want to stay in it for a month at a time.

    1. Roger – 4 bikes inside a van!? Wow! Observant point about the number of different needs raised in the comments, and proof that RV’ing is a very flexible hobby. Nice addition about the “1 night in a hotel” guideline, we used that back in the days when we had a pop-up, and it worked well for us at the time. Rub it in about the fuel economy, though I have to admit I’m relatively pleased with the 11+ MPG we get with our F-250 diessel while pulling our 5er.

  12. Sharing three different RV adventures and duration is informative and interesting Fritz!

    Have you ever considered the Alaska highway? According to my wife the greens really are greener and the blues bluer. Not to mention the incredible wildlife and the tons of observation areas. Some even have telescopes where you can observe numerous eagles – probably more varieties than anywhere else. Plus the people were fantastic.

    1. We’ve talked about doing the AlCan highway several times, Shannon. I worked in Alaska in college (Glacier Bay Nat’l Park) and we’ve vacationed throughout Alaska several times during my working years. Not sure we’re up for that long of a drive, to be honest. It’s a LOOOONG way from Georgia to Alaska! It’s on the radar, certainly would be a wonderful place to spend a summer.

  13. Hi Fritz, Great post and very helpful. If you can be so kind as to answer some additional questions:

    1) What made you buy new vs used? From my quick research, it reads like these thing depreciate a lot like cars except the decline in value slower after the first few years. So it seems more economical to buy a recently used on vs brand new. Can you walk through your decision making process on why new vs used?

    2) I’ve heard from my neighbor that some camp sites have length limits (27 ft.?). Is your RV longer than this and if so, have you had problems finding sites where you want due to length restrictions?

    3) We’re also looking into buy another vehicle that can tow an RV. My wife doesn’t want a pickup so we’re limited to SUVs and many have tow limits between 3500-5000 lbs. Based on your experience, to you recommend we get ample “horsepower buffer” and go with an SUV that can tow over 7000 lbs even though we won’t buy a towable that’s over 5000 lbs.?

    1. In order to earn the “so kind” moniker, I’d be happy to…

      1) We knew from experience we’d own our RV for a LONG time (we kept our last travel trailer for >10 years), so we weren’t as worried about the depreciation. We like having an RV that we know has never been used. No doubt depreciation is a facor, though less so when we consider we’ll likely keep this until our 70’s.

      2) We had heard some concerns with length limits when we were doing our research, but that seems to be “old news” at this point. Our RV is 35′, and we’ve never had an issue finding sites. We book everything online prior to our departure, and the “older” State Parks are rapidly upgrading their sites to accommodate the many “big” RV’s that are on the roads now. Not something to worry about, in our experience.

      3) Towing capacity is a HUGE issue, and your tow vehicle decision must be made in conjunction with your RV decision (that’s why we chose the F-250). I empathize with you on the comfort level in having some “buffer”, but I suspect that’s already built into their towing capacity figures. Just make sure you include an estimate for the stuff you’re going to be packing into your camper (don’t just go with the camper weight, since you’ll likely have quite a bit of stuff packed in there when you hit the road), I don’t think an extra “buffer” beyond that is required. Handy tip: You can pull your RV across local scales (e.g., garbage dump sites typically have one) to make sure you’re within your weight limit). Drive across a few days before with “just” your vehicle, then again with the RV hooked up. The difference between the two is the weight of your unit.

  14. 11 mpg is pretty good considering the size of your 5th wheel. if it’s relatively flat i’m getting around 19-20 mpg which i love because i’m a cheap skate. it took a little engineering to get 2 mtb bikes and 2 gravel bikes but i have a shelf that is on sliders and it pulls out like a drawer. We just didn’t like having expensive bikes out in the open for someone to take or take parts off the bikes. helps us sleep a little easier since it’s out of sight.

    By the way i look forward to your articles every Wednesday morning. Great job.

