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The Mobile Lifestyle in Retirement, Part 4: Starting Out on Your Adventure

Category: Adventurous retirement

By Betty Fitterman

October 23, 2016 — Note: This is Part 4 of a 6 Part series that Betty Fitterman was kind enough to contribute way back at Topretirements’ beginning. Here is a link to Part 1, See bottom of this article for links to the rest.

There are two important subjects to consider when you take off in a mobile home and they both have to do with baggage.

The first is relatively easy: what to pack. Generally speaking, the answer is, nothing breakable. I was determined that we would live a civilized life, so I packed real china, real glasses and good silverware. What didn’t fall out of the closet when we hit our first big bump is now packed in towels and stored away. I did save three wine glasses, and find that those plastic sock dividers are perfect for keeping them safe while traveling.

Also stored away are the my dresses and pretty shoes, winter coat and good jewelry and John’s warm coat, dress pants and shoes. We may need these things, but right now we’re living in shorts, jeans, tee-shirts and sandals. Sneakers and sweats if it gets chilly.

What we didn’t pack and found we needed were a ladder, a long-handled mop, lightweight beach chairs and bug splat remover for the windshield. We were given museum putty by a fellow mobile traveler, and we use that to secure things like the toaster, and pictures of our children, which would otherwise slide around when we were moving. And another suggestion for you: duct tape. Enough said.

And let me point out here that a traveler’s best friend has to be Super WalMart. Not only do these stores have everything including great meat, they also let you park overnight in their parking lot. You can go to WalMart online and find the locations of their superstores anywhere in the country.

But let’s talk about Baggage #2. That’s the personal baggage you bring along with you when you attempt to live in close confinement for an extended amount of time with someone else. Especially if you happen to be married to them.

We’d vacationed this way before, so we knew what stresses could attend us on our way. We didn’t want to scrap, fight, do the not-speaking thing, swallow anger, brood, say mean things, act grumpy or do any of the normal things a couple is wont to do. After all, we didn’t need to travel to do that. We could do it all at home.

We knew that close quarters would certainly heighten the tendency to act churlish. So before we left, we sat down and set up some rules of behavior. We talked about what our expectations were, who would do what jobs and when, what we thought might be sticking points as we went along and how we might deal with setbacks. Rules of the game, as it were.

This discussion took place over a series of nights and more than a few glasses of wine. We made promises we didn’t keep, and rules we ignored once we got underway. But it was a great template to follow, and to come back to when you’d deviated from the contract. The first time one of us lost his temper (the key word being “his”), he stopped after three words, literally, and said “I promised I wouldn’t do this.”

I was so impressed I couldn’t stay annoyed. He couldn’t stay mad either, so we kissed and made up. Miracles do happen.

We’ve had adventures that make Albert Brooks’ “Lost in America” RV movie look tame, and if you read my blog you can see I’m not kidding. But we’ve faced our setbacks together and only rarely have they caused us to divide and attempt to conquer.

So if you thought this article was going to be about gas, and mileage, and maps, and supplies, think again. A lot more than china and glassware is breakable, and toodling around in a confined space is the number one way to find that out. The most important thing you can take with you in a mobile home is attitude. The rest you can get at WalMart.

About Betty Fitterman
Bio Information: Betty Fitterman was in advertising for over 30 years before her retirement in July of this year. An award-winning writer, she was EVP/Creative Director and a member of the Board of Directors of Lintas Advertising until 1997, when she and her partner Frank DeVito formed DeVito Fitterman Advertising, which today is a successful agency serving blue chip clients like Johnson & Johnson, Ricola, ASCAP. Fujifilm and Arch Insurance, among others. To read her humorous observances on mobile living, visit her blog at

This is a 6 part series. To learn more about Betty’s continuing RV adventure go to ourBlog and look under “Adventurous Retirements”.
Part 1: Living the Adventurous Mobile Lifestyle in Retirement
Part 2: The Money Pit
Part 3: The Turtle Lifestyle: Buying Your RV
Part 5: Planning Can Be Fun

Comments? Have you ever thought about buying an RV and using it as your portable home? Have questions about how to to do it? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on October 23rd, 2016


  1. Great article!! Would love to give it a try. Any current RVers out there?? What are you finding?

    by Staci — October 24, 2016

  2. Also here’s a question. The article states that you can park overnight in Walmart lots. If you chose to do that or not stay in an RV park or campground, how do you replenish your water and dump what needs to be dumped.

    by Staci — October 24, 2016

  3. Staci, if you are “dry camping” (without connection resources), you fill will water where you can and try to be sure you are “dumped” reasonably well beforehand. In all cases, you should carry your own “clean water” hose so that you can fill with potable water at service stations, car washes or even Walmart (those that haven’t removed the “handle” from the faucet — tip: use pliers :<).

    by Rich Beaudry — October 25, 2016

  4. As a part-time Rver (Class A Gas)… I can provide some answers –
    Yes, you can stay over night at some Walmarts (you should always check/ask with Mgr at the store).
    Usually Rvers stay at store parking on thier way to the final destinations (i.e. short term).

    Depending on the RV/Motorhome you might have quite a few days of water in your
    fresh water tank (my RV can actually hold 50-70 gals of water). If you need to replenish the
    water tank, you can add water water either thru a gravity fill or via a external water source (i.e. house water).

    There is 2 types of “dumping” that would be required.
    One is Grey Water (shower, faucets, etc.). The other is Blank water (toilet).
    again, depending on the size of the tanks and how much activity, you could go quite a few days
    before having to “dump”. For example, my family of 4 can last about a week before having to dump.

    There are many places an Rver can “dump”. Either at campgrounds, storage facivlities,
    rv parks, Camping world, etc. The fees vary. If you stay at a campground you might have
    free dump right at your site. Otherwise, there could be a minimal fee (i.e. $10).

    Hope that helps.

    by mike — October 25, 2016

  5. One obvious prerequisite for a successful RV lifestyle seems to be a sense of humor- which Betty definitely has. I really enjoyed reading her blogs!

    by Brigitte — November 2, 2016

  6. I really agree with you, Bridgette. I some ways, I tend to take things to heart too much to get past the things that are relatively unpleasant to me. I would to much better if I could learn and follow through as Betty did. DSST is a requirement — Don’t Sweat the Small Things! That includes long waits for parts/service and any semblance of scheduling… You gotta be relaxed, retired and act like it.

    by Rich — November 3, 2016

  7. I have an RV that the Owen generator quit working which powers most of the convenience features. The voltage regulator was the issue and they wanted $1000 for the parts and $3000 to install it after a long waiting period.
    The small things are very critical and every RV has all of the things you find in most homes only they are much harder to repair and harder to find a qualified mechanic t o repair them when you are on the road.

    by Ron — November 3, 2016

  8. The coronavirus pandemic has created a lot of interest in new people trying the RV lifestyle. And that frequently comes along with a lot of newbie problems. Like pulling into a Drive Thru that can’t handle a tall rig and then having to ask everyone behind you to back up so you can back up. Or taking a corner too sharp and bashing your new or rental rig. The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article outlining the problems (pay wall)

    by Admin — July 8, 2020

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