Tent Camping Our Way Across the USA

by Bonnie G.
(Illinois, USA)

In late 2008, we sold our small business in Florida, rented out our house and took off across the USA, pulling our Starcraft tent camper. For anyone thinking about full time camping, let me say that we loved this lifestyle and can't wait to return to it.


We left Florida in February 2009 and spent a week at a military RV campground in Pensacola, Florida. My husband is retired from the US Navy and so we are able to stay at these wonderful campgrounds.

We find the military campgrounds to be safe, clean and full of friendly people. Though we learned that the price of these campsites is not much different from a KOA, we still enjoyed the many amenities that can be found on military bases.

We particularly enjoyed the state and national parks and campgrounds in Texas and fell in love with New Mexico and Arizona. We had a wonderful time and if not for a family emergency, we would have stayed on the road indefinitely.

We consider our trek across the USA from February to August to be a practice run for the real thing. Real retirement, that is.

Here are a few things we learned about the full time camping lifestyle that we can pass on to those considering it for themselves:

1. Make sure you enjoy your partner's company. We enjoy being with each other. We are best friends and prefer each other to anyone else, even after 32 years of marriage, and owning and operating a business together.

2. Retirement is not boring. It is a wonderful thing to finally have the time to do the things you love to do. We love the outdoors. Always have. Our best camp experiences were the ones in remote campgrounds,like Ft Davis, Texas. We like to hike, look at the stars, feed the deer, and listen to the mourning doves. These are things we did with our children when they were young and are the things we still love to do. That may sound boring to some. But, we were never bored. Not one minute.

3, Buy a trailer that is easy to set up. We found out that we are getting a little too old to manage the constant setting up and taking down of the tent camper. Pulling out the ends and the slide-out every time we set up camp was a headache. And, every time we broke camp we had to completely pack up the trailer.

We started to envy the couples who could just stop at the roadside rest and hop in the trailer for a quick nap, or to fix lunch or take a break. Also, we could have stayed at some free campsites if our trailer had been self-contained.

You can live for an extended period in a tent camper if that is all you can afford. We did it and had a blast. But after our trip, we sold the pop-up and now plan to buy a travel trailer with electric slide outs and a full bathroom.

Now I spend a lot of time looking for good second hand trailers on RV Trader Online and find that the trailers that fit our needs the best are under $20,000.

After our 8 month experiment, now we can plan for our REAL retirement. We think we may just travel around the USA part of the year, towing our trailer, and then store it and head south of the border to wait out the winter in a warmer climate.

It sounds like a wonderful way to spend the rest of our lives, don't you agree?

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Sep 18, 2016
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Traveling again soon NEW
by: Anonymous

We have had both... a travel trailer and a motor home... We love it when we can travel... Had to sell the motor home.. but now are looking again.. we miss traveling because of my health and surgeries... We are now ready to jump in and go for it... life is to short not too.. Happy travels.

Aug 19, 2010
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RE: Karen // type of RV
by: Anonymous

Karen... IMHO....

You've got two real choices if they fit in your budget..

1. Fifth wheel. Make sure you 'over buy' on the truck. NEVER believe the RV sales person on what to pull it with. As a minimum, you want a 3/4 ton ( 250/2500) .. or a 1 Ton ( 350/450/3500) .. I have a F450 dually .... it's a monster and will go anywhere.. ( $ usually drive this decision)

2. Something to be said about getting a Class A or C used, and pull that Pirius!

Good luck!
~Rick

Aug 18, 2010
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travel across u.s.a.
by: Karen

my husband retires in 9 days and that is our dream. but we have our house up for sale and can't sell it.

so everything is on hold.we want to travel around u.s.a. for 1 year or more and then decide where we want to live forever. now we live in mechanicsburg, pa. and we hate the cold weather.
my husband been truck driver for 35 years and he never wants to drive in the snow again. if we keep our house we want something to travel in but if we sell it we wanted motorhome.and we got prius. that we both love.and we don't know what kind of truck to get to pull a trailer or 5th wheel or campervan or motorhome.

But by sept 1 2010 we are taking off. If not in motorhome or trailer it is going to be in the prius. and we will tent camp. my husband is 60 and i'm 56.

Aug 14, 2010
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Quit Teasing! : )
by: Rick lossner

Sounds Awesome!!! Part of me wants to pull the plug and do this soooooo badly :)

Too many toys, and I've got a few more yrs to make this happen ( turn 50 this year ) ...


Aug 02, 2010
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Boy Howdy!!
by: Gary the editor

Bonnie,

You graduate with honors from Frugal retirement University!!

Enjoy your search for a travel trailer...

Stay frugal and hanks for sharing

Gary

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