Could you tell us a little about yourselves?
We met in San Francisco, CA where Rene worked downtown and Jim commuted to Silicon Valley. In 1997, we got married and moved to Eureka, CA to get away from the rat race. We started a small home-based graphics and marketing firm serving clients around the country. We grew the business for ten years to the point where it was ready for additional staff, and decided to sell. We marketed the business opportunity ourselves and closed the deal in six months with a buyer who purchased our home along with the business. During that time we decided to take a sabbatical road trip and researched potential RV options, selecting a 24′ Arctic Fox as our home/office on wheels. We hit the road in June 05 2007. Our plan was to see the country and find some land near a community we liked where we would settle down. We quickly discovered this was not possible in one year and decided to start workamping to extend our journey. In exchange for full-hookup sites and/or a stipend, we have worked at an animal rescue in North Carolina, organic farm in Florida, a New Mexico hot springs resort, and most recently a Colorado guest ranch. We see no end to our “trip” in sight, but have begun a serious search for some land where we can set up a home base camp so we can stop paying fees for the items we have in storage.
(sorry, I couldn’t resist putting this picture in)
I’m impressed with the guts and audacity you guys had to sell your business and most of the things you own to go traveling across America. What do you think was the turning point that propelled you to sell your business and a lot of your belongings to travel across America?
We had always intended to grow our business to the point where we could sell it someday. But this was mostly just talk until our dog Jerry got sick. We had always hiked and camped with Jerry, and we knew we wanted to travel with him. So when he was struck with bone cancer we knew it was time to plan a trip. Since we had his front left leg amputated in November 2006, hiking and camping was out, and we decided to research RVs and market the business for sale. Jerry was given 3-4 months to live after his surgery. He is still with us 22 months later and has become an inspirational canine cancer survivor with a website (www.tripawds.com) dedicated to educating people going through what we did with him.
Do you miss your business and the stable environment it provided?
Not in the least. After ten years, it was beginning to get tiresome and monotonous. Jim does not miss dealing with client headaches and production issues. Rene does not miss the overhead, debt and drudgery of logistics management. Compared to the new daily experiences and myriad challenges of life on the road, running the home based business seems like entrapment, a lifetime ago.
What are some of the advantages that you guys have enjoyed by full-time RVing?
The freedom to choose our own life path and experience what we want to do, where we want to do it, is the best advantage to full-timing. Equipped with Satellite internet service and solar power, the ability to work and stay connected while getting way off the beaten path is a joy that must be experienced to be fully appreciated. Working online or listening to internet radio where there is not even cell phone service is another enjoyable advantage to life in an RV. And, the often magnificent view from our kitchen table changes almost nightly.
What are you guys doing for income?
Workamping at the guest ranch this summer recently provided us with a small income, but more importantly extreme savings from campground fees and fuel. (We went the whole summer on one tank of gas!) Jim provides on-call internet-based consulting services. Rene is a digital scrapbooking consultant, selling software and traditional crafting supplies online. Our websites include syndicated advertising from Google AdSense and other programs. We are Amazon affiliates which allows us to sell books and other products for small commissions. Our Amazon store at LiveWorkDream.com includes items related to travel and full-time RVing. Our Tripawds.com Amazon store includes resources about canine cancer and three legged dogs. At RVblogz.com we provide free travel blogs for other fulltime RVers. At Tripawds.com we also resell Ruff Wear products — including a harness, dog boots, and a canine life preserver — which help people provide support and mobility for their three-legged dogs. We also have a Café Press store (www.cafepress.com/tripawds) which offers merchandise for three legged dog lovers. None of this by any means will enable retirement for us anytime soon. But every little bit helps us extend our journey.
What are some of the more interesting places you have RVed at?
The best times have been spent boondocking off the grid, far away from others. One memorable stay was in Colorado’s Routt National Forest (Seedhouse campground) at about 9,000′ deep in the rocky mountains outside Steamboat Springs. Another was early in our trip alongside the San Juan river near Bluff Utah. One rather scary memory was in the woods outside Eau Claire, WI where we sat out a tornado warning. A developed campground in Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp was memorable, primarily because of our alligator encounters.
If someone was considering quitting their job to RV full-time, what are some of
the preliminary steps they should be doing?
If one is not independently wealthy, three things to think about are to plan, plan, and plan. Preparing a budget is most important. Rene created a detailed financial plan for our sabbatical road trip including all potential expenses which we review regularly. This is especially important with the volatile cost of fuel. We make our planning documents and budgets available at LiveWorkDream.com to help others plan their own fulltime RVing adventure. It is also imperative to know your comfort level, with your living space and your spouse/partner. RVing is very cozy, intimate living. We are very comfortable in our 24′ trailer, even after going from about 3,700 to 200 sq. ft. of live/work space! We budgeted for a few hotel nights each month, but have only spent a couple nights in a hotel all year. And that was because we were workamping in Truth or Consequences at the time and left our rig there while we took Jerry to the veterinary cancer clinic in Santa Fe.
Where do you guys see yourselves in 5 years? Do you see yourselves RVing full
More likely, we will be part time full timers. We are starting to consider going seasonal. Perhaps we will purchase some land where we will park our home for half the year, then travel and/or workamp for the other half. Another idea is to have two small pieces of land — one in the north and one in the south. We could then travel between these two lots seasonally. Regardless, RVing will indefinitely be (a big) part of our lives.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
For people who say they can’t afford it, we say think again. Compared to the costs of paying for, maintaining and living in a stick house; full-time RVing can even be less expensive. Do the math — compare mortgage, insurance, utilities, and home improvement costs to fuel and campground
fees. You may be surprised. But when it comes to quality of life … There is no comparison.
For more information about Jim & René, please take a look at their websites.
working to find the dream life
better to hop on three legs than limp on four
get your own free travel blog
the mobile headquarters of Agreda Communications
Photos courtesy of LiveWorkDream.com