Transitioning from Full-Time to Part-Time RVing
Transitioning from Full-Time to Part-Time RVing
Insights about coming off the road and finding a home base.
By: Kenny & Sabrina Phillips
After five years of full-timing in our Winnebago Vista 27N LX, Sabrina and I decided to come off the road and find a home base. This decision was not easy; we had a ton of fun in our Winnebago traveling to new places and making friends along the way. We loved the lifestyle, but 2020 and 2021 proved to be very difficult for Sabrina in regard to her work.
Why Did We Decide to Come Off the Road?
Some of you may know that Sabrina is a pulmonary/critical care physician and, in 2017, we started to travel across the country in our Vista to hospitals that needed Sabrina’s help. This afforded us the opportunity to be able to spend more time together and have little adventures along the way. But when COVID-19 hit the United States, our usually fun RV life became more challenging.
Sabrina found that many hospitals across the nation were ill-equipped with adequate PPE to keep her safe. We had friends that were kind enough to send us N-95s to hold her over, but this was not sustainable. It was so bad that once the suppliers would finally allow it, we ended up purchasing our own PPE for her to use while at work, including a powered air-purifying respirator.
Another issue she faced was because she moved from hospital to hospital and patient volumes were so high, as with many medical professionals, she was being placed in situations that were not the best. In addition, in the RV there was no real way for us to social distance or quarantine and many campgrounds had restrictions and closures.
After over a year of this and no end in sight at the time, we decided it was best to come off the road and find a hospital where she could build a team around her to help her perform her work in a safe, steady environment. The question was where would that be?
Our Requirements in a Home Base for Part-Time RVing
One of the great things about traveling almost all over the country is we had a pretty good idea of what we liked and what we didn’t like across the nation. We even had a list of places mapped out that we would like to settle into someday.
Our requirements included:
- Nearby attractions for RVing. After all, RVing was going to still be a big part of our lives. And almost all of our friends have RVs, so we wanted them to have attractions that were RV friendly when they came to visit.
- An area with little to no humidity was one of my must haves. Ever since I was a kid, humidity has been my nemesis and I was ready to enjoy some dry weather for a change.
- Larger properties available. We wanted to purchase property that was large enough to store our RV at our place, mainly because when Sabrina and I originally bought our Winnebago we were living in an apartment and storing the RV off property. This meant when we wanted to go on a weekend adventure, we would have to pack our bags and drive to the RV. This probably doesn’t sound terrible, but it really was time consuming and took some of the fun out of our weekend getaways. Also, by having room on our property, we could have our friends come stay right in our backyard when they visit.
- Be near a hospital for Sabrina to work at, since we didn’t want most of her day to be spent commuting.
- Space for our dog Belle, was our final must have. Even though Belle is turning eight years old, she still has more energy than Sabrina and I combined. A fenced-in yard was a definite must (or at least the ability to fence in an area), so she could let some of her energy out. Sabrina and I often joke and say all decisions revolve around Belle, but it’s more true than funny. Belle is one of the reasons we started to RV in the first place. We wanted a way to travel that would accommodate her no matter where we went.
When we took all of this into consideration, we found ourselves in Arizona in a small town that had a hospital less than 20 miles away that needed a Pulmonologist. Everything was lined up perfectly and we purchased our very first home together.
Luckily, the property we found already had an RV spot in place with water and 50-amp service. We quickly added a sewer station, so now we have full hookups right at the house for our friends.
Adjusting to Having a Home Base: Expectations vs. Reality
One of the things I was looking forward to in having a home in Arizona was doing less maintenance. After all, the house is stationary and not subject to earthquake-like conditions every week. I also figured since we were moving to the desert, that there would be no yard work to take care of. I was right on only one of these things. The house itself has not needed much tending to, but the yard is a totally different story.
We moved into the home right at the start of the monsoons, and with all that rain it transformed our dry dead backyard into a jungle. Who knew so much grass could grow in the desert? We quickly bought a lawnmower, string trimmer, and sheers for pruning trees. But the worst of it all was the weeds called goatheads – these leave small spiral spikes everywhere. Every day for the first four months of having the house, I was out back pulling these weeds out of our yard so that Belle would not step on them.
We also thought living at our home base would be cheaper than traveling in the RV, again mostly because the house does not move. But we spent a pretty penny in the first few months for furnishings, some plumbing repairs, upgrades, and of course all the yard equipment. We do feel that now that we have mostly everything we need, things will begin to level out on the financial end.
Pros to Having a Home Base
Ok, that is enough negativity from me in one article, let’s now focus on some of the pros of having a home base, starting with having full hookups on our property. We originally thought this would be great for when friends come to visit, but we have also found it to be great for when we take the RV out for day trips.
If we didn’t have a sewer connection at home, we would have to go to a Love’s or Flying J and pay the $10 to empty our tanks. Now we can do it at our own pace at home. I also have to say having our own laundry room is fantastic, and just being able to do our wash when we return from a trip has been great.
I think what we like most about having a home base is that our friends and family know exactly where we are and it’s easier for them to come visit with us, especially since they have options of either staying in the backyard with the full hookups or staying in our guest room.
Having our own space has also been a big plus. I enjoy working on the RV in our own driveway, and I have been able to expand our tool collection to be able to take on larger projects.
What Life Looks Like for Us Now as Part-Time RVers
Earlier on in this article, I mentioned the reasons why we came off the road full time. Unfortunately, that new job did not work out so well for Sabrina and she is now back to doing locum-tenens work where she is traveling to different hospitals, but on her own schedule.
She also has been trying to book jobs that are within driving distance, so I can drive the RV out to where she is working, set it up for her to use for the week, and then go back and pick it up when she is done. This has been working out well and, depending on what I have going on, I’ve been staying with her which gives me a break from yard work for the week.
Having the home base has really given us the best of both worlds.
How are Trips Different in the RV Now that We Don’t Live in it?
One of the things that surprised us about having the home base and no longer living in the RV has been how much more fun our RV trips are. Now when we pack up the RV for a trip it feels like we are going on vacation!
We have used the RV to go out on day trips to state parks which has been great because we have a place to return for lunch and use our own restroom. We have also taken it out on several one-week trips and to Forest City, IA, for the Grand National Rally. Soon we will be taking it out for some extended vacations to Walt Disney World and to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.
Now, it honestly feels like a treat to plan a trip, pack up the RV, and hit the road.
Life Lesson from this Transition
I really hope this article helps anyone who is thinking of coming off the road. Everyone’s situations and reasons are going to be different, but by showing our pros and cons maybe it will help you decide what is right for you.
I can say one lesson learned for Sabrina and I is nothing for us is set in stone and the only constant really does seem to be change. But we really enjoy the flexibility and the unknown of what each month will bring.
Take care everyone and safe travels!