  15. Definitely a UK/Europe divide with US. Our roads are defo not up to the larger RV’s used in US/Canada. I did smile at your blog pic of a VW Campervan. I think you could fit 3 or 4 of them into your rig, lengthwise and at least half as much again width wise…

    We have plenty of RV’s, rather than 5th wheels, but far smaller…

    Glad you enjoyed your trip

    1. Indeed, your “caravans” run much smaller than ours! The allure, however, is the same. We’ve driven “a loop” around the UK, and would love to spend an extended RV vacation touring your beatiful homeland. We LOVED the Western Coast of Scotland, especially the area around Oban. Gorgeous country!

  16. Hi Fritz, first time posting here. I am this enjoying all of your previous posts. Keep up the great work! Congrats on your daughter moving “home” back to the south. (You are correct….if you are from the south…there is no humidity anywhere else.)

    Quick question, how did you manage to keep your truck and RV so clean for your hero image?

    Travel Safe!

    1. Howdy, Rookie Randy! Thanks for taking the Plunge! I appreciate your kind words about my work, and your congrats regarding our daughter’s move.

      Funny thing about that picture – the rig DOES look spotless, but I can assure you it was quite dirty given we’d already done ~1500 miles on that trip. I’ve no idea why it looks so clean, must be something about the the lighting and the wet pavement that tricks the eye. Our RV is quite “grimy” by the time we complete our trips, but I don’t worry about it much. Plenty of time to get it cleaned up upon our return.

  17. Fritz, great to read about your latest RV adventure. When you get the chance, add upstate NY to your dream list, the Adirondacks are gorgeous!

    1. Great suggestion, Karen. We love the Adirondacks, and spent some time there in our working years. The first vacation we took when our daughter was ~9 months old was in a cabin on an island in the middle of Lake Placid. We had to rent a small fishing boat for the week to “commute” out to our little island. Magical. Amazing memories of an absolutely wonderful vacation. As Arnold would say, “We’ll be back”. Some thoughts about doing a NE loop at some point, clearly a “void” in our RV map!

  18. Nice to have you back Fritz, and so glad you enjoyed your trip. My wife and I have been RV’ing since we retired seven years ago this past June. Like you, we started shopping about three years before we retired. Going to RV shows, looking online, talking to LOTS of people who owned them, and doing tons of online research. We started out knowing nothing about RV’s, we had always loved to camp, but this was a huge step for us going from tents and sleeping bags to an RV. We had planned for an RV for a decade prior to retirement and had saved accordingly. We ended up with a 6 year old 35′ motor home with 6500 miles on it and for us it worked out very well. Our biggest factor in deciding which type of RV to get was how our 3 dogs could be most comfortable while we traveled. I know to a lot of people that would sound crazy, but one of the many things that makes retirement so wonderful is that the list of people you have to worry about pleasing gets pretty short.
    From the beginning the plan my wife and I had was to spend 6 months a year on the road. Three months in the fall when most kids are back in school, and three months in the spring before all the kids get out of school. We never travel to, or through major cities, we avoid major highways whenever possible, we don’t travel more than 200 miles in a day, and our stops are a minimum of 2 nights. Everyone will have a different idea of what works for them, as you said Fritz, I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to do it. The real point is to just enjoy living the lifestyle that being retired has afforded you, it’s such a fabulous opportunity for anyone to take advantage of.
    I guess I should point out that our goal was taking our dogs on every great hike we could find in the most beautiful parts of the country, at different times of the year, so we could all enjoy it together. It’s been spectacular, and we have made MANY adjustments along the way and finding out what worked for us.
    We enjoyed your post Fritz, as always. Now we are starting to get things together to hit the road right after Labor Day and plan on being home around Thanksgiving again, and we are headed to the U.P. as our most northern point, we think they have the most spectacular Fall colors in the U.S.

    1. 31, thanks for confirming many of the points I raised in the post (and, for your continued loyalty – you really read EVERY post!? Wow). I can relate to the idea of a motorhome for the dogs comfort while driving, we did consider that. We’re pleased with how well the crew cab “doghouse” has worked, plus it keeps the dogs out of our laps while driving!

