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Frequently Asked Questions

rev 13 Mar 2017

Recent questions from readers include these:

What do you do about jury summons? (let's hope this doesn't happen for awhile)

Let us know anytime you have a question. I put unanswered ones above for safekeeping so I wouldn't lose them. Answers (from our perspective, of course) soon.

Click on any of the frequently asked questions below to go to the answer text.

How long do you stay in a place?

What are the pros and cons of different camping spots?

What makes a good campground?

Liability insurance for full-timers, what's this about?

Why'd you buy a gas-powered truck instead of diesel?

Why a GM truck instead of Ford or Dodge?

Do you have and use a generator?

What are the pros and cons of caravanning?

What about KOA campgrounds? Or, are other private campgrounds better?

How do you get your mail?

How do you get internet service?

Are State and Fed Parks the way to go?

Once at the campground, how do you pick your spot?

How did you come up with this idea of full-timing?

Is a 25 foot trailer large enough to live in full-time?

Is yours a new Airstream trailer?

Do they still make Airstreams?

Why did you ever think you could go full-timing in a travel trailer?

When will you come back home?

Have you made a list of the places you want to visit?

Where will you stay?

What did you do with all your household possessions?

Did you really sell your house to go fulltiming?

Aren't you too young to be quitting work?

How long will you be full-timing?

What are you doing about health insurance?

How do you get your laundry done?

How long have you been full-timing?

Who is writing the website?

How did you first become interested in Airstream?

What do you miss most about your house?

What's the biggest challenge you've found?





Those are really great questions, aren't they? Please give us more questions, we promise to try to answer them. This is supposed to be frequently asked, and answered as we have time. You can email us at as4822@gmail.com


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How long do you stay in a place?

After more than nine years living "on the road", we've sort of figured out what we're doing. We tried five months in one really great spot one year. At the end we left wondering why we'd stayed so long. Well, we knew why we had stayed -- we love the people and the programs and the place is pretty darned nice. But we're travelers -- we love traveling and seeing things and learning as we go. We're not likely to again voluntarily spend five months in one spot.

The next winter we tried moving around throughout the southwest and southeast during January and February. Much better -- we're trying do the same in subsequent winters. So the longest we plan to stay anywhere is two months. Otherwise, we like one to two week stays. Our eight-year average length of stay is six days. Long enough to find our way around, not long enough for us to tire of the area.



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What makes a good campground? What are the pros and cons of different camping spots?

This is a personal choice, mostly. A good campground for us depends upon where we are, what we plan to be doing, with whom we are traveling, and how long we're to be staying. We don't need a bunch of hookups to like a campground -- we are more interested in quiet, nice ground cover (leaves or pine needles are fine), and a little space between sites and from the campground loop so we aren't touching the cars and trucks as they drive the loop.

We want walking paths or trails in or very near the campground. We would like tennis courts nearby. A laundry is nice, provided it isn't too costly to use the machines. A drying yard is wonderful (often found in FL, not so often elsewhere). We like a small paperback book exchange so we can swap books we've read and pick up a few different ones. The best one was in Haines AK because they had not only books but also books on CD and a very interesting variety of books.

The same campground in Haines AK had the very cleanest showers we've found in any campground anywhere. We were, obviously, favorably impressed. Another big plus for us is campground location. This can be difficult -- we like walking or short driving access to local amenities but also prefer quiet settings. Sometimes one cannot have both -- it just depends.

We don't need electricity, water, sewer, cablevision, phone or any other connections to really like a campground. We can, with decent sunshine, totally forgo electrical hookups. Our limiting factor is our 19 gallon black water tank, good for up to ten days if we are very careful. Fresh water and rinse water tanks of 39 gallons each are ample for at least ten days. Dry camping in the Arizona desert and in a beachfront campground between LA and San Diego were very different from each other but both possible for us because we are happy without any hookups.

A really gorgeous campground in a British Columbia provincial park between Prince George and Clinton provided us a view over the lake, a nice fire-ring, and the weather was primo. No hookups at all, but great walking, nice people, not too crowded, and so pretty. This is a really good campground for us.



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Why didn't you have full-timers' liability insurance coverage?

