Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Revisiting the Pros and Cons of the Full-time RV Cruising Lifestyle

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Revisiting the Pros and Cons of the Full-time RV Cruising Lifestyle

one of our many neighborhoods

Since Bill and I met while already on the road to retirement, we did not experience the initial stages of the cruising lifestyle’s weekend RV trips. We jumped right into the fulltime RV cruising stage after the wedding, inspired by the idea of a never-ending honeymoon. We made the RV our home and lived all over North America for five years visiting forty-nine American states, nine Canadian provinces and territories, and six Mexican states.

Last year, after three years of snowbirding at Viewpoint in Mesa, Arizona, and making many friends, we finally bought a home at the Resort. Now, a full year after our RV was sold, I revisit the debate that raged in my head in the middle of our adventures. There are pros and cons to the fulltime RV cruising lifestyle. I wrote about them here. This updated post may offer better perspectives, in hindsight. But do I reach the same conclusions?

near the Arctic Circle in the Yukon, Canada

Benefits 

We enjoyed tremendously the following benefits:


Constantly new experiences and activities
Constantly new places and sights
Constantly meeting new people
Closeness to nature and the outdoors
A larger, refreshing view of life
Stress (the positive kind)

At the time this debate was raging in my mind, we had already traveled 21,000 miles, from Alaska and the Arctic Circle to Mexico and the Tropic of Cancer to Florida and Low Country USA.  We would travel 80,000 more miles, but the pattern was set early on. Because of the constantly new experiences, activities, places, sights and people, boredom never had the chance to set in. And the ability to boondock brought us closer to nature and outdoor activities.

Since we had not been rooted anywhere really, we were also developing a more accepting view of life, adapting more easily to differences in daily living among countries, regions, and towns; and also becoming aware of universal themes and larger concerns. After the driven lifestyles we had both followed (Bill, keeping a small business alive in a flagging economy after years of navigating the corporate jungle; and I, juggling classes at three institutions of higher learning in a self-reinvention after years of information technology pioneering in the Philippines), the cruising lifestyle was exhilarating and refreshing.

And, though there was a lot of stress looking for campgrounds, hooking-up and unhooking, planning itineraries, mapping sights to see and choosing activities to do, it was the positive kind of stress; it wasn’t the kind where you earnestly pray that your situation will change or even wish that you were somewhere else.  It was the kind that allowed you to sleep soundly at night.

at Monroe Thunderbird Resort in Washington

Disadvantages 

But we also experienced the following disadvantages:

      Loss of the sense of stability
Many unfamiliar situations
Time and distance stress on bonds to family and friends
Inconsistency in involvement with worthwhile causes
Loss of income
Uncertainties in healthcare

The very benefits of having something new all the time also brought the disadvantage of instability and a preponderance of unfamiliar situations, especially in the beginning with our smaller 24-foot RV. Once, in Chicken, Alaska, I ended up finishing my bath using the cold water in the sink because I could just not get the Park’s coin-operated shower to operate again when the time for the first token was over.

The most telling was the stress on bonds with family and friends and with humanitarian or spiritual causes we used to nurture.  Technology has definitely helped with bonding (skype, webcam, cell phones, broadband access, laptops, the internet, Facebook, etc.) but “propinquity” was actually lost. And, since we had practically a new parish each or every other week, we could not participate in a regular ministry. In hindsight, we could have parked our RV near our children’s homes for longer times; and, maybe, in Louisiana, parked our RV there to help build homes for Katrina victims, as an example.

What younger people would find most disturbing, however, is the loss of regular income. We found out later that there are options like “work camping” (see workamper.com), parking your RV at Amazon centers for seasonal jobs, or getting a portable career such as monetizing travel blogs. For retired people like us, the income loss just made us more frugal than usual and budgeting more of a regular to-do. 

But the disadvantage that finally made us settle down sooner than we otherwise wanted is uncertainties in healthcare. Again in hindsight, we should have established a central location where we could return regularly a couple of months a year so that a family physician, a dentist, and an ophthalmologist could take care of monitoring our health. Since we didn’t, we had a few health issues that bothered us more as time went on.

at the Rocky Mountain National Park

Conclusions

Today, we come to the same conclusions and are thankful we took the plunge. It is a lifestyle we hope many would be able to experience at least once in their lifetime. I loved it so much I wrote a book about it: Carolina: Cruising to an American Dream. It thoroughly describes the lifestyle; and also my inner journey of becoming a wife and an American. So, yes, we recommend you succumb to the lure of the open road!

Some parting words, though. A valuable attitude to have is not to sweat the small stuff when you need to face varying situations, people, rules, facilities, schedules, etc. For older folks like us, that may not be an easy thing to do, but it is a good exercise for improving emotional flexibility. And, if you are a “young couple” like we were, the coziness of the lifestyle makes for another great exercise…for building closer and stronger bonds. How’s that for advice from a couple that met on the road to retirement?