It doesn’t take long for new full-time RVers to understand that even the most run-of-the-mill destination has hidden adventures if you just stay a little longer.
Solo full-timer Tom Hatfield discovered this universal truth when he sold his farm and hit the road almost two years ago at the age of 63. Today, he’s loving the full-timing life.
“For 25 or 30 years I just went on vacation,” says the lifelong RVer. “When you go on vacation, you see what’s on the highway and the major attractions in town. But when you go someplace and you live there for two, three, four months at a time, you learn the area. You see things the tourists don’t. You don’t see what a community has to offer by just spending a week on Main Street,” he explains with a twinge of a Southern accent.
Hatfield is now well-acquainted with the joys of life on the road. As a solo traveler with nothing but his 39′ Keystone fifth wheel, Ford F350, and minimal personal possessions to call his own, he’s enjoying the untethered existence so many aspiring full-timers dream about. But he didn’t always follow the freewheeling life, he says.
The former director of safety for a major trucking firm, Hatfield is a 65-year old native of Joplin, MO. During his career, he lived a traditional life with all of the material things that go along with it. When the idea of full-timing grew intriguing enough, he knew he had to make the leap while his health was still good. While diving headfirst into the downsizing process, he made some important discoveries.
Wise downsizing advice
“The hardest part was turning loose 50 years of stuff. You turn loose your past and your history,” he explains. “Then it’s deciding, ‘Why do I even have all this stuff?‘ There’s a lot of stuff you don’t really need. You just have it because you accumulate. The more room you have the more you accumulate.”
For those new to the downsizing process, Hatfield says it can be a little easier if you start by looking back at what you have and haven’t used during the last year.
“If you haven’t used it in a year, you don’t really need it. It’s just stuff and stuff can be replaced as long as you keep what you need.”
Today, Hatfield knows that living with less made him a happier man. “Stuff clutters your life,” he says. “You just don’t need it. Get rid of it and go out and enjoy life.”
His revelation isn’t uncommon, he says. After six months or so of full-timing, Hatfield explains that most full-timers say they don’t even miss or remember what they gave away.
Still, the retired farmer isn’t immune to longing for some things from his past. Out of all the possessions that he eliminated, there’s only one that still calls his name. “I miss my John Deere tractor,” he says.
Even so, after two years on the road, that beloved Deere isn’t enough to send him back to a sticks and bricks life. “There’s not anything you can’t live without, other than family,” says the father of two daughters.
Remember these three things
Friendly and outgoing, Hatfield is always happy to share what he knows with newbie full-timers. Acclimating to the lifestyle is easy, he says, if you remember a few basic pieces of wisdom:
- Don’t ever be in a hurry.
- Take your time. It takes time to learn the lifestyle.
- Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We all started someplace.
Finally, Hatfield offers one last nugget for new full-timers. “The vast majority of RVers are good people and they’ll help you with anything,” he says with a smile.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.