We conducted two to three full-timing seminars annually in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. We think we learned as much as the attendees at these seminars. Our fellow panelists invariably surprised us with some of their solutions, and our attendees bring up the darndest questions.

Several years ago a panelist and good friend asked, "Do you two have liability insurance for full-timers?" We thought she was nuts. We checked with our agent who told us, "Nope, your truck coverages do NOT apply to the trailer when it is unhitched from the truck.

Hmm, Hunter was right (of course!). We really like our Allstate agent -- she always took such good care of our issues, renewals, questions. And this time she recommended we check with other insurers for this coverage. Allstate did not offer the coverages we were seeking.

Several years ago we had a little run-in from a driver insured by Progressive. Progressive was over-the-top wonderful in handling our claim. Then we started seeing their cute adverts. Hey, who knew about Progressive Insurance before this? Suddenly we hear about them everywhere. You may need to check them out!

We checked a couple of companies for liability coverages and Progressive won. Now if our RV rolls back and knocks over a section of campground fence, we might have ready help to cover the loss. Doesn't really make us feel much better, but hopefully this is prudent and reasonable.

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Why'd you buy a gas-powered truck instead of diesel?
Every now and then diesel prices again creep under regular gasoline prices. Maintenance and first costs are still considerably higher for diesel than gas engines. Some diesels are evolving to quieter systems than even five years ago, so this could become a non-player. Then again, diesels now are mostly going to the diesel exhaust fluids (DEF), pricey stuff. Gas engines? not so pricey overall.

We've read or heard the payback for diesel could be less than 100,000 miles. It depends upon two primary items: first cost and the other costs. First cost for Chevy K2500HD diesel is a $10,000 list premium. We think the payback is well up above 150,000 miles for us. We weren't sure we'd have our truck this long. Why bother with the noise, the maintenance requirements, the odor, and the first cost?

Diesel engines are unquestionably stronger than even our huge 8.1L gas setup. Way stronger. We recently climbed lengthy (+/- 6 mile) 8 and 9 percent grades. We were, at times, down to 40 or 45 miles per hour. So what? Gas is good enough for us, and our operating costs are lower. At 187,000 miles, we've replaced two front hubs and had no failures (knock on wood.)

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Why a GM truck instead of Ford or Dodge?
The 2500HD, GMC or Chevy, is a fine towing vehicle. We prefer the extended cab since we only 1 percent of the time would need the rear seating and admire more the looks of extended cab. We eschewed the 8' long bed because (1) we don't want to carry more than we can stuff in the shorter bed, and (2) the longer wheelbase creates a frustrating response delay in the trailer's turns when backing.

Our Chevy 2500HD is powered by an 8.1 liter (496-502 cubic inch) gas engine with an Allison 1000 six-speed transmission and has a 3.73 rear end. We added an ARE tonneau cover, replaced the hitch receiver (with a big CURT 15208), and replaced the 26 gallon fuel tank (what in the world was GM thinking?) with a Transfer Flow 45 gallon tank. Oh yeah, and we installed antenna mounts through the cab roof, the very best mounting for mobile radios for several reasons.

We are truck brand indifferent. Our first tow vehicle was a 1993 F-150 ext cab long bed. Bed too long, engine already severely worn, but we were just fine with a Ford. Finalists for second truck, beefy enough for our conversion from 22' weekending Airstream to 25' full-timing Airstream, were Dodge, Ford F-250, and Chevy 2500HD. Multi dealerships for each in our hometown, so easy to shop all of these.

Dodge seemed unable to really match a cab/bed/engine to our wants. Ford looked fine. But we found a friend with GM Fleet purchase capabilities. Okay, we'll focus on GM. Our requirements were simple (we thought): 2500HD; captains chairs, cloth; 8.1L gas; Allison tranny; extended cab; 6.5' bed, and blue or green metallic paint.

The fleet manager answered in one week with a great match: "How do you like Red?" Our cowboy cadillac is sport red metallic, and we adopted it easily. We didn't get towing mirrors, a bigger deal than we realized even with the mirror extenders we add on towing days. Absolutely no other complaint. What a great truck!

Friends with the 6L gas engine in GMC or Chevy do just fine with 31' trailers, so the loss of the 8.1L engine appears to be no biggie. You would have a 4.10 rear end and the higher gearing will spin your engine a little faster, better within its power curve. Fuel economy on the 6L is at least as good as ours. The only apparent benefit of our largest engine might be a longer life, since engine parts are spinning so slowly much of the time. We'll see.

