Who are these modern day gypsies who spend their lives on the road? What prompted them to leave their former homes and communities for a life on wheels? Each week we will introduce you to some of the fulltime RVers we meet in our travels and those who read this blog.
The fulltime RV lifestyle seems to attract active, adventurous people who aren’t content to just sit and watch life go by. After all, it’s a lot more fun to actually be in the parade than to stand on the sidewalk as it passes you by. Just ask Jim and Nancy Tidball. Ever since they left their hometown of Washington, Pennsylvania eight years ago to explore the world in their 2004 Newmar Dutch Star motorhome, the fun hasn’t stopped.
Jim, a former teacher, and Nancy, who worked in human resources, say their love of travel led them to fulltiming, and it was something they spent years planning before they retired. And all of that preparation has led to a wonderful lifestyle that never gets old.
As many fulltimers will tell you, they love the freedom to go where they want, when they want. They enjoy making and seeing friends all over the country and being able to have extended stays in places they visit because they have their house with them, and are not on vacation.
Of course, not everything about fulltiming is perfect. Nancy said she doesn’t like not being able to use Charmin bathroom tissue. For Jim, dealing with repair issues and service in so many different places is an irritation. And they both miss getting to spend more time with their old friends back in Pennsylvania.
The Tidballs tend to move around a lot. They said they have spent 90 days at a Sun Life Park in Mesa, Arizona a couple of times, and have been to Betty’s RV Park in Abbeville, Louisiana for stays of 30 to 60 days several times, and they usually go back to Pennsylvania for a couple of months each year. But the rest of the time they rarely stay more than a couple weeks in one location. They have stayed in as few as 32 places and as many as 65 in a single year.
Both Jim and Nancy like to read and they try to stay in shape by hiking and riding their bikes. Nancy is also a runner and Jim likes walking for exercise.
They belong to the Escapees RV Club, FMCA, and the Good Sam Club and have been to Escapades, The Escapees RV Boot Camp, and Gypsy Journal rallies. Seminars at rallies are a great source of information and they try to sit in on as many as possible.
The Tidballs have covered a lot of miles and seen a lot of places in their travels, including Alaska and all of the Canadian provinces except The Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Among their favorite places have been Alaska, where they saw nature at its finest; Louisiana’s Cajun country for its great food, music and people; our National Parks, for which they are thankful that people had the foresight to preserve; and Ojo Calienta, New Mexico. Some memorable highlights have been the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, and Mardi Gras in Cajun country and New Orleans.
When asked what they considered their best day fulltiming they said, “We have had so many best days it is impossible to pick just one. Every time we meet new people, find a new interesting place, or have some new experience is a new best day.”
What about their worst day fulltiming? Getting caught in a wash in Quartzite, Arizona with their back wheels off the ground. They said even that experience was a positive when fellow RVers worked together to get them out.
Not being with family and friends whom they have known for so many years has been the hardest part of leaving their old life behind, but that is more than made up for by the freedom that retiring, getting rid of all the stuff that ties us down, and hitting the road has given them.
Jim and Nancy don’t have any special RV goals. They don’t have an exit strategy at this point and hope to continue the fulltime RV lifestyle as long as they can.
When asked what advice they would give to a newbie, Jim and Nancy said to not be in a hurry. They said they always try to leave by the crack of 10 a.m. and to be set up by 3 p.m. They don’t like to travel more than 250 miles in a day and have only gone more than 400 miles in a day once. Also, don’t be afraid. They said they have talked to many people who say they would be afraid to travel like they do. But in eight years they have never been in a situation where they felt fear. “If you are uneasy about a place, your house is on wheels, leave.” Another piece of advice was to not tie yourself to a set schedule because you may find a place you love and want to stay longer. They said they only make reservations when going to places in high season like the Florida Keys in January. Otherwise they usually just call a week or so in advance to find a place to stay. They said when they traveled to Alaska they only made reservations a couple of times and never had a problem finding a place to stay.
“Join the Escapees RV Club, read their online forum, and go to a rally,” they added. “You will meet like-minded people, make new friends, and get a wealth of information. It was the beginning of our great adventure.”
Summing up their thoughts on fulltime RVing, they said, “The fulltiming lifestyle has exceeded all our expectations. Meeting people, visiting new places, and having new experiences all while sleeping in your own bed is a wonderful way to live. It took a while to realize we were not on vacation and we did not have to hurry from place to place. After eight years we still love it and do not expect to stop anytime soon.”
You can follow Jim and Nancy’s adventures on their blog at http://runningdownourdream.blogspot.com/
Note: If you would like to be featured in our series of fulltimer profiles, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Jim and Nancy are definitely my kind of people! What a great profile. Really enjoy reading these Nick–keep it up.
Thanks so much for posting our profile. We hope it encourages those who are undecided about the full-timing lifestyle to just go for it. Even after 8 years it continues to be more than we ever imagined.
These interviews are among my favorites! Hope your computer issues are fixed or it’s laying out in the dumpster and you’ve gotten yourself a “real” one! LOL No, they say Mac’s are great, but too complicated for me!
Jim & Nancy are TOPS and it is very much a pleasure to have them here at Betty’s RV. These folks are so genuine and very caring and I am so very proud to say that they are my friends!!! They are someone you can absolutely count on for anything….