Tying Up Loose Ends: Preparing for Our Year-Long RV Trip

by jdroth on 26 February 2015 · 10 comments

Things just got real!

Now that Kim and I have decided that we really can (and will) do this year-long cross-country adventure, we’ve started making big moves. Last week, Kim told her boss she’ll be leaving at the end of March. We found a couple to stay in our condo while we’re gone, and we’ve begun to pack up all of the things we won’t be taking with us. Meanwhile, there are dozens of little chores to occupy our time.

Our to-do list
Our to-do list seems never-ending…

Ideally, we’d rent out our condo while we’re away; it would be nice to have the extra income. The problem with this idea? Our HOA limits the number of units that can be rented, and we’re second on the waiting list to be able to have tenants. Instead, my friend Tyler Tervooren and his wife will act as live-in caretakers while we’re on the road.

To prep for Jess and Tyler’s arrival, Kim and I have begun packing up all of the things we’re not taking with us. We’re cramming dozens of boxes into my tiny 120-square-foot office:

My office will be a storage unit for a year
Some of these stacks are precarious…

Right now, it’s a little tough to know what to pack and what to take, especially with clothing. My solution? I’ve gone through my wardrobe and toiletries and picked out the things I think I’ll want on the road. For the next few weeks, I intend to use and wear only these items, to pretend that we’re already living in the RV and I’m limited to what I have with me. Then, just before we leave, I’ll make some final decisions about what to carry for a year.

Prepping the RV for the trip is a continual process. As we find new issues that need to be addressed, we address them. We had the roof leak repaired right away, of course, and we’ve fixed the loose pipe fittings. But why did the truck battery die during our first trial run? How do we repair the screen door? Why won’t the radio work? How will we store the RV cover while we’re on the road? And so on…

We have to cancel some bills and subscriptions, prepay some, and automate others. We need to figure out how to handle our mail. We need to write instructions for Tyler and Jess. We need to draft cleaning and maintenance schedules for the RV, and draw up checklists so that we don’t forget anything when we arrive (and depart) from camping spots. We need to take care of our taxes. We need to prep our motorcycles for storage. We need to tune up our bicycles. The to-do list seems endless, and it’s all I’ve been focusing on for the past two weeks.

I spent all of last Saturday, for example, hanging out at Camping World in Wilsonville, waiting to have a tow bar and hitch receiver installed so that our Bigfoot can tow my Mini Cooper.

We have hitchage!
Now the challenge is learning to hitch and unhitch quickly…

Things went fine (albeit slowly) until it came time for me to test everything.

  • On my first lap around the Camping World parking lot, I realized I was dragging the Mini Cooper through corners. I hadn’t put the key in its ignition, so the steering was locked. Oops.
  • I put the key in the ignition and switched it on, which prevented the steering from locking — but introduced a second problem. You see, the doors lock automatically when the car is in motion. So, on my second lap around the parking lot, I managed to lock myself out of the car. Oops.

I towed the Mini Cooper to Canby, where I paid a locksmith to open the car and to cut a second backup key. Now, in theory, the RV and Mini are set to go. (I may want a supplemental braking system on the car. We’ll test the whole towing setup on our next test-run in early March.)

We’ve also spent a lot of time planning our route. Well, maybe the word “plan” is a bit strong. We’re brainstorming, I guess.

I’ve created a custom Google map for the trip. The map has several layers, such as:

  • National Parks
  • Thousand Trails campgrounds (membership RV parks around the country)
  • Potential events (such as the Montreal Jazz Festival)
  • Suggested sites (recommendations from friends and family)
  • Planed stops (dates and places we’re fairly certain to meet)
  • Invites from friends (folks who’ve asked us to swing by)

We can show or hide map layers, as we wish, which allows us to get a feel for what’s ahead of us and where we might want to go:

So many places to see!
There are so many people and places to see!

Note: We’d love to visit you too, when we’re in your area. If you’d like to have us stop in and say hello, please let us know.

Finally, we’ve been working on this website. We’ve been posting articles for the past several weeks, of course, but this blog is still in rough shape. We’ve now told a few folks about it (which is why you’re reading this, right?), but haven’t made any big announcements. Before that happens, we want to tweak the layout, set up the ability to subscribe, and make the place feel more like home.

As you can see, we have a lot of work to do before we leave. In fact, there’s so much to do that it’s sometimes tough to know where to start. Right now, it feels like we’re playing “whack-a-mole”, smacking down whatever task seems most pressing: tow bar! “start here” web page! stuff out of storage! And so on.

There are just over four weeks until we launch on this big adventure!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amy Worthy 05 March 2015 at 05:56

Hey JD and Kim!
JD, I’ve been following your blogs for a long time, inspired me to get out of debt and change my life. If you come to North Carolina, Asheville is a must see! I’m happy to play tour guide : )


2 kimmie 13 March 2015 at 10:14

We for sure will be heading that direction in the fall. Not sure of exact dates, but lets stay in touch.


3 John W Thomas 05 March 2015 at 09:12

Hey J.D. and Kim, my parents did full-time RVing their first several years of retirement and found a mail-forwarding service. All they had to do was call ahead of time when they knew they were going to be somewhere for a few days and the mail would be waiting there for them.
My suggestions for “must see:
Colorado: (1)Drive the San Juan Skyway in the Mini-Cooper (not the RV)
http://www.colorado.com/articles/colorado-scenic-byway-san-juan-skyway (2) Visit Glenwood Springs- World’s largest Mineral Hot Springs
http://www.visitglenwood.com/ (3) Proceed east on I-70 up Glenwood Canyon – stunning canyon & the most expensive & most ingenious stretch of interstate in the USA continue on through Eisenhower tunnel towards Denver (4) Visit Denver Art Museum &/or Museum of Nature/Science (we might join you): http://www.denver.org/events/museums/?
gclid=CN_VnK_ZkcQCFYdgfgodsx8AzA (5) An hour up I-25, come visit us, (6) Rocky Mountain National Park (up the road f us) and Trail Ridge Road (let us drive) -highest continuous paved road in the United States: http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/trail_ridge_road.htm


4 kimmie 13 March 2015 at 10:11

Oh geez, did we ever need this info. Our biggest hurdle of the moment is what to do with a years worth of mail. Thanks John!!


5 Kristin 07 March 2015 at 15:27

Hopefully taxes did not share the fate of a Feb MNF event :)


6 Amy 28 March 2015 at 10:44

Hello JD and Kim! I’ve read Get Rich Slowly for several years, then followed JD to More Than Money and now here. My husband and I live in Michigan, in the Detroit suburbs, and would love to meet you if/when you head this way. Getting an RV and taking an extended trip is something we’ve talked about frequently, thought the logistics are somewhat intimidating. It would be fabulous to hear your perspectives by the time you’re in this neck of the woods and have a lot of weeks and miles under your belts.


7 kimmie 11 April 2015 at 11:55

We would love to meet up with you guys when we get to your neck of the woods. Lets stay in touch closer to the end of summer is when we’re expecting to arrive in the great lakes region.–Kim


8 K 19 April 2015 at 11:36

When do you all plan on being in DFW? We live on a lake in Fort Worth and would love to newt you and show you around. We have two small kids that love meeting new people.


9 K 19 April 2015 at 11:36

Meet you not newt you!


10 June W. 23 April 2015 at 13:03

JD, is it possible for you to send the picture of Porter in the swing with the dogs and the photo of Porter in swing with Kim to Donna? My computer doesn’t work with my printer. I want to paint these wonderful images. I hope you can. Thank you. Aunt June


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