UPDATE 10 Dec 2012: We bought and installed a nice pair of manual folding towing mirrors for our 2500HD. Turn signals in the glass, heated glass, electric adjustment of the big glass, and a nice sized convex mirror at the bottom. These are what we were wanting! Price -- $250ish.

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Do you have and use a generator?

We have a Yamaha® portable generator, 1kw 110v gas-powered, 27 pounds of electrical power, quiet, and a gas sipper. We wondered if we should buy and haul a larger generator or like some of our friends, two 2,000 watt generators. A 3,000 watt unit would power everything we have, even our roof-top air conditioner. Two 2,000s paired together would also. And we could use only one of the 2,000s when we didn't need so much.

We decided we couldn't afford the weight and fuel consumption and cargo space of the larger generators. Why would we need to make our own power for air conditioning? Our house has wheels so we can relocate if we need to. We bought the 1,000 watt (1 kw) generator.

After over nine years, we have found the generator sometimes a relief and sometimes a convenience. We've repaired tires twice at roadside, using the generator to power the 110vac air compressor. We've loaned it to friends to recharge their trailer's or motor home's batteries. And we've recharged our batteries a few times when dry-camping. Although we have solar panels, sometimes the sun doesn't show up or we're parked in total shade (like at Mora Park near Hoh Rain Forest). Lately too we've realized our batteries probably didn't need the excitement and would have been fine another day or two or three. See the Trimetric 2025 in our Home Improvements page.

The 1kw generator is small and lightweight, easy for us to handle. We store it in the truck's bed near the tailgate. We'll try to keep it there as much as we can. As a friend stated a few years ago, we want to be generator snobs, eschewing noisy and smelly generator use for battery conservation and solar charging instead.

UPDATE 4/26/2012: Apparently we weren't testing or using our generator frequently enough and also seemed to lapse on keeping Sta-Bil® or Sea Foam® in the fuel. Our generator wouldn't start, required a trip to the small engine shop. $60 later our generator is starting and running fine and we are operating it every month to keep it so. Also, in 2014 we started only running ethanol-free gasoline in the generator.

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What are the pros and cons of caravanning?

We've spent just over two weeks on a caravan and just over six weeks on another, and around sixty days each on two others. This is four caravans in six years. We liked all the caravans enough to sign up for another still.

First, the good news. We found, on all these caravans, a great advantage in having someone show us an area. Our first caravan was a short one in Alaska, with just six venues over a two weeks period. The driving days were generally leisurely, short miles, but take our time and stop a lot. They strongly encouraged us to take at least three times the normal driving time (for the mileage) to enjoy all the stops along the way. It was worth it and enjoyable, especially since they provided us guidance on things to look for along the way each driving day.

The leaders of these guided caravans do a thorough job scoping out good places to eat and stay and sightsee. We enjoyed all the dining experiences and sightseeing, and the campgrounds were as good as, if not better, than what we would have found. But the caravan's camping site budget is higher than ours. That's a good thing and a bad thing, too. Let us explain.

Airstream club (WBCCI) caravans are led by dedicated volunteers, members of WBCCI. They spend the prior year or two traveling the routes, recording the mileages, noting the scenic stops, evaluating the camping and dining places. They determine the caravan budget and manage the participants' caravan fees (the kitty). At the caravan's completion the leaders account for all expenses and refund any remainder to the participants.

We could, for less money, take trips on the same routes as the caravans. We are almost certain we would scrimp in places the caravan doesn't, and we would therefore fail to participate in many good experiences. While the caravan is more expensive than our self-guided travels, we plan no more than one caravan per year and budget for it as best we can.

The only downsides to caravans, for at least one of us, are the relentless pace and the greater expense than our normal budget. We're very spoiled in respect to travel pace, since we live together in our Airstream all year. We can knock out miles like crazy, and we do try our best not to. We are perfectly happy driving 60 or 100 miles in one day and not driving again for days. But on caravans you either go with the group, every two or three days, or you forfeit the prepaid meals, activities, and camping for any days you miss. We're too cheap to want to give away much of what we feel we paid for.

