Tips & Picks

Living the Mobile Lifestyle in Retirement-Chapter 4-Starting Out


Betty Fitterman - By Betty Fitterman

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.

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


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