      Enjoy your trip to the U.P., it’ll make a beautiful Northern Terminus for your fall trip! We were surprised to find some fall colors even during our time there in August!

  19. Thanks for sharing, sounds like a lot of fun but one thing I’ve always been curious about (and worry about) is the driving. Do you get any back or shoulder issues from being on the road for so long? I’ve have a long commute for a good part of my career until I had to move close to the office (pre-COVID) because of serious back/neck/shoulder issues.

    1. Hussein,

      Body fatigue is definitely one of the main reasons we follow the “330 Rule”. I’m getting too old to sit behind the wheel any longer than that. As long as we hold to that rule, my body seems to hold up ok (tho there are times my bum gets a bit sore, need to experiment with some pillows back there). Given your issues, you may choose to follow something like a “200 Rule”, as mentioned by 31NDUN above. Whatever works for you.

  20. Fritz, loved the article! We left Seattle a few weeks ago for a two-three month US road trip in our Class B Winnebago Travato. Should be in MI in a few weeks to visit family in Grandville and Grand Haven with a trip to Traverse and the UP. I followed your advice to make the big RV purchase before retiring and we ended up downsizing from a 29’ Class C to a 21’ Class B last year. It’s awesome your family is moving closer (at least for a few years!). We enjoyed our year in Montgomery AL at Maxwell AFB and made several trips to Destin and Pensacola. Army has a great campground in Destin and your son-in law or daughter could make reservations for you.

    1. Tom, like ships passing in the night, eh? Sounds like a great trip, enjoy! Hmmm, being in Seattle makes me wonder if you’re by chance at JBLM (that’s where our son-in-law is stationed, at least until Nov 1!).

      Thanks for the tip about the Destin Army campground, good to know. We’ll definetly check that out when we plan our first RV trip to the Panhandle! Safe travels in that 21′ Class B!

  21. Fritz, I love this post. Stephen and I are noodling on the idea of RVing. We are thinking about renting first and trying it out. You gave us some great ideas and confirmed some we already had. Thanks for all the great info.

  22. Hi all, I too am thinking the part time RV lifestyle when my “second life” begins in 1-3 years. One of my joys while still working is the research and learning with all the different ways and options of RVing. Boondock to luxury campgrounds, small and mobile vs big and spacious, truck camper to small trailers to 5th wheel to Class A, full time vs part time vs just a few short trips a year, etc. It is quite a journey!

  23. Great article Fritz! It’s an aspiration of ours to take a few trips like this in our eventual retirement – I’m glad you’re the guinea pig for all of us 🙂
    That Hawaii sticker is going to be tough to get on your “been there map” – – That’s a long ferry ride for your camper!

    Paul

    1. Hey Paul, you’ll have to help me work with Jim E. to figure out a cost effective way to ship it across, I’m thinking of some kind of corporate promo between “us” and a particular can plant out there…..Smiles.

      Sincerely,

      The Guinea Pig (tho, in your situation, I think “The Sewer Rat” would be a better moniker – haha)

  24. Love this post. I absolutely want to spend summers with the kids touring the country. What better way to learn about our great country then touring all the national parks. Now I just need my spouse to retire so we can make it happen!

  25. Very nice piece and glad you enjoyed the Great Lakes. The R/V checklist is a great idea. Actually works for anything one tows.
    We rented our first R/V a couple of weeks ago from a site called Outdoorsy.com. It’s like the Airbnb for R/Vs. For our first one, we rented a small 24′ driver. (Winnebago Era, on the Mercedes Sprint Chassis.) Drove the thing from Chicago to Shenandoah National Park. It was a low risk way of an introduction to R/Ving and had a really nice experience. We’ll rent a few different types in the future.
    We had a 20′ trailer boat for 20 years and for me, the RVs fit in that same category. Something always needs fixing, (ie wire harness) so I’m not interesting in owning one. Just like my former boat, one has to use it about 29 days a year for storage, maintenance and initial capital investment to make sense on a spread sheet.
    Like you, we had a flat, side wall gave out in the 98 degree Virginia heat.Tandem axles are a wonderful thing! Didn’t even know the outside tire was flat until a fuel stop and running through my checklist.
    Called Outdoorsy and roadside assistance came out and put the spare on in short order.
    I highly recommend a rental for anyone evening toying with the concept of an R/V now or for retirement. It’s a good test to determine if R/Ving is for you with little risk.