The higher expenses incurred during a caravan are special, the cost is necessary for the great adventure we are on. We simply reconcile ourselves to "tourist spending" for the caravan period. It's worth it -- we're getting a wonderful experience with really neat people in wonderful areas, guided by dedicated folks who know the area well. And we try not to do caravans every year so we can recover our budget.

Two years ago, on a caravan, we were getting a little tired of moving, moving, moving, and wanted a break. We signed out of the caravan for one night to go off by ourselves to a nice little state park in Oregon. Completely off to ourselves, backed up to the Williamette River under a canopy of tremendous evergreens, we had privacy for the first time in over a month. It felt great, and is something we miss when we're on a caravan.

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What about premium campgrounds? Do you prefer private campgrounds better?

We have only stayed in three pricey campgrounds, and have visited several others. Two of them we visited seemed absolutely top drawer, with great facilities and sites and location. All this, regardless of brand or ownership, comes at a price. At these, you get what you pay for.

One in Okeechobee FL seems best in class, with far more amenities than the resort we rented in. A nice nine hole golf course, four tennis courts, two swimming pools, and lots of nice programs and spaces complement this pretty park. We're not paying nearly what that CG charges, so Jim drives 15 miles to play golf and 6 miles to play tennis. Maybe it would be worth paying more to have these on the premises?

Some pricey CGs are not places we would choose to stay. We sometimes find them unattractive, too close to the highway, and they don't offer much that interests us. As mentioned in the first paragraph, maybe you get what you pay for.

We sometimes eschew private campgrounds because they're almost always costlier than our budget can sustain and we don't usually care about the amenities. Our favorite campgrounds are woodsy and a little isolated, like many of Canada's Provincial Parks and many of the State and National Parks. We might find a lot of privacy or we might meet lots of fellow travelers -- either way, we seem to meet more people in these parks. Perhaps they spend more time outside their RVs?

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How do you get your mail?

Escapees Mail Forwarding Service does a superb job handling our mail forwarding. Our return address labels and magazine subscriptions and personal mail all point to our Livingston Texas mail forwarding company's business. They store and forward our mail to us per our periodic instructions. We only get first class mail, plus any special magazine subscriptions we select, regardless of mail class. For example, our ARRL QST (ham radio) magazine is not sent first class and would be discarded by the mail service as a lot of advertisements (which it really is). But instead they hold and forward these with our other mail.

This works nicely because we don't get all the junk mail you probably do. No flyers, no catalogs (this is a plus and a minus, eh?), no Publishers Clearinhouse announcements. Less trash, lots less trash at our house! We generally arrange once every two weeks delivery of our mail. This is easier sometimes than others. We send a message with our planned next mail pickup location to the mail forwarder a week ahead of time. Will the Post Office in that city or town accept general delivery? Not all do, so we must look up or call the intended Post Office specifically and ask them.

Escapees Mail Service sends our mail to the designated pickup location via US Priority Mail. We walk into the Post Office and ask if they have a General Delivery package for, and before we can say our name they say, "You are Jim and Debbie? It's right here." We show identification and we have our mail. Not so many people do this as in years past, so some of the post offices we visit apparently just don't get much of this mail.

This costs us $4.80 per package (for a two-week small package) and is charged to our revolving account at Escapees. They draft our credit card at $50 increments a few times a year as needed. In a package we'll have a few greeting cards, letters, or bills, and three to five magazines. How reliable is this?

A couple of years ago we had two little hiccups in the same month, one near Charleston, SC, in Hollywood, and one in Raleigh, NC. The first one was a timing error, we didn't allow enough time for the mail before our intended departure from Hollywood. We ended up staying three extra days in Lake Aire Campground, a very nice Passport America campground. We asked our mail-order pharmacy to send meds as General Delivery to meet us in Raleigh, NC. Several days later we receive a phone call advising the meds were sent and returned to the pharmacy.

Our fault, we hadn't learned to confirm if the intended Post Office handles General Delivery. And the Post Office we had selected, near Raleigh's State fairgrounds did not. The pharmacy resent the General Delivery package to a different Post Office location nearby and we received it no problem. The post offices hold this mail for you for 30 days, so it is to our advantage to have it sent ahead of us and held. And Escapees is a great way to work this.

