This week, we are catching up with one of the first RV couples that we met as we were deciding whether to go full-time. Jeff and Marcia Hopper were already on the road when we met them. After talking to them, we were encouraged to go full-time. We have enjoyed getting to know them better while on the road We hope you enjoy meeting them.
First, introduce yourself
Jeff and I have been married for 26 years. We met during college in Florida, got married while we were both teaching in Albuquerque, NM, then moved to Kansas City and lived there for 20+ years while we raised our family. Our daughter and her husband live in College Station, TX, and our son and his wife live in the Kansas CIty area.
How did you decide to RV?
After our daughter got married, we were talking about downsizing from our 4 bedroom / 4 bath house. We briefly discussed the idea of someday traveling once our son moved out. He overheard us and said that he would love to travel too, so we jumped on the chance to spend some time with him. From the time we decided to the time we launched as full-timers was 2 months – we sold the house and all our stuff, bought a truck and 5th wheel and hit the road. Our first stop was the Escapees Boot Camp in TX to learn ALL the things about RV life since we had never even owned a camper before.
What were the reactions of your family, friends, etc?
Most of our friends and family are jealous and love the idea. Many of them would love to do it themselves “someday” but many others say they could never get rid of all their stuff.
What kind of RV do you have?
We have a 2009 Keystone Cougar, 35ft fifth wheel with a bunkroom and half-bath in the back. We chose this floorplan so that our son would have his own room and not have to sleep on a pull-out couch every night. It was perfect for the 6 months that he lived and traveled with us before moving out and back to KC to work and get married.
What did you do with all your stuff? How did you downsize?
We sold most of it on FB, marketplace, and garage sales. We kept a couple of family antiques and about 4 tubs of photos and personal memorabilia in the basement of a friend’s house in KC. Once we got started selling stuff off and giving lots of it away, it was pretty easy. Seeing the joy that other people would have was so much better than it sitting in storage somewhere for us. Overall, it was very emotionally freeing to release the “weight” of all the STUFF.
Have you done any renovations on the rig?
Yes, we have redone all the floors, repainted the cabinets and walls, and remodeled the bathroom.
How long have you been on the road? Do you ever see a finish line?
We have been on the road for 4 years this month. We don’t have any plans to stop traveling. We haven’t found any place that we want to stay more than a month or so at a time.
What is the absolute best thing about full-time travel?
I think the best thing about traveling is being able to wake up in new places and explore new areas of the country, eat new foods, experience local cultures, and yet sleep in my own bed every night.
What is the worst thing?
The worst thing about traveling is sometimes missing out on things friends and family are doing. But we missed out on those before when we lived in a house. We didn’t live in the same town as all of our friends and family then. And now, sometimes we are able to travel to be there for special occasions that we might not have before.
Have you found a favorite place yet?
Jeff loves the mountains, and I love the beach. So far we’ve only visited two places that had both – Ventura, CA and the Maine coast. They were both wonderful!
What are your favorite kinds of destinations?
We love to find small-town areas with local festivals, mom & pop restaurants, etc. We prefer city park campgrounds or county / state parks over RV parks also. FOOD and local flavor, breweries, wineries, and meaderies are also fun reasons to visit different places.
What have you learned on this journey and what are you still seeking?
We have a goal of visiting all 50 states (the RV won’t go to Hawaii, but we plan to fly there to celebrate once we’ve done the other 49.) After that we may start on countries.
How do you fund your travels?
When we first launched, Jeff was working a remote job for a consultant firm in KC with whom he had worked for several years. About a year into our adventure, I started my Happy Camper Nails business, and this past year it has grown enough to fully fund our budget, and Jeff has been able to quit that job and focus on some side projects he has never had time to do before.
How do you live together in such a small space and not drive each other crazy?
We don’t sit next to each other and look at each other all day long for sure. I use the back bunk room as my office, and we converted out dinette area in to his desk. We each spend 3-4 hours a day working on our own projects, and then try to take some time away from the screens to walk, hike, go adventuring, read, etc. When the walls start closing in on use, I’ll leave and go to the laundromat or go grocery shopping. When he needs a break, he’ll go get the truck washed, etc. We don’t spend 24/7 right in each other’s space.
What is the most exciting thing on the horizon for you?
As far as travel plans – New England this fall for the COLORS, then Florida this winter. Then hopefully trying to add several of the Pacific NW states to our map in 2021.
What advice would you give someone considering a RV lifestyle?
Just try it. You can always go back to living in a stick & brick house if you don’t like it, but you’ll be able to say, “We tried it” instead of “maybe someday…”
We would also recommend buying something used and inexpensive to get started so that if you don’t like it, you’re not out tons of money. If you decide you love the lifestyle, you can upgrade your rig later if you want.
How can people find you on social media or a blog?
We’re both on Facebook, plus I have a business FB page and group under Happy Camper Nails. I’m also on IG and Pinterest.
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/HappyCamperNails
FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/happycampernails
Linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/public-profile/in/jeffwhopper