    Cost for a 7 day rental: $2154 including insurance & roadside assistance.
    Diesel : $217 (88.97 gallons)
    Miles Driven 1692
    After we cleaned the interior back at our house, we drove it back to the owner and gave him a really short list of things that needed attention.(Tire, cabinet door latch, sticky shower control). The benefits of renting.
    The no R/V ownership model fits our FI lifestyle at this point in time.

    1. Francis, ironic timing, and great to hear from a reader who’s actually rented an RV. Good point on the value of renting if you’re only going to be a sporadic user, and there’s certainly value in being able to simply place a phone call and getting your tire replaced! While the $2154 cost seems high initially, I agree with you that it’s actually a reasonable price compared to ownership, especially for those who only expect to RV occassionally, or want to test out the RV lifestyle before deciding whether it’s worth it for them to purchase their own RV. Great comment, thanks for the detail on the rental experience.

  26. When I got my drivers license many years ago my family and I drove from Vancouver to Alaska and back. While camping in KOA and other camping grounds we met a lot of ppl driving RV’s with a goal to visit every single state (except for Hawaii). The idea of having an RV and traveling around sound like a great idea!

    1. Tawcan! Great to see you leaving a comment here, it’s been a while since we’ve interacted and I hope all is well with you. That drive from Vancouver to Alaska had to be a real highlight of your teenage years, I hope we’re able to replicate it at some point in the future (man, it’s a LOOONG way from GA to AK, though!). Thanks for stopping by.

  27. I replied to your last post just before you left on your vacation. I dont think you saw it though. I had just purchased your book and it arrived the day we left for our 4 week RV trip to Yellowstone, Great Tetons etc. I was so excited. I read in in one sitting!! Having been so conflicted about retirement, it helped me sort out my decisions. I kept thinking while on that trip how free I would feel if I didnt have to return to work. I have already had my OMY….it’s so weird how my life parallels yours. The blog that resonates most (and I have read everyone of them at least once!) for me has been the “Dont look back…your not going that way!”
    So I scheduled one more appointment with Josh Scandlen and am happy to report that yesterday was my last day after 34.5 years at one hospital. And we are on our way to the Upper Penninsula with our Airstream as I write this as my retirement celebration trip.
    I can’t thank you enough for all you have done to help me with this incredibly difficult decision. The emotional side is sooo much harder than the financial aspect.

  28. The umbilical cord incident, ug, and right at the beginning. It gave me a sick feeling for you. We’ve all done something like that, so glad you had someone to help fix it.

    We are temporarily full-time ‘RVer’. We live in a 6 meter converted bus as we explore Australia hopefully for two years (1 year already done). We love it.

    The parking before 3:30 is important here too. The chances of hitting a huge kangaroo, cow, camel, emu, or any other number of creatures is too great after dusk.

    I love the RV/bus life and enjoyed this article.

    1. Bonnie!! I’m honored to see you leaving a comment on my blog, I love following along on your amazing journeys through OZ. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and leaving a comment, that means a lot to me. Watch out for those kangaroos!