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How do you get internet service?

First Answer: We drive from one Tim Horton's Restaurant to another, on the chance we'll find wifi. At Tim Horton's you can always find superb coffee (in china cups) and wonderful doughnuts. Formerly we didn't so much find wifi but you have to keep trying, don't you? Sure enough, in 2012 we found WIFI in almost every Tim Horton's we visited (and that's a lot of Tim Horton's.)

In 2012 we switched from a Pantech UML290 USB Verizon modem to a Verizon MiFi. The MiFi works very very well in most locations. We're still happy with it over four years on.

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How did the recession affect you and how are you adjusting to effects?

We are definitely affected by the recession. Our savings aren't earning anything, our value in stocks is up then down then down. So we have less money than we had before the economic meltdown. Good news for us is, we aren't spending as much as when we were working. Our property taxes and insurance are much lower. Our income tax (what income?) is low to nonexistent. The minute we stopped working we went into extra-frugal mode, but the recession boosted our attention to our money.

We are more conscious of our actual to budget expenses and stay as close as we can on these. We are loathe to pay for frills we don't need or want. State, provincial, and national parks and BLM land are plenty nice and suit our tastes and budget. Eating out can be so expensive. That's an area, for us, to save money on. We could flex down on our expenses more if we need to, by lengthening stays and reducing travel. So far we are okay without extreme measures. Great flexibility seems, for us, a distinct advantage over some people.

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Are State and Federal Parks the way to go?

We think State (U.S.) and Provincial (Canada) and National (U.S. and Canada) parks are definitely the way to go. We love the locations (almost never adjacent to an Interstate or big highway) for their quiet and remoteness. We feel safer in public parks, generally, than in busy private rv parks. And we pretty uniformly save money camping in public parks. So yes, we like public parks. We also greatly enjoy boondocking on BLM lands and dry-camping in Escapees (SKP) parks. The cost is low to nothing for BLM lands we've tried and we like the wide open spaces. Dry-camping, for members, in SKP parks is often only $5 and we have full use of the park's amenities.

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Once at the campground, how do you pick your spot?
We like parking in otherwise empty loops. We usually park as far from playgrounds, dogs, and generators as we can. Jim likes backing our trailer, so we are accepting of some interesting parking assignments in some parks. Solar power is great when a park's sites have no electricity, so we try to select unshaded sites when available.

And not until 2009 did we figure out about "solar orientation" of our patio. Some things we figured out much faster than we did this one. We now try, whenever we will have a warm and sunny exposure, to aim the trailer's patio to the north. The sun rises to our rear. It's nice to watch morning sunrise from the patio. The midday sun is overhead and to our streetside (with full-length awning), and the low setting sun is off our front. Our patio, on the curb side, is then full shade and pleasant in the heat of the afternoon.

It took us three months at one spot in south Florida to realize the benefit of the northerly orientation of our patio. We tried this at numerous spots throughout the year and have found we really like it. You might not always get the choice or you might find higher priority considerations. Sometimes the view is so much better the other direction and we forgo patio-solar orientation. Lots of times we just take what is available and don't worry about it. But, if we have a choice . . .

UPDATE 4/26/2012: Aiming the trailer's front or rear directly west also improves our solar panel performance now that we can tilt our panels. The panels become broadside to the southern sky and gets the best solar bath most of the day this way.

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What's the biggest challenge you've found, so far, in full-timing?
Determining in which cabinet is stored a less-often-used item. The toaster oven is easy to find because we use it every few days and both readily remember where we keep it. Jim's tools all live in the toolchest in their respective drawers or bins. Our clothes are in the closet or certain storage bins.

But things we use infrequently could be in any of numerous locations. Gosh, we could search for minutes to go through the entire trailer looking for something? Not too challenging a life at this point.

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What do you miss most about your house?
Not the lawn cutting or shrubbery trimming, nor maintenance on the house, nor taking care of three cars, nor the city noise, nor the mortgage and taxes and insurance and utilities. We loved the beauty, the size and space of the interior, the neighborhood, and the proximity to all things Charlotte. We miss being able to entertain indoors. Jim looks forward to having shop space in a basement.

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How did you first become interested in Airstream?
We addressed this question on
About Us already.

