Over the last year and a half, I have heard more and more people talk about traveling the country. Some want to fly and some want to go on long road trips. Some want to stay at resorts and some want to camp. I see this trend with not only retirees, but my family and friends as well. This is likely because travel has not been a very real option for many people in the past year and a half, and now everyone is ready to jump in headfirst.
Just like any hobby, it can be very tempting to go “all in” and spend big money planning the perfect trip, getting the rig, and buying all the gear that you want to travel. It is easy to get carried away before doing the research and testing the waters to see if you actually enjoy doing it. I am by no means a camping or travel expert, but here are a few things you might think about and consider before you go “all in” on the camping journey.
1) Start local.
There are plenty of awesome campsites around Iowa. This is true outside of Iowa as well. They are generally inexpensive to rent, but be sure to hop on and reserve a spot as they may fill up quickly. Spend a night or two outside and see how it feels to you and your family. You may consider borrowing a tent and camping gear from a friend or family member for this first adventure.
Last year, my son and I set up camp in our backyard to see how he liked it, and he loved it! Sure, you may not have the most comfortable setup doing it this way, but it is a raw experience like this that can help inform your decisions on what you want to buy next if you enjoy this initial experience. By staying local and borrowing camping gear to start, you will not have far to drive if there are unexpected issues or if you just do not enjoy the experience and you will not have spent a bunch of money on camping gear that you ultimately will not end up using.
2) Learn from your local experts.
Go with friends who do it often. If you pair up with more seasoned campers, you can benefit from hearing their stories. They will likely have good advice on places to go or not go, products to buy or not buy, and other tips to help set you up for success. They will likely have gear that you maybe didn’t think about, and you can begin formulating your shopping list. There are also many different travel blogs and vlogs out there that you can read or watch to get advice and inspire your future travels.
3) Decide how you want to camp.
There are many different styles of camping including tent camping, truck camping, car camping, pulling a camper trailer, buying a camper van or even an RV. Each of these styles of camping have their own unique benefits and, in some cases, drawbacks. By doing your research and reading up on these different options, you can decide which one you think you might enjoy the most.
Some prefer the simple nature of tent camping while others like having all the amenities of their home on wheels. Some prefer to go off the grid while others are looking for more of a “glamping” experience. A lot of this depends on how long you plan to be living on the road and how comfortable you want to be. If you are unsure of whether or not you want to buy a camper trailer or RV, you can rent one through websites like Outdoorsy.com. This will give you the experience of loading, driving, parking and camping in a vehicle that you may not be accustomed to.
4) Buy smart.
Once you have tested the waters and have a general idea of what kind of camping you want to do, it is time to look in to buying your own gear. If you want a camper or RV, you can look locally at dealerships, shop online on websites like rvtrader.com, or look on Facebook marketplace or Craigslist. The RV/trailer business was booming last year, and though supply might be limited on new campers, there may be a lot of lightly used campers available in the near future from people who bit off more than they could chew last year.
There are also some decent financing deals if you choose to go that route including stretching payments over longer periods of time. This can be a nice benefit, but we want to make sure the interest rates are not too expensive. Just like buying a car, make sure your monthly payments fit within your budget and allow plenty of room for other things like fuel, food, water and fees for campsites.
5) Enjoy the road!
It is time to hit the road! There are many great areas to explore in this country. Personally, I have a handful of places around Iowa that I plan to visit this spring and summer. If you are looking for some resources on where to get started, there are websites like thedyrt.com that allow you to search for campsites around the country, read reviews, and plan your trip.
Here at Compass Financial Services, we love hearing about your goals and dreams for retirement. For many of you, those dreams and goals are to travel, and it is a joy to see them come to fruition. Please feel free to share stories and pictures with us. We love seeing what our clients are up to and to hear all about your travels!
It is our goal as financial advisors to come alongside you as you make these types of financial decisions. We want to help you make financial decisions that are right for you and that align with your dreams. Ultimately, we want these to be decisions that you can be confident in. If you have thought about traveling the country via camping or RV in retirement, we would love to hear about these dreams. Reach out to your financial advisor here at Compass Financial Services to look at your situation and start the planning process. If you do not have a relationship with one of our Des Moines financial advisors yet, contact us to get started!
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.