What It’s Really like Living and Traveling in a Motorhome Full-time

Travelling is one of the best educations you can get – and you don’t need to drag a backpack around the world to be a traveller.

Another option might be to sell most of your stuff and move into a motorhome.

That’s exactly what Nancy and Betsy from RV-A-GOGO did in 2011 – and in this interview, they share why they became nomads, how they did it and what it’s really like to live on the road in a motorhome!

Nomads Nancy and Betsy

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

We are Nancy Walters and Dr. Betsy Dresser. Nancy’s professional background is in wildlife conservation. She has a Masters Degree in Wildlife Science and worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service mostly in the Louisiana’s Mississippi River Delta. Betsy is a veterinary scientist and spent her career working in zoos/aquariums before she retired.

We spent 17 years working in New Orleans before we went full-time living and traveling in our motorhome. Nancy made a career change while we were in New Orleans and went to culinary school and worked with well-known chefs in their restaurants and in catering before leaving.

Currently, we are in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan exploring the beauty of the Great Lakes. As full-time RV’ers, we spend a lot of time getting to know the towns that we are camped in frequently visiting museums and historical sites, finding unique restaurants and food; as well as, spending time outdoors hiking with our black Labrador retriever, kayaking, and fishing.

Nomads Nancy and Betsy

How and why did you become nomads?

We first started traveling full-time in 2011. Both of us traveled the world in our professions mostly spending time in major U.S. cities in meetings but rarely took to the back roads to find unique places to visit and explore the cultural and natural throughout the U.S.

While in New Orleans, we began to discuss how much fun it would be to have the freedom to travel to places where we had never been and spend time learning new things. We had seen stories about people who traveled in RV’s and found a course that was being taught on RV travel.

We attended the week-long course and decided this kind of travel and lifestyle was for us. We wanted the liberation of selling all our possessions and traveling as we wanted to travel and not focus on materials in life but instead, on experiences. Travel is one of the best educations a person can get. We have never looked back!

Nomads Nancy and Betsy

Why is having a nomadic life important for you?

The nomadic life beckons us to see new things, taste new foods, meet new people, and ask new questions. Because we both had professional lives, we tended to associate with friends who had similar careers. Being on the road has opened up our worlds to new people from all walks of life and has taken us to places where we might never have gone. The kinds of experiences we have now are so different from those that we had during our careers and we are constantly learning new things. We now know how important it is to open our minds to people, places and things that we probably would never have encountered in our past lives. Most of all, we meet people who enlarge our world just through their experiences.

Nomads Nancy and Betsy

What have been the best and most difficult parts of being nomads?

The freedom to spend the time doing and going to places we are drawn to going. We feel we have learned so much about America in the way that we travel. Choosing to go to the little-known towns and visit off-beat attractions is part of our history and culture.

The most difficult part has been learning to live in a much smaller place like a motorhome after living in a large sticks and bricks house. But then we realized that we had the entire country to conquer. We have never been lonely because we meet so many new people and we have each other all of the time. Every person we meet has a new interesting story of some kind and is willing to share it. Our social lives have only increased since we got on the road.

Nomads Nancy and Betsy

Where do you live as nomads?

We live full time in a 45-foot motorhome. Since this is now our “house”, we wanted to ensure that we had many of the same features and comforts offered in a traditional house. Nancy cooks a lot of meals at home since she is a great chef. She has a smaller kitchen but has adapted and we often grill outside in our camped location.

Our motorhome is quite comfortable since it has a lot of the amenities we had in a house such as a dishwasher, washer and dryer, residential refrigerator, king-sized bed, a fireplace, plenty of storage, and more. Our living is very comfortable and all of our stuff stays with us so we don’t pack and unpack like a lot of travelers must do. We often say that the only thing that changes for us is our backyard! Even when we visit family or friends and have offers to stay in their homes, we still prefer the motorhome. It is our “home” and very comfortable.

Nomads Nancy and Betsy

Where do you usually work?

We don’t hold regular jobs since we are both retired, however, we do like to stop and work occasionally at what is known as work camping, which is usually at a campground where we receive a free campsite and volunteer or pay minimally for the site and get paid by the hour. We have worked as campground attendants in Idaho, volunteers at a state park working in their store/visitor center, driven a tram at a state park, and worked in private campgrounds.

Jobs come in all shapes from housekeeping, landscaping, office work, cooking to maintenance, etc. Many organizations hire work campers these days and it is often a learning experience doing things you may have never done before now. We have also been paid writers for RV-related online publications and Nancy has put her culinary background to use working seasonally as an event chef for a catering company.

Nomads Nancy and Betsy

How do you build a social life as nomads?

Social lives are easy to have if you want. The internet provides a lot of interaction with new people through blogging and websites focused on travel and RVing. These are the easiest ways to meet new friends. We are active on Facebook and Instagram and meet a lot of people through these outlets and our blog. RV’ers are a very gregarious group of people and there are many RV clubs and groups that have rallys, get-togethers, and meet-ups. Just walking around a campground is a great way to meet and engage in conversation with new people. There are people that we have met on the road that we have known for six or seven years and still keep in touch. We know somewhere, sometime we will see them again. Volunteering and working at parks has allowed us to meet a lot of people that we get to know better because we work with them and spend an extended amount of time with them.

How do you finance your nomadic life?

Since we both had excellent professional careers with good paying positions we invested wisely and it is paying off. We only work camp for fun but it does supplement our budget. Our biggest expenses are camping fees and food.

Nomads Nancy and Betsy

Why did you bring your dog?

Spirit is our female 5-year old black Labrador retriever and was raised in the motorhome as we got her as an 8-week old puppy. When we first started our RV adventure we had another lab, but sadly, she died just a few months into our trip. It was soon apparent how much we missed having a dog. Spirit is such a great hiking and traveling companion and keeps us active and is a great way to meet people. Some of our closest friends are those we met at a dog park in Florida a few years ago. Our lifestyle allows us to spend a lot of time with her. She loves kids and people so she is a perfect breed for being in a campground. With some planning we make sure to stock up on her food and find veterinary care along the way. We have never found traveling with a pet difficult and are fortunate that our dog is well-adjusted.

What kind of gear do you bring with you?

Since our motorhome has lots of storage we are able to bring lots of “toys.” We have fishing gear, kayaks, bicycles, a bocce ball set, and a few more things. We have the basics like backpacks, camera gear, binoculars, computers, and lots of books.

Nomads Nancy and Betsy

What has been your best gear purchase below $100?

Our tabletop induction cooker (the Duxtop Induction Cooktop Expert) has been used quite often. Since we like to cook outside it is an easy way to make that possible. The cooker is large enough to fit a big pot of water that is used often to cook lobster, crabs, shrimp, and make big pots of soup. Entertaining friends and fellow campers is a big part of our lifestyle and this item allows us to be outside engaged with our friends while still preparing dinner for them.

What is your best advice for new nomads?

Do it NOW! If this is your dream, get on the road now while you have your health no matter your age. Many people wait too long and regret that they did not do it earlier. A major life change like this can be scary but is well worth it. We always say, if you don’t like it, then stop.

Nomads Nancy and Betsy

What will the future bring?

More travel and food are in our future. There are a few more states we have not been to and many places we want to return to. It is our goal to share information about RV’ing and our travels with others so that will always be part of our life. Many of our followers say they live vicariously through us so that pushes us to keep sharing our story. And besides, we haven’t been to the Spam Museum yet and still have four more Presidential Libraries to see.

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