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Who is writing the website?
Jim writes eighty-five percent and Deb does the other half. Deb is a good writer but shies away from sharing as much information as Jim likes to. And he is more likely to plug in and lose himself on these pages, writing and re-writing.

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How long have you been full-timing?
We hear this question or "When will you stop?" 2/1 over any other question. The reaction when we answer used to be very consistent. The reactions were most often, "You haven't done it very long." Wait and see, we're still growing into this! We started August 2007 for nine weeks, then sold the house and jumped in with all four feet beginning of February 2008.

UPDATE 01 Mar 2015: We are in our ninth year. A few things have changed for us. We now have more grandchildren, 185,000+ miles on our truck's odometer, over 125,000 miles on the trailer.



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How do you get your laundry done?
We save it up and take it home to mom's house. No! We carry enough clothes for up to two weeks without washing. Within this time we find a laundromat in a campground or town. We can wash, dry, and fold our clothes in a couple hours once every two weeks. We carry detergent and softener and enough quarters (stacked in old 35mm film cans) to operate the machines. Sometimes, especially in Florida, we have use of clotheslines too. This has worked very well for us. You just can't do a couple or three loads of laundry as quickly at home (unless you have three washing machines!)

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What are you doing about health insurance?
This is out of date with the advent of Affordable Care Act. Following is the answer we've been carrying, until Debbie updates this. Since we are not 65 years old, we had to consider our options for health insurance until Medicare would be available to us or, by some miracle, our legislators figure out universal health coverage. We first looked into traditional full-coverage plans. While not as expensive as we had expected, approximately $700-800 per month to cover us both, these were still more than we wanted to spend by the time we added the deductibles and co-pays.

From the Escapees web site, we found a link to www.ehealthinsurance.com. This was a great web site for getting quotes for health insurance and allowing us to compare the different plans. Some of the plans were High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) which qualified for Health Savings Accounts (HSA). These plans were considerably less expensive (around $300-400/month) than the other plans we had been considering so we were interested in learning more. Deb began doing intensive research on HDHPs and HSAs to see what the benefits were, how the tax code worked, how to set up the HSA, etc. After much investigating, we liked what she found and decided to go with this option.

UPDATE 4/26/2012: We are currently with BCBS, formerly with CIGNA, and before that the plan we selected was with Golden Rule Insurance through United Healthcare. One of the reasons we select these particular plans is all our doctors were on their list of preferred physicians and all our Charlotte hospitals were on their list of preferred hospitals. Also, reviewing their list of physicians it appeared they had preferred doctors available in all the lower 48 states. But when they increase our rates willy-nilly, we are very likely to switch to another provider for same or better coverages and equal or less cost.

In addition to selecting the insurance plan we had to select a HSA plan and determine the amount of money to contribute each month. Part of our analysis included a tabulation of our expected normal medical expenses that we would be paying for under the $10,000 deductible. We included our routine bi-annual physicals plus labs, Deb's annual Gyn visit, two office visits per year each, one urgent care visit, one ER visit, routine prescriptions, two dental cleanings each, bi-annual eye check-ups, new glasses every two years for each of us, etc. All of this averaged out to about $375 per month. Since we are both in good health and have no chronic health problems, we decided that anything beyond the routine or minor medical problems would be major medical so we felt that we could live with a $10,000 deductible. With this high deductible, the premium for both of us is $295 per month.

With a premium of $295, we decided to put $400 into the HSA each month since our original budget for health insurance was $700. Now the real benefit of the HSA is this is tax deductible so it is not really costing $400 but $400 less whatever our tax rate turns out to be. For 2007, if the combined federal and state rate comes to 28%, it will cost us $288 to contribute $400 each month.

Another big benefit of the HSA is you can select any financial institution for the account. There were several options offered as part of the United Healthcare plan and Deb also researched independent plans offered by various financial institutions. There was a lot of variety in the interests rates offered, fees charged, set up fees, and other fees for checks, etc. As it happened, the best deal was one of the ones being offered by the insurance company. It was through Exante Bank which offered 5% on the balance from the first dollar as opposed to a tiered structured that most of the banks offered, i.e., 2% on $0-5,000, 3% on $5,001-10,000, etc., to get up to 5%. Also, their set up fee was only $5. We have a "credit card" that we use to pay for covered medical expenses that draws down on the balance deposited in the HSA.