  29. I posted a comment before you left on your trip but I don’t think you saw it. It’s weird how our lives are so paralleled. I have really struggled with the retirement decision for at least a year. I hired Josh Scanlen and he assured us we are good to go. I still did OMY. I still couldnt do it!! I actually put in my retirement notice for June and rescinded it to help with our Covid patients…or at least that was my excuse. I ordered your book just before our 4 week summer RV trip to Yellowstone, Tetons etc
    I read it the first day. During the whole trip I kept thinking how free I would feel if I didnt have to go back to work. My whole life has been wrapped up at the same hospital. 35 years!!
    But yesterday I did it. I retired. I just turned 57 and today we are on our way with our Airstream to the Upper Penninsula to celebrate retirement!!! I have read every post you have written at least once and the one that helped the most was the one “Dont look back…your not going that way!!”
    Thank you for all your words of encouragement and I wanted you to know just how helpful your writings have been in making this very emotional decision.

    1. Gina, I’m blown away by your note.

      You’ve NO idea how rewarding it is to hear from a reader who’s read EVERY one of of my posts and used my words as inspiration for crossing The Starting Line. CONGRATULATIONS on (finally) making the decision to GO. I can only imagine how excited you are in retiring just yesterday, you’ll recall my own feelings at that point from my book, one of the best days in life! How ironic that you’re celebrating by taking your own RV trip to the Upper Penisula. Somehow, that just seems right. Thanks for taking me along on your journey, and sincere best wishes on your RV trip and, more importantly, on your entire retirement. Thank you for making my day, my week, my month with your comment!

  30. Hello Fritz

    Been looking into RVs, No commentments yet,our dates are aways off. Glad you had a safe trip through Michigan. (Don’t tell everyone how beautiful it is.)Check out :https://harvesthosts.com/
    You pay a yearly fee (~$80) and get to stay at Wineries, and Farms. RV freind of mind said it was a good deal.

  31. WOOT WOOT I made the big times! Thanks for the shout out Fritz! I immensely enjoyed meeting you and Jackie!! I’m so glad you guys had a GREAT ESCAPE! Jeff and I bought a 2006 motorhome and have had fantastic times. Our country is so beautiful it’s almost unbelievable. So glad your back in the saddle and blogging again. I’ll look forward to your next post as usual!!

    1. Zinny!! What a surprise to head to my P.O. box today and find such a lovely note from you. Thanks so much for your amazing encouragement during our visit, it’s readers like you that keep me doing what I’m doing! Great spending some time with you in Hillsdale – hope your current RV trip is going well!

  32. Fritz,
    Fairly new to your site. Found it from “Can I Retire Yet” as Darrick sometimes posts about his travels. What is the first thing I saw but that beautiful picture of your rig on the Great American Road Trip. Well that deserved some further digging and I went back and started at the beginning. I have recommended to both my kids to read your first 50 posts. You should consider bundling them into a financial primer, great coverage in easy to understand terms on how, and more importantly why, you should be thinking towards retirement from an early age.
    As far as the RVing portion, which for me you could do more of, your first mistake is not that bad (pretty easy fix). Nothing comparable to the stories I’ve heard of those that unhooked and suddenly remember the wheel chocks as they watched their rig roll away! We are using the M-F bit with the current rig to start working towards having time for longer stretches and probably won’t make it to full time but more like most time RVers. Saving for a new rig so I can bring the bike along for touring all the beautiful places the USA has to offer. Some good sites I’ve found as reference are “All about RV’s”; “Changing Lanes”; & “Long Long Honeymoon”. They do a great job of walking thru items from types of camping, modifications to make, mistakes they’ve made, planning trips (get a garmin for RV’s!), and yes they pretty much all have Checklists!
    A bit late to the FI game, but learning and working on it, and your blog has become a big part of that planning. So sorry I got behind on the blog as you probably came right by the house on this trip. Would have been honored to let you “moochdock” on the way through. Keep the great info coming.

    1. Schliev, thanks for the kind words, too bad we missed each other when I passed by! I hope your kids take your advice better than my daughter takes mine. Wink. Nice addition with the recommended sites, thanks for adding to the discussion. I appreciate the note, and welcome you to The Retirement Manifesto team!

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