If you are familiar with typical HSAs offered by employers, you know at the end of the year you use the remaining balance or lose it. Not so with this HSA - the money rolls over to the next year and continues earning interest. What a deal! And it gets even better. If you stay healthy and don't use the extra office, ER, and urgent care visits then you will likely have a balance in your HSA at age 65. This balance will then rollover to an IRA. Now that's some incentive to stay healthy and only spend what we need for the preventive care. Of course we have the insurance coverage if we do need it for some castrophic illness.

We don't know for sure how this will work our for us but will keep you posted on our experiences. If we have to fine-tune the plan as we go, we'll post those changes also.

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How long will you be full-timing?
It depends. We first tried it for nine-ten weeks in 2007, then since beginning of 2008 continuously. We're still going strong, and we really still feel like we're just starting out. We'll continue as long as we love what we're doing. It may be ten years; it may be twenty-three. We've met couples on the road who have been full-timing for fifteen to twenty years and are giving it up only because of health problems. We only know we haven't yet made any permanent commitments so we can change our minds at any time. For now, we're loving the lifestyle. Update Jan 2016: Two years ago we purchased wooded acreage in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Starting to make us yearn a little for a building project.

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Weren't you too young to be quitting work?
This is one of those "s'posed to issues", isn't it? No, we weren't too young. We're young enough to enjoy our health and resources in travel. We had planned to retire earlier than 65 but not at 55. However, so many people kept telling us that they only wished they had retired earlier and that we need to start traveling while we're young enough to enjoy it. We did some long range forecasts using very conservative rates to decide whether we could make this work financially. We also worked out a conservative budget and began investigating health insurance options. Health insurance costs and coverages seems one of the biggest unknowns.

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Did you really sell your house to go fulltiming?
It sold itself, we were really fortunate. Selling the house helped alot since this relieved us of a number a major expenses. The decision to sell the house was a long, multi-step process over a period of approximately two years. We considered numerous housing plans for ourselves. We first began talking about downsizing to a smaller house in a neighborhood about two miles further from downtown. We wanted to go from our 2,900 square feet to around 1,500.

Several of our church members live in a neighborhood we liked so we put the word out to watch for houses on the market. A fellow Airstreamer who lived in the same neighborhood owned a duplex that he was selling to move to a retirement community. This appealed to us since there would be someone living in the other unit who could keep an eye on things when we were traveling. We made an offer but he had a previous offer so we decided this wasn't meant for us. We also considered condos so we wouldn't have to worry about the yard work while we were away and exterior maintenance but didn't like the idea that we would have to find off-site storage for the Airstream.

During this time we also began learning about full-timing and seriously considering this as a lifestyle for post-retirement. As we learned more about full- timing and became more interested in the prospects of living anywhere anytime, we began thinking about the issues of maintaining a permanent residence while on the road. We heard horror stories from others of water pipes bursting and coming home to several inches of water in the house. If we rented the house, we'd be sure to get calls at the most inconvenient times about the water heater blowing up or the furnace dying in the middle of the night. We gradually warmed to the idea of not having a permanent residence at all once we retired. We decided it would be most economical to stay where we were for the remainder of our working career and then have just one sale and not have to move.

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What did you do with all your household possessions?
We thought we had read in someone's book on their fulltiming experience they spent one week emptying their house. What did we do wrong? We spent roughly three months. First, we tried to get our children to take whatever they wanted which was precious little. We had a few family antiques or heirlooms we placed with family members for safekeeping. Most every full-timer we talked with agreed that paying to store lots of furniture was an expensive undertaking that they regretted. For the amount spent on storage, they said they could have replaced the items they needed. Also, the furniture that we had in our large house may not be at all appropriate to whatever smaller house or condo we move into when we come off the road. Hence, we decided to get rid of all our furniture and household items through consignment shops, Craig's list, yard sales and Goodwill donations. For the pictures, records, china, etc. that we wanted to keep, we rented a very small (5' X 7') conditioned storage unit.

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Where will you stay?
We don't really have special places where we stay every year. We've not invested in shares or sites at resorts. When we find a place we like (usually because of the people we meet or know there) we're likely to return for visits. We've spent some Winter time in Texas, Arizona, California, and Florida (as well as North Carolina). They all have benefits, and we enjoy the differences.

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Have you made a list of the places you want to visit?
We constantly update this list as we learn from others, or read in magazines or news, or see somewhere and want to delve into it more. Most often it happens spontaneously - someone in a rest stop says, "Are you going to stop at The Henry Ford?" We say, "That sounds pretty good, thanks for the recommendation." And we go away wondering why we didn't think of that first and are glad they told us.

The list will endure longer, I think, as we begin to stay a little longer in each place. After our first year we reevaluated and decided to slow it down a little. Enjoy it a little more. Don't be rushing about. We still have difficulty controlling our wanderlust -- itchy feet or something. After more than five years, we still feel we have barely scratched the surface in touring North America. There is so much to see and do and eat, and people to meet. This is going to take awhile yet.

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When will you come back home?
Where's home? Home is where we park it. The greater Charlotte area will always be like home to us. We will always be "from N.C." Our house will be on wheels behind our truck, so we think home is where we park it. Of course, we plan to return to NC frequently since both of us have family and friends there.

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Why did you ever think you could go full-timing in a travel trailer?
We didn't know we could, we just believed. This full-timing thing is a big experiment for us but how will we know if we don't try? We haven't talked to anyone who tried it and didn't like it. The main reason people have given for quitting seems to be health reasons and age (maybe these are the same problem).

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Do they still make Airstreams?
Yes. The Airstream Factory in Jackson Center, Ohio produces approximately fifty-two per week and are expanding the plant to increase production up to 1.5X (updated 01 Mar 2015). Airstream celebrated their 84th anniversary in 2015 and is the oldest RV manufacturer in the U.S.

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Is yours a new Airstream trailer?
It's a 2005 model. We bought it new in May 2006 from an Airstream dealer. To some, it still looks new.

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Is a 25 foot trailer large enough to live in full-time?
This is another very frequently asked question, and we enjoy answering this.

We think our trailer is amply large for full-timing. But this is Not True according to most people we meet. Everyone says we'll be trading up to a 34 foot before long. They're wrong, in our case. We'll use the amount of space we have available. We were pleasantly surprised to find that when we loaded the trailer with all the things we needed for our first big trip, we had space left over. We kept a list of things to add when we returned home. It was a very short list. We also went through what we packed and removed from the trailer and truck a few things. We're very flexible -- we'll try this and see how it works out and let you know later. You can check on our
Lifestyles page for some of this info.

In addition to the issue of having enough space for all your stuff, there's the issue of having enough space for the two of us. People ask how we can possibly get along full-time in less than 180 square feet of space. Of course, we don't stay in the trailer all the time. We're out sightseeing, touring, shopping, playing tennis, and hiking during the day. We enjoy spending time outside during the evening if the weather is nice. The most time we spend together is in our truck when we're driving between locations. It's fortunate that we really enjoy being together. The closeness has not been a problem for us.

Finally, a trailer's size does not necessarily equate to its net carrying capacity, or the weight of your cargo. Don't assume you may fill all the cabinets and remain within your trailer's weight ratings. We weigh our trailer a couple of times annually to ensure it is balanced (at least ten percent of trailer's weight is at the hitch) and to ensure we are within our gross vehicle weight rating, or GVWR. We moved heavier stuff from the trailer's rear end (exterior cargo compartments and interior overhead bin) and placed the stuff in the truck. Lighter weight stuff (e.g. fleece blankets) replaced the heavy stuff. It's way too easy, and a bad thing, to overload a trailer's weight capacity or to overload the tow vehicle's gross combined weight rating (GCWR)

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How did you come up with this idea of full- timing?
Not by ourselves! Summer 2005 we visited Virginia Highland Haven Airstream Park in Copper Hill, VA. We invited our good friends who fell in love with the park and asked questions of the members about how to join. We listened as a couple of veteran full-timers explained membership in the Highland Haven.

Tom and Mary happened to mention they were full-timers, having sold their house 20 some-odd years earlier to their daughter. Years earlier they had started on a two month trip to explore America and just never came back home. Their daughter, after two years housesitting, bought Tom and Mary's house. We were awestruck. Who knew you could do that in an Airstream? The idea came along at just the